In March of 2003, You Learned:
ALL THE REAL MOVIES.
I've been very lucky recently, because I've caught up with a couple of filmmakers who are so gifted with easy naturalism - something really missing from most films today - that they practically elevate it to a kind of poetry. When I first saw David Gordon Green's George Washington a couple of years ago, I really fell for it. It's a pretty difficult film. It shuffles wherever it pleases, and is often unwilling to be contained. It doesn't drive forward will all its fiery pistons-a-poppin' but there's something really beautiful in its refusal to resolve actions in any traditional way. Green does the kinds of great things that Terence Malick and Robert Altman did first. He zooms in for close-ups when actors don't expect it, instead of physically pushing the camera in, and forces them to be the main focus of the scene without making them self-conscious or even remotely aware. He also spends as much time observing as he does capturing his story. A three legged dog is as important to him as a murder. And the result is not for everyone, but it was for me.
His latest film, All the Real Girls is a small, but big achievement. He captures first love and all of its various complications so naturally that it raised all my blood to the surface of my skin. The characters aren't insightful the way scripted characters are. They're not too smart for their own good. They suffer from the same poor articulation of emotions many of us did when we were young. It's like the antithesis of Dawson's Creek, in a way.
When the characters mix of their words or prefer to sit a moment out in silence, petting a dog or drinking a beer or dancing alone, you're so close to them that you want to squint into the film's sunlight. The movie is so pretty and sad and touching that I wish it were out in every city. It's hard to imagine that a movie like All the Real Girls can even inhabit the same medium as shit like Summer Catch and Swimfan. How can they all claim to talk about the same emotions and experiences without laughing at each other? Summer Catch probably had a Smashmouth song on the soundtrack. All the Real Girls had Promise Ring. Do you hear me? PROMISE RING! Now that's some sensitive shit.
Oh, and Lynne Ramsey. Shit. If I had the energy I would talk about her for the rest of time. She's made two films - Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar - and they've each become favorites. I hate saying a movie that just came out is one of my favorite movies of all time, because it sort of suggests the same denial of history that teenage kids love to exhibit. But I love them. They are my favorites, right alongside Little Nicky and the new Matrix movie that hasn't come out yet. If you don't believe me, look at this still from Ratcather that I, in an act of total mental deficiency, captured by photographing my television screen and tell me you can still resist it:
Not bad for a girl, right?
YES, PORK IS FOR KIDS.
Right on the heels of last month's most heavily forwarded web site, "Cool 2B Real", comes the less-beef-more-pork "Pork 4 Kids". Are kids turning their backs on fatty meats? Why is the meat industry mobilizing like this? I must have missed out on a worldwide symposium somewhere.
Where Cool 2B Real bordered on insidious in its shady insinuation that beef consumption keeps teenage girls true to themselves, Pork 4 Kids is merely lazy and misguided. And infinitely more insane for its effort-without-effort approach to educating children. It's almost as if the Pork 4 Kids people don't believe their own agenda. I can't think of any other way of explaining their defeatist approach to persuasion.
Here's an example: click on the male character and show your affinity for pork by coloring a chef's hat. Don't worry. It only takes TWO clicks to color it since there are just two areas to fill in. Sweet. That leaves more time to eat bacon! Or click on the girlie to read the most long-winded cartoon ever dedicated to a better understanding of pork. It tells the very lonely tale of a pork chop named Peggy on a quest to discover which food group she belongs in. After about 15 pages of missed connections alternating with long, sweeping shots of a pork chop dragging itself across a meadow, Peggy meets (or should i say 'meats'? i shouldn't? ok, i won't.) Robert Rib Roast and Henry Ham. And, not to spoil it for you but, yes, they all fuck.
There are seven other ways this site is terrible. Can you name them all?
THE ONLINE HUMOR MANDATE.
Since The Onion moved its content online several years ago, it has become a peerless source of humor for everyone with an Internet connection. In the past, I've joked that it is no longer necessary to even point out or link to something funny you've seen in this publication because drawing attention to it as "funny" is almost superfluous. Everyone has already seen it, and laughed. It's like saying, "Hey, did you notice that the Earth is round, or that dogs make excellent lovers?"
