new writing in long forma proper archive for this site

In a cab tonight, after a junk food bender so humiliating it should be recorded on some eating disorder web ring for teenage girls, I had an out of body experience. I was retrieving messages from my cell phone - my mom, two wrong numbers, and Fudge Castle telling me my order is cooling - and suddenly I felt a very familiar vibration in my ass. It was the same vibration my phone gives off in my pocket, but how could it be! I am sort of embarrassed to admit that I did a "phone take" where I pulled my own phone away from my ear, wondering how it could be vibrating while in use, though knowing full there was no "how"; it just couldn't be.

Finally I realized the buzz was coming from another phone I'd sat on when I entered the cab. If it hadn't been in my ass I probably wouldn't have known it was there but, upon discovering it, it seemed a good idea to answer it. I wound up speaking with a nice girl named Helen, who was waiting somewhere for the phone's owner - a man with a bit of a problem being on time. Helen and I are to be married in the fall, and you're all invited, but that is not my story. Not now.

I did what I thought was most appropriate. I gave Helen my mobile number and instructed her to have her friend call me there so he could retrieve his phone. The succeeding turn of events is not worth report, except for two details:

When Phil (i think that was his name but couldn't be trusted with this information; names drop out of my memory just as soon as they enter it. i'm excellent with fingerprints, however.) dropped by to retrieve his phone, I greeted him at my building's stoop. He was a young guy - asian, slight - and he grabbed my hand and said, with alarming earnestness, "THANK GOD FOR NICE PEOPLE LIKE YOU." It was actually kind of moving. Thank god for nice people like me? As he held tight on my hand, I feared he'd experience the same super-powers Bruce Willis had in Unbreakable. Through his touch, I wondered if he would be able to feel all the horrible things I'd done with my life, especially since some of them had occurred earlier that day. Would his expression change from gratitude to spiritual pain, and finally slacken into grim disgust as he backed away from me? Still, the very idea that he would thank God for people like me made me want to do something nice, like destroy my eugenics laboratory.

Earlier, when I was trying to find Phil's information in his cell phone, I discovered that this model doubled as a digital camera. Curious, I selected a menu called "photo album". There were only two photos in there. The first was Phil making a crazy face into the camera. The second was Phil making a less crazy face into the camera. I've a feeling there won't be many more pictures than that during this phone's lifetime, which is probably not so uncommon. On television commercials advertising camera-phones, there is always some scenario in which the phone's owner sees the Grand Wizard of the KKK kissing a Mexican baby or something, and thank God for nice phones! In reality, 99% of the photos on those phones capture its owner making a crazy face. The other 1% are blurry shots of my penis head poking through the opening of my boxers. (sorry, phil. there's no god in the history of religion you'll want to thank for that.)

- it's 30 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


So...does drinking milk past its expiration date make me retro? Oh, forget it.

[p.s. for new yorkers only: the newest issue of JEST is available at its many clandestine locations. it's their first glossy issue, and there are some very funny pieces in it. i would like to draw special attention to the interview with a member of the black israelites, protest signs for moderates, and chris regan's uncovering of urban myths. and, oh yes, i have something in there as well. it's a short piece i can only describe as 'toxically adorable.']

- it's 28 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


I'm not saying farewell to comedy but I am saying farewell to New York City for a couple of months, beginning May 15th. (we'll be together soon, reese.) If you're in NYC over the next couple of weeks, this is where you can see me:

Sweet Paprika
with Allison Castillo, Ophira Eisenberg and their sidekick, Gay Dracula
@ the Village Lantern (bleecker street and sullivan)
Doors open at 7pm - Admission: FREE with one drink

Comedy! Comedy! Comedy!
hosted by Jen Kirwin
Downstairs @ the Lolita Bar (allen street and broome)
Showtime 8pm - ADMISSION: FREE

Portable Comedy
hosted by Christian Finnegan
@ the Gershwin Hotel
(E 27th st. between 5th and madison)
Showtime 10pm - ADMISSION: $7*

*this will be my farewell show for a while, and will probably culminate in an evening of social drinking and second-guessing, to which you're all invited. (w/ proper ID)

- it's 25 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


I've packed some clothes. Found a trustworthy friends to care for my lesbian cats. Refilled all my prescription drugs. Arranged to have my long distance telephone service disconnected. On May 15th, tremble will be on a two-month sabbatical. Because on May 15th, I head over to Loews Cineplex at 34th Street and begin camping out for the July 2nd premiere of Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. Jealous much?

