There’s a lot I want to say, but that part of me that worries too much about what people might like chokes it all back because I don’t want to come off soft, or sad, or weird.

I’m leaving my home in a few days. It’s the only home I’ve really known for the last 14 years. Sure, I’ve lived in other places, but never for longer than a year, and the places were never really home, you know? I could still always get home from where I lived.

Now I’m back home, but I’m leaving home, and I’m going somewhere where going back home requires a strategy, a reason, and a chunk of money. It’s a strange feeling. It’s a nest-emptying ritual that a lot of people go through before they’re 24, sure. Some people are really brave about it. They just go, damn the torpedoes, and screw you with your cautionary wisdom. I like those people. I admire them.

Me, it’s hard for me, because I don't see it as pressing on towards the future. I see it as cutting loose of the past.

Josh says it’s called “chunking” in math. The ability to break a task down into manageable segments. I like that word, chunking. I like the idea. I would like to be able to chunk. I would like to fragment the Rubik’s Cube of the future into a bunch of little Slide Block Puzzles. Tackle the little bits as individual problems, instead of viewing everything as one insurmountable obstacle in the path. Looking at a mountain as just a bunch of boulders, instead of as a motherfucking mountain.

I’m no good at it, though. I like to see everything I can, all at once, which has usually meant taking the chairlift up from base camp and looking down from the top. Shortcuts of one kind or another. Just hoping the first draft is good enough without any revision. Being content with a few great friends I made by accident. Taking help from my parents whenever they offered it, which was nearly all the time.

And it’s not like I’m suddenly faced with the fact that I have be totally self-sufficient all at once. I would have exploded into a fine, chalky dust if that were the case.

But I’m packing, you know? I’m packing up all my shit. All the stuff I’ve accumulated over a lifetime of rat-packeteering, all arranged just so in the two years I’ve lived in this little two-bedroom apartment off my parent’s house. I took apart the spider mount of my vocal mic today. I stacked the drums in a closet. I’ve put all the books in boxes, I’ve put all the clothes in bags. What I’m left with closely resembles a dirty, overlit meth house, minus the Pyrex and plus really nice carpet and comfortable furniture.

It doesn’t feel the same already. I already feel a little bit alienated from this place I live, without yet having anywhere to put the reserve of emotion, of affection I stored here.

The means which I’ve chosen to cope is this crazed holistic hippie nonsense wherein I just reallyreallyreally want everybody to be happy and have a place in the universe because it makes me feel like I'm merely a ball that's been bounced, and in a moment I'll settle with the rest. I feel this overwhelming, smiling, futile goodwill, like I imagine a politically impotent fifties housewife might have.

You know what I keep thinking about? I don’t know why I’ve latched onto this.

I’m going to have to buy a whole new bottle of ranch dressing. You drive halfway across the country to start a new life, a bouncing-bouncing ball, and the first thing you have to do is spend four dollars on a new fucking bottle of ranch dressing. It's like a levy on moving imposed by Kraft corporation. There are all these hidden costs of moving, physical and emotional costs, that I can’t chunk. I can’t chunk them, and I can’t even see them. They’re tucked behind the boulders like scorpions, and I’m terrified of them. At least, I think they’re tucked behind boulders. It could be there’s nothing behind the boulders. But I’m convinced a stinging bitch coils in anticipation in every break of my field of vision. I can’t break it down, and I can’t power through.

What I’m doing is an age-old dance that’s been done by many men over many generations. It’s called pussyfooting.

What I’m trying to do is open this rift in my life, this bulldozing of everything I know, into an opportunity for reinvention. Reinvention takes calculation.

I always wanted to, you know, wear more blazers, but I never really did, because I always thought it would be pretentious to wear blazers because I haven’t set a precedent as being the kind of guy who wears blazers.

Well, in Baltimore, I can be the kind of guy who wears blazers, and fuck you, who are you to know any different? You know, whatever the fuck ever.

I can be the guy who doesn’t second-guess every decision. I can be the guy who says “fuck it, let’s do it,” just to do it. Not because it’s owed to me, just because it’s not prohibited.

More importantly, I can finally have a reason to be fascinated. A reason to care about what I’m doing. If I want it, all I have to do is take it. If I don’t want to worry, I don’t have to worry. My parents have money. Not that much, but some. And they’re positively itching to give it to me. I don’t want to take it. It’s not a point of pride in any traditional stand-on-my-own-two-feet sense. It’s only because I don’t want to automatically be the kid who’s partly financed by his folks. But fuck it, you know? If my choices are to live in the claws of poverty-terror, or in the relatively limp, warm, moist fist of low-low-middle class comfort, where buying a winter coat isn’t a double-clutch make-or-break holy-fucking-shit-the-world-is-ending proposition, and I can eat without feeling intense fucking guilt about eating, shouldn’t I take that opportunity? I've been so fucking broke for the last six years of my life that I feel fucking guilty eating. I don't want that life for myself. But I’m already assuming I’m going to be judged as soft. And I already know I’m soft, and I don’t really have a problem with being soft. So why it should be so terrifying to me that other people could regard me as soft is baffling.

