Lines. When to Draw Them.

My boss asked me this week what a dirty sanchez is. Is this better or worse than the time he asked me if I thought he was a douche bag? Discuss.

John J. Miller Attempts to Make "Miss Gradenko" the Song of the Summer

The National Review has tried to parlay the success of Conservative Rock List I into a sequel by publishing a list of the Greatest Conservative Rock Songs of All Time: #51-#100 (thanks to Hot 97 for the link). It's more of a Police Academy a sequel than a Godfather but with some good choices on there (not that they couldn't use the hilarious antics of Tackleberry to make it even more Police Academy). Charlie Daniels gets his due as the Confederate flag wrapped stereotype that he aspires to be. The Dead Kennedys are on there, though totally for the wrong song. "Kill the Poor" should have been a mortal lock for the Top 10, but listing "Holiday in Cambodia" simply reveals list compiler John J. Miller as little more than a conservative rock poseur. He's so getting beaten up at the next Focus on the Family picnic. I will say that I cracked a smile to see that he even co-opted The Smiths ("This Night Has Opened My Eyes"). Take heart gentle reader, before you buy that gun to defend Morrissey's honor, please consider the source, a source that wrote the sentence, "An expression of Christian faith by a super-hip band" about P.O.D.'s "Alive."


The Summer of Beer and Five Other Self Improvement Projects

As part of my half-assed attempts at self-betterment, which have included such efforts as a detox diet which a friend of mine basically made up on his own and purchasing running shoes (for display only), I figured I'd outline some stuff that I should do to make the most of the Summer of '06.

1. Learn to Like Beer
- This may seem like part of the Evandebacle Gut Expansion Initiative undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers since I quit smoking, but it really is not. Basically, I have long had an aversion to beer. Most of you know the story behind it so I shall spare the World Wide Web the medical details. Let's just say that my body tends to initiate a Pavlovian response to return any beer I ingest back to the earth whence it came, or at the very least into a nearby toilet or behind a shrub that I may have handy. This makes drinking a rather expensive proposition for me both socially (public ralphing is not attractive for a male seeking a female) and financially (I tend to drink red wine instead). Ergo, drinking beer will make me a better and more attractive person. Marketing was right again!

2. Go Camping - The ideas of wilderness and tents and stars and clean air and marshmallows are wonderful to me. Always have been. The trouble is that I haven't been camping since I was a young kid. Every Labor Day weekend for a few years, my mother, sister, and I would join a number of other divorce-ravaged families and travel to Warwick, NY for a couple of days of good ol' outdoor fun of mosquito bites, hot dogs on sticks, and verbal spouse bashing. By the flickering light of a campfire we would tell spine-chilling stories of the deadbeat dad whose alimony checks went with him to the grave, but whose ghostly outline could still be seen in the trees behind the bleachers of the little league field, violating the laws of nature as well as the court order secured during divorce proceedings. Spooky. Who's got a tent?

3. Make Three New Friends - This one is dicey. To my current friends, I love you all. I do. But since moving to Chicago I've really only made friends in a few very isolated circles: through grad school, through improv, and those I knew in college but moved here. Meeting people through such institutional settings has its drawbacks no matter how awesome those people may be. Plus most of them aren't single anymore, which can be problematic. The whole third wheel effect. Seeing that I don't like bars, am not good at small talk, and tend to not make a good first (and often second) impression, how I will do this is beyond me.

What I Probably Won't Be Doing This Summer

4. Host a Social Gathering at My Apartment - This may be an awful idea. No access to the outside. Minimal seating. A tiny kitchen with limited food production capacity. Insufficient air circulation. Nearest train stop is closed. Wanna come to my party?

5. Buy Some Fucking Plants and Posters Already - I got cocky after buying some furnishings. A couch and computer table do not a home make. There is not a single thing on the walls of my bedroom. Nothing! Just whiteness. It's as if I'm allowed to live my life on the outside during the day so long as I come back to the ward in time for my meds and lock down.