- it's 24 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Very recently, a very nice (and concerned) reader suggested I might benefit from a personal retreat. She'd been reading my site diligently over the last couple of months and saw a pattern of disillusionment and sadness creeping into my writing. I was sort of taken aback by the forthright attitude of this perfect stranger, but decided to check out some of my old entries to measure them against her hypothesis anyway. Why? Because, above all else, I believe in scientific inquiry. Just ask my reflexologist.

It pains me to say this, but I have to agree with this reader. I scoured my entries from 2003 and found some painful evidence to corroborate her story. Here are some of the more tell-tale passages from the dailies:

[January 16, 2003]
"Couldn't sleep again last night. My mind was wracked by horrible nightmares. I dreamed I was the rounded end of a baguette in a caf■ table's bread basket and no one wanted to eat me. Even the restaurant's most morbidly obese patron refused me, choosing to butter his own fist instead."

[January 28, 2003]
"Tonight I asked for K's hand in marriage. K found the gesture uncomfortably impulsive; her warden agreed. She recommended I wait 8-10 years, possibly less with parole."

[February 4, 2003]
"Lately I've become obsessed with suicide. Not my own, of course. Mostly my ex-girlfriend's. Futterman explained that, technically, that's called homocide. Why must Futterman always stand in my way? This is just like the time he told me my idea for a 'PRACTICALLY NUDE GIRLS' night club was unambitious. Right now I would like very much to help Futterman commit suicide."

[February 21, 2003]
"I drew the curtains in my study because I never want to see daylight again. In addition, I would never again like to see Mrs. Lipinski shave her armpits in the window directly across from my study. If I had a gun, she'd be dead from suicide right now."

[March 4, 2003]
"I long for the new Yo La Tengo album. And death's cold embrace."

[March 5, 2003]
"Downloaded the new Yo La Tengo off Kazaa. Now I just long for death. It feels good to simplify."

[March 12, 2003]
"I can no longer wait for K's answer. Today, I visited her correctional facility and brought her a cake with a pre-nuptial agreement baked inside it. I was born, and will die, a cautious romantic."

[April 1, 2003]
"Good news! I don't have syphillis. Bad News. I've already colored in most of my 'SO YOU HAVE SYPHILLIS' activity book. Is there no end to my grief?"

[April 15, 2003]
"Perhaps I've underestimated Radiohead."

And here's the most significant detail linking all of these posts together. The first one occurred on the very same evening I first viewed the trailer for Steve Martin's newest film, Bringing Down The House.

- it's 23 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Unbeknownst to me, I grew old enough to start using words like "unbeknownst." It was also around this time that my old journal of advertising awareness, Your Ad Here disappeared. It happened for good reasons and if I'd bothered to pay attention I could have done something about it sooner. But I didn't. Neither did you. So we're even.

But thanks to the kindness and swift action of Diaryland's proprietor, Andrew Springscent, everything is back in order. If you're new to this site and you wondered where that Your Ad Here link was supposed to go, wonder no more. It goes here.

- it's 21 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


This past year marks a personal low point in my physical health. I had a cold for a bit of October, and just about the entire month of December. Then, recently, it manifested itself again, just in time for everyone with a pulse and cable access to make an instantly hilarious "SARS" joke.

(i swear, if it weren't for offices, no one would have to hear a single SARS joke. if you were thinking of making one, please stop. if you hear someone cough and find yourself replying with, "SARS?" that just isn't enough. you have to craft your jokes a bit, ok? it's like finding out the 1:30pm showing of What a Girl Wants is sold out, then turning to your friends and saying, "the terrorists have won." that type of joke is what's known as a ready-made. please try to consider this a public service announcement. i don't mean to player-hate.)

