Saturday, July 13, 2002

I was just peering at my referrer log and found out that I'm the #9 hit on Google for "googlings". That's almost a wormhole into lexical hyperspace, somehow. A bit like going to the card catalog in the library and looking up "card cataloging."
While going through my bag of booty from New York, I found an Abba-Zaba bar which should be nifty to munch on while listening to "Abba Zaba" by Captain Beefheart. Especially if ABBA and Zappa stop by.

In other news Lisa is up at the Javits Center taking her exam, while Rob is out on shopping trip buying chili fixins. He's promised to bring coffee when he returns.

Pocky rocks my socks, man. Especially the strawberry flavor. I'm feeling experimental, so I may stir my coffee with a stick of it when it arrives.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Hey look, I'm a Fireman, Woo-Hoo.
Okay, that's enough, time for coffee.
Rob the Emt, hip SOB that he is, made me some Kona coffee which is as he says "from the mercury rich volcanic soil of Hawaii" He makes it in this beaker-esque contraption. When I saw the thig full of steaming coffee on the kitchen counter, I poured myself a cup and took a sip.

Apparently, you're supposed to strain that coffee before drinking it. I got a mouth fulla grounds, or the chunky-style coffee depending on how you look at it.
The old grey staillion, he ain't what he used to be, ain't what he used to be...

My god my calves are sore, but I've covered about 30 miles roaming around the city over the past couple of days, so that's to be expected I guess. I have a blast over the last few days just tooling around the city and watching people and going into interesting places, so it's been worth it. I remember when I was sitting in a cafe on Sullivan Street, eating my peanut butter and bacon, the window I was sitting at looked out on a tattoo parlor from which emerged a Hell's Angel in full regalia after getting a new tatoo, I assume. Also, It's also a truly weird experience to stand in the middle of Grand Central Terminal and not be part of the mass exodus for exurbia. You just kinda stand there and the throng flows around you like water around a stone. I absolutely need to be living here, and it looks like it's gonna happen. I'm not sure what were gonna do today, but I'm getting hungry and when I'm in New York, I make it a point to eat stuff I can't eat at home, so I'm sure it'll be interesting. Im sure you'll hear from me later.
Home again(kinda), home again. Had a good time tonight with Roe and her husband Mike, and Evan. We had some Bubble Tea in Chinatown and spent awhile shooting the breeze and cracking jokes. I had a big old mango bubble tea, which was really fuckin' tasty, but I'm sure the staff were very grateful when the group of loud crazy roundeyes left. Then we had some excellent burritos to make the evening a bicultural smorgasbord. Rob the EMT showed up and regaled us all with tales of glory, and of course proved that he does in fact exist. Roe, Evan, Mike go forth and spread word of the wonder.

I'd be wittier, even go into a lengthy description of the album of Texan Polka music* I bought today, but I'm tired and I'm watching Tivo'd South Park on Rob's TV and people are shoving food up their butts and crapping out their mouths, including a cartoon Martha Stewart. Sweet.

*no kidding. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm chomping at the bit. I'm a weirdo, and proud.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Quick stealth blog from a CompUSA on fifth Avenue, just so's ya don't call 911 thinking I'm dead or something. The G4 Mac I'm typing this on is pretty damned spiffy and the Cinema Display is gorgeous. I'm off to boogie down and paint the town, so you'll hear from me later.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Greetings, brothers and sisters. I havw had quite afun day in the Big Apple. First of all, every good american must go to the Chip Shop out in Brooklyn and have a deep-fried Twinkie before they die. This food is the stuff dreams are made of, truly. Their fish and chips are the best I've ever had as well. The "Elvis" sandwich Peanut Butter & Co. is amazing, too. Bacon compliments peanut butter surprisingly well, but then again bacon compliments everything well.

I had a couple of good finds at House of Oldies like this old obscurity and a Stax Volt Revue Live in Paris LP featuring Otis Redding and Sam and Dave. I also stopped in at Other Music, my new favorite record store. Every obscure record you ever read about in a zine or that was refferred to in a record review, they've got it. No shit. I picked up this Latin Funk comp and a great compilation from Takoma in the used bin. The gods are still smiling upon me. I'm currently sitting in Rob the EMT's pad in Chelsea, with a bigass blister on my heel. Chuck Taylors are great shoes, but not made for long distance walking, man.

