Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Striking Out

Very appropriate that the tale of my last post was set in the subway. I may never be able to ride the rails again. This transit strike may go on indefinitely and force us to car pool forever! Oh the horrors.

Actually, it's not been so bad. I'm one of the lucky few to have a vehicle and some coworkers to ride in with. After a brutal drive in yesterday, I wised up and took the Battery Tunnel today.

My little green Escort got into the city like shit from a duck's ass. Into the office in under an hour.

Of course, all the MTA strike drama simply distracts from the sad fact that I have to work at all, but that's another post.

What else is there to sayabout the strike? Well,it gives self-obsessed New Yorkers yet another opportunity to genuflect to their own toughness and resourcefulness. It gives us all more proof that the world does indeed revolve around New York City, in spite of current astrophysical theory. We are an anomoly. A unique and brilliant people destined to dominate the country's news media with every little adolescent fit we throw.

Can Touissant and Kalikow just have a fistfight and get it over with. Or just lay their manhoods out on the table, have Bloomberg wield the ruler, and declare the longest negotiator the victor. Except first, they'd probably have to agree on the formula that included girth as well as length. Then maybe they could add a category for technique, judged by Pataki. Now this is a negotiating process I could get interested in.

I can just see the headlines in the tabs: "Touissant Tool Trumps TA" "Kalikow Eats Union Meat" "Little Gloomy Bloomy".

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Secret of Nimh

I've got a little box of rodenticide behind a filing cabinet at my desk here at the old office. I didn't put it there. Facilities did, years ago. What is odd is that the mouse that frequents this area of the floor seems to really love the space behind the cabinet with the rodenticide. I see him a few times a day scooting across the way under a different rack of grey metal filing cabinets. It's pretty exciting. Really. It's a fantastic diversion. I'm just glad it's not a glue trap behind my desk. I don't especially want to drown a squealing mouse.

Speaking of rodenticide, though the one time I've told this story, I was disbelieved, two nights ago, as I was waiting on the subway platform, I watched the rats scurry around, as I am wont to do. In the past I've wondered why these things never seem to get hit by trains. The trains are damned fast and the rats show even less fear of the trains than they do of humans. Well, one of the little scurriers that caught my eye seemed to be gnawing on something especially tasty. I looked away, looked back, and realized that he was not hunkering over a discarded cheesesteak but a much larger relative of his. I walked over to get a closer look, and the big rat's head was partially flattened. I can only speculate that it somehow got its pointy face up on the track at a very inopportune moment. I tried to tell myself that maybe the little guy at his side was trying to revive him. But the fact that the living rat was so obsessed with his dead comrade's crushed head was too much to ignore. It was clear. The rat was feasting on the flesh (presumably brain matter) exposed when this monster rat met his maker.

Excuse me while I vomit.

All better.

There are a ton of pests in this city, no doubt. And they're all in this area. Shopping. Then there are the rats. Man, that's a poor excuse for humor. I must still be shaken from the ratibalism I witnessed.

The secret of Nimh? Soylent Green of course.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I love feeling in control. I imagine everyone does. But every once in a while I get the feeling that I am on top. I can do one thing after another with singular focus, and I can do these things well. Because, when all is right, as busy as it gets, I feel very still and calm.

Well, that's not entirely true. Sometimes I am able to focus and achieve one thing after another, the more the better, because I am being driven by a sort of mania-lite. The manic phase of manic depression, which I experience much less severely than the symptoms you might associate with it. I tell you this much. Being manic feels good.

But, it does not feel like clarity. There is a big difference between reacting fluidly, and being pushed, pulled and prodded. In the former case, there is ease; in the latter, tension and a clenched jaw.

I don't feel that super-focus or crystal clarity right now. But it's close enough that it seems within reach. There are times when it seems impossibly unattainable. Like my head is a lead weight, and each application of energy requires supreme effort. Getting out of bed, tearing away from the computer. These can seem like impossible tasks, indefinitely put off for the next moment, and the next and the next.

There is only now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Idiot Ax

Today, I got 50 dollars worth of tickets for the mega ball lottery. It's 390 million dollars. That'd be so grate to win, it's definitely worth the 50 bucks. I'd get mom a new house and one for me, too. But not too close together. Like I'd get her a place in East Egg, and me a place in West Egg. Close, but not too close. And I'd get a new car. I mean, it's not too bad having a Colt, since I can get it fixed at the station for pretty cheap, but it would be really grate to have like a Mustang or a Porsh or something like that.

What's not so grate is that I had to go to another station for the tickets. And since I didn't get off work until 2:00, the only place open was the Exxon over by the Applebee's. It was like an extra twenty minutes before I got home. But It's worth it, like I said, even if Troy over there is a jerk. He kept saying he always knew I was a weiner. Like that's real funny. I wish I coulda bought the tickets from the station, but we can't buy tickets there ever since Lavonne got caught with all those scratch offs. She got caught cause she tried to cash them in bunch of winners, and they found out she worked at the station and figured it out I guess.

I got a good feeling on the numbers. I got all quickpik except for one, which I got 232323, for my lucky number. It'd be grate if I had enough left over from the money to get everyone at the station something nice. I'd get a heater for the hut for sure. Most people would quit, but I don't know what I'd do if I didn't go to work.

Right before I left for the night to go get the tickets, Vijay said I had to go pay my stupid ax or something like that. I never figured out what he was talking about. I don't think it was positive.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Many people would call raking sand stupid, pointless, crazy, even.

Most people think to live as a monk is crazy.

To me there is an undeniable serenity in these gardens. A movement within stasis. An asymmetric balance.

And their pointlessness seems to be the point.

Of course, the gardens are simply beautiful.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Up All Night. Never Again.

