December 28, 2002

Return

Today I went to a Florida flea market. I don't think I've seen anything scarier in a while. It also cemented my feelings that any fashion celebrating acid washed jeans is a bad idea. Even if it comes with an irony belt. I saw a sign today that said "Shoplifters will be beaten to a pulp." Yes, sir. Some really old scraggly guy was playing a downtrodden version of Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" on the electric gee-tar. I saw a nice laminated photo pasted on wood of the World Trade Center....burning. It made me angry. At times I feel very selfish about the whole September 11th thing. It killed New Yorkers. The attack happened less than a mile away from my apartment. New Yorkers probably felt the most pain. Now to see laminated photos of it in Florida at a flea market...it hurts...to see the WTC become another t-shirt...posted feet away from a "Hate My Driving??...Dial 1-800-EAT-SHIT" bumper sticker. I guess that you can't own historical events...people take what they want out of them.

I have a few interesting photos from the whole flea market event which I'll post when I get back to NYC tomorrow.

I hope there's some sort of late bowl game on right now. That would be nice.

I spent a good half an hour in a jacuzzi tonight. Can't think much is bad when that is happening. Hot bubbles...everybody should get in on that action.

December 27, 2002

Can You Turn The Entire State Of Florida Down, Please?

So last night I managed to put current work issues aside and woke up to a bit more sunshine. I'm still not getting the warmth Florida promises its winter travelers but there's not much to be done about that.

My car and my bike are both now residents of Florida. Apparently, my car hasn't been started in over a year. It just sits in the garage next to a full-out color mural of the Harley Davidson insignia created by a prior teenage male resident of my parents house. Without this car I am pretty much stuck. I don't think my parents would allow me to drive their car. I don't understand why. I haven't been in any accidents (that they know about) so they've really got nothing to fear.

So today I set out on my old Trek entry-level mountain bike. No suspension...no fun. Before I owned this Trek bike...I owned a Huffy. The Huffy was put down a few years back when I moved to Madison, Wisconsin...oh the memories...[fade in to an office park on the southwest side of Madison, August 1998]

I unloaded a heavy white bike with slightly fat tires off of a U-Haul. It was the model known as the Huffy White Rain. Hmmm...I think it was called White Rain. It might have been called White Thunder or White Mountain...White Power? I know it was White-something because the bike was white. This bike was my second bike. Before I had owned a Space Invaders bike with a banana seat that I'm sure can be bought on eBay for thousands of dollars today.

My college campus was small so I hadn't used my bike there. Obviously things had changed since when I bought the bike in the 1980s. The bike needed some TLC...some loving hands. So I decided to take the Huffy across the street from my new apartment to a local Trek dealership to get it fixed.

I wheel the Huffy in and I instantly felt a bit weird. All the Trek bikes looked expensive...hmmm...they were expensive. At the back of the store was the repair area.
Can I help you?

Uh...yeah...I was wondering if you could basically do a tune-up on my bike here.

Holy shit...is that a Huffy?

Umm...yeah.

Oh my god...I haven't seen a Huffy in forever.

Yeah....it's old...haha.

Hey Jason...check it out...this guy's got a Huffy?

[shuffle]yep...it's definitely a Huffy. Yes it is.

Look at this...what is this made out of anyway??

So...can you fix it.

Yeah...I mean...shit...sure...well take this [hands me a repair slip] and come back in a couple of days.

Thanks.

Well that went well. Nothing like getting dissed over your bike. Fuck you rich kid...or rather fuck you guy who knows about bikes....or rather fuck you..I hate you....asshole.

When I did come back days later they told me that they had fixed the bike....but they had reservations.

Yeah...you know...we fixed everything we could. It was kind of in bad shape. I mean, I think the bike is kind of dangerous. I'm not saying it doesn't work...cause it does...but...I wouldn't ride this thing. I think you could really hurt yourself.

On wheeling (rather than riding) my bike back to my apartment I had the following visions.