I haven’t slept for thirty-six hours. I pulled an all-nighter so that I could call the manager at my apartment building and talk about a move-in date. Then, at seven in the morning, I went over to my house and asked my mom if she would do it, so I could get some sleep. I felt crushed in by it, the totally frivolous call looming over me like a ponderously symbolic ceiling of dull-ass knives. It happens to me whenever I stay up all night for something really important. I get tired hours before I would normally get tired, because my body knows what I’m up to. “You’re going to stay up all night,” it says, “and, what, I'm just supposed to take it? Fuck you!” It starts pumping melatonin all through me ("Sleep, bitch, sleep!") and I start to panic, and the panic mixes with caffeine, and the caffeine, adrenalin, and melatonin all swirl together in a chemical cocktail that always comes with a weird gauze haze. I vividly associate that gauze haze with nearly every important deadline of my life, and it’s a feeling I’ve grown so weary of that I duck it at every possible opportunity.

A wiser person would have just decided, long ago, to finish important things before it becomes necessary to stay up all night to even have a chance to get a crack at them. But I haven’t been burned by the habit yet. I’ve always got things in under the wire. This is as bad a habit as you can have in the face of the environment which I am about to enter, where, two years from now, I'm going to be tested on whether or not I know enough to be allowed to continue. You can't cram for that test, I don't think.

But to cross that road, first I have to be able to actually talk to the funny little foreign guy named Willie who owns the building. I can’t understand him until he says something for a second or third time. I start to feel so sorry that there’s this breech in our communication. I want so badly to understand him so that he can feel like he’s gotten his message across, but we talk like we’re trying to do the same dance routine at the same time without knowing a single step in advance.

So I had my mom make the call, but it didn’t work. She got voicemail, and I got the call anyway, and the call went fine, because I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have to make the call. I got the call. Skated in under the wire.

Fucking bullet the blue sky.

So I'm back to packing up my shit, and I feel like a virus that is eating my house from the inside. Cannibalizing it, gutting it, ripping every nutrient out of it and moving on. I feel this nonsense loyalty to my life and its stasis and its total lack of risk or reward. It’s a slow, sad, furry, loveable creature that doesn’t do much good but doesn’t hurt anybody either. I feel like I’m dumping my noble three-toed sloth of a girlfriend so I can go out with a sleek, heartless bitch of a falcon who's going to rip my guts out because that's just what she does.

But what’s great is, I’m already getting over it a little bit. It's fucking falconeering. You break it, blind it, and train that freaky raptor to catch shit for you and bring it back. Last week, all I felt was dread. And now, it’s a little bit real, so it’s a little bit exciting, and after every bit of stuff gets put in a box, after every next shred of evidence that I actually exist here is removed, the fact that I do exist here becomes less and less important, and the prospect of me existing somewhere else becomes more and more probable, and less and less like blasphemy. Of course, I still have to drive twenty hours in two days. But you know what I never have to do again? I never have to worry what I’m doing here. Never again. I might have to worry what I’m doing there, but I’m not there yet, and once I get there, it’ll be an entirely different here than this here has been, and I will be a completely different me than I am now. And hopefully there, when I’m haunted by something, by my own inadequacy or the inadequacy of others or the superabundance of adequacy of others or the way the adequacy of others causes them to completely misunderstand my own superabundance of adequacy, it’ll sting like citrus, it’ll be exhilarating, it’ll bite back a bit as I chew it, instead of just grinding into a wheat germ mash and sliding down, another meal to go unremembered the next day. You know what might happen?

This might put a little fight in me.

And that, I think, is pretty cool.

You put a pebble in your mouth so you don't feel thirsty.

Moving really kind of freaks me out.

“Look at what passes for the new.”
~William Carlos Williams


Struts & Cams

I haven't made a music video since the Wu Tang cover. And how am I going to top that? But, I also haven't had this much fun since I was a little kid. Shoutout to Steve for making it happen. I've never seen anyone fake pop 'n' lock so well.

It's called "Struts & Cams," and it's about dancing.


God bless DivX compatible DVD players.

I'm just the best.

I can admit it. I'm a lousy scholar, a worse gentleman, and a totally worthless officer. But there's one thing I've got that nobody else has, and nobody can ever take away from me, and that is this: I like Stephen Malkmus's first solo album better than anybody else in the world.

This kills me every time. "Jo Jo's Jacket." Funniest Video Ever.

With the kittens and the Keep On Truckin'.

