MA AND PA.
Get ready to be proud of me. What? You've been ready for 31 years and it still hasn't paid off? Well, wipe the dust off your Pride Pantsuits because I'm about to take up a musical instrument again.
Remember when I played violin? If you don't, that's perfectly understandable because I don't recall ever practicing. I started taking violin lessons in third grade simply because it was considered a privilege (and therefore a mandate), one more thing to separate the smart kids from the fun kids at the earliest possible age. We had to take a musical notation test in class and those who scored above a certain percentage of correct answers were automatically qualified to sit at the feet of the master, Mr. Hunt. I didn't want to sit at his feet, especially to play violin, but at that age I was too young to brood anyone into surrender.
Hunt was a cruel taskmaster with a beautiful head of Eastern European hair, and a wart of great distinction. (men like him often possessed all of these qualities, along with well-groomed and unnaturally long fingernails.) He made me pluck pizzicato until my fingers bled and my heart sagged. And to what end? I hated my violin, I hated my bow, I hated the velvet-lined plastic case with "P.S. 23" written on it in black permanent marker that I had to haul everywhere, I hated all the other smart kids and savants suffering beside me for not seeming to share my obvious scorn, but most of all I hated Mr. Hunt and his self-important wart. I must confess I did love his hair, and its thick, wavy channels carved by Hunt's ever-present unbreakable comb. But I hated Mr. Hunt even more for lording his perfect coiffe over me.
It was a full year before we finally had our recital. I felt I had already invested in too much time with this instrument, between practicing after school, lying about practicing at home, and all those actual hours I spent chalking up my bow far more than necessary. (it was the only part of playing i enjoyed; i found the preparation of playing was more pleasurable than the actual playing. i was really good at pretending i was a concert violinist, and took a great deal of pride in my ability to mimic the important rituals preceding performance.) Because of my lack of commitment and my near-ineptitude with the instrument, I was one of several kids in our violin class who was asked to "mime" the bowing sections of our performance piece, "Pop Goes the Weasel". (perhaps you've heard of it? it's a traditional. thanks for the faith, herr hunt.) So we had to air-bow while the stronger violinists carried us. The only part we were allowed to physically participate in was one single, plucked note to approximate the wonderful "POP" the song's hero suffers at the hands of the Farmer.
Honestly, even though I was given no advanced warning of my minor role in the recital I didn't mind air-bowing at all. It took a lot of the pressure off playing and allowed me to dedicate more time to faking - cleaning my fret and chin-rest, rasining my bow, adjusting and readjusting the position of the violin. I received many compliments on my chicanery which, for the recital, extended to holding a pained expression while I air-bowed, as if I were practicing a sort of alchemy too mystical and powerful for others to possibly comprehend. And when it came time to pop, I popped so hard it actually sounded like a declaration of war. Fuck you, Mr. Hunt. I never picked up another instrument with any serious intent again, until last night. You see, folks, all your hard work paid off. I'm going to start playing the musical saw.
Do you know how many people play the musical saw? Not many. And do you what percentage of people - men and women included - who do play the saw chew on roots to freshen their breath and wear wool slacks with suspenders? 100% And do you know who is going to totally fuck up that statistic? Me and my expensive chewing gum and suspenderless hotpants - that's who.
I listened to someone play the tenor saw last night. Before she picked it up I had a very mild curiosity about this instrument, but when I saw her bowing the saw and that sad, undulating warble escaped its flexible body, I realized how important it is for musical saw to be included in every song ever written. I can't think of a single song that wouldn't benefit from saw, except for songs actually containing saw already. (and some songs with theremin.) Watching her bow the saw, and use her top knee to gracefully create a kind of hysterical vibrato, I knew I had found my calling. It's the perfect instrument for me because it's all presentation, and very little actual practicing.
After the show, I had a million questions about the saw. Eventually, the performer broke down and offered to teach me. I wasn't shy or modest at all. I picked up that saw and jammed it between my knees, placing my stronger knee slightly above the weaker for extra leverage. I was surprised by how difficult it was to make the saw resonate, since there didn't seem to be much to it - one saw and one wooden dowel as a bow. But once I held the dowel correctly I made beautiful sounds with my tree-felling instrument and my shaky knees. I had to have a saw. I've only felt this way twice before - once when I saw the new Shogun Warrior 18" poseable figures in Toys'R'Us, and again when I saw how cool my girlfriend's heroin addiction made her.
I didn't want to put the tenor saw down and, frankly, I could have stolen it anyway, since it wouldn't be terribly difficult to turn it against its owner as a deadly weapon. And that's the beauty of the tenor saw. You can chop wood with it. You can build a house, declare it a sovereign nation, and then play your saw until federal agents start shooting tear gas bullets through your makeshift windows.
I'm going order a saw here, and soon I'll be able to join the brave, hip musical ranks of men like this. I can't wait to get a saw case and sling it over my back on the subway. I'm even going to name the saw - "Lethal Weapon 3". (lethal weapons 1 and 2 are my left fist and my right hook. actually, the hook is technically only a lethal weapon when i've sharpened it, which is ALWAYS.) Can you feel your pride swelling?
