4.30.2006

Fuck That, I Hate The Playas

Fuck That, I Hate The Playas

People who don't like sports don't understand Sports Hate. I have Sports Hate. I have it a lot. My father had Sports Hate and I suspect that his father before him had it too. I am certain his (my father's) mother had it. She's the one who sweetly told my father "tell the grandchildren I used to love them." Awww.

Anyway, my ancestral family Sports Hate is mostly directly towards the New York Yankees. They were, are, and will always be evil. Fascistic. Inimical. Like unarmed Dick Cheneys in pinstripes. My father has a slightly different problem, an eternal Sports Grudge against the LA Dodgers. They abandoned him as a child. Moved to California to start a new family which they loved more than him. But that's not the same for me. This is about Hate and Loathing at 33rd and 7th Avenue.

I abhor the NY Rangers. I still hate Barry Beck. It still eats me up inside that they won the Cup in '94 and thus stole from me the chant "nine-teen for-ty!" I'm an Islanders fan and what's bad for the Rangers is good for me. Yesterday the New Jersey Devils neatly dispatched with the Rangers with a four game sweep in the first round. Never mind that the Isles didn't even make the playoffs. The Rangers had to pack up the skates and dust off the golf clubs and I couldn't be happier.


"Shoot the puck, Bar-ry. Shoot the puck!"


"Devil Win! Devils...Errrr. I mean, Rangers Lose! Rangers Lose!"

4.26.2006

Stomach Hostage Freed: An Epilogue

Stomach Hostage Freed: An Epilogue

A little update for everyone as my detox concluded with a collision between burger and bun. Truly though it will be thoroughly pushed out of mind with tonight's highly anticipated ingestion of the BBQ brisket sandwich at the Horseshoe. To quote the future Mrs. Fujisan, "It's super-fantastic!" (Yay!)

Overall, I'd say that the experience was good. I feel a bit better, generally, though I have hardly been transformed. Granted, I cheated myself by not exercising enough. That is something I simply have to force myself to do. Running sucks, there is no gym in Lincoln Square (well, Women's Workout World, but I'm not sure that we're a good fit for one another), and my commute makes going somewhere to workout before heading to the office pretty onerous. These are all excuses, of course, and the "Evan is lazy" factor looms large over all of them. Still, it was a ritual kick in the ass for my poor eating habits...that is if habits have asses.

I have not yet had a cup of coffee (the closest I came was a masala chai after lunch) and I am trying to stick to more reasonable breakfasts and lunches at work. The 720 cal. muffin has not shown its face. Though I did happily break into the Shalene Basket of Temptation and eat a Reeses' peanut butter egg last night. Oh yeah. I am very much looking forward to seeing Fujisan, Soon-To-Be-Mrs. Fujisan, Butternugget, Broken Cherry, et. al. in the smoky and sweet BBQ confines in a few hours.

p.s. If G-d is listening, wasn't I great for Passover? I did it for you, M-n!

4.24.2006

Get Your Free On

Get Your Free On

Not wanting to overdose on the weather, I visited the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum downtown on Saturday. I figured that if the exhibits weren't up to snuff, at least I might be able to get in some quality eavesdropping of rootin'-tootin,' freedom-lovin', family-friendly, xenophobic conversation between attendees. When I mentioned to a friend that I was going there, she was slightly put off that such a museum existed let alone the fact that I was actually going.

Her comment, along with the fact that I presumed that I would encounter throngs of rah-rah, flag-waving, Bush-loving automatons, raised a thorny question: what's up between American liberals and "freedom?" We love art and we visit museums and galleries for that. Plenty of people down with sex flock to the
Museum of Sex. We're cool with being free. Why should a museum enshrining freedom be anathema? Oh, I got it. Art is meant to be taken in by the senses and ruminated upon. A museum is a logical place to do so. Freedom, on the other hand, is active. It must be lived and struggled for. Can idling around a museum for an afternoon, gazing at moth-eaten parchment documenting the basis for our liberty while simultaneously remaining sealed in climate-controlled glass boxes, ever hope to replicate the essence of freedom? Hell no. Like political philosopher and musician (kinda) Kenny Loggins said in a totally unrelated context, "Real freedom is creative, proactive, and will take me into new territories. I am not free if my freedom is predicated on reacting to my past."

Yeah, that's not the problem.

