Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Been reading HST for over 30 years now and the implications of that line are only now becoming completely clear.  It's all encompassing, going far outside the journalism paradigm.  You get to this point where to pretend even for an instant that conventional wisdom is wise, or that there even might be a reasonable convention is just treacherous.

We've got a generation of so-called adults now telling children to play by the old rules because it all still applies.  Go to school, study hard, get good grades, don't rock the boat, etc.  We've got a generation of adults who by current numbers are rollicking somewhere under the poverty threshold in greater numbers -- 4 out of 5 facing not just economic insecurity but real economic problems.  And we keep telling them to do it our way.

I don't know anyone with an IQ over 75 that still really believes it. To make a long story short, it's time to try something new.  It's time to get weird.

Fear of a Black Planet

Alternate Title:  50 Shades of Brown
Alternate Title:  Look Who Is Staying for Breakfast

And so, The National Review is at it again.  Our favorite Kenyan Marxist Muslim, through new HUD regulations has legislated a New World Order where we will all be forced to co-habitate with people of all colors and backgrounds, and even ride public transportation with them.  Scary, right?  Looks like Chuck D, Flav and the boys had it all sussed out a long, long time ago.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm growing weary of this.

Underwear = Memories, Gossip & A Spanish Lesson

Image via Summer Pierre

Part and parcel of living in Brooklyn.  Sooner or later, in most places you're going to live, you're going to see a lot of undergarments.  You'll rush off to your window one spring morning, drawn by rays of sunlight streaming in and birds singing, and it will be there strung out like signal flags on an ocean-bound sloop.

Welcome spring.  Welcome summer.  Welcome sun.  Welcome to Brooklyn.  Sharing is caring and this is especially for you.

I will never see a string of underwear hung out to the breeze for the rest of my life without thinking of Felix and Virginia.  It was a rare day when there weren't at least a dozen pillowcase-sized pairs of women's knickers and a couple faded Fruit-of-the-Looms strung out behind their house, their superband waistbands gone well beyond their expiration dates.  There were never any other clothes hung out there.  Just the bloomers.  I've no clue where they washed and dried the rest of their clothes, though I presume they did.

I never asked.  Not my business.  Virginia was a squat, pretentious little despot anyway, with a foul temper and prone to rage.  The most she would tell you on any given day, in a mix of Spanish and English, is that she wasn't like the rest of the "basura" on the block.  I was raised not to trust people who spend their day on the front stoop whispering under their breath about how "sucio" other people were, and then stopping to greet them when they walk by.

"Oh hi how are you so good to see you how is your mother is she still in the hospital tell her Veerheeniyah says hi."

And then sucking her teeth as they walk on and dishing out that this or that person is a dopefiend or a "maricon" or whatever.

Truth is, I had it on good authority (her husband, Felix), that her one child whom she spoke of reverentially, was on the lam for ten years, somewhere down in P.R. under an assumed name.  Seems he had snorted up half the GNP of Bolivia and stabbed a boy in the schoolyard and left him to bleed to death near the three-point line.



Felix sat next to me on the front stoop and went down the list of words while we drank Bacardi, smoked cigarettes and counted the planes headed towards LaGuardia  (70 per hour during the rush).





These were the words, Felix said, that Virginia and her brothers called him when he first came around.  He was from Loiza Aldea, and too black for them.  Too black for her, though he was taken with her and thought she was perfect.  Her brothers threatened to kill him if he didn't leave Mayaguez, he said, so he joined the army and ended up in Korea.  The coldest place in the world he said, and he never knew where he was.  He was in a heavy mortar battalion somewhere near the front lines.  At night sometimes, he told me, he could hear people speaking Korean in the dark and he never knew if they were friendlies or not.  One night a "Chino" jumped into his gun emplacement and tried to kill him, but he overpowered him hand-to-hand and killed him instead.

"I cried," Felix confessed, "because he looked like a little boy.  I don't know him and he don't know me.  It make NO sense to kill him."

He finished up the war and was given a medal for that night.  He went for a while to New York and lived with cousins and worked in a factory.  When he returned to Mayaguez, Virginia and her brothers greeted him and his new suit and his pockets full of cash like a returning hero.  She chased him then, and they were married and came back to Brooklyn in 1957.  They lived in an Irish/Italian neighborhood when they came.

"In Brooklyn she was black just like me," he said.  "She never say nothing never again."

And now nearly twenty years later, I see underwear strung out and think of my old friend's 'happily ever after' story in South Brooklyn.


Memory is a funny thing.

Er... Please don't be angry.

But there's something I've been meaning to tell you for quite some time now.