I can't wait to play it for you, and if you really like it I promise I won't even kill you with the saw, even though that's totally the best part. You see, I might as well not pussyfoot around it. If people don't like my sawing - and what the hell is wrong with them if they don't? - I have all the means to chop off a leg or open an artery. And then write a song about it. AMERICA! (leaping into the air with a sparkler in each hand, as fireworks explode behind me.)
I've always felt weird about including a list of my Fave Web Sites on tremble. It's just another self-conscious trap I create for myself and then try to avoid, blaming everyone else in the process. The act of aggregating favorites often - but not always - strikes me as false. I see people link to sites no one could possibly want to keep up with but somehow help, through association, to shape the identity (or boost the hits?) of the author.
That said, I know the above statement only applies to about 12 jerks. The truth is that many of my lovely friends (who have web sites) include links and I trust them 100%. They're usually just shout-outs to actual friends or recommendations for further reading, or both. But each time I tried to compile a list like that it was just too paralyzing. It's the same reason I don't keep a diary. The few times I tried to start a real diary/journal to record and detail my most private thoughts it quickly degenerated into an anonymous celebrity tell-all. I couldn't escape the delusion that some day this journal about dorm room sleepovers would some day become a published work (with high pricetag foreign and film rights) chronicling the tortured genius blossoming within me. As soon as I became conscious of my impossible-to-subert intentions it would disgust me, and I would quickly abandon the diary and go back to other, less damaging activities - like hanging strings of jalapeno-shaped party lights or cleaning the mold out of my bathroom caddy.
I also get this weird feeling that, whenever my peers are linked somewhere and I'm not, it means I'm despised by the individual responsible for posting the links in the first place. I never consider that I'm an unknown entity to anyone. This is a thought that is at once self-centered and self-destructive; sort of my specialty. (i have that excellent gift of narcissism turned on its head, where i am sure everyone is thinking about me, and they're all saying, "nice haircut, dick.") Following that logic, the last thing I need is another opportunity to negatively evaluate my self-worth. Therefore I have tried to protect other people as screwed up as me by dispensing with the permanent record of my favorites. It's kind of like a modified Golden Rule, contoured to my own insecurities.
But if you're curious, if you're really curious, here is a one-time list of every "personal" site I visit with any kind of real frequency (i.e. more than 2 times a week). There are plenty of other sites I enjoy but maybe forgot to bookmark and therefore forget to frequent. Please note that this is an unabridged list so it includes friends, strangers whom I admire, useful resources (except for obvious ones like the ny times, google, and sublime directory), and sites I only bother with to satisfy a desire for unintentional comedy. I won't say which is which, because that would be mean: andrew, pants, leslie, josh, alexis, evany, bob, julius, christian, liam, ms. sharpe, aaron, steven, jason, ben, dori, richard, jami, harry, chris, matt, annie, chen, daegan, slatch, buddy, pitchfork, bob and david, paul, kevin, rebecca, mars, timothy, jim, david, witold, john, jorn, bazima, heidi, drew, torch, khoi.
I realize this will cause some people's web sites to spike with 2-3 brand new visitors for the next 24 hours. And I know many of those people obsessively check their web site statistics the same way they obsessively check their voicemail at home and on their cellular, and will be wondering if these visits mean they're being lauded, insulted, or pranked. None of the above. Just know that I watch you, and I have my reasons. Sorry if it makes you unnecessarily self-conscious. At least the cat's dead now.
TV'S 'AMERICA'S MOST INCONGRUOUS IMAGES TOOTH-GRINNING FUN HOUR'.
I just saw two thin men with assisted-walking arm braces leaving the Guardian Angels self-defense training center. Was this scene the premise of Disney's next feel-good old-fashioned melo-dramedy? Were they reporting a bully? Were they victims of the powerful Iron Claw of Curtis Sliwa? Or just something I made up because I didn't feel like linking to the Dancing Paul web site again? We may never know.
First of all, quit following me around New York City. Second of all, quit stealing the thoughts from inside my head. (thanks for pointing these out, andrew steele. i think.)
Actually, discovering that we have similar back-to-back diary entries doesn't make me feel like we share any kind of spiritual kinship, which is kind of disappointed because what I wouldn't do for some Moby juju. It does, however, make me realize that everyone on the Internet is the same. Ta da! (insert smiley face with the barrel of a gun in its mouth here, followed by winky smiley face. and then an incontinent one right after that. followed by one that looks exactly like moby.)
p.s. nobody listens to techno. (diss!)
I love your music, but I think my favorite song of yours is Beck's "It's All in Your Mind". Nice job. I will give Beck my money, but I'll be thinking of your voice as I listen to that track over and over again, tearfully clutching my "I HEART THE GAYS" embroidered pillow.
Last minute show addition. I will be performing once again at the Industry Room show in NYC's West Village this THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th. It's a fun evening, and this is actually the last show of the season before a multi-month hiatus. In other words, go. Maybe there will be cake. (there was last week.) Here are the details:
Thursday, September 26th, 8:30PM (for good seats, arrive 15 minutes early)
At The Village Lantern
167 Bleecker Street (at Sullivan)
Tickets are $10, but this comes with one drink ticket. That's how they get you. Hope to see (some of) you there.
Admit it: you are one strong prescription away from being Anna Nicole Smith.