The relationship of American Liberals, I believe, to public celebrations of "freedom" is a complicated one. I, as an openly liberal American, like freedom and think everyone should have more of it gosh darn it. I am willing to speak out against specific grievances curtailing freedom. Yet, when it comes to celebrating the higher-level ideal of freedom on a national level, well I get a little queasy and more than a bit suspect. I can think of at least three reasons for this:
  1. Just as "liberal" has become a dirty word, so too have ones like "freedom" and "patriot." Simply, their associations have been shifted from describing ideals to evoking sides in the Culture Wars. Not good. I'd rather not be free to bomb an abortion clinic. Thanks for thinking of me though.
  2. "Freedom" is a propaganda tool (of course, it has been for a long time) - toss that word around and you've played a beautiful rhetorical gambit. Instantly, what you're arguing for represents freedom and your opponent is advocating a dire, dark world of freelessness. Yuck. Since the Right seems to be firmly in possession of the term "freedom" as a weapon to wield, those on the Left would naturally suspect a political agenda and obfuscation to be housed in such a museum. Spooky. I guess this could be 1a.
  3. Well, this could be 2a. In the current global political situation, "Freedom" has become the rationale for unilaterally aggressive (some, myself included, would say imperialist) American foreign policy. Considering the gut rehab currently taking place in Iraq in the course of their Freedom Operation, one might be leery of an Operation: American Freedom, no?
So, with this in mind, the conundrum is how to not be averse to explicit public displays, symbols and rhetoric about freedom without getting the liberal heebie-jeebies?

* * * * *

The Museum itself wasn't bad. Highly interactive, featuring a number of kiosks with headphones and video touchscreens which allow you to learn about key Supreme Court cases on the limits of freedom and then vote to see how your opinion compares to the justices. Another one about censorship featured a tripped out DJ telling you why people wanted to ban "She Bop." Or there's the one that gives commentary from some more obscure Founding Fathers about the Declaration of Independence. My new favorite Declaration Daddy is John Witherspoon, Signer, President of Princeton and possessor of a kickass Scottish accent. He's the one who said to those opposed to declaring independence that the country "was not only ripe for the measure, but in danger of rotting for the want of it." I'm totally going to be him for Halloween.

While the museum is informative about numerous historic struggles for freedom (e.g., slavery, women's rights, labor, etc.) and gives due attention to come of today's more contentious issues (e.g., gay students' clubs in public schools, public Nazi demonstrations, banned books, etc.), there's something lacking. Two things actually.

The first is the obvious ethnocentrism. Truth in advertising would have it called the American Freedom Museum. Other than pointing out some of the usual freedom-hating suspects (I think Myanmar and North Korea will be featured in the finals of that tournament), there is little given to the notion that other countries and cultures may have unique and equally viable traditions of freedom. Other than one note that Finland has the greatest freedom of the press in the world, the US pretty much came off as the Gold Standard.

The other truly smoothed-over area is anything to do with post-9/11 domestic freedom battlegrounds (gasp!). Once you get past 1789, most stories are told as grassroots movements and through court cases. It's as if once the Bill of Rights was done, it was all about interpretation and expansion of rights. Not surprised that they avoid this, and it's quite problematic. Might we educated freedomologists be interested in discuss the implications of executive orders and Patriot Acts on the present and future of individual liberties? Methinks, yes.

The museum is small and was toured reasonably quickly. Then, I walked my freedom loving to the creepiest store on Earth to watch freedom in effect: American Girl Place.

4.23.2006

Product

Product

A friend just told me a story of how he made a pizza to look like a communion wafer complete with inlaid cross. This creation was known as Cheesus Crust, which I think would be a great name for a Vatican pizza parlor. However, I would like to go one step further in the food-based blasphemy department. How about a line of unleavened bagels called Stigmatzoh? Who wants to give me capital to get this off the ground?

4.21.2006

Diversionary Tactics

Diversionary Tactics

I don't want to talk about the detoxification anymore. So boring. Day seven, it's a good time. Feel awesome. Want ribs. Done. The problem is that no much is going on at the moment, so here is some stuff of no particular importance and hopefully at least debatable interest:

