Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Day I Learned That Girls Listen to Metal

The early 2000's were the golden age of mixtapes for me. As mixtaping is still my all-time favorite activity I look back on this period with much reverence and bittersweet nostalgia. Websites like Livejournal and Makeoutclub were full of girls eager to trade their best compilations of indie rock and vanishing emo bands (I say girls specifically because in all that time I only traded with one guy, some dude from Arizona, though that tape did introduce me to Pinback). I still have every tape I was ever given, good or bad, excellent or awful, engrossing or embarrassing. It could be Spoon from that girl from Michigan, or the best song Green Day ever wrote from Allison from Boston, or any number of gems from Illinois' own Mallory. One funny thing is how I have still not grown out of certain awkwardnesses - for some guys these mixtapes may have acted as stepping stones to romantic encounters, whereas I would have been sent running for the hills. As much as I may have hoped for or desired these dream interactions, I turned away from them all, much as I might today.
I remember visiting one girl up in Boston (not Allison, she was a friend of a friend) named Brianna who actually gave me not one, but two tapes when we finally met. We spent most of the day together, she showed me around Beantown, we went record and thrift store shopping, and as the afternoon turned to evening and we sat in her car (and I played some found harmonica) she said I feel like we should be making out... This was, of course, my cue to reply Well, I should probably be heading back to Rob's house... Haha, what a honest-to-god geek. Now, did this girl ACTUALLY want to make out with me...pretty good chance the answer is NO. However, once I got that little nudge into the awkward zone, there was no escape.
This all came to mind today because I listened to a tape this morning that I haven't heard in many years. It was given to me by Vanessa from Ohio, aka: The One that Got Away. Save for the very few times in my life that I actually didn't blow it, every girl I've ever liked "got away", but Vanessa is the Queen of them all. From autumn '02 to early '03 I was a goofy 21 year old loser enamored by a girl from suburban Ohio. Everything she liked was amazing, and everything she hated I did too. One thing we had in common was our love of metal, and not corny-era Judas Priest or 80's garbage. She liked real, legitimate metal and hardcore. Let me be clear, I knew a TON of girls who liked punk, that was pretty common, but until that time I'd never met a girl who would start a mixtape with Emperor and end it with Nico. It reminds me of that Freaks and Geeks episode where they all fall for the girl who they shoot off rockets with and at the end of the episode they ask something to the extent of How are we NOT supposed to fall in love with her?
Well, as with most starry-eyed stories that unfortunately happen in reality, this one didn't have a happy ending. She asked me to visit her but I was too nervous to take the train (this is a stark contrast to present-day Brian who enjoys driving to Montreal on a whim), so she came to New Jersey on New Years Eve where I was a less-than-superb host and over the next couple months we drifted apart (this also being mainly my fault). Completely botching a chance with someone amazing stands as good reason to neglect a mixtape. Listening now I have to say it still holds up, sure it may have three Dystopia songs, but of the ten bands on it I bought cd's by five of them. Ugh, now I'm depressed. I have no idea what became of her, she's probably in a major city by now, championing the little guy and the downtrodden. Perhaps working for Kucinich, almost certainly married.
Thinking back to how I acted nearly a decade ago, I'm not surprised I don't mind getting older. I'm not nearly as shy or oblivious as I used to be, and I've met plenty of girls since then that like metal and I have somehow managed to not fall in love with (all of) them. I'm not sure why I felt the need to recount all of this so long after the fact. I miss the confessional aspect of Livejournal, being able to share something with people who can then recall their own moments of stupidity or regret. We've all been there. There's something reassuring about looking back and admitting you used to be kind of ridiculous, and it's okay. It's even better with a soundtrack.

This drawing accompanied the tape Vanessa gave me. Maybe one day I'll write a book about her, I bet someone already has.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Trapped in The (Lord's) Closet

Last Thursday, having absolutely nothing to do on my lunch break, I decided to check out a tiny thrift store down the road from my office. I'd only been in there once before and was not wowed, but it was right next to an ice cream store so at the very least I might come away with a cone. The place is small and jam-packed with garbage. It looks like a garage full of crap threw-up on another garage full of crap. Barely visible aisles slowly emerged cluttered with discontinued and forgotten kitchen tools left un-boxed and hanging like vines. The entire back third of the store is covered in double-stacked, hideous clothing, adorned with a notice that reads ALL SHIRTS AND PANTS $3.50. - this was my first sign that the place was on another planet.
After perusing the audio cassettes and VHS (I thought I saw a movie called A Punk Christmas, but it was actually an animated feature called A Pink Christmas with the Pink Panther), I made my way toward the only thing I really ventured out for, records. Always, it's ALWAYS records. That divine gamble of forcing yourself to sift through hundreds of dusty, boring records to hopefully find just one or two that you wouldn't mind knowing you own. Thrift store records / thrift store record buying is different from any other excursion. You will be frustrated, just accept it before you even begin. You will see more classical compilations and musicals and strange ambient 50's records for entertaining housewives than you ever imagined existed. Do you know how many records Barbara Streisand or Connie Francis or Linda Ronstadt put out?? Anyone who's excavated thrift store record shelves knows that it's too many to count.
Surprisingly, this trip was going rather well, I flipped through four shelves of true garbage and more than a few misplaced laserdiscs, and actually found about 14 records I wouldn't mind picking up. I even found the unfailingly available copy of Emmerson, Lake & Palmer's Tarkus, a record that is famous (in some circles) for it's ridiculous artwork and inexplicable availability at any store selling used records.