More fun and blogging updates ahead tommorow.
Hello, everybody. It's about 9 in the morning and I'm sitting in a Cybercafe on the corner of Bleecker and Jones Streets here in New York. The keyboard on this machine is so old that the letters have literally worn off and my fingers seem to be typing from general instinct.I've also consumed enough coffee to propel a troop ship to Guam. I've gotta meet someone over on Hudson around lunchtime, but until then I'm free to roam. I just had some eggs and sausage in a joint called the Waverly Cafe, over on(you guessed it) Waverly, which they served to me not on a plate but in a pan. Nice touch that. On the walls were autographed pictures of celebrities, most of whom I'd never heard of. One of them, according to the caption of his picture was named, "M. Adam Brown." Wouldn't that make him "Madam Browne?" Perhaps he's a she-male.

House of Oldies should be opening up in a half hour or so, and I'll go paw through the racks looking for treasures. A few blocks away, a large crowd has formed outside of the passport office. Must be a big travel day or something. Anyhow, I'm off to see if New York's ready for me. Rock on, children...

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

They've started to rebroadcast old Our Gang/Little Rascals shorts on AMC after years of them being unavailable. This makes me happy as I used to love these shows as a kid. Just tonight they were racing a soapbox derby type of car down a hill and it started to break apart and Dickie yelled, "Hey Stymie, Where ya goin?" to his man at the rear; to which Stymie answered, "I don't know but I'm on my way!" I know the feeling, Stymie.

What's sad is how many of the rascals came to bad ends. Scotty, for instance, perished in a drug-related suicide at age 38. Wheezer, after an abusive childhood, perished in WWII. Most famously, Alfalfa was tragically murdered after a somewhat dissolute young adulthood. It almost sounds like a parody, but sadly it's true.

Not all the kids ended up in such dire straits however. Jackie Taylor is alive and well, as is Shirley Jean Rickert. Buckwheat worked as a film technician until passing away of a heart attack in 1980. This page has some photos from a televised Little Rascals reunion from the early 1950's. The pictures are fascinating, but the description of the show is grotesquely discomfiting.

But it is nice to have the shows back. Despite all the sad associations, they do usually make me chuckle, still.

This may be the coolest pop-culture fetish object I have ever seen. I bow before it.

I have ESPN Classic playing in the other room. A channel dedicated to sports reruns. Sounds like a joke out of a Douglas Coupland novel but it's real. Plus it's cooler than you'd imagine. Right now they're broadcasting the 1987 baseball All-Star game. Not only is it neat to see some great players like Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield in action again, it's also neat to see those half forgotten workhorses like Larry Parrish and Harold Reynolds and to groove on the old-school stat-graphics and uniforms. Plus it seems to be the only channel that broadcasts re-runs of The White Shadow, the most underrated TV show of all time, with killer theme music if you recall. One odd by-product of that show is that several cast members have gone on to become director/producers which was not easy for black actors in the 70's and 80's, if you remember.

Now time to nuke up some lunch and coffee.
Here in the United States, a lot of us have become skeptical, even cynical, about rock and roll music's abilty to affect real change in the world of to the point of of being pre-emptorily ironic or deprecating about our love for the form. To many eyes, it dosen't look like rock and roll has the power to change anything but fashions and slang anymore. This, of course ignores the millions of small almost imperceptible ways that music irretreivably changes individual minds and outlooks every day. Now in this country the changes wrought are usually cumulative and more social than political, but not always. James Brown's concerts given after the MLK assassination helped quell riots for one, and rock music was probably did more to spread the countercultural ethos than any other cultural force, bringing the anti-war sentiment along with it.

In other countries, the effect has been far more empowering and immediate and, of course, when musicians talked of revolution they were playing for much higher stakes. But they all took their inspiration, at least mostly, from American rock and roll. Awhile back on MeFi, I posted about the Plastic People of the Universe a Zappa-inspired troupe of rockers, who braved torture and imprisonment in Czechoslovakia, to be become future premier Vaclav Havel's "cultural cabinet." In Jamaica Bob Marley carried more weight with the average citizen than any politician you could name and candidates went out their way to curry his favor for political endorsements.

