Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hello

Remember me?

Monday, April 11, 2005

A Man Should Know His Limitations

I don't think I feel like writing on this thing for a little while, at least a few days. Sorry to all my loyal readers.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

You Can Sleep When You're Dead

Right now I feel like Al Pacino in "Insomnia," except that instead of getting zero sleep, I'm getting two hours less sleep every night than I want to. Night before last I got about five and a half hours, last night about six and a half (rough estimates from the land of Nod). I'm going to write a movie about it--instead of hallucinating or being in a state of altered consciousness, the main character (a detective like Pacino) will just be fairly drowsy all the time, leading to classic exchanges like this:

Protagonist's parter on the squad: "Well, I think we've covered all the leads possible for today. Wanna go get a drink? There's a lot of good bars in this town."

Protagonist: "Um... that sounds fun, but to be honest I'm really exhausted. I haven't been sleeping that well. I think I'm just going to head home."

(Fin).

Yesterday morning they started jackhammering outside my window, working on restoring a building where I can hopefully spy on people in a few months. Today I think the light woke me up--I have to keep the shade a bit up because I keep the fan on all night, and if the shade's down it grates against the fan with a loud buzzing sound. Fuck that shit. Why can't everything be perfect? Whine whine whine.

I'm convinced that a short-term addiction to meth (or some other form of speed) would be good for me. Let me clarify. First of all, I know a "short-term addiction" is practically an oxymoron. (Like your mom). This is all hypothetical. But if I could take meth every day for, say, two months, then stop completely, I think my productivity would fly through the roof, and the long-term negative effects wouldn't equal the benefits. I really wish that marijuana, a drug I never enjoyed that much and don't use anymore, was less of a "sit on the couch and eat chips" drug and more of a "get off the couch and rob an old lady" kind of drug.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

And One

I should also mention that when I try to write a story, it's always about some young, white kid (what a stretch!) who's sitting somewhere thinking about something, and then he almost gets in a fight but nothing happens. Kind of gets old after a while. But maybe that happens because I try once every four months.

Great googly moogly.

I'm Going To Blog All Over You

The reason I haven't updated in a few days is that I hate writing. No, faithful reader, your eyes have not deceived you. You're thinking "How could Axel Foley, author of "The Remains of the Day," hate writing? Well, first of all, I didn't write that book. Some Japanese guy did. Second of all, hate is a strong word I toss around too much , so let's just call it plain old dislike.

You see, old chum, writing to me is, like so many other things, a means to pleasure through a laborious process. Maybe it has something to do with my New Englander's appreciation for austerity (probably bullshit--I enjoy assigning traits to people based on where they're from, sometimes where it doesn't really fit), but writing is like going to the gym for my brain. I don't really enjoy it while I'm doing it, but the afterglow and sense of self-worth makes it all worthwhile. Now, that's not quite fair. Sometimes, when I'm on a roll, which isn't often (self-deprecation alert!), it's enjoyable on the level of, say, watching a baseball game I'm captivated with or... I was going to go with something more scatological and/or vulgar, but these days I don't know who could be reading this thing. The walls have ears, as Tintin once said to Captain Haddock, or something.

I also don't truly enjoy watching most movies or reading most books or going to most concerts. I don't enjoy them to the point where I lose myself in them, anyway. There are few things in this world that don't make me look at the clock to see when they're going to end. Once they do end, I take pride in having consumed them, and move on. I blame the media.

I think I'd like to get out of New York this weekend, but it's doubtful to happen. I've hit that eight-week urban plateau where I have a strong desire just to get the fuck out. I used to go crazy in Washington when I didn't have a car, wishing to God I could leave just for a weekend, just for that restorative change of scenery one needs once in a while. I'd like to go camping, lie back and look at the stars with a cigarette and four or five beers in me with some idealized girl, talking about ourselves and the big issues, feeling like we're the only two people on earth (always a very attractive idea in my book). Don't think it's going to happen this weekend, somehow.

God, this blog is solipsistic. I I I I I I I I. Me me me me me me. My life isn't even that interesting, though I do think good writing could make my life seem pretty interesting. But from now on, this blog is going to be through the eyes of a fictional character name Dean Rivera. He's an ex-con who's trying to live on the straight and narrow, until his old partner in crime recruits him for one last job... a job that could mean early retirement.

ATTICAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 04, 2005

MUST CREDIT DRUDGE

This is just to say that I'm going to update this baby later tonight, and from here on in I'm going to update it every hour on the hour. As David Ortiz once said, "Keed the fate."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I Buy All My Cars At Police Auctions

James Joyce went from writing fairly straightforward, traditional--in terms of narrative, anyway--stories to weird, experimental prose to inventing his own obscure language. I kind of want my artistic arc to be like that--I want to be less and less accessible until I'm in my own little world that may or may not make any sense. Just kidding, I think.

You know, I don't know whether anything can replace the pure, unadulterated bliss of listening to a kickass song while driving a car. Listening to music in one's room doesn't have the kinetic power that makes for the best aural experiences. (I almost sounded like a music critic there! "Aural" is used by music critics like "lyrically" is used by rappers--it's a handy word to have that doesn't mean much.) But walking around midtown after work today, with the throngs of people, the balmy temperature, and M83 on the trusty old Ipod after a day cooped up in an office--it made the whole scene seem like the last, cathartic shot of the pilot episode of a one-hour dramedy about my life in the big city. And that was nice. Not "driving a car" nice, but nice nonetheless.

From Dar es Salaam, Peter Dinklage, BBC news.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Alex, I've Wanted To Say This For Years--Let's Make It A True Daily Double

This weekend I saw a Basquiat exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, watched "Amelie," (I had never seen it), and some quality episodes of "Arrested Development," saw my friend Carl play with his band at a bar in Manhattan, played trivial pursuit with a few people, got taken out to dinner by my roommate's parents, and went to three bars. That would have qualified as a fuck-all blockbuster of a weekend just two short months ago, when Lexington, Massachusetts was sucking out my soul from the inside. But these days, I'm only satisfied if there's hookers and PCP involved. Everything truly is relative, I guess.

