Friday, November 30, 2007

There's Still So Much I Haven't Figured Out

Can we take a break from social commentary and heavy life stuff for a minute? I this problem, I've had it for years, and despite my best efforts I just can't figure out what to do about it. Maybe you can help.

What do you do with clothes that aren't dirty, but aren't clean either?

I rewear clothes. You might think I'm gross, but it's because I'm not a shopper. My closet is meager by any girl's standards, and my limited wardrobe and the five flights and two blocks between me and my laundry mat means I'll work a pair of jeans nice and good before I throw them in the hamper. I still shower regularly and everything, but I just can't bring myself to believe that that my favorite pants or the occasional t-shirt is unwearable after one round. Am I disgusting? Should I be embarrassed? I can't tell.

But that's not my problem. My problem is that, in any room I've ever inhabited since the age of 13, I accumulate these clothes in cleanliness purgatory, and they pile up on the biggest available surface. This time around, it's the cute little loveseat we have in our bedroom. I think I've sat in it twice, and the rest of the time it's served as a large, open-air hamper for clothes that I don't want to fold back up and put in my bureau but that aren't ready for the wash pile.

So maybe you have some advice. What do you do with your still-good clothes? Do you put them back in the drawers to mix indiscriminately with the Downy-fresh unworns? Some sort of rack or hooks on the wall? Or does anything you touch go straight to the hamper? Is it odd that after thirteen years I'm still finding this difficult?

GTD from 805***7317:
hihi it poois im a monkey ooahah hehe lol
rokmysox jobro

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What the Hell is Going On?

Have you seen Sears' new marketing campaign? It's called the "Don't just give a gift, grant a wish" campaign, and I'm only aware of it because it's been gravely offending me with its TV spots this holiday season.

The first time it came to my attention, I didn't see the whole commercial. What I did see was a mother throwing open the door to a ten-year-old girl's walk-in closet to reveal about thirty outfits complete with shoes, excessories, etc. The girl squealed and hugged her mom, and over this timeless image of familial joy a spokeswoman advised, "This holiday season, don't just give a gift. Grant a wish!"

I'd obviously misheard. Or missed an essential part of the commercial. This kid was dying from cancer, right? She was a crackhead baby who spent her life in a burlap sack and had finally been adopted into a family who acknowleged the necessity of clothing, right? At the very least, the mother must've warned the girl just before I tuned in, "Now Susie, remember that we'll be sharing what's in here with your thirteen other sisters." Right??

Wrong. A few days later, I saw the commercial in full and all I'd missed was the mom explaining, "Susie has always loved fashion. She wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. But the last couple of years, she's gone a school that requires a uniform!" Cut to shot of privately-educated Susie walking home from school in plaid and knee socks, the poor thing. "Well, this year, Susie's moving to a new school that doesn't require uniforms, and I decided to make her Christmas really special." Cut to closet door, cut to wretched excess, cut to spoiled, spoiled child hugging indulgent, credit card-weilding mom. Dad isn't around. He's out whipping the backs of Chinese slaves to pay for his TEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER'S BRAND NEW WARDROBE.

Is this not insane to anyone else?

This year, Sears has given up on advertising present possibilities to instead suggest that America buy multiples of what would've been one generous gift in past years. Are we really there? As a nation, I mean? Has innovation just given up? Have we forgone the possibility of spending our declining dollars on, I dunno, eco-friendly, oil-free, socially-aware products and instead said fuck it, let's just buy ten of what we already have? Who's idea was this?

Oh, that's right. Sears.

It's spreading, too. I saw another Sears commercial that showed a giggling family reveal to a shocked dad that this year, the hell with saving for college! Insead we got entire garage filled with tools! And I think it's American Express? Maybe Visa that has a holiday commercial showing dad surprising mom with not one, but two cars. The implication being, "Any hardworking jackass can buy his wife one car. But are you man enough to take on the debt of two brand new, overly-loaded, luxury vehicles?"

And people are treating this like it's completely normal. I Googled "Don't just give a gift, grant a wish" and the articles that came up were all on how nice it is that Sears is including brown people in its commercials and going green this year by offering their catalogue online. I feel like I'm going crazy.