You might want to sit down.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

And in French...

Chat, chapeau...

The NYPD Needs New PR

Because this approach from the PBA simply isn't working.  It is typical, childish denial and refusal to take any responsibility for the reason outside oversight was demanded in the first place.

Let me say right off that I am not anti-cop.  I am fully aware that there are bad people in the world that most of us really need protection from.  Most of us don't need protection, however, from about 99% of the children that the NYPD is throwing up against walls and harassing and humiliating, and too often brutalizing physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I am, on the other hand, VERY much, anti-people in authority abusing power at the expense of innocent citizens.  I am anti-racial profiling.

So the PBA is only hurting themselves with this sort of immature, whinging, mincing fuqqery.

Grow up.

Augustus Pablo -- Just for the sake of him.

Waking up to good music is key.  Go cool and steady and easy into Tuesday.

Around The Way

I guess I'm sort of late to the game on Around The Way, a GPS based mobile app that helps users find black-owned businesses where they are.  I'm only just seeing it and upon consulting Google The Oracle found many articles on it from back around March and April.  Whatever...

I was just about to write that I was going to ignore  racial bias criticism, but it's almost impossible.  Let's just say that I'm not an indignant white guy.  Let's take it directly to one of the comments on iTunes though:

"This will change the way I look for services."

My first reaction to the app, and this comment was, "oh wow, this is really pretty progressive thinking."

Then my second though was, "This could really change the way people look for services."  Wouldn't it be just as easy for anyone so inclined to use it to avoid black-owned businesses?  I mean, it could also ostensibly be misconstrued by the ignorant (and willfully ignorant) as, "these businesses aren't at all interested in white patronage, so..."  This cynicism is informed by a lifetime of observing the willfully ignorant.  Maybe I pay too much attention to this particular subset of voices in my head.

I'm just saying, sometimes what seems like such an obvious solution is actually counterintuitive.  My Pleistocene Era MacBook wouldn't open the AroundTheWay homepage so further exploration was deterred, but it does make me wonder.  And I never ever cover tech topics from any angle so I may be the last person qualified to question any of it.  It just seemed... dangerous... to me.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Are we not men?

No we are DEVO.

One Squirrelly Bastard

Now that I've learned all the symptoms of Anxiety Attacks and Anxiety Disorders it's a safe bet that I will experience them on the regular.  Let's just call it WebMD Psychosomatic Health Disorder.  If you read about it online it will be very real in your life within a period of 24 seconds to 24 hours depending on the severity of your particular affliction, or perhaps reading comprehension.  There is a delayed effect too.  You read about it and think you've forgotten it altogether but then one day you get a dull ache in your stomach, and BAM, you've just developed a rare pancreatic disorder particular to the people of Mesopotamia in 2013 BC.

In all seriousness though, Anxiety Disorders are very real and they are no fun.  They are not something to be taken lightly and they can creep into your life like radon into your basement.  Left untreated they can have you squirrelled away under your bed hanging on for dear life.  And God forgive me, I do clown about this and many other serious issues, but I don't want that to be taken as dismissive of what other people suffer through.  It's just part of my own process, dealing with issues already identified and some as of yet undiagnosed.

I cannot stress this enough.  You are in good company.  You are not a freak.  To paraphrase a mental health awareness message I heard yesterday, it is okay not to be okay.

Ask for help.  It's often closer than you would imagine.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Yah, way sexist, for sure.  You would get smacked upside the head for this in 17 of 50 states.  Nobody would think twice in about another 30, and then in 3 more they'd call their cousin in California and ask it were okay.  Yes, though. This is really sexist.

The sad thing is I truly thought it was Dorothy Hamill without her make-up. I'm so glad the 70s are over.

photo via drew's grooveland

An ounce of prevention...

I bought a larger coffee cup today, just in case, you know, THAT urge comes upon me.  It hasn't in the past, but better safe than sorry.

Cat Lovers Are Scary

You are only as sick as your secrets.

My original intent was to put this up with some pithy commentary, but sometimes a picture really is worth 1000 words.  Far more than 1000 words have been written over the years about secrets and sin and the power of confession, and most of them by greater minds than mine, so sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.  

Or not.  

American media talks an awful lot about sin and morality and ethics and that filters into daily discourse out on the street and in the offices and wherever... gin mills etc.  We are now incapable of any meaningful political dialogue because everything has been reframed in the context of good and evil.  Where do you even begin to find any compromise when it all only exists in the realm of extremes?  