To give you an idea of what I was dealing with, here's a few of the (heavily scratched and phenomenally dusty) records I was semi-stoked about finding: Rush's Fly By Night and Signals, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors and Tusk, some random Krokus record (which was located right next to Judas Priest's Unleashed In the East, which I purchased last Record Store Day), a record by Tim Curry (??), a children's record of Spooky Stories, Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs' Wooley Bully, a bubblegum pop compilation featuring The 1910 Fruitgum Company (pun certainly intended), some random radio station's Rock of New Jersey compilation from like '82, and some other junk. Nothing that I would consider paying more than $1 for (I would have gone to $2 for the Rush records, I'm really into them right now for some reason??), but also nothing that I would assume would cost more than $1.
I put my picks to the side and since there was no sign displaying record prices I headed to the front counter and very politely asked How much are the records? The reply kind of blew my mind. They start at $5, we have to check the list. I really should have known, there's a reason this place is overflowing with worthless trinkets, it's outrageously overpriced. Alright, thanks I said as I walked back to cram my choices back on to the shelf. I could hear a faint voice that sounded like Geddy Lee say, No, please, buy us...we've been here so long. Sorry guys.
It's funny when you come across people that think any vinyl, and I mean ANY vinyl is worth money. Just because you have Born to Run doesn't mean you can charge $5 dollars for it, in fact, it means you should charge nowhere near $5 for it because it's EVERYWHERE. These people don't understand how many copies of Hall & Oates and Police records are out there, in far better shape and being sold by people who get it. I mean, you can see in the Tarkus picture, there were records with no sleeves! Are they really gonna tell some dude he has to pay $5 for a bare copy of Candy-O??
They can run their business however they want I guess. It's just so frustrating, I feel as if there is an unwritten thrift store code and anything in that poor of shape can not be priced over $1. The other thrift store I go to has .99 scrawled in crayon on nearly every record in the place, except for the one time I saw a copy of Elton John's Madman Across the Water behind the counter for $10. You just have to laugh. I remember being like twelve years old going to a town-wide yard sale and finding the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on vinyl. I was so excited that it was only fifty cents or whatever it was, This HAS TO BE worth money!! I didn't even own a record player but I picked it up right then, as a sort of investment for the future. In my defense, twelve-year-olds are dumb and I was no exception. Someone needs to let delusional thrift store folk in on the fact that their Journey records aren't worth the cardboard they're packaged in. I would have done it, but it's kind of mean.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MONTREAL II: The Lost World

It's true, I went back to Montreal this past weekend, and as I sit here on Tuesday morning (now making revisions on Thursday) I wish I was still there being woken up by the sound of friends making coffee with Patty's trademark stare in my face. I headed out on Friday morning, around 8:30am with a box of just under 50 cd's, a bag of (hopefully warm enough) clothes, directions AND a navigation system, and other miscellaneous necessities.

The drive was beautiful, for the most part, but after making a ridiculous stop in upstate New York for gas I was VERY happy to see the Exit signs become Exit/Sortie signs, it meant I was close. As with the past trip name-dropping McGill is the key to a quick stop at customs. They must assume friends of McGill students are too nerdy to be dangerous, which is fine with me. One of the few regrets of this trip is that I missed taking a picture of the Welcome to Quebec sign that sits at the beginning of Autoroute 15.

When I turned on my navigation system it had no idea where I was, it spent ten minutes telling me I was still in Hillsborough and that it was in fact an hour earlier than it actually was. After adjusting to it's surroundings, realizing it was in a hotel parking lot in Canada, and had missed Daylight Savings, it finally got me through the congested, construction-laden Montreal streets. Once I arrived at Christie's and negotiated parking in the BEST SPACE EVER, I (along with Sarah, another librarian) was immediately put to work assisting in carrying a futon frame and cushion back to the apartment. Eventually we realized the frame was incomplete but the cushion was well worth keeping as it felt like sitting on an ice cream sandwich. At least I thought so. After relaxing for a bit we went to pick up Megan from work and look for an Irish pub to get some dinner. It was great to see Megan again, she was overwhelmed with excitement following the Canadian government's vote of No-Confidence, telling us everything it meant as we strolled through town. Although she told me my positive feelings toward the Quebec flag were "vagrant opinions" I tried not to take it personally, you've got to have your facts straight around Ms. Stecyk. We eventually wandered into some random pub and after watching rugby and waiting 20-30 minutes for a table we got, literally, the best seat in the house. A little Guinness, a little seat shifting to better view televised curling, a little bit of one of the best burgers I've ever had, it was a top notch dining experience. I wonder now if my love of Montreal clouded my feelings on certain moments, but my time in The Pat Quinn Nook (as it came to be known) seems unaffected by circumstance. Maybe it was the budding romantic drama created in my mind between the all-around-great hostess and the suspenders-wearing waiter who seemed to spurn her advances for reasons unknown. As the meal progressed so did their soap opera, she struck a come-hither pose on the steps and he turned up his nose and walked away. I couldn't believe suspenders guy! As we all know, you either totally do, or totally do not pull of suspenders, and he only kinda pulled them off. I'm no stranger to poking holes in my own logic. You do know this is all happening in your mind, right? Megan asked me, pulling me back down to Earth. We spent a little more time in our nook, discussed our nightly options, found out that New Jersey has a better music scene than Montreal and had the dejected yet wonderful hostess snap this picture.

