new writing in long forma proper archive for this site

dear brainfixer,
i wonder if you can chart your spiritual health according to your consumption of Glaceau's Vitamin Water. i used to drink Energy and Focus. then i started writing again, and finding time for friends. i switched to Essential briefly, and then i found myself at the fiery end of a long relationship. it was about that time i started drinking Balance, chased with a shot of Jagermeister.

things did not improve. i reversed my routine, chasing 16 ounces of Jager with a shot of Balance. then, failing that, i upgraded to Rescue. Rescue got me through a Thirtysomething marathon on the lifetime network, but its restorative powers were fleeting at best. they were no match for a tear-filled viewing of Some Kind of Wonderful or a long letter written (but, thanks to a Rescue drip, not sent) to my first summer camp girlfriend, demanding she tell me what went wrong on our field trip to the boston museum of science.

i'm off all those old formulas now. lately, i've been seesawing between Crybaby and EscortService (with siberian ginseng). is that bad?

dear brainfixer,
long-time customers may remember a piece i'd written titled "The Loquacious Toll-Booth Attendant." thinking it would fit their format, i recently submitted it to mcsweeney's. and, thinking i was right, they chose to publish it today.

dear brainfixer,
there is a reason i don't get in front of audiences as much as i'd like to. today i woke up in a cold, ugly panic, knowing i was only 12 hours away from standing onstage and attempting to convey my seemingly endless on-paper charms in a purely performative dimension. i calmed myself down by repeating the following mantra: "you've alienated so many friends by now that no one will show up. so what's the big worry?" then i smiled, inhaled purely yellow energy, and threw up. i feel better now.

dear brainfixer,
i have posted a lengthy review of my new favorite print publication, Don Diva magazine. it is available exclusively at Your Ad Here, though i'm linking you right to it, free. i have that kind of power.

dear brainfixer,
i think i'm finally over the music hump. each year, there are two major swells in record releases. one of those swells occurs sometime in late september/early october, as students are returning to school. it gives students their accessories for socializing, for linking friends and personal preferences together. this swell used to coincide with the CMJ music festival in new york city, where live club shows reinforced the content and excitement of each new release. (this is where, over the years, i have seen a fourteen-piece arrangement of lambchop with members of yo la tengo, superchunk, and neutral milk hotel; the magnetic fields two or three times; a sparklehorse/vic chesnutt/steve keane art show that made me cry like a baby; cornershop open and close a knitting factory show with the same song, just like on their excellent album, without losing a single fan; butterglory and the wedding present; and many other bands whose shows i forgot to brag about, whose albums i eventually purchased, and a few whose albums i also sold back to record stores.) i'm not even sure if the CMJ weekend exists any longer, but at least the swell of record releases still does.

the other major swell is just wrapping up. it begins in late april and ends around the beginning of june, when even the laziest, drunkest college students have finally packed their bags for summer break. this swell is my favorite, because it's usually when new bands cut their teeth and old bands cut loose. it gives college students their summer anthems, their marching orders for the next few months.

i even have very specific memories from vintage spring swells. summer, 1989: the pixies' Doolittle, which still might be my favorite album of all time. i remember listening to this album over and over again with my friend simon, even after we wore a bald tread in the cassette. like idiots in stereo, we would imitate the quick, shocked breathing of black francis on "tame". (later that summer, everyone got kicked off the stereo at parties to make room for the first copies of the beastie boys' Paul's Boutique to circulate amongst us. even the powerful pixies had to wait until the ride home.)

june, 1992: Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted carried me loud and soft through the entire summer. i couldn't wait until work was over and i was in my car again. pavement completely undid my notions of how a rock song should come together, by imbuing each track with the suspenseful feeling that it could fall apart at any moment. the songs hung by fuzzy threads. and i had no idea what the lyrics meant - they seemed like placeholders, a lack of ambition for real songwriting - but they were no less fun to sing along with, even if you found yourself shrugging after each verse.


i barely made it through this season alive. this was, in fact, the first truly invigorating late spring swell in many years. (i promise that, come december, i will be one of the music nerds who does NOT say "this was a shitty year for music") with very little money and too many options, i nearly lost everything over the last six weeks. every single time i tried to resist, promising myself i would enter record stores out of curiosity only, i would exit with three or four titles and the knowledge that i would be surviving on mayonnaise sandwiches for the remainder of the week.

