i still suffer from anxiety attacks. my jaw tenses up, palms slicken,
breathing shortens, and eyes dart around madly searching for the
"safety" pole. any quick, traumatic experience can set it in motion.
today that experience was learning this: Judd
- I FELL APART AT 11:16 a.m. ON 31
was thinking about that pop duo, The Rembrandts, the other day.
they have a new album coming out next month, and a history of
at least three other official albums to back that one up. (the
names of those albums are "Untitled", "LP", and "The Rembrandts".
i think coming up with names for albums must be hard, but it can't
be this hard. the upcoming album, Lost Together
has a slightly more inspiring name. i do hope they haven't
expended all of their creative resources nailing that one.)
here is the reason i'm thinking about The Rembrandts: they
have all those albums but they're really only known for one
song. and, unlike most other one-hit outfits, their one-hit is
a tv theme song. that means they can't really even properly
enjoy the success of their singular hit because, in a sense, they
have to share that success with matt leblanc.
The Rembrandts actually had a minor hit in america prior to
the Friends theme. (and they probably had 30 platinum
singles in europe because EVERYONE has 30 platinum singles in
europe. i think i have a couple platinum singles coming to me,
in fact.) this means they actually had aspirations and a record
label that supported them. but their single was eclipsed a million-fold
by the awesome penetration of "I'll Be There For You [TV
VERSION]". that song was a monster hit, both for the band and
for sorority girls on the last day of school. (because they, like
the characters on the television show, and the subjects of the
song that precedes the television show each week, are 'friends'.
high-five.) The Rembrandts could not have possibly anticipated
this, could they? the royalties must feel good, but you know
what must feel lousy? touring.
because how would you feel if you were in a rock band, like
any other rock band, and your greatest moment was essentially
recording a commercial? no one requested to hear linda lavin
belt out the theme song to Alice on american top 40,
did they? and she would have been pleased as punch to travel
the globe in support of the Alice theme song. but for
a long time everyone wanted to hear the Rembrandts kick the friends
song, over and over and over again. were they happy to play it?
i think despite the thunderous ka-chink sound booming in their
ears above the din of "I'll Be There For You" it must have
been a rather depressing experience. still is, i'm sure.
if you're The Rembrandts it's almost not within your
rights to insist on playing your "other" hits - the ones no one
has ever heard and never wants to hear in a million years. in
fact, 99% of people at a Rembrandts show are going to respond
to a new song, meaning any song they haven't heard at least
10,000 times through every medium possible, the same way they'd
respond to anything unfamiliar - with complete indifference or,
at best, inarticulate mockery. (and surely, to keep audiences
from getting bummed out by long, confusing sets filled with alien
music, The Rembrandts would be very likely stuffed on a lengthy
bill sponsored by some local pop radio station, alongside other
artistically limited marionettes such as natalie imbruglia, the
del fuegos and mandy moore.)
how would you feel if, as a writer, you toured the country on
a book reading/signing for your new historical fiction and everyone
just wanted to hear about how you came up with that awesome talking
chihuahua commercial for Taco Bell? is it any different for
The Rembrandts? My guess is they might salvage some semblance
of dignity by playing the "long"version of "I'll Be There
For You", with all those extra, controversial lyrics the Friends
producers excised out of fear. (the verse about rape, for example.)
Either that or they retreat to their bus immediately following
each 20 minute set and hook right back into their heroin IV drips
as they nod along to the next town.
- I FELL APART AT 02:36 p.m. ON 30
my friend julius is awfully funny. please visit his world
wide web site and congratulate him; today is his bar-mitzvah.