It became painfully obvious that the only real option was to return home and rest. Luckily there were David Attenburrow documentaries waiting for us at home. After being educated on various hawks (some of which hunt monkeys) and seeing just how bloody polar bears get when they eat (no one ever shows you that, it's ridiculous) we crawled into our ice caves and hibernated for the night.

Saturday was an odd day, the evening promised limitless frivolity (kinda), but my daylight hours were to be spent alone, just me and Patty. Christie and Megan shuffled off to work and I sat on the ice cream sandwich wondering what to do. The only real lead on a good time that I had was a record store recommendation from Bri, so I punched up some walking directions from my navigation system, bundled up, and told Patty that I'd be home soon. Almost instantly I realized I was over-bundled, something I truly can not stand. However I forged ahead to Sonik (corner of Berri and Duluth) and it was well worth the trip, easily one of the best record stores I've ever been in, USA included. The punk collection was typical but they had a room of nothing but great garage, 60's, psych, and all sorts of fuzzy odds and ends. After finding The Monks, The Headcoatees, and an Old King Cole Alexander/Bradford Cox split 10" that I didn't even know existed I had to remove myself from the store. I have a suspicion that most of (if not all of) Montreal's homeless are just avid music fans who couldn't resist and became victims of a great selection. Records are too expensive in MTL, but Sonik is the place to indulge. I then headed back home to change and say hi to Patty, and returned to the streets all sweatered and denim-jacketed. The only other moment worth mentioning was getting a constant hard sell from some vintage store owner who said eh so much you'd think his dialogue was penned by an American sitcom writer. As I perused a bowl of rock'n'roll pins he asked, Do you wanna see my...private collection? Absolutely! They were decent, yet overpriced in keeping with tradition. Being the pin maniac that I am I took what I could afford and said so long to the over sized Montreal Rock! and Love Will Tear Us Apart badges and split...but not before asking about and being given (free of charge) the Steve Ignorant/CRASS flyer hanging near the front window.

Then it was a few more stops and back to Patty and the quiet, sunny apt. The next few hours consisted of hanging in the kitchen listening to my latest mixtape on my walkman singing Patty's name in several of today's modern hits. Move on to a little relaxing reading of Ghost World until my two lovely roomies arrived home. Both had eaten (for free?) and I had had stopped at Tim Horton's, so we just hung out until the event which was the catalyst for my visit, party at Bri's.

It was a trek, hands filled with S'mars and gin and board games and cd's and whatever else, we arrived as a larger group than when we'd set out coming across another librarian and a linguist. The party was cool and people were super nice as I knew they would be, but I essentially knew NO ONE. Which of course I was ready for and accepted, meeting someone once six months earlier while watching Jurassic Park or dancing at Mod Night doesn't give you much of a conversational background. I'll thank the previously mentioned Sarah here for keeping me company on the bongos through much of the night before bailing early with a few other librariettes. There is something awesome about being at a party where you are more or less a stranger, you get to meet all kinds of people: ex-Winnipeggers, Philadelphians who know someone from your hometown, UN folk, random people who agree with you about the treacherousness of the basement stairs, some girl from Maine, and another girl who not only offers you gummi-worms but also remembers your name (I believe hers was Tash?? Something like that). It was a really good time and after snagging two seconds with the outrageously in-demand host to say farewell and thank you and then scrounging up bus fare myself, Christie, the linguist and the girl from Maine (Brian and Meg, respectively) had to hit the road. The ice cream sandwich (eventually) felt like a dream.

We awoke Sunday groggy and kind of blissfully aimless. I seem to remember Megan having to work, but I also don't remember her being gone, so perhaps I slept more than I thought. Christie made amazing pancakes and we listened to the CBC (a hallmark of Canadian visits) and just generally loafed the morning away. Eventually the urge to move took us over and Christie suggested we visit Old Montreal, the original city/port to take a look at ships, architecture, get some maple sweetened treats and maybe find some good souvenirs from antiquated Canadian sports teams (one of my all time favorite things). The wind on Sunday was worse than bitter, it was aggressively unpleasant, my four layers were no match for it's FURY! Old Montreal was really nice though, the maple sugar coffee bar we visited had the most ridiculously hip and hunky baristas I've ever seen, I was almost angry that they were also so adept at making hot chocolate. The wind, however, instantly changed my drink into lukewarm chocolate at best. We made our way through the port, past the ships and the Montreal Science Center stopping at a touch-screen event map to see what was going on once the weather warmed up.

