new writing in long forma proper archive for this site

dear brainfixer,
today marks the 9th anniversary of the death of one of rock and roll's sacfiricial lambs, GG Allin. (very odd that i was just writing about him last week.) mr. allin's life was cut tragically short by drug abuse, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, repeated feces ingestion, unsafe sex, urine consumption, excessive falling down, high blood pressure, stress, poor diet, and hostility toward everyone, especially himself. at least he left an exquisite corpse. (WARNING: clicking on that link means you like to see pictures of dead guys in jockstraps. not my fault.)

coincidentally, original Who member John Entwhistle died yesterday. i know at least one person who purchased tickets for their reunion tour this summer. this is where i would ordinarily make a terrible joke about getting a 25% discount on tickets, but there's no way i'm going to do that now. i'm a grown-up.
- I FELL APART ON 28 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
here's a great idea for a prank, if you've got the resources:

everyone has had a friend in a coma, at one time or another. and what happens when he or she comes out of the coma? i'll tell you - wasted opportunity happens! they regain consciousness, the nurses give them a hospital haircut so they can feel pretty, and friends and family show up with flowers, tupperware containers full of their favorite cookies, and maybe a beanie baby in a hospital gown, purchased downstairs at the gift store. your friend is dazed, but grateful. BORING!

but what if you took advantage of this very dire situation and used it as a chance for some Grade-A Hijinks? it's easy, too. just get a bunch of friends to wear clothing or carry banners with racially inflammatory slogans on them. for instance, you could plant a couple people in the room dressed in full KKK regalia, or pass out "I HEART DAYGOS" (with the heart crossed out) t-shirts for everyone. maybe two people could hold a banner with an unflattering caricature of a jewish person - complete with gigantic nose, head covering, and enormous penis - presenting the following message: JEWS MAY CONTROL THE MEDIA AND BANKS BUT THEY CAN'T CONTROL HOW GLAD I AM THAT YOU'RE FEELING BETTER.

your friend will be feeling slightly out of it, but will probably be just lucid enough to realize something is terrible amiss. when he scans the room full of good friends and racist propaganda he will very likely rub his eyes in an exaggerated manner and declare, "what the?...who did?...where am i?..." this is a crucial moment for you, and precisely the place where the prank either holds together or tumbles like a house of racist cards. it is very important that you ACT NORMAL. it will be difficult to do so, as your feelings will be divided, waging a war between the potential for this prank and your pure disgust over the messages you're promoting, even ironically.

at some point, your friend will be lucid enough to demand a straight answer. that's when you say, "dude, you've been under a long time. haven't you heard? it's finally ok to be racist. everyone's doing it." he'll act shocked, and may even demand A) further explanation, or B) assistance in getting to the bathroom. (usually a #1 priority for coma survivors) if he asks for the former, just tell him that volkswagon came out with a really great, powerful, and highly racist commercial. and ever since then, people started becoming a bit more honest about racism. it had a slow, trickling effect. everyone talks about it now, and everyone feels less stressed about it.

when he seems a little off-put by the whole idea - and he will - try to calm him down by offering him some bread pudding from his "favorite spic bakery." he'll taste the sweetness, and some of his trepidation will melt away with each successive bite. the real trick, though, is getting him to wear the baseball hat you had made for him. the one that bears the slogan, "I JUST PREFER WHITE PEOPLE." he will feel a little weird about it, until you tell him that billy bob thornton wore the very same hat to the Kennedy Center Awards. back that up with this: "it's just a starter hat. something to let people know you're down with the Honesty Movement. nothing too radical. when you get on your own feet you can have one of my "KILL EM ALL" bath mats. you'll soon find out how awesome expressing your racism can be.

if your friend takes the bait, he'll have quite a surprise waiting for him as he leaves the hospital. and you'll have a laugh that will last almost as long as your friend's next coma.

bonus points if you can pull off this prank during Human Rights Week.
- I FELL APART ON 25 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
i like to look at my referer logs, to see which other web sites drew new eyeballs to mine. i think i'm less concerned with quantity than quality. (in visitors, not content. obviously.) it troubles me, then, that my site never comes up in search engine queries for anything remotely noble. it becomes an accidentally depressing barometer for measuring which subjects clearly interest me most as a writer. no one looking for "charities accepting online donations" ever makes his or her way to tremble. worse still, maybe four or five people looking for "japanese girls squatting on birthday cakes" do, every single day.