The Basquiat thing was pretty intense. First of all, it was crowded and stuffy--the Brooklyn Museum, like my bedroom, always seems to be overly warm--and I was characteristically sleepy, probably because I had ingested a copious amount of platypus tranqulizer. I've been to a lot of art museums in my day, and since I was a lad, I've never been able to walk around for very long before I take a seat on one of them benches they got there in the middle of the room. There, I contemplate my exhaustion (I think I've had an undiagnosed case of mono persistent since the age of six) and maybe gaze at a painting, trying to gauge whether it's "cool" or not. (That's how I judge art.)

Crowd density, temperature, and sleepiness aside, Basquiat's work is pretty amazing. Art is one of those things--like most things in the world--that is very foreign to me, both in execution and in concept. Execution, as in I can't draw for shit. Concept, as in I'm not sure what any of this MEANS, man. I really dig Basquiat's stuff on a purely visual and reaction-based level, and I think lots of art people say that that's half or more of the battle. I guess I'm just questioning all art right now, not just shit I could never see myself doing. I can safely say that a good song can change my short-term frame of mind, like when I used to psych myself up for those steel cage matches with "Ride the Lightning." But I don't really know what a good novel or a good movie, two art forms I feel pretty close to, do for me other than make me enjoy the time I'm engaged in them more than if I weren't. It seems the vast majority of what I read and watch evaporates into the recesses of my mind pretty quickly, and maybe helps me out at pub quiz (which is almost worth the effort by itself, actually). I know these aren't earth-shattering revelations to anyone--I'm assuming the question about the value of art has been asked since the first caveman took a piss on a rock and called it neo-realist expressionism--but it certainly makes me wonder. Even this movie I saw a few days ago, "Head On,"--did it really change my perspective on anything? It's an incredible movie, and it's stuck with me like few movies have, but I'm not sure why or what effect it's having. These things can teach me facts and historical perspectives for sure, but I'm not sure if I'm convinced about the possibility for real emotional change. Is all this shit just about enjoying craftsmanship and aesthetics? I don't feel like writing much more about this, and I've been quite unclear, I think. If I tried to write an essay on this topic, I'd probably get a B/B plus with comments about an inconsistent/muddled thesis.

Oh, one other thing. Comedy is good because it makes you laugh, and laughter is awesome. So if I make a lot of money off that I'll feel completely pure. Also, if your comedy is unfocused you can just say you're being absurd. This is clearly the medium for me.

Life: what's the deal?

Roger Federer is a tennis poet, and I look forward to watching him destroy all comers this week at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami. I imagine these great tennis points in my head all the time--back and forth rallies that go on forever, with some incredible, impossible winner to close out the point. Federer actualy plays like that, and it's a joy to watch. I wish he said something really anti-Bush at a press conference and became a polarizing figure, and that he had a really biting sense of humor. Tennis needs something like that.

Lastly, Hulkamaniacs, you should check this shit out. http://profiles.myspace.com/users/20082729 is my friend Josh's MySpace profile. He left it in a comment a couple of entries ago, but I'm including it here in case you missed it. Josh just cruised down to Buenos Aires to teach English solely because he heard from some guy at a party that Depeche Mode is really popular in Argentina. He's got a unique perspective on things, though, for real. My name's Paul, and this is between y'all.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Now Look Here, See, You Work For Me Now, Get It?

So much to talk about. So much to talk about! War in Iraq, man. War in Iraq, man. You know why? Because American wanted to blow some shit up. Because AMERICA wanted to blow some shit UP!!!

Whoops, I started writing a Chris Rock routine. Sometimes I do that--just comes naturally.

Let me give you a brief rundown of the headline news of my life in a segment I like to call "Short Takes with Neil Cavuto." First off, the gas cooking still isn't functional in my apartment. It's been almost two months, and I'm down to 72 pounds soaking wet. After the first three days of starvation, the sharp stomach pains subside dramatically. Weirdly, they come back around the eighteenth day, then go away the twenty-second, then come back with a vengeance when the nimbus moon sets at a 32 degree angle with Polaris. Go figure. Anyway, we got a 40 percent rent reduction the first month, and we're about to send a letter demanding a whole month rent-free (there are a multitude of other, smaller problems, though the apartment does look very nice and people really enjoy it, including me, most of the time, except that these little things can drive me crazy, like the fact that my room smells like weed frequently--has something to do with the heating, I've determined). Sometimes I have violent fantasies where I storm into the real estate office that acts as our landlord and I beat this motherfucker that works there, fellow by the name of Nick Conway, to a bloody pulp. Since everyone else seems to know about this blog, maybe you're reading this, Nick Conway. Well, you're a motherfucker and I want to beat the shit out of you. It's worth knowing.

Let's see... what else... pizza pie is very hot right now... ah yes, so I was filling in for someone at Writers House this week, meaning that I was acting as an agent's assistant. I was in this agent's office when she said, apropos of nothing or very little, something like "By the way, I enjoyed your blog." Needless to say, I was stunned. I confess to having accessed Axel Foley's Corner on some computers in the building, but not hers. I told one intern that I had a blog, but didn't give her the address. Did I just leave this site up on a computer? I've done a lot dumber shit than that in my life, so maybe. Is there a mole in Writers House trying to ruin me? Probably. Am I writing the way Robert Evans talks? You bet your ass I am. Either way, this means I can't talk shit about people from work or their clients. All the details of those crazy, quaalude-fueled nights at Studio 54 with Stephen Hawking, Ken Follett, Nora Roberts, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Lewis will have to wait until that Vanity Fair article I've been writing for the past seven years finally comes out.

With work and a lot of my personal life off limits--this blog would be a hell of a lot different if I actually wrote honestly about my interpersonal relationships the way some people seem to--there's only one topic in my life that's still kosher and that I enjoy talking about. FANTASY BASEBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This next segment goes out to Alex Sherman, who fervently requested it. Alex, I just want you to know that all of us here in the booth--and all of America--appreciate what you're doing for our country over there in Iraq. We're glad we can bring you this slice of home every once in a while.