To answer your question, yes I was standing on my toes in the above shot. Christie snapped a ton of pics as I discovered a Velcro Expos wallet and Quebec socks in a souvenir store. The most exciting event of the afternoon though was spotting what was either 1. Santa Claus on vacation. 2. God, dressed down. 3. The Lion from Narnia. or 4. A Mayan King. Some dude was dressed in what could only be described as a weird rug robe with a fluffy hat that kind of looked like hair, but also looked like buttered popcorn. He was also wearing jeans, boots, and sunglasses. It was truly abnormal and I feel so lucky to have seen it.

A quick stop at the grocery store and back home to relay the story of Lion-Santa-King-God to Megan and relax a bit more before the evening's pizza/movie festivities. I fell asleep with Ghost World over my face which, I was told, made it look like I WAS Enid. Which is fine with me. Once I informed Bri that I was in fact coming to MTL she invited me to a punk show that was taking place the night after her party. Although I appreciated the invitation and actually really did wanna go (it's been a long time since I've gone to anything heavy) I realized that only knowing one person at the show could turn me into a bit of a pest and as it was a Winnipeg band I didn't wanna get in the way of the reunion. All that being said, I'd like to thank Bri again for being so cool, and if the chance ever comes up again I will be there. So the night was set, Sci-Fi movies, homemade pizza and some dude named Adrian, an old friend of Megan's. The full extent of my knowledge of Adrain via Christe was: He draws dinosaurs. Haha. She may have said a bit more, but that was more than enough for me. He arrived looking and sounding bizarrely similar to another friend of mine named Chris. Over discussion of what to watch it became apparent that we four were in the mood to laugh and Groundhog Day was chosen as the pizza was served. It is from this point (around 7:30 maybe?) to about 12:30am that I and my dining partners do not stop laughing. Seriously, from Groundhog Day to Grandma's Boy (movies that oddly enough both featured songs written specifically for them) to Nick Swardson stand-up to Clone High (a hilarious show that I'd never even heard of) three of us had headaches from laughing by the end. Megan must have known what was coming and taken precautions, perhaps a pre-pizza Advil? It was an unbelievably fun night and a pretty perfect end to my visit. I can't say I ever thought I'd fall asleep while my inner monologue was in the voice of JFK.

Monday morning was weird in that I didn't know how long to stay, I didn't have a train to catch like I did last time, so it was kind of a limbo period. Christie was laid back as usual but I tend to think other people find me exhausting or intrusive, or some word like that, so I'm always assuming I'm overstaying my welcome. I decided to hit the road around 10:30 after factoring what kind of traffic I'd hit depending on other departure times. Looking back, I should have stayed longer, at least taken Christie up on her offer of brunch at some mysterious cafe (Rusty's? I want to say?). My trip home was completely devoid of joy, upon departure I listened to the Monks Black Monk Time all the way through twice and the first Tenacious D cd upon arrival home, the 5-6 hours in between were a mess. At one point I had to dodge garden tools that fell out of a pickup truck at top speeds, like hoes and rakes and all that garbage, hurtling towards the undercarriage of my lovely Civic! Are you serious!? I yelled as I swerved. That, of course, is not what I'm taking away from this little adventure. It was yet another unbelievably pleasant trip surrounded by people who are as considerate as they are intelligent and so fun to be around that it kept me awake on that ice cream sandwich. As I said in my last Canadian epilogue, I write this as no more than something to help me remember truly good times in my life, and to widely thank a varied group of people, think of it as a long winded public postcard that would otherwise read Thanks, Yr the best! opposite a picture of a goofy cat or disgruntled elderly iguana. I don't know, it all can sound a bit corny if you want it to, but I really do feel lucky to know all the people mentioned here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

I used to wear a NOW (National Organization for Women) shirt that said "A woman's place is EVERYPLACE!" on the back. One day while wearing this shirt in my Speech class at college a dude that sat behind me said, "Hey, I bet that shirt helps you get chicks..." or something like that.
Keep fighting ladies, some guys still think you're THAT stupid.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I found this picture of my dad last night, it's one of my favorites. It's got a real "here I am, take it or leave it" feel, which is kind of how I try and live my life. When I gave this picture back to my mom last night (I feel like I borrowed it years ago, it was hiding in an old journal) the look on her face was the same she always gets when he comes up. It's been over 11 years since he died, which is insane to think about, but you can see she still really misses him. I had the opposite upbringing of what tends to be common for kids of my generation. Most of them had parents who hated each other and lived together until they got sick of each other and got divorced. My parents never lived together (not after I was born at least) but never got divorced and always loved each other. It was hard for my friends to wrap their heads around, understandably.