On a personal level... Well, let's not even go there.  Is there anyone alive in the world that knows your deepest and darkest?  It's obvious that the illustration above is alluding to none other than Guy-In-The-Sky, but how about a mortal?  There are a couple people who know most of mine but I don't think there is any single person that knows all.  It's not even just a question of fear and/or shame anymore.  It's more a question that nobody really needs to know all.  It's really about me being able to live with it all, and that did require talking it out with other people.  And even now...  

And then there is the privacy question... yes, still ignoring what I know to be the intent of the illustration and that is of course the dogma. But privacy... NSA surveillance scandals, hacking, internet stalkers, online background checks.  I'm pretty certain that this blog alone exposes a multitude of sins, and I'm okay with that.  

And most people I know expose more of themselves than I do, yet will cite online privacy as one of their biggest concerns.  

Good luck with that.  

Everybody Street

reposted from It's Nice That

I don't know if any other city in North America is as well documented in photographs and film as New York City.  Maybe it's about the population density -- simply that we are, per square mile, and per block, and per building, stacked up on each other in greater numbers than other places -- that we overflow out onto the sidewalks and our behind-closed-doors vibrancy and drama becomes part of the hustle and flow.

It could be argued that it's art that makes us what we are here:  Theater, Music, Museums, Galleries etc. I would counter that it's the people of New York City themselves that are the real attraction.

The Real Art.

So maybe Everybody Street, a documentary about New York City Street Photography, is meta-art... art about art about art... That remains to be seen.  I will see it at the earliest opportunity.  The trailer would suggest that it's about the very reason I've remained here, despite hardships, heat, filth, gentrification and the rising tide of things I can neither understand nor reconcile.

Everybody Street - Trailer


It always comes down to who has the biggest.
image via Retrogasm

Things seen...

cannot be unseen...
via Corporal Steiner

The bees are dying off and people still crave something sweet.

Add caption
Via Louxo's Enjoyable

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Soul Superman

via Drew's Grooveland

Yes... you have to have the vocal chops to match the hair, or at least you did back then.  You can get by with autotune and a 'look' now, but that wasn't always the case.

TV's Best Alpha Males

via Sabotage Times

I have to say right off the bat that I've never made a 'best of' or 'worst of' list that I could stand by ten minutes after I finished.

Secondly, whoever created this list, despite spectacular choices like Marlo Stanfield from The wire, must be under thirty years old because everything on the list is fairly recent.

Are they the most Alpha of TV Alphas of all time?  Sure, why not.  Click the link above and decide for yourself.

Sucking my teef...

Superhero Tan Lines

by See Mike Draw.

Guilty as charged.

Marc Johns

Anne Sexton

Lest I be accused of skiving...

We could all use a little more Anne Sexton in our lives.

Reposted from Biblioklept

And speaking of which came first...

There are questions with no answers.  I no longer try.

Which came first?

I'm not quite sure which came first -- my passion for the arcane and quite nearly irrelevant, or the internet which feeds this bottomless hunger.  It could be said though that there was already something in me, that when the opportunity arose, blossomed.

But with no further ado, 1970s Danish Interior Design Porno Style.

Don't ask me why.  I've no clue.  There are apparently people with more spare time on their hands than I have, and I do appreciate them.

Sturgeon's Revelation

Worth repeating, but only in context.  Out of context it's just random assholery for the sake of it.  Nicked from Daily Exhaust.  We often hear would-be critics panning this or that with sweeping dismissive hand gestures and expressions as if they've just belched up something distasteful and they're fanning it away. Writer and critic Theodore Sturgeon had other ideas on the argumentative snobbery of the concepts of "high art" and "low art."  
"The phrase was derived from Sturgeon's observation that while science fiction was often derided for its low quality by critics, it could be noted that the majority of examples of works in other fields could equally be seen to be of low quality and that science fiction was thus no different in that regard to other art."  Er... Thank you Jimmy Wales!

The other phrase that has been credited to Mr. Sturgeon, which I have found to be true in many cases, and can be referred to as Sturgeon's Law, is "Nothing is always absolutely so."

It recalls the words of adventurer/trapper/prospector/outdoorsman Johnny Thorpe, who said in his autobiography, "At any point in my life when I was 100% certain I was right, I was wrong."  

And so... Theo:

"I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud.[1] Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms."

Keeping it about as simple as it can get...

You try to explain these things to people and they either get it or they don't.  If you've been there, then you know.  If you haven't, then you don't and probably never will.

So I'm not trying to be obtuse or doing my very best imitation of Yoda when I say, "Those who know, know."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Catch of the Day

Largemouth Bastards?