I ended up being out all night from Friday at 6:00 until Saturday at 7:00 am. But I was not wild partying. Oh, no. I was working. What's worse, I was working outside in the freezing cold. I got to witness firsthand the first flurries of the year. I only wish it had snowed like it did last night. At least then, the shoot would have been called. No such luck.

You see, I was on the set of a film. But not as any ordinary actor. I was there in the most ignoble and detestable of roles. I was there as an extra. For many people, the chance to be an extra is an axciting prospect. They travel in from Westchester or New Jersey and feel like professionals. For me, it's a degrading and abject experience.

Extras are atmosphere. The director (in this case Julie Taymore) never deigns to talk to them. Instead it's an assistant with a bullhorn. Extras are talked down to. Like they are retarded. Like they are kindergarteners. The only thing lower than being an extra is being a nonunion extra. Nonunion extras don't even get to eat form the same table as the union members. They get payed a lower rate, and are not guaranteed the same protections.

I have always known that I would hate being an extra. I don't like following orders and I loathe being talked down to, and so, I've never done it before. But, I thought, this job might be worth it. A job on a Julie Taymore Beatles movie. Sweet. I'll get to see her work maybe. And, since it's an outdoor shoot, it'll be done early and I can head to my day job. Not even close. Itwasn't a day shoot...a fact I was informed of same day. And there were hundreds of us poor saps suffering in the cold. With hand warmers that gave out halfway through the night and toe warmers that gave out even sooner.

By the end of the night, as a group we were delirious and angry. I had lost my voice from the cold and shouting. The one thing done right this night was that they saved for last a shot where police are dragging protesters through an angry crowd onto a police bus. The crowd (the extras) are surging around them, hurling abuse. By the time they got to this, we were all really at the end of our rope, so the artist may have gotten what she wanted.

What I find most interesting about the whole experience is how traumatic it was. I think back to the times I stayed out all night drinking or ingesting other harmful substances and realize that a good part of the effects I felt after a long night were simply sleep deprivation. I hadn't touched a substance, but after a night in the freezing cold, I felt like an alien on the way home. I lost my glasses in the holding area, but was too stupefied to effectively look for them. And, after a 4-hour meeting the next day, which I went to on one hour of sleep, I slept from 4 pm to 1 pm. 21 hours.

I hope I get my glasses back. And I hereby solemnly swear, I will never be an extra again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I got a hermit crab. A hermit crab is a little crab that chooses its shell instead of having a shell that grows on it. You can put a few shells in with one, and it'll change shells after a while, and that's pretty cool to see. I named him Glen, but I don't really know if it's a boy or a girl. I try to make him feel safe and warm and happy. His plastic cage is pretty small right now, but I'm going to save up aned get him a bigger one and maybe a friend. Until then, I take him out as much as I can and let him crawl around the floor. I think his pet store food must get pretty boring, so I let him have some lettuce today. Tomorrow, I'm going to see if Glen likes peanut butter.And I always talk to him and make him feel good. I say I love you Glen. I'm so glad you're here. I think you're the best. I know it must make him feel good.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Things for Which Beckett Gives Thanks

1. Divine retribution (the wrath of Khan)
2. The color pink
3. The sun
4. Coffee
5. Sex
6. The riches he been snatchin from you bitches
7. Stephen Hawking
8. Lawyers
9. Cats, dogs, and all things cuddly
10. Salt mines
11. Sleep
12. LASERS (the car & the beam)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pain Jar

I had an existential feast this weekend, seeing "Thom Pain, Based on Nothing," at DR2 Theater on 15th St. on Saturday night, and then, on Sunday afternoon, "Jarhead."

Neither was perfect, but both were thoughtful and provocative.

Thom Pain has been extended several times, and now T. Ryder Smith has replaced James Urbaniak as the show's sole performer. He's an engaging presence as he tells the discursive story of a boy, his dog, the dog's electrocution, bee stings and a failed relationship. The script, by Will Eno requires him to trip back and forth between the narrative and discursions and asides. He doesn't know if he's good enough. For life, for this show, for love. Life is pain for Mr. Thom. It's a smart-alecky, knowing treatise, shot through with real feeling, and Smith is generally up to the challenge. He fills the earlier moments of passion with genuine feeling, and several moments achieve the sublime. But, toward the end, as tears and sobbing are required of him, he doesn't seem to quite have it in him, and is forced to go through the forms of feeling, ending the evening flatly. My heart goes out to Smith. The show is performed two times a night, at six and nine, in order to maximize sales from the small DR2 theater, I presume. And the performance I witnessed was peopled largely by TKTS (a discount ticket booth) who were probable expecting a play of some sort, or at least some kind of attempt at spectacle. Not the best audience for a performer to have to bare himself before. I, myself, had brought four people along: my aunt, her wife, and two friends of theirs. I was accutely aware once the show started that it was a poor choice for tourists. Smith must have been aware of this, too as he fought his way to the end.

As for Jarhead, there is no shortage of writing on this Hollywood offering, so I'll keep it short. It is not nearly so hollow as many reviewers would have you believe. And it is well worth seeing for an askew view of the Marines, as well as some incredibly haunting visuals. It also happens to be funny and interesting the whole way through without ever dragging. It even manages a few moments of genuine pathos. Peter Sarsgaard and Jake "Beefcake" Gyllenhaal are great, and Foxx does his job competently.