This is the ninth year that a core group of Lexingtonians have been in the same fantasy baseball league. Since college, the league has morphed into a mixture of us and "them"--them being our college friends who try in vain to understand the unspeakable bond that was formed in 1997 with one man's dream for a cheaper, more durable plastic fantasy baseball league. That man was Dan Chamberlain, and though he has since gone to that great fantasy baseball game in the sky where Ricky Henderson's always got a lead off first even though he's also not dead, the league has lived on and thrived. I'm very proud that we have such a devoted base, and that we've been able to keep it together for so long. Fantasy baseball is truly one of the most enjoyable things in my life, and, I suspect ,in the lives of many of the league's members. Wow, this must be boring to read.

Last Friday, Josh Glickman flew in from Chicago and Keith Wilson drove up from the DC area, where he DOESN'T work for the National Security Agency. This year's league includes a pick of GW, Harvard, Michigan, Brown, Swarthmore, and Alex's roommate kids. On Saturday, everyone and their laptop came over for about five grueling hours of draft pick after draft pick. Now, I enjoy situations where everyone's sitting around, not moving. A captive audience, like in a car. That's where the Ben Hart school of comedy thrives. Here's how it works: say a phrase or person's name early on in the proceedings, then keep repeating it over and over until it becomes funny or until someone punches you in the balls. Rinse and repeat. On Saturday, this phrase for me was "Ben Broussard," Cleveland Indians first baseman/DH extraordinaire (I'm not sure what he plays, frankly). Every few turns, I would comment that Ben Broussard was still available, and gradually at least one person, Josh Jackson, began to find the Ben Broussard joke humorous. I think another couple of people also thought it was pretty funny. I personally thought it was dynamite material. When I actually picked Broussard to the disbelief of the masses, the joke came full circle. You gotta do this shit at these kind of occasions or you just have a bunch of people sitting around jerking off to Barry Bonds' on-base percentage.

Anyway, this year I instituted some new rules for the draft. I didn't allow water or bathroom breaks, and I made people come prepared with their own theme song. Mine was "The Boys Are Back In Town," because I fucking hate that song and I wanted to make myself angry so I would crush my opponents. When everyone else chose Elliott Smith songs, I knew the day was mine. And sure enough, I had a good draft. Sorry, Alex, I didn't really write about the draft, just my stupid joking and some other bullshit. I just couldn't bring myself to get any more descriptive. Next year I'll do a Bill Simmons-like running diary.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Remember The '80's?

After seeing a pretty incredible movie--"Head On"--it's highly recommended by Axel Foley and the entire Beverly Hills police force, and I should really be writing the whole post about it--a man randomly rushed up to my friend Leslie in the manner of a friend joking around, pretending to be some lunatic--except this guy was a lunatic. He sort of grabbed her by the shoulders and I sprang into panicky action mode, whereby I actived my primal human reflex of "shit's going down." My reaction was to take a step forward and say "Hey" meekly. The guy didn't end up doing anything, which is good for him, because I was about to say "Hey" again. No, seriously, I would have at least said "Hey, stop!"

I talked to Neil Gaiman on the phone today. He's a very popular science fiction/comics writer... that's what some nerd told me as I was beating him up, anyway (note: joke stolen from Todd Goldstein). I had something written here about Mr. Gaiman that was mildly amusing, but I just found out that the agent I'm working for right now is hip to this blog (hi, Merrilee!), possibly because the link was lying around on someone's computer. So, just to be safe, I have stricken it from the record.No more humorously intended implications about Gaiman.

I need a drink.

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME. LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK OF ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hi, We're Megalopolis, This Is Off Our First Record...

Megalopolis. That's my new idea for a band name. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but neither does "The Rolling Stones." Ok, so that one does. Bad example. Megalopolis, though--I dig it. I like the word, I like the concept--it's always brought to mind some towering, dystopian collection of urbanity--and I've lived in or near three of the four main Megalopolis cities. It's a natural fit! I don't know if "urbanity" is a word--probably not. If it isn't a word you get a free certificate to punch me in the armpit eight times.

This paragraph was about work but I edited it out after "people at work find out about blog" gate '05.

Here's a typical blog entry that you might find on blogger, written by a sixteen year old Malaysian girl or something: "Today I pass geography test. Very diffifcult. Then I go to Church and worship Jesus and my family was there. I so excited for summer!!!" I can't bring myself to make the requisite spelling mistakes. The point is that most of the blogs I read are either really shitty or in another language (which is just as bad--I don't know why you'd want to write in some dying language that's NOT English), but today I read the blog of a 25-year-old Wiccan, and one of her blog entries detailed the five best sexual encounters of her life--and her current boyfriend only made the list once, I think. That was pretty entertaining.

Today I was riding the subway and a guy got up, dropped his pants, and took a giant shit in the middle of the subway car. Just kidding, that didn't happen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Huckabees And The Women Who Heart Them

You know what's a fucking great song and a solid video? (I've noticed I start a lot of inquiries this way--"you know who's a good singer?" "You know what's a good Indian restaurant?" I wonder if I would find this annoying if someone else did it). "It Was a Good Day," by Ice Cube. I've been a big fan since the song came out in nineteen diggity three or so, but I was watching a countdown of the best West Coast rap videos on our newly installed digital cable (this is also the first post on my own internet--after Apartment 513's charity all these weeks, we decided to be assholes and password-protect it so someone doesn't hack into the mainframe--sorry for the parentheses) and was reminded of the quality of the video. It's a very simple concept that most of us can relate to, even if few of us (and by "us" I mean the ten crackers that read this thing--I hope if I ever get famous I don't always comment on the fact that nobody watches/reads/listens to whatever I'm famous for the way Conan O'Brien does--it's one of his most annoying habits) live in the hood. Ice Cube wakes up and everything, for one day in his life of difficulty, seems to go right. The video is very simple, not flashy, basically just interspersing Cube's awesome day with him standing still and rapping in some sunglasses. I simply don't think you can deny that. As the people commenting on whatever MTV or VH1 this was on commented, the video just tells the story of the song. And it does so in a way D.W. Griffith would admire. But seriously, I've loved that song for years because it sets a mood so well, like so many of those West Coast songs do. I think summertime, I think relaxation, and I think about trying to appreciate the things that go right in life. "It's ironic--you know I had the booze she had the chronic, the Lakers beat the Supersonics" has to be up there with my favorite lines in rap history, despite the misuse of "irony" (I emailed Ice Cube about that, and he has since written a lengthy apology that appears on the liner notes of the album and his website). I really like the way the sporting event, while not at all the most important thing on Cube's mind, nonetheless makes the day just that bit sweeter. I can relate to that. And of course I can relate to not having to use my AK.