Because of The Onion's great success online and offline - sweeping humor awards year after year, spawning several books and calendars and nerds - it has drawn an enormous amount of attention to itself and has been crudely imitated by less fertile minds. I've seen rip-offs of The Onion everywhere, from (the hopefully defunct) The Rotten Apple to a few video game-oriented news parody web sites, and each "homage" just makes you long for The Onion's sharp wit and pitch-perfect voice even more.
I spoke with one of the paper's editors around a year ago, and he explained what he believed was The Onion's simple formula for success: parody the news with such unflagging loyalty that you actually begin to write it better than your source material. It's a really good rule for parody because it requires that you never let your audience feel like they're part of the joke.
[DIGRESSION ALERT] That's why I've always felt the parodies on sketch shows like MR. SHOW generally work so well. MR. SHOW immerses itself fully in the material it parodies, almost to the point of losing the distinction between their sketch and the very thing they're poking fun at. The painstaking attention they devoted to "Coupon: The Movie" and "Racist in the Year 3000" is what makes them so watchable. Even when the show isn't outrageously funny, it is at least outrageously astute.
This type of parody works in contrast to shows like SNL and MAD TV (and, despite the protests many would love to offer, the majority of the material on THE BEN STILLER SHOW - a show as over-rated as it is under-rated), which constantly appear to doubt the intelligence of their audiences and therefore cannot create parody without completely revealing their hand. The parodies on SNL - with the exception of some of the curious characters created by Mike Meyers - and MAD TV are too often self-referential. This causes them to slash their own tires.
Here's one example of many, from MAD TV. (and this might not be 100% representational, because i confess i barely watch the show since i find it so loud and its jokes so telegraphed) The players did a parody of the television show WEST WING, and for the majority of the sketch one or several characters paced the labyrinthine halls of the White House, speaking in tones as rushed as their brisk walking pace. It was actually funny, because it illustrated exactly what was ridiculous about the show. It felt right. Then, as if we couldn't make the connection without a well-illustrated instruction manual, the characters did that horrible post-modern trick that most sketch shows are guilty of: they began telling us (the audience) exactly what was so funny about what they were doing. One of the characters literally said something like, "I think we should continue to speak quickly and walk with a great sense of purpose, forever." That's either a lack of confidence in your ideas and presentation, or unforgivable laziness, but it's a really common device. It's also what keeps these sketches from being transcendent.
Jimmy Fallon is the mainstream comedy king of this technique. Watch his celebrity impersonations and see how often he actually, in character, lets the audience in on exactly what funny attribute he chose to zero in on for his parody. As Carson Daly: "Hi, I'm Carson Daly and I'm a total tool." As that guy from E! Entertainment: "Hi, I'm that guy from E! Entertainment and I never breathe through my mouth!!!" Thanks, Jimmy! And hey, nice song parody. When you made that song from 8 Mile about puking up St. Patrick's Day beer I told everyone in my quad about it. I wish you weren't so popular so you could come to SUNY Oneonta and perform at our on-campus bar, The Nook.
[BACK TO BUSINESS]
Fortunately, The Onion gets it right. It always has, and that's why it is so easily distinguished from its imitators even when that distinction is difficult to articulate. I think many people probably still find the imitators funny, because their expectations are as low as their need for subtlety. In fact, I saw a site today that shamelessly ripped off The Onion with slightly inferior results, and I'll bet many people would even see the difference. Similar format, but less graceful editorial layout. Similar stories but with a greater eagerness to please, and with jokes recycled and slightly modified from old issues of The Onion. Current events that rely more heavily on poorly photoshopped photographs than the strength of the headline, conceit, or body copy. Similar tone, though slightly more brash and less sophisticated. It even has a similar name. It's called The Onion. (nervy!) All in all, it's OK but it's really not fooling anyone. It's just another pale imitator or the original.
"SOME CRIMES ARE BETTER LEFT UNSOLVED".
Here is today's Very Short Story. It's a hard-boiled detective yarn. It has a name, and that name is "Some Crimes Are Better Left Unsolved":
Streaking her fresh blood into a question mark with my shoe's tip, I thought, "I'll keep this one to myself."
THE IRVING THALBERG AWARD GOES TO...HYPOCRISY.
I learned a few hard lessons during this evening's broadcast of the 75th Annual Hollywood Awards. Here's my official wrap-up:
- Acting as a frank (if slightly graceless) pundit on the very confusing state of international affairs will earn you empassioned jeers from your formally dressed audience; being an exiled pedophile and alleged rapist, however, gets you a standing ovation.