i would like to personally thank a few artists for ruining my credit rating and making the last month (and hopefully the next few months) a bit easier for me: wilco, luna, badly drawn boy, mum, cornershop, eminem, bright eyes, the breeders, the vines, and, most of all, imperial teen. can't wait to go back to school in the fall and tell the whole gang about my summer.

dear brainfixer,
my nation's vice-president remarked that a new terrorist attack on the united states is likely. rumfeld added that the question of a new terrorist attack isn't "when" but "how". the new york city chief of police threw this in for good measure: the future presence of pedestrian suicide bombers in nyc is "likely". does anyone else feel like the government just sort of checked out, grabbing their hats and coats, and telling the nation to make sure they lock up when they leave?

i realize the actions of a decentralized plainclothes army are much more difficult to track and prevent than an organized military, and wars are no longer fought according to the rules of lao-tzu, but this is one of those cases where awareness doesn't necessarily make me want to come out of hiding. this is probably a confession of great naivete, but the recent vague warnings - which are the equivalent of the surgeon general declaring "CERTAIN THINGS WILL MAKE YOU STERILE. GOOD NIGHT!" - have made me realize for the first time in my life that the united states government isn't necessarily this impossibly sophisticated, intelligent, and brutal force. film and television depictions of government activities reinforce the idea of total saturation of intelligence, but how true is this? when top-level members of your own government - your Protector - throw their hands up and tell the nation they're on their own, it's sort of like finding out Santa Claus doesn't exist. except in this scenario, Santa does in fact exist but he only works an eight-hour shift, delivering gifts to the white house, the capital building, the pentagon, and david geffen.

as the threats against nyc continue to pile up, i keep wondering whether i really need to see the next show at the guggenheim or eat another corner bistro burger. unfortunately, the answer keeps coming up "yes".

dear brainfixer,
dons, divas - it is my pleasure to alert your attention to a new entry in the recently resuscitated "Your Ad Here." read it, please.

in other news, i think i'm doing a reading next week in nyc. one of the editors of (please see her one-woman show, gringo estupido, at the upright citizens brigade theater next tuesday evening), and a nice friend of mine, is booking three shows in a row and has placed me on the one she described as "more alternativey". in entertainment industry speak, that usually means "you'll be going up after the guy with the acoustic guitar."

dear brainfixer,
(this is where i drop names, and they make no sound at all. so maybe that makes it a less offensive act? no?)

sitting outside at a local pub with a group of music extremists. one guy was arguing that pavement's slanted and enchanted was the 23rd best album of the nineties, while i argued that remembering a ranking that specific was grounds for intensive therapy. (it should be noted that this individual also stores his records in his kitchen cabinets, for space concerns.) it was about that time that a tall man strolled over, decked out in six-plus feet of cowboy regalia and looking very much like the 20th member of lambchop. turns out it's michael gira, from the legendarily nosiy swans. he had large hands,cigarette-stained teeth, and a smile that came as easily as the devil's.

after gira said hello and retired to another table at the bar, the subject of music critics came up. i related a story about how michael gira once post-mailed something disgusting to robert christgau (the self-appointed dean of rock and roll) after christgau gave a swans album an unfavorable review. then i got into it with jack rabid, the impeccable statistician and human hand behind the big takeover, as we tried to settle a difference of opinion on what was mailed to the rock critic. the rest of the table soon joined in, and the conversation quickly adopted the tone of urban legend.

"i'm pretty sure it was a shit."


"a shit. a turd."

"his shit?"

"yeah, gira's shit. he mailed it to christgau."

"no, i heard it was a bloody tampon or something."

"that's so disgusting."

"yeah, but christgau had it coming. i saw him get cold-cocked at a sonic youth show at cbgb's after writing something nasty about the band. i wasn't about to stop it, either."

"doesn't that happen all the time, though? didn't nick kent get beat up by sid vicious at a sex pistols show?"

"yes, but the difference is he was a good writer. and sid vicious was a thug."

"fuck. i wish i could remember if it was shit or blood. i know it was something that comes out of your body, though."

finally, on our way out, we did the only thing we could have done: we asked.