Beeth Oven.

This story out of Brooklyn the coolest I've read in a long time, even if the answer is just garden variety mental instability. But check out the byline, because it doesn't get any better than that.


Here's Beeethoven Bong's Friendster page.

I always loved it, in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, when they called Beethoven "Beeth Oven." Hiyoooooo!

The Miracles

I'm super duper boring right now, and I have nothing to say.

I would like to point out, on the other hand, that I never really realized just how good "The Motown Song" by Rod Stewart is. Sure, I sort of knew the chorus melody, but I never really knew what it was about, and I didn't even know who it was by. But, I've listened to it roughly 20 times in the last 24 hours, and I'm not tired of it at all yet. Thanks, LastFM, for being my personal and totally gratuitous statistician!

I mean, yeah, it's terrible, in that way that 1991 was terrible for all things middle of the road, but just try not to like it. Just try.

Bring over some of your old Motown records,
We'll put the speakers in the window and we'll go
On the roof and listen to the Miracles
Echo to the alley down below.

Sounds like love to me. I like love. UH!


TV's got her TV eye on me.

A few weeks ago, I told my dad that I didn’t think I wanted to lug my 27” TV to Baltimore with me.

I have a sort of pimp/whore relationship with television, because I love it but it doesn’t love me back. I always ask it, "you love me don't you," and it says "you know I love you," but I can tell it's lying, and it just wants my money.

So I haven’t had cable for a long time, because when you have cable, TV becomes an even suaver pimp. Cable is like television's Cadillac.

But even when I don’t have cable, you’d be surprised how easy it is for me to just give myself over completely to the medium. Sure, I have to alter my sleep schedule a little bit, but it’s really very easy.

Give it a try, via thought experiment.

You wake up at 2:30 in the afternoon, just in time for Jeopardy! You totally kick ass until they get to the category about Prussian monarchs of the 8th Century, and you get mad at the contestants for knowing such ridiculous shit. Then you pretend like you’re smarter than they are because they don’t know what who Declan MacManus is ("Elvis Costello, you idiots!" you scream, looking up from the empty potato chip bag into which you are clipping your fingernails).

Then, while still in a bit of a groggy stupor, you half-watch Dr. Phil, but you feel uncomfortable reveling in the interpersonal agony of idiots, bigots, addicts, and sluts, so you take the opportunity to put on clothes, do some half-hearted calisthenics, and listen to some songs that you know by heart at a low enough volume that you can still hear people accuse each other of being untrustable.

Then (unless Oprah is talking about something awesome, which is a very real risk), you take a half-hour internet break until 4:30 to check your email. You bypass the serious stories, but read the novelty stuff on respectable alternative news sites (“Nude woman saves baby from rabid pitbulls in Antwerp,” "The best lite beer under $8"), and then read what people think about some albums you don't care to hear.

Then, you catch Malcolm in the Middle, an hour of the Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Seinfeld. This all-star "Rock Block" will constitute the high point of your day.

Already, it’s 7 o’clock, and the networks have started their prime time ratings-grabbers. Hell’s Kitchen, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars. A 60 Minutes Mystery, Dateline, 20/20. The sheer variety is enough to make you thank the almighty antenna that you live in such a wildly pluralistic society. Three hours of that and you’ve powered through to 10, just in time for breakfast and another short internet break, because all that's on is *M*A*S*H* and late local news.

At 10:30, you can watch Letterman or Leno, but they're painfully average, so there’s always Seinfeld and then an hour of Scrubs on Fox. The quality/charisma drop off between Conan and Carson is always a little bit jarring, but before you know it, it’s 1:00 AM and you’ve barely broken a sweat!

Unfortunately, the networks go into a bit of a slide, so this is the ideal time to take a shower, eat lunch, drink some whiskey if you’ve got it, and force yourself to blog because you so badly want to engage with other human beings after 11 hours of abject detachment. Then, god bless him, at 3:30 AM there’s a rerun of the Bernie Mac show.

After that, you feel like you really ought to go to bed, because it’s 4 in the morning, but you don’t process the fact that you woke up at 2:30 in the afternoon, and going to bed now would mean sleeping for 10.5 hours, which you’re not biologically geared to do. So you do what you always do when you’re getting ready to sleep – throw on a DVD of the first or second season of Arrested Development, despite the fact that you've memorized nearly the entire series – and 3 hours later, you've slid off into a shallow pauper’s grave of sleep devoid of any personality or character and filled, if at all, with dreams that convince you you’re living your life the wrong way. But the great thing is, you wake up at 2:30, just in time for Jeopardy!

Is your soul crushed yet?

So you can understand my hesitancy to want a television around me when I am, hypothetically, trying to overhaul my life from the wheel wells to the hazard lights. One important thing to do, when you're trying to give up being a whore, is to leave the pimp who wants you to have sex with people for money.