I decided to watch a little bit of "24 Hours of Love" on MTV2, an overnight block of live programming in which you and a few of your sycophant handlers are broadcast live from the MTV studios in New York. As MTV2 put it, you were given full, unabridged control. We get to see you saying the bullshit you want to say - WITHOUT EDITING - because that's the kind of shoot-from-the-hip genius you are. Supposedly, you were also given permission to pick all the videos that are played during this period, though you spent a shocking amount of time complaining about MTV2's inability to locate some of the videos you wanted to see. (what the fuck? i thought mtv was the coolest? what happened?)
Here's my intractable take on you, Love. You cheated us. More importantly you cheated the chubby girls in lingerie who cried at your Hole concerts, because you instructed them in the okayness of being unpretty and aggressive. Here's what you forgot to tell them: your plan all along was to use that aggression to secure yourself a place in the world where you could spend the rest of your life fixing that "unpretty" part and using your so-called aggression as a cover for juvenile tantrums, obnoxious opinions, party-crashing, and the kind of intoxicated public stupidity that should have been corrected during the adolescence you spent away from home.
Watching you sit on the street corner, right in the middle of Times Square, chatting with a group of teens whose approval you still so desperately crave even as you approach 40, sort of made me sick. Putting words in their mouths was worse. ("YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE? I HATE THOSE WHITE BANDS WHO STEAL BLACK RAGE!! HEY YOU - BLACK GIRL - WHICH WHITE BANDS DO YOU HATE??" classy.) And you proved your singular and troubled need for constant validation when, after leaving the kids, you completely obsessed over the one teenage girl who didn't just share your opininon and spit it back at you. You came back to her, over and over again, like you were remiss in your duties to convert part of the flock and maybe - just maybe - she won't see your powerful new subcultural HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER starring Kevin Bacon. Rage against the machine, Love! (were they on the soundtrack to that kevin bacon movie?)
See Courtney insist she had Moby's ideas first. Watch her fall over a gigantic bed and show everyone her panties. Catch her name-drop Eve ("She's a really, really good friend of mine!"), DMX, and Fred Durst in the space of ten seconds. Listen to her cynically announce to her pack of street-corner kids and the whole viewing audience that she has to cut her fireside chat short because it was time to break to a commercial "for, I don't know, something to whiten your teeth or some shit" as she smiles through her own mouth of stunningly large and cosmetically whitened teeth.
Man, Courtney, you don't even get it, do you? I sort of think the ultimate revenge will be your own impending teenager, who could possibly shit on you the way we were all designed to do. It's not always mean; sometimes it's just ritualistic. Our parents got over it, and understood (for the most part) it wasn't about THEM, but how about you?
THOSE WHO THINK THEY KNOW IT ALL.
Do you know ESG - Emerald, Sapphire, & Gold? If you do not, I refuse to pass judgment. But I will say this: it is in your best interest to know them. This isn't one of those highly specialized "how can you call yourself a man/woman if you don't have at least one Nitzer Ebb record in your collection?" appeals. ESG is simply incredible music, no matter what type of lousy hippy shit you prefer.
People - usually members of The Klan - often ask me why I like hip-hop so much. It's not the lyrics or the exemplary behavior of rap artists; it's the breaks. Hip-hop does something that strikes me as so completely logical it makes it hard for me to understand why it took so long for the genre to cross-over. Hip-hop takes the best part of any song - the break, the small section you want to hear forever - and actually loops it so you can hear it forever. What could possibly be wrong with that?
While ESG is not at all a hip-hop group - their music seems influenced partly by hip-hop, but also by punk, soul, and African percussion - they know how to ride a beat infinitely. The only disappointing part of any ESG song is the space at the end where you're waiting for the next track to begin. That space signals that they had to obey some filthy law of recording and cut the break off. Hearing that space makes you feel the same way you would when flushing a pet down the toilet.
OK OK. This is all over the place because I'm still high on the fumes of seeing them live this evening, but I swear I left that show tonight and thought to myself, "There is not a living sould who would not benefit from this music." And that feeling has turned into this boring campaign because, despite its indisputable charm, ESG's music is really not well known.
Ah, but it is. Did you know they're one of the most sampled bands in music history? Their instrumental track "U.F.O." has been swiped by Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Marky Mark, and many others. Their sound has also crept its way into other odd musical places. The nu punk anatagonists, the Liars, sample U.F.O. on their big debut album. And I'll be damned if Radio 4's "Dance to the Underground" isn't driven by a bassline identical to ESG's classic dance cut, "Moody". And yet, both of those bands are known more for being umbilically attached to Gang of Four and PiL than the modest Scruggs sisters. Ain't that a bitch?
ESG also has pedigree! A couple of their early singles were on Factory Records, and produced by legendary fat asshole genius Martin Hannett. ANDDDDDDDD...their song "Erase You" is every bit as good and every bit as testifying as any Sleater-Kinney or Letigre track I've ever heard. I said God Damn! (if i had the energy or time right now, i'd rip that song off my record and give it to you for free, just for paying attention.)
Plus, they're adorable. The main Scruggs are in their 40s and, though they're having what seems like a fine time onstage, they look like they could be equally comfortable hosting a bake sale or popping open economy-sized potato chip bags at a Van Cortlandt Park barbecue. In fact, as one generation of ESG ages, a new generation has sprouted up beside them; their daughters now accompany them onstage, armed with guitars, bass guitars, hand-claps, and weaves.