- I FELL APART AT 05:22 p.m. ON 29
i have compiled a list for your records. here are some of the
LEAST misleading film titles in cinema history:
- Four Weddings and a Funeral
- The Blob
- She's Having a Baby
- Seven Samurai
- King Kong Vs. Godzilla
- The People Under the Stairs
- Baby Geniuses
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
- 3 Men and a Baby
- The Brain That Wouldn't Die
- The Incredible Shrinking Woman
- Home Alone
- The World's Biggest Gangbang
- Monkey Trouble
conversely, here are two of the most
misleading movie titles in cinema history:
- The Big Red One
- Funny Girl
- I FELL APART AT 10:30 a.m. ON
29 AUGUST, 2001
i wonder what the white house gives to trick-or-treaters?
i'm guessing a lot of kids go there, expecting the President
might hand out full-size Snickers bars. it would certainly be
a good press opportunity, but it might start attracting kids from
the poor neighborhoods and i'm sure the President wouldn't
oh, and in case you're wondering, at the egyptian pyramids
they just give out dried figs. my mom wouldn't even let me
eat them last year because they weren't properly wrapped.
(ironic, considering the ancient egyptians' obsessive-compulsive
love for wrapping things.) all in all, a total gyp. even worse
than getting a pencil at the taj mahal. (but that's only
because the pencil was made of solid gold and rubies.) hey pyramids
- give me something good to eat. and if you don't like that
perhaps you'd prefer to smell my feet.
next year i'm going to leave a flaming bag of dogshit at
the pyramids. that should send out a message.
- I FELL APART AT 12:33 p.m. ON 27
allow me to clear up some confusion. when i describe myself as
a 'renaissance man' i don't mean that i have a
broad spectrum of cultural or scientific pursuits, or that i excel
at a number of different things. when i say i'm a renaissance
man i simply mean that i throw my excrement out the window and
probably won't live past 40.
- I FELL APART AT 11:16 p.m. ON 26
already experiencing serious guilt. about my last confession.
not guilty about how i feel (that would be a good start, though)
but about what kind of position these feelings puts me in. first,
there is the insane irony of how/where i offered this confession.
naturally, the irony didn't escape me but when you think
about it, there really wasn't a more appropriate place. after
all, surgeon general warnings for cigarette would look pretty
silly pasted to the sides of soda cans.
the second piece of that guilt is this: what now? i mean,
i am bored. so why continue? am i part of the headache?
probably. but when i'm bored i do one of two things: i fight
or i write. and since i've already thrashed the daylights
out of every brick-headed so-and-so west of cannery row, i'm
left with a solitary alternative. so the player hater continues
to play. how's that for navelgazing?
those breathing exercises you taught me are helping. yesterday
i fell asleep during an afternoon swim. today promises even more.
- I FELL APART AT 03:50 p.m. ON 26
i just got tired of reading people's online journals. this
was particularly disappointing to me, as i was accustomed to apportioning
an hour or more of each day to strict journal plundering. now
that missing hour is squandered collecting alms for the poor and
the truth is, i wasn't learning anything new. i am as guilty
as i am critical (a quality which might possibly be the very core
of my character - something i'm sure your notes on me confirmed
long ago.) but i'll break it down nonetheless. i miss the
roundabout truth afforded by the long, amorphous stretches of
writing i used to find on people's sites. that was before
auto-publishing (like this) and before a need for immediacy and
frequency overwhelmed the need for careful expression. before
writers became sayers, their fingers poised over their POST AND
PUBLISH buttons each time a fleeting thought passed through their
and then i stopped learning things. everything pointed to everything
pointed back to everything. it's like the promise of interactive
text was being realized completely and here was its message: it
hurts to finish a sentence. so i got bored. i didn't care
who said what about whom and i cared even less about seeing both
active parties concur and link to and fro and become each other's
mirrors. mirrors pressed tight against each other, casting an
infinitely looping reflection, without capturing an image. i decided
at a certain point that if i wasn't laughing, i wasn't
getting anything from the experience. because a laugh is a real,
quick entertainment experience. like a riddle on a dixie cup.
that's quality + brevity.
as i was saying (i think), i stopped learning things and i got
nervous. i thought "if ideas have been broken down this microscopically,
what's next?" i was waiting for a while and then, quite
accidentally, i found out where the truth is hidden: amazon wish
consumerism, even in a sadsack economy, is a language we all
speak. and i've found that i'm learning so much more
from people's material wishes than i'd ever learn from
their terribly self-conscious textual insect bites. i can look
up an individual on amazon.com's wish list search tool, read
about the things they've decided for whatever reason they
absolutely need, and get to know them a bit better that way. the
lists are not hurried, even if they're aggregated by separate
moments of inspiration. and the same trends exist as they would
on people's journals - shared links, common threads, etc.