I'm gleefully riding my bike down West Washington Avenue dressed to the nines in my Easter bonnet and Sunday dress. Ahead a portion of the sidewalk is pushed up by some tree roots. I'm belting out the August 1998 megahit Closing Time by Semisonic and as I hit the bump...

closing time...closing tiiiiiii...[The Huffer bursts into a ball of flames]...ARRRRGGHHHH...the agony!!!! the heat!!! it burns!!!!

Or else I'm slowly pedaling across a giant intersection. Halfway through the handlebars come off in my hands and my front wheel snaps off. HOOOOOONNNNNKKKKKK!!!...and I get nailed by a Chevy Tahoe with a Bucky Badger flag.

Haunted by these visions, I decided to buy a new bike...from Trek no less. I told the Huffy that we were going out to get him some new tires. Then when it was time, I dropped the Huffy off in a public place and ran like hell. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But I never looked back. I was embarrassed...of the Huffy. Somewhere somebody is using that Huffy and they probably haven't been killed...yet.

So today I took out the Trek and rode down to the waterfront where I creeped past mega-homes a la MTV Cribs. One had a giant Iowa Hawkeyes flag. Nice way to ruin the allure of a megahome.

I brought my iPod as well as my new GPS receiver on the trip. It was a fusion of analog and digital unseen in today's segregated world. As my powerhouse thighs pistoned up and down propelling me at unmentionable speeds, numerous satellites tracked my trip...telling me where I was going and where I had been. It was nice....real nice. I could go on and on about how the ride took my mind off all my problems, how it felt to see an unspoiled horizon for the first time in a long time, the smell of the ocean air, the wheels on the bicycle go round and round...round and round...but I'll leave that sort of bicycle porn for Mr. Burton and his Giraffe Brothers. I'm just a tourist in this world...trying to make a dollar outta fifteen cent. I should have taken pictures...but I wanted to cut down on the digital/Max Headroom factor.

Tonight I went to a Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins game at the St. Pete Times Forum in beautiful downtown Tampa, Florida. We had great seats. The kind you only get when someone else is paying for them. Like a corporation.

The Bruins lost. They're something like 1-7 in their last eight games. This slide almost exactly corresponds to the time when I broke down and decided to get the NHL Center Ice package on digital cable which allows me to watch every single game in the NHL on any given night. Before that the Bruins hadn't even lost two games in a row. I am going to stop rooting for the Red Sox right about....now. Go Yankees!!!

We sat next to a ex-mook from Ipswich. Okay...he wasn't so much ex-mook as ex-Ipswich. What a know-it-all moron (a paradox, I know) this fucker was. There's nothing worse than hearing somebody with a bad Boston accent telling you that their favorite place in Europe is...Monte Carlo while he's spilling his third 64 oz Bud down his chin.

There's nothing worse than a tanned mook from the Boston area...unless you're a tanned NJ mook. It's like he was forever coming back from a vacation in the Bahamas. Good thing he was sitting next to my dad and not me. I'm not from the generation where you can be nice to people that disgust you. I'm always embarrassed by people from my hometown who are hometown embarrassments. Yuck. Nothing to see here...move along.

The music in the arena was really really loud. Since I listen to music a bit loud, this is saying a lot. I don't understand why every non-playing moment has to be filled with crappy Jersey techno. Arrrrghhhhh....I hate you Florida!!

Florida. Grrr. You win this round, fucko.

Hmm?



Unlike The Huffer, I am not currently at an impasse. I don't have an unsolvable problem. In fact, I don't have any real problems at all right now. I worry about things all day long for no good reason, and I waste a lot of time doing things that don't amount to much of anything, but those aren't real problems. That's like the opposite of problems.

With that in mind, I got this new hat. I think I look like a real loser when I wear it, but yet it stays on my head even as I type this right now.

Please help me reach a verdict about this hat. Do I continue to wear it and risk looking like some kind of yahoo? Or do I put this hat back where it belongs in the far reaches of my bedroom closet?

Sakebomb has a new featurette called Production Days, which is based on the journals of a Production Assistant named Lloyd Rice. It's pretty damn funny. Click here to check it out. It has absolutely nothing to do with my stupid-assed hat.

