Saturday, June 08, 2002

Instead of babes, music, snack foods or even beer, tonight I'm gonna talk about liteature. In particular my main man Richard Price(NYT link). These days, Price is justifiably acclaimed for his screenplays(Ransom, The Color of Money, Sea of Love) and a recent series of crime novels.

However, the real prizes in the Price canon are his early novels. His debut novel The Wanderers(NYT link) set in Price's native Bronx in the early 1960's, may be the most twisted novel of adolescence ever. No sentimentality, no "best years of our lives" pablum, just the ugly truth of urban adolescence stripped bare.The sadly out-of-print The Breaks is a deadly accurate look at a young man losing his ever-lovin' mind upon college graduation and the hilarious results of the breakdown it engenders.

The best of Price's early work is the astonishing Ladies' Man(excerpt here), the most brutally honest and darkly hilarious look at the American Male libido(despite the title not just the het male libido, trust me) ever commited to paper. If you want to see that place in us men that makes us do the things we do, Price will show it to you-and won't let you look away, and youl spend your observation time alternately gasping in horror and laughing maniacally. I've recommended this book to dozens of people since I first found a copy in a used bookstore on Manhattan's Upper West Side in 1990. I've seen male readers stunned with the shock of recognition and female readers have breathlessly thanked me for the recommendation.

Just read it. Trust me. As one of Price's characters says: "Would I shit you? you're my favorite turd."

ADDENDUM: Also be sure to read this excellent article on writing(NYT again, sorry) Price wrote in 1981. Insightful, and funny as hell.
We have file-swapping software discretely installed on one of the floor models, so during a lull I downloaded some old favorites, "Complete Control" "The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill" and of course my two personal anthems, "Makes No Sense At All" and "Color Me Impressed". When "Color Me..." played back I started frantically duckwalking backwards around the sales floor while air-guitaring and shouting the lyrics. Then I pitched backwards into a floor display and landed flat on my ass.

*raises fist*

As I lay there on the floor laughing like a maniac, my workmates looked at me as if I were a dull-witted child. I may be 31 going on 13, but these guys are 24 going on 50, dammit.

A couple great questions from my bookstore days:

"All I know about my computer is that it's a typewriter with a brain. Can you explain the Internet to me?"

Um, here's some tin cans and a piece of string, try not to hurt yourself

Delivered in drony monotone voice:"Do you have two books, Raising a Gifted Child and Choosing the Sex of your Child?"

Howzabout Introduction to Genetics instead?

Then there's this doozy from my computer days. Big luggy dude walks in with an attractive woman and asks to be shown some PC's. I start shpeilin' and halfway through the woman wanders off. 5 minutes later, I mention scanners and the dude looks around furtively and pulls me aside.
"My wife likes to put naked pictures on the Internet. Can she do that with this?"

"Yeeeah," I answer "Whay are you bringing me here to ask me this?

He jerked his thumb over his shoulder, "That ain't my wife."


Then there's the time my buddy Willie was showing laptops to a, shall we say, masculine woman and introduced her to the "pointing stick" style mouse.

"Hmm," she said, "feels like a clitoris."

Again, I am not making this up. After a strange phone call, my boss once said, "Jon, anyone can have a phone." Well, anyone can go shopping, too.

Friday, June 07, 2002

I'm feelin existential as a very wise philosopher once said. I've been cold calling local business all week at work and asking them if they need any new technology goods or services. One of the calls I made today was to a rest home. After they said no, I had to restrain myself from asking if I could move in.

At the grocers on the way home, I decided to go experimental. First, I bought a big jar of spicy pickled sausage to give my computer room that redneck bar ambience. In the bulk candy aisle I was delighted to see a bin full of Tootsie Flavor Roll Twisties, basically Tootsie Rolls in different colors and flavors, and bought a pound of 'em. Along with being tasty, Twisties have an aesthetic kick as well, seeing a green, lime-flavored Tootsie roll is odd on the level of seeing a box of Peacock Helper on the shelf. I also got a bunch of some candy called Squirrel Mint Juleps, which come from the people who brought you Squirrel Nut Zippers; the candy not the band, the candy came first, I assure you.They look llike hunks of hard green putty and taste...really minty, like concetrated essence of a thousand bottles of Scope.