Both works ask not just "Why?", but "Why bother?", and because the question is more important than the answer, do not, cannot answer the question more fully than with a "Because." True to life, but "Because" does not make for a dramatic ending. Reality doesn't follow a conventional story arc, and neither do "Thom Pain" and "Jarhead." Which is fine, but as audience members we've been trained to expect catharsis, and I was disappointed at the fizzles that capped each show, even as I left the theater deep in thought. Sure, it's smart, it's honest, but how bout a just one big old bang? Please? No? Okay. Stinking art.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Tomorrow Tomorrow

I'm sitting here with headphones on, absolutely transported by a musician I thought I'd become complacent with, and it's just overwhelming to me in this moment how impossiby beautiful Elliott Smith's music is. The melodies, the harmonies, the build and flow. Every song is well crafted, meaningful and moving. I've heard "X/O," which I'm listening to at the moment, dozens of times before, yet I'm delighted as each song starts again as if the first time I'm hearing it.

There's nothing quite like the beauty of tragedy and depsair. Misery, sorrow, fear, and longing become profundity in the right artist's hands. I'm glad I can again revel in his music. Since his knife-through-the-chest suicide, I'd been too disturbed by the reality of his demise to escape into the music. And, just as every single Alice in Chains song is about heroin, every single Elliot Smith song treats with depression, low self esteem, self loathing, and addiction. Sounds horrific, but no, in fact, it does not sound horrific. It sounds heartfelt. It sounds true. It sounds sublime.

Check out his profile at allmusic:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


The Smoking Gun can always be counted on for items which will make you tremble in fear for the fragile future of this planet.

Yes, it's for real.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Another pun for a title as I follow the example set by my collaborator Glen's posts. I am a new man today. A fresh and bold individual, facing the world with renewed confidence and vigor. Because I, after at least two months, purchased for myself a hair cut. It's a good cut. Short, low maintenance. I begin to understand the traditionally female fascination with the stylist. It really does make a differenc in one's outlook. Wheeee!

When I was a child I had blonde hair. I was proud of it. I loved it. Adults consistently complemented my downy locks. Then my hair got browner. And greasier. And browner. And greasier. By the time I was in junior high, I had a greasy, cowlicked tangle of bland brown hair. But this year, I've noticed my hair becoming lighter. And when I've described its color as brown, folks have dissented. I'd like to think that what is occuring is a magical reblonding. But the white hairs that have appeared here and there tell a different story. And today, as I examined my shorne hair in my lap, I was able to pick out a fairly large number of crackers. Never have I witnessed so much unabashed honkey-ism in my hair color. So it begins. I am now undoubtedly on the (hopefully) long descent into white hair.

There is a silver lining to this loss of color. I have a young face, and a bit of greying may do a little to give me that distinguished look. Yeah, that's it!

One more thing: I went to a place with a semi-pretentious name like David Concept Studios. Here in the city the predeliction for punny salon names seems less prevalent than in the suburbs, where one always has a choice between Hair Today, E-clips, and A Cut Above. I wonder if any of the owners who decided to go with "Hair Today" considered the ill favor of its implication: "Gone Tomorrow."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I love cats. I have two of them, in fact. They're my boon companions. But my cats cannot do tricks. Most cats cannot do tricks. Most cats are not a part of the Moscow Cats Theatre. The Moscow Cats Theatre is best described thus: a smallish group of clowns enticing a larger group of cats (and one dog) to do tricks of varying difficulty and impressiveness. It's more of a Cat Circus. I imagine they call it theater (okay, "Theatre") so that they can charge $50 for it.

I would like to say a thing or two about the Moscow Cats Theatre. First, if you are into psychotropic drugs, it might be advisable to take some before attending this particular theater. Though, I must counsel caution: the experience itself was tantamount to a tab or two of acid, so if you walk into the joint packed full of rum and mescaline, you are headed for a five-alarm, Hunter Thompson-style freakout. The kind that ends with evil fear, large bills, and a confrontation with law enforcement.

But I digress. On to my second thought regarding the Cats Theatre. While I admit I laughed my ass off several times, and that it was far better than much of the real theater I've attended, I can't say that it was really worth $50. Yes, the cats did some pretty nifty things, but the magical clown storyteller/painter in search of love beset by nightmare elephant-clown cat stealers and aided by a fairy catmother storyline felt a bit artificial.

And the "tricks" would be better termed "impressive demonstrations of normal cat behavior." Cats climb things. We saw them climb very high things. They jump. We saw em do that as well. They squeeze themselves into improbable places. Uh huh. They get trussed up in dresses by pathetic clowns. No doubt about it. They hang on with those devlish claws for dear life when something they are on is moved. Yep. That's cat behavior all right. They do handstands. They walk along parallell bars with two feet, as the other two dangle below. Okay, the last two I'll admit into the record as "tricks." But really, wouldn't some quaint square in an aging European capital dotted with unwashed hippies and tourists be a more appropriate venue for this busking act?

And here's the coup de grace: the kids just would not shut up. All the little urchins did was holler and bellow and howl like it was Christmas day. It's like they'd never been to the theater before. theatre that is. Theatre.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Trail of Tears

Often, it seems to me that life consists of enduring one trauma after another. Tragedy begets tragedy, and we all smile in spite of it, because it's got to be better than being dead. From Mississippi to Iraq to Sudan to Pakistan to Guatemala, horror approaches, shakes my hand, offers me a seat, and punches me in the groin.

Someone dies, mourning lingers, then another death. There will be a point when I will no longer be attending my friends' weddings, but their funerals.

What has provoked this depressive, bitter, overly general diatribe? Many coincident events of varying crapitude, but one in particular. Someone very close to me has been harrassed sexually by her superior. Her response has been measured and reasonable in bringing it to the attention of management. And what have they done about it? Tried to brush her off. Not taken it seriously. Tried to end it with some ludicrous promise that the offender would get counseling. Take it from someone who likes the sauce a little too much, a couple sessions of sensitivity training will not rein in an out of control alcoholic.