One the most inspiring incidents of rock and roll, and more specifically, rock radio's ability to truly change things is the story of Belgrade radio station B92, detailed in the book Guerilla Radio. I remember hearing bits and pieces of this story as it occured over the last decade, but this tome loving details the story, I'm only a few chapters in, but I'm riveted. The guys behind this outfit slogged through wars, sanctions and police brutality and risked imprisonment and death to spin some Clash records. Why, you ask? Well, sure for the love of the music, but also to give themselves and the citizens of the former Yugoslavia, a sustaining taste of what that music is about:freedom, honesty, embracing your fellow man, and that feeling as Springsteen put it, "that it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive." They delivered this in a time and place where it was desperately needed, and for this they are rock and roll heroes. But you know what, we could use a dose of what B92 provided here in the US, just to keep us from drowning in cultural cynicism. At any rate, it's sobering and inspiring to see the power this music has to motivate.

In other news, only one more day till NYC! w00t! I've also been listening to some tracks by this woman Norah Jones. What an amazing voice. Her work with Charlie Hunter on his new album is excellent. Wow, after that long speech about rock and roll, I'm talking about jazz. Lemme put you wise, it's all rock and roll where it matters, really.

Monday, July 08, 2002

While up in New Haven, I did a little shopping. At Cutler's on Broadway, I found a copy of Solomon Burke's latest in the used bin for eight bucks! How could someone discard this masterpiece? Burke's voice has matured over the years like a good single-malt scotch and on this record, he's given material worthy of him from songwriters like Bob Dylan, Nick Lowe, and Van Morrison, which makes him shine. The record has this amazing air of relaxed assurance, while scarificing nothing in terms of emotional urgency; the best soul music I've heard in years. The Blind Boys of Alabama, the force behind another of the year's best albums put in an appearance on "None of Us are Free." The Minister of Music Culture says BUY IT!!

After that, I ambled over to this magazine store called "News Haven" that I used to work at about 5 years ago. The selection of the place is legendary, but the owner was a complete psychotic. One day as I straightened the rack, he began screaming nonsensical curses from his office. The customers all offered to help me escape. They needn't have bothered. Two days later I was laid off. I visited today and found the new issues of G A B, Rockpile, and Sound Collector. I asked the kid at the counter how my old boss was doing, and he said, "He's gone."

"He's dead?"

"Naw, he just sold the place."

"Lucky for you"

"You ain't kidding"

After that I wandered into a used bookstore/delicatessen to browse and found a copy of this book which I'd seen in a bookstore in Greenwich Village, eight years ago but not since, for $4.95. I let out a little w00t, which mildly shocked this Joe Yale type quietly sipping his espresso and reading Plato. I apologized and said I had made a find. He nodded sagely in approval. I was so grateful, I felt compelled to buy a sandwich, and what a sandwich it was, rare roast beef, goat cheese, horseradish mayo on a sesame baguette with an iced cappucino to chase it.

Reading that back I feel so fucking hip, I can barely stand myself. Whatever. If the thrifing/record raccoon gods are being this good to me in New Haven, I can only imagine what I'll find in NYC.
Watching the morning talk-shows is a bit like looking at internet porn in a couple of ways. It's a kind of "misery porn" in that you get the titillation of looking at someone who's life is more fucked up than yours(someone, I forget who said that Jerry Springer and his ilk are the best illustration of Johnny Rotten's phrase "...a cheap holiday in other people's misery'). Secondly, you watch long enough, you start to believe that everyone has a life dysfunctional enough to land them on a talk show, just as internet pron makes you believe that everybody in the world is having kinky sex and documenting it for the cybermasses. I have yet to see anyone I know in either place, I've seen people on talk shows from neighboring cities who've referred to places I know, but that's as close as I've come. Eventually, I'll turn on Springer and see my parent's that's my worst nightmare.

Now, I think I'll shower and maybe take a drive up to New Haven.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

From the Accidental Art Department:

We bought another bag of this stuff at the supermarket today, then left it in a bag in the back seat while we ran other errands and forgot all about it. With the warm weather, by the time we got home, the bag felt all squishy. I figured it was probably ruined, but it seemed a shame to waste good candy, I threw it in the refrigerator. This was around 7 o'clock. I went to the fridge a few minutes ago to get a glass of milk and while I was there I opened the bag.

