Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nickel Back

No no no... not the band. (I will not link to them.)

Just a while back I was OPINING ON FINANCIAL AFFAIRS AND GHOSTS AND FEAR. The subject was a ghostly nickel that seemed invisible to my 16 year old son. It lay right on the threshold of his bedroom for weeks, where he stepped over it countless times but never stooped to retrieve it.

I made a discovery this morning though that just may explain more about the nature of money. I got really ambitious one rainy afternoon about 6 months ago and rolled up all the nickels that had collected along with the other change in a big clay bowl on my chest of drawers. It's not that I'm particular to nickels, but for some reason I found myself in possession of a bunch of $2 nickel wrappers. It just seemed like the thing to do. This morning while straightening out some things on top of the chest I discovered that all the $2 rolls of nickels had up and disappeared!!! Now before you go and start thinking horrible things about my kid, I did tell him that if he found himself short of cash, as is often the condition of teenagers who are apparently allergic to work, he could dip into the change kitty... as long as he didn't take quarters. There was a stern warning--if you take the quarters, your bloomers will not be washed. Ever! I did tell him though that he should let me know if he was going to take any sizable denomination.

But anyway... this is what I'm thinking now about money. The boy didn't see the lone nickel in his bedroom door because a single nickel doesn't look like money. If you take 40 of them though and wrap them in a piece of paper that says $2 it starts to look suspiciously like money. Stack a bunch of these rolls together and it looks even more like money! But... but... but... They're still nickels and apparently there is no amount of nickels that looks like anything approximating a sizable denomination of money.

My quandary... Those nickels have been sitting on my chest of drawers for a long time. Had they appeared to me to be a sizable denomination of money I probably would have put them to good use. Scratch that... I probably would have taken them to the bodega and changed them to cash and then put on a good drunk. But they didn't appear to have all that much value. So why am I now missing my nickels? Why do I feel like I've been wronged? I'm a simple man and this is a lot to think about first thing on a Saturday morning. Why did I not see the value of my nickels (some of them quite probably bearing the horrid likeness of a very queeny looking Thomas Jefferson) until someone else saw the value in them? Are my nickels a metaphor for some bigger question?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Money really DOES buy everything...

I don't think I needed scientists to tell me this but evidently, WEALTH IS THE KEY TO LONGEVITY. So while I was being facetious up in the headline there, lets be honest here: Money may not buy everything, but it covers proper healthcare, education, a good diet, a good education, a safer workplace, longer vacations, therapy... all that good stuff.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The odd review... Iron & Wine

Iron & Wine: The Shepherd's Dog

I've yet to read a review or description of Iron & Wine that aptly describes what Sam Beam is doing and it wouldn't be fair to say that you'll see it here. I don't even know if it's worth giving it a shot, but it's more than worth giving it a listen.

When I was a little kid I had a small AM radio with a long antenna that pulled out to about 3 feet and swiveled about to for fine tuning. I'd sit on my bed in the middle of the night trying to pull in the most distant stations, pretending I was manning some distant lookout, alone and searching for signs of life. The magic of the AM signal is that on a clear night you could pull in a signal from Canada, or the Midwest or as far down as Virginia, and it would come in clear as a bell. Then there were other nights traversing the AM dial when you'd find yourself trapped between stations, getting an equal mix of Montreal, Pittsburgh and Washington DC and sounds would overlap and filter through each other. It could be really sloppy, but on some nights, something bigger would take control and everything would blend and you'd get a magical collage of sound... moody folk music from somewhere in the Hudson Valley, weird electronica and experimental sounds from a stoned college DJ in New York City, and bits of the Indian station from who knows where... but it would synch and layer beautifully like it was meant to be just that... like there was a guiding hand... someone at the controls. And that's where Iron & Wine comes in.

The strongest signal is moody and often morose folk ballads, dark and often frightening and conflicting imagery of love and betrayal, soft flesh and ripping steel. >>>And we'll undress beside the ashes of the fire
Both our tender bellies wound in baling wire<<< Over that is a collage of borrowed sounds, electric blips, effects pedals, moaning sick accordions, African pipes and distant sitar (don't think Beatles because there is no comparison). It's all very odd and beautiful and has that late night radio sound... random and inimitable, but of course it isn't.

I was reading the liner notes to a collection of Hildegaard Von Bingen music this past weekend and it noted that there is no word in the Latin of that period for "performance," and stated that the music was made specifically for the sounds themselves and their innate power to transport the spirit. I'd have to classify The Shepherd's Dog in that realm. I can't imagine it translating to a live performance no matter how perfectly it works as a recording. Beautiful piece of work... Special thanks to K for tuning me in.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

George Bush on Illegal Aliens

And then they take their hands and reach right inside your head... JUST LIKE THIS!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coitus Interuptus

This will not be an eloquent statement... It will not be subtle.

I don't care that Elliot Spitzer fucks hookers.