That the company didn't bend over backwards for her sake is shocking to me. If they don't give a shit about the work environment or rights of their employees (which they clearly don't), they should give a shit about getting sued. Which they are about to. Fuckers.

So I go from a general consideration about the ugliness of life to a specific and enraged complaint.

If only I could take a hacksaw to the prick's prick and lob a Molotov into the offending corporate offices.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Letter of Condemnation

When I got to work today, there was an envelope with my name on it on top of the register in the pump hut. I asked Vijay if it was for me, and he asked me if it had stupid written on it. I said no, and he said give it to him. I did, and he said open it, stupid, it's for you.

It was a letter from the Mayor Alein, thanking me for my bravery when the station got robbed. I don't know why I got a letter this time. I guess because my picture was in the paper. I was looking at it, thinking it's a weird thing to get thanked when you get robbed, as if you had something to do with it, when Vijay told me to get to work and clean up a bunch of oil next to pump 3.

I haven't shown it to anyone yet. I'd like to get it framed and put it in the pump hut, because that would be appropriate, but we're not allowed to hang anything except approved materials in there. It's probably a mistake anyway. They probably meant to send it to someone who actually did something besides hit the alarm button and put the money in the drop safe when they got robbed. Besides, I've gotten beat up lots of times, and I never got a letter about it before.

The pump hut is still freezing. I don't think they're ever going to fix the window. It'd get fixed if Vijay had to sit in there all night.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Nothing Left

Not much left anyway. Just enough to let a few lines dribble listlessly out. Each time a project of mine ends, I feel utterly rudderless. I could easily sleep until three in the afternoon and stay up until four in the morning. I force myself to get up and do things, but only because they must be done. Because something must be done, and laying in bed as the world falls to shit is simply unacceptable (tried it in college...not worth the lack of effort), no matter how disagreeable doing stuff may seem.

I think I could classify this post-project mourning period as a symptom of a pervasive and nearly constant depression. Combine that with the feeling of dread that creeps over me from time to time (while I'm watching TV, while riding an elevator, while sitting and reading), and I've got quite an incentive to stay in bed.

What's worse, I've misplaced my glasses. Damn my eyes. At least the LSATs are over. At least there's that.

Friday, September 23, 2005


When life hands you sermons, make Sermonade. We can help you spice up your tired old sermon. Nature is your friend as you introduce your flock to the grandeur of God. Sinners and saved alike can benefit from our visual metaphors and aids.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Boy am I threatened by it, knee-buckled by it, roiling with envy at it. For some reason I believe it is what I am to be. And I know it is what I am not. As exceptional as I might be. One in a hundred is not one in a million. It upsets me. I've had to come to terms with and let go of several juvenile fantasies later in life than you might expect.

1. I will be neither Air Force pilot nor astronaut
2. I will not play professional baseball
3. I am not now and will not suddenly become a genius

I don't know why this should be so hard to accept. It's not as if geniuses are renowned for being especially happy. And that's if they happen to be renowned. If we're to believe the wisdom of our culture, there are many more geniuses, toiling in obscurity, unrecognized as the prophets they are, and brimming with vitriol at not being renowned. Even renown is known to be a generally unhappy experience.

When I nurtured this fantasy of genius, that things did not come easily was a constant frustration. So not much came at all. Now I understand I have to work (some things can be slow in coming to a self-presumed genius), which has been a surprisingly satisfying experience.

So, no Grand Unified Theories, no As I Lay Dying, no OK Computer from me.

I am not endorsing mediocrity, but an understanding that perfection is unattainable, and even undesirable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Private Defective

My jaw hurts so bad. It's been bad for a while. As long as I can remember. Sometimes, it just sort of locks closed, so I can't open it more than an inch. It feels like the bones are stuck. Like one of those dreams where you can't scream for help. It always goes away after a little bit, when I'm not even thinking about it.

I don't know why I'm hurt all the time and everyone else is always fine. I never miss work, but my back always hurts. The rest of it I don't even want to talk about.

But there are plenty of people who have it much worse. I mean, at least I'm not in Africa without any food, or getting beat up, or a communist, or anything like that. It's really no big deal, when I really think about it. Most people have it much worse than me.

I've been thinking about asking my doctor if maybe my medicine is what's making my jaw hurt. I think it started before the medicine, but I can't really remember.

It's been two years since I dropped a plate.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


This week wasn't very good. Vijay yelled at me every day. First it was the short money. Then, I couldn't get some guy's hood open. Some other stuff, too. The worst part is, a lady complained about me. She said I was rude. I always follow the training video and smile and greet the customer, so I can't remember being rude to anyone. Vijay told me the only reason I don't fire you is because people think you're retarded and it wouldn't look right

If I don't shape up, I'm gone in a heartbeat.

Maybe I am retarded. I don't want to be fired. I'll never get another job.

So, I called my mom. My mom's been mad at me for long time because I won't live at home with her anymore. But when things go wrong I think of her and still love her and want to talk to her. We mostly talked about her garden, and I asked her about my houseplants, because I knew she wanted me to. She tells me how much to water them and where to put them. I don't really care that much, but it's not too hard, so I do it for her. The thing was, after I started talking to her, I was afraid to talk about the gas station. She said "hello," and I just wanted to hang up. I don't want my mom to know I'm a loser. Or at least how much of one I am.

So we just talked about plants and said it was nice to talk and all that. Then, when we were getting ready to go, I didn't know what to say, so I said, "Mom, what do you think I'm doing wrong?"

She was quiet and I felt something bad coming, and she said, really slowly, "I didn't say you were doing anything wrong, Glen. Why are you so sensitive? Grow up, already"

I told her that's not what I meant but I could already feel my cheeks burning, so I just hung up and punched a hole in my wall.