From the 1960 film Testament of Orpheus, by Jean Cocteau

With a head like that, Cocteau is the least of his problems.

Um.  That's kind of funny if you think of it phonetically.

Okay, nevermind then.

Hero of the Day: August Landmesser

I'm thinking about making Hero of the Day a regular feature, but considering I had to exhume this guy and his gigantic testicles from a Nazi Party rally in 1936, that might be just a little too ambitious.  

Consider, however, August Landmesser, a shipbuilder by trade, who simply had ideas of his own when  original ideas weren't particularly welcome in the world around him.  The "are you done" look on his face just says it all, and we've all sat through what were supposed to be inspirational speeches, and pep rallies and political conventions and Amway sales pitches, blah, blah, bah ad infinitum.  

August shows next-level-testicle though, and for that he is Hero of the Day, posthumously.  

Thank you, August Landmesser.  

Hell in a handbasket?

Soasig Chamaillard

So... just look for My Little Virgin.  It's pretty special.

I don't really believe in sacrilege, unless we're talking about committing heinous acts against other people.  I think the Heavenly Father has bigger fish to fry... so big that three is enough to feed the multitudes.



The Empire in Further Decline

Now when we end up with an epidemic of women cycling headlong into trees and oncoming traffic, don't say I didn't warn you.

Blame these jerks!

This is an especially silly view of the English (not that I'm saying this is representative of all of them) given the hoopla surrounding this week's royal birthing. News outlets and people around the world are carrying on like it was the birth of Adam. The irony is though that at the end of the day the sex shops will do more for the world economy that the inbred progeny of of 16th Century Germans.  Push comes to shove, they don't really matter and I'm pretty certain that the infinite boredom they express is evidence that they know just how tedious the whole affair is.  Poor Kate looks like she would much rather be bicycling.

Interrogating The Other

Or I suspect that the truth of the matter is that the other is not other at all, but simply the reflection of ourselves in the mirror when the light comes in at a certain angle.  Like in that half darkness right before the sunset when things get blurry and strange.  Like one of thise goofy crackerjack prizes, the picture of the duck that turns into a rabbit when you shift it from left to right.  Which one am I?  Well now,  that will depend upon which side of me you stand the most often.  Today I am seeing the rabbit.

There is a door that I pass by on the way to the train in the morning.  Rather a door behind an iron gate and down littered, pissy basement steps.  I get a terrible case of the willies whenever I pass by it.  It seems more than a door behind a gate and down the steps.  There is something sinister about it that I can only barely put my finger on.  It is fraught and haunted but not exactly by my own ghosts.  They were originally someone else's horror story.  It was a tale passed on to me in a graphic re-telling by a fellow traveller.  It was a description of the places our insanity can take us, both literally and then figuratively.

I was able to see it and feel it though after hearing the story told.  The doorway seems to have become symbolic of my own swandive towards... whatever bottom was to be my fate.  I had been, at least figuratively speaking, at the bottom of that stairwell many times and spent a good deal of time down there.  Most days I wasn't even looking back up at the sky.  I was trying to figure out how to pry that door and get inside to see how much worse it might be.  Every so often I would look back up over myv shoulder to see what was up on ground level but often that was just squirrelly suspicion that someone would catch me somewhere that maybe I wasn't supposed to be.

Make no mistake.  I was down there by choice at that point.  I had to know how much further it could go. I was in the grips of fatal curiosity.

I don't even know what made me come back up for air.  It was probably the flutter of a skirt or a whiff of perfume.  Maybe one last shot at that sweet stuff before flushing the commode and going on a journey.  I was spending less and less time at sidewalk level and finding it increasingly difficult to stand in the sunlight.  It burned.  The scrutiny of civilians up there, or what I imagined to be scrutiny, seared my skin until it peeled back exposing nerves.  I was near done. Yet there was just enough human left beneath that brittle, broken skin to remember what it was like to be human... on those rare, blissful days when the fear let up just a bit and I could walk upright.

So I crawled up those steps and stayed for a spell. I am still out on the sidewalk exposed to the weather.  What has kept me here so far is another story for another day. But I would by lying if I said there isn't still a nagging curiosity about what lies behind Door #2 and Monte Hall isn't giving up the answers.  Yes, God and The Devil are gameshow hosts.  You choose if you are going to take the cash in hand or whatever. The mystery still intrigues me but I have my hand on the envelope and that is progress.

Without comment.

Some time it bes that way, Papi.


Anton Kusters

Because like a 13 year old boy I am still always drawn to the sinister, jagged edges of our natural world.

True Crime

Real Horror.