- Adrien Brody - mournful eyes and an asshole's mouth. "Bet you didn't expect that in your gift bag," he offered smugly, after gripping and frenching halle berry. Later, he shut up the orchestra for an extended personal moment onstage and then proceeded to tell the world that it took acting in a movie about the Holocaust to understand that people are actually suffering in the world - and not just because the doorman at Jet Lounge didn't recognize you from your amazing performance in A Thin Blue Line.
- And yes, that 'suffering' comment will also earn you a standing-O.
- Steve Martin, a generally dignified man (outside of his film oeuvre) with sharp comic timing, still sounds like a cheap Vegas whore (or worse - like billy crystal) when he's telling someone else's dirty old man jokes. Yes, Steve - J.Lo is hot! Please write a play, and quick.
- Hollywood proved it doesn't hate black people last year, right? It turns out that Hollywood just hates urban culture. Phew! There's a difference, of course. Mr. Tibbs is in! But where was Eminem's performance of "Lose Yourself"? It won an Oscar this year, but I guess that doesn't mean the Academy has to rally behind it. Still, I would have felt better about that fairly inspiring song being performed than the U2 song. Not sure. Something about a song that celebrates the "hands that built America" doesn't quite sit right while American hands are tearing down another country right now, brick by brick. [addendum: i was informed that eminem actually boycotted the oscars because he'd already been warned that they might have to edit his live appearance if he had any swears in it. there's a story here.]
- Rush a tribute, even for an event as lush as the Oscars, and it will look rushed. Did anyone see that montage called "A Tribute to the American Spirit"? It had all the shine of a PowerPoint presentation at a tile flooring conference. What font did they use? Was that a tribute to the spirit of Zapf Chancery?
- Pre-emptive award for fastest professional and personal downward spiral: Adrien Brody
- Award for most clever camera work: when the producer of Chicago was reminded to thank his wife during his acceptance speech, the director of the Oscars cut to Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe, like some kind of historical lesson. [addendum: i've also been told that hilary herself was the person who yelled out, "thank your wife!" as a single tear rolled down chad lowe's cheek.]
- Award for best decontextualization of a shitty scene from an even shittier movie: Backdraft, during the tribute to the American Spirit. What could be lower?
- Oh wait, I know what could be lower. How about seating Mickey Rooney in the last row, behind the sound board while Cuba Gooding, Jr. enjoys a 10th row seat. I guess he was running a dress rehearsal for next year, when he accepts an award for Boat Trip. Do they have an award for "Most Quickly Squandered Potential?"
- Connect the dots. New category: Feature Length Animated Film. Network broadcasting the Academy Awards: ABC. Corporation that owns ABC: Disney. Nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Feature Length Animated Film: Disney'sTreasure Planet. Worst animated film since Rover Dangerfield: Treasure Planet.
- Most spiteful introduction: "...Academy award winner and star of Daredevil, Ben Affleck."
(i actually liked adrien brody before this evening. almost as much as i like the chub chubs. curse you, brody, you insufferable prick. and bless you, chub chubs.)
*thanks to denise for intrepid fact-checking and clarification on some of my complaints. it's nice to have an uninformed opinion anchored by some actual information. sometimes.
STAB. SCUD. MUSTARD. MICHAEL.
Since the inception of the first Patriot Act, over 18 months ago, I've begun playing this curious game with myself. What words, transmitted through my personal emails, will raise red flags with our government and cause them to generate a file on me? Stab? Bomb? Holy Terror? Zionist? Beard? Junior Bush? Scud? Bud the C.H.U.D.? Dracula Powder? Allah #1? It's hard to know.
Now that the government has revamped its old, far too permissive efforts, and passed Patriot Act II (which allows federal agents to deny any information about the nature of the arrest to captured suspects. no one has to know their rights, or their wrongs, now.) I wonder if they've gone through and added more "red flag" words to monitor potential terror or dissent in our correspondences? Like "Michael Moore", "Dixie Chicks", "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences", "Wavy Gravy", "sandals", "liberal arts", "falafel", "ambivalent", "worried", "I hope my boy is safe", "dove", "small world", and "croissant."
I will say this. I'm glad our current Executive cabinet is DOMINATED by older men, because there's no way women could seriously consider cool names like "Operation Enduring Freedom", "Decaptitation Attack" (LIU KANG WINS - DECAPITATION ATTACK!), "bunker buster", "Operation Liberty Shield", and "Molly Hatchet." Female military officials would ruin our bloodlust instantly with campaigns like "Barbie's Dream War", "Unicorns are for Real", and "How the U.S. Got Its Groove Back." FELLAS, AM I RIGHT????