  • All of a sudden yesterday I felt that I should be annoyed by the fact that I use phrases like "I seem to remember" or "I tend to think." It's a stupid hedge and if I were still in the biz of linguistic anthropology I would analyze such the hell out of it: "This linguistic convention functions to weaken a given statement for one or another purpose. Depending on the culture and context, this might be used to indicate a speaker's lower status vis à vis the listener or it may serve to distance the speaker from being responsible for, or associated with, the truth value of the statement. (Think of someone wracked with liberal guilt who feels the need to spout things like, 'I have this friend, who happens to be black.') Additionally, it may be used in an argument to make an attack on an interlocutor more indirect while simultaneously highlighting the statement with sarcasm or irony (e.g., in a marital dispute, 'I seem to remember you not caring when that stripper was showing off her booty by shaking it in your lap.')." Anyway, I should hedge my statements less.
  • Yesterday evening I saw a hot Jehovah's Witness. Actually, no, hot isn't what I want to call her. She was graceful. Tall, pretty and graceful. And it was very weird, standing in front of the Western Brown Line with this woman trying to save CTA riders' souls. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Lord figured out that sex sells. No, I didn't take a copy of The Watchtower.
  • Standardized measurement is one of the foundations of modern society. Rational and widely accepted measures of size and duration allow scientists to build upon the findings of one another and provides a basis for exchange and commerce. We've known that since the days of the cubit. Not that the cubit was all that handy (no pun intended). So why the fuck can't the Chicago Tribune's Red Eye come up with a standard for rating the difficulty of their Sudoku puzzles? I know that the world probably has bigger problems waiting to be solved, but I'm an addict. I'm a junkie who gets his fix from a 9x9 grid of numbers. It's a compulsion and a rush to organize, but like any compulsion it's about control. How am I supposed to exercise that control and derive the proper satisfaction from it if the six-star bonus Sudoku on Friday is easier than Wednesday's three-star? The American economy is doomed because we don't produce any engineers and our newspapers still don't know three should be easier than six. Fucking idiots.

4.19.2006

Stomach Held Hostage: Day 5, An FAQ

Stomach Held Hostage: Day 5, An FAQ

OK, so I may have given some of you the impression that this little detoxification thing is a little bit crazier than it actually is. While I did have some flax seed and brewer's yeast on Saturday, it's really not that crazy. I will try to clear things up.

What the fuck?

Like I had mentioned before, I was feeling kind of shitty and my friend said that he had recently done this and felt awesome. Super-fantastic-awesome even. How can I argue with that? Just because he's an anthropologist rather than a nutrionist. And his favorite food is butter. And I really have no idea where the hell he came up with this detox thing.
How can I argue with that?

Couldn't you have waited until after Easter Brunch at the Horseshoe?

If you start to tingle and smell brisket does it mean you're having a stroke?

How's that hippie diet of yours going?

Superb actually. I can't believe the difference. Hippies are naturally organic and free-range and therefore far more healthful than the human meat you find in your typical grocer's freezer. Once you get used to the gamy taste...delicious!

Is it actually working, because it sounds like bullshit to me and we all think this is a desperate attempt at something, but it sounds so stupid and nuts that we can't figure out what?

I am a bit less sluggish, but the big thing is that I think it has helped my skin. For instance, this morning I had the best shave I've had in forever. It's like someone stapled as baby's ass onto my cheeks.

Do you have to do this forever or what?

In theory, I will try to eat better after it's done. Whether this will mean eating well or simply limiting my consumption of orange beef from Lung Wah Chop Suey on 53rd to thrice per week, only time will tell.

So, what is this diet?

Here it is. Reprinted without permission of any kind...Voila:

Seven-day prequel

Each day choose at least one from each group:

1. Liver beneficial foods

a.Crucifers (½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw): cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, broccoli sprouts

b. Green leafy vegetables and herbs (½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw): parsley, kale, watercress, chard, cilantro, beet greens, collards, escarole, dandelion greens, mustard greens

c. Citrus fruit: 1 orange or juice of half lemon or lime

d. Sulfur-rich foods: 1 clove garlic; onion (½ cup cooked); 2 eggs; daikon radish (¼ cup raw)

e. Liver-healers: 1 artichoke; asparagus (½ cup cooked); beets (½ cup cooked); whey (1-2 scoops or yeast flakes); dandelion root tea (1-2 cups)

2. Colon beneficial foods – choose at least two each day: powdered psyllium husk (1-2 tsp. in 8 oz. water), flaxseeds (2-3 tbs. milled or ground); carrot; apple; pear; berries (1 cup)

3. Water – drink half body weight in ounces per day (i.e., 90 oz. or 5.5 qt.)

4. Protein – two servings daily of a selection: lean beef; lamb; skinless chicken; skinless turkey; skinless fish

5. Oils – consume 1-2 tbs. of olive or flaxseed oil each day

*Things to avoid: fat, sugar, white rice, white flour, gluten (wheat, rye, barley), breads, pastas, crackers, crusts, soy sauce, vinegars, soy products, alcohol, drugs, caffeine, and molds.