In addition to this never-ending cold, I've had an assortment of other ailments. In fact, I've been so sick that I'm getting import illnesses before they even reach American shores. People come to me for the latest, hottest shit, like I'm some kind of bacterial mix-tape peddler in the East Village. Right now I've got something that causes you to lose balance, itch behind the ears, and cough so hard it feels as if your lungs are flapping around like semi-inflated balloons. It's totally hot. There isn't even a name for it; it's totally white label right now. I heard when it reaches America it's going to have a few new symptoms that aren't available in the version I've contracted, which means I'll have to consider catching this illness again. I am such a completist.

(a friend told me i might be especially susceptible to illness because of the antibiotics i've been taking for the last several months. that sounds perfectly ironic, but i'm inclined to believe her because she can identify every species of fish known to man. it's strange but i trust in the global knowledge of anyone who seems to have an obsessive, specialized knowledge in any particular area. maybe it's because i can only remember the names of fish that sound funny to me. "ladies and gentlemen...who ordered the clown fish?!?!")

- it's 21 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


But I think this would make a lovely addition to my under-furnished, water-damaged Brooklyn squat. I will be waiting by my mailbox, shuffling nervously from foot to foot.

- it's 18 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Yes, I'm dedicating even more space to a discussion of Rob Zombie's cinematic opus, House of 1000 Corpses. However, that's only because my more official review of it is up on Film Threat today. The best thing about the Film Threat site is that they are so fair to their milieu that they have actually allowed space for two partially contrary reviews of a movie this bad. Another reviewer generously afforded it two stars, while I punched its dick hard with a stigmatizing half-star. And it only got that half because of the film's liberal sprinkling of naked corpses.

- it's 17 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Today I woke up with an erection (not so unusual; i have a farrah fawcett latch-hook rug displayed on my ceiling above my bed) and it has persisted all day. I can't get it to relax, no matter how many times I punch it with my fists or slam it in my office door. Yes, It's spring in New York City today.

If you don't live here, where the loveliest men and women on earth come to nest, you might have difficulty fully comprehending this all-consuming sensation. Perhaps where you live spring weather simply means more parked cars with Tasmanian Devil sun visors propped up in the windshield. Maybe it means the soccer moms are hornier. Or maybe it's springtime every single day, and you're a huge jerk. I don't know how you roll. But here's how we do it:

Imagine one day waking up to find that everyone you've been sharing a bus/subway/train with, everyone you've barely acknowledged on a daily basis, is suddenly the most gorgeous, sexually desirable creature you've ever seen. They're 25 pounds lighter than you'd remembered. Women wear their hair animal-hot and let it curl at the ends like beckoning fingers. Guys have melted off their carb faces. Grey, bland complexions are flushed with curiosity. And everyone seems to be wearing the same expression - the one that says, "ask me about my uncontrollable libido." In New York City, there is a name for this unusual phsyiological phenomenon. It's called "86 Degrees Farenheit." Excuse me while I smash my genitals with a phone receiver.

p.s. Last night, on the soft eve of this beautiful weather, I was buying produce at my favorite - i.e. most conveniently located - Korean grocer. I struck up a conversation with the cashier as he scanned my baby carrots and weighed my fudge (4.5 pounds). Suddenly, after several minutes of complaining about his sore hands, he announced, "maybe it's because of all this Nature's Beauty that my hand is hurting." (his english - not the best. just like mines.) I looked puzzled, sort of the way a dog looks after the 'disappearing treat' trick, so he elaborated.

"Nature's beauty. You know. All these pretty girls."

"Ah." I concurred politely and silently, by making the split-finger gesture over my open mouth and flicking tongue.

Then he added, "You so lucky to live here in Park Slope. In Queens - nothing."

Hey, Queens - our heavily politicized lesbians are sexier than your Greek Orthodox senior citizens. Eat it, QB!!

- it's 16 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


When the lights went down and the movie began with a fake CREATURE DOUBLE FEATURE broadcast, I felt really good about House of 1000 Corpses. And in ten short minutes, that good feeling was drained out of me like blood from a skull. I could spend a great deal of time complaining about this movie (and i have, elsewhere) but I am also aware that each complaint could easily be answered with, "but you paid money to see House of 1000 Corpses." Touch■.