"i sent christgau my sperm. i attached a note that read 'drink this.' i think he did drink it, too, and that's what's kept him alive all these years."

right. sperm. but that still doesn't explain why he would spend his afternoon in park slope. was he shopping for quilts?

dear brainfixer,
earlier this week, i found out i had to have my photograph taken for a "contributing writer" image in a fancy national magazine. when the photograph was requested, it occurred to me that it would be difficult to find an image of an adult me that didn't include:

a) me giving the camera the finger
b) someone in a giant pink panther costume standing next to me
c) me holding up a giant plastic SOLO cup filled with coors light, and giving the camera the finger with my free hand
d) someone in a giant pink panther costume giving me the finger
d) cats

to make up for a lack of raw materials, a friend agreed to photograph me. the sitting was an extremely uncomfortable process made slightly less uncomfortable by her constant chatter and movement. having the photographer so animated allowed me to forget things for a moment and i think it kept my guard down long enough to prevent me from sucking in my cheeks or biting my lower lip seductively. it was a tasteful affair, and i only had to take my top off once, for a few greco-roman wrestling poses. (and that's how i learned that i'm allergic to sandals)

visit the about section of this site to swoon over the Tiger Beat-ready results. (yes, there is a reason writers write and do not model; i have substantiated it more than necessary.)

dear brainfixer,
after my second roll of film with a new and confusing camera, i produced a couple of nice fruits from a largely failed experiment. the first is from a series of about five photos i took as i followed a balloon merchant five blocks down university street.

it's possible that this second image would be appreciated only by the few locals who know the comedic pairing of misters sean conroy and eddie pepitone, and their awkwardly staggered statures. this is a photograph i composed and snapped at mcmanus' pub in manhattan, on the eve of eddie's impending trip to los angeles, where he would begin filming his part in the new todd phillips film, Old School. (eddie might be recognizable to some, as he had a recurring role on late night with conan o'brien, as the guy in the audience who is constantly pissed that he's not going to be in the audience for the next evening's show.) i hope everyone finally gets to find out exactly how funny eddie is, and very soon.

dear brainfixer,
a smart, patient, and tri-lingual art director pulled my coat to the works of thomas demand and vik muniz. they, like gregory crewdson jeff and wall, present a specific type of photography which combines other visual arts disciplines - sculpture, illustration, painting, collage. interacting with their work has been causing me to shift and bulge my idea of what photography is capable of.

muniz, in particular, is the kind of obsessive i really enjoy. (some might argue that my obsession with obsessives needs a prescriptive cure.) his works are often reconstructions of reality, or of other works of art, assembled from memory (as sculpture or paintings) and then documented as photographs. he uses media like glitter, string, sugar and chocolate to reconfigure often commonly experienced memories, such as the works of andy warhol or vincent van gogh. occasionally he playfully adds yet another layer of visual reality, such as scaling the photos perfectly one-to-one with the original assemblage. this means you see the work, an image on silver gelatin, at the exact scale as the object being recorded . you get closer to the reality muniz modeled and that closeness seems infinitely more frustrating because the reality is locked inside the medium. but isn't that what photography often does? when it documents something it seals that "something" hermetically. it's like a form of taxidermy.

muniz has an excellent book that comes far closer to articulating his philosophy than i can. all I can do is share how impressed I am by their careful artistic considerations, and the resultant product of those considerations. i wanted to spend hours sitting around, talking to you about muniz, wall, demand, and struth, flipping through their books on inflatable furniture, but i can't do that now. so i have to give you this instead.

if you still want to laugh, albeit weakly, you can check out the works of the other jeff wall. huzzah.

dear brainfixer,
there are so many incredible movies to see. old films, new films, foreign films, films starring RUN DMC. it's an impossible choice sometimes, sifting through film history. and that's why, when presented with all of that choice, even in the worst video store in the country, if you ever say to yourself, "hmm...well, K-Pax looks like it might be ok," we can never be friends.

dear brainfixer,
i think this constitutes, as it is known in gambling, a "roll": i've updated "Your Ad Here" once again. please visit it for a brief tutorial in effective direct mail copywriting.

dear brainfixer,
had a singular great, small moment tonight over some cheap-damn-good vietnamese food. (i needed one of those great moments. i was so wound up today that my teeth have all been replaced by a mouth full of fine white powder.)