*Other good things: unsweetened cranberry juice

*To avoid depression: augment with nuts and seeds, especially almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds (raw or toasted, but unprocessed); consume “friendly carbs” like chickpeas, lentils, adzuki beans, pinto beans, kidney beans (½ cup); or 1 sweet potato.

One-day fast

Consume 64 oz. of detox juice and 64 oz. of water, alternating one cup juice, one cup water throughout the day. In the morning and evening, before and after consuming the detox juice, eat 2-3 tbs. flaxseeds.

Detox Juice - Bring 2 qt. cranberry water (56 oz. water, 8 oz. unsweetened cranberry juice) to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 15-20 minutes with spices: ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, ¼ tsp. nutmeg, and 2 packets of stevia-plus. Take off heat and coo to room temperature, then add ¾ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice and ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon.

Three-day sequel

Eat exactly as in seven-day prequel, only augment daily with 1 cup yogurt. Beginning on day two of the sequel, also add tablets of HCL in a formula with 500 mg betaine hydrochloride, 130 mg pepsin, 50 mg ox bile extract.

* * * * *

See. Once you've separated ox from bile, it's a perfectly cromulent diet.

Note: On second thought, oxen look so sad when they're away from their bile. Maybe I'll skip that step and just do an extra shot of Detox Juice.

4.18.2006

Slip-Striking Away

Slip-Striking Away

I remember it as being the morning of Harold Huang's birthday party when I was 10 years old, but that's probably not how it happened. Maybe it was because other significant events also happened on the mornings of birthday parties. My hamster, Rusty, died on the snowy February morning of Jimmy O'Connell's bowling party. I had a lovely black box to place him in, but no argument I could muster would convince my mother that Rusty would make a good gift for the birthday boy. (Though I liked Jimmy, he had given me a lame-ass Ziggy for my birthday though no one any of us had ever met had ever given any indication that Ziggy was the least bit interesting, let alone worthy of memorialization in doll form. Hence, my insistence...well, that and an already dark sense of humor. It was a bowling party after all - we could put Rusty in his hamster ball and let him do what he loved most.) Rusty was interred that morning under a snow-flecked honeysuckle bush.

Anyway, early on the morning of what may or may not have been Harry's birthday, New York was hit with an earthquake. Long Island did not face the full brunt of the quake. The epicenter was located north of the city, specifically in Ardsley, NY, forty miles outside on Albany. It was about a 4.0. No biggie. Shook for less than a minute. The house shimmied a bit, but no damage was done other than me waking up. Occasional unspectacular quakes such as this one will insure that the Dobbs Ferry Fault will never stand with San Andreas or New Madrid in the Who's Who of American Faults. Still along with plotting the fickle meanderings of Hurricane Elena on my stash of Publix Hurricane Maps hoarded during an otherwise brutal summer trip to Florida and sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the Tropical Update on The Weather Channel (49 mins. after the hour) for a full week and a half as Hurricane Gloria honed in on, and eventually struck, Long Island (all three events occurring in 1985), this temblor set me off on a life long love affair with natural disasters.

I write this now because today is the 100th anniversary of the Great San Francisco Quake which set off the Great Fire of San Francisco which, in turn, decimated the Great City of San Francisco. I don't want to end by saying "Happy Anniversary San Francisco." Something, I'm sure, isn't right about that. I'll just stick with "Rest in peace, Rusty."


The Streets of San Francisco


Hurricane Gloria as she turns north


The hamster to play Rusty in the TV movie

4.17.2006

Stomach Held Hostage: Day 3

Stomach Held Hostage: Day 3

I never realized that tacos smelled so good. They really do. And not just the meat either, the tortillas. There is a warmth to the smell of a fresh tortilla that is wonderful to any given nose on the street, but is downright devastating to someone who just learned why mankind learned to husk psyllium. Also, I just went into my co-worker's office to smell his jar of peanut butter. He took a hit off of it also because he's in the midst of SuperLent - Greek Orthodox Holy Week. Yes, we are so desperate that we were huffing Skippy.

Besides the taquerias along Western, there are other incidental tortures that I am encountering. Improv Power Couple Shalene graciously repaid me for shooting up Oscar, their diabetic cat, by leaving me an basket filled with chocolate and the entire Easter line of Peeps. I can fend off the Peeps pretty well, but those Reeses' peanut butter eggs, oh man. Then there were my pals going to the Horseshoe for Easter Brunch. BBQ plus roller derby girls on a Sunday morning. Can I blame them? Oh yeah, and the Chicago Reader had it's food issue this week. All those lovely pictures of luxuriant, savory, over-priced, snobby delicacies.