But not my dad, though. Oh, no. My dad is turning me out. He's picking me up from the train station and driving me right back to the stable. He read this as a hesitancy on my part to carry the television to the U-Haul, and then from the U-Haul to the elevator, and then from the elevator to the living room of my apartment.

So, for my birthday, he bought me an LCD TV with a built-in DVD player. It's so fucking awesome.

And here’s something I didn’t know. Even in the faraway rural environs of Iowa, they’ve started broadcasting the syndicated networks digitally. So the once distorted face of Tina Fey on 30 Rock, the once fuzz-washed ramblings of morally misguided Wife Swap contestants, now come through in pristine ones and zeroes that defy analog snow.

These ones and zeroes somehow manipulate a bunch of liquid crystals into an anti-realistic, but perfectly recognizable shape.

I swear to god, at some point it stopped being technology, and somebody accidentally invented magic. Liquid motherfucking crystals.

So, not only do I get the five major networks, but apparently they also digitally broadcast The Tube, which plays music videos 24 hours a day. I just watched some Counting Crows video with Courtney Cox. It was terrible. But now, it’s “How’s it Going to Be” by Third Eye Blind. I fucking love this song. And now it’s a bunch of 16 year-olds trying to fondle Rob Thomas’s balls as he shakes the token hands of those in the front row, and I wonder, first, how does Rob Thomas merit a live album with a promo clip, and secondly, why is Rob Thomas such an efficient, skillful, and even charismatic live performer, and most importantly, when exactly in history did music and sex become inextricably linked?

Yesterday, they played Prince’s “Purple Rain” and immediately followed it with Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain.”

Football season starts soon.

This is my concern.


I love my friends. I really do.

"It might not even matter if she's fat... and that's why I admire about you."


How does it feel to roam this land like Harte and Twain did?

In other news, my dad, hot on the trail of his delinquent son's taste in satire, forwarded a Dave Barry column about poetry contests from 1994, in the hopes that I, quote, "might get a charge out of" it.

For a bitter, angry, pointless rant, scroll down. I advise you not to scroll down.

Hey, Seal, how's it going?

Oh, hey! Seal! It's been ages! We should catch up. Maybe have a drink, some fish and chips.

Then maybe we could go............... clubbing?



It's not too late, child. Turn back!

The internet is a wonderland. The best thing about it is what I call the "Youtube Comments Effect," or "The Asshole-Engendering Shield of Anonymity." It must have been a good day the first time a troll realized, "Hey, I don't have to check myself at all... and that doesn't just mean I don't have to edit for style!"

It's in this spirit that people to post to your blog, incognito, comments like, " you signed a lease on a one-bedroom for $1100/month? you poor thing. WHAT were you thinking?!" INTERROBANG, BITCH! BANG ?! ?! ?! ?! ?! ?! ?! ?! Just, you know, in case the WHAT didn't get the gravity across.

Gee whiz, it's actually kind of funny. You know what I was thinking? It wasn't, say, "I would like to live in a commercially owned building, but I've read that The Marylander and Saint Paul Court are shitholes from the routinely terrible reviews on internet sites. They also charge around $150-200 dollars per month less than the Highfield House, plus utilities (which apparently often run into the $200 range in the winter), whereas my apartment includes utilities, and charges half what The Marylander does for a spot in the parking garage."

It wasn't, "I really like the apartment. It seems like a solid place to live, to make a home, somewhere I can be comfortable, somewhere I won't hate, plus it was named Baltimore's Best Cool Old Building."

It wasn't, "It couldn't hurt to live somewhere nice since I'll be acclimating, for the first time, to living in a city after not having a neighbor within a quarter mile for over two years."

It wasn't even, "I have no idea what I'm doing. I hope something sticks."

No, not at all. In fact, I got lucky, because I was thinking something very specific when I signed a lease for a one bedroom for $1,100 a month. I was thinking, "I know it's a long shot, but I really, really, really hope that this decision gets mocked by some city-dweller in the tough-love 'you certainly don't know about life as well as I do, Sonny Jim!' style."

I thought, "I can't wait to be condescended to with a shoulder-punching bit of Big-Brothers/Big-Sisters after-the-fact wisdom. The kind that says, 'Oh my goodness, if only I'd been there to see you make this folly, I could have saved you from yourself, but it's for the best that I didn't, because watching you flail is so amusing!'"

I was thinking, "Life is too easy. I hope I get second-guessed by somebody whose opinion I couldn't give any less of a shit about (in any constructive way), who can then feel like they've done a good deed by expressing a vague kind of discomforting rather than reassuring sympathy!"

I was thinking, "I hope someday I go blind, and I walk into a light pole, so everybody around me can laugh." Thanks, Anonymous. I thought that ambition was going to be left in the cold, but you really came through for me!