And that's how babies are made.

Friday, March 11, 2005

A Day In The Life Of Bobcat Goldthwait

Ok, time to cut the crap. My stolen internet's been fine most of the time since my last post. The reason I haven't updated lately is that there was a significant break in the case I'm working on (need I remind you, my name is Axel Foley--refer to the first post of the blog). I've been working with these two joker detectives from the Hollywood police force, Detective William "Billy" Randolph and his partner, Detective Sargeant John Taggart. At first they didn't want my help, since I tend to get them in trouble and, after all, I'm not even supposed to be working on this case (they got an angry call from my boss back in Detroit). Now, though, we're pretty chummy, and I think they're on board with my plan to expose this asshole Brit Victor Maitland for the crook he is.

Things have settled down a bit now, so I should be able to update with more regularity--I'm hoping every two to three days. Every day would be nice, but I'm not a fucking miracle worker, ok? I'm just a humble black detective from Detroit, Michigan, and I want to nail the guy who killed my goddamn friend.

I don't have too much else to say right now. I'm sick of cold weather and I have no desire to use hallucinogens.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I'd Rather Be Muckracking

I'm at my internship right now, crushing hopeful writers' dreams with one flick of the wrist as I throw their manuscripts away after agonizingly deliberating over them for way too long.

I'm writing this to say that the internet in my apartment is down again--that mercurial bitch-Goddess Apartment 513 has suddenly vanished off the wireless radar--and it will be at least a few days before we can get our own internet installed. If 513 doesn't come back, I may not be writing here too much for the next few days. Yes, I could step out on my balcony and pick up "linksys," then step back inside, write the damn entry, and then step back outside to post it, but you know what? Homie don't play that.

Anyway, I hope to post more often when I do have the internets. But for now, just remember: old interns never die; they just fade away. A great man named Arsenio Hall once said that, and his words still ring true today. Peace.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

WHOLE FOODS GROCERY RECEIPT

Alright, the internet's back! Feed me, mold me, you fucking technological slave-master. Apartment 513, you win the award for best cable modem at 699 Classon Ave. Congratulations, you win a free $10 gift certificate to Chuck E. Cheese. Fuck you.

The comment about the Roman waffles... yeah, you're right, you pedantic asshole. The Super Bowl score was my prediction, which wasn't too far off the mark.

Ok, so I'm a little drunk. Yeah, I had 34 Yuenling Black & Tan's, what of it? Is this some sort of intervention? Oh, Jesus. Are you fucking kidding me? Yeah... look, it's been a little crazy. You're meeting me at a strange time in my life. Come to think of it, every time's been a strange time. But really, this is unnecessary (note: I am correcting my spelling errors as I go; I really am drunk). I just don't need this shit, man. I'm supporting my family, I'm holding down a decent job, what else do you want from me? I'm fulfilling my responsibilities. So what if I have a drink or two every now and then? I'm not hitting my kids, man, I'm just trying to unwind. Fucking hell.

My stories about alienation are going to be better than anyone else's stories about alienation. I have more motivation now than ever. Am I being sarcastic? Ask me again in eight years. Oh, and fuck you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Lindsay Lohan already has a rolax!!! Want yours???

Wow, has it really been over a week since I've updated? Time flies when a representative from the Gary Steelheads of the Continental Basketball Association calls your cell phone accidentally, but you convince him that you would make a perfectly serviceable point guard, and they fly you out to Gary and then you're on the road all the time in places like Akron, Tacoma, Fresno... I'm writing this from Pierre, South Dakota, where I'm stealing internet from a network called "BISMARCKLICKSCOCK." I'm enjoying the HBO at the hotel here, but my fellow CBA'ers and I haven't really bonded yet. They like to listen to DMX to pump themselves up before games, and didn't appreciate it when I put on some Elliott Smith (it was a joke!) Also, I'm the only white guy, and they call me stuff like "cracker motherfucker," "crazy cracker," or sometimes simply "cracker." I can't tell if they're kidding around or not.

I just made all that shit up!!! I'm not really in the CBA. Wow, you're fucking gullible! I'm only 5'6" and I suck at basketball! How could you believe any of that?

One of the real reasons I haven't written lately is that Apartment 513's internet no longer works for me with the sad exception of instant messenger. Since my roommate Brian received Final Cut Pro over the internets from a friend, it has been out of commission. Coincidence? Sure, if you think it was a coincidence that John Wilkes Booth AND George Bernard Shaw went by three names. Anyway, I'm using a different network that may or may not be reliable in the future. When's the internet going to be ready to go in my apartment, you ask? Who knows? Same can be said for the cooking gas, the mail, the fucking everything... basically, as somewhat predicted, we got fucked over and now can't do too much about it. I've been on the phone, trying to get some answers and finding out that things are even more fucked up than I thought. (I like swearing, it makes me feel cool). I feel like I'm in the movie "The Super," since I also resemble and sound like Joe Pesci.

So yeah, it's a long story, but I spend a lot of my non-working time on it right now, unfortunately. Let's just say there's a strongly worded letter, the threat of rent not being paid, and a whole lot of pistol-whipping involved. But having the internet makes everything better. Without it, I feel impotent (and I'm not just talking about my penis here). With it, I feel empowered, vibrant, ALIVE, DAMMIT!