BABY I'M OVER YOU.
Sorry, baby, but today was the day. I even removed your bookmark from my browser. I pulled it out like a ragged splinter. Sure, that fucker hurt, but it's supposed to sting on its way out, ain't it? That's to remind a soul of all that healing it must do. And that's the kind of hurt I needs.
Baby, that ain't all. That macaroni collage I was making of your naked form, the one I cobbled together from all them photographs and my dank memories? Well, I abandoned that. And not like the way I abandoned my other paintings, or my career as a professional chef or art dealer, or that idea I had to make wigs for babies. This was personal, baby. I didn't want that macaroni staring back at me all day, accusing me. So I ate it. Yeah, hon, I ate my art. And as soon as I move my bowels, you're outta here. Part and parcel, baby. Know what I mean? Cause I'm working on symbolic levels, now. Shit you can't even wrap your beautiful head (oh my god i wish i could smell your hair oh why oh why oh shit just one more time i'll be good) around.
That's right. I'm clean, baby. Cleaned out of you. I'm calling the print shop right now and having that order canceled. The duvet cover silkscreened with your full-length sleeping form on it. Yeah, fuck that. I don't need it because I cleaned out my bookmarks today and I'm cleaning out my colon later today and after that I'll be new, changed. Not like that time I went to London for three weeks and came back telling everyone how different I was and insisted on calling the elevator in your building a lift for a few weeks until I totally forgot to. No, this is different. Watch me. Baby, I'm over you. And I'll tell every woman I date from tomorrow forward that very same thing, over and over again.
MORE JUNK IN THE TRUNK.
Stood at the gate of the midtown tunnel tonight, at midnight, waiting for elephants to emerge from the Queens side. Isn't that an odd sentence? But it's true. The circus elephants made their annual low-key progression from the Queens Midtown Tunnel, up to the 34th Street, and across town to Madison Square Garden. What a lucky site to observe.
I would also like to point out that, of all the people waiting right by the tunnel entrance, I was the absolute only person who remembered how much elephants loved peanuts and how little they would mind if I bought a whole bag of them and tossed them in the street. I had an adult case of the giggles (or, as my friend simon used to drawl perversely, "the geeegles") as I watched the more ambitious pachyderms temporarily break their elegant trunk-to-tail chain in order to hoover up some squished peanuts from NY's finest asphalt. It felt a whole lot better than my show tonight, which I sort of shitted up. I know exactly what I did wrong, and next time I'll correct it onstage rather than in my secret diary many hours later. (hint: i hope the next audience likes peanuts.)
First of all, if I hear anyone say anything even resembling, "can people please stop talking about the war for a second," I will punch them in the nose, even across state lines.
Here's what my last few months have been like. Even though I live in a two-floor walkup brownstone with nothing but poured concrete at my feet I've somehoiw been channeling the experience of a suburban dad each and every morning. Picture, if you will, a suburban dad stepping outside, fresh as a daisy, ready to fire some immigrants at his factory, and his first image of the day is a cache of steamy dog poop on his perfectly manicured lawn.
I have an almost identical experience every morning. However, in my case, instead of a lawn I've got sidewalk. And instead of poop I've got the front page of someone else's NY Post sullying my step. Each day the Post telegraphs another dangerously unilateral, aggressively idiotic declaration made by our President or some other member of his cabinet - things like "We'll fight two wars at once!" or "We'll do this one alone!!" or "Play Ball - US Troops bored silly and tired of waiting for bloodshed." And when I see it, I go into full suburban dad/ dog poop mode. My face steams red, I rub the color out of it with the palm of my hand, and I catch myself making statements like, "Oh, for the love of God!" "No, not again!" "Come on now!!!"
And then I step gingerly around the newspaper and slouch toward the office, dreaming of firing my gardener.
SOMETIMES A NOTION.
Every once in a while (every single day) an incredibly foolish thought creeps across the baby-smooth surface of my brain and I just cannot repress it. I had a roommate in college - one of the most naturally funny people I've ever known - with whom I could share these thoughts knowing they would implicitly be understood by him. I performed the same role for him, in fact. (i will provide one of my favorite examples. i was lying on the floor of my room focusing, trying very hard not to hate, and he walked in to tell me he'd written a joke. when i encouraged him to tell it, this is exactly what he said: "i'd like you to meet my new guidance counselor. his name is cobra commander." i laughed for a full week, until my body went into shock.)