One thing I didn't buy was beer, since in this cockamamie state you can't buy beer after 8pm and that's when I got out of work. Luckily, I found a bottle of honest-to-goodness moonshine(gift from Rob the EMT) which I am drinking mixed with Orange-Strawberry-Banana juice. If I begin to blog hallucinatory poetry about pancakes riding Justice Buses while singing "Bastards of Young" as a polka, assume I've had too much and call the karma police, please. Thank You.
On my commute up route 25 today, I noticed a log bulding roughly the size of a double-wide outhouse with some ornately cut and varnished stumps on the lawn. This building was devoted to the art of chainsaw sculpture. Some folks see a log and think "kindling," others fire up their old McCulloch and two-step with the muse. Actually, when I visit my grandparents up in my mom's Vermont hometown, the backroads are dotted with places selling this stuff. Actually, it's kinda cool that the creative impulse has yet another odd outlet, if you ask me.

Like everything else in this odd age of ours, chainsaw sculpture has found it's way to the web. The abovementioned site run by a Wisconsin couple, is fairly informative, offering equipment recommendations and manuals and videos. Although it's a nationwide pastime, Wisconsin appears to be the epicenter of the phenomenon, as it also is home to this school of the art. Oddly, though, Chetwynd, British Columbia claims to be the "Chainsaw Sculpture Capitol of the World." I see a controversy brewing. You be the judge.

Appropriately, for an art that's kind of a post-modern cousin to the totem pole, the subjects tend toward the nature-oriented, although forays have been made into touching realist memorials and even self-portraiture. Sadly, no chainsaw art porn seems to be available.Ahem.

If all this sounds neat, you'll also wanna check out the chainsaw sculpture competitions(scroll to Oct. 19) which are legion across the. This is all cooler than heck, if you ask me. The net reveals the MO* factor yet again.

* Magnificent Obsession
I was up late chatting with some pals from The 'Filter last night and the conversation turned to what we could do if we harnessed MeFi's brainpower towards something besides bitching at eachother. It being 2:00 am and these people being who they are things naturally got goofy:

jpoulos: yeah lets fight crime

unclefes: in a van

jonmc: in a school bus

pikachu lolita: in a short bus

pikachu lolita: the Short Bus of Justice!

Now this is silly and probably politically incorrect, but it's also so damn funny that it sent beverages spewing from our noses. Now it's morning and the phrase has stuck with me. I think we have a baby meme (a memebryo if you will) here. Where it's going no one knows, but keep your eyes peeled, the SBoJ is roaming your streets, ever watchful for it's arch enemy, the Minivan of Doom. And fighting for truth, justice and quality beverages....

Thursday, June 06, 2002

I was reading Dave Marsh's The Heart of Rock & Soul* and was, especially in light of some recent developements that I'll discuss in a few minutes, a little nonplussed when - in a writeup of "Anarchy in the UK" - I read the following passage:

"The revolts of 'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag' and 'Dance to The Music' never severed the connective tissue that 'Anarchy in the UK' shreds....[this] just means that someone had figured out how to make artistically and commercially pop music based on a rhythmic process outside R&B....consequently things were fundementally different thereafter."

Now, Dave Marsh is probably the best living rock writer and I'd be the last person on earth to deny that the Pistols were a revolutionary band, that bit about being "outside R&B" is just wrong.