On the positive tip, we had a very fun housewarming party on Saturday night. The apartment, on the surface, looks great and drew rave reviews. People from different phases of my life mingled and found each other agreeable if not "cool." I got nicely drunk, and the next day found my roommates and me sitting on our couches, listening to Joanna Newsom, the ethereal-voiced freak-folk singer who I figure must be of Icelandic origin (those people aren't really human, are they?) Brian said that he was glad that we were listening to her on a Sunday afternoon in our apartment. I'll always remember her CD as the one that some guy called in to ask about at Barnes & Noble last summer (I had never heard of her at the time), and I told him we had it because it said we did in the computer, but of course we didn't, and then he showed up and was pissed off and said he had driven a long time to get there, and now Joanna Newsom has made a name for herself and I like her music and now I think that guy must have had good taste in music and it is hot in my room and I complain a lot but I find it hard not to and I'm in a slightly better mood that I was a few days ago and I'm going to bed now.

New York state of mind.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Patriots 31, Eagles 21

Yesterday I ate one of the most decadent things I can remember eating--a Belgian waffle with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a bacon. This must be what the Romans ate while they were fucking each other in a massive orgy right before everything went to shit. Maybe they called them "Roman waffles," though, since they probably thought they were the cat's pajamas. (That's an expression, right?) Anyway, my gut is still churning almost 24 hours later. It probably didn't help that I had to meet up with my family at 7:00 PM for a cousin's birthday dinner in Carroll Gardens (neighborhood a couple miles away from here for you non-Brooklynites), and decided to jog there since I was (shock!) running late and the subway would have taken too long. I arrived dripping with sweat and wheezing like Fatty McGee to a family impressed that I was in good enough shape to make the trek in that fashion. It also didn't help that I had smoked around six cigarettes the day before, which is close to my all-time high, I think. But the appetizer of snails with garlic and puff pastry, and the main course of something called "cassoulet" (basically a vegetable casserole), plus the non-embarassment of being very late, supplied my exercise with a nice reward.

But enough about me. Let's talk about what you think of me.

The effort of getting to know prospective dates is frightening. Starting at the beginning of my personality basically terrifies me, and though I'm sure this is a common thought, I'm going to elaborate anyway. It's been 22 years, how can you really get to know me like someone I've known since I was 10? Does it just involve me telling you about my life, or can a general sense of my personality be enough? I'm looking for human connection here, not just "You're funny." Couldn't there be some sort of "Demolition Man"-type machine where you hook up your brains and get the jist of someone in like thirty seconds? There's a lot I have to reveal about myself before I feel truly comfortable, I think, and not like some sort of fraud or an actor playing a role. I want to relate all my weird habits and perverseness, all my personality flaws, all the stupid moments in my past... and I want to do it immediately. (Not that I ever actually do). The good stuff I'm not in such a rush to get out, because, well, finding out about it is pleasant, not wraught with possible tension. I have a strong desire to want someone to know what they're getting into. Then we can go from there. Maybe reading this blog will be a start! Hooray for technology!!!!!!!!

But like a lot of other things--going to the gym or packing, for example-- the reluctance to begin the task and the accompanying lethargy is worse than the actual thing (probably). I find what I've puffed up in my mind as some unknowable or untellable thing isn't so bad when you just smoke a joint dipped in embalming fluid.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Welcome to Brooklyn: Go Fuck Yourself OR Incident at Prospect Place

Well, it's official.

No, silly, not the Iraq election (world events are so 2004). I'm referring to my relocation to the commercial and cultural capital of the world. No, Virginia, I don't mean Virginia, you fucking inquisitive bitch. I mean New York City, or as retarded tourists who think they're in Boston refer to it as, "The Hub." That's right, I'm big-time now, you fucking plebeian!

Yes, I figured Brooklyn needed another neurotic, witty, Jewish white kid from the suburbs, so I decided to hop on board the gentrification train and command the conductor to speed up despite a Rhode Island-sized iceberg looming up ahead on the tracks (it's been cold lately). You know, writing like this is fun, if a little gimmicky. But it's fun. But also gimmicky. And yet still fun.

Anyway, I began my internship today, officially joining the rat race of this fair city. I take the 2/3 train to the 1/9. Doesn't that sound cool? I think so. I like spouting nonsensical best-route talk like, "Yeah, sometimes I take the ACE to the FDR, then swerve back around on the 2/3 to the GWB. Sometimes it's faster that way." Well, I like it in theory, anyway.

The last few days have been hectic. My roomate and dear friend Mike's dad rented a truck from Uhaul, a company which I swore I would have nothing to do with for the rest of my life (end-of-summer incident involving a trailer coming loose from my goddamn car). But this was out of my hands, as was a lot of the moving process. When it comes to wrapping things in boxes and assembling objects, I sometimes stand around and look like I'm paying attention to whomever is doing the work for me, and when they explain what's going on technically I nod knowingly, like I do when a mechanic is talking about my car, or when a drunk guy is telling a rambling story. Other times I don't even pretend to care. Just set up my desk and let me write so the world can hear all the new and interesting things I have to say about our cultural climate. Good old American know- how is impressive and all, but not as impressive as my take on the shortcomings of "Million Dollar Baby." (Perhaps I'll delve into that white-hot topic some other time).

Anyway, it's been weird. I've known for a while I was coming here, and I've spent a good deal of time in Brooklyn visiting by now, so this move doesn't have that overwhelming jolt of the unknown that some do. Also, I haven't taken advantage of my surroundings much yet (hell, it's only been two days), because of all the logistical shit that has to be done, and which I obsess over rather than do. But things are looking better in the apartment, which is really a cool place. We've got mega-high ceilings, hardwood floors, a view of the Chrysler building from the kitchen, visible pipes high up above... the place was just renovated. It used to be a Jewish hospital, so I'm probably lying in a room where more than a few poor schmucks bought the farm. Makes you think, doesn't it? Well, no, not really.

At my internship today I had to read a bunch of manuscript summaries and/or samples and decide whether or not to throw them out (meaning that a form rejection letter would be sent to the author) or kick them up a notch, as my old friend Emeril Lagasse might say if he worked at a literary agency. I had trouble with it, because while most of the proposals weren't stellar, I don't really trust my judgement on anything these days (you want flip-flopping? I'll show you flip-flopping). I kept putting letters aside to read later, but after some counsel from an assistant to an agent, I started throwing out letters that weren't grammatically sound (or letters that were not clearly written). It is true that if an author writes a muddled letter, there isn't too much hope for a book deal. But somehow I wouldn't be shocked to find out that I tossed out the next "Bartleby the Scrivener."