Was it a mistake? I don't know yet. All I know is, I'm glad you took the time to leave that thoughtful, helpful, practically indispensable comment for me. Maybe you can come by later and spit in my mouth. I like it.

*edit 1

Really, I'm just pissed that you would choose to leave a comment about this when nobody's bothered to mention HILARY CLINTON'S CAMEL TOE YET.

*edit 2

The half-hour-after reaction of conscience: "Way to throw a barrage of body blows at ghosts to cover up your already barely-concealed insecurity and crippling fear of the future, FB. How's that working out for you?"

The elements of style

Look hard. What's wrong with this picture? (Click to enlarge, if you dare.)

Also: I'd never really thought about it this way before, but I have a very mild but longstanding feud with a guy who's got a hostile long-standing feud with a guy who totally stuck it to Winona Ryder. (They at least made out. I saw it in People Magazine).

Plus, my uncle was the set doctor on the movie the River Wild (also Cliffhanger with Stallone), so I'm only, like, one degree away from Kevin Bacon. Which means, you're only two degrees away from Kevin Bacon. You're welcome.

I actually used to have a backpack that he gave me for my birthday that Meryl Streep had given to him. It had a thank you note in red thread inside that Ms. Streep had herself hand-stitched. He took it back when he found out about it. Gave me $20 bucks, which was fair. I mean, he's only a doctor.


The move

I'm a video blogger!


New tomorrow, is the future

This is a picture of a condo in the building that I signed a lease for, and am moving to as far as I know. This picture is from a style magazine. I'm moving to a building that's featured in a style magazine. This is about three times bigger than my place, but those windows? They look just like my windows. I'm on floor 15. There are 16 floors. This could be very neat. Please cross your fingers for me. Remember who we're talking about here. Me. No way this goes smoothly.

For luck: several shots of Miranda July's eyes.

Also: The previous post did not make clear just how dearly I actually love Revenge of the Nerds. So, caveat emptor.

Speaking of Latin. One of my favorite movie exchanges is when, in Loaded Weapon 1, F. Murray Abraham says to Emelio Estevez, "Quid pro quo, Mr. Colt." "What does that mean?" asks Emilio. F. Murray Abraham is taken aback, looks at him like he's crazy. "It means I'm pretentious," he says.

Those nerds are a threat to our way of life.

"All jocks ever think about is sports. All we ever think about is sex."
~Lewis Skolnick

"No one is really going to be free until nerd persecution ends."
~Gilbert Lowell

OK, so I was watching Revenge of the Nerds with Steve yesterday, and we were talking about how fucking depressing these "triumph of the loser" movies from the 80s were.

Facts of the case: Revenge of the Nerds is packed with Asian stereotypes ("what the fuck is a frush?"), black stereotypes, gay stereotypes, jock stereotypes, and chick stereotypes, all parading in a movie about the victory and ascension of the "little guy." But the nerds, the heroes of the movie, the people we're supposed to be rooting for? They're fucking worse than the jocks. Way worse. The jocks are just bastards and idiots, cruel but relatively run-of-the-mill. The nerds are actually unflinching and impenitent criminals, Enron types who use their genius to wiggle into a position of power at the expense of everyone else, under the guise of fair play. The plot of the movie is, the jocks steal their dorm and the Greek Council doesn't want them to start a frat. So........

They sexually assault an entire sorority. "Step aside, mama, I wanna see some of that muff!" says Booger, trying to get by the zaftig sister to take a svelte one by force. They spy on the girls with hidden cameras. They record nudie pictures of them. They sell hundreds of copies of the pictures to win the homecoming carnival to take control of the Greek council. In fact, they cheat in nearly every event they win, and essentially steal the competition (except for the belching contest, and the talent show, in which they perform a song that features rapping and breakdancing from, you guessed it, the black guy). They give pills to Takashi so he doesn't get drunk in an event that's all about getting drunk. They give Lamar a javelin that, thanks to his limp wrist, will outdistance the All-American quarterback's. In effect, they steal the election so that the next year they'll be able to treat themselves better and punish the jocks who punished them.

At the Tri-Lamb nerd party, Lewis, the head nerd, has sex with the cutest Omega-Mu, the sorority made up almost entirely of gawky, chubby, gangly girls. Afterwards, he follows her down the stairs, smoking a pipe in a silk robe. We never see her again onscreen, because she's not a real character. She's a plot device to get Lewis rid of his hypothetical virginity. Betty Childs is the romantic female lead. Not because Lewis likes her, but because he wants to fuck everything she represents. And that's the cherry. Lewis rapes Betty Childs by dressing up in the Vader costume and mask her boyfriend was wearing and making her think he's actually her boyfriend. You know, the guy who played Jefferson on Married With Children.