All rock, one way or another leads back to R&B and the blues, among other things. Punk is no exception. It may be second or third hand sometimes and hard to hear but it's there. Chuck Berry's chord patterns are all over British Punk. The Ramones vocals on tracks like "Oh Oh I Love Her So" and "She's a Sensation" are straight outta the Ronettes, and Replacements' songs like "I'll Buy" and "I Won't" make me belive that they've got at least a passing familiarity with the rawer Chicago blues of Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers and Koko Taylor. Among pre-Pistols proto-punks the R&B connection is even clearer.The New York Dolls did Archie Bell and the Drells covers and the MC5 were all about Little Richard and Chuck Berry, for pete's sake. I could cite more examples but I dont wanna go on forever.

The case could be made, in fact, that Punk Rock and all that came after it originated ultimately with the music of Bo Diddley, in that his music is all about rhythm and that rhythm has but one prime directive, propel itself and you forward and bulldoze everything in its path. Sounds about right to me. The Clash and Social Distortion have openly cited Bo as an influence, and having seen the man live, I can tell you he's punk as fuck, in the best sense of both words.

Now, since this influence has filtered down over several generations, some of the latter-day punkers may be unaware of the short distance from Howlin' Wolf to Sid Vicious, but the smarter ones are figuring it out. Fat Possum an offshot of punk stonghold Epitaph have been putting out blues records for a few years now. The labels output has been a mixed bag, but some of it has been pretty damned good. I'm especially excited about the star-studded album by legendary R&B singer Solomon Burke one of the great voices in American music and Mick Jagger's primary vocal inspiration. Also, encouraging in this vein is the excellent work of LA's Bellrays, who make the R&B/Punk connection explicit. Lisa Kekaula has a blues voice that would do Bessie Smith proud and the band churns and burns behind her like the MC5 on rocketfuel. Definitely worth seeking out."Minds Eye" is an especially good song if you can find it. This is not to mention White Stripes work in similar pursuits.

OK, fine you say, but what's the big deal. Well, one the most important things rock and roll has done is publicly consummate the cultural miscegenation that had been going on for centuries betwwen the races, and this didn't and shouldn't change in the post-punk era.This may seem naive but I belive that if the races can come together this fruitfully culturally, then maybe we can get a a little bit closer to doing it in reality.

*Despite my disagreement here, a fantastic book no serious rock fan should be without. BUY IT.
Dee Dee Ramone dead at 50.

The Ramones were the band that made a Rock and Roller out of me when I saw Rock 'n' Roll High School on my neighbors cable at age 10. Authority figures everywhere may curse their name, but The Ramones got me through some rough times just by existing. Now two of them are dead.

Goodbye and thanks, Dee Dee.
In the vein of the last post I brought this compilation in for my boss, a sixties music scene veteran to burn. As nuts as I drive him as an employee, our similar tastes in music must be the reason he likes having me around.

But he's not at work today. So I'm sitting here blasting this old soul music out of one of the floor PC's and frooging in my seat to Edwin Starr's "Agent Double-0-Soul". My co-workers are looking at me like I'm nuts, as usual, but two toddler age kids are string the PC playing the tunes, utterly transfixed. Future rock and roll geeks, god bless 'em.
For some reason, I've had "Manny, Moe and Jack" by the Dickies running through my head all day. Maybe it's God telling me I should go work at Pep Boys or something...

Anyways, I was reading an article in the print edition of Mojo that says that Gerrit Herlyn and Thomas Overdick, two researchers at Hamburg University have been doing studies of the phenomenon of mix tapes. They started with the presumption that making a mix is a way for a emotionally nervous male music fan to express his feelings to a potential SO. There's some truth to that, since songwriters often do say things better than us mere mortals. Plus,if the girl likes the music on the mix, it's a sign that your tastes are compatible which is of the utmost importance. For example, I don't care if a woman is as sexy as Lucy Lawless, smart as Madame Curie and witty as Janeane Garofalo, if she don't dig the Replacements she's leaving on the midnight train to Dumpsville.