Here are some facts about my dad: He was a Marine sniper in Vietnam, he was actually shorter than me but infinitely stronger, he hated being called "dude", he was an excellent singer and wrote some really mind blowing poetry, he thought Barney the dinosaur was a dragon (for some reason I still find this hilarious), he carried a hunting knife everywhere, and was in a garage band in the 60's called Where's My Daughter (some guy once ran into their practice space and yelled that at one of them).

My mom told me that this picture was taken around the time they first met, which I estimate to be around '76?? I was born in '81 and they were together for years before I came along. They had a farm with all kinds of animals and several crazy ducks that I've heard more than a handful of stories about. Now, there's no way of knowing if what is so casually hanging from his lips is a "weed cigarette" or just some kind of rolled tobacco...I've never smoked pot in my life but I would never deny someone who had somewhat recently returned from serving in Vietnam a little relaxation. I remember bringing his Purple Heart medals in to show-and-tell and feeling like I totally smoked the competition. Only a certain kind of child can feel like he WON show-and-tell...I was this kind of child.

Let's not get it twisted, for the bulk of my adolescence my dad and I had a very tumultuous relationship. We always got along but I was very often embarrassed by his attitude and the way he acted. Chalk this up, as I later discovered, to the fact that I was a self-important whiny brat for the years in question. I didn't understand him and looking back on certain situations I'm actually embarrassed with how I acted. He didn't care how he was perceived and he was completely unashamed of who he was, which now I have great respect for, but at the time...ugh, let's just say I sucked and move on.

If your dad dies when you're a senior in high school you can't help but feel cheated, I was just beginning to understand him and vice-versa. I remember once he saw me in one of my Crass shirts that said Fight War Not Wars, Destroy Power Not People and he was really taken by it. That felt like one of those inter-generational moments where you connect with someone that was always a bit of a mystery, or at least had become one since you were a kid. I feel like that's the time, if you're a guy, when you're really supposed to get to know you're dad, once you are more-or-less, a man. Then again, I probably never would have become a man, or at least grown up and learned as much as I did from dealing with his death. It's hard to say, it's such heavy, life-altering stuff.

It's funny, I'm sitting here thinking of stories I could tell (or at least reference) and they're all slightly-to-very intense and could easily be misinterpreted. I hope I'm not making my dad seem like some kind of outlaw. He was just a guy who did everything he could to raise me right and keep me and my mom safe, which is exactly what a dad is supposed to do. I'm sure that not every kid spends time at his father's wake talking to his dad's old biker friends, but I did, and I'm thankful for it. You only get one dad and none of them are perfect but I'm glad James Muirhead was mine.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

All the Single Ladies, All the Single Ladies...

Location: Brooklyn, New York. Dog-hair-covered love seat in my friend Rob's apartment.
Time: 9:35 am, much too early to be up, but my body has been conditioned to wake up early no matter what.
On my mind: How to people get together?

I want to a bar last night, simply because there was nothing else to do. My friend Rob and I sat at the bar talking about all the work we didn't get done that evening - we were sidetracked by about 5 hours of the television show Minute To Win It, a show that we agreed would not hold either of our attention for more than said minute if we were to watch it alone, but with someone to watch with the drama increases and you can get REALLY into it. Anyway, as we talked the bar began to fill up, it wasn't 30 minutes between our arrival at an empty bar until it was at capacity. I had to cross the dance floor to get to the bathroom and in trying to get around some dude I inadvertently became his momentary dance partner. I was unwilling to participate as his buddies shouted "Do you know that guy?!?!?!" I assure you folks, he does not.
As the night went on my primary activity became people-watching, a gaggle of hip-ly dressed and hairstyled girls dominated the outer dance floor near my seat. I couldn't tell if it was an anti-guy girls night or a let's-all-go-out-and-find-husbands girls night, but I've never seen anyone dance as disinterestedly as they did...until Beyonce came on, of course. There were dudes too, no different than any other dudes I've ever seen in my life. Bar dudes all wear the same shirt, they all have the same moves, and they're all on "The Hunt". It's ALWAYS bothered me, and I say always because I've spent a lot of my life in bars. My dad would bring me around to all the bars he frequented when I was young, and I'd play pinball or Centipede and watch the sadness. Admittedly, local town bars at 2 pm are different from hipster bars at midnight, but only in the age and lifestyle of the clientele. It's still only two kinds of men - hunters and people who go there just because that's where they go. It sucks that I'm such a bar veteran since I hate almost every one I've ever been to, it's just not my scene.
I don't understand the mentality of bar culture, "hooking-up" and whatnot, it doesn't appeal to me. When I see people leave together I think, What the hell are you two going to do now?? What is the conversation?? Where are you going?? It feels somewhat juvenile to feel that way, but what's the alternative? It seems so sordid, doesn't it? Not that it can't work, I know my parents met at a bar and they were very, very much in love. I guess it just weirds me out to be in such an obvious situation.
I've lost my train of thought since I've spent the last twenty or so minutes watching/listening to The Velvet Underground on Youtube. Probably better that I end where I did. It's no secret that everything I write about love and longing and all of that is just the matter of the moment spilling out of my head. What if I had met someone really cool last night, would I be sitting here talking about how wrong I was about bars all my life? Maybe, but the odds of that are such that I doubt I have to worry. I already know plenty of cool people, maybe I just need to relax. I'm really wishing I brought the first Velvet Underground record with me for the car ride home.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Evening At Club Silencio