But I kvetch not because this is complete torture, but because I have little willpower. But thanks for listening. Who knows what I should do with a dandelion green?

4.14.2006

The Line of Crazy

The Line of Crazy

I was walking around last night in Lincoln Square around 9:00 p.m. Beautiful night. Big, bright moon with wispy clouds across its face. Couldn't be a nicer evening for a stroll. What was going on in my head? "Boy I'd like a cigarette!" All things considered, I quit smoking pretty easily despite having a pretty robust habit that meant hitting up the Marlboro Man for between 2/3 - 1 pack of smokes each day. For the most part my cravings weren't bad and I've adhered unflinchingly to my personal rule that I can only smoke on foreign soil* - a "when in Rome" ethos of emphysema risk. So, I was jonesing.

It's strictly associative. Warm nights, especially when combined with porch access, remind me of college and recklessness and the freedom to generally be a retard. Part and parcel of this catastrophic retardation was smoking. Hence the cravings. So I'm wanting to fire up when I get to the northeast corner of Lawrence and Western preparing to cross Lawrence into the Square proper. Waiting for the light this grizzled, though surely not as old as he looked, man pleads to me for a cigarette.

"Man, you got a cigarette?"
Somewhat perplexed since he wasn't dressed for soothsaying or mind-reading, "Huh?"
"Got a smoke."
"Sorry."
He turns for a moment and grunts inaudible at a nearby light pole, "Man, I need a cigarette."
"Sorry, I quit. I've been there."
"Urrrrr. I might just have to beat someone for a smoke, man."
"Ah."
"Not you man. But you won't tell anyone will ya? I might just have to."
"Hey, good luck."

I took meeting this scrappy aspiring assault-and-batterer as a sign. A strung-out angel who came to earth to dissuade would-be smokers and beat the tar out of current smokers. Heart warming.

But this is all just a segue into what amounts to a half-health beat/half love advice column. Quite frankly I feel like shit. I lack energy. I eat like every other American who has a date with an obese, diabetic destiny. Another words, like the guy who takes his pink slip and last paycheck down to the riverboat casino, I am vulnerable for a quick fix. Mr. S., a friend of mine, has come through.

I'm a fan of Mr. S. He's exceedingly bright, but with an intelligence that is rather accessible, and he gets infectiously excited about his activities and interests. He explained to me this weekend that he recently went on an 11-day detoxification diet. Not one that is particularly filled with bizarre powders and mixes and roots (though the phrases "psyllium husk" and "ox bile extract" are mentioned). Essentially it is a regimen designed to get all the crap out of your system and to minimize sugars and fats (that means no sugar, caffeine, alcohol, breads, pasta, etc.).

Normally I would never go in for something like this, but Mr. S sold it so well. How great he felt. How he slept better and woke up rested. All these sound like things I should look into. But again, me on a diet? Doesn't sound like me. Might have something to do with the fact that I possess minimal willpower when it comes to food and I dream of finding a brunch buffet that offers cold Chinese food on the menu. Then when considering how crappy I felt, I found yet another strung out angel, or rather I read the nutritional facts on the muffin I usually pick up for breakfast every morning. Here's an excerpt:
  • Calories: 240
  • Fat Calories: 100, Total Fat 11g (18% DV)
  • Cholesterol: 35 mg (12% DV)
  • Sugar: 13g
OK. I should eat oatmeal. Then I glanced at the serving size: "about 1/3 muffin." Hmmm. Now I know that the idea that a can of soda is two servings has been a farce for a long time, but 1/3 of a muffin? You see where this is going. Call me Robert Downey Jr. because I need some detox.

Seems simple. There's a hitch. I am making a concerted effort to date. As Chris Rock said of dating, "When you meet someone for the first time, you're not meeting them. You're meeting their representative." Hardly an unfair assessment. Now, who the hell wants to meet a representative in the throes of a detox.

"You know, I've had a great time. You have the most beautiful brown eyes. And your hair, it's...it's like psyllium husk. [take her hand in mine and intently gaze into her eyes] Before we go any further...I think we should both take out ox bile extract....just in case."

Yeah, that'll be awesome. Still, I think I'm going to be starting the program tomorrow. So if you have any suggestions as to what I say when a girl asks, "Um, this is such a great restaurant you picked. Why are you only eating carrots, chard, and flaxseeds?" please chime in.