- but they're abstracted perfectly. (from a continuous loop
of hrefs to pals and such, i can just see "buy me the WAITING
FOR GUFFMAN DVD!!!" and i've got all i need.)
wish lists are chronological and therefore appropriately autobiographical.
i can chart influences, discover new things, develop points of
research, all without hollow posturing. occasionally, you even
get some extra insight from wish lists via the creator's
per-product comments. for instance, i was on someone's wish
list yesterday and, in his plea for a copy of some Hal Hartley
film on DVD, he added (unnecessarily, but wonderfully) that this
is not the director's best film but is one of the few ones
available on DVD. naturally, he also included the title of the
director's 'best' film so, while he is requesting
gifts, he is also being completely dogmatic. there are nice revelations
in amazon wish lists that have long since disappeared from personal
web sites, for the most part. i think it's because they don't
think anyone is watching. this is starkly different from what
can be intuited from the recent trend in online journaling, because
in that medium the author is hopeful (or sometimes POSITIVE!)
that people are watching, even when they really aren't.
guess what? i'm watching, but i'm not watching
what you think i'm watching. i'm just like roddy piper's
character in the john carpenter classic, They Live: when
you think you know the answers, i start changing the questions.
please note how rushed this confession feels. i am my own worst
- I FELL APART AT 1:03 p.m. ON 25
advertising just got under my skin again. this hasn't happened
since the profoundly disturbing introduction of "charlie tuna"
for star-kist. (i still check my can's list of ingredients
for "beret" and "eyeglasses.") yesterday, emerging from the safe
womb of the subway into the damp, shrink-wrap-and-gypsy-scented
air of chinatown, i spotted a new advertisement for DIESEL
brand clothing. the ad's image was (what i believed to be)
a nude, adolescent waif against a stark white background, performing
a nearly impossible yoga position that resulted in both her naked
ass and face pointing in the same direction. oh yes - and i think
she was wearing diesel clothing but i blacked out before i got
a good look.
it turns out, on closer inspection, that this was a semi-lifelike
mannequin. there are more of the same on a new "lifestyle" web
site launched by the great, sniggering eurocreeps at diesel.
i am not sure whom they've recruited to create these plasticine
chapman brothers or real
doll. however, no matter who is responsible, i would really
love to see a photograph of diesel's dumpsters after these
ads have gone out of fashion.
- I FELL APART AT 1:28 p.m. ON 24
my friend Samantha Matin Bliss (guess who had hippie parents?)
is very new to email but possesses an economy of words that is
perfectly natural. from her, better than anything i have to say:
HI. i went for coffee this morning in Oakland and there
was a brown dog with a guy all dressed in brown. this dog first
came up to me and rubbed its face on my brown pocketbook, and
then went to the next guy and rubbed on his brown shoelaces. he
- I FELL APART AT 03:32 p.m. ON 23
gorillas, dead. tigers, smashed and dead. bison, ground to bits,
barely recognizable and surely dead. monkey with banana, spared.
then god made it rain cold milk, and all the dead were washed
from the rocks.
that was the screenplay for a short film about me eating animal
- I FELL APART AT 02:27 p.m. ON 21
i have been plagued by a recurring dream starring an ex-girlfriend.
i told you about her. she was extremely mean, completely unrepentant.
she has the word "HATE" tattooed across the knuckles on her right
hand. and on her left hand, she has a tattoo of the word "IBID."