I realize one must aggressively manage expectations over a movie like this, but shouldn't I have been able to expect, at the very least, one house filled with (or composed of) 1,000 corpses? There was a house, to be sure. And there were some corpses. But 1,000? I didn't stay until the end because that would have meant ditching my plan to shout, "fuck you, Rob Zombie! I'm sneaking into What a Girl Wants!!!" However, with less than 20 minutes left in the film, there were only about 30 corpses total. That is a generous figure. Unless those homeowners were expecting a FedEx delivery of hundreds and hundreds or dead bodies, House of 1000 Corpses either had the most spectacular finale in the history of horror films, or the second-most misleading title. (William Castle's failed gimmick movie, Everyone Who Stays Till the End Gets a Reach-Around and a Handful of Butterscotch Candy still holds top honors in that category.)

- it's 14 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


I'm appreciating rock's occasional return to simplicity. Fitting in tightly with this motif is the impending release of the latest album from The Cramps. Hot damn. That band was my first personal departure from the strict code of musical tastes my high school friends and I followed in perfect lockstep. As a unit, we championed XTC, REM, The dbs, Young Fresh Fellows, Elvis Costello, The Feelies, Yo La Tengo, Scruffy The Cat, and anything from Athens, GA or New Zealand.

But I always had a creepy side that I kept secreted away from my friends. A side that craved the Other adolescent pornography found gleaming like guts between the pages of Fangoria magazine. It wasn't cool, like Jim Jarmusch, but it made my teenage blood boil in the same way. I had a crush on monster make-up, gore prosthetics, and the work of Tom Savini, Sam Raimi, Stuart Gordon, George Romero and Tobe Hooper. This was a league of men drawn to create some kind of weird splatter pornography where decapitations and chomped brains were the surrogate money shots, and I collected their work alone because I felt so alone with my desires.

And that's what drew me to The Cramps and, in some ways, away from my core group of friends. I saw a copy of Bad Music for Bad People at my local record store, and its cover art knocked me out. It was a crap-yellow background with an ink drawing of a fleshless fiend with a pompadour haircut. It had the band's name in that great creature double feature radioactive ghoul lettering, and song titles like "Goo Goo Muck" and "Human Fly." I bought it based solely on its aesthetics. (this was before i inherited my first copy of The Trouser Press and could fact-check most minor curiosities.) Then I bought others. And more. And even when I thought I was done buying albums by The Cramps, I would still fawn lovingly over their area of my record store's "imports" section because that's where one could find their 12" picture discs screened with a photograph of Poison Ivy in mid-squat.

Yesterday, an advance of their latest album arrived at my home. It's called The Fiends of Dope Island and, in case one might think this album could possibly be a departure for the band, allow me to reproduce its track list:

  1. Big Black Witchcraft Rock
  2. Papa Satan Sang Louie
  3. Hang Up
  4. Fissure of Rolando
  5. Dr. Fucker MD
  6. Dopefiend Boogie
  7. Taboo
  8. Elvis Fucking Christ!
  9. She's Got Balls
  10. Oowee Baby
  11. Mojo Man From Mars
  12. Color Me Black
  13. Wrong Way Ticket

(and yes, there are lucky 13 tracks.) The lettering on the CD case is a typeface meant to look like compositions of human bones, and there's even a dedication to shitty C-movie star John Agar. (maybe the cramps weren't so different than young fresh fellows after all) The refusal to mature that this album represents is sort of invigorating. So much so that I think I just got pushed over the edge into insanely poor judgment. That's right - I'm going to see House of 1000 Corpses.

- it's 11 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Yesterday, White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer announced, "the Iraqi regime is gone." This could be the work of looters.

[ok, let's try that again]

Today, White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer announced, "the Iraqi regime is gone." Fleischer, however, predicts the regime will not be gone for long and expects it to show up on ebay in the coming weeks.

[oh, forget it.]