a friend and i were shoveling fistsful of eel and fish toe into our greedy jewish mouths and, between the sharp bits of lemongrass shooting forth from his food-hole, he asked me if i'd seen the film Ghost World. (in the online world, no link is necessary for this title) i replied yes, and confessed that i'd read the comic book as well, long before seeing the movie. (brag) i asked him if he'd read the comic book and he paused for a moment, then stammered, "yes, well, i've seen it. i haven't read. but, um, i've seen it." then we both laughed hard, until we were covered in matching saliva-covered heaps of hot xiaio puhn frik.

we talked about the phenomenon wrapped in that hesitant confession. i used to do something like it quite regularly, particularly on the subjects of music and art - two things i love almost as much as pectin. someone would ask me if i'd heard a "cool" band - haysi fantazee, for example - and even if i hadn't ever heard them and knew NOTHING about them, i'd just respond, "well, i haven't heard them but i've heard of them." this usually meant i'd seen their name printed in a music magazine, or i'd skipped over their album in a record store rack because i was greedily snatching up a copy of the new hooters cassingle hidden behind it. i wouldn't know what the band sounded like, looked like, couldn't name a single song. but i had to be part of the club, not wanting to miss out on something potentially cool. and, even more pathetically, that attitude reflected a complete resistance to be taught anything by a peer. if i'd responded, "no, i haven't heard them. please tell me about them so i might be better informed of their reputation in the music industry and place in the pantheon of contemporary composition," i might have found a new band. but, in my youth, bald-faced lying was always better than honest ignorance. why is that?

i think it's a sign of my maturity that i no longer feel compelled to qualify my lack of knowledge about something hip or culturally relevant (and that itself is a big presumption) by claiming i'd "heard of" it. i don't need to be part of the cool kids' club anymore. so now, if someone asks me if i've heard the mice parade and i haven't actually heard of them, i just smile and say, "yeah, i've heard them...and they suck the dicky, you fucking philistine."

dear brainfixer,
did you read my review of the belle and sebastian concert last week? no? well, surely you must have cried along to my tragic tale of getting roofied at my university's spring-a-ma-jig weekend festival? no? well, promise me this. you did enjoy the almond roca i sent you in the mail. you didn't? oh my. oh my, indeed. MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT ON MY SELDOM-DISPATCHED MAILING LIST!

you've been warned.

dear brainfixer,
in a typically rushed manner, i have posted a new chapter in my serial adventures with neighborhood panhandlers. this one is titled, appropriately, "hobosexual" and it is now available in new words.

dear brainfixer,
yesterday's gallery walk delivered puns, palindromes, and plastic pornography in a few easy stops. i have sort of kept myself away from galleries recently, resulting in letting a few good shows escape my attention. however, new shows by ed ruscha, gregory crewdson, and richard prince and wild horses couldn't keep me away from the air-kissing gallery district in chelsea.

ruscha had some interesting new things, and some other paintings that simply fell into that "oh, i get it!" category to which so much contemporary art seems to belong. it's like you're trying to guess the artist's punchline and then, when you do, you get to move on to the next gallery with a self-satisfied smile.

in this case, ruscha was showing a series of paintings of mirror-image symmetrical landscapes slightly obscured by superimposed phrases like "SOLO GIGOLO'S". so, in essence, the canvases were visual and textual palindromes - get it? the paintings were cold and sort of arresting when displayed together, but i have to admit the employment of palindromes is just about the least interesting way of expressing one's intelligence or wit. it's a Performing Seal stunt, in my opinion - sure to get some applause but not the kind of thing that leaves any sort of lasting impression.

richard prince's more engaging and more clever "joke paintings" were showing at the babs gladstone gallery. prince cut up, cut off, and colloquialized lame joke punchlines on his canvases, maintaining visually the rhythm of a hack comic. i think this show was pretty widely attended, because there were a few town cars pulling right up to the gallery's doors and dumping out well-dressed men and women in mid-cell phone conversation. i also saw chuck close and his middle-aged entourage roll up to the gallery doors.

better still was the gregory crewdson show. i first saw his photography gracing the cover of yo la tengo's and nothing turned itself inside-out and researched him because of it. his new photographs followed more suburban adventures, some other-worldly, some not. crewdson's photos hold attention longer than most because of their narrative nature; it's like trying to solve a mystery or imagine what happened in that space 30 seconds before the photograph was composed.