As their research continued they learned that "mix tapes are not a men's thing, but a music maniac's thing." That would go in the "Duh!" file, I believe. Some of the best mixes I've ever gotten has been from females. Also along with reaching perpsective mates, mixes also serve as a way to reach others of "your people"; ie see if a new freind is someone who 'gets it'. The Mojo article also mentions "theme mixes" and "genre mixes" which are great fun as intellectual exercises and ways to find unseen musical connections. Plus there's the sheer thrill of blowing someones mind by playing them Captain Beefheart or the 13th Floor Elevators for the first time and watching their jaw drop as you initiate a new member into the music geek fraternity. Sadly, just about all the links for the two researchers are in German and my work PC blocks translation sites so I haven't been able to read more details, although I'd love to. I'd especially like to know if they did research into the "rules" of mix-making( we all have them, you know what I'm talking about). I know there are boatloads of mix-trading sites out there, but this may be the first academic research into the phenomenon. It's about time.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Shocking events in Billings, Montana

Personally, I blame the king, the duchess and that nasty Wendy for this. It enrages me, they act so freindly but the whole time they're sitting in their castle plotting evil.

Oh well, ask not for whom the bell tolls...

thanks to Ufez for the original link...
It's always fun when going on a simple afternoon outing can inspire you to create some impromptu public performance art.

I was making my weekly Borders run today and decided to stop at one of the Mobil Marts along the Merritt Parkway for some snacks. As I perused looking for something new. I saw something delightful, in a sealed plastic bag the size of a deck of cards, a teeny-weeny Peanut & Jelly Sandwich. Naturally, I had to have it, and weird fucker that I am, it got my mental wheels turning. I immediately grabbed a bag of Pecan Sandies mini-cookies and a cup of coffee and tooled on down to Borders. When I arrived, I enlisted the help of my old pal and former co-worker Patrick the Sci-Fi Guy, who went to the espresso bar and nabbed me a tiny paper espresso cup and a wee saucer. In the meantime I ran to the spinner racks near the registers and grabbed a few of those stocking-stuffer mini-books.

Finally it was all set up. What shoppers saw in the cafe today was a six-foot man eating a tiny sandwich and cookies off a tiny plate while reading tiny books and sipping a tiny cup of coffee. The looks I got were priceless. Although, sadly nobody asked what the hell I thought I was doing. I was dying to say, "It's a new diet of only very small food. I call it 'microbiotics.' "

After the micro-meal was done, I went and bought this album, just to carry on the theme and the new issue of Mojo, just to end it. Then when I went back to the coffee bar, the guy ahead of me ordered a slice of cake and as the countergirl was putting his piece on a plate, the entire glass door of the display case, for no reason whatsoever, shattered into a zillion pieces. They naturally had to clean up all the glass shards and remove all the food, I asked if I could take the glass covered cheesecake home. I though it would be kinda badass to spend the evening munching cheesecake and spitting out broken glass. But they said no, the lily-livered bastards. Oh, well, on the way to my car I found(no kidding) two bucks on the ground, which I of course pocketed and used to buy another micro-sandwich and a micro-cheesecake to go with it. This leaving the house can be fun.

I discovered this last night which I imagine should thrill my buddy dong_resin as much as me...

Having set up my mini-pool table, I've taken a moment to look at my surroundings. The pool table sits on my scanner, arranged neatly. Sitting a few inches away leaning aginst a speaker is one of evanizer's pancake sculptures, directly abutting a Palm Pilot shaped candy dispenser. Across the room, on top of the other speaker is my Kiss lunchbox, leaning against which is my Silent Bob action figure. On top of my HP printer sit bobbin' head dolls of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and a foam rubber Rat Fink. As I type this I sip microwaved instant coffee from a mug emblazoned with pictures of all the Hanna-Barbera dogs: Muttley, Huckleberry Hound, Droopy the whole gang. No less than four 1 pound bags of candy sit by my desk all open and half-empty. The rest of the room not filled with bed is covered with empty beer bottles, CD's and comic books. It looks kind of like the lair of a large drunken 7th grader. In the closet hang work-uniform shirts, and t-shirts emblazoned with images of Spy vs. Spy, The Avengers and the Ramones. In a basket sit several work nametags.For Xmas, I want this and this.