- it's 11 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Nothing quite reminds you of how terribly small our daily toils are as much as inter-office communications. Today, by the elevator banks, someone from the corporate cafeteria (sometimes known as lounge-a-terias) posted a sign heralded the cafeteria's exciting new changes for spring. The sign was carefully composed, using the "May Flowers" template provided by Microsoft Publisher. Among the many changes employees of this company can look forward to in the next few weeks: new flavors of Baked Lays┬ Snack Chips. I can't think of a more compelling argument for pursuing a career as a stunt cyclist or mob muscle. It's nice to see what I would have missed had I accidentally died yesterday.

(p.s. the baked cool ranch doritos taste as expected, only less so.)

- it's 09 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


I am not sure how to say this without appearing extraordinarily morose, but this afternoon I actually thought to myself, "today is a good day to die." Allow me to remove my black nail polish and eyeliner, and then I will offer a perfectly sane explanation from a well-adjusted, unmedicated man.

Expiring today would not be a desperate solution; just a practical one. I am neither terribly unhappy nor perfectly self-actualized. I have had some really lucky breaks. I've gotten to do certain things that have made me extremely happy, even if I haven't done all of them. I've fallen in love more than once. I've had my heart squished more than once. I've had sex, seen mountains, deserts, lakes and oceans. I've eaten cactus. I've tasted snow and washed my face in a natural, fresh water pool more than two miles above sea level. I've been drunk, high, stupid, depressed, giddy, shocked, inspired, defeated, applauded. And I've touched an okapi. I've been to the prom, I've stolen a car, went to college, never looked back. I've seen art, made it, laughed at it. Saw nature bring half a forest down, and listened to the creak of maples splitting in two from the icy lip of one of Letchworth Park's scenic views. I've made amends with my family. All in all, I've had a good run.

And, better still, are plenty of things I haven't done, or left incomplete. Death takes the pressure off, doesn't it? Some of my personal projects are half-finished. Others are only half-realized. Work is neither totally enriching nor unsatisfying. I'm not in love now. I don't own anything significant or legally burdensome, like a home or even a car. I have cats, but many people love cats. Today, the loose ends are not a source of anxiety for me. They are a tiny legacy, and perhaps a bit of a mystery of potential energy. Langston Hughes wrote about the sad physical states of a dream deferred, but what about a dream denied? People forget, while some of them remember a little longer. Today, if I died, they'd sort it all out.

So, between this life and the one ahead of me - the one that still confounds me - maybe today would be a good day to die. I don't wish it upon myself at all. I'm no longer the dramatic sort. I certainly would not lean into a deadly situation for a kiss. I wouldn't die angry either. I wouldn't miss the things I haven't done, or the things I've done poorly. I wouldn't even miss the things I've done well.

But I have family and friends with an astounding capacity for faith, and I would miss them. And I'm still very curious. So, maybe tomorrow would be more convenient.

- it's 08 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


At the video store, trying to decide between Black Orpheus and Black Caesar, I heard a loud exclamation from the "HORROR AND GHOULS". It was a nine year-old girl, kneeling on the ground with a video box in her hand. She was shouting, "AWWWW RIGHT! ZOMBIES!!"

Little girl, if you were 15 - 22 years older I would make you my wife. (sadly, more like 11-18 years.) (even more sadly, more like 10 - 12 years.)

- it's 07 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


I am glad I attended "Entertaining the Young" last saturday afternoon. The show, which was hosted and produced by an acquaintance of mine, featured song and dance performances from entertainers who were all well into retirement age. There was hula dancing! And one of the most sincere, least hammy renditions of "On Broadway" I've ever heard. The performers were enthusiastic, easy with a compliment (a skill i do not share yet, in my unadvanced age), and adorable beyond reproach. I had the good sense to bring a camera, and I will send a few of the photographs to my mailing list later today.

I also took several pictures of the host, and found myself growing increasingly excited about the posture of stand-up comedy. There's something very expressive about the body as it tries to squeeze laughter out of you, and everyone's body does something entirely different to accomplish this. Patrick, who became the subject for the first series of photographs, has an extremely laconic style and his body language follows suit. (as does his actual suit.)