- I FELL APART AT 09:59 a.m. ON 21
i feel unstoppable today. i just added a second entry in "New
Words". maybe it is unfair to pretend The
Tremble Dialogues is an original piece, since it's merely
the transcription of a recent email conversation. but still! joy!
don't you feel it? like the storm cloud is passing?
i realize you're probably shaking your head right now,
and thinking, 'ok, but have you completed your sketch-writing
assignment or your book proposal or your animated tv series pitch?'
and, since i can't be there to answer that inquiry, please
just try to recall the hangdog expression i get each time you
ask a question of this nature. that should give you an excellent
idea of where i'm at.
- I FELL APART AT 07:54 p.m. ON 19
i added new words called "The
Robosaurus Doesn't Sleep Here". it's a section from
another, new character-based sketch. it's not my proudest
hour, but i am trying not to think in terms of "should haves"
and just focus on completing work. on completing mediocre work
that tugs uncomfortably at my need for perfection in everything
i do. thanks for helping me with this. you're the best!
- I FELL APART AT 04:41 p.m. ON 19
i don't think i'm going to read that ursula le guin
novel; i just don't see how it will help me with my brain.
don't write this off as an act of passive-aggression, please.
if you'll recall i read the
drama of the gifted child, at your request. and i read
Your Gremlin and Taming Your Gremlin, Part II: The
New Batch. i even rented Ghoulies,
just in case. but i didn't get anything from them, apart
from a huge case of the heebie jeebies and a touch of the timewastie
instead, while clearly disobeying your assignment, i found other
reading material. in an effort to better myself, to see myself
more clearly, i went to my local bookseller intending to pick
up the new oral history of motley crue (umlauts withheld, due
to html laziness). however, in a case of good fortune and amazing
inventory placement, my attention was drawn slightly to the left
of this book until it very directly faced darden asbury pyron's
recent biography of Liberace.
it's a thick tome - including over 50 pages of footnotes
- but it's an interesting read about a character whose quirks
were 100 million times more inspired than any four day whisky-and-vagina
benders motley crue can still remember. (although i'm of
complete faith that whiskey-soaked vaginas may still enjoy their
place in the pantheon of english non-fiction.)
also read cintra wilson's indictment of celebrity, A
Massive Swelling. her analyses are hilarious and detailed,
bordering on tangible, visceral. a book like this provides comfort
in knowing that real celebrity, just like the sort of substantially
more boring and obsessive, refrigerator-clipping celebrity of
the web, is a popularity that is generally not based on merit.
i'm sure that any celebrities who might have had her book
read to them would react to it the same way others might react
to my paraphrasing of its purpose: another jealous bitch. well,
to that i say this: a bitch is a female dog and dogs are nature
and nature is beautiful so thank you for the compliment. (that
and more in my upcoming collection, Graceful Exits from Ugly
- I FELL APART AT 03:31 p.m. ON 18
i feel a little better about the near-future of cinema, having
just seen the movie trailers for richard linklater's new
film, waking life,
and the new wes anderson film, the
royal tenenbaums. waking life, in particular, looks beautifully
labored and smart and new - unless you are a giant web design
nerd and have seen this kind of frame-tracing animation a lot
and, as a result, decide very unfairly that waking life might
not be an independent vision after all but a big, visually derivative
stinkpot. to that i say: your web site sucks. i have no idea why
i say that, but i do. bad spirits deserve bad spirits. that's
what the navajos said - the ones who run the casinos.
p.s. remember when you said that working on a painting would
be a good way to get me out of my head for a bit? that the
physicality of it was just what i needed creatively? and then
i told you that i kept shifting my priorities around and placing
"finish painting" dead last, right below "brush teeth"? well,
i had an idea today. i think i'm going to paint my cats'
litter box. it's beige and plastic-horrible and i think i'd
like to paint it to look like a wooden shed with a little painted
sign on the side that reads "Shh!!!! Making Poops." do i need
to double up our appointments again?