if i were inclined be extra arted-up i guess i'd say he reminds me of painters like edward hopper and mark greenwold but, actually, his photos always conjure up this children's book i'ved always loved. it's by chris van allsburg, who is an excellent illustrator in addition to being a nice storyteller, and it's called the mysteries of harris burdick, and it's pretty extraordinary. each set of facing pages contains a "story title" and short, puzzling statement on one side and a narrative illustration on the other. the images are such that the reader is required to create the context in his own imagination. i loved reading this to kids, mostly because it was very little work for me.

after all that art stuff, it was refreshing to see david levinthal's new dirty photos of erotically posed plastic kit dolls. cheap, soft, and shiny, just like your mama.

dear brainfixer,
my webhost just informed me that tremble will be down this evening for several hours. they are executing a serious equipment upgrade (i.e. getting drunk) and, during this upgrade, tremble will be blindfolded, thrown in the back of a windowless van and driven to an undisclosed location. the good news is, when tremble wakes up tomorrow morning, the faint scent of chloroform caught up in its moustache, it will be in a much happier place. and so will you.

dear brainfixer,
i think the nicest thing about being a clinical paranoid is that you aren't required to deal well with criticism. every disparaging comment just gets filed under "out to get me."

it's a great way to get ahead, when you think about it. for instance, let's say someone tells you they found the part in your one-man show where you mimicked the 14 stations of the cross, while recounting the story of being caught cheating on your PSATs, a bit "melodramatic". a person free of clinically diagnosed paranoia might let that criticism in, feel hurt, maybe even consider revising the onstage revenge he'd dreamed of staging against the princeton review board for the last 12 years.

a clinical paranoid, on the other hand, can wave that kind of negative-nancydom away. he can sit on his deck, drinking a hamm's, and say confidently, "that might as well have been the Trilateral Commission or Jew-run liberal media talking." it's life, made simple.

dear brainfixer,
i'd just like to give big ups to the librarian-lady of, who was kind enough (and liberal enough) to link to my brief but heartfelt tribute to the treasures of american libraries.

today the members of the militia have been hitting tremble like their jobs depended on it. (AND THEY DO.) i would like to take this rare opportunity to thank librarians everywhere, from my pink little heart, for cataloguing the following books, without which my life would have been someone else's:

  • How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way
  • Syd Hoffs How-To Drawing Books Series
  • Garfield Gets Fat
  • Then Again, Maybe I Won't - Judy Blume
  • Benjamin & Tulip - Rosemary Wells
  • The Devil in the Drain - Daniel Pinkwater
  • Without Feathers - Woody Allen
  • Garfield Takes a Nap
  • Monsters of Cinema Series: King Kong, Godzilla, Wolf Man, Mad Scientists (and not the mummy)
  • Johnny Got His Gun - Dalton Trumbo
  • Garfield Joins the French Foreign Legion
  • Reggie! The Biography of Reggie Jackson
  • Garfield Drinks Blood
  • Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Dynamite! Magazine

i hope the people who expected to come to tremble and get to know another upstanding member of the library sciences were not disappointed by the heavy doses of pee pee jokes that make up 99% of this site's content. if it helps to bridge the distance between us, here's a secret confession: my first-ever job - back when i had to get junior working papers - was as a "page" at a library. i used to reshelve books, occasionally stamp them for patrons, and kick the homeless guys out at closing time.

and some of those homeless guys grew up to be president of the united states of america. i think we all owe the library some thanks.

dear brainfixer,
what have i done? have i opened up a pandora's box? left with a piece of writing too long to tell you without risking over-billing on our sessions, and too advertising-heavy to make sense in new words, i did something i promised i'd never do again: i took the coins off the eyelids of Your Ad Here and filled its belly with zombie juice. i hope you enjoy the new entry, because i don't know when you'll see another one.

dear brainfixer,
i really want to see the screening of roman coppolla's CQ at the tribeca film festival tomorrow evening. but, since i can't, will you see it for me and brag about it? thanks!

dear brainfixer,
watched Wild Man Blues and identified a bit too strongly with mr. woody allen's excessive burden of neuroses (flying, eating too late, travel by gondola, shared bathrooms, germans) and general old-ladyness.