Don't let them do this to us, America. We've well explored the path of excess and look where it got us. The last thing we should want is to widen it into a five-lane interstate of excess. So this year, you should consider not buying things at all, and if you must, I'm sure one will suffice. And whatever you do, DON'T BUY IT FROM SEARS.

I mean...Jesus.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Great Lies

"The great lie in America is that happiness is available to anyone whose means and desires coincide."

GTD from
Put your lassie on fire of pleasement!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Heart New York City Shoe Repair Shops

I've already told you about the joys of Uriel's, but I immediately felt bad about it because I really should have told you about St. Mark's Shoe Repair first. It's in my neighborhood, it's where I go to get all my shoes repaired, and it's absolute heaven.

First of all, it's impossibly small. Even smaller then Uriel's. You can see it here, but I'm not kidding when I tell you the photo makes it look bigger. After doing some internet research, I've come to realize that St. Marks Shoe Repair is actually famous for making custom shoes - I guess Kate Moss has a pair? - but my relationship with them is strictly repair related. It first started because I had this really perfectly fantastic pair of brown leather Kenneth Cole boots that I wore every day walking miles around the city for like two years, and needless to say I was constantly wearing the soles out.

I found St. Marks Shoe Repair when I snapped the heel of my boot off one day, leaving this horrific stagger of nails sticking out of the sole. I didn't have another pair of shoes on me, of course, because I was on foot and miles away from my apartment (although I usually don't miss owning a car, there's something to be said for always having a trunk with you at times like this, and in it shoes and shirts and purses and books and a herd of loose lip glosses rolling around).

Luckily, that fateful day I was on St. Marks Place - a familiar street. I got my tongue pierced on St. Marks in 1999 when I first moved to New York (and spent a year lisping and enraging my father), and remembered that just across the from the piercing shop was a tiny little store that sold used Converse (gross), and housed a bent man working leather in the back. I hobbled over, and Boris, the nice Belarusian man who always wears a Tam and works the front, told me they could fix my boots while I waited.

As with Uriel at Uriel's, Boris is the soul of St. Marks Shoe Repair. He has a thick Eastern European accent, chain smokes in his shop with post-Giuliani abandon, and treats even my most desperate, embarrassing, neglected, swiss cheese-soled jobs with wonderful nonchalance. This? he seems to say with his shrug, squinting through the smoke at the fist-sized hole in the heel of my boot. I have repaired holes three times this size with an awl and the tendon of a rabbit in the dark of a Minsk February night with only the light of a quarter moon to see by. Of course I can repair your tame Manhattan walking boot.

"Twenty dollars for the whole thing, come back tomorrow," is all I actually get, but it's enough. I pay, he hands me a ticket. The work is always flawless.

And as if dramatic former-Soviet fantasies aren't reason enough to go, I have now been to St. Marks Shoe Repair enough times that Boris recognizes me and waves me up to the front of the line. It's a truly proud moment, to squeeze past the ass-crack leather and NYU ponytails of the browsers to Boris, who doesn't smile, doesn't chat, just takes my shoes and gives me my ticket with an easiness made sweet by repetition, by the simple act of sharing something with someone over and over.

Photos by Jefferson Siegel

Monday, November 26, 2007

Insulation is Important

We made it home safe and sound. Kenny Loggins, though, proved to be a real pain in the ass. We discovered that the heater no longer worked a half hour into the trip but, because we were sort of bundled up and still in temperate lower New York, thought it wouldn't be a problem. Besides, what with the engine running and our combined body heat, the van had to warm up eventually, right?

Actually, no.

I don't know if you've ever ridden around in a moving van whose insulation was ripped out in order to make more room in the back for queen mattresses and oversized vanities, but I don't recommend it. At least not in Massachusetts in November. About halfway there my toes started aching with cold, and by the time we arrived at my aunt and uncle's house, I couldn't feel them at all. I thought coming back to New York would be better, since we were traveling while the sun was out and heading south, but the temperature had dropped to the 30s and we kept having to stop to warm up at gas stations and depressing, rural McDonalds.

And to make matters worse, Kenny's radio stopped working about an hour into the ride back. I know. Shitty. Car radios, I've found, actually encourage conversation, because they fill the silence and take pressure off the passengers. All we had was a whistle of air coming through the dash somewhere and the rattle of a toolbox in the back, lulling us into a meditation on the passing road and the nature of cold.