When I call her in a couple days to apologize, I'll probably have to tell her I got fired, too.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Few Bad Apples

Katrina is the world right now. This thing just keeps getting worse, and there's no hope in sight. Now the specter of race riots appears. As New Orleans becomes a warzone, there is the distinct possibility that confrontations will spark outpourings of frustration in other destitute communities.

Worrying about rioting, thousands dead and dying, looting, misery, and massive destruction is enough for one, without having to deal with the pundits, the partisans and the party hacks. The waters had barely begun to rise when the opportunists started asking themselves: "How can we use this to our advantage?"

There are folks screaming racism in the coverage because black people have been shown looting. I know I've seen shots of both black and white looting, and that the majority of rescue shots I've seen have involved people of color.

Then there are the people who see this as an opportunity to attack the Bush administration. I am no fan of the nutcases in power at the moment, but give them a few days to mobilize relief. Lesson 1: The hurricane was not caused by Bush's failure to sign the Kyoto treaty, and anyone who says so is either stupid or dishonest.

On the other hand, there are worse faults than criticizing the disaster preparedness of the area or country. You could claim that the storm is sent by god to punish the wicked. Kind of like Robertson did in the past...or this Kuwaiti official just did in the World Tribune. Lesson 2: God doesn't help football players score touchdowns and he doesn't indiscriminately kill thousands of people (many of whom undoubtedly were opposed to the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East) as an act of judgment. Anyone who claims god does such things is insane and an enemy of reason.

Of course nothing compares to the inspiring example of people in times of crisis:
"Police say storm victims are being raped and beaten inside the New Orleans Convention Center. About 15,200 people who had taken shelter at the convention center to await buses grew increasingly hostile. Police Chief Eddie Compass says he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly beaten back by an angry mob. Compass says, "We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten."He says tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon.In hopes of defusing the unrest at the convention center, Mayor Ray Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city's unflooded west bank for whatever relief they can find. But the bedlam appeared to make leaving difficult."

As if people needed an excuse not to send money, to turn a blind eye, to say, "Maybe they did deserve it." Lesson 3: People are idiots. I mean what are you going to do with the TV? There's no power! And 20 ft. of water! Take food sure...but beer?...sneakers?

Now ask me why I have such a dim view of humanity.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Captain Kidd & the UFOs

I just watched a bit of a program, on the Discovery or History Channel or somesuch, which documented the efforts of some researchers to uncover the wreck of the dread pirate Captain Kidd's ship.

At first, I found something charming in the zeal these men (and they were all men) brought to their hunt. Deploying expensive equipment and workingwith a largish team, I felt they must pour every cent into this wild endeavor. They must live and breathe pirate hunting at the expense of their wealth, credibility, and popularity with women. Their quest carries with it an air of childish innocence; of boyish fantasies somehow turned into reality.

But the longer I watched, the more I felt unease. There was something dishonest about the enterprise. Intellectually dishonest. The problem was that these men purported to be researchers, but went in with a predetermined result. When they found evidence on the sea floor, they immediately fit it to their preconception. Gold coins became an occasion for a hypothesis that the pirates perhaps needed to leave the ship quickly and were not able to save all their loot. There was no real evidence for this. They were looking for reasons the wreck could have been Captain Kidd's as opposed to reasons it could not. I could see the strain in the pirate-hunter's brain as he forced the find into his worldview.

Why would they operate in so counterproductive a manner? It could easily lead to incorrect labeling of the ship as Kidd's wreck. It makes better TV, for one. And for two, it is only human to want to be a part of something great. For them, greatness seems wrapped up in the romantic pirate, and their part of this greatness would be a great discovery, which would bring them renown and publicity.

I for one would be damned proud to be part of such a discovery. But I am not delusional, as these poor chaps appear dangerously close to being. I have some experience with delusional individuals, and while I can't make a positive diagnosis, I can offer this advice: be wary of anyone with an abnormal fascination with UFOs, conspiracies, or pirates.

I imagine anyone still reading at this point is thinking "But why should this bother you so much? Why take so much effort with a trivial TV show?"

I don't know. I understand others somehow tune the crap out. It's not something I can do. Commercials, for instance have a way of really upsetting me. They really piss me off. I become livid at the blatant manipulations and deceptions employed. The attacks on my self constantly flowing from the TV get way under my skin. I complain. I criticize. I rant. And I irritate anyone who happens to be watching with me far more than the commercials ever could. Most people are able to hit a mental "mute" button. It's a gift I was not given.

On second thought, go on and hunt pirate booty all ye want, ye wild-eyed romantics. As long as you're not scheming in the conference rooms of some ad agency, plotting to foist on me moisturizer and beer, I salute you. Argh.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rising Dread in a 767

It's like getting a pen knife driven into the small of your back. Like having a gnome in your chest cavity, grinding your guts to dust. A piece of elastic around your head, slowly contracting, inching and crawling its way upward, infinitely, never snapping.

It means never again focusing your eyes tightly.
Never thinking rightly.
Never touching the moment of completion.

What's wrong with death in small doses? One might build up an immunity. Death is an event one should practice. It is epochal. One must prepare for it.

I can only hope the minute death of the cigarette drag is representative of the real thing.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

Dumb Stupid Idiot

I say it over and over. You dummy. You dummy. You dummy.

I hope repeating it will have some effect and things will change finally.

One night I said it for three or four hours. Hundreds of times. I say it out loud, sometimes really loud at home. When I'm out somewhere, I say it kind of under my breath, so it's not just thinking; so it means something, but quiet enough so other people won't look at me.