Jeezum Crow, I'm tired. The pleasures of this city of great possibility lie before me. I am wicked psyched to be here, even if I still complain a lot. Also, as expected, this blog is sort of devolving into "what happened to me lately" drivel. Sorry about that, I have to post more often and write stranger stuff.

By the way, big ups to the residents of apartment 513 for getting a wireless network, naming it after your apartment, and not bothering to password-protect it. You truly are the men/women now, dog.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Pat Neal Lives in California

Two things I should probably stop doing for my own good: 1) reading so many reviews of things. 2) Thinking about my life in the past tense as if I were fifty years old.

Now, the reviews thing I've been harping on for years, but I can't force myself to stop. More than one person has made fun me over the years for letting Entertainment Weekly influence my taste in movies, and I must say that once I read a well-written piece on a film and I can't argue with its logic, I find myself agreeing with it to some extent, even if the judgement goes against my instincts. I think I'm pretty suspectible to cogent prose, in other words. If you're a good enough writer, you can convince me that Clint Eastwood is gay. And then I find myself conversing thusly: "well, this guy at Slate thinks Clint Eastwood is gay... I can't really remember his arguments, but they were pretty convincing." (I often can't remember the pithy parts of people's arguments, perhaps because I read a lot of articles/reviews, partly on account of the heart murmur).

Second, and more seriously, reading reviews--especially music reviews and double especially Pitchfork's music reviews--depress me because I always come out feeling like the writing is much better than mine, they can describe music much better than I ever could (which is probably true), and that too much in my life I just think of as ethereal and impossible to put into words (like music). I don't feel like going the review thing more now, but I've been telling myself and others what I just wrote for years now--the problem is that I like to keep up with the world and I also like to appear sophisticated and above the riffraff of the hoi poloi. I also like to have an opinion that is validated by someone else. I also like to separate the wheat from the chaff without actually having to sift through the latter like so much chaff. What the fuck is chaff, anyway? What's the deal with chaff?

So, I got a part-time internship at a literary agency in the big, scary city. If you saw a guy in an ape suit sprinting around 26th and Broadway last Friday at around 4:30, and then sprinting and looking really confused and angry around 53rd and 5th Monday at around 2:15, that was me being late for interviews (the latter "informational"). But I got the internship because I uttered this killer line as I walked in the door, sweaty and panting uncontrollably: "I just flew in from Munich, and boy are my arms tired." Granted, it's a line from a years-old Becks commercial that I often repeat, and it made no sense in the context of the interview and I didn't actually say it, but everyone there ate it up and hoisted me up on a chair, Bar Mitzvah-style, and then proclaimed me Leader For Life. Fin. In a future entry, topic number two: what I'll be thinking as I'm smoking a cigar, taking a walk around some eerily quiet suburban neighborhood on August 15th, 2032.

Federer lost. Long live Federer!

Monday, January 24, 2005

My Kharma Ran Over My Rubix Cube

Ok, so I had just urinated but hadn't yet flushed the toilet, when this facewash cream I use fell into the toilet. This wouldn't have happened in comfortable old suburbia, but I'm staying at a friend's place here in Brooklyn, and all my toiletries are perched precariously on a shelf above the porcelain throne. I had to fish this thing out, then wrap it up in toilet paper and throw it away. Why am I telling you this? Because it makes me feel less alone in this topsy-turvy universe. Sooner or later, this blog will be solely devoted to the description of masturbation-related antics and we can all revel in the comedy of my private life.

I wonder what Ulysses S. Grant would think if he knew that in 2005 you could write about facewash falling into a toilet on a newfangled invention called the internets. He'd probably think that civilization had come a long way since his oldfangled days.

Regarding Sunday's football, as Josh Glickman said, I think I now know what it feels like to be a Yankees fan. It's definitely a lot of fun, but the old, pre-title flaming desire just can't be replicated. (Note: I wrote something here earlier which the first comment is in reference to, and which I've decided to reword (sorry, anonymous))... what I meant was that being a Patriots fan, you're expecting success every time out. It's like going to a bar and expecting to go home with whoever you want--perhaps the sixtieth time you did it it wouldn't be as cool as the first). It's important to savor these moments, though, because I may never see another team like this. Like everything else, during the lean times it's hard to imagine success, and during the fat times (right now), it's impossible to imagine the Patriots being average again. But they will be, someday. Just as I will fall from the dizzying heights of success, cut out the people closest to me, and withdraw into my drug addiction until it almost kills me. Then I'll discover Jesus.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Trader Joe's Chocolate Truffles Are Delicious

I drove to New York the other night because I was sick of the jostling claustrophobia of the Chinatown bus, and because I love to drive. Now my car is being covered with layer upon layer of snow, and Matt Drudge has graced his website with an unusual blue headline to illustrate the gravity of the situation. (UP TO 21 INCHES, 50 MPH WINDS). I'll have to dig my car out of this massive God-orgasm on Monday, but I'm still glad I brought it, even though its headlights dim when you cut the wheel all the way to either side, it squeals at seemingly random times, it runs like a retarded '47 Studebaker, and so on and so forth. I treated it like shit for years, so it's not a big surprise.

Anyway, I'm glad I brought it because I'm caught up in the romantic American ideal of the road. It had been months since I had taken a trip longer than a couple of hours--after last year's run of trip after trip and my car racking up miles like never before, I've been using it like a granny--sparingly, just to go to church and the supermarket, as some cliche that might not really be a cliche could go.

On Thursday, I was having a pretty shitty day--I woke up with notions of packing up everything for the big move so I wouldn't have to do all the work when I got back, but I ended up lazing around in signature fashion while my mom grew more anxious about my departure with every passing minute. She began to yell, I began to yell, punches were thrown, the whole megillah. I finally got in my hoopty at around six in the o'clock, and let me tell you something: once you get on that open road (the Mass. Pike, I-84, I-91, and I-95 in this case), your troubles don't exactly vanish, but, well, if you're playing the right music, you feel like you might be a character in the closing scene of one of the 800 movies that end with a character driving away. I can see why it's so common, because it's a very attractive option.