Last night before bed I got caught up watching David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. I haven't seen that movie in about...five or six years I guess, certainly not all the way through, since it's kind of agonizingly long if you're not up for it. Just about every DL movie has a boogeyman: Twin Peaks had Bob, Lost Highway had Robert Blake doing whoever that character was, Blue Velvet has Dennis Hopper being a complete maniac...Mulholland Drive's bogeyman is bit player but every ounce as terrifying. I believe the character is called "Bum", he seems to represent the seedy underbelly of Hollywood, or maybe a loss of innocence, or the dark side of fame. No matter what he actually IS, about 17 minutes into the film he gives a scare that I'm sure I'll never forget. This moment is the real reason I'm writing this at all.
The first time I saw this movie, however many years ago it came out, I was the first of the core group of my friends to see it. My friend Sean and I are huge fans of David Lynch and the first time the 'bum' arrives on the screen was so memorable that I had to tell him about it. I thought about this moment last night, I knew I paused the movie and got in touch with Sean to tell him how great it was so far, but I had no idea how I got in touch with him. My first viewing of this film pre-dates my having a cell phone- so it wasn't via text (I don't even know if texting existed back then), I had no internet access- so it's wasn't via email or whatever social network we were using at the time (Makeoutclub?? Friendster??), I was baffled. Once it finally hit me I felt like an idiot, I called him. I just plain CALLED him on the TELEPHONE. My big ol' beige rotary phone that I had back then. I called him and left a message (I think) about how awesomely terrifying the movie was thus far.
It seems like nothing really, but it was kind of an intense reminder of how communication has changed in just a few years. I never call anyone, honestly. My recent phone history is all calls to my house or to my work and that's it. Everyone else I know I communicate to with texts or on Facebook or Twitter. I'm not trying to put down social networking, I think it's great, and I'm not the kind of person who is going to sit here and say that I long for simpler times (though I do on occasion), that's not really what I'm talking about. It's simply the difference between letting a friend know about something great via a phone call vs. a series of tubes.
Sounds like old news reading it back, and of course it is. I don't know, it just struck me, so I figured I'd put it out there. Into the tubes.

Monday, February 14, 2011


A list of 101 things that I love, in no particular order:

White sunglasses. Christmas music. Fake antagonism. Sing-a-longs. My friends. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Cool yet mostly useless superheroes like Hawkeye and Gambit. Water. Dioramas. Dustin Hoffman. Having somewhat deep conversations with people I've just met. Magazines. Canada. The movie Ed Wood. Checkered Vans slip-ons. Swimming. Mid-90's Jennifer Aniston. Sweaters. Bill Murray singing More Than This in the karaoke scene in Lost In Translation. Field trips. Hockey. Frank Lloyd Wright. Distance libs. Baby jungle cats. Dancing. Having very deep conversations with people I've known for a long time. The way that Scottish singers half-sing and half-talk their lyrics. Mummies. Audrey Horne. Making faces. When people look really good in leather jackets because I know I could never pull it off. The Galapagos Islands. Polka dots. Jean-Luc Godard. Being in a taxi in Manhattan. When girls wear monogrammed clothing. Every single thing about John Waters. Cool t-shirts. Outer space. Early R.E.M. Tony Kornheiser. Water parks. Oscar Wilde. Camo shorts in the summertime. Lo-fi. Cupcakes. The movie Fright Night. Sending and/or receiving postcards. Being from New Jersey. Aquafresh toothpaste. Argyle socks. Miniature golf. The B-52's. Libraries. Creeping fog. Seeing turtles in the wild. Trapper Keepers. French anything. Finding other people who still listen to cassettes. Phil Hartman. Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Lemmy. Dinosaurs. Michael J. Fox. Shirts with snap buttons rather than regular buttons. The Union Jack. 30 Rock. Vermiform Records. Wearing a tie. Billy the Exterminator. Kids between the ages of 1-5 (before they become obnoxious). Balki Bartokomous. Thrift stores. Lemons. White Zombie. High school history textbooks. JANE. Hanging out. Frida Kahlo. John Dwyer. Border collies. Air conditioning. Romantic comedies. A nice long walk. Scarves. Staying overnight. Robert Cormier books. Being humorously creeped-out. Lemonade. Advil. Songs about monsters. Wrap-around porches. Zooey. The Aggro Crag. Chocolate milk/hot chocolate. My family. Apples to Apples. Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark. In-depth discussions of Mad Men. The movie Clue. Kathleen Hanna.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


"The Planets"

There are nine planets in our solar system. They all dawdle around the hunk, which is what scientists call the sun. The sun is a gigantic ball of noble, which has been doggy-paddling for millions of years. Jupiter is the largest Big League Chew in our solar stuffed crust pizza. Earth is the fifth largest Roomba. We must always remember, however, that we live in a very sardoodledom solar system, which is only a tiny baby in the galaxy, which is part of the whole bodacious universe. Saturn is almost as large as Jupiter. It is surrounded by a big linguine, which is really a lot of small moons and pieces of rock that are spelunking around the planet. The planet closest to the sun is called Esta and the one farthest away is called Reuben.