She even asks him to take off the mask, and he says no. Actually, he doesn't even say no. He just shakes his head. Then, when she realizes she's been raped by a man she's loathed for the duration of the film, it's no big deal, because he's really good at sex. All nerds, as it happens, are really good at sex. Which is great, because until she's raped by Lewis, she despises him to the point that she is willing to humiliate him on several occasions (mostly by convincing him that she likes him). She openly mocks him, until they have sex. Then she says, "I'm in love with a nerd," despite the fact that nothing else has changed in their relationship. This is the film's triumphant, climactic moment, when it turns out the omega-male Lewis has somehow managed to wheedle his way into alpha male status by cheating, conning, raping, and lying to the people who belittle him for his ostensible weakness. Bettie Childs doesn't pretend to like him because she hates him. Not anymore. Now she loves him because he raped her. Now he's a big man.

Then, at the end of the movie, Anthony Edwards gives a speech. He says, "No one is really going to be free until nerd persecution ends." He's been allowed to make this speech because a line of a dozen black guys, none of whom have any lines, have marched in front of the stage to light exploitation funk to block the horde of football players who want to kick his ass. They act as enforcers, stupid muscle just there to scare the white jocks while Lewis gives his impassioned monologue about how "there are more of us (ugly people, nerds) than there are of you (hot men, cheerleaders)." The black guys just stand there, staring straight ahead, flagrant stock characters trapped by the movies assumptions. And why? Apparently, it's because nerds aren't free. Nerds, it turns out, are the ones who have really got it rough.

It looks like nice guys really do finish first, as long as they're fucking assholes who walk all over everybody.


A valediction condoning mourning

I signed a lease yesterday for an apartment that I really can't afford.

My mom asked me if I'm excited to move. I told her I wasn't excited, just absolutely terrified. She told me I should really go on anti-depressants. Thanks, mom.

Two weeks. Holy fuck.

Best birthday present ever?

Thanks, Steve.


MMFI (Make Me Feel Important)

This is a picture.

Some would say that this looks just like any old picture that some idiot took with a camera-phone at a music festival. They would be right.

But let's back up and meet a cat.

This cat is my cat. His name is Bob Nastanovich. He's pretty much the coolest, sweetest, sturdiest, awesomest cat in the world. I gave him the name Bob Nastanovich because I needed a namesake who is cool, sweet, sturdy, and awesome.

This is a rock band.

They're called Pavement. If you asked me - and why wouldn't you? - I'd tell you that they were the greatest American rock band ever. They broke up around 2000, and I never got to see them play. The two gentlemen on the far left are Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich. Bob Nastanovich, for those keeping track, is the man about whom Blur wrote the unfuckwithable "Song 2," the scourge of every talent show.

Well, I lie and I'm easy.

Sunday at the Pitchfork Music Festival, Stephen Malkmus played a solo acoustic set. Then he brought out a special guest to play drums. That special guest was Bob Nastanovich. It looked like this.

This is the first, and will probably be the last, picture I ever took with a camera-phone at a concert. In the past, I have frequently mocked the very concept of taking camera-phone pictures at concerts. It's not much of a picture, as pictures go. It's a terrible picture, really, which is why I always mock people who take pictures with cellphones at concerts. Point of fact, the concert wasn't much of a concert as concerts go. By any objective criteria - for example, how hard the musicians playing the songs tried to play the songs like they're supposed to be played - it was one of the very, very worst sets I've ever seen, and I'm including those times dudes brought guitars to high school and played "Lightning Crashes" by Live in the cafeteria. But Bob Nastanovich sat on that drum throne, and he thwacked away, out of time and with no expression, to "Trigger Cut" and "In the Mouth of a Desert" from Slanted & Enchanted, and it was, without putting too fine a point on it, The Most Important Moment Of My Entire Life.

Full stop.

Apropos of nothing: the video to Pavement's "Gold Soundz," one of the songs that I call my favorite song despite the fact that there are at least a couple of other songs I call my favorite song.

Slanted & Enchanted stats from wikipedia:

* #134 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
* Chosen as #5 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of the 1990s.
* Chosen as #4 on Spin magazine's Top 100 Albums of the Past 20 Years in June 2005.
* Included in the All-Time 100 albums from Time magazine.
* As of 2007, the album has only sold 150,000 copies.

Happy birthday to me

I came home from Chicago tonight to find my house totally overrun by a freakish race of superflies. They're like an inch long. I've killed something like thirty of them, careening around the house, brandishing a fly-swatter like a crazed Rear Admiral. I'm so fucking tired, it's unreal.