There is that place where reality is so far outside our own realm of experience that it seems too fantastic to be anything but fiction.  So we read along with our mouths agape and wishing that we could safely... SAFELY... just have a look for ourselves.  How many people get that opportunity to satisfy the perverse curiosity to rub up against the other.  It doesn't escape me that at one point or another over the years that I may have actually been other.  This isn't just my ego waltzing about in public.  It's a stark realization that I stood now and again not only astride the line, one foot in and one foot out -- but well over into the weird parts waving back at the world.

Certainly nothing along the lines of the Yakuza, despite that in our own way, my crew and I thought we were like stepping razors.  Yet even still I listen to a man go on about hizz bad self and I laugh on the inside and think.... Brother, if you only knew.

And yet again and again I digress.  This isn't really about me, at least insofar as anything cannot really be about me, given that I am the center of The Universe.  It's about the fascination with the extremes.  Maybe even the Dalai Lama himself, in all his infinite happy shit, has Netflixed every season of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad.  You really have to know both sides of human nature before you have anything valid to say, right?  How do you know good until you've seen bad?  I will question the authority of anyone who says otherwise.

Well, truth be told, I will question authority for any old reason, but that's beside the point.

Pop culture lately has been carrying on and on about vampires and the like.  You can't turn on the TV without seeing something about vampires or werewolves and the whole dark vs. light thing.  It is, on the surface, about as empty as you can get but it brings up a couple interesting questions.  One of the new characters to have emerged in the last 15 years is the "good vampire," or the "vampire with a soul."  These shows despite any of their flaws pose important juxtapositions between our conventional definitions of good and evil.. of our morality.  The vampires "feed upon" genteel society, but then we come to see society plagued with greed, and mean-spiritiedness, and... well... evil.  Then some of the vampires just aren't so bad, but the point is that there is more in common than we would like to believe.

The same might be said of the Yakuza, or the Cosa Nostra.  Are they really the "other?"  How could they be when they come from us."  And what is the difference between organized crime and a bank that floats out loans that will leave the entire Third World in their pocket?  Privatize and get your own slave labor force and you SUCK... THEM... DRY...

Just thinking aloud this morning.  Get back to Anton Kusters.  His photos gave the willies.  They are familiar images, but still, more familiar in certain ways than they would have been before I came upon this tiny shred of self-awareness that I've achieved.  Maybe that's why they resonate more now.

And maybe... just maybe... as an afterthought, we look at The Other wistfully longing for an escape from conventional morality and rules, which can be a burden on a good day, obtuse on many days, hypocritical on most days, and every so often, pointless and thankless.  Just calling it as I've seen it from time to time.

You forget sometimes...

They were big!

I think it was 1993 and I finally got that apartment in Brooklyn, with the nearly floor to ceiling windows and a view of the New York City skyline.  I had arrived.

Me, and the roaches and the mice and the squirrels, and my new family too.  We had all arrived together!  We all had that view, and there was no need even for a clock because we got the package deal with the Williamsburg Bank Clocktower downtown.

It never really struck me how big they were until I saw them from that angle.  They made Manhattan Island bottom heavy, as if the whole thing was just about to tip up on its end and slide into the harbor.

I wrote a whole novel in front of that window in 1995.  That was part of the original plan, to write a novel in an apartment in Brooklyn with the Twin Towers as a backdrop, and that's exactly how it happened.  I started in the spring when the leaves were just coming onto the trees and ended that winter with the big iron radiator pissing steam across the big bay windows and the view of the skyline.

New York City.  Just like I pictured it.  (Sorry, Stevie.)

The Twin Towers are gone but the novel is not.  It never saw the light of day but lurks today in a box under my bed with a second written somewhere else, two reams of yellowing paper.

Ghosts.  Under my bed and everywhere.

I forgot to mention that the apartment with the view came with ghosts.  They were Kyle's imaginary friends, just the creations of a toddler's imagination, until things started to move and disappear and reappear.  Some people scoff when I tell them about it.  Some people shudder and ask me to please stop.  As for the first bunch?  Hey, I never believed either until I lived there.  To the second bunch, I'm sorry.  I'm just telling it as it happened.

Yes, I'm prone to stretching for metaphors but things happened there that there will probably never be a reasonable explanation or excuse for.

The metaphorical ghosts remain too.  You collect those when you live too hard and think too much, but that's another story.  Ask me, and I'll tell you about them.  The real ones too, for that matter.  Whichever you want and works better for you.

They were big though.  The Twin Towers, that is, and they're bigger in many ways now than they were when they were standing.  I look out across the harbor sometimes when the train comes above ground to cross the bridge, and for a split second see them and feel them like a phantom limb.