- I FELL APART AT 02:44 p.m. ON 16
saw a trailer for a new feature film called Summer Catch.
it's about baseball - and girls! (see how they did that with
the title? seems like they definitely didn't go with
their first, and shittiest, choice on that one.) the trailer said,
"warner brothers presents FREDDIE PRINZE, JR." not sure why anyone
would want to present freddie prinze, jr. anywhere, really. in
fact, freddie prinze jr. makes me honestly hope suicide doesn't
skip a generation.
(i promise i'll write in my 'rage journal' after
that comment. that was negative behavior.)
- I FELL APART AT 12:37 a.m. ON 15
ugh. hit another brick wall today. i try to avoid occasions that
demand open confrontation with my inferiority complex, just like
you suggested. as often as possible, i resist reading books, watching
tv and films, attending art galleries and museums, checking my
horoscope, opening fortune cookie, and talking to women. it was
starting to work.
today i was out of my regular elements and my attention was
caught by a steven segal film playing on television. i believe
the film was called, I DEATH YOU!. during one of the
few scenes bereft of nail-biting Pakistani Action Film Style violence,
mr. segal is seen witnessing an important live news broadcast
of a corrupt senator issuing a somewhat ingenuine and secretly
loaded statement during a press conference. at the close of the
broadcast the senator turns directly to the camera and pronounces
falsely, "you can take that to the bank!" hearing this, mr. segal
reflects for a moment by sitting completely still and then cocking
his head at a slight angle. (it is a gesture of almost autistic
simplicity, betraying its many layers of serious thought.) then,
he quietly seethes, "i'll take you to the bank, mr. senator...the
and hearing this it all comes back to me. i feel as though i
am unsuitably quotable - miles from it. he's that good. why
isn't he sitting at contemporary america's new algonquin
table, hollywood squares? another overlooked genius,
perhaps? another unpublished author destined to die penniless
and syphillitic? i should be so lucky, to be that misunderstood,
and to be that romantically diseased.
- I FELL APART AT 10:17 p.m. ON 11
yesterday the mayor issued emergency instructions for the excessive
heat in our steamy city. after consulting with a range of experts
in municipal planning he declared, "good people of new york -
it is in your best interest to go see a movie or hit the mall!"
i was sort of sad that he forgot about public libraries, museums,
cultural centers, or just inviting people to hang out in city
hall, on him. i know what you'd say about this: that i'm
collecting evidence to prove that ny's latest mayor will
not stop meddling until he turns one of the world's most
cosmopolitan and vibrant and crazy cities into an expensive new
jersey suburb. but aren't the signs all in place? remember
the special committee he organized to have giant wrap-around oakley
sunglasses designed, to be worn by the statue of liberty?
was i the only one troubled by that? it was a 16 billion dollar
operation, after all - and he insisted the glasses be constructed
with scrap metal from operational nyc taxi cabs. but that never
came to fruition. and THAT never makes it in the papers. and THAT'S
why my xeroxed newsletter called "The Big Stink" needs to be in
the hands of every new york resident. so stop wagging your finger
at me, just this once.
p.s. in brighter news, i am almost finished with that list of
incidents in which i've swallowed my anger. i am trying to
be better about our homework assignments.
- I FELL APART AT 02:45 p.m. ON 10
remember when you said i should start getting out of my head and
into my body more? i think you'd suggested something
highly physical, like joining that Zim Zam league in the park
or wearing lace-up shoes instead of velcro ones.
i took your advice, followed your homework, and now i'm
pressing a homemade ice pack on my knee. i'm unable to walk
on it (the knee. i could probably walk on the ice pack very easily
if i could just get this knee to work.) and was up all night writhing
in pain, trying to find a way to fall asleep all at once, while
sharp teeth of agony grip my kneecap from both sides.
i think i'm learning all the wrong lessons. this should
tell me to be more aware of my physical self, right? is that
what you'd say? well, that's not how i feel. honestly,
i just think this makes me aware that "the marionette" is not
the easiest breakdancing move to execute, even if you're
being compelled to do so by the robot sounds of "Don't
Stop The Rock." did i fail my homework assignment?
- I FELL APART AT 11:05 a.m. ON 6