Unfortunately, ESG's catalog isn't easily available. However, Soul Jazz Records (possibly the best reissue label of them all) put out an ESG retrospective in 2000, called ESG: A South Bronx Story. It's excellent, through and through. They also have a brand new album out - in the UK, at least - called Step Off, and the songs they played from it this evening were shockingly good. In fact, they were completely uncompromised by time. So what are you waiting for? I don't mean to be a jerk about it, but move your ass. Seriously. Look at it this way: if you're thinking "I don't need this album to make me cooler", you're looking at it wrong. You need this album to make you happier (and to make this band richer, so they'll tour more). And if you become cooler in the process, good for you.
SHORT ATTENTION SPAN READERS.
Here are several short and unrelated things that would ordinarily remain in a notebook, locked away from the rest of the world. But because of technology and my inability to draw a distinct line, you get to read them.
- Bitchy review for Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever - "Ecks vs. Sever? More like Ecks vs. NEVER!!"
- I think the most disappointing thing I've ever seen was a tall, beautifully dressed woman standing very close to a loose arrangement of dog shit.
- Do you live in New York City? Did you know we just inherited Seattle's most charming family, The Trachtenburgs? Their show, "The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players", is running for the next few weeks at Ars Nova Theater (a surprisingly classy theater in a decidedly unclassy location). The brief story on them: they scrounge around estate sales, buying up strangers' slides. Then they write songs about the slides and project them on a screen while performing. Their duties are as follows: Dad on vocals and piano; Mom on slide projector; (NINE YEAR-OLD!!! says all the various media hoping to ruin this kid in less than six months) Daughter on drum kit and back-up vocals. I saw them on Monday and had great fun, though I do wish they had just a little less ironic distance from their material. That very minor complaint aside, it's great fun and just what the doctor ordered after everyone's White Blood Cells have been suffering from prolonged exposure to Strokes and Hives. (get it???)
- Shaolin Soccer. Mark my words - SHAOLIN SOCCER!!!
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY.
Today everyone has been talking about the father-and-son team of baseball enthusiasts who jumped the wall and pummelled KC Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa. I had a hard time believing it, especially since the first base coach is generally pretty low on the chain of coaching authority, just slightly above stay-at-home fans following the game with one of those "you call the play!" interactive televisions. I suppose, if nothing else, Gamboa was accessible.
My friend Gregg -- who I maintain is, along with my former college roommate, the funniest man alive without a proper platform for his comedy -- sent me a link to the story today, including some choice photographs. After checking out a choice photograph of the shirtless dad being hauled off in cuffs (you can almost see his mouth forming the words "y'all is brutalizin' me!!!"), I found this photo of the pair:
I kept thinking, Is this a Reuters image or a still from the new Larry Clark film? Look at that caged animal expression. Check out the flicker of innocence, the way a legacy of white trash violence is being sort of eroticized in this photograph. Don't arrest those two - get them some catalog work!
The aforementioned Gregg had the best rationale for the attack I've heard yet. When I asked him how something like this could happen, he responded, "Well, I guess maybe the dad got a little drinky, found himself upset about a few plays, and finally asked himself, 'what would Kid Rock do?'"
I'm sorry I wrote about how you were yelling at your son while I was interviewing him. I realize you just got home from work, and were very likely exhausted and impatient. You've raised a very nice boy. I hope you like the article I wrote about Ra in the Phoenix New Times this week. If you've got online access over there in Brooklyn, you can read it here, too.
COMMITTEE TO INCREASE WORD CONTENT ON TREMBLE.COM.
You're in luck. Resolution 143 has passed. I put up a new, longish piece in New Words. It's called "Marco Polo" and I think you'll thank your god of choice for giving you two working eyes after you've read this. (apologies to those without eyes, who had to hear such an unintentionally disparaging statement read to them by their computer's impersonal robotic voice. apologies to stephen hawking and any other celebrated or anonymous individuals with electronic voice modulators.)
Penny Power magazine is already calling this my finest moment in 2002. Recognize.
RICHARD SCARRY'S 'BIG BOOK OF ENNUI'.
Here's a new entry for your 2003 edition. Today, I was so existentially bored, that I drank a ton of water and made myself urinate just so I could make the trip to the bathroom and feel like I did something today. And then, to make it worse if only by legitimizing it, I wrote about it in my secret public diary. And that's not all: Paramount Studios just optioned the story for $5 million.
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. As horribly clich³ as I'm sure it will sound, I have been SWAMPED over here. That's the bad news. Now here's the good news.
Sniglets: The Motion Picture has finally gone into pre-pro. (oops. i mean "pre-production". sorry. i know it's been a long time since you were in c.h.u.d. II: bud the chud, so you might be a little soft on the industry lingo.) You might have already heard about some of the casting problems if you follow the movie fan-boy web sites but let me set the record straight. We NEVER promised the role of Professor John Snigglesworth to Breckin Meyer, no matter what his people are saying. It's absurd - between you and me, the kid looks like he's barely old enough to play one of the professor's students. We always had our hearts on someone a little more "distinguished". (again, that's hollywoodspeak for "old") Our first choice was Sir Ian McKellan but, as you probably already know unless you're actually living in Middle Earth, that motherfucker is very busy.