So far, I still feel pretty dumb, but I know that if you try hard enough you can change. And if I try hard enough, I can change. I do want to change. I don't want to be like this forever. All stupid and ugly. I can't change how I look, but I can stop screwing stuff up so much. I might not actually get smarter, but I can stop making dumb mistakes.

The register was $22.52 short tonight, so I had to make up the difference. I'm sure I messed up the math somehow. That means if I go out this weekend, I won't be able to buy any drinks.

You dummy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

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A cigarette right now would be delicious. There's an especially gnarled knot midway down my back, center-right, that pleads for it. I can almost feel the black air filling my lungs. They expand to accept the mixed blessing of the inhalation. Blood vessels dilating, even my eyes seem to relax as the rush warms over me. I feel like passing out or perhaps flying away. Little cylinder jammed between my fingers. Aura of smoke cocoons me. I lean. And then I take another drag.

And then another until I finish it, throw it on the ground, and think about when I can have another cigarette. At times, I've actually thought about the next cigarette while I'm still smoking one.

Films. Strangers on the street. Friends. Old pictures of me. All demand of me why I don't smoke anymore. By their own love of the things. By their disbelief that I, of all people, have quit.

Oh, Jesus, would I love to start again. I long to.

But I wouldn't die for one. Not now. That's the point.

And this moment of agony will pass as have the countless others I've endured since I quit months ago.

Friday, July 22, 2005


I love to dance. The past and future both melt away under the heat of the beat. I just lose it out there on the floor. The bass is thumping, and my hips are humping! Ha!

I work on my moves at home, and then, come Saturday night, I take a shower, I put on the Brut, I put some gel in my hair, and I go over to RickRaff's in Murphysboro.

All the way over, it's like the car's filling with anticipation. I play the same mix every time, so I feel like I'm in the perfect mood. When I walk in that door, and pay my ten dollars, it's like the whole week at the gas station has been worth it for this one night. I can hear the music from the hall, I can see girls all over the place and I'm just drooling. I smell their perfume and their sweat.

Then I break out the moves and grooves I've been working on all week. Everyone usually gives me lots of space to work, and I need it, because I am out of control. I usually don't even drink because I have to drive and I want to beon the lookout in case any of the ladies in the place need a ride.

It hasn't happened yet, but if I keep it up. Keep going over to RickRaff's Big Saturday Night Breakdown, someone will go home with me.

It's bound to happen eventually, right?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

To Sever Man

I've been stuck in a quagmire lately. Whether to politicize and socially engage myself, or whether to take a more distanced stance toward society.

As an artist, I am forced to question the relevance of the work I do. If only a small cadre of likeminded individuals are exposed to my work, is it of great enough value? Furthermore, my focus is sort of a fringe of a fringe. My opinions are iconoclastic, my aesthetic not shared by the masses.

And in order to do this work that is seen by few and scorned by many, I must work in a soul-sucking ad agency forty hours a week as a freelancer. If this is the life of the artist, I am not sure I want it. I can struggle forward for the next couple of decades, and slowly establish myself, and maybe, maybe if I'm lucky I'll be able to squeeze by on income from my art.

Do I love my art? Yes. The question is whether I love it enough to sacrifice giant slabs of my life to supporting it while not actually doing it. If I'm too drained for art by the time I get home, why not just sell out and get it over with already? I'm slowly becoming the average drone I've always dreaded becoming.

It's clear. It's time to leave my day job. The sad fact is that I've accrued plenty of debt on artistic missions of various sorts. And the money here is good. It's hard to turn down the money. But I must. I a few months for sure.

Add to my day job dissatisfaction my nagging feeling that I could be doing more every day to make a difference. When I was growing up, I always thought I was going to be someone who would make a difference, but I'm currently on a path to becoming increasingly shallow and self-reflective. An easy thing to do in this image-insane city. And with a blog.

The problem with engaging politically is you have to deal with assholes like Tucker Carlson. People who have no interest in logic and reasoning except as a tool to serve their party masters. People who take positions and then muster their rhetorical skills to back them up. And of course, there is the great mass of people who just don't give a crap. The hate, contempt, and stupidity that courses through every public discussion is so revolting that I want to sneak off to the woods and smear portraits of the Virgin Mary with dung.

But I'm not willing to give in. It's time for a change. So I find myself contemplating the opposite of artistry: law school. Why? Because at least I would have a shot of going to work every day to do something I really cared about and believed in. I don't know how much longer I can stand waking up and hating to get out of bed.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


It's been a long time. I keep a record. I can tell you it has been well over a year now. Ideally, I'd like a loving partner to hold me through the night. That's what I think about when I hug my pillow as I fall asleep. A friend. But that's ideally. I also know how unrealistic the ideal can be. How unrealistic it is. It's not like I've given up, but at this point, I'm a few stages away from that kind of fulfillment.

There hasn't been a hug. There has rarely been a close encounter in which my personal space is lightly brushed. I savor these moments as if they were deep embraces. There's no point in lying: I've never been lucky in the way of people wanting to touch me. It's the stink. My mother didn't want to touch me, though my sister was not above it from time to time.

The last time I had what I would call contact--real, undeniable, intentional contact--was last year. A Ford Escort rolled in smoking from under the hood. An older guy got out, and he looked really scared. He was kind of shaking a little bit, and his eyes were bigger than normal. I figured he must have been driving that thing a mile up the hill to the station here, with smoke pouring out of it, waiting for it to explode at any second. He got out and walked away from it as fast as his age and stature permitted, and then he just stood there, looking at it. Wearing a suit in the middle of summer, with all the excitement, he was sweating like crazy, just staring at the car, smoking away.