Poof!  Gone!

I'm rambling though and should go back to sleep.  It's nearly 3:30 a.m. and the alarm is just around the corner.  Days are too long anyway and staying up all night ruminating on ghosts doesn't exactly make them any shorter.

Poof!  Gone!

Two-line Horror Stories

Oh, you bastards...

Yah, no joke.  It can be done.  No more reading in bed.  Not even two lines.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hero of the Day!

I'm pretty certain that someone somewhere did something honorable and noteworthy today, but I'll be damned if I was able to locate any such news story.  In lieu of someone rushing into a burning building to save a kitten though, we'll take this guy that got liquored up and swam across a river pissing off the entire northern Midwest, apparently.

His mother dealt the cruelest blow of all, as those who love us most are oft the most unkind:

“She just hung up on me,” said Morillo. “She said ‘you’re just so stupid.’”

So why is he the Hero of the Day?

Because he made it across. That's why.  Am I encouraging other people do try every stupid stunt that comes to their heads when they're three sheets to the wind?  Um... well...
No.  I'm certainly not.  I won't claim that I didn't attempt feats of superhuman... uh...

Let's just get back to John.  He made it.  What else did the harbor master have to do that night anyway?  Way to go, John!

I can't say much that dopey t-shirt, but okay.  Whatever.

From The Windsor Star

A hard rain's gonna fall...

Humility vs. Humiliation?

I read a quote last night that got my hamster wheel going on a slow but steady roll.  It was something to this effect:

In the battle for space inside my shoe, the little toe always loses.

My first question was is this a metaphor or should it be taken at face value.  Considering the latter, it really is true.  It's not that the other toes don't have their trials and tribulations. On the best of days they're cramped into a limited space and don't have much say over anything.  They bear the weight of the rest of the bio-community as it rolls about from place to place.  There are corns and bunions and stress fractures and the leg of the coffee table to blunder into and fungus and so on.  And this is all on an average day.  

Yet all things considered its always the little guy that gets crunched the worst.

Oops! And there goes our metaphor. The smallest always gets crunched.  And you could take it to the silly extreme... that little toe doesn't even have the same mobility the others have when it gets out in the open. And have you ever noticed that the little toe always looks gnarled and angry?  

Sorry.  Kind of stupid. The parallel is often there though.  Sometimes I feel like the little toe in the shoe and maybe the metaphor in the quote was intentional and maybe not.  But I feel lately like the little toe.

I am told that the key to freedom from feeling like the little toe is acceptance and that the key to acceptance is humility.  I am told repeatedly that there is a difference between humility and humiliation.  That they are of course connected but separate and distinct.  You learn humility, supposedly, when you accept that you were chosen to be the little toe, and that it may seem like a lowly spot, but it depends on your awareness of your usefulness in that role, and how grateful you are to have been chosen.  And of course that you don't have it worse.

Blah.  I would trade it all at this moment for more space and the mobility to travel that space.  Even though my dissatisfaction does me only disservice.  I know in my heart of hearts that there are worse shoes to be in than mine.

It is a desperate stealing third base stretch when you are so hungry for meaning that you can conjure metaphors out of your own shoes, isn't it?

So here is a quick lesson:

Doctor (to me):  You're not having a heart attack.  Whatever you're feeling on your left side, the pins and needles in your hand, the numbness, the pain in the shoulder, is probably neuropathy.  An old injury maybe.  Or most likely arthritis.

Me:  Oh

Okay so it breaks down like this...

Humility:  I am old enough to have arthritis.

Humiliation:  There is an extensive list of injuries, so many in fact, and some so bizarre and stupid in nature, that I never got properly treated, that it would be hard to put a finger on which one is troubling me now.  

Acceptance:  I'm still standing.  It could be worse.  

Maybe... I'm still trying to piece all this together.  


Acceptance these days is rather like Japan.  I've seen it on the map, and I've seen a lot of really beautiful photographs.  It looks like a wonderful place to visit, but it seems pretty unlikely.

Monday, July 22, 2013

70s Bromance

My step-dad watched every cop show on television.  He was especially fond of Mannix, which was cool, but he even liked Barnaby Jones.  There was one episode where Jed... er... Buddy Ebsen cleaned someone's clock, but other than that it was the most boring show I've ever seen.  Okay, let's just call it subdued.  

It seems to me that... oh nevermind.  Just look at this photo.  

Fuck Art. Art is scary!

Agnes Geoffray

Stank & File: You're soaking in it.

File this one under A, for Awwwgoddamn!