We lowered our expectations a bit and passed the script along to John Hurt - the poor man's McKellan - and went back and forth for what seemed like months. Apparently he's got some long-running gig doing voice-over for a kid's cartoon called Skull Duggery or some other such nonsense. He plays a gay field mouse who studies metallurgy - frankly, I'm not really sure of the details. The point is, Hurt is really serious about this thing. He kept referring to it as an antidote for the "twin cities of Lust and Avarice erected by the MTVs of the world". He was being really inflexible. In the end, it probably worked out better for us because I think the guy's getting very Christian or something.
That led to discussions with John Houseman (dead? maybe. didn't answer our calls.), William Hurt (at least he's a "hurt"), John Heard (close enough, if you ask me), Jennifer Hort (this was a stretch, admittedly), the guy from "Alf" (crackhead/porn addict - why doesn't anyone tell me these things?), and Punky Brewster's adopted grandfather. Finally, we settled on Don "The Dragon" Wilson. Before you flip out, you have got to see the test photos. With a little silver hairspray, some glasses, and a special blazer to narrow his shoulders a bit, this guy is Snigglesworth. If you ask me, we were very fortunate to get him between productions on his "Bloodfist" films.
In other news, the Sniglet Ray special effects are pretty spectacular. It's amazing what a 15 year-old kid with an iBook can do these days. I think you'll be impressed. I'm just glad everything is moving forward. Oh, one quick thing. Not a big deal. We just had a minor tweak to the script at the last minute and I wasn't able to tell you in time. Things got really crazy and, honestly, it wasn't such a big deal or you know I would have consulted you immediately. Right? The studio suits felt the character of Emily Snigglesworth needed some "modernization" re-working. (ha ha. you know how these guys can be.) She's still a Linguist Phd but now she's also a champion beach volleyball player and Tae Kwon Do expert. And she's no longer Professor Snigglesworth's niece; she's his bodyguard/romantic interest. Trust me - this is the kind of thing that tests really well. And the chemistry between Don and Heather Hunter is tops. (oh, did I tell you we had to re-cast that role? i know you had your heart set on lelee but she was just too "chaste", you know? and heather actually played volleyball in middle school before she dropped out. so again, lucky us.)
Hope this reaches you in good health. You're still keeping this P.O. Box at Mailboxes Etc., right? Anyway, we can catch up tonight when I see you at your show.
'DON DIVA' MAGAZINE EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD.
I would like to submit this review of the season premiere of The Sopranos for consideration in the next issue of Don Diva:
"Yo, I said I wanted to see a lot of shit getting whacked; not a lot of WACK SHIT. Ain't but one motherfucker got killed in that episode, and he was a fake cop. Ten times that many people got shot in the first skit on the new Lil Wayne album. I give this season premiere two mandatory tossed salads. Show and prove for episode two or I'll stop modeling my persona after Tony Soprano and go back to modeling it after Nino Brown. RECOGNIZE."
(i'm so sorry that just happened. i think it was the result of reading someone's web site today. it quoted some nwa lyrics a bit too street-cred-knowingly and then followed up the quote with "NWA Indeed!" which is sort of like spilling out a few ounces of your magic hat ale for your 'dead homiez' and then immediately stooping to mop up the spill.)
PEOPLE WHO GET MOIST EVERY TIME THEY HEAR THE WORDS 'DOCK PREFERENCES'.
I took great pains to do something dorked-up this evening. If you're running Mac OS 10.2 (meow meow jaguar edition) and you're generally online, you can actually turn a series of photographs I took into your screen saver. And who doesn't love more screen saver options? (you, probably.)
I thought it was a cool feature, so I went along with it. OK, this is all you have to do to hook it up on your computron (phrasing lifted directly from apple):
1. Make sure you have Mac OS X version 10.2 or later installed, and you're connected to the Internet.
2. Open System Preferences and click Screen Effects.
3. Select .Mac in the list of available screen savers.
4. Click the Configure button and enter "tremble" in the Member Name box. Then click OK.
5. Rock your swollen nuts off to the most intense screen saver extravaganza you've ever witnessed.
6. God bless America
The photos I've put up are all specific to Coney Island, and were taken at the annual Coney Island photo-op holiday - the Mermaid Parade. (these are all from 1999 and 2000.) WARNING: very occasional appearance of tastefully exposed nipple. That means if your Mac is hooked up to the Vatican's network, you might want to consider someone else's pictures. "witoldriedel" has beautiful closeups of flowers; that kind of thing never got anyone excommunicated.
WORLD OF STAR-CROSSED LOVERS.
I just woke up from a fitful dream - as evidenced by the tremendous saliva stain on my sheets and the hollowed-out dog carcass from which I emerged, much to my surprise, when my alarm clock sounded - and I'm afraid I have some bad news. In my dream I killed love. So if you wake up today and notice the sleeping person lying next to you looks like an idiot when he/she sleeps, or you gradually pick up on other small nuisances throughout the day and each one seems to grow progressively more noteworthy - like their bare feet on the edge of the coffee table or a stray pubic hair nestled in the anti-perspirant or their big stupid face everywhere you look - well, that's my fault. I'm sorry.