So I walked over, turned off the engine and popped the hood. The oil cap wasn't on and there was oil everywhere, burning up like crazy. With every crank of the pistons, the oil had been spurting all over the engine. I didn't have a cap for the guy and it was Sunday, so I filled the engine up, and duct taped over the hole, leaving a little space for pressure to escape.

The little man looked so relieved, I was sure he thought he was going to die. I don't think he could believe that I had fixed it. Before he got back into the Escort and drove away, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a green bill, puting it in my right hand. Then, keeping his hand pressed against mine, he covered the back of my hand as well, giving my hand a warm, grateful shake.

That was the last time. Sometimes, I relive that moment. I imagine the look of respect and gratefulness on his face, and I press one hand against the other.

It's maybe not the same, but I do what I can.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Fantasy Dogs

People are really weird when it comes to dogs and cats. They seem to think their pets are dolls, people, or, worse, actors in some hypercheesy fantasy world.

I would post a picture from Jean's Dog Shop's fantasy gallery , but you really should see it for yourself.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Ign'rant Hicks

Last week, in celebration of the independence of our great land from the tyranny of taxation without representation, I went hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail with my two brothers along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. We witnessed there the most majestic vistas east of the Rockies and met some colorful folk from all over the country. Now, I've known plenty of people from West Coast and the Midwest. It was the contact with the Southerners that proved a real eye opener. And not just on the trail, where the people one meets are not apt to be representative of the population at large, but in the stores and on the streets.

All protestations to the contrary, before last week, I had nurtured an image of my southern brothers and sisters as racist, uneducated, loutish, and dangerous. I imagined they would blow my Yankee ass to kingdom come with their ubiquitous shotguns as soon as look at me.

Yes, I've meekly ventured into the south before: once to New Orleans (hardly representative, I think), and once to Charlotte. But I was still afeared of those durned southern folk.

Well, after a week, I am no longer afeared. I can't tell you their general education level, prediliction toward racism, or whether they really do all own guns, but I can tell you this: Those southern people may well wish to blast me with their twelve-gauges, but they're so danged nice, I think I'd take a belly full of shot with a warm "thank you kindly." Compared to New Yorkers, the people of Tennessee and North Carolina practically emanate a saintly glow. Cashiers, waitresses, passing strangers, they're all nice. Compare this to NYC, where no one will look at you except to ask for money, and the service at stores is indifferent at best.

I am left to ask: What are they so happy about? I thought they lost the war. And why are we such dicks in the north?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Everything in its place

Right off the bat, I tried to join the circus. It was the right thing to do. But they wouldn't have me. They didn't find me disturbing enough. So I applied for a job at the bank. But they wouldn't have me either. Though they said they had no openings, I could see that I discomfited them. They didn't want me around customers. They didn't want me around themselves.

It could be my stink that's to blame. Either the olfactory or ocular variety.

Fortunately, I am not entirely unemployable. I am willing to show up and am not abnormally stupid. I can work hard when I have to. I don't hate it entirely. This is enough; no, this is surfeit.

Inside the swirl of fumes, my stink is occluded. Besides, everyone feels safe in their car at a gas station, no matter who's manning the pumps. In fact, I think they like seeing me here. It makes sense. It would be much harder to bear to see someone of some personal magnificence playing pump jockey. That situation would constitute an implicit threat.

I, on the other hand, comfort customers with the knowledge that there is still a chasm of crystal clear air between themselves and the bottom.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Only My Dignity

"Are you alright?" A couple of young ladies in a passing cab inquired about my physical well being.

I could have had a fractured femur and I would have wobbled away from there. I think the first thing that went through my mind as my bike slid out from under me on a slick Sixth Avenue was "How embarrasing." Not "Oh God, I hope I don't die," or "Wheeee!" To be sure my adrenaline kicked in and I hopped back on the righted bike as if nothing had happened.

And then the inquiry from the cab. To which I smiled and replied, "Not really." And off they went. I guess their question did not hold its literal meaning, but something more akin to: "Holy shit! That was crazy!"

I wish I could blame my fall on a crazed driver or an oblivious pedestrian. But no. I simply tried to turn and brake at the same time, and the tires on my Trek would not cooperate. In the realm of NYC cycling accidents, this one barely counted. I got off with black grime all the way up one side of my body, and the feeling that my insides had been shaken vigorously.

It reminded me of the one other time I have fallen from my bike in this city. Going all of 7 or 8 mph up a slight hill, my shoelace slowly wound itself around my left pedal. By the time I was aware of this phenomenon, my foot was tied to the pedal. I tried to stop and plant my other foot in order to untangle. Instead, I toppled, slow-motion-style into the street. A dramaless crash, it didn't even have the "wow" factor. Inevitably, a lady in a minivan pulled up beside me and asked if I was hurt.

To which I replied. "Only my dignity." A lame quip indeed, but the bast I could do under the circumstances.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Scientolo-Gee, Even Mormons Think We're Nuts

What's the difference between a cult and a religion? A couple thousand years.

Nevertheless, who in their right mind would take Scientology seriously? Word to the wise: anything that comes out of Hollywood is bullshit.

Lucky for us, the good people of the Smoking Gun provide evidence that Mr. Hubbard, the cult's founder, was truly insane.