I don't care that Jim McGreevey fucks... well, anything that walks apparently.

Beyond that it makes for some brutally funny jokes and fires the witty office repartee and that makes my day go all that much faster.

I just wish these guys would get back to the business of fucking the folks we hired them to fuck: The Republicans!!!

They just keep getting distracted and having to stop right in the middle, and that's really frustrating. To put it bluntly it's like a porn film with no money shot.

Um... sorry... I've just read the news before my coffee. Have a great day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn?

alternatively titled, Eat Your Heart Out Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

At some point during the day on Friday, while I was slaving away at my job, which involves at its most basic level, mulching up trees into paper to put words onto, the city came along and planted a half dozen new trees on my block.

I use the word tree only in the most basic definition, because what was planted is really a line of evenly spaced sticks, each about 10 feet all with only a few twigs for branches and not a single bud nor leaf between them. They look suspiciously like miniature versions of the adult trees on the block, bare and black and skeletal... so the block looks like a Day of the Dead diorama... a cotillion of sorts with the dead parents on one side of the courtyard and the dead children on the other.

Beware the Ides of March and all that... spring is just around the corner and there are trees budding in the neighborhood, if not on this block. Everything is still cold winter dead here on the south end of No Park Slope. I suppose that within a few week some of these youngsters will be budding and blooming. My experience with these planting rituals is that a couple of them will not be. You don't want to be the owner of the house behind the tree that remains a stick. It has to be an omen of some sort, doesn't it? Could it be just the law of averages that one of them will remain dead and black as if it were still the middle of winter?

Even when these sticks do come to life it takes years before they look like anything more than awkward, gangly foals... so fragile that you want to really pull for them like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree... you just want to believe that it's going to happen, but the fact is they're weird looking. They always seem to be some organic representation of uncertainty to me. Uncertainty of what? Of life? Yes, possibly.

For now though, they're still just strange sticks standing upright and wired to crutches in mounds of peaty, black potting soil... wee ghoulish children standing before their ghoulish, skeletal parents.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I was a punk before you were a punk, PUNK!!!

This was a film I almost bought when it was released a few years ago, but decided to hold off, figuring that it could potentially be really good... or that it could really suck. It's neither though.

I'd have to file it under Punk 101/Primer for Beginners. Maybe one day Ken Burns will do a History of Punk and we'll have a comprehensive document, but until then we have the synopsis in Punk Attitude. It's barely an outline really and if it says one important thing, it's that punk never started as any specific style of music but more an attitude towards art and music--more defined but what it wasn't than what it was. They could have said that in 5 minutes.

And I love Henry Rollins--I really do--so the haters can back off... but there was far too much Henry Rollins here. Furthermore, I'm tired of seeing Sushi Siouxsie trotted out every single time they want a statement from a woman. Ditto Ari Up! I like both of them just fine but they ran out of things to say by the mid 80s at the latest. Seems to me the women are dreadfully underrepresented in every single "punk-u-mentary." Not that rock and roll in general hasn't been largely a boys school but really.

Still, Punk Attitude is cool in its own right. You get to see a bunch of your old heroes "grown up." The ones that didn't die anyway... It won't rob you of 89 minutes of your life and leave you empty. It's just not going to tell you anything you don't already know. Stick with your record collection and you'll get a lot more out of it. There's a comment on the IMDB page for this documentary, asking if there's a soundtrack available. A soundtrack might be far more impressive and informative than the DVD itself.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The KKK Took My Baby Away

Well... they didn't really. But they do like to mess with my head (and yours too) in various ways. I don't know if it scares me more that there is a RACIST , CRETIN GENERAL STORE, or that there are enough hateful bastards to keep it in business. It's a good lesson in 1st Amendment Rights though. Let them have theirs. Better to keep them out in the open where you can keep an eye on them. It would still be pretty strange though, to have one of these stores in the local strip mall, tucked between Malibu Tan and Quickie-Mart.

Not quite science fiction Twilight Zone strange though. Imagine if you will, the possibility that THE EARTH MIGHT BE FRIED TO A CINDER by a random blast of gamma rays from the Sagittarius constellation. Not even one of those unreliable Geminis, or a Scorpio attention whore. Just a plain, old Sagittarius. Jesus was a Sagittarius, wasn't he? I'll bet he never crisped an entire civilization with gamma rays!

Now... the trick would be, when you see the gamma ray headed your way, to funnel it through a refractor of some sort, and aim it directly at a certain strip mall which houses this specialty boutique... Ya dig?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Science of Wha???

I'm not sure... maybe I fell asleep or something. I feel like I missed something or another? I am a liar. Do you have Michel Gondry's number? Seriously, I think I fell asleep and missed something important because The Science of Sleep, to me, just seemed like a particularly pointless episode of PeeWee's Playhouse. Did it suck or did I just dream that it sucked?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'm ashamed to be American...