I saved a few of the comic images as a screen saver, which is viewable to anyone blessed with an Apple computer, an Internet connection, and Mac OS X. I've done this before, and the instructions are here. Here's a sample from the series:

lonely with a mic

- it's 07 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


vin diesel rips a man apart with devastatingly witty repart■e

- it's 06 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Last night I performed comedy in front of several attractive hipsters, all of whom I wanted to invite to a rollerskating party; some chubby kid who graduated from Starcraft Fleet Commander to Internet celebrity because he sang a horrible song about the superbowl and everything else being gay (watch your back, mahir!); and one crazy, drunk, loud, homeless war veteran who somehow managed to remain perfectly silent until about 45 seconds before I got onstage, and who threatened to upstage my pristinely crafted jokes by shitting his pants.

I actually taped my set, which is something I should get used to in order to remove the "um"s from my delivery, and I captured the many uncomfortably delightful exchanges between me and my new comedy buddy, Crazy Homeless Guy. Perhaps I'll post the audio this weekend so you can see what you're missing by not performing stand-up in front of cute twenty-somethings an dthe clinically insane.

(when Crazy Homeless Guy - who might actually have a home, for all i know - was ejected from the theater, right after my set thank you, he kept claiming that it was his right to make lots of noise because he was a u.s. marine. i kept thinking, i don't care if he's a marine. shit, i don't care if he works at old navy. they're supposed to teach you discipline and respect - and murder skills - in the military.)

- it's 03 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


Just a reminder. If you can stay up late, and need a nice outlet for your extra energy, might I suggest HUMP NIGHT? It's a comedy show, and I'll be up in it. Here are the details:

at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater
307 West 26th Street b/w 8th and 9th Aves.
Showtime: 11pm (yikes!), ADMISSION: FREE

- it's 02 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


My prediction for the number of record reviews that will paint The White Stripes' (excellent, so excellent) new album "Elephant" as a departure from the band's other releases by pointing out that the first track begins with a bass sound, only to later explain that this bass sound is in fact just Jack White picking his guitar through an octave pedal: ALL OF THEM.

Please remember the album was only officially released yesterday and I've already gathered the following pieces of hard evidence:

from Spike Magazine
"Elephant kickstarts with a pristine bass sound. "7 Nation Army". The first single to be. Whatever you say, however you approach this, you don't expect bass. The White Stripes are guitars and drums. Guitars and drums and occasional piano. They make a primal noise. That is what they do. The bass is just foolin', though (it's not bass at all - it's just an effect - it's just gee-tar)"

from Shake It Up
"A big statement is made right out of the starting gate as, yes, that's a bass that we hear introducing Seven Nation Army before Jack's now trademark slide style takes over."

"The first notes of the first ``Elephant'' track, ``Seven Nation Army,'' will tell fans that the two-piece band has altered its rule book. They are bass notes, the sound famously missing from most of the group's previous work. The bass riff - actually Jack playing his guitar through a pitch-dropping device..."

from Totally Wired
"The best tracks by far are where the familiar guitar and drums formula is subverted; opener ĽSeven Nation Armyŕ is a bass-driven stormer."

from Fake Jazz
"...on the album's first single and leadoff track, "Seven Nation Army." Using an octave pedal, Jack White turns his guitar into a bass to propel this foot-stomping Chuck Berry-style rocker."

from the BBC
"...'Seven Nation Army' - which finds Jack seeking a way out from international superstardom, helped by a driving pseudo bass and unforgiving guitars."

from Rolling Stone
"There is, for starters, true bottom here, for the first time on a White Stripes record. Jack's dancing-cobra bass line announces, then underpins, Elephant's opening fight song, 'Seven Nation Army.'"

from Other Music
"the production is not lushly over done nor is it the same old formula. For instance, the first track "Seven Nation Army" (an anthem of an opener -- hooky, sexy, destined to be a single) starts with... a bass! Actually, it's Jack playing guitar through an octave pedal."

[Typically, Pitchfork Media is the exception to the rule because they are the only source of information more self-conscious than me. Also typically, their review totally overlooks this album's merits because that would confuse their always-contrarian agenda.]