*I have yet to decide whether or not this means that I am permitted to scale the walls of a foreign embassy, smoke a butt, and then climb back over without being in violations of the terms set forth.

4.13.2006

Tradition

Tradition

I would like to wish everyone out there a Happy Passover (Good Passover? Peppy Passover? Gnarly Passover?). As those of you who know me can attest, I am one Jew who takes the rites and rituals of my religion extremely seriously. So, I just want to take time out to remember this important holiday.

Passover is the week long celebration of the Jews Battle Against the Pharaoh. It would result in the end of their enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians, as well as their departure from the pyramid speculation market into other forms of investment. The battle involved rivers of blood, locusts, and all Egyptian first-born children being killed when flat UFOs (represented by matzos) came down over their houses, shot them with lasers, thus covering their bodies with boils which got infected when they popped and were licked by the second plague, that of the hallucinogenic toads. Then, at the climax of the Battle, Moses led his people across the parted Red Sea. The waters then closed behind the Jews, leaving Pharaoh's army to either drown or be devoured my man-eating gefilte fish. But, alas, this is not purely a celebration. It is also a time for Jewish men to reflect upon their lot - that no matter how much they try, they will never be as cut as Yul Brenner.




















The Story of the Jews, as only Hollywood could tell it.


Many people also wonder what the relationship is between Easter and Passover. Jesus was a Jew, and a fine one at that, but he was something of a joker and illusionist always turning water into wine and whatnot. Amateur stuff, but he did it with flair. Think GOB from Arrested Development, but with immeasurable serenity and a robe. The legend goes that Jesus finally pissed too many people off when he crashed the Pharisees big annual Seder bash. When the host rabbi's youngest son asked "Why is this night different than all other nights?" Jesus stood up, claimed "Because you've never seen this before!" and then proceeded to pull a rabbit from a yarmulke, place it on the Seder plate, leaving all to watch in horror as it laid a chocolate egg. He was not invited back the next year.

But some people among the Pharisees, who frankly liked dinner theater (didn't know that Jesus was the first Jewish Vaudevillian, didya?), encouraged Jesus to throw his own Seder. His popularity as an entertainer was growing and so too was the clamor to make the next performance better and more innovative than the last. The pressure of one hundred Dave Chapelles weighed on his mind. Finally, he devised a feat of such daring and endurance that it would send David Blaine into a permanent fetal position. At the end of a delicious meal, Jesus would have his lovely assistants crucify him, leave him to die, and then resurrect himself and fly (seemingly without wires!) into the Heavens.

Some say it was an unparalleled triumph, elevating him into the pantheon of illusionists for all times. Others weep at the fact that he may have pulled it off and proved to the Pharisees that a little showmanship goes a long way, but that it ultimately left his throngs of adoring fans wondering what could have been if he had stayed around to develop his gifts further. Either way, to this day, children still paint brightly colored eggs to remember the consummate performer, Jesus.

4.11.2006

A Proposed Dichotomy for the Debaclypse

A Proposed Dichotomy for the Debaclypse

It's a rough universe out there. Lots of Battles for Supremacy goin' on, and that's for damned sure. Those classic battles of Good vs. Evil. They never go out of style. Then there are the more symbolic ones of Light vs. Dark. That's always a good one. Oh yeah, W. has the With Us vs. Against Us battle, but that is hardly catchy. I'd like to propose that the War of All Against All be fought in different terms: Awesome vs. Suck. And if you don't believe that such battles are not being waged in this mortal coil, I ask you to consult the struggles of awesome Arrested Development against its inimical (and sucky) Murdochian Overlord. That's right; it's on!

Wrigleyville, Chicago, IL: The stage for this Eternal Struggle


I love baseball and I think that it is especially good in Chicago. And after spending my childhood trying to watch games at Shea Stadium in Flushing (if you haven't been, Shea has the twin draws of being a stadium of monumental hideousness and LaGuardia-adjacent so fans and players are in constant fear of being sucked into the engines of passing jets like a bunch of geese) I very much enjoy the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. But I fucking despise Cub Fans...and I don't simply mean people who root for the success of the Chicago Cubs Team in the arena of competitive baseball. I mean "Cub Fans" in the local colloquial sense: (1) drunken frat boys who know nothing about baseball but are master calligraphers when given the right tools: a bladder full of cheap beer, an alcohol-deflated cock (in-hand of course), and the fence out back of Murphy's Bleachers
and (2) the women who love them.