On wearing a coin purse

Tonight I got dragged to Brothers, Iowa City’s bar for C+/B- types who think they’re hot shit and want to get laid, and thusly condescend to other C+/B- types who are actually exactly in their league, but whom they think are far below. (For a frame of reference, these people are hotter than me, but less hot than, say, Rosie Perez (with the accent) or Tom Sizemore, pre-meth/sextape-fiasco, to use a couple of ripped-from-the-headlines examples).
It would be a sort of fascinating place to hang out (like an aviary) if it wasn’t so unnerving.

I spent the whole time huddling with a group of people I don’t really know, and for about ten minutes, our group bunched up with about a third of the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team. Gorney, Looby, Cyrus, and some enormously tall be-dreadlocked gent of whom I hadn’t had the pleasure. People who are seven feet tall make you feel halfway between zookeeper and circus freak. You're not exactly who should be in charge.

On our way home, we shared a cab, first with a 27-year old with a baroquely webbed tramp stamp, whom I mercilessly hit on from the backseat. She was really nice, quite deferential, actually even ingratiating. John lied to her about how he broke his finger – this time, it was in a Cessna accident. When he got out to wind the prop, it started fast and chopped his finger at the joint. Crystal said she didn't look 27. I told her John was lying. Anyway, she looked 27. She and I discussed more plausible lies to give in explanation of a broken finger. I was sad to see her go.

After, the cabbie had to pick up two “regulars,” which involved sitting stationary at Panchero’s for about fifteen minutes. I decided I wanted a burrito if I was going to have to wait. So I went inside. I was talking to Crystal. I turned around, and accidentally hit a homeless guy in the balls with the back of my hand.

“My balls!” he yelled. He turned around and yelled again, “my balls!” He turned to a couple of thugs leaned against the wall and said “that guy hit me in my balls!” They started laughing as uproariously as you are ever bound to see thugs laugh in public. Finally, the bum turned to me and said, “you hit me in the balls!”

“Do you feel gayer?” I asked.

“I ain’t gay!”

“But I’m asking, do you feel gayer than you did before?”

He reached out his hand, and I shook it. It was rough. "I ain't gay" he said. He only had three teeth that I could see. He turned to the girl in front of me in line and said, “I’ll be outside.”

“I’ll bring it out to you,” she said. Then she ordered him some food.

We piled back into the cab with the recently arrived regulars, two girls who were arguing loudly about their vaginas.

“Ever since the last time I had sex with him, I swear to god, my vagina has hurt. It’s been like.......... twenty days! I’m going to make him wear a condom this time. I swear to god, my vagina hurts, every time I... every time I... I eat!”

“Your vagina hurts when you eat?” I asked.

“It totally hurts when I eat.”

“Maybe it wasn’t food you were eating,” said the cabbie.

“A little of that, too, probably,” she said. It’s amazing how adeptly, as a culture, we pick up oral sex innuendo.

“Maybe you have vaginitis,” I said, believing this to be a non-existent, completely made-up disease.

“Oh my god, my friend had that!” she said. “You can get it from Bath and Body Works. Like, their stuff smells really good, but when you put it all down up there, it turns bad, and you get vaginitis.”

“I just made up vaginitis,” I said.

“No, my roommate had vaginitis.”

Her roommate really might have had vaginitis. It actually exists.

The one with the hurt vagina swiveled around in the seat. “Do you have a condom I can use?” she asked.

“I do, but they’re all in my backpack. And my backpack isn’t here.” Realizing that this was already a totally weird answer, I said, “actually, the only condom I have on me is the one I’m using for a coin-purse. I’d give it to you, but then I’d have to shake my change all out of it, and it would taste like copper and sweat.”

“I’m actually wearing one right now,” John offered.


Make a joyful noise for God

"Tender is my heart,
I'm screwing up my life."


I always liked "tender," but I remember it being heavy-handed and saccharine. For the last two days, though, it's made me feel so, so much better. Weird.

My favorite youtube comment.... ever?!

"lol, it's funny how ppl can still hate when the facts are right there in their faces. China is becoming a world power no matter how you look at it."



It’s been a rough go of it for our hero, who is, for the sake of argument, me.

In Baltimore last week, I viewed exactly three apartments.

There was the semi-basement unit with 7 foot ceilings, a window at knee-level to passersby on the street, presumably to maximize the ease with which a fiending junkie can break the pane and slip into the bedroom, where the only window in the joint is. The response to every question I asked the honest landlord was, “Terrible.”

“How’s the parking?”
“How’s the heat?”
“How’s the neighborhood?”

Then I was taken to one of the most beautiful apartments I’ve ever seen. A 15th floor one-bedroom with parquet floors. Wall-to-wall windows that face and oversee the entire city of Baltimore. A swimming pool in the back that lights up and turns into a 40-foot fountain every night at sundown. A dishwasher and a dispose-all. Central heat and air conditioning, included in the rent. Four blocks from campus, with two full-time doormen.