If you're feeling saucy, visit the scientologists' own site/bookstore, and leave them some feedback (i.e., "Wow, this shit is loopy!"), or maybe you'll be converted by their claims to provide you with answers to life's questions by selling you books and courses. A little sampling of what awaits you there:

"Let us bear in mind a few salient facts from the larger body of L. Ron Hubbard’s discoveries. In the first place, if the physiological consequences of drug abuse are generally known, the breakdown of mental alertness and ethical fiber is not. Next, he tells us that the user, even the recreational user, is prone to unnatural hostilities and hatreds and, “while this may not hold true in all cases, it does establish a link between drugs and increasing difficulties with crime, production and the modern breakdown of social and industrial culture."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sleater-Kinney Love

I'm in love with Sleater-Kinney. I saw em last night at the Roseland Ballroom, and I can now say unequivocally that they rock harder that any other band out there. Everyone gives the White Stripes credit for getting such a big sound without a bass player. Forget not S/K, who could kick the White Stripes' ass in a battle of the bands. They rock harder and have more substance, whereas the Stripes sometimes threaten to sink under the weight of their own style. What I'd really like to see is Janet Weiss go one on one with Meg White. Ms. Weiss is ferocious back there. There's little doubt who would end up the queen of the kit.

They started loud and hard, and didn't let up for an hour and a half. Corin Tucker wailed and warbled. Carrie Brownstein chanted, harmonized, and set the stage on fire with her guitar work. They sounded fantastic. Amazingly tight. That's a benefit of playing together for so many years, I guess. No slouches in theatricality either, they kicked, jumped, squealed, pointed, and made me feel like jumping out of my damned skin. If I could kick ass half as hard as the ladies of Sleater-Kinney, I'd be the baddest ass kicker in Brooklyn.

A couple of years ago, I caught them at Roseland as well. The difference this time was definitely the solos. On their latest, "The Woods," the solos and guitar flourishes are very pronounced. Onstage, they actually indulged in long breakdown jams, to the delight of most of the audience, many of whom seemed also to be in love with S/K (not surprisingly, there was a higher lesbian-to-hetero ratio here than almost any other place I've been, though I admit, I haven't been to that many lesbian haunts).

They were kind enough to bestow on us two, count em two encores and seemed to be genuinely pleased that we hooted and hollered to bring em out for a second. They even played the Danzig ditty "Mother" for us.

Sleater-Kinney, you're the best!

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Despair for humanity. You must.

Right. Left.The above is just assinine. This is horrifying.
Be forewarned.

Work, Eat, Sleep

What else is there, anyway? Love? Not necessary. All the things you might do to occupy yourself? All unnecessary. The sports, the PlayStation, the bars, the clubs, the concerts, the theater, the blogs, the newspapers, the causes, the charities: all of it feels like some sort of not-so-profound distraction from a basic truth.

But what is the purpose of all this distraction? There are three main possibilities. The first is that there is no purpose. That all activity beyond the basic necessities of survival is necessarily frivolous and pointless. It is activity that is engaged in because we have become, as a species, just too damned good at the survival game, and must spin fantastic games with our copious free time.

The second possibility is strongly opposed to the first. The truth could be that all this distracting activity is integral to the game of survival of the fittest. That the social interaction, activities, and all the ways we play are manifestation of our animal natures, meant to attract mates, prove our worth as partners, and practice skills needed for survival just as a cat chases a string.

The final possibility is that the feeling of distraction is not so universal as I think. In this case, my experience cannot be generalized. It instead points to a deep unrest within me. A trauma of such magnificence that I dare not look at it, so that even eating, working, sleeping become a distraction from this fearsome truth. I know there is one such truth which I fear to embrace: death. I also know that a deep-seated fear of death is not confined to person, and that this is not the only fear I refuse to fully face. There are more: likely many more that I dare not even write.

Oddly, I believe all three of the above theories to be true. And I believe in good. In helping others, but I am not certain why.

I love to love. I love to play. But I wonder why.

I've read of the philosophy that people are here to help others. Seems just as likely to me that we are here to dominate others. Domination through any and all means is certainly the preferred course of action.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Because it is ashamed for me to sing

Soccer Love

Yankees, Why Do I Care?

I'm not supposed to care about baseball. I know better. Especially professional baseball. A bunch of spoiled athletes. A bunch of egomaniacal owners. People live for their teams. They get tattoos. Spend thousands on playoff tickets. I can see the absurdity of all this.

I know better than to care. But I do care. Alot. About the Yankees, of all teams. I usually root for the underdog and decry the power-mad, absurdly wealthy Yankee-types of the world. But my attachment was formed young, and breaking it would be unthinkable.

So I find myself defending the Yankees when they're accused of buying their titles. Of destroying the competitive balance.

Worst of all I feel truly deflated at every loss. Especially this year, as they fail to live up to expectations, game after game. Especially now, when the bullpen has turned a 2-1 lead over St. Louis to a 5-2 defecit. My stomach tightens, my fists clench. I want to throw a fit. I want to yell at the team. I know how irrational this is. I really do. But do I stop? Of course not.

Go Yankees!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Black Lung Posted by Hello

Friday, June 10, 2005

Why? Oh, God Why?

Smarter than whom? Than me. The goal is to improve, mentally and physically. To train the whole of oneself to face any situation. This is the key to living, right?

But I'm not so sure the constant push for self-improvement is all that smart. After all, if I constantly encourage myself to become "better," I am labeling the current version of myself as somehow inferior, thus hindering me in the present in order to brace for an unknown future. And if I'm focused always on some future version of myself in which I have finally attained superior intellect, I will never enjoy this moment. And if I focus on some future physical perfection, I will face escalating disappointment as I age and deteriorate. Either way leaves me old and bitter.

I tell myself to live in the moment.

Nevertheless, I want to be the best.

I want to be stronger. I want to be smarter.

I've been writing a character with Alzheimer's. Not the most hope-inspiring of afflictions.
Take a look at this chart to see if you have Alzheimer's.

Luckily for me, the title at the top here is not Cheerier.

Jackasses Hit the Pipe

Something tells me these 2 aren't getting any smarter.
No, I don't know these guys. They just got swept up in
an Internet search. Jackasses.
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