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I was re-routed to a different coffee shop today and I realized, apart from quality of product, the only distinction between this coffee shop and my regular one is that, at my regular coffee shop the lesbians behind the counter all listen to Le Tigre and at this coffee shop the lesbians behind the counter all listen to Tracy Chapman.

Which reminds me...Tracy Chapman? You're a lesbian in 2006 listening to "Fast Car?" TRY HARDER. Is there really nothing since the 1988 release of Tracy Chapman's self-titled debut that actually resonates with you? What does your CD collection look like? The first Tracy Chapman album, a couple Indigo Girls CDs, Free to Be You and Me, and a 4 Non-Blondes cassingle? (I have no idea why I added that Marlowe Thomas album. I ran out of lesbian musical choices, and I really think no one actually listens to Ani DiFranco anyway. Maybe I'm starting to see the problem here.)

I sometimes feel like there are things I'll never understand about being a lesbian. And that is the funniest thing I've ever said.

Also of note, but unrelated: here is a CNN story about a kid who climbed into one of those skill crane games where you spend a quarter to manipulate a metal claw until you're able to pull out a digital watch that was manufactured by a barefoot Malaysian child who makes less than 25 cents a week. America!

I love this story for many reasons. First, because it uses very little B-roll footage, and it uses that tiny bit of footage A LOT. There's not much to the story, after all, beyond its incredible premise. A kid miraculaously climbs into a skill crane machine at a Godfather's Pizza restaurant. Do we have the video of the event? No. Is there anyone on the firefighting rescue team we can talk to? No. Is the actual kid even verbal? No? Really? Even at three? Nope. Can't speak, or doesn't speak. Is he autistic? THAT IS NOT THE STORY HERE!

So all they've got is a location and a blurry photograph of the kid sitting in the skill crane machine. They don't even have a photograph of the skill crane machine without a child in it, possibly because it's been disassembled to avoid a lawsuit, or possibly because Godfather's wouldn't allow any cameras on-premises, to protect all the noted mobsters who spend their afternoons there, nostalgically munching on slices of Godfather's Super Taco pizza. But, even without resources, they had to cobble together a story. That's why we see several shots of the Godfather's parking lot, and several more shots where a news camera is trained on a photograph of a smiling, possibly autistic toddler in a skill crane machine. (Please note the way the camera's speedlight is reflected in the glossy surface of the photo, making the print almost impossible to see.)

But wait? Human interest news stories are never just about facts, evidence, and eyewitness interviews. There's also something called "ingenuity." That's the little bit of unplanned magic where a very resourceful segment producer examines his or her immediate surroundings and finally says, "Hey, let's see if we can get that retarded kid to fit inside our empty camera bag!" The kid complies, of course, thinking there are more toys buried within the bag, and suddenly this is no longer a story about a mom who was too busy drinking Pepsi to keep track of her possibly autistic three-old child. It's a story about THE NEXT DAVID BLAINE! A regular Harry Houdini! Home-school that prodigy, and watch him carefully. He might grow up to be the next young man to bury himself in a block of ice purely for public entertainment. Double America!! Take that!

Also, it's a tale of triumph. Everyone in the story is talking about how frightening it was that young Devin was stuck inside a skill crane machine, but check out that photograph they keep cutting to: that is officially the happiest possibly autistic kid I've ever seen. If The Boy in the Plastic Bubble was surrounded by germ-free, cheaply made toys, and was autistic, I would imagine he might have been that happy, too. That's a kid surrounded by toys! Inside a fortress of solitude where no one can spill soda on him or hit him. (I really think web sites are a great medium for taking journalistic liberties with domestic abuse allegations without fear of legal rebuke. God bless the fake media.) That's a pretty good life. I don't know if he's smiling out of bliss, because he doesn't know any better (autistic), or due to the lack of oxygen but does it even matter? He's "fine" now and while his mom is championing to have child safety locks put on skill crane machines, pickle jars, and scented candles, young Devin gets to squirm all over their furniture with a devilish smile, remembering that short trip to paradise, when he passed the time in the company of knock-off Batman plush dolls, charm bracelets, and Spuds McKenzie beanie babies i.e. his new best friends. Seriously, America. We're doing OK freedom-wise, all things considered.

WE FIRST MET ON 03.30.2006

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