That's all there is to it. If TORTURE IS NECESSARY to keep America safe, then what exactly are we protecting? What values are being threatened? What exactly do we as a nation hold sacred above all else? If we can rationalize torture as being in our best interest then everything we claim to represent is a monumental lie. We are, until we put an end to this, a very bad joke... a sham... only worth of disdain and derision. This cavalier attitude towards the lives of others stains any other charitable acts we perform as a country. I'm ashamed. We've already lost the war on terror because we are the terrible. We are everything they claim us to be.

Friday, March 07, 2008

While we're on the subject of religion

Jesus is only ever portrayed as a baby or an adult. John Prine wrote a song called Jesus: The Missing Years. He had a valid point. Where was Jesus in between?

People pray to the baby Jesus. People pray to adult Jesus. Not me.

If I were the praying sort I would pray to the adolescent Jesus... the one with pimples and braces and he's no good at sports, and was thinking about joining the drama club until his dad, whom everybody else refers to as Big Joe, or "that Cabron whose wife got knocked up by some other dude, told him he'd disown any prancing fairy drama club kid... the Jesus that kept a diary... the Jesus who had a crush on the quiet girl but didn't know how to talk to her... pissed off and wondering when his beard would ever ever grow in fully like that kid in 11th grade...

If I were the sort to pray, that's the Jesus I would pray to. You know at least that Jesus might understand... might

Tuesday, March 04, 2008



I'm not sure if this would qualify as a revelation or a PSA warning against the perils of drug abuse. I mean, would you really want to get so high that you'd conjure up a god that would impose a load of really oppressive rules and then stir up eons of crap with a gigantic suspect real estate claim?

At their worst, the psychedelic drugs of the 60s really only contributed to bad fashion, ridiculous poetry and the dawn of jam bands. If this story is to be believed then I'd have to say that the world might have been a better place if some Biblical era Nancy Reagan had convinced Moses to JUST SAY NO.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Fear of Money

This is a brand new phobia on my list of dread fear--I've spent a good part of my life fearing only the lack of money so this is a curious sensation.

I've been performing an experiment in child psychology. There has been a nickel on the floor just outside my 16 year old son's bedroom door for a little more than a week. I wanted to see just how long it would take him to pick it up. I figured that unlike the odd sweat sock or dirty tee shirt this item wouldn't go unnoticed for long--not just unnoticed but invisible as dirty clothes are to teenagers (reference the Douglas Adams SEP phenomenon by which an object or event is rendered invisible until someone is brave enough to point it out and comment). This nickel was, after all, money... albeit in a minute denomination. My son is, after all, broke. This nickel, along with many other coins that are certainly hiding in the sofa, could add up to at least enough for a candy bar or a bag of chips.

But no... it sat there for just over a week until I decided to pick it up rather than suck it up with the Handy-Vac. It's a newer 2006 nickel (pictured above) sporting a new picture of Mr. Jefferson that is quite unlike the chiseled profile on the older nickels. This new image gives me the willies. The photo-shopped version above isn't particularly accurate. The added shadow effect doesn't really capture how absolutely eerie the real image is. If Thomas Jefferson were to appear to me as a ghost this is how he would look. And I'm not saying I have dreams of Thomas Jefferson appearing to me as a ghost, but when I envision ghosts in my head they look very much like this picture of Thomas Jefferson. I can't even look at it. It's sitting on the kitchen table next to me right now and I have to keep it face down. There is somethng much less imposing in the image of Monticello than there is the spectral image of the estate's previous owner. I'm just wondering who looked at this design and thought it was a good idea. It's not even a particularly noble or even presidential image. Mr. Jefferson stares off the face of this nickel like the ghost of an angry, ghastly old queen! I'm sorely tempted to write to the U.S. Mint to complain... but realistically I'd rather blog and if I'm going to write to a government office it's going to be to demand that they stop dropping bombs on children and selling arms to fascist regimes around the globe. (Realistically I'll probably just blog about that too.) For now though I'm boycotting nickels. You need a shitload of them to do anything with anyway.


I've just watched PARIS JE T'AIME and I'm wondering how to get that 2 hours of my life back. It's a collection of 20 different and mostly unconnected 5 minute short films, each supposedly a snapshot or postcard of Paris... The City of Lights. It appeared to me to be more snapshots of pretentious filmmakers exploiting the romantic appeal of Paris as a backdrop for their egos. I'd heard so many good things about this film that I was really looking forward to it, and only this morning when I've been complaining bitterly about this wasted 2 hours that anybody said, "Oh hell yes, MacGregor, what a piece of shit!!!!" Many thanks for the advance warning, my friends. Thanks a lot! It is what it is though and I have to console myself that I've had many worse misspent moments in my life standing in line at the post office, cleaning my stove, or at a Phish concert. This isn't a tragedy... simply a royal bore.