my favorite line from the film - when woody and soon-yi (who apparently is much younger than mr. allen and, if i'm not mistaken, is also his adopted daughter! you learn so much from documentaries, really.) are staying in a hotel room in milan he spends the morning fretting over the housekeeping staff's ability to handle his elaborate laundry requests. in mid-fret he turns to soon-yi (his adopted daughter!!!) and says, "this being milan, i'm afraid the laundry will come back breaded."

dear brainfixer,
finally! someone with a good nose for investigative journalism. (i have come to love found writing even more than deliberate writing lately, and royal journal has plenty of it.)

dear brainfixer,
overheard tonight, in front of haagen-daz, where all dreams are answered: "i guess you just have to resign yourself to complacency."

cue: whitney houston's "the greatest love of all."

dear brainfixer,
now that it's bike season, i have one more reason to feel self-conscious. i took my bike out this weekend and, whenever i do this, i wonder if i look silly perched up on its seat. i see all these guys riding back in the seat, with one arm on the handlebars and another holding an ice cream cone, and i think they make it all look so easy. but for someone like me, who is still relatively cherry in the area of bicycling, i ride like a student driver behind the wheel. hands on the handlebars. knuckles white with fear.

yesterday, while out for a bike ride, i had this nagging feeling that to passersby i looked like one of those old-fashioned style bicyclists with the incredibly erect posture and a seersucker suit. i felt like i could have been cruising by in the background of that seurat painting of the Island of the Grand Jatte. i'm just glad that after a two hour ride through the park, my bag of peppermints and horehound didn't melt.

dear brainfixer,
you want it. say you want it! on my afternoon constitutional i recorded a few things i saw along my way and put them together to read while you wait for your boss to lay you off. enjoy "Postcards from Brooklyn", totally free of charge, in new words.

dear brainfixer,
first of all, let me just say exactly how much i love the library, and not just because they don't bother you while you shoot heroin in their bathroom. i'll explain a little something about how libraries work, and see if you can't get behind this like i did. they're very similar to your ""s and your ""s, but here's the shine: they're free. yes, you can find books there (tons of them, it seems, though i must admit i wasn't really paying attention) and, should you decide you'd like to read them, the library will allow you to take them home without charge, based solely on the honors system. it's ridiculous.

you're probably thinking exactly what i thought: these guys are SUCKERS. am i right? well, before you get all excited about the con you're going to pull on them, you should know there is a dark side, too. for one, they might not have that sexy new pop fiction book by the guy who used to fix cars for a living, or that collection of giggly essays that were transcribed from a bunch of this american life broadcasts, or reprinted from esquire magazine. but they do have other books that might interest you, on all types of subject matter. granted, their selection of novels about 20 and 30 somethings with experiences as limited and pop cultural knowledge as varied as your own is a bit limited, but you can learn how to fix a car. or how to make a shoe. or what russians talked about on the eve of the revolution. or other philosophical junk by famousy dead european people named after your favorite band's new album. cool!

i picked up a few books myself, including two on the history of circuses and circus performers - a new subject of great interest to me. i also got some thingy by this guy named wittgenstein. gay name, yes - but fuuuuunny. the book is called "truly tasteless logica, volume 5" and i can't wait to get to the section on PMS jokes. since these books were totally free, if you ever want to borrow them just let me know. i'll just send them off. just make sure to send me some weed - er, um, i mean dried herbs from your garden - in return.

dear brainfixer,
here's a quick lesson in comedy, from someone who has made over 40 billion masturbation jokes, published in over 17 languages, in his brief tenure as a professional writer:

HACK COMEDY: making a joke about masturbating to porn as a way to illustrate one's "amazing" sex life. (for true hacks, give your hand a name as well. for example: "looks like it's gonna be another date with Rosy Palm and her Five Little Sisters." then, to bring it all back home, make the microphone droop in your hand like a flaccid penis. finish your jack and coke. and collect your check at the door.)