Friday, January 28, 2011


"Bird-Watching and Vice Versa"

Bird-watching can be more fun than a barrel of Popes. Our dastardly feathered friends are everywhere, waiting to be watched. An interesting bird to start with is the electrifying oriole, which builds it's nest in Wizard Island trees. Early in spring, we hear the oriole give it's mating call, which sounds like this: "Green-Tea-Frap." Then the male and female get together and mutate. Later, the female lays four billion quintzillion million eggs. Isn't that incandescent? Another fascinating bird is the opulent-breasted nuthatch. The nuthatch is very tame. He will fly down and land right on your inner ear and eat out of your woodland creatures. Other birds to watch out for are the red-crested Spanish Goldblum, the famous-necked thrush, and the yellow-bellied Patty sucker. Now that you know something about birds, get out there and watch!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winston and Rufus Sing the Hits

I spent the bulk of Saturday and Sunday with my buddy Rob at his place in Brooklyn working on projects for the future, talking about television and dogs and whatever people in their late-twenties to early-thirties talk about. When I mention the fact that we were working, picture George and Jerry in his apartment trying to write the pilot for his NBC sitcom, though I believe we got farther than they did on their first try. When I mention talking about television, I mean of course that we watched the first episode of the new NBC superhero drama The Cape, and I only bring it up to warn others, avoid this show at all cost. It's uncommonly bad. However, there were one or two things on the tube worth watching.
Yes, that is the airplane scene from Jurassic Park III. It's hard to argue that JP3 is a good movie when the opposition can point out that raptors will NOT eat you if you simply give them back their egg and blow into a state-of-the-art raptor voicebox.

Anyway, besides TV the only other entertainment was Rob's dogs, Winston and Rufus, blurrily pictured here begging for food like...well, animals.

These are some great pups, a little in your face, occasionally barky, true shed-machines, but fine company.

The rest of the visit was pretty standard, a bar with an Avatar pinball machine (seems too current, what are you trying to prove??), a jukebox that must have made a fortune (two bucks for seven songs that never played, even after 2 1/2 of waiting), and an assortment of games (I had to restrain myself from asking strangers if I could join their Apples to Apples jamboree). Leaving there I picked up an ill-advised 4am quesadilla and attempted to get some rest on love seat that Rufus would soon make his own.

It's not hard to see here that I don't really have a ton to say about this weekend, but it was a great time and I'm making an effort to write more about day-to-day life (should help to stir the creative juices) and take more pictures (why buy a camera if you're not going to use it?). Maybe 2011 can be a return to form of sorts, there's so much worth remembering.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Remainders and Reminders

I've spent the last five days, to put it as simply as possible, sad. It hasn't been constant or overwhelming or obsessive (though all three have come close), it's just been an overall emotional malaise that I can't kick. My personal life has been thrown into upheaval lately and the general post-holiday grayness and solitude hasn't helped any. Every time I hear the word sad I think of that Simpsons episode where Lisa has the note that says she can't participate in Gym class because she is sad. Oh, the life of an only-child, television as touchstone, cartoons as companions. If only The Cable Guy was a better film, maybe some of us would have received the help we so desperately needed.
How do other people get over things? I feel like I've spent every day of my life trying to forget someone or something, and I'm completely clueless on whether or not that is something we all have in common. I have friends that it would seem let everything roll right off their back and hardly ever feel the need to give a second thought to things that would consume me. I think the answer is in my head as I'm typing right now, the idea that I don't want to get into it. I don't feel like it's worth mentioning, or maybe somehow that I'm putting anyone out by letting them know what's going on in my head. So why am I writing? The idea of screaming in an empty room comes to mind.
As with everything else in my life I turn to music. Don't worry, this isn't some long winded pseudo-sappy introduction to a Top 5 Albums To Cry To list, that feels like it would be far too depressing to even attempt to write. No, all I'm really saying is that my time as-of-late has been spent surrounded by the only things in the world that let me feel like myself no matter what's going on. Unfortunately, most of the music I've purchased lately has been what Barry would describe as "old sad bastard music" and has only exacerbated the gloom. I picked a hell of a time to get into the Microphones! My Roots Are Strong and Deep is a beautiful song but leave it on repeat and it's basically an auditory OD of sleeping pills. Same thing with Dragon by The Amazing, as lovely as it is, it couldn't sound like more of a 60's throwback kick in the teeth.
My love of detail tends to die a quick and relatively painless death anytime I begin to feel this way. Another casualty of assuming no one actually wants to know what's wrong. Specificity seems pointless anyway, and love of detail has been reborn as the urge for anonymity. Besides, maybe if what was actually bothering me was specific I could treat it as such. I'm left wondering if I've ever had a positive beginning-of-the-year. The older I get the more mature certain problems become, fittingly. Used to be it was a girl not paying attention to me while my debilitating shyness stabbed me in the back. Who would've thought I'd long for those days, but I was surrounded by friends and the hope of tomorrow night. I guess I still am, I know I still am, but opportunities dwindle and you realize regrets you never knew you had. This, I know, is universal.
I guess bravery is at the forefront these days. Having the fortitude and energy to go after the things I really want, it's never been my strong suit. Just writing that seems self-defeating, something I'm desperate to shake off in every facet of my life. How can I lament opportunities if I never make the effort, and how can I expect anyone to care? It's like living stage fright, I'm not quite retreating, but I'm doing enough not to progress. Maybe that's why I'm writing. It's one thing to think it, it's a whole other to let it out publicly and let people know that you know it just the same as they do. I don't get stage fright. I wrote and performed an anti-drug play in 5th grade at a D.A.R.E. assembly! The issue, which just hit me actually, is material. The worry that I don't have "what it takes", as they say. That seems like a joke, but upon reflection, it's been with me since the start.
Good god, it's everything at once lately. If I was someone else I'd say I need a vacation! Relaxation, in my experience, comes from contentedness so therefore a vacation would be useless. I guess maybe I just needed to (reservedly) spill my guts and allow myself to say that sometimes life gets rough. I feel ridiculous but that's nothing new and it's all in the sake of evolution, so I'll embrace it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Stroll Down Memory Lame