Anyway, we're back home, and despite this post and the last, I'm glad we went. This Thanksgiving would've been hard wherever I was, and it was really nice to have family and a fire and did I mention the hot tub?? There was a hot tub. And nothing alleviates I'm-about-to-explode bloat like hot water under a cool moon.

Now I have to go write a ten page paper. A paper! I haven't written a paper since 2003. Back then, though, it was whole treatises on Mongolian genetic proliferation and social networking among sexual deviants. This time around, I only have to discuss Sherman Alexie's What You Pawn I Will Redeem, and I still find myself at a loss. How do you fill ten pages without making things up? Do yourself a favor and go read it, it's really good. And if you can figure out what in the world the ending's about, shoot me an email.

Enough procrastination.


Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm Going to Hate the Holidays

In our long-distance world, where families are strung out across the country or the globe, the holidays are the one time of year everyone comes together to be reminded who they're related to. So it makes sense that it can be a tough time for the grieving. The pamphlets warned me about this. I was expecting it. So why was yesterday so hard?

By all other accounts, it was a really lovely Thanksgiving. My Aunt Di cooked an absolutely beautiful meal and Uncle Buff carved the turkey, and there was the requisite stuffing and gravy and pie, and wine and cocktails and dogs and a fire, and my cousins Devon and Sienna flew in from Los Angeles, and Sienna's girlfriend Tharyn was here from Boston, and my other cousin Rhea and her girlfriend Sam came over from Easthampton, and of course J and I, and the whole thing was festive and cozy and the house smelled amazing.

But then we sat down, and it was announced that we would all say out loud what we were thankful for this year, and suddenly what had felt warm and right and completely without discomfort turned on me. I was one of the last to go, and as we worked our way around the table I wracked my brain for something to say. There had to be something, after all. Life, love, health, if not happiness. Everyone has something to be thankful. That's the point of the whole exercise.

Not me, though. I thought and thought and all I could come up with was the furious realization that I wasn't thankful at all. Not for a goddamn thing. Everything I have, everything I should be grateful for, paled in comparison to the nasty, bloated thoughts taking up my mind. I'm not thankful. I'm miserable. And no one should expect me to be anything but. My brother is dead and around me every day are brothers and siblings, their shared histories suddenly excessive, their shared intimacies suddenly garish. And the last thing I wanted to do was suck it up, be mature, and admit that I really do have it good, after all.

"I'm thankful for family," I said lamely. I felt like crying.

So I did. Not at dinner - I wasn't going for spectacle - but afterwards, down in the basement room where I'm staying, face down on the bed with a ball of my aunt's supersoft toiletpaper clenched in my hand. Rhea came to say goodbye and I gave her a snotty, swollen hug. Later, after I felt better, I washed my face and went back upstairs to eat a turkey and stuffing sandwich.

I can't wait for January. Apparently, I'm becoming one of those people who hates the holidays.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Well, We're Off

And we're late.

We're taking Kenny Loggins up to Amherst to have Thanksgiving with my Aunt Di and Uncle Buff (but you can't call him that, only people who knew him before 1970 and their offspring can call him Uncle Buff. He now goes by Blair). I am so very excited! Don't you just love Thanksgiving? As a nation, have we ever come up with a better meal?? Stuffing and gravy and pie???

Last year, J and I went up to Sylvia's in Harlem for Thanksgiving, and it was delicious and wonderful and everything, but then we woke up Friday with the sudden and horrible understanding as to why Thanksgiving should not be done at a restaurant - no leftovers!

So we're hanging around my aunt and uncle's house until at Saturday to take as much advantage of leftovers as we can, and on Friday we'll be getting together with Kyle's boss, who also happens to be in Amherst for Thanksgiving, and who spent a lot of time with my brother over the last year.

My posting may be intermittent this week, but I'm bringing my camera and will post pictures when I can.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Play For Me, I'll Cry For You

So the Bright Eyes show was absolutely amazing. And I'm not just saying that. I had been repeatedly warned that their shows tend to be not that great. Unprofessional, short, and drunken were the adjectives of choice. So I was prepared for them to suck, even at Radio City Music Hall, and I was willing to come back and report to you that my beloved Bright Eyes were a disappointment live.