What I saw amazed me. It had congealed into one solid hunk of sweet creamy goodness encased in a smooth white fudge outer layer with wrinkles in the same pattern as the bag that had held it. It's beautiful in a weird way, like a glucose monolith. I wish I had a working digital camera to show you, or better yet some of that spray epoxy shit to turn this object into a paperweight or something. It's almost a shame to nibble at it.

Had a quiet day out today, although I consumed a ridiculous amount of caffeinated beverages today and my colon is paying the price. We dropped by the local Barnes and Noble, where I picked up fellow MeFite and illustrious blogger Rebecca Blood's new book which, so far, is one of the better guides to the blogscape that I've seen and written in her usual smart, clear, non-condescending style. I also drank a couple of these this morning. Then we stopped at a local coffeehouse where I had some kind of coffee milkshake concoction. On the shelf of the store as decoration was one of these tins. Is it just me, or does the guy in the turban pouring java look a lot like Osama Bin Laden? More proof that decaf is evil, you ask me.

I also bought a copy of the latest issue of Time Out:New York so I'll have some places to visit in NYC. I'll probably be heading in Wednesday with Lisa and staying in the city straight through till possibly Saturday. I'll be away from my email, but I'll be reachable through the blog and AIM if any one has something to say or wants to hang.
First of all, I'm awake for chrissakes. Goddam telemarketers, calling and hanging up at 9am on a Sunday. The trauma of this is compounded by the fact that 12 years of retail has conditioned me to the point that a ringing telephone makes me spring awake and pounce like a startled cougar and years of dealing with irate parents, bosses and bill collectors have also counterconditioned me to the point that the ringing phone also makes my stomach seize up like a patient waiting for test results. It's only because of years of zen training that I restrain myself from picking it up and answering in garbled early-morning-ese "Hello thisisjon, howcanihelpyou?!" Yet another reason why I don't own a cell phone; it would just be too embarrassing to do that in public.

Anyways, Lisa and I went to visit my parents night before last, to drop off a belated Father's Day gift for dad and a birthday gift for my 16-year-old sister. Dad enjoyed his gift, but Sis was in Vermont making a movie with a freind from school. That's the exact kind of project they would've thought was flaky and weird when I was 16 and discouraged in favor of me getting a summer job at the supermarket, which is what usually happened. But, In my youngest sisiter my parents have finally pooped out an overachiever, so who am I to argue?

Halfways through the evening, my mother said that I should go back on Ritalin. At 31. 'Zat so, Dr. Mom? All my life's attendant problems can be solved by a substance that had bad side effects on me when I was seven? I think I'll pass. Of course, as the evening went on, watching the progress of conversations revealed to me that the whole damned family seems to have ADD. Listening to conversations in that house is like watching bumper cars.

Me:So I've decided to leave retail and move to New York...

Mom:Really? Do you remember Mrs. Boombalatty, who lived next door to us in 1979? She was originally from New York, and you know what? She was in a bus accident and now she has a wooden leg like a pirate.

Middle Sister:That reminds me, I was buying some Cap'n Crunch at the supermarket and I ran into that Mark Flubbernuts kid you used to hang out with? He's still got those awful pimples, you know...

Me:(incredulous pause)Uh-huh. Well, I've got to switch paths cause sales is just sucking the life out of me and I need more personal satisfaction from my job and I need to be around more interesting people to get my juices flowing, you know?

Mom:(look of utter incomprehension)Oh. By the way when are you gonna start dressing better? You're 31 years old, can't you wear something besides jeans and t-shirts?

During all this Dad has been sitting on the couch concentrating deeply on his Newport Light.

AUUUGH! It's nice to visit your family of course, but doing so usually reminds you of why you moved out. But I can't really get that angry with them if I really think about it. I'm the oldest child and and they were only about 25 when I was born. Looking back at myself at age 25, I realize that I knew exactly dick about anything and I don't imagine they knew much more, so I suppose I was the experimental child. Each McNally kid seems to have been less screwy than the last. First me, then moderately screwy middle sister, finally culminating in overachieving wonderchild baby sister, who has yet to manifest any teenage rebellion, not even scary taste in music or clothes. Me and middle sis have been waiting for the explosion but it hasn't come.

Oh well, enough with the family talk, I'm on vacation. My body still seems to want to race through the day cause it thinks I have work tommorrow, but that should wear off. I intend to spend Monday morning standing on the front lawn in my bathrobe sipping coffee and waving at the commuters as they pass by.