Music journalism is the best! Glad you died and didn't have to see any of this, Mr. Bangs.

- it's 02 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.


My optometrist ruins everything. As a man who choose a strict, almost autistically obsessive code of economics over all else, dinner can often be a dicey proposition. When the subject of dining out is raised, he often responds by rattling off restaurants like this:

"What about the eight dollar chicken parm? Or 50 wings for $7.50? I haven't had stomach cancer in a while. You pick!"

Quality takes a back seat with my optometrist. In fact, sometimes quality isn't even invited along for the ride, and most of the time it's just tied to the rear bumper and dragged along behind him at dangerous speeds. He has just enough patience for something - meat, fish, a candy bar - to be lowered into a vat of bubbling oil, and raised again 30 seconds later. I've seen him pick up the remains of a steak in his bare hands and chew on it all the way to the car because his attention span for sitting in one place had expired too quickly. And when my optometrist is finished, everyone is. I wish I could explain how this works, or why it's impossible to fight, but that would be like trying to explain why lightning kills babies. It just does, so adjust. Stop buying aluminum strollers, and copper rattles. Taking all of this information into consideration, I should have known my optometrist would figure out some way to taint the single greatest joy my mouth has ever known: barbecue.

[Several months ago, I became apprised of a new storefront a few blocks from my apartment. The sign read, "BISCUIT," and I had a hunch that this would mean very good things. I grabbed a takeout menu and, upon scanning it briefly, nearly popped an audible boner right on Flatbush Avenue. Pulled pork. Double (yes double) fried chicken. Collards. Grits. Beans and rice. Bread pudding. Lemonade. The menu had the very rare whiff of authenticity, particularly their claim that, if requested far enough in advance, they will COOK AN ENTIRE HOG FOR YOU. (pig roast location pending, but you're all invited.) Before I even made it home I had my optometrist on the phone, as he is often my partner in artery-clogging meat. And I knew he'd love the menu because items were listed both by name and volume - 6 oz. pork vs. 11 oz. - and I knew my optometrist would appreciate spinning the mathematics of the arrangement. In that way, he was like a retarded child with a dreidel.]

I had gone weeks without pork. Weeks! And it was not self-imposed, like my caffiene strike, or beyond my control, like my pussy fast. I was just too busy to meditate on a plate of freshly slaughtered pig but I couldn't think of a better partner to celebrate my return to hog than my optometrist, so I gave him a call. (this served a dual purpose for me. our friendship has fallen upon hard times recently and i've been off my optometrist even longer than i've been off espresso. we are making a comeback gingerly, slowly, and though we may never enjoy the same co-dependency we once did i thought this meal would be a good reunion for us. two old friends, putting aside their differences while tearing greedily at flesh on a bone.) He was game and within minutes we were seated at Biscuit, and giddy from the high levels of sodium we were anticipating in our bloodstreams. The waiter/owner dropped menus, and that's where the trouble began.

My optometrist couldn't overcome the low prices and his famous indecision, and insisted we order three entrees to split between the two of us. The suggestion was sort of reprehensible, and not just because our nation is being torn asunder by an overseas war. I knew he was ordering too much because he felt he could afford to waste leftover meat, and I knew that even if he'd ordered two additional entrees I would have found a way to eat it all, so great is my love for smoked meats. My self-control was being compromised while his tendencies toward low-budget conspicuous consumption were being teased and licked.

The food arrived and I ate more than I could manage. I stretched myself from the inside in order to struggle a few more pink-ringed bits of pig down my greedy throat. I ate until I absolutely hated myself, and then I ate several more bites. It was quite a scene at Biscuit. A small dining room full of oversized black men being out-gluttoned by a pair of reedy, bespectacled Jews. My optometrist upset the balance of good taste with an order that could have been prevented had he taken his ritalin today. Now, as a result of my over-indulgence I will probably never look at pork, and then run home and masturbate, again. Thanks a lot, my optometrist.

- it's 01 April, 2003 and now everyone knows.

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ę 2001 todd levin