But before I tell you how wrong I was, can we talk for a second about Radio City? Have you ever been there? It's massive and grand with a ridiculous amount of orange fabric everywhere. I mean, just look at this:

But what blew my mind were the acoustics. They were spectacular. I thought the thing about live music was that the quality is never as good as a studio recording, that you went because the immediacy and energy made up for it. But I was wrong. Apparently, all you need is a really great sound mixer and one of the most famous venues in America to make absolutely gorgeous live music.

And of course it helps if the band is genius. Bright Eyes really had their shit together last night. The lyrics were brilliant, the trumpet player kept making me shiver, and they covered my favorite Tom Petty song in the whole wide world. No one seemed drunk, either.

I have something to confess, though. I cried. I cried at the last Modest Mouse show, too. I haven't been crying too much these days, but there's something about the intensity of a live performance that just gets me. They're hunched and screaming up there, they're thrashing their instruments, and the way my collarbones vibrate it's like they're telling me they know. It doesn't matter if the song's about war or love or New York, when it gets to the part where the guitars are wild and the singer is pushing the last bit of air from his lungs, my eyes start to burn and I have to look up and remind myself that I'm happy.

I wonder if this will continue, if I'll always cry at live music, if it will always make me think of my brother. I don't mind if it does. It's cathartic. When I left the Bright Eyes show the air was brisk and I was spent and calm. If I felt a little sad, it was the sweet kind.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Birthday Dream

I had a birthday Saturday, which was a lot of fun, though I ended up with food poisoning on Sunday. Severe vomiting was hardly an auspicious beginning to my 26th year...but hey, there's no way 26 can be worse than 25, right?

That night, some of my girlfriends and I went to a bar, and let me tell you (if you already don't know), tipsy women will get into some bizarre conversations when there's no testosterone around. Did you know they have hair-dyeing kits specifically for the pubic region? Me neither.

And the celebration continues. Tonight, J and I are going to a Bright Eyes show at Radio City Music Hall. I haven't seen Bright Eyes live, nor have I been to Radio City, and my excitement grows by the hour.

But really, the reason I'm writing this post is to tell you about the dream I had Friday night. It was a Kyle dream, only my second since he died, and, unlike 99.9% of the dreams I have, I woke up with it absolutely clear and coherent in my mind.

Kyle and I were in my apartment, but my apartment was in some sort of New York City projects skyscraper, and out the window I could see one of those benched courtyards that drug dealers use as commercial spaces. Kyle and I were just hanging out...well, hanging out isn't the right phrase. We were more coexisiting, sharing the same space out of necessity more than choice. Just like families do.

And Kyle was being a brat. Bugging me for this and that, going through my shit, being an overall pain in the ass, just like he was in life. This struck me as funny, even in the dream. I had a sort of half awareness that he was already dead, and in the dream I couldn't help but laugh at the contrast between how reverentially we've all been treating him in death and the reality of his life, in which he was frequently a loud, obnoxious, punk-ass kid. It was reassuring, though. I'd been feeling all this guilt at having spent so much of my time squabbling with him, and the dream was a reminder that hey, just because Kyle's dead doesn't change the fact that he could be a real jerk sometimes. He was a little brother, for chrissakes, and while I certainly could have had more big-sisterly patience, he could've spent a little less time snooping through my stuff.

Anyway, at the end of the dream, Kyle leaned out the window to shout to all the people down in the courtyard, "My sister's doing a reading in ten minutes! And she has huge tits!" The crowd roared, and I looked out to see not the few dozen people that had been milling around out there, but hundreds and hundreds of cheering people in puffy coats, all with their faces turned up to me, all begging for the show to begin.

So I picked up a play (I don't know which one or who wrote it, regrettably), stripped to my waist, stood in the window, and began to monologue. I only got a few words out, though, because then the cops came and began busting heads, and I watched, bare-breasted, as a riot broke out below me.

Weird, huh?

GTD from 760***4827:
Wana get up nails dond wit me 2nite? N den chil at my casa?

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Little Things

We stole our air conditioner.