The problem is, I think, these giddy notions are ensconced in a kind of geek fashion that doesn't translate well across social borders and is better left inside my skull if I ever want to french someone again. That's why I am well aware that no one (except my old roommate, todd, perhaps) will have a nice laugh when I say this: I have been wandering around my apartment this evening, throwing air punches at my cats and declaring, with authority, "Liu Kang wins. BABALITY!!!"
I hope Todd reads this site because now, officially, no one else does.
THE FUTURE IS NOW.
I don't usually do this, but here is a special prize for those of you who are unable to attend this evening's show at the Gershwin Hotel. Below is my set list, which I will use to remember how to be funny tonight:
- Greetings/crowd work
- (come up with something funny to say about the state of delaware)
- Eatin' the Puss
- The history of tiered farming in Japan
- Gay proofreader
- Gay cardiologist
- John Wayne Bobbit (NOTE: need to retire this joke after tonight!)
- Teddy Grahams
- Eatin' the Puss Pt. II
- Semen in my briefcase
- Jim Ignotowski at the UN Security Council
- Star spangled banner with farting
- Throw kerosene on front row
- Light match
- Laugh maniacally as flames lick the stage and devour the audience in a fiery hell
- Eatin' the Puss Pt. III - 1/2 price pussy buffet
Sorry you can't all be there, and I hope my set list doesn't make you resent what you'll be missing. Willard is in theaters now; you can always do that.
I know jellybeans are bad for me, but they're even worse when manufactured by a company that doesn't understand the subtleties of the art. Like making sure the ratio of pink jellybeans to all other flavors is less than 75:1. And seeing to it that red jellybeans make a strong showing (or some showing). And throwing a couple of black jellybeans in there to remind us that Christ died on Easter and evil still surrounds us, even when we're filling our fat pouches with colorful candies.
Brach's jellybeans set the bar for me. Their beans were large, with a loose, crunchy sugar-skin. Each bag had an ample supply of black jellybeans and they even went one step further by including weird brick-colored beans that tasted just like cinnamon. God damn, that's smart. I have gotten sick on Brach's more times than I can remember. (their candy corn is unparalleled as well, though i haven't eaten candy corn since the 'great candy cramps' of 1991. not coincidentally, this was preceded immediately by the 'five-pound candy corn marathon' of 1991.)
Where have Brach's gone? The way of the do-do? In their place (loosely stated) are Ferrara-Pan (nice try, but stick with Pineapple Heads), Smuckers (bacdafucup!!), Starburst (joyless re-imagining of their fruit chews in a bean shape), and Life-Savers. (i declare these pure shit. i'd rather be kicked in the testicles by a homeless man in a soiled green power ranger costume. ask any homeless guy if you don't believe me.) Each substitute fills me with equal parts disappointment, rage, and unquenchable sexual frustration for reasons too complex to explain. But for starters, let me just say this: too sweet, too pink, and completely devoid of evil. Ferrara-Pan, the only member of the previously mentioned pectin mafia to bother with black jellybeans at all, has practiced a strict policy of separatism. If you like black, you'd better love black because you can only get them by the sack. Pouring a full bag of black candy into a dish on Easter is a grotesque act and should be practiced only in the home of Anton LeVay.
If I worked retail, I would say the absence of Brach's is another act of global terrorism - just like those difficult to fold shaker knit sweaters that just came in. But, as a civilized person, I can only mourn the loss silently, and oil my shotguns.*
*that's the official "cop out" ending often employed in my posts. in other posts, "oil my shotguns" may appear as "cry myself to sleep" or "masturbate until only air comes out." just some insight for you. i needed to wrap it up.
I STARTED IT AGAIN.
After a several-month hiatus, I have placed a small piece in new words for public viewing. The piece is titled "A Ghost Story" and is available right now.
I feel just awful. I'd promised, long ago, that I would dedicate tuesdays to Very Short Stories and I forget just about as soon as I'd remembered. Looking at my library of unpublished entries today, I discovered the missing second installment of Very Short Story Tuesdays. It's called "Earth Day" and it goes like this:
The sky returned the planet's nervous smile.