there is a way to fix that, at least temporarily. here, in an appeal to get more clean-minded web users over to tremble for some high-quality cat anus stories, are the complete lyrics to bob geldoff's "Do They Know It's Christmas?":

It's Christmastime; there's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
But say a prayer to pray for the other ones
At Christmastime

It's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears

And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime

The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Here's to you, raise a glass for ev'ryone
Here's to them, underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Feed the world
Feed the world

Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again

with my luck, this will just attract visitors looking for "self-important former british pop stars." or even more upsetting, people looking for "bob geldoff songs." shudder to think.
- I FELL APART ON 24 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
for everyone (anyone? dad?) who got to see me onstage last night at the Gershwin in nyc, thanks. i have to be honest. i had no idea how well things were going until i got home, at 3:30am, and listened to the tape. aside from a few instances where i could hear members of the audience mumbling "i hate you. i hate you so very much," it seems my seven minutes was an overall success. it was also the first time i've ever done anything i'd characterize as "stand-up comedy" - telling actual jokes, using props to make funny things, smashing a watermelon with a hammer, hypnotizing the audience into making out with each other - so it was even nicer that people responded kindly. big ups to all my peeps for showing up.

there was a documentary filmmaker at the show, too. she was filming the whole thing. if i can get a copy of the performance, perhaps i'll even put it online as long as i don't look unattractive or bald on tape. and that's the tremble promise.
- I FELL APART ON 21 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
wyclef jean has a new album out. in the past, i have defended his musical choices against many detractors. i'm not so sure i can do that anymore.

my review of Masquerade is available in this week's New Times Los Angeles, in print and online.
- I FELL APART ON 20 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
[THIS IS THE SPACE FORMERLY OCCUPIED BY THE WORST JOKE I'VE EVER WRITTEN. SOME MAY CONSIDER ITS EXCISIOIN AS AN ACT OF SELF-CENSORSHIP. I REGARD IT AS AN ACT OF SELF-RESPECT.]

(this message brought to you by "a day without hitler jokes," a foundation for the comedic arts.)
- I FELL APART ON 19 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
because we're fast friends:
"The 'Real' Real", available in New Words. represent.
- I FELL APART ON 18 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
i received an excellent email this afternoon, forwarded by a "concerned" friend. it was from a casting director for some television show called Elimidate. i've never heard of the show but i'm guessing it goes a little like this: physical trainers and yoga instructors are paired with a succession of aspiring actresses, cocktail waitresses, and "dancers". then, pair by pair or possibly even as a large group, they are taken to the most garish restaurants and clubs in the city where their every activity is monitored by giant cameras and illuminated by 3000-watt fill lights. while the physical trainer contemplates the physique and "wildness" of each date, the date contestants themselves are given special "confessional" moments where they are permitted to state their cases, insuring the trainer and the millions of strangers in the viewing audience that they possess the ill nana and know full well how to pleasure their mens(es) in between herpes flare-ups. a series of humiliating eliminations are staged, while the trainer secretly wonders whether he can flip this fortuitous situation into a three-way or his own series of workout DVDs. and all of this happens with the worst possible production values. in other words, it's reality TV.

here is my favorite part of the email: "it is a reality, dating show so I am looking for real people & actors." married people, please stop looking at your single friends with a mixture of pity and nostalgically-ignited envy. simply drop the envy and we'll all be squared away.
- I FELL APART ON 17 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
in order to do my part in the fight against terrorism, i purchased a pull-up bar for my apartment. after several false starts, followed by the confusing realization that there are no parallel surfaces in my living space, i finally got the bar installed (roughly) inside the entrance to my kitchen.

now, whenever i pass beneath it, on a trip to the refrigerator where i will invariable pause to drink fox's u-bet chocolate syrup straight from the bottle, i have the same thought: how long will it be before i start using this bar to hang dried, cured meat?
- I FELL APART ON 16 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
i can't think of anything more honest, and less enticing, than the following introduction: again, not my best work. but at least it beats reading the serenity prayer taped to your computer monitor one more time before you call it a day.
- I FELL APART ON 12 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
i remember when you used to have an aging feline. it was patched with areas of bare flesh, where it had licked its fur off - the result of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. there was a period when that cat made our sessions very difficult for me. how was i supposed to blame all of my shortcomings on my narcissistic mother when your cat was limping around the apartment, coughing and sputtering, dying before my very eyes? how?