A year or so ago, the people in the apartment next to ours moved out in the middle of the night and left their door ajar. We went in after a few days to make sure no one was dead, and found that they'd left some stuff, including a naked half-mannequin and a functional if knobless air conditioner.

We installed the AC in our window and it served us well most of the summer, but towards the end of August it became clear that this would be its last season. Last night, we finally took it out (and set it next to the trash can, where it will no doubt sit for weeks until we lug it downstairs).

My point, though, is that I woke up this morning to find my bedroom flooded with light. It was really amazing. Yes, our AC was ancient and large, but who knew its removal would let in 150% more sun.

It's hard to overstate how much you can feel the change. I don't know if you get this where you're from, but the streets are so narrow and the buildings so tall in New York that a little thing like putting in an AC can severely darken a room. And the worst part is, you get used to it. Sunlight is such a luxury that when faced with the possibility of a little less, you just kind of shrug and talk about buying another lamp. What with your income, you can barely afford the sunlight you have.

The same thing happens when scaffolding goes up. In New York, scaffolding goes up and stays up. For ever. I don't know why, but for some reason it doesn't seem to cost anyone anything to just leave scaffolding wherever they want for an eternity. So it's a sad morning when you step outside and the scaffolding truck is illegally parked in front of your stoop, promising to block the light for five months longer than it takes to finish the city-mandated repairs your landlord finally acknowledged.

But then, one fine day, what feels like years after you've forgotten that you live above ground, you step outside to find the scaffolding gone and it's like God lifted the roof off of the sky. The sun kisses your skin, you float down your stairs, and for weeks you pause with your key at the door and turn to smile at all that beautiful wide air above you.

It's a really wonderful feeling. It's a lot like hauling the largest AC anyone's ever seen out of one of your two windows and remembering that there's all that light to let back in.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Harder They Fall

I stopped blogging about mosquitoes because, what with Kyle and Iraq and my monthly student loan statements, the tragedy of scratching through the night sort of pales in comparison.

But that's not to say the attacks have stopped. Here we are, November 15th, and somehow a super race of cold weather mosquitoes is breeding in my apartment. We've taken out the screens and taped up every crack in the windows and still, night after night I wake up scratching. My nightstand is cluttered with sprays and lotions and anti-itch creams. The shapes of the bottles have become so familiar I can reach over and apply an ointment without even waking up all the way. Occasionally I get lucky and am able to kill one, but there's always another the next night, buzzing my ear as I drift off to sleep, taunting me to get up, turn on the light, and go to battle.

There's one mosquito in particular that's the bane of my existence. This guy is huge, much larger than the bitty ones I'm able to kill, and evolutionarily superior. He knows how to hide. I only ever get a glimpse of him before bed, and no matter how quickly I rushed to turn on the light and track the son of a bitch down, he always eludes me. I've come to see him as the Mosquito Big Boss, watching from the shadows as I swat at his foot soldiers, waiting until I'm completely unconscious before coming out to torture me. And how long a mosquito is supposed to live exactly? Because I swear this dude has been feasting on me for weeks. Weeks.

Anyway, this morning at around 6:30, J got up and sat at the end of the bed. I had no idea what he was doing - I suspected it was cat-related - and I wasn't going to waste my last half hour of sleep figuring it out. When my alarm went off, I stumbled to the bathroom with my don't-fucking-talk-to-me look on my face.

I came back a few minutes later, teeth brushed and ready to engage in human interaction, and J was still sitting on the edge of the bed. "Babe," he said. "Come here. I have something to show you that's going to make your morning."

Unless he had a suitcase full of cash or a copy of the published novel I'd unknowingly written and sold in a Fight Club trance, there was no way he was going to make my morning. I stayed up too late last night. The sky was gray and the forecast predicted rain. But oh, how I'd underestimated him.

He patted the blanket, I sat down, and then he slowly turned to point at a half-dollar-sized bloodstain on our white walls.

"Is that..."

"It is."

"Is it...him?"

"Babe, I got him."

He was got alright, with what looked like a pint of our blood bursting from his evil little belly. Rain or not, work or not, J was right. What a fantastically terrific morning. May November 15th, 2007, be forever remembered as the day J felled the beast. For in a time of great turmoil and uncertainty, it is the little victories that help us fight on another day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm Getting Older, Kyle Isn't

I have a birthday coming up and I'm feeling kind of weird about it (not in the usual kind of way - while I have friends in their twenties who have already started fretting about how old we're getting, I have enough to worry about right now without forcing a premature midlife crisis).