Last weekend the baseball season
opened and there were hordes of 1s and 2s bumping into each other, buying one another Old Style, and screeching slurred pick-up lines across Clark St. One assumes that groping and anonymous sex ensued. There was one funny scene. It was at Southport and Waveland (roughly). Two guys were standing on opposite corners trying to maximize their probability of hailing a cab. Cub Fan One, lets call him Dean, took his eyes off the prize and a trixie beat him out for the cab. Cub Fan Two, I think "Brandon" works, got enraged at this sloppy execution of taxi-hailing offense (rather Cub-like in his failure to execute the fundamentals, Dean was). Brandon flipped and got all Mike Ditka on Dean. "What the fuck was that? Did you take initiative? You gotta take initiative!" It's a true story, but it's a life lesson too.

I was in Wrigleyville not to proselytize to the "Cub Fans," but to see Gogol Bordello at the Metro. People, listen to me. If you have not seen this band live, you need to. To quote a friend of mine after she saw them for the first time, "I forgot who my favorite band was." Their lead singer is simply a charismatic gypsy lunatic (and former busker, a favorite word of mine) who may actually be made of pure energy. They used to describe themselves as "Ukranian Gypsy Punk Cabaret." But now they also have this hispanic guy who comes out and grabs the mic every now and then for some reason. I guess they are more populist gypsy punk manic freakshow, with accompaniment.

If you didn't go to the show, you missed:
  • Seeing a guy who appeared to be a Russian Vampire (he was about 6'6", wore a huge leather jacket, a number of gold chains clearly styles after the Mr. T jewelry oeuvre, sunglasses, knee length boots with a ring of 2 in. spikes radiating around the ankles, and a big black furry hat.
  • Hot Asian art school dancers.
  • Sergei!
  • The fire pail.
  • Eugene Hutz and Pamela Racine crowd-surfing on a bass drum, at the same time.

A blog is about the worst place to try to convey the energy of a GB show to someone who hasn't been. Come to think of it, pretty crappy idea for an entry in retrospect. The point is that the Awesome of Bass Drum Crowd Surfing must rise up to stop Tom DeLay's Army of Drunken Minions before, say, the All-Star Break. Yes, that was definitely the point.

4.10.2006

Appreciation for Art Appreciation

Appreciation for Art Appreciation

I would like to thank Mr. S for introducing me to the wonderful world of Brandon Bird. I only wish that I knew about him two months ago so I could've sent out Law & Order: Special Valentine's Unit cards.



4.06.2006

I Went To A Party School

I Went To A Party School

Although I attended two schools of higher learning with notoriously high suicide rates, I think that I finally have my chance to rejoice. Cornell University is so rockin' that even the plants booze it up...and they don't fall over drunk. Now I can fit in with this Big Ten Party School crowd.

According to the Director of the Cornell Flower Bulb Research Program (accept no flower bulb research substitute), giving your flowers a nip of hard liquor - tequila, gin, whiskey, whatever - "[is] a simple and effective way to reduce stem and leaf growth." Now, since the flowers themselves show no ill-effects, they bloom with full force but the shorter stems don't keel over. Science in action. Beer and wine don't work apparently. It's only shots for them.

You're probably waiting for the bad pun in this entry; well here it is. Ahem.

I'm so proud to be an alumnus of the school that invented floral alcohol syndrome.

4.05.2006

Warning: May Contain Adult Furnishings

Warning: May Contain Adult Furnishings

The attributes of liminality or of liminal personae (threshold people) are necessarily ambiguous, since this condition and these persons elude or slip through the network of classifications that normally locate states and positions in cultural space. Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial. As such, their ambiguous and indeterminate attributes are expressed by a rich variety of symbols...Thus liminality is frequently likened to death, to being in the womb, to invisibility, to darkness, to the wilderness, and to an eclipse of the sun or moon.”
- Victor Turner, The Ritual Process

Just about everyone who has ever taken Intro to Cultural Anthropology has run into the whole Victor Turner "betwixt and between"/ liminality thing. The Forest of Symbols was always the text which I worked from, but I sold my copy during my Anthropology Going Out of Business Sale so I had to scrounge around the Internet to find this quote from The Ritual Process. No matter, you get the point.