That movie sequence thing feels good, because it implies promise and change, transformation. There's something awesome and mystical about being able to pick up and leave--also some notion that things will be different and better wherever you end up. The other night, I knew my anxieties and such would dissipate somewhat as soon as I got on the road, and sure enough, they did. Driving also requires a sort of robotlike focus on what's in front of you, which can be pretty damn refreshing in today's frenzied world full of beer commercials and lascivious underwear models.

Also, I enjoy being alone a lot of the time, and driving makes you feel like you're in your own little moving bubble, immune to all the little criticisms that bother me when I'm talking to people. (Like, nobody can tell me that there's an easier way to defog my windshield. If I'm doing it the wrong way, so be it. I'm not the wiser, but I'll never know, either. Ignorance is bliss. This is difficult to explain).

Also, I ate dinner at Rein's Deli (old standby for everyone who drives between Boston and New York), and there's something great about walking into a restaurant by yourself, scanning everyone, and imagining that people are giving you the once-over, trying to figure out who you are and what you're doing there. Being alone lets you focus on all kinds of things that you wouldn't pay attention if your friends or family were around. Of course, it's lonely to have something funny happen and have nobody to share it with. But it also makes you feel like a grizzled, mysterious traveler who's seen it all, and is used to laughing with strangers. In short, it, too, makes you feel the movie thing. It's liberating, if not always exciting, to be out of your element, completely without connection to your usual world (except for that goddamn cell phone).

There's often something disappointing about the end of a drive, when you have that slightly frantic, unreal sense of dislocation that travel brings. When you arrive, you're not quite sure what do with yourself. Your whole trip has been leading up to this moment, and you usually just end up sitting on a couch and doing something boring like catching up or watching TV. There's something about it that feels like a letdown. I don't feel like trying to explain this one more. Fuck it.

That's it for now. Remember to have your pets spayed and neutered.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Absolut Post

CNN really must have some rigorous screening techniques to let this poll become an article. I think I'll blame my friend Danny, who works there. Pretty funny stuff.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/01/19/poll/index.html

Thanks to the excellent Talking Points Memo blog for bringing this to my attention. Ah, I sounded like a real blog there for a second.

One of my problems is that I too easily feel like I've accomplished something. Today I was changing addresses for magazines, phone bill, etc., and just doing that made me feel deserving of a break and a chance to watch Roger Federer's highly entertaining match with an Asian fellow by the name of Suzuki. I like saying a (blank) fellow by the name of (blank). It makes me sound old-fashioned, which is always good.

I just skidded several feet turning onto my street. It was snowing like a motherfucker, that picturesque fluffy kind. See my comments re: "godforsaken hellscape" yesterday. Good thing Brooklyn will be slightly (five to seven degrees, I estimate) warmer than this. I keep telling my brother I'll notice the difference.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Coach Carter Takes Manhattan

Has it really been five days since I've updated? Oh, these January days do fly by, don't they? When it's one degree outside, as it is right now, you lose track of time like a one-legged mule digging for fool's gold.

Folksy, nonsensical similes aside, this medium is proving difficult to manage. But I'm going to soldier on for now, because someone at the Boys and Girls Club of Compton told me that giving up is for pussies, and that someone is Samuel L. Jackson. He also told me I had to maintain a 2.3 grade point average if I wanted to continue to not give up. I told him that I had well over a 2.3, but he shouted me down and stared at me intimidatingly. I've since used his tactics whenever I'm losing an argument. The tactics usually don't work.

I think that last paragraph was funnier than most of what passes for humor at the New Yorker. But do they publish my shit? No! The fact that I've never submitted anything should not stop David Remnick from coming to my house for some sort of recruiting interview. I could set up a brothel, like in "Risky Business," and he could look over my writing and say "It's good, but it's not exactly 'The New Yorker,' is it?" (Or whatever it was that dude said). And then he could fuck any one of the hookers in my house, and then publish my writing, and then I'd be on the path to stardom. Yeah, that's the ticket!

It's very goddamn difficult, as Holden Caulfield might have said, to write without these annoying pop culture references, isn't it? If I ever do get around to writing that novel, future college students (who would surely be reading it) would need footnotes like "Samuel L. Jackson--popular African-American actor of 1990's and 2000's, most famous for role as hitman in Quentin Tarantino's classic 'Pulp Fiction.'"

And this post was supposed to be about how I'm an asshole to my mother... looks like I"ve gotten off-topic once again. This Lee-Waters gal is really giving Sharapova a run for her money. I hope Sharapova doesn't lose, because she's hot and Lee-Waters isn't. I think all blogging should just consist of unreadable stream of consciousness, or the blogger looking around their surroundings, like I am right now, and commenting on what they see (in this case, the TV).

Like I was saying, my mother and I have a close, good relationship on the whole, but a long time ago I settled into this comfort mode where I can just be a whiny bitch and criticize her all the time. I think it's got to stop, but it's not easy. Just because I've identified the problem, it isn't immediately solveable. And of course this doesn't apply to her solely at all. The limitations of this blog mean I can't elaborate further there, so I'll just say I'm a critical guy, in part because everyone I know annoys me in some way, as I was telling an old friend over lunch last week to her amusement. I'm a very, very easily annoyed person. Loud eating, mispronounced words, feigned stupidity. You name it, it annoys me. But fuck that, it doesn't give me a license to run my mouth, because I can give it but I sure as hell can't take it, even when I deserve it. See, I don't really like writing about semi-weighty personal topics like this, but it's nice to get it out there. I'm sort of giving it the short shrift in this post, but I'm giving you a general idea of at least one though process in my head.