Instead, what's bothering me is the obvious reality that I will continue to have birthdays. Once a year, every year. For the rest of my life. And this is suddenly strange because this morning I realized that, while I will continue to get older, Kyle will not. He will always be 22. The three and a half years that separated us our entire lives will now grow larger and larger, so that next year I'll be four and a half years older, and then five and a half years older, six and a half after that, and on and on until someday (if I'm lucky) I'll be an old woman and my brother will be still young and smooth and straight, the only pictures of him glowing with a careless expectation that life will go on forever.

It's a weird feeling, to be free of the three-and-a-half-year chain that linked Kyle and I. It was just long enough that I got a good headstart on everything, but short enough that I always felt him a step behind me. Grade school, middle school, adolescence, high school, college. I did it all first, spent enough time there to get used to the idea so that when Kyle arrived I could affect a jaded boredom with the nuances of the lunch line, the DMV, the apartment hunt.

Not any more, though. All the firsts of adulthood - marriage and a house and a job that doesn't require me to run errands - I'll try and fail and eventually figure out on my own. But when I turn around to tell Kyle just what's what in that patronizing tone only a big sister can adopt, all I'll find is a many-year silence stretching back to this birthday, to the last time I was three and a half years older, to the time when my brother didn't know anything about life that I couldn't teach him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Call It, Friend-O

Go here to get your very own death portrait. It's part of a Canadian No Country for Old Men ad campaign. You can't access it through the American site, which is weird, as is the feeling of willingly participating in a corporate marketing experiment. But still, it's fun.

GTD from 617***6041:
I landed. thanks for tunes and good time. luv u.

Poll Part II

A big thanks to all of you who weighed in on the Do You Realize? debate. Here are the results:

There were 4 resounding No's, ages 41, 46, 49, and 59. Since I have decided that Kyle would also be a no (if only because I am a yes), we'll add a 22 and call it 5.

There were 8 Yes's, ages 20, 22, late 20s, 33, 48, 49, 50s, and 58. And then there's me of course, at the tail end of 25, making it a total of 9.

While my sample is hardly representative, I think it's safe to say that there's a definite age bias working here. With the exception of Kyle, the No's all cleared 40. And with the exception of my roommate (41, m, and only likes psychadelic or dub music made between February and August of 1967), the No's were all women, and related to me. Draw from that what you will.

So how about this guy? He's the new Dylan, as far as I'm concerned. And Kyle didn't like him, either.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I've Been Watching a Lot of Stuff

I'm back.

Man, that was a bad one. I went to a joint birthday party Saturday night with a"Cruising-1979" theme. I'm still not quite sure what that means, except that there were big sunglasses, a few afros, and something called Dramamine Punch.

I know, I know. Never drink the punch. But I did, and paid for it all of Sunday.

The only upside was I spent my time in bed watching a dozen Heroes episodes. Have you seen it? If you've ever worn glasses or read comic books or had desperate fantasies about magical creatures and superhuman abilities, you will absolutely love this show. Love. It's nerd porn.

Anyway, did you see the Dog apology?

While normally I hate the celebrity public talk show apology for its PR-handbook, blatantly insincere, dull-eyed recitation, I have to admit Dog's kinda got to me. Sincerity has always been his strong suit, and his seventh grade education and years spent in jail go a long way towards explaining why he would use the dreaded N-word.

But still, Dog really needs to watch himself. As Jay-Z said on Charlie Rose recently, "If you suffer through the experience of being black, you earn the right to use that word." Which means I can only use it on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and every other Sunday, and Dog can't use it at all.

Last, but nowhere near least, I saw No Country for Old Men. I'm not really sure what to say about it, because my superlatives won't do it justice. I'll just say that it's my new favorite movie ever. Cormac McCarthy and the Cohen Brothers. I know, I get chills, too. Go see it while it's still on the big screen. Those hills? That brush? That's the landscape of my dreams.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Have So Much to Tell You But...

I saw No Country for Old Men and Dog gave a tearful apology on Larry King, but I can't even begin to post right now because I am so.