December 26, 2002

The End Of The Line In Florida

I'm in Florida this week visiting my parents. They moved down here a few years back. When I tell people that my parents moved from Boston to Florida they usually ask "Are they retired?" Well, no, they aren't retired. I suppose in a way, my mom is...although I think you officially retire from homemaking when you move into a condo, or at worst, an assisted-living facility.

I think the Pavlovian response question of "Are they retired?" implies that working people don't move here. It is a strange place to go to if you're not getting ready to die...unless you develop strip malls...or cheekily titled tittie bars that are too coy to show you anything but titty cleavage or tight shirt titties (e.g. Hooters, Shooters, Cooters, Mugs and Jugs).

We had the worst Chinese food ever tonight.

After tonight, my parents have pretty much written off trying more Chinese food in Florida. Apparently, it's always been terrible.

Billions of Chinese people are weeping in shame and embarrassment tonight because of the vile shit I was fed at Shitty-Ass Chinese Restaurant. I do feel encouraged that you apparently can run a business and still make money without having to put out a decent product. My mother's sweet and sour chicken and my sesame chicken were the same exact golden battered chicken (yum!!) jizzled with a different sticky topping. For some reason my sister was constantly asking us if we watched Fear Factor after we left. It may have to do with the fact that all the food looked like exotic animal feti.

Excuse me while I fake retch.

Florida sucks. What a shame. I'm sure it once had great promise. Sandy beaches...lazy swaying palm trees...all wasted for dangerous highways and lost foster kids. Tonight the local news station covered a shooting nearby in which the local police shot a guy in handcuffs. The reporter noted that the guy who got shot was a "white male of Italian descent."

WTF? Shit...Italian. If I got shot would they have said I was a "white male of Irish descent"? I mean...is he really Italian? Or does he have Italian grandparents or something? Florida likes to celebrate ethnic heritage. I can't wait until I hear "the victim was a WASP." Or "the victim was a white male of a German/Danish mix."

I suppose it doesn't matter anyway. My vacation was ruined before it started. As I was attempting to extricate myself from the vehicle to lucrative unhappiness known as my job, somebody there took the equivalent of a giant shit on my face and said "ho ho ho."

I'd really like to talk about my job on the blog. It's easily the most dominating thing in my life right now. It would be entirely cathartic for me and entirely enjoyable for you...and if I need something...it's catharsis. But alas...I don't think I can. Maybe someday...

I need a super-sized catharsis. Actually what I need is a sabbatical. Or at least some time off in the middle of nowhere with no communication devices nearby. I feel as though I am on Defcon 3.

Debt and a middle class upbringing has turned me into a wimp. It's not as though I ever was brave...I'm simply not physically gifted enough for that adjective...but I used to be a bit more forthright then I am now. I think that I used to act first and think later because I had enough faith in myself (or at least the ability to convince myself) that I was right. Now the more I think...the less active and certain I am. I'm scared...always scared that I'm wrong or that I'm going to do something wrong. I wish I was a bit more cocky...or at the least bit confident. Nobody likes to think that they've lost their confidence. In fact, you may not even realize that it happened. Revisionist history seems to take over and convince yourself that you've never done anything right.

I don't know if I've ever failed. I've definitely lost. I've lost plenty of times.

I don't think I've experienced a heartbreaking loss (well at least personally, as a Red Sox fan...I experience heartbreaking losses all the time). A heartbreaking loss usually happens when you thought you'd win or that you should have won. Every time I've ever lost, I either expected to lose or agreed that I should have lost. Logic always won. I think it worked as a nice buffer against real disappointment.

I don't think I have ever failed. I've always managed, always had an excuse if I didn't "succeed." I've always gotten by.

Until you've failed though, do you know what you can do? I've always laughed at the unabashed optimism of the mid-90s dot.com era. I've always remembered a story that suppposedly if you went bankrupt in the dot.com era, your status in the dot.com world would grow rather than shrink.

Why? The logic ran that once you've failed you understand what you did wrong and you won't make the same mistake again. It's like you're no longer afraid of death if you have a near-death experience. You came back...you beat it...let's go again mfer.