How old am I, you ask? 31. Yes, I am a fucking manchild.

I'm not saying this is good or bad. I 'm just beginning to notice it myself. Up until fairly recently most people my age that I knew were the same way. Recently, I've been meeting people my age and younger who , own matching dinnerware and suits. They prepare dinners with courses, that don't involve fried cheese products. They understand how to choose wine and how a 401k plan works, they could even tell you their cholesterol level and credit card balance at any given moment. Where the hell was I when they teaching all this stuff? Out having a smoke or something?

Are these folks' lives better? worse? Who knows. It's just knocked me for something of a loop knowing that they're out there.

I recieved a 2 inch high pool table as a gift today. It's very small but functional. Soon my Lilliputian Saloon will be complete.The Homies are all hanging around it. Jay and Silent Bob are outside selling weed. All I need are some airline booze bottles for the bar, Barbies with bare midriffs and tattoos for bar floozes. GI Joe will be bouncer. We also will need hummingbird wings for appetizers. I think it has franchise potential.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Finally starting to digest some of the tunes from my WinMX download binge the other day. Sometimes you just get in a groove, search and bandwith-wise and start DL'ing everything in sight. I'll letcha know I got some gems.

The first would be Cymande, an English nine-piece of the 1970's, whose membership were of either Guyanese or Jamaican extraction. Cymande's music incorporates African and Caribbean sounds with a lot of rock, soul and funk influences as well. Now a lot of bands who've clained to be all-encompassing in their music have sounded more like history projects than pleasure listening and others have sounded like focusless mush. Cymande had enough pop smarts and just plain loove of groove, to keep things snappy and focused. Fans of soul in the vein of Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield will find much to love from this crew. I'd actually consider them a British analogue to the legendary California outfit War. "Bra"(meaning 'brother' not underwear), "Brothers on the Slide" and "Genevieve" are particularly good. Site requires Flash and RealPlayer.

In a completely different vein but equally good is the San Francisco based Aislers Set who have an infallible ear for melody and hooks, yet enough garagey rawness and engagingly bent lyrics to keep things from being cloying. Vocalist Amy Linton has a uniquely wispy voice that's like the audio equivalent of somebody gently tickling the back of your neck. The song "Long Division" is a catchy masterpiece on the level of "You Really Got Me" or "The Mighty Quinn." The rest of their work( some available at Epitonic, more at Insound's mp3 pile) is on the same level.

The other favorite from this last session is "Trudy" from the Charlie Daniels Band, one of his catchiest numbers. Charlie takes some heat, being branded as an unreconstructed redneck, remembered for that song if at all. To give Charlie his due, the man's got some serious chops(he's recorded wit Bob Dylan and Mark O'Connor). Also the same man who wrote the redneck anthem "The South's Gonna Do It Again" also wrote the hippie/biker shaggy dog tale "Uneasy Rider", making Charlie the missing link between these supposedly antagonistic camps. Kinda makes ya reconsider...
I'm on my 4th cup of gas station coffee, or as I like to call it, gaspresso and it's been something of an aggravating day at the PC ranch. So rather than regale you with grim tales of retail, I'll engage in some half-baked social theorizing.Sound like fun?

The other day, I spent about an hour or so showing some very new users how to find stuff online. I showed them Google and WinMX and gave a few tips on using them effectively. These were the type of newbies who were impressed that I even knew about stuff like Google and whatnot, to give you an idea. So naturally, I walked around for the rest of the day all impressed with myself. Then, I'll go home and read about some 17 year old supermodel/'supergenius blogger who fronts a garage band in his spare time and I'll feel like I should be sucking my thumb and toddling around in a baby walker. It's like a bizarre high-speed ego see-saw, if you get my drift.