Friday, November 9, 2007

I Have Another Question For You

So, as you may have read, I included a Flaming Lips song in my Wyoming is Beautiful post, because when I looked at Cindy's photograph with its big sky and little flowers and reaching, hopeful grain, I could only think of the bells and grandeur and wild happiness of Do You Realize? And I posted it sure that, even if no one else got the connection, they could love the photo and the song, because each were so obviously beautiful and easy on the senses.

But then my mom left this comment:

"i am not getting this. cindy's beautiful photo i get. but what's with that dreadful video. that wretched song. fake rabbits. bad elephant? help me out here. has it to do with the GTD?
oh. maybe hallucinogens."

And I have to say, this shocked the hell out of me. Here I thought the Flaming Lips were doing a modern day Beatles thing, what with their catchy, expansive melodies, Ringo Starr drum rolls, and love-conquers-all lyrics. I thought if any song on my iPod would play well to a Baby Boomer ear, Do You Realize? would be it.

So will you do me a favor? Listen to the song again and tell me what you think. Do you love it? Hate it? Understand it? Have I discovered one of those often discussed but rarely realized Generation Gaps, or is this just a case of my mom and I not seeing eye to eye? Please include your age (or at least your decade) in your response.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Year of the Bird

I left my apartment this morning to go to work and found a bird in my hallway. It was a pigeon and it didn't seemed to mind me too much, it just waddled away when it saw me. In fact, I think I minded it more than it minded me. This is now my fifth bird infiltration since September. Here I had gone almost twenty-six years with only one blurry childhood bird-in-the-house memory, and then within the space of two months I've had five birds of varying species come indoors. What in God's name is going on?

I had a vague memory of some symbolism or superstition attached to a bird in the house, so when I got to work, I did a Google search. Yahoo Answers had this for me. Apparently, a bird in the house means someone in your family is going to die unexpectedly within a year.

Scary, I know. I don't have that many immediate family members left to lose. And I'm the one seeing all these birds. What if it's me who's destined for a premature death? If I only have a year, how the hell am I going to get a novel written? What will my parents do with both kids gone?

Luckily, reason soon prevailed. My brother died unexpectedly, and not one bird came in to warn me beforehand. All these birds I'm seeing now must be late arrivals, sent from the far off land where these things are decided and only just making it to me with tardy warnings of my brother's death. Or maybe their presence now is an apology. "We meant to tell you," they're saying, "you want to be prepared for this sort of thing. But no one told us you have those cats and we had to go back and find a business address for you...anyway, we're here now. And we just want to say how sorry we are. Twenty-two years old. Jesus Christ."

GTD from 710***2611:
when does your hockey start?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wyoming Is Beautiful

Look at this.
My dad's photographer friend (she's my friend, too, but he found her first) Cindy Bennett took it. It reminds me of the Flaming Lips. Check Cindy out.

GTD from
(If your in your office, keep the speakers low, lol) I know you will like this. Heck you might even pass it on. LOL

What to Say at Your Brother's Funeral

I get a lot of hits from people searching for something to say at their brother's funeral. Coincidentally enough, I was faced with this exact same problem recently, though I have to admit it never occurred to me to turn to Google. Instead, I fretted and procrastinated and talked incessantly about how I had no clue what the hell I was going to say. How do you sum up someone else's life when you spent a good portion of it fighting with them? What words could possibly help your mother and your father and all your brother's friends on the worst day of their lives? How do you say goodbye to someone you never thought would leave?

The pressure was too much. I decided I wasn't going to say anything at all, then changed my mind, then changed it back. In the end, I wrote something down the morning of, partly because I knew I'd feel bad if I didn't, and partly because my mother's been telling everyone for years what a great writer I am, and what practical use is a writer in the family if you can't use her at times like this?

So yes, I've been through it, but if you've just lost a brother and came here looking for help or advice, I don't have much. You can read what I said here, and feel free to use it, but cream puffs may not resonate quite the same way with your family. Instead, say something that's going to make you feel better. Your brother is dead and your family loves you, so it doesn't matter what comes out of your mouth. Just make sure it means something to you, because later that night, when you're crying in your mother's house, it'll only matter that you got up there and said out loud what you maybe haven't said enough in life - that you love your brother, and that you'll miss him now that he's gone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Can You Make It Up to the Dead?