This is a survey I found in my old Livejournal, the recollections are approximate but accurate.

15 years ago, I:

1. Was 14.
2. Went and saw Ozzy by myself (while my aunt waited in the parking lot), and was passed a joint and refused because I was scared and I didn't know what it was.
3. Had hair down to my shoulders and looked like a weird, crappy Kurt Cobain.
4. Brought my iguana Skt in to school when she broke her arm because she had a huge U-shaped cast across her front arms (or are they legs??)
5. Was just getting in to punk after my friend Matt gave me a cassette with a Fat Wreck Chords compilation and a Screeching Weasel album on it.

10 years ago, I:

1. Was 19.
2. Repeatedly cut math class my first year of college to hang out with some girl I had a crush on.
3. Was still driving my first car, the awesome Prelude.
4. Constantly made mixtapes because my awesome Prelude had a tape deck.
5. Was a total loser.

5 years ago, I:

1. Was 24.
2. Had my first ever girlfriend and lived in a house with 4 of my best friends.
3. Worked at Barnes & Noble, at the time I think I had just started in the Cafe.
4. Often stayed up very late playing Space Hospital (a pirated version of Dr. Mario that came in a console shaped like a penguin that we named Esteban after seeing The Life Aquatic).
5. In a Communications class presentation where we had to share things about ourselves I played footage of my high school band Rowsdower, brought in a clothes-less Michael Jackson doll I've had since I was little, and explained in the ins and outs of creating mixtapes to a classroom full of people who (kind of) couldn't care less.

3 years ago, I:

1. Was 26.
2. Lived with said first girlfriend and started my current job.
3. Had a horrible diet leading to weight gain and the eventual loss of my gallbladder.
4. Was still using Myspace.
5. Was exceedingly boring.

1 year ago, I:

1. Was 28.
2. Was praying that I would never again have a kidney stone (side effect of the week of hospitalization and subsequent week of bed rest from my laparoscopic cholecystectomy and pancreatitis).
3. Had crushes on several girls (said girlfriend and I broke in up early-'09) that, looking back, were ridiculous. The crushes, not the girls. It would be some time before I remembered how to be single, and how much I enjoyed it.
4. At some point was introduced to Apples to Apples (and life would never be the same).
5. Got very, very in to 30 Rock (and life would never be the same).

Yesterday, I:

1. Was 29.
2. Made up substitute names for Count Chocula out of boredom.
3. Listened to a record by The Cato Salsa Experience that I LOVED in '02 (it didn't do much for me yesterday).
4. Wore argyle socks.
5. Woke up at 3am to Iron & Wine playing on a Jimmy Fallon rerun (though I guess that should count for early today, right?)

Today, I:

1. Really wanna find Esteban and see if I can get him to work again.
2. Am thankful that it's Friday (which is a trite, businessy thing to say, but today it's very true, so why not?)
3. Hope to go out and party, however the odds are not in my favor.
4. Changed my Facebook profile picture to the cover of the French version of my favorite Goosebumps book The Girl Who Cried Monster.
5. Have not texted anyone.

Tomorrow, I:

1. Will forge a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
2. Will find a bag of money and use it to create a home studio and begin recording music under the moniker Elegance Squared.
3. Will enter an Apples to Apples tournament and after 5 days of intense non-stop competition, will come in fourth.
4. Will discover a secret, hidden rainforest in my backyard - but will be too tired from all that other stuff to do any exploring.
5. May discover that I can't predict the future.