"Water vapor is not the only thing in that sopping summer air. It also contains aerosols — both solid and liquid. They may have condensed from the gases that emerge from your tailpipe or from a factory chimney, or they may have risen into the air from the ground: tiny particles of silicon, organic matter, threads, starch, spores, bacterial cells, tire rubber. One of the most common aerosols in New York City air, thanks in part to the booming restaurant scene, is fat."

Trans-fat, Madge?  You're soaking in it.

Riddle me this, Michael Bloomberg.  How are we supposed to do what you say and lose weight when the air itself is high in cholesterol?

On a happy note! Hip Hop Comics...

Hip Hop Comics!!!

It doesn't get much better than this.

Weather or not, the long version...

Ian Rankin once said that you can't honestly write a novel about Scotland without writing in the weather as a major player, no matter what else goes into it.  That the weather is always more plot than setting.  Now sure Rankin often seems handpicked by The Guardian to define and speak on all things Scottish and one might argue his qualifications, but having lived in New York City for decades, a place where the weather is always central to even the most brief conversation, I suspect Rankin is spot on.  

Summer in New York comes on like a hangover, mean, sour and inescapable.  You spend months creeping from air conditioned room to air conditioned room with the desperation of a drunk crawling for the cool spot on the bathroom tiles. There is little respite from the smells, even from your own smells and all you see in faces in the street is the mask of death.  You know if you asked anyone if they want you to just bust a cap in their head they would pause for at least a second and consider it.  I would have to.  Now I am a man who has always prided himself on a tolerance for discomfort but ten minutes on the platform wating for the B train refridgerator car to pull in reveals the truth.

I am too old for this shit.

The summer is bookended by a few short days in May and October that are truly special.  There are cool breezes.  The smell is magically lifted from the streets and you have to dig deep into the narrow, ancient alleys downtown to find anything that might suggest that this isn't the most grand place on the planet.  I am certain that any prose set in New York City that doesn't mention rhe weather is set in May or October.  Has to be.  No question about it.

Conversely, the winters here are equally cruel and oppressive, the plantation overseer of weather patterns.  A Russian from St. Petersburg once told me, as we waited on an outdoor train platform in mid- January trying to light smokes with frozen fingers, "It is cold back home but not like here.  This is like a parasite that burrows deep in your bones and makes them weak and brittle."

Well thank you very much, Fyodor.  That cheery thought warms me from deep within my soul.  Who even needs a scarf and gloves with you around?  He was right though and those words stuck with me and on me like a tattoo.  I will still take the stabbing winter pain to the slow broil though, and that is what I've got right about now.  I have been marinating in oily scum for about three weeks now.  An air conditioned room only gels it for a spell and that might even feel worse.

But what kind of pussy dedicated so much time to whining and minging about the weather?  As far as I know we call that particular variety of pussy a New Yorker.  I knew the transformation was complete back in about 1995 I heard the question "hot enough for you" escape my dry lips. I had arrived.  I was that special brand of pussy and from that day forward would include mention of the weather in anything I wrote not set in May or October.

New York Author MacGregor Rucker is what you one day may read in print.

Or not.  Time grows shorter every day and the odds of stroking out in the heat increase every year.  Or losing my shit and smashing someone and getting jailed or killed for my trouble.  Judges will still convict and you can't use the weather as an alibi.  Not yet anyway.

Shall we talk about the weather...

New York City has never really been a place where moderation shows its face in any recognizable form.  The weather isn't exempt from excessive behavior  and shitty attitude.

The summer seems sort of a meteorological hangover sometimes when weighed against any previous winter.

A Russian from St. Petersburg told me once, while we were standing on an open train platform waiting on a brittle, frozen ride to work, that it wasn't that New York City was colder, because it really wasn't -- but there was a quality of cold he never felt back home.  That it burrowed in like a parasite and nested right in the bones.

Still, we look at the past with rosy-colored glasses and after the last couple weeks of confounding heat, I might just be tempted to make the journey back to last winter.

Image from Kinetic Carnival: The Coney Island Blog

So easy a caveman could do it! Hey! It's science!

There are so many places to go with this and I'm afraid that I'm not mature enough to be the one to take you there.

All Non-Africans Part Neanderthal: Genetics Confirm

Now, I'm not particularly invested in anyone refuting this.  I just want to know if I can get a discount on the insurance.

Thank you, Max Ernst

I knew I couldn't have been the only person wondering what Jesus was like as a child.  Sure, John Prine wrote Jesus the Missing Years but I only discovered that later on.

Was he colicky?  Did he walk early?  How old was he when he first used the big-boy potty?  Did he give Mary the business or just sit there smiling beatifically and shitting his swaddling garments?