There's good news, however: it seems unconditional love remained unscathed, as did the sincerity in those I HEART NY and I HEART MY BORDER COLLIE t-shirts and bumper stickers. So now would be a good time to call your legal guardian or adopt a bunny. Hang in there.
CULTURAL WATCHDOGS AND TASTE-MAKERS.
I have news for you. I think Wednesday is the new Friday. Unfortunately, I am starting to think Tuesday is also the new Friday. As is Sunday. And Thursday afternoon. And, unless that's someone else's bottom-shelf bourbon soaking into my "Tuff Stuff" t-shirt, so is one hour ago.
Last night, against my better judgement, I attended a friend's birthday party. (or, in typical new york fashion, a friend twice removed. just an excuse to be in a room full of familiar faces and vaguely familiar faces with which i wanted to trade up inter-personally.) It was getting late, and I knew what would happen. Smoke, drinks, screaming, getting cornered, starting, stopping, discovering where common ground ended, frowning over the price of an Amstel Light in a no-frills bar ($4.50 - don't move here, please.), deliberating over my choice of Amstel Light in the first place, averting eyes, counting potential sleep hours backwards, realizing how few of these people (comics, mostly) even had a job to attend the following day, and wondering how much longer I would be able to stand on my feet. Pretty long, it turns out. But my eyes are red cinders and my skin is a smoke-dried rug. And whose scalp is sitting on my desk, drying in the sunlight? Crazy.
TOTALLY FUCKING DEVASTATED AND BEWILDERED ONE YEAR LATER NATION.
It's 10:20am, which means they're probably reading off the "E"s or the "F"s at the former site of the World Trade Center right now. I know I am supposed to reflect today - it has been demanded of me - but I keep getting confused about what, specifically, to reflect on. Loss? Anger? Solidarity in the face of disaster? Heroism? Villairy? The war effort? My city? My loved ones? Other people's loved ones? The towers? The smoke? The safety of the clear, blue sky?
It's a mess, frankly. And for me it's only aggravated by an unwanted cynicism that keeps surfacing despite my best efforts to suppress it. I'm slightly confused and angry to see a nation rally together to promote its grief so globally, with such grandeur. If you're not living in New York City, you might be missing the many posters and billboards commemorating our mourning, our need to remember. All the graphic designers' dreams are being realized around the city - how fortunate for them that "September 11th" lends itself so eerily well to logo design, what with the two "ones" in 11 resembling identical towers and all. If you aren't watching television or listening to the radio, you might be missing the reading of the names of our dead (moving) while a bed of classical music lies beneath (maudlin).
It's incredible. Everywhere you turn, someone official (the ad council, sunoco) is saying "how are you?" and "do you need to talk to anyone today about your grief?" but that compassion is constantly undermined by a saturation of disturbing images accompanied by mock-profound simple statements and logos, all in the style of "strained restraint". We're being asked if we're having trouble with the ghosts of last year's Shitty Thing, while those ghosts are being constructed in effigy at every street corner, on every television broadcast. It's like showing someone a photograph of his own future-death and saying, "now I know you weren't meant to see that, but does this image make you sad? Be honest."
Other forces, through pro bono ads, are instructing us on other ways to behave - use this day to be a better citizen, honor someone, etc. But I wish they'd leave me alone, and let me figure out how to feel about this on my own. Let all of us figure this out on our own, or with people who actually mean something to us. And by "mean something to us" I don't mean Julia Roberts or Bruce Springsteen or Rudolph Giuliani. Old feelings are being constantly replaced by new and more complex ones, and no matter how many songs you write or how many web pages you consciously grey out, or what volume of tasteful 911 logos you design, it's not going to smooth brows or crystallize emotions. In fact, it's hard not to be distracted from your feelings today by all the feelings that are being manufactured for you. But try. And, really, wouldn't it be nicer to just call someone you love? And not fake-love, but love-love. Make sure they're still there. And thank God for that.
But don't let me tell you what to do, either.
SUGGESTIONS BOX FOR 'THE OSBOURNES, SEASON TWO'.
JANE MAGAZINE SUBSCRIBERS.
If you arrived at this web site because of its mention in October's issue of JANE magazine, I have news for you. First, I'm sorry. You can't join the club. It's only for sailors and disgraced former beauty queens. Second, when I was interviewed for the piece I had never read JANE before. I thought the magazine's readership was restricted to 12-15 year-old girls - honestly. Isn't that ridiculous, since you're obviously an important cross-section of 20 and 30-something women with "opinions" and "pubic hair" and such. My point is, had I known I was speaking to women who, under the right circumstances, I might even be trying to disappoint romantically, I wouldn't have sprinkled my responses with exclamations like "bomb-diggety!" and "dude-man!!" and "let's cram for algebra regents, homegirl!" "ladybugs rock!" I mean it. I'm just a dork about this kind of thing.
Finally, don't leave! Click your independent, suffraged ass off and read some stuff. I promise that at least 17% percent of the material on this web site is suitable for an audience with a secondary education, dating problems, and compromised professional dreams. COPY EDITING AT A TRADE MAGAZINE FOR THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY ROCKS!!
You guys have reached a whole new level of religious aggression. Was it really necessary to try and pull my bike over on the jogging loop in Prospect Park? How were you able to identify a Jew on the run like that? I actually would have put on tefillen with you if you'd put in the extra effort to chase my bike until you caught up with me. In the future, you should choose a different beat. Something where citizens are moving at a slower pace. Like lap swim at the JCC.