when it finally died in your arms, i breathed a long sigh of relief. more time for me!, i thought. and everything was fine for a little while. week after week, i would sink into my chair and you would do your mumbo-jumbo therapy stuff. then i would cry and write you a check. remember how i used to write "for fixing my psychological boo-boos" in the memo area of the checks? wasn't that adorable?

now you have a new kitten. her name is Fluff LaCoque, and she's three ounces of irresistible! but there's a problem. last week, i spent the entire session with Fluff sleeping on my lap, cuted-up in a tiny ball. i have to admit, staring into her tiny face made all of my problems go away. it gave me an idea. maybe you shouldn't show up next time. just leave the kitten. an hour with a kitten is incredibly effective at making one's narcissism and self-doubt melt away. you can go somewhere else and get centered or practice unblocking shakras or whatever, and i'll pet the sweet little kitty kat.

this could be a great solution for any therapist. just fill a room with kittens and let your clients go nuts. (trust me, they won't need instructions. ba-zoom!) you save time, they get perspective without all of that ridiculous inward-gazing, and the kittens get love. then, when the kittens have gotten too big to love - say, after 6 or 7 months - you can just throw them out and get new ones. kittens are cheap. you just need to know where to look.
- I FELL APART ON 12 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
given the choice, i think it would be much nicer to lose an entire arm than to be left with a mangled arm-stump hanging free from your shoulder. i realize this choice is not a luxury most of us have. however, when i see a truncated and finger-less arm dangling at someone's side, occasionally brushing against a hip by no will of its own, my mind keeps returning to the same question: was that worth keeping? if it had fingers or even a small, pink extremity resembling a lobster claw i could instantly ascertain its many uses. but without those gripping and poking tools, it's about as useful has having a cowboy hat for your cell phone. really, it's more trouble than it is worth.

let's say you really do have the choice between amputation and wormy arm. why would you look down at your inert appendage and say to the doctor, "nope, that's a keeper?" don't you see that a wormy arm frightens and confuses strangers, which is great if you're Ted Nugent but not so wonderful if your name is preceded by "Senator", "The Honorable", "Bossman" or "That guy who doesn't operate the tilt-a-whirl"?

if you have the good fortune to dispossess your entire arm, the result brings you many rewards. for one, you will apply and remove your jacket in half the time it used to take. just one swooping gesture and you're ready for action. additionally, a missing arm usually has a great story. a story that often begins with "southern comfort" and ends with "jackknifed semi" or "yakuza". a missing arm provides you with a little more space on the subway. it's a great way to get rid of an unwanted tattoo. and, god willing, it could even give you the chance to have a legitimate prosthetic arm with hook attachment, instead of the rusted wire coat hanger hook you usually wear tucked into your shirt cuff.

i wouldn't reject a half-arm outright. in fact, there are certain circumstances under which i would gladly welcome a half-arm type situation. i am a little embarrassed at how much consideration i've given this, and i'm sure it all contributes to a barely concealed desire to be further punished by nature (as if my haircut wasn't punishment enough), but here is where i stand on half-arms in all their possible configurations: ("yes" indicates the arm is worth keeping; "no" means it should be placed in a jar and the jar in a car to be driven long and far)

  • with pointed tip: NO
  • with opposable thumb: YES
  • with finger-like appendages: NO NO NO
  • with grape-flavored tip: YES
  • with sour apple tip: NO
  • with hook attachment: YES
  • shaped like a puppy: NO
  • shaped like a penis: NO
  • shaped like a vibrating penis: BIG YES
  • with special flesh grooves for holding large beverage cup: YES
  • with power to divine water: YES
  • with power to divine hobo pee: PROBABLY NOT

(and apologies to anyone living unhappily with a wormy arm. i realize this is the hand you were dealt - no pun intended - and i'm sure your character far exceeds mine for pulling it off with any amount of dignity. if i were the one with the wormy arm, i'd spend a lot of time shuffling down the street, using my one complete arm to point out my wormy one to anyone, hot tears streaming down my face. i am so weak-willed that i'm sure i would use the absence of a functional arm as a poor excuse to give up the things i love most, like rock climbing and eating corn on the cob.)
- I FELL APART ON 10 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
is it possible to be over-entertained? yes it is. after an evening of big battel - including bearing witness to a man dressed as a giant turkey club sandwich being harpooned by an oversized, olive-garnished toothpick until mayonnaise leaked from the wound - i am perfectly content sitting still for the next few days and absent-mindedly flipping through a blank pad of post-it notes.