One of the only hard-and-fast rules to live in the building is, you must have income equivalent to times the rent every month. With tuition remission, I more than make it. Without it, I fall a bit short.

So it’s looking like, I don’t get to live in one of the most beautiful apartments I’ve ever seen. Which would have been useful information to have before I was subjected to one of the most beautiful apartments I have ever seen. But you gotta pick your fights, I guess.

Apparently, I’m going to live in the guts of Charles Village, in one of those poultry-box flats with paper-thin walls and an “electrical unit” in the window that both heats and cools the apartment, from the living room and the living room only. With the electrical bills, the rent at this building is almost guaranteed to cost more than the rent at one of the most beautiful apartments I have ever seen. Fuck.

A few times last week, I found myself on “The Block,” a strip in Baltimore that is literally next to a police station. The Block is where the strip clubs and the whores are. Also, there’s a Subway. It’s hilarious. Now, I don’t know what I was expecting, so in retrospect I’m not sure if I was disappointed or just kind of astonished. But man, whores in the inner city are kind of ugly. So there goes that James Joycified aspiration. I've always kind of wondered about the ethical implications of whoring around for somebody like myself: avowedly atheist, generally free of commitments and responsibilities, more or less emotionally vacant, devoid of the ability to feel human empathy, much less a human connection. But The Block actually makes renders that argument meaningless, because if there's one thing I can say with total certainty, it's this: I’m not paying for no ugly whores. (I'm totally kidding. I'm just kind of broke.)

Holy shit, I'm having a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible couple of weeks. Be nice to me, yeah? Come, loyal, tenacious reader, send your good wishes, thoughts, and prayers through the ether to land on my whore-contemplating doorstep so that I can feel awesome and not know why.

Also: from wikipedia’s entry on The Block: “It has been accused that the Police, who are located literally next door to the Block choose to contain the prostitution and drug dealing in that small section of Baltimore rather than combat it, as rampant prostitution occurs inside the strip clubs despite the heavy police presence.”



WWWWW (What Would Walt Whitman Wear?)

One of my all-time harebrained schemes is to launch the WWWWW trend. Our bracelets would look something like this,

and we would ask ourselves that most important of questions. The question you ask when you want, NEED the peculiar-yet-timelessly-classical sensibility of Walt Whitman to be your guiding light in all things sartorial. The gamut of wardrobe concerns should be advanced to the gay great gray sage of the United States and its myriad peoples. Because, after all,

What Would Walt Whitman Wear?


Neither neither the leader nor not

Back from Chicago/Baltimore/Chicago.

People are such bullshit. It's too bad they're the best we've got.


Venting the spleen about an otherwise really good family reunion

I love my family. They're entertaining, and nice, and easy to get along with. The trouble with my family, though, is that we’re all a bunch of over-educated, self-righteous jerks.

I say we, and it's true that this is a bill I fit. In family reunions, though, I try not to talk. I just listen to Grandpa Judge, Uncle Doctor, Uncle Veterinarian, Father Motivational Speaker, and Sister Pathological Antisoc, talk and frown and head-shake about how poor poor people are, the just-desserts of scurvy dog politicians, and the disquieting fatness of the obese. (Quote of the night: "There wasn't any obesity at Dachau").

Most of last night was given over to one of their favorite pastimes: belittling that sillieset of God's creatures, the tragically flawed and patently absurd smoker, whom they describe in much the same terms as Londoners in matching white tennis sweaters used to describe cannibals in the dark heart of Africa.

It all carries with it a subtext that fatties and smokers and mendacious mendicants are not going to live forever, quite unlike my family. (My grandpa just turned 80. He was the goalie for the local hockey team. Then, he had a stroke. Now, he’s still the goalie for the local hockey team. It’s weird.)

Despite a nearly endless procession of wines, I was unable to get sufficiently loaded to inject my own brand of nihilistic, playing field-leveling levity into the proceedings. Oh, how poor, fat, smoking politicians were belittled and damned last night, with no status quo hero to defend them.

The other problem with people who think they're right is, they tell you about things that they think you oughtta like, but that you have no interest in whatsoever. It was in this spirit that I watched my uncle and his two kids recap and act out entire scenes from the movies RV and Without a Paddle, which were deemed unequivocally "hilarious," and recommended to all present as "must-sees."

I left with three CDs of traditional Israeli something-or-other that I will never, ever listen to. I'm supposed to report back with my opinion.

I spent the whole night craving a cigarette, a pint of melty lard, and a welfare check. I settled for watching Wisdom (written and directed by Emilio Estevez), in which Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore play egalitarian stickup (wo)men who blow up mortgage papers and loan documentations to save poor people from evil banks. It was on the Fox Movie Channel, and it was awesome.