Where's he going with all this, you ask? Well, I've noticed that as a society, we hold the idea of 'equality' to be extremely important, but in social interactions, at least it seems to be something of a myth. I know that in my own experience, the people I choose to become freindly with are either people I admire or, less often people who look up to me*. I'm not saying theres anything intrinsically good or bad about this, just wondering if it's the natural state of human relations for things to fall into planet/moon type arrangements. I think it might be, which may mean that the whole idea of 'peers' is a myth. Hell, some smart people may seek out the company of the stupid, just to feel even smarter.It's a symbiotic need to admire/be admired deal maybe. or something.

BTW, as long as your online go fill out Bridgie's Survey. It's for the betterment of mankind, really.

*some people are very easily impressed I guess...

Monday, June 03, 2002

I was looking for an image of AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson(above) for a MeFi thread when I realized that, although I've been a big fan of AC/DC for around 20 years now, I have yet to see a picture of Johnson without that natty cap of his on. No shit, an Image Googling gave me three pages worth of pics of Monseiur Johnson, all avec chapeau. What's he hiding under there? A bald pate? Horns? A map to buried treasure? The world (okay, me) wants to know...

In other news I stopped by a local comic shop today. They had a new Peepshow from my man, Joe Matt, who's always worth a read, if only to remind myself that there are people in the world screwier than me. I also picked up Who's Laughing Now fro the great Evan Dorkin. The real treat was a gem I found in the discount pile called Through the Habitrails, a twistedly funny satire on low-level working life by Jeff Nicholson. I'm surprised I didn't catch this one the first time around, although if this review is any indication, I'm not the only one who found it in the cutout bin. Not only is the satire chillingly on-target, but this is one of the rare comics where both the art and the writing are good enough to sustain interest.

Also, I went on a WinMX binge yesterday, downloading something like 40 songs. Depending on how tired I am and what my mood is, I'll musicblog either tonight or tommorrow.
While cleaning the apartment yesterday, I found this big ol' stack of old snapshots. Here's some of the better ones.
Dates are approximate, it's all such a blur. Pardon the quick and dirty posting job.This was done on the sly.

Rob the EMT exists! I have proof!...and he apppears to have painful gas...(1995)

Mike the Magazine Guy lookin' real mopey.(1998)

Lisa can't actually play, ya know(Dec. 2001)

RTEMT again. and he's(literally)frayed around the edges(1995)

Bridgeport from the highway. welcoming, ain't it?

Oft-Mentioned gay ex Not my twin sister.

If you meet this man, do not attempt to apprehend him yourself..(1995)

View From My Desk circa 1998. Note cheap-ass Packard Hell PC.

I know, I know..nice fuckin' hair 1995 again. What a year it was...

I'm sure yo yo-yo's can make wonderfully savage fun of me here, so knock yourselves out.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

After that last blast of life-affirming joy, I think we need something to cheer us all up. How 'bout some sex, drugs and rock and roll?!
You'd like that right?

Ahem. Would sound files, beer and erotica be close enough? OK.


In a couple of conversations with members of the MeFi mafia over the past couple weeks, I've learned that an alarming number of you are not acquainted with the wonder that is the Ogg Vorbis audio format. The quick and dirty version is that the folks at Xiph have created a more effecient codec that allows for better sound quality at lower file sizes.(More technical detail here) Me and a freind ripped some tracks off a CD and were quite frankly amazed at the sound quality; .mp3 compares to .ogg the way a 45rpm disc compares to a CD is the best way I can say it. It's also available in both downloadable and via Icecast, streaming formats. And, of course, because the .ogg code is open source, it's always being improved. In fact, Ogg Vorbis is merely the first in a planned family of media formats from Xiph; the next being Ogg Tarkin a DIVX-esque video codec still in the early development stages.
The great news is that both Winamp 2.80 and the Winamp 3 beta offer native .ogg support.The software page at offers numerous ogg related downloads for other platforms as well. This tutorial at angrycoffee offers great info about encoding aka ripping. The only drawback is since .ogg is kind of a 'geeks only' thing right now, there's not a whole lot to download. The music page site points to some stuff, but it's in the early stages, I've got a few tunes if you wanna take .ogg for a test drive. Ask via AIM(Jonmacanudo).