I just feel as though I've stumbled into a problem I don't know how to fix...as hard as I turn the Rubix cube the colors won't match up...and I can't take the stickers off to fake a victory...and it's driving me crazy.

December 23, 2002

I Know A Lot of Stuff

You know you're a geek when you're hanging around Union Square and you nudge your girlfriend and say:
Hey...you see that guy on the bike over there? That's Frank Whaley. Wow...that's kind of cool.

Who's Frank Whaley?

You know...he was in Career Opportunities with Jennifer Connelly? You remember? They were these kids who got locked in a Target for a night and then these bad guys tried to rob the Target?

Ummm...no.

Hmmm...well he was also that guy in Pulp Fiction who was eating the Big Kahuna Burger who gets shot by Jules in the beginning. You remember him?

Yeah, I guess.

Well that's him over there. Frank Whaley...that's kind of cool.

The Best of The End

It's time for the list of the best of 2002. Pitchfork's got theirs out. Amazon.com has theirs out. Where the fuck is mine? It's extraordinary...it's idiosyncratic...it's limited...and for the most part it'srestrained by my income. Like the black particles stuck in my teeth after finishing my morning poppyseed bagel, these little numbers have stuck in my craw.

MUSIC--Top 5 Albums

I figure that I could do more than a top 5 list but at times I feel it begins to dissipate on how great I thought these albums were. It would turn into a list of "these albums are pretty good" rather than "these albums are pretty fucking awesome rad...[sign of the devil]" So here we go.

1. Source Tags And Codes--...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead

The ass-kicker record of 2002. Track after track of ass-whooping. A band you really want to see destroy a drum kit on Letterman. In other words. My ass is red and sore because of this record.

2. Turn On The Bright Lights--Interpol

Interpol is an interesting band for me because they are from New York. Interpol has been around for a while here as an unsigned band...at least three of the songs on Turn On The Bright Lights have been kicking around for the last two years or so. A picture in the CD booklet was taken at a bar a block away from my apartment. So as the hype around Interpol has grown and the audiences have grown to the point that they sell out three straight nights at the Bowery Ballroom...and their album tops best of lists...it's crazy. I remember seeing Interpol the weekend after September 11th at a "we're stuck in NYC because of the now cancelled CMJ Festival and we're really emotionally disturbed at the world so why don't we get together and play a show" show at the Bowery Ballroom. After Mac McCaughn, Laura Cantrell and the French Kicks played, nearly half the crowd left before Interpol came on. The place was half-filled. A year later tickets for the show are selling on eBay for over a hundred dollars. Wow. I think they have some work to do as a live band but this record is great. It gets better and better on each listen.

3. The Remote Part--Idlewild

I don't think this has been released in the U.S. yet. I waited a long time for it to come out here until I finally bit the bullet and bought it as an import. It was worth it. If everything was right in the world Idlewild would be one of the biggest bands in the world. They should have crossed over a while ago...and I would have been all for it. Great great songs.

4. One Beat--Sleater-Kinney

I wish the production on this album was a bit different. When I saw them at the Siren Festival at Coney Island this past summer the songs sounded amazing. On record they seem to lack the punch that they did live. However, it's still a great song and I admire Sleater-Kinney not for recording an anti-Bush song (any radical lefty band can and has done that) but for also recording a song about the fear and sadness surrounding 9/11.

5. (tie) Everybody Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone--The Walkmen
Lost In Revelry--The Mendoza Line


Two Brooklyn (by way of other locales) bands who are writing great songs. The Mendoza Line is running through some great alt-country/indie-pop territory these days. Check out "Whatever Happened To You?"

and you are like a con/locked away for doing no wrong/oh the system is your foe/but your alibi's see-through

great Boy/Girl harmonies...but not wussy...not twee...adult.

As for The Walkmen...they are serious motherfuckers. Indie rockers who have a singer not a vocalist. I can't describe it.

MOVIES--Top 3 Movies

1. About Schmidt
2. Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
3. Minority Report

That's all I can really remember for movies at this point. I need a referral list or something. I know I saw a lot of movies this year.