Maybe it was better to quit from the start. Anyway, I will try to remember this feature for upcoming tuesdays, for a little while at least. (even though it's technically wednesday now)
When I arrived at the Village Lantern on friday evening, I noticed that several police officers beat me to the place. This was good, I thought. I can dig up my Abner Louima material. Cops love that.
Turns out the club had been temporarily shut down, due to some violation of NYC's stringent cabaret laws. Apparently, one too many drunk undegrads must have stood on the bar to sing "Oh, What a Night" and that brought the law enforcement in. Apologies to anyone who showed up and was turned away. Maybe we can meet up next week, at Portable Comedy.
I'd love to say more but I'm in Los Angeles. I'm making an adult film. Actually, five adult films. I've been told it's more efficient that way. It probably sounds like a lot of work, but it isn't. I'm just an extra in a few scenes. I do have a few lines, though. Unlike normal motion pictures, extras get to speak in adult films without violating union contracts or affecting salary. However, you're not allowed to get an erection unless it's in your contract.
If you're a big fan of pornography, look out for me "Dishonorable Discharge: Volumes 7-12." I'll be in the gangbang scenes at the barracks. Here are all the lines I have:
"I call 'next'!"
"Excellent job of fucking, you three."
"Keep up the good work!"
"Does anyone need a soda?"
Not my best work, but not my worst. (for anyone who saw, "A Hot, Wet Day in the Death of Joe Egg," you know what i mean.)
LA LA LOVE YOU.
My secret shames: Jordache bikini briefs and Los Angeles. I had so much irrational mistrust toward that city, before ever visiting it. I felt like I was the new, eager-to-impress member of a street gang (and my street gang was called "The East Coasters") so I always made sure I was the first to put down the city of angels quickly, sharply, whether I believed it or not. It's just what you do if you live over here. Sorry.
"No one reads in LA!" I'd exclaim, tossing to the floor my well-worn copy of Variety. (a publication i always referred to as "my book," as in "where's my book?" or "who ripped the weekly grosses out of my book?") It was stupid. I'd never even been to Los Angeles. What right did I have to be so completely derisive? I was just giving lip service to genetically-coded left coast resentment.
When I visited LA for the first time the thing that struck me most (and most poignantly) was how easy it was to find food that will kill you in an instant. It exploded all of my preconceived notions and, more importantly, it impressed me. LA's junk food staples kick any other city's ass handily. New York City has excellent pizza - yeah yeah yeah we know - but you can buy doughnuts in nearly any location in LA. You can probably get doughnuts in church, though I'm not sure LA has any churches. And, as if refusing to be outdone, LA is also the home of Roscoe's Chicken 'N' Waffles. If Pizza Hut's new Stuffed Crust Gold - cheese pizza with cheese hand-injected into the crust, and additional cheddar cheese draped on top of the crust - is a bold declaration of hatred in the face of America's struggle against its own crippling obesity - then Roscoe's Chicken 'N' Waffles is the "I'm sorry, baby" note left inside your Dodge Neon, with a single battery powered light-up silk rose carefully placed atop it.
I'm going to LA this weekend and I'm very eager to see friends. Especially those friends who are made of waffle batter and deep-fried for seven hours straight. And you know who you are...so start dipping. NOW.
SMALL TOWN, PT. 2.
Right on the heels of returning from my hometown, this story was brought to my attention. In summary, a local lawyer was arrested - torn from his stuffed baked potato and jiggly friestm at the food court - for wearing a "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE" T-shirt he'd purchased in the mall. Really? Just for wearing the T-shirt? I can understand a great deal of human stupidity, but I can't imagine why someone would arrest a man for wearing a peacenik T-shirt. UNLESS! Is that all he was wearing? Was this citizen Porky-Pigging it in the mall? The details are still hazy.
The mall security officers ordered this peace-loving and shirt-buying dissenter remove the shirt and justified their demand by comparing the shopping mall to "a private home" where Mr. Wavy Gravy was acting poorly. A private home? Filled with cops? Where baked potato fixins are free? Sign me up!
I was actually in this very same mall over the weekend, visiting my folks. (who rent a room out of this private home, on the second floor, right next to "Hot Topic") There is a store in the mall called "As Seen on TV" where you can actually purchase all of the horrible things advertised on television. That is the only unifying theory behind the store, and I love it. I spent the afternoon there and, in retrospect, I'm glad I escaped persecution. Perhaps I was legally protected by my "KILL EM ALL AND LET GOD SORT EM OUT LATER" jersey and "RAPE-A-HOLIC" cardigan.