Of course while listening to all this great music, you'll wnat some liquid refreshment. The finest family of beers in the world is available for your perusement at Unibroue. Brewed in Quebec, these bottle-conditioned Belgian style ales, are among the greatest beers I've ever tasted. La Fin Du Monde is my favorite beer in the world, rich, hearty and complex. Be warned though, the alcohol content on all these beers is pretty high, so be careful.


I have long argued that a long with great beer, Quebec also produces the worlds most beautiful women, IMHO. I went on a trip to Quebec City as a teenager and, no exaggeration, every woman I saw was jaw-droppingly stunning. It should come as no surprise that Montreal based MeaCulpa offers the most beautiful women I have ever seen online in very elegant pictorials.(usual warnings:NSFW, naked boobies, yadayada). This young lady and this one are particular examples of feminine pulchritude, but this entire site is a find for those who enjoy truly sexy photography.

So there's your fun-pak for the evening, hope you like it.
My frappin' scanner is possessed. Or perhaps, it's merely cosmic justice at work. As someone who answers tech questions for the inexperienced all day, when I hit a tech snag, it has to be bizarrely byzantine. When I launch my Hp Precision Scan LT, I get "Undefined Program Error [2117]" and the program dies. But the "HP ScanJet Copy Utility" program scans to the printer just fine. This makes no earthly sense. I've uninstalled and reinstalled the friggin' driver like 15 times at this point. This truly sucks cause I found a bunch of old snapshots I wanted to upload. The support page was of course no help. I tried all their procedures, but I still cannot scan to the PC. Now I've got a big hunka plastic sitting on my desk. Pheh.

Baseball cards were a major part of my education. It's was probably my first instance of improving my knowledge base without meaning to. Like nearly every other American male, I was a feind for these. My dad would sometimes bring a pack home for me, and if I could get a few quarters together I'd go buy a pack myself. Aesthetically speaking, the old-school bubble-gum card may be a nearly perfect example of information design(esp the 1983 Topps series above). A snappy action shot on the front with a name, position and team colors and on the back detailed statistics;a life synopsis on a little piece of cardboard. I've actually always wanted to make a business card based on that series, photoshopping myself into the design, changing the colors and putting my employment history on the back. It'd be niftier than shit to clip to a resume.

I did learn most of my geography and math from these little fetish objects, sometimes looking stuff up, sometimes annoying my old man:
"Dad, where do the Brewers play?"

"Milwaukee, son."

"Why are they called the Brewers?"

"Cause a brewer is someone who makes beer, and they make a lotta beer in Milwaukee."

"Why's that?"

"How should I know? Go ask your mother."

Looking at cards, new and old, got me down to the library looking at the baseball reference and history books, at the library which fueled (and to some extent created my consuming interest in vernacular history. Plus, the mysterious numbers on the cards' backs' induced me to figure out the math behind batting averages and ERA. This last actually was the impetus behind my first attempts at both computer programming and publishing, as I detail here. After that, I kinda gave up on computers and other things for a while. Looking back, I'm kinda pissed that I let myself be discouraged so easily and I'm now going to put myself through bootcamp, but that's a whole other story.

Of course like a lot of guys, I've lost a lotta great cards to damage, moving, mom throwing 'em out and of course, card flipping which is where I lost my Gretzky rookie *sniff*. Still have the Sandberg rookie above, though.

So, all in all an overlooked factor in my(and probably others) intellectual development. Go to Topps*, Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss and the rest and pay homage.

* check out eTopps while you're there. It's a neat idea.