For those of you who eschewed the soft science part of your education and opted for practicality and a lifetime of financial solvency, here's the basic scoop: Societies, specifically "primitive" ones, have clearly defined rites and rituals which mark individuals' passages from one social status or identity to another (e.g., initiations into adulthood). Very often there are periods during this transition when the individuals in question aren't quite who they were and aren't yet who they are going to be, i.e., they are betwixt and between social identities. During these times, such people ("liminal personae") inhabit spaces, both physical and metaphorical, which are outside the social order, making them dangerous to those inside said order. Not dangerous like, "He was a rebel! The world tried to give him an identity, but no social order could hold his liminal personae. He lived in the cracks of society, lost in a forest of symbol. He was betwixt...and between!" Although you can think of it like that if you choose.

Anyway, the fun part is that in those ritual times and spaces, when individuals are cast out from the social order, the whole structure is cast into relief. Objects and actions become loaded with symbolic value. This is, of course, because of the overt convergence of the social structure, the material world, and the indigenous cosmology. Damn that's hot! Plus I think the word "nexus" is appropriate somewhere in this whole semiotic soup. But there's no need to go any further into theory since, as you've probably already guessed, this is all about a couch.

* * * * *
I was one of the liminal personae, living betwixt and between one culturally affirmed stage of life and another. We don't think about such ritual liminality quite as much in the industrialized world. Maybe that guy in The Terminal was a true modern...liminoid, but I honestly never saw the movie. While I did not have “a rich variety of symbols” to mark my ambiguity I did have one. One that was a very visible feature in my apartment. A lumpy, saggy, uncomfortable one. It certainly wasn't a symbol which represented the womb since there was to be no curling up on it. I did buy a wine colored cover for my symbol so it had a blood thing going on. Let's just say that I was caught in a space betwixt prolonged adolescence and long-awaited adulthood, between new-found bachelorhood and respectable self-sufficient adult singleness, and I had one shitty-ass seat to watch it all from.

Nothing says transience and lack of status within a social structure than a third-hand futon. For a number of months (Oh, to mark my new identity let us coin a new term for this “number of months.” Hence forth, my “number of months" shall be known as a…"year.”), my reclining moments have been spent on a futon which was generously donated to me by the Fuji-san Furnishings Charitable Trust. It was functional in the sense that it kept me from having to sit on the floor and it made the room seem less empty, but it was low to the ground, lacked any and all cushion, and the top of the mattress was bowed like the impossibly elderly (to use a very inside joke, it was loco sagging).
But those days - my Futon Period - are over and I have emerged from my ritual journey reconstituted as an adult.



I don’t know why I waited so long to make this purchase. I’m not a particularly cautious consumer so that’s not it. And I do like to entertain when the opportunity arises so it’s not that I figured that no one would ever come by anyway. Some people will call it laziness, but I’ll just say that I had faith – faith that when the proper couching opportunity came around I would know it. Late last week I knew I had been called. The ButterNugget Interior Design Team was going to Ikea on Friday. A pilgrimage to Schaumburg. (It occurs to me that the religious themes are a little heavy here. Ikea as Mecca. The Cult of the Blonde Wood. “I don’t k now what happened. One day he was Jewish, the next he converted to Swedish Modern.”) I had taken the day off, but there was no sleeping in. We left early.

Like anything long-awaited, the build-up was more fearsome than the experience. Once we arrived it was easy. I was focused and determined. No one would have taken me for an amateur or a fresh initiate. I wasn't like those three schmucks who were walking around the store taking pictures of each other posing with every room accent and umlauted product name tag they could find. Fuck that newbie shit. I'm testing sofas for color, reclinability, and butt cushion coefficient ratios.

I wasn't going for anything too bold. That wasn't me. Or it isn't going to be me. Or something. Simple tasteful comfort. Something I can watch 16 straight hours of The Tick on DVD on one day and entertain some friends with a good malbec and light chatter about Lacan the next. Eureka! There it was. And it came in one piece so I wouldn't have to tear a rotator cuff working those darned allen wrenches. Prefab maturity. How glorious. Now lemme just also buy this coffee table, that bookcase, and, oh, that computer table and chair. And one of those stovetop espresso makers so I have something to sip on my couch under my new blanket. God, I love being betwixt and between!

Finally, I had my receipt in hand and a date for delivery and to be delivered. Adulthood thy name is Värnamo!

As a final note, to fully mark this occasion, I am hoping to have an Evandebacle Has Grown-Up (Furniture)! Party. Details TBA.

4.03.2006

Oraclypse Now: Sports Edition

Oraclypse Now: Sports Edition

Riding high from my perfect[ly inaccurate] Final Four picks, I thought I'd do the betting public a service by making MLB picks.

AL East: Yankees
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: A's
AL Wild Card: Indians


NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Braves

WS: Indians over Cardinals