Did he ever get a hiding from Joseph for mouthing off?  Do you smack bejesus out of Jesus?

Or turning it over for a different angle, what did he do for kicks?

Jesus wasn't always Jesus.

I think more people would believe if they got the whole story.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Kafka on the Beach... not to be confused with Murakami

It never exactly occurred to me that Ol' Franz would bugger off to the beach on holiday and strip down to his Fruit of the Looms. It's not exactly how you picture him, is it?

It's entirely out of context with how you might envision Franz Kafka.  It never even struck me that the guy who wrote Metamorphosis would even take a vacation, let alone go to the beach.

He probably hadn't written too much at this point.  He looks young.

And skinny.

In fact, he really looks kind of insecure and creepy.  Like maybe being next to naked on the beach, all exposed with nowhere to hide drove him back to his writer's garrett where he had horrible thoughts about being an insect and whatnot.  It's a distinct possibility.  I hated taking my shirt off at the beach.  Someone told me once I looked like an Auschwitz survivor.  Playing "shirts & skins" basketball in gym class scarred me for life.  It was, "welp, I might as well go write creepy, depressed poetry because it's pretty certain I'm never going to get laid."  It was that kind of insecurity.

Poor Franz.  He looks awfully shy.

Skull, by David Markson

since we were on the subject of Kerouac a year ago, or maybe earlier today....

The Habits of Happiness

This one might seem a little out of character but it reflects actions which I know from personal experience make ME happier.  And this is all about me, after all.

The Habits That Make You Happy
So what habits make you happy? Try doing these on a daily basis, and see if you get the same results:
  1. List 3 Good Things. Eva & I started a daily evening ritual, at about 7pm each day, where we take a moment to tell each other three good things about our day. We didn’t invent this, but it serves as at least one time in your day when you focus on what you’re grateful for. This can create a mental habit of gratitude that you can use other times in your day, when you’re focused on the things you don’t like or have — when you feel this, think about something you do have, that you love. Find a way to be grateful, and you’re happier.
  2. Help Someone. When we focus on ourselves, and the woeful state of our lives, we are self-centered. This shrinks the world to one little place with one little unhappy person. But what if we can expand that worldview, and expand our heart to include at least one other person? Maybe even a few others? Then we see that others are suffering too, even if that just means they’re stressed out. Then we can reach out, and do something to reduce their stress, put a smile on their face, make their lives easier. Help at least one person each day, and you’ll find your entire perspective shifted.
  3. Meditate. I’ve called this the Fundamental Habit, because it affects everything else. Meditate for just 2 minutes a day, and you’ll create a habit that will allow you to notice your thoughts throughout the rest of the day, that will help you to be more present (unhappiness comes from not being present), that will help you notice the source of anxiety and distraction. That’s a lot that can be accomplished in 2 minutes! Sit every morning when you wake, and just notice your body, and then your breath. Notice when your mind wanders, and gently return to your breath. You become the watcher of your mind, and you’ll learn some useful things, I promise.
  4. Exercise. Everyone knows you should exercise, so I’m not going to belabor this point. But it really does make you happier, both in the moment of exercise (I’m exerting myself, I’m alive!) and throughout the rest of the day. Exercise lightly, if you’re not in the habit yet, and just for a few minutes a day to start out. Who doesn’t have a few minutes a day? If you don’t, you need to loosen up your schedule a bit.

    From Zen Habits

My own nostalgia trip, Oh baby let's turn a page...

Somewhere poor, scruffy, shaggy and lit the hell up back in the 80s, it all seemed reasonable and entertainment was... well, these guys...

Stop it
Slightly overweight girls need sex also
Send your note and desires
Means of contact P.O. Box 8941
Baby you have been along
I'll read another
As soon as it comes around
Feeling pressure?
Call Loveliness
JD if you need a fishing partner
Please let me know
Visitors welcome instruction 
5 generation mess you give for naught
Hey Ellen
Mark says hi
Tom what else can I say
I love you very much
I'm glad we're together 
Miss you a lot
Love kitten
Oh yeah ooh yeah Kitten
Oh yeah ooh yeah 
Lurkin' lizards lyin' in the tanners ?
Under an oral fix
Waiting for the return of the crawling king snake 
John Lee
Grin and bear it
Fantasy Phone Swingers' Hotline
Pure silk, pure seduction
G-strings in petal pink
Attract some women
Scientific formulated
Spray the conductive male hormone
Work turn the lights off
Oh baby, let's turn a page
And it's all a bunch of ****