My dad read my Movies Make It Better post and emailed me to let me know this truly amazing fact:

Bumpy Johnson, the much-revered Harlem gangster who mentored Frank Lucas, was my great aunt Gloria's boyfriend! I know!! I'm not sure if this was before or after her six-year stint on the arm of Sugar Ray Robinson, but one thing I am sure of is that great aunt Gloria must've been one hot cookie. Sugar Ray and Bumpy J?

You'd never guess any of this, because looking at great aunt Gloria now all you'd see is her eighty-something, church-going, sweet grandma self. You'd never guess she burned up Lenox Ave, owned her own nightclub, and draped her windows in black because she hated "for the sun to catch me up." Kyle and I met her for the first time only two Thanksgivings ago and watched in awe as she flew up and down her daughter's steep staircase like it was nothing. In our last conversation, Kyle told me about how he was going to visit her down in Atlanta later that summer, and then maybe head up to New York to stay with me a few days. Maybe go to the corner where her nightclub used to be. Take a few pictures, even though none of it would look the same anymore.

I should do that for him. The last time Kyle was in New York by himself, I never got around to taking him to CBGBs like he wanted. He didn't even see that much of Manhattan. He stayed with me in my Bronx apartment. It was summer and sweltering, and I still refused to let him share my bed in the air-conditioned bedroom. He sweated the night out on the couch, his legs hanging off, an oscillating fan set up inches from his face.

I feel really bad about that.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Movies Make It Better

I haven't blogged in days, maybe you've noticed. I feel really bad about it. And I haven't checked my stats either, because when I see you visit me and nothing new is up I feel like such a tease. I don't mean to be, it's just that I haven't had anything to say. Do you ever feel that way? Like your brain is a white room with nothing - not even you - in it?

When I speak, I feel this way all the time - like I've got nothing. I'll be talking to you and suddenly I go blank, zero, empty of everything except a low emotional chord, plucked and buzzing where my thoughts used to be. I panic then. I'm in the middle of a conversation. I have to come up with something. But I can't. Because my brain has flipped into this lower, animal mode and I'm back in a room so white it doesn't have walls or a ceiling or even a floor, just a smothering emptiness in one dimension and a guitarstrum background, one-note emoting, the long buzz of how I feel.

Am I sounding crazy? I feel like I'm sounding crazy. You'd tell me if I sounded crazy, right?

But let's move on, because we've got some ground to cover.

Dog the Bounty Hunter is a racist. I'm sure you've heard, it's been big in the news. I'm disappointed, downright embarrassed really, because I gave him such a rousing endorsement not too long ago. I never would've guessed that hiding behind all those Dreamcatchers and Aloha's and Indian warrior beading was a niggersayer. Though maybe I should have. Just like how the loudest homophobe in the locker room tends to slap the most ass, Dog's gaudy cloak of Brown Spirituality should've tipped me off.

In better brown news, American Gangster is just so awesome I can't stand it. Denzel Washington in a suit with a gun, Harlem gritty in seventies glamor, Russell Crowe rumpled and righteous - I can't think of a better way to spend two hours and forty minutes.

If you haven't seen it or the previews, American Gangster is a biopic about Frank Lucas, the badass Harlem gangster who cornered New York's heroin market during the Vietnam War by importing the stuff direct from the war zone in American soldiers' coffins. He was able to get away with everything because he was black - no one believed a nigger (as Dog would say) had the competency or balls to take on the Italians and the cops.

have been mixed, but I couldn't be a bigger fan. Biopics so easily become such a worshipful mash of details you can just feel the writer sweating as he tries to jam into a two hundred-page script the dozens of interesting themes and subplots he clipped from the six-hundred page biography that gave him the idea. American Gangster avoids this pitfall beautifully, sacrificing Lucas' fascinating young adulthood and later cop collaboration in order to give the heart of the story the room it needs.

Besides, it's a gangster flick. And, like Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone well know, there's nothing better than a genre that explores power, loyalty, violence, and the coolest parts of wardrobe.

GTD from
Sorry guy time is actually 6:30am leaving to go if thats too early then you can meet up at chevychase at 8am with Renu