6. Bike to Work - See, I knew there would be a legitimate attempt at self-improvement somewhere in here. I was about to give up on this one until I got my bike tuned up last week. I know, I also thought that when bike owners said they were taking theirs "in for a tune up" it was just a pathetic attempt to make their bicycles sound like real machines, legitimate forms of transportation, to make up for the fact that they were adults without cars and wearing helmets in public. Not so. It actually made a difference. Mine runs (well, cars "run," bikes..."bike") great now. So, even though I have no access to a shower, I shall attempt to bike to work and use the resultant pungency to dissuade my boss from speaking to me. This may backfire. He is a lifelong smoker with a highly diminished sense of smell.

So that's my list. I was going put some loftier goals such as starting a novel or falling in love on there, but I thought you all might not be willing to suspend disbelief. If you have any other suggestions on how I should spend my time, please feel free to comment.


Them Damned Conservative Short-Hairs and Their Rock and Roll Music

At first I thought this story was a bit of satire. The National Review, the preferred rag of every trickle-down hipster looking to be part of the vanguard, published its list of the Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs of All Time.

Here is the complete list for your delectation and incredulity:
  1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who
  2. "Taxman," by The Beatles
  3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones
  4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," by The Beach Boys
  6. "Gloria," by U2
  7. "Revolution," by The Beatles
  8. "Bodies," by The Sex Pistols
  9. "Don't Tread on Me," by Metallica
  10. "20th Century Man," by The Kinks
  11. "The Trees," by Rush
  12. "Neighborhood Bully," by Bob Dylan
  13. "My City Was Gone," by The Pretenders
  14. "Right Here, Right Now," by Jesus Jones
  15. "I Fought the Law," by The Crickets
  16. "Get Over It," by The Eagles
  17. "Stay Together for the Kids," by Blink 182
  18. "Cult of Personality," by Living Colour
  19. "Kicks," by Paul Revere and the Raiders
  20. "Rock the Casbah," by The Clash
  21. "Heroes," by David Bowie
  22. "Red Barchetta," by Rush
  23. "Brick," by Ben Folds Five
  24. "Der Kommissar," by After the Fire
  25. "The Battle of Evermore," by Led Zeppelin
  26. "Capitalism," by Oingo Boingo
  27. "Obvious Song," by Joe Jackson
  28. "Janie's Got a Gun," by Aerosmith
  29. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by Iron Maiden
  30. "You Can't Be Too Strong," by Graham Parker
  31. "Small Town," by John Mellencamp
  32. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," by The Georgia Satellites
  33. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," by The Rolling Stones
  34. "Godzilla," by Blue Oyster Cult
  35. "Who'll Stop the Rain," by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  36. "Government Cheese," by The Rainmakers
  37. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," by The Band
  38. "I Can't Drive 55," by Sammy Hagar
  39. "Property Line," by The Marshall Tucker Band
  40. "Wake Up Little Susie," by The Everly Brothers
  41. "The Icicle Melts," by The Cranberries
  42. "Everybody's a Victim," by The Proclaimers
  43. "Wonderful," by Everclear
  44. "Two Sisters," by The Kinks
  45. "Taxman, Mr. Thief," by Cheap Trick
  46. "Wind of Change," by The Scorpions
  47. "One," by Creed
  48. "Why Don't You Get a Job," by The Offspring
  49. "Abortion," by Kid Rock
  50. "Stand By Your Man," by Tammy Wynette
Now some of these obviously work ("Sweet Home Alabama") and others are clearly aimed at liberals who have solved the rest of the world's problems and now have free time to take the bait ("Revolution"). Then there are others that are just hilarious. If libertarians want "I Can't Drive 55" to be their official broadside against government encroachment on personal liberties, then they should knock themselves out. I'll even throw in the tequila-sopped "Red Rocker" for a poster boy, no charge. Once you gleefully appear on Emeril Live you effectively renounce Rock Star Status anyway. Good riddance. Interestingly, the song featured in the most blatant exercise of willful pop culture ignorance in the history of the world, Reagan fave "Born in the USA," did not make the list.

The scary part about this list is not how audacious or absurd some of the choices are, but that some of the arguments might work on people. Take "Cult of Personality," for instance. The National Review argues that the song rails against blindly following and worshipping leaders like Stalin and JFK. This is true. Hey, that does sound like something a conservative would do! Wow. Nevermind the fact that half of the staff of the National Review is probably still hung over from the necropalooza that followed Ronald Reagan's death. That's of no consequence other than it being true.