I want this to be easier for you. I really do. I consider myself an idea man (last night's idea: dinner plates with magnetic strips around the edge so forks and knives don't slide off while you're transporting them from the table to the kitchen. bam!) and I've got an idea for you: licorice tefillen. disposable, fun, delicious. Jewish kids get to wear it and spend the rest of the day eating a sweet candy sign upon their hands and flavored symbol before their eyes. And all the while they're reminded of how great this religion is, because what other religion combines noisemakers (shofars) and candy? It could be like every day is a birthday party in the Jewish religion. And who doesn't like a birthday party? I'll tell you who: jerk-asses.
CREATOR OF COINCIDENCE AND GOOD FORTUNE.
I think you're following me, and closing in fast. I still can't confirm, but I have a sense.
For a while I was almost certain you'd left town without a goodbye. And that I missed that perfectly important moment where you were sitting on the tailgate of a U-Haul truck, fingering the plastic beaded necklace I made you in summer camp, and secretly waiting for me to kiss you on the cheek and pedal my bicycle away like a drunk comet. But I moved too slow, and you moved a pen pal's distance away. I walked around, with all that loss squishing loudly in my sneakers.
But I was wrong. Maybe your dad decided it would be healthier if you lived back home with your mom, since he's always traveling to Berlin and Zurich for business. Because I can feel your presence is near. Did you burst from the cab? Are you running in the rain, heading straight for my house? Are you plotting your entrance? Are you crafting the perfectly mawkish line that will make all of this grief seem worth it, and more tiny than a bug bite? Something like, "I was here all along," while pushing a glitter-tipped finger into the center of my Pixies t-shirt. Are you? Because I can smell your perfume. I'm breathing it in, and this time I'm holding it.
I'll be here, typing away, hoping for the best. Please, just keep running.
I am so proud of you. Your last album was fun, but it was so densely populated with pop cultural references that I usually had to lie down or throw up after listening to it. It got to the point where I couldn't tell whether I was experiencing your original music or a full-length media prank.
So I'm greatly relieved that your upcoming album, Sea Change, sounds like you've temporarily stripped away all that media ingestion and left a refined little psychedelic poop for us to poke at with fallen branches or rub on the walls of our friends' bathrooms in the shape of the words, "I CAN HEAR AGAIN!" Even the album cover is a neat little bit of business. It reminds me of that traditional late 60s - early 70s singer-songwriter album cover portrait. You know, the kind with the close-up face and warm light and lens flare. In fact, artwork on your album cover (well, one of them. apparently, you are releasing four at once - including one that's covered in all of those vespertine squiggles) reminds me of another sonic chameleon, David Bowie. Have you ever heard of Aladdin Sane? Never mind.
Everything I've heard on the preview area of your web site has made me think you've taken Prince's 3-disc greatest hits out of your CD-changer, and replaced them with Nick Drake, Skip Spence, Scott Walker, East River Pipe (wasn't "golden age" actually on the last east river pipe album? no? maybe just the lonely highway echoes? no? fuck me.), and Tim Hardin. And I'm happy with those choices, even if it further confounds the "styles" and "roots and influences" areas of your allmusic.com entry. Besides, with rise of DJs all music signifiers are already being layered so carelessly, heaped atop each other like a pile of receipts from The Cool Store, to the point of making them each seem meaningless individually. Too much noise. You were right to get out, clean your system, start new with a small handful of peyote buttons and smashed daisies. I'm sure you'll prove me wrong by releasing an electro hip-hop album six weeks after this one comes out, but that's what makes you so darn adorable.
Lighten up, cutiepie. With all this talk of picadilly whores and the undead, you'd think you were writing Bauhaus lyrics from a syphillitic tomb. And I suppose that's exactly the point. But it's not true. Everyone knows the lighting in those tombs is too weak to accomodate photo shoots for your liner notes and NME profiles.
Actually, I love the dramatic affectations of gothic artists. Everything is so intense, so ugly and bruised. It's like a constant loop of that arthouse film Willy Wonka shows on his factory boat ride. But I wonder how artists like Peter Murphy and Andrew Eldritch manage in the modern world? They're so downbeat, what's it like when they find a penny? Or find out it's Ben & Jerry's 15th anniversary so their Catacombs Crunch (with fake teardrop saline core) ice cream cone is FREE? How do they react? Are you allowed simple pleasures when you spend most of your evenings in white pancake makeup, black leatherstockings and poet shirts? The pain of gothic rock and roll is so wet and pulpy, trying to imagine the lives of gothic artists intersecting with banality is nearly impossible. Peter Murphy - have you ever hit "redial" on your telephone? Have you ever spilled Thousand Island dressing on your torn, snug-fitting muslin top? Have you ever purchased flip-flops or Twizzlers?
Last night's Interpol concert was sprinkled with many adorable nu-goths, straight from grotto heaven. Every kind of my favorite kind of person was there, to ogle. I wanted to adopt one as an act of charity, like a kitten with a biting problem. Actually, these music fans seemed much more likely to crack a smile, as did the band. The first indication that Interpol are a slightly diluted post-punk gloom experience is that they were all perfectly visible onstage, choosing not to camouflage themselves behind a curtain of spooky dry ice. I'll bet Interpol buys a shitload of Twizzlers.