thank you, kaiju, for uniting so many indie-rock ironists with your special recipe for wanton cartoon violence.
- I FELL APART ON 8 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
do you know what i like about MTV? everything. every blessed thing.

actually, i keep turning back to mtv despite a growing cancerous disdain for it. i suppose most people my age would be quick to hate it for its largely inane programming and narrow-minded music selection, but i hate it for poisoning (in the words of misunderstood r&b singer, r. kelly) our "national treasures": teenagers. mtv purports to be a "love it or live in denial" reflection of youth culture but it really just feels like a giant "APPLAUSE" sign pointed at every teenager in america. it puts words in their mouths and sneers on their faces and whip cream in their bikini bottoms.

see that thick-necked retard in a limp bizkit turnaround? (red cap, flipped 180. the net effect of a sea of limp bizkit fans, as seen from above, is like a giant, acne-blistered face. they're little amped-up panic buttons waiting to pop at the slightest provocation.) why do you think he's on TRL pumping his first for the new mandy moore video? because that's what the script said, and you can't be on mtv if you haven't memorized your lines, dude. can i get a "whoo!"?

so why do i keep going back? i have isolated three possible reasons. first, i'm hopelessly out of touch and feel that mtv is the only tool i have for maintaining the constant approval of teens. honestly, i know this reason is flawed because mtv isn't a fair representation of cool. it's better for finding out which flavor of skittles is the best, or which parts of black culture are being appropriated most feverishly.

second, i'm painfully nostalgic. mtv is one of the few things remaining from my childhood that hasn't totally disappointed me. even at its nadir, it has still managed to pull off entertaining feats like The Sifl & Olly Show, Jackass, and The Osbournes. it's still there, still pumping out flashy stuff, still spitting on the camera lens and farting into air ducts. and even though i usually can't stand the odor, i remember the sound fondly.

third - spring break whores.
- I FELL APART ON 7 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
do you like eminem? i don't care. my review of his latest album is now available in New Times Los Angeles.

incidentally, the The New York Times had a somewhat negative review of the album, based primarily on the thesis that eminem now regards himself as a franchise (some truth to that) and, as a result, has positioned himself as some kind of hero, thereby losing all of the comic brilliance of his previous albums. i found the review to be a bit of a reach, though i would agree that this album could have benefitted from a little less guitar-rock and a little more funk. (dr. dre has this great trademark sound produced by pizzicato bass strings, and it always brings to mind cartoon ghosts ascending stairs.)

the truth is, eminem's a bit older now. how cute would it be if a man nearing 30 years old was still running around telling poopie jokes and promising to sock bullies in the nose? i think his new material feels more self-aware (and still funny, by the way. just listen to his goofy swipes at moby on "without me" or his threat to come back to earth reincarnated as vanilla ice's son on "my dad's gone crazy".), but not necessarily self-righteous. to be fair, whatever eminem is now is largely the responsibility of people who write about him, like that NY Times journalist and myself. so who's got the problem now?

p.s. apologies for spending so much time defending eminem's album. and please do not mistake that for a defense offered for eminem himself. in my opinion, he still needs a spanking.
- I FELL APART ON 6 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
my flesh-and-blood friend chris hooked me up with the von von von tonight, and i couldn't be happier.

von von von, a new wave singer who claims to be from antwerp, is actually chris' friend, hugh, a philly native with a streak of trouble up in him. i would advise you to check out his music, but before you do that please watch his appearance on Showtime at the Apollo amateur night. chris told me that during rehearsal hugh/von was booed off stage three times before he even completed his introduction. (if you've ever seen amateur night at the apollo, you'd know that this booing was not unwarranted. he had all the warning signs in place from the moment he stepped onstage: white, weird, white, white.) finally, the host just begged the audience to let him do his thing. and he did it. and rocked it. (he gets extra points because the graphic super that appears below his name on Showtime reads "VON VON VON - ANTWERP, GERMANY") this goes down as one of my favorite amateur night moments of all time, right below the guy who dressed up as bill clinton and sang "it wasn't me" in near-perfect shaggy pitch.