SMALL TOWN LONELY HEART.
One of the more interesting things about growing up in a (relatively) small town like Albany, NY, is that there is a very good chance I know someone you know. Sadly, I've discovered, there's also a very good chance I dated that person in high school / middle school / day care. This has happened to me many times since I moved away. (FOREVER!!)
Upon narrowing down the high schools within the city, and making sure to avoid including the entire county of Albany because, honestly, I'm only one man, the conversation usually begins with something like this:
YOU: "You grew up in Albany? I have a good friend whose girlfriend grew up there."
ME: "Really? Try me."
And usually ends with them promising me that we will never speak of this again. Not so recently, I was on a date with a lady who, through polite interrogation, informed me that one of her closest friends is a former high school girlfriend of mine. I spent the next 20 uncomfortable minutes wondering if I should tell her that I can fuck a bit longer than my high school record of 14 seconds. I've more than doubled that record, in fact. My point is, I never wanted to have this conversation in the first place, and my rekindled adolescent anxiety and her complete knowledge of all of my past inadequacies (and none of my present-day ones) colored the rest of the evening. After drink #1, I was out of there. As an excuse, I told her my dad was waiting outside the bar for me in his mini-van, because I had to attend a Kaplan course at 8pm. I could tell by her kicks and punches that she bought it.
This has happened over and over again. It's like a clumsy sexual reunion. Jill Summers? Frenched her. Danni Refferts? Bought her a gold-plated banana clip at "Things Remembered" and was unceremoniously dumped four days later. Christina O'Flannery? Two fingers in my parents' finished basement. Kelly Riedel? Kicked me in my testicles, without provocation. Rebecca Margolis? Peed on her after the prom. Her sister, Emma? Peed on me before Hebrew school. Coach Lymons? Let him touch it for a clean towel. Sometimes it's very difficult to make eye contact.
I feel most vulnerable during these 'happy coincidences.' It's like being taken by surprise, found out, de-pants, and inspected for scars all at once. Usually the other person keeps it cool - there's no reason to keep it any other way - but for me, when that familiar name is brought up, it's like a hollow vessel transporting my partner in conversation back to a point in my life where I thought I had a strict 'no visitors' policy. I've never done anything bad, or not so bad that I have any reason to lie about it. But it doesn't mean I want a new friend, potential mate, or anyone else to have access to certain things without my personal spin on them. Like losing my virginity on a gym mat. Or dating that girl with one breast, but never even getting to see it. (even though everyone else in three counties had) Or kissing poorly or fumbling loudly or coming early (very early [unfashionably early] ) or mistaking a belly button for a vagina or a pillow crease for a vagina. or even a discarded retainer for a vagina. really, mistaking anything for a vagina is problematic.
So now, when people ask if I know Tina / Maria / Shaniqua / Tequila from Albany I'm just going to say, "I was heavily into cock in high school." Case closed. Problem solved. Everyone wins. (p.s. shaniqua - call me. for serious, boo.)
This weekend, quite by accident, I discovered another band that almost perfectly connects the musical dots between the late-60s Kinks and my full, full heart. The Glands have the right name, are from the right town (atlanta, ga), and sound just like late 80s indie rock channeling 1968 British pop. (even though their albums were released in 97 and 2000.) The Glands are a nice band to discover, mostly because they sound exactly like they've been forgotten.
Every 8-12 months I have an incredible ah-ha moment, where a band falls into my earholes and everything else falls into place. It's a lot like growing up, but the way I'd prefer to do it - through dancing and denial.
This is a subject I've written about before (but i'm too lazy to link you there), probably after shooting my mouth off about ESG. In addition to ESG, previous ah-ha moments (from the last five years, i'd guess) have included Moby Grape/Skip Spence, The Only Ones, Wreckless Eric, The Undertones, The Rezillos, Masta Ace, and Hasil Adkins. It feels good to feel good.
In other music news, I am now the proud owner of a genuine tenor saw. It was a belated birthday gift from my parents, who are now terribly worried about how I'll be able to smuggle a 30" saw on an Amtrak train tomorrow morning. I'm not concerned at all, because when you're armed with a handsaw there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Except a petrified forest.