My future landlord told me today that the elevator may not be working by move-in day, and that the gas for the stove may not be working for a month after we move in (we'll be provided with hotplates). My dad had raised very reasonable concerns about this sort of thing happening, which I raised to my future roommates, who didn't seem to care nearly as much as I did. I feel frustrated by this turn of events, and only want to be settled in New York with my new (used) file cabinet in order, the cable and internet working, and the Brian Eno song I mentioned earlier on the hi-fi. Somehow I think it might be a while before that happens.

Seriously, it's one fucking degree outside. I'm becoming increasingly impatient with cold weather in my old age. Why the fuck do people live in this godforsaken hellscape? But it its lovely in the summer and fall... in conclusion, Theodore Dreiser's uses water imagery in "Sister Carrie" just for the hell of it.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

How does the world work?

I hate logistics. Moving things from one place to another, setting things up once you get there, figuring out what goes where, filling out all the paperwork involved, etc. Just thinking about doing these sorts of things stresses me out and makes it difficult to focus on anything else (right now I'm thinking about how to get my stuff from here to Brooklyn in the next couple of weeks).

I look around me and see so much movement and activity. Today I was at the mall, and just walking through the department stores is (for me) kind of awe-inspiring. So much material--tons and tons of clothes, racks to put the clothes on, little items they're selling, tables for display, and all the rest of it. There's so much goddamn STUFF in the world, and thinking about where it all comes from, how it's made, and all the human ingenuity that goes into selling it can make one's head spin. There really is something to be said for living in a rustic setting, away from all of this.

Be more clear, Ben. You're not backing up your points with evidence. Well, it's hard to explain. I'm just constantly amazed at and overwhelmed by this world's complexity. If I had to guess how many people lived in America, it would be a lot more than do, I think. As a society, I don't think we're as stressed out about logistics as I am as a person. If we were, none of this shit would ever get done.

Someday I will summarize this point eloquently. Today doesn't seem to be the day.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Roger Federer

This guy is inhumanly good. I really wanted to watch a tennis match today, but nobody in this country gives a shit about tennis unless there's an American involved, and even then they'd rather watch Arena League football. Would it be too much to televise Federer Vs. Lubijic (sp?) in the Qatar Open final?

Complaining into an online void is almost as fun as watching "Boyz 'N the Hood" (I'm continuing with the "urban"-themed programming this morning).

Peace.

Every town got two malls

Today, as I was sorting through some old stuff with my mom (now that I'm moving, I feel a much-needed sense of urgency to take care of some shit), I looked through my old high school records and was reminded of how awful my grades were in high school--and when I say awful I don't mean awful in the same way annoying good students mean after they take a test they're not sure they aced--"I really think I fucked up that test," they'll say, and then they get a 92. When I say that, I mean I'm expecting like a 55 or less. I also encountered numerous comments on report cards that indicated I wasn't working up to my potential, which I've been hearing since I was a wee lad. You might say it's the theme of my life so far. Even a recommendation from a good but ornery english teacher (I got a B- in the class, so you can really see I was reaching for someone to say something good) opened his letter by saying that I was in the middle of his students in terms of grades, and that "Someday everything will click in a Ben Hart paper." He proceeded to say that I was a talented writer, etc., but that I seemed to have too much fun writing (not really true) and don't spend enough time developing my point. Another thing I've been hearing for yonks and yonks.

I'm not sure why I'm writing about this, since as I've said roughly 300 times I don't want to turn this into some sad-sack "I'm angry/confused/depressed/annoyed" kind of blog. I've realized that with my problems--whether it's something that's happening to me now, or the dwelling of shitty things past, I (like the rest of the world, I guess), have a real confessional tendency. Basically, here's my criteria to feeling better. Let's say (as an example), I'm in a bank, and the teller asks me how she can help me, and I say "Um, I'd like to close my vagina" instead of "my account." Let's just say I've got vagina on the brain that day, and I slip up, as it were. I might walk around after that thinking about the incident constantly and not being able to get anything done or think about anything else seriously. But then let's say I tell my friend Joe Bloggs about the incident (Bloggs is the British version of Smith, use it at a party sometime). Bloggs doesn't laugh excessively or say "That's awful, I can't believe you did that"--if he says that, I'm fucked until I find someone better. Bloggs either says "That's funny" in a muted sort of way, or says "Oh, I told a bank teller to lick my grundle once, whatever."

Telling one person about this and not having their reaction be shock or outrage goes a long way toward mental convalescence. And I do a lot dumb shit on a daily basis, so this strategy comes in handy quite a bit.

Man, people reading this, especially people I haven't talked to in a while, might get the wrong impression. I'm just very neurotic, that's all, ok? Deal with it! I'm moving to New York in three weeks, and despite my fears that working a regular job (when, NOT IF, I get one), combined with adjusting to a city that eats pieces of shit like me for brunch will cause massive brain damage, I think it'll be a fun time. I got a lot of friends there, which is more than I can say about Falluja.

I was just watching "Bring the Pain." That Chris Rock is really going places.

Argh, writing is fucking hard.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Wilford Brimley on retards

Within a few hours of the dawn of the new year, I found myself in a kitchen arguing with a young idealist from southern Oregon. Good thing I didn't make any resolutions about being less argumentative this year. (My resolutions were to correct all of my character flaws and to stop picking my nose so much. I don't think either has much of a chance at success).

Anyway, this girl and I were arguing about (in simplified form) whether violence is ever the answer. I take a certain pride and pleasure in arguing to the right of liberals, even though I'm one myself, in most senses--of enraging their moral sensibilities so that they come to see me as some bogeyman, some representative of the massive oil-fueled machine out there that they are so certainly against. Usually the topic is something like free trade or sweatshops (I've been heavily influenced by my father, who could outargue me on most issues very quickly, and who is also certainly not a Republican--in fact, he can't vote, so he's not anything--but he sees through bullshit better than anyone I know and doesn't stick to one side, which I think is a sign of intelligence).

This time, it wasn't overtly political, but comparisons were made between punching people and bombing countries, and since I was on the punching people side, I may as well have been Paul Wolfowitz.

Ah Christ, I went out for a while, then came back, and now it's been hours since I wrote that last sentence, and now I don't feel like doing this anymore. Too bad for you, because this was going to be an amazing post.

I'm in a shitty mood.