further background on von von von: some nerds may remember him as the author of that famous college entrance essay that made its way around the world wide internet five years ago. ("i have done all these things, but i've never been to college.") he also wrote a novel called Teeth, which i cannot recommend since i haven't read it. but i can recommend von.

also notable: if you have a chance, click around on the Showtime at the Apollo web site, particularly the showtime kids area. if you'd like further assistance, please refer to: brittany mcallister's song in full cat costume; charles mckay's surreal whiteface pantomime; isiah kelley, a ten year old comic with "issues"; the missouri stink of four year-old rapper and english language equivalent of baby jordy, bobbie thomspon; a lesson in 'what you can never possibly get over at the apollo talent show even if you are a tiny child' from hannah scott; and, of course, HOLLYWOOD! (that's right...hollywood!!!)
- I FELL APART ON 5 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
when i was in junior high school i never once ate in the "hot" cafeteria. the hot cafeteria, for those unfamiliar with the distinction, was where hot lunches were served and, with a few exceptions, eaten. our junior high had a hot and cold cafeteria. since i never paid for school lunch, preferring to go brown-bag style, there was no reason for me to step foot in the hot cafeteria. i will confess to the occasional ravioli curiosity, but there was little else drawing me to its steamy confines.

the hot cafeteria smelled like MSG and burning styrofoam. it seemed like a dangerous place to me. in fact, i felt like the cold cafeteria was a genuinely better neighborhood. this was where students with brown bags ate their home-assembled lunches. it was where you ate if your parents loved you. the hot cafeteria, by contrast, was where the latchkey kids dined. the kids whose parents had a lot of money and only a little bit of time for raising children.

these were the same kids who smoked too young, drank too young, and fucked too young. their parents were always out of town, leaving piles of cash on the kitchen table and an implicit agreement that their children would use this alone-time to host blowout keggers, dive drunk and naked into their heated pools, and fool around with their boyfriends or girlfriends right in the middle of the living room in ordinarily plain sight, instead of properly hidden in the corners of their refurbished basements. in other words, the hot cafeteria is where the cool kids ate. and the cold cafeteria is where i ate, eating a sandwich per day until i could stack wheat bread to the moon.

today, after all these years, i ate a hot cafeteria lunch. not surprisingly, it did not make me feel cool at all.
- I FELL APART ON 5 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
(any story that begins 'true story' is automatically made 15% more disappointing than if you'd never mentioned that fact in the first place)

true story: sitting in a coffee shop, waiting for dinner to start, i couldn't help overhearing the man at the next table. i wouldn't have a problem admitting my eavesdropping was the purposeful and anti-social design of someone claiming to be a "writer" or observer of human behavior, but that was not the case this time. no, I overheard this gentleman for the same reason everyone in that coffee shop overheard him: he was practically shouting.

we all learned so much about him in those few minutes. he can't catch a break. he wrote the book for an unsuccessful musical that parodied the previous bush administration. he wrote a book that didn't sell very well, but was easy to produce because people pushed him along each step of the process. he needs that environment again. he hates being pushy. he likes drinking coffee. (and the entire time his friend appeared calm and quiet, occasionally muttering soft words of encouragement.)

then, completely ignoring one of the greatest tools of writing - irony - he moved on to the subject of the great opportunities afforded by new york city for studying humans: "I LIKE BEING A FLY ON THE WALL. I LIKE OVER-HEARING A CONVERSATION WITH MY HEADPHONES ON AND THE VOLUME OFF, KNOWING THIS CONVERSATION COULD GO INTO A BOOK. I LIKE NOT BEING SEEN OR HEARD OR KNOWN," he screamed.
- I FELL APART ON 4 JUNE, 2002

dear brainfixer,
here is my dad's hypothetical review of last weekend's Radio 4 show at Brownie's:

"The Stereo 4 show was so loud, I'd hate to hear what Stereo NINE sounds like!

he's here all week, ladies and gentlemen.
- I FELL APART ON 3 JUNE, 2002

::LET'S GO BACK IN TIME::

plays well with others
it's a rhetorical question.  seriously.
hosted by diaryland!
for label-whores everywhere.
about the author.
typical contact page
sign up for site updates.  easy.


2001 todd levin
{ EXHAUSTIVE CREDITS }