POTENTIAL BIKE THIEVES.
I was sure I had finally outwitted you. Ever since owning my ride - a Huffy dirt bike with Mongoose racing pads - I have been forced to deal with the very ugly reality of bicycle thieves. Culled from a subculture of amateur or frustrated kidnappers, bike thieves are no less insidious for all their failures. These guys - and one girl, who everyone thinks is a boy until she skids her dirt bike to a stop, removes her helmet, and reveals beneath it a long mane of beautiful girl hair, tossed to and fro in super slow-motion while the boy thieves ogle her slack-jawed and consumed by social and sexual confusion - steal bikes quickly and ruthlessly, never minding how long it took their owners to find the right basket or fill the spokes with baseball cards (the expensive foil kind!). They snatch up bikes, then take them to shady chop shops down by the piers, where motley teams of colorful ex-cons strip the bikes down, repaint them, and occasionally dance and lip-synch to an old, but once popular rock and roll song. (it is at this point the sole african-american chop shop mechanic slides out from beneath an expensive bicycle and, hearing the classic rock, makes a disapproving face. then he slides his walkman headphones over his ears, jacks the volume up, and begins bobbing his head rhythmically to what surely must be a rapping song as he slides back beneath the bike.) But how to outsmart these clever thieves?
At one point I thought I should get a bike lock. Then I reconsidered. Too expensive, and too easy. The thieves would see that one coming a mile away. So, for a while, I only ride my bike around police stations. I would circle the Atlantic Avenue station 480 times for a serious cardio workout, or 250 times if I was in the mood for a more casual, scenic pace. You would be surprised how boring this became, and how quickly. Feeling frustrated and helpless, I even considered having my bike melted down and turned into a suit of chainmail. That's when I had an idea.
I made a quick trip to PEARL paints and art supplies, and purchased two shopping bags full of anti-theft devices. I got home and, in a funny montage sequence set to XTC's "Senses Working Overtime" (the highlight of which is me chasing a neighborhood dog that has absconded with a roll of colorful streamers, the crepe paper making a long trail from his muzzle. i chase him off-frame right and then, later in the sequence, i chase him - and a different roll of streamers! - in the opposite direction. yikes.), I set to work on my secret project.
Two days later the project was abandoned. And then four weeks later, motivated by guilt, it was completed! I covered the bike, bars to seat, in pink and white fur. Using glitter and elmer's glue, I bolted a rainbow flag to the back of the bike. I had the words "THIS VEHICLE STEERS QUEER!" emblazoned across the support bar. I painted a picture of a bearded man's face, eyes lit up and mouth open suggestively, directly on the bike seat. I rigged up the horn so, when squeezed gently, it would release a stream of Bumble & Bumble leave-in conditioner and rainbow confetti. Then, for the coup de grace, I called a computer genius friend of mine - who hacks under the alias WarezW0LpH but whose real name, ironically, is Francis Horlick - and he hooked up an audio loop that triggers when you pedal the bicycle. Now, whenever you start pedaling, the bike broadcasts the voice of an effete man saying, "MEOW." The faster your pedal, the more quickly the audio loop repeats. This means, as you speed away, the grandly festooned vehicles practically screams, "MEOWMEOWMEOWMEOWMEOWMEOWMEOW!!"
So far, the bike thieves have kept their distance, no matter where I leave the bike. Unfortunately, I have tried to steal it no less than three times.
BLOODY REVOLUTION IN ONLINE PUBLISHING.
"Holy unraveling of everything i once believed to be true," you might be thinking. Tremble is 100% different! Actually, only a couple things are different, and in a way so subtle that this bit of writing is required to illuminate them.
For one, there is now an annoying space between this letter's greeting and its formal body. Then there's another one between the body and the closing. That can only mean one thing: I'm using Movable Type. Actually, MT (as the nerds call it) is a pretty wonderful and robust way of organizing these entries and my utter confusion with its ins and outs, and the ins and outs of web publishing tools in general, have left me flummoxed with regards to text formatting. I just can't get it to work. It's a small detail to suffer, though. Let's move on.
More significantly, I think, is the new inclusion of linkable letters. Yes, that means if you see a particular letter on this page that grabs you, that says, "Hi. I am grabbing you. You're grabbed. We're just alike. Let's kiss," you can now bookmark it or link directly to it without having to tell your friends to visit tremble.com and then scroll down 300,000 feet to the six words that actually matter. Whew. That's what I'm talking about.
Next, from this point forward I will be organizing these letters two ways (again, thanks to Movable Type): by month (sweet!) and by category. (huh? i'll stomp you!) I have created a few custom categories to which I hope I'll be able to assign most entries. I was surprised and saddened at how few I realized were required. By some contrast you, I hope, will feel convenienced. I am not going to implement categories until I've got about a month's worth of new entries, so please hang in there. I realize this must be a difficult time for you. Think of how I feel, though. Keep thinking of it. Hold it. Hold it now.
Finally, you'll notice that the writing is far more crackerjack than ever before. Again, this is purely the work of Movable Type and it's new "Quentin Crisp Plugin".
This is all just another example of how I plan to bring you all that 'first of all' type shit for The Year of the Anagram.