ALTERNATIVE COMEDY: making a joke about masturbating to gay porn

VERY-ALTERNATIVE COMEDY: making a joke about masturbating to the zapruder tape

UNCOMFORTABLE BUT NONETHELESS FUNNY IN SOME ROOMS ALTERNATIVE COMEDY: making a joke about sobbing quietly while masturbating to any of the above options

BORDERLINE NOT-FUNNY ALTERNATIVE COMEDY: making a joke about masturbating your grandfather for his 80th birthday

WIN-THEM-BACK AFTER BORDERLINE NOT-FUNNY ALTERNATIVE COMEDY: making a joke about it not counting because he's not technically your grandfather; he's just a neighborhood homeless man whom everyone calls "gramps" (then make the microphone droop like a flaccid penis. finish your jack daniels neat. collect your extra drink ticket and backpack at the door.)

dear brainfixer,
finally got around to watching michael mann's balls-to-the-walls-hammer-down biopic, Ali. first of all, let me say how much i love biographical films based on characters whose lives were already thoroughly covered and celebrated in mainstream media. it's like watching one of those civil war re-enactment societies, with slightly less imagination and no funnel cake.

if you saw Ali or played the video game, or even watched the documentary, When We Were Kings, which followed ali's match against george foreman in zaire, africa, you might have the same question i had. while muhammed ali was hanging out in zaire, jogging alongside thousands of screaming fans, hitting drums, and gazing solemnly at folk art with the entire history of africa projected in his stare, where the fuck was george foreman? what was he doing? ali was getting seriously african, but we never see any footage of george.

the dvd answers that question, fortunately. it contains a long, excised scene showing george foreman in zaire, watching The Rockford Files in his hotel room while shouts of "ali! boom ba yay! ali! boom ba yay!" can be heard somewhere off-camera, outside his window. at the end of the scene, george, annoyed by all the noise, slams his hotel room window shut and then says "boom ba yay" in a mocking, baby-voice before turning the volume on his television as loud as possible.

dear brainfixer,
after years of searching, i have a new favorite (for non-ironic reasons) web site. girls are pretty is a daily journal maintained by (formerly new york-based, and now los angeles-based) comic/poet/drunk rob powers.

i like rob's site so much that i expect my ex-girlfriend will probably research him and date him now. i now consider that my gold seal of approval.

dear brainfixer,
i'm kind of embarrassed. i just bumped into my dermatologist on the street. when your dermatologist asks you how your skin is in his office, it's a perfectly comfortable question. however, when he asks it at 9:30 in the evening, while you're sitting on your stoop eating chocolate frosting directly from the can with a large wooden spoon, it feels "awkward".

dear brainfixer,
i reviewed the new Blackalicious album, Blazing Arrow, and the New Times Los Angeles were kind enough to print it. online version lives here.

dear brainfixer,
my chinese fortune claimed YOUR TALENTS WILL SOON BE RECOGNIZED AND SUITABLY REWARDED and i gulped, and thought to myself, "that's what worries me most."

dear brainfixer,
music soothes and late april/early may is generally one of the big industry pushes for interesting album releases. perhaps it's because parents are rewarding their smart children for making dean's list for the academic year. not sure.

i have been reaping the rewards of this push, with my first bulk music purchase in month and months. (luckily, this recent period of musical drought coincided nicely with a personal period of near-destitution. kismet!) helping me smooth out the rough spots right now are: cornershop's handcream for a generation; neko case and her boyfriends' the virginian and furnace room lullaby; wilco's stunning yankee foxtrot hotel; ed harcourt's perhaps-too-wussy here be monsters; aretha franklin's young, gifted and black; the hives' veni vedi vicious (an album i owned a pirated copy of previously but i decided i really needed to hear 'hate to say i told you so' in its most pristine and loudest form); blackalicious' blazing arrow; and luna's romantica (with the perfect jealous verse: "talking to him was like talking to a shoe/his hair was stupid blond/and his eyes were stupid blue").

however, even with all that music of varying production values, the artist i keep returning to is casiotone for the painfully alone and his new album. he is a pasty loner who records all his music on thrift-store keyboards (most of them toys) and has an ear for lyrics shared only by smog's bill callahan and the mountain goat's john darnielle. (a possibly unfair comparison because i think darnielle has ten years of post-graduate work on own ashworth) it's sweet, sad, and as simple as i wish all music would be sometimes.

dear brainfixer,
more writing, this time for kids only. from The-N and Nickelodeon entertainment comes an article i'm uniquely unqualified to write (thankfully, there were smarter and more relevant people willing to speak with me on the subject): "when it gets hectic."


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2001 todd levin
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