In politics, everyone co-opts ideas, personalities, and anthems that they have no right to claim. This sucks, and is occasionally downright abhorrent, but it's the way it is. The Right is brilliant at it. Karl Rove is a Reactionary Rumpelstiltzkin, spinning bullshit into gold. There is a BS Gap in America today. Where the right foists it all on the public like they were descended from the lovechildren of Billy Graham and Ron Popeil: they turn baseless assertions into gospel, then convince you that you life will be so much easier once you buy it (and clean up will be a snap!), the Left nominates a bunch of Willy Lomans of ideas. In sum, things are bad when some stupid list that puts Creed and Everclear in the Top 50 of anything makes me even more despondent about our collective future.


American Ingenuity Again Saves The Day

There is no problem more prominent or vexing to the average consumer today than high gas prices. We all know that something has to be done before this escalates from annoyance to crisis and then on to cataclysm. At that point we may have to all walk or ride bicycles to places we need to be, which could then, in turn, compromise our national heritage of morbid obesity. Our sense of self will be shattered. But no solution seems to work. What to do? Well, thank goodness we have General Motors to pull our heads out of The Box and bury them in the sand. Sand, incidentally, that has collected so far up our asses that we can taste it. Mmmmm. Ass sand.

Several days ago GM announced an elegant, simple solution to the high gasoline prices that have resulted from global increases in consumption: Give people what they want, more consumption!

DETROIT - Aiming to capitalize on consumer angst about the high cost of gasoline, General Motors Corp. on Tuesday said it would cap pump prices at $1.99 for customers in California and Florida who buy certain vehicles by July 5. The offer is good for 2006 and 2007 model year vehicles.

In California, eligible vehicles are the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban sport utility vehicles and Impala and Monte Carlo. In Florida, eligible vehicles are the Impala, Monte Carlo, Grand Prix and LaCrosse.sedans; the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs; the Hummer H2 and H3 SUVs; the Cadillac SRX SUV; and the Pontiac Grand Prix and Buick LaCrosse sedans. In GM will credit drivers the difference between the average price per gallon in their state and the $1.99 cap. The credits can be used through December 2007. Consumers wouldn't get any credits if gas prices fall below $1.99.

GM said a California resident who buys a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and drives 1,000 miles per month would get an estimated $103.75 monthly credit, based on the current average premium fuel price of $3.65 per gallon, GM said. A Florida resident who drives a 2006 Buick LaCrosse about 1,000 miles per month would get an estimated monthly credit of $60 based on the current premium fuel price of $3.19.

The genius behind this should be self-evident because, as everyone knows, reverse psychology works best on (1) small children and (2) commodity markets. Damn they're good. It should be noted that GM is not doing this purely out of the goodness of their own hearts. Customers will have to enroll in the OnStar Diagnostics program to qualify.

There seems little point in actually debating whether or not this is a prudent or responsible strategy on the part of GM in the context of the current and forecast oil shortage. The whole thing belies a corporation so ravenously greedy to unload their environmental hazard of a product and assumes a collective consumer retardation so catastrophic that it's kind of absurd to point it out. Still, there it is. Behold its moronic magnificence!

I will say this. Over and over again, I find myself admiring the ingenuity of American marketing. While I sit around debating questions like, "Do you think it's possible to bake a pie inside of a cake?" with my friends while staying poor, corporations are making gajillions off of this shit. When will my indignance pay off?


Uncompensated Endorser for the Tiny Man Inside

Have you run out of ways to hate on the government? Do you pine for the days when the fusion of rap and metal was vibrant and angry and rockin' - before Linkin Park left their burning musical bag of dog turds on the doorstep of Rage Against the Machine? Can you think of anyone better than me to recommend a soundtrack for the coming Debaclypse? Well, have I got some music for you. Seriously, I do. It's right here.

First a little background.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am friends with two of the three members of Tiny Man Inside (I cannot vouch for the character, or even the very existence, of the third member), and, as I say to everyone I meet, please do not discredit my friends out of hand based solely on their association with yours truly.

The song featured in the link, "Stain on the Flag," is a re-tooled version of a Cement Babyhead song by the same name. For those not familiar with the Babyhead, they were an Ithaca quartet very much in the RATM image - a band that laid rap-style vocals over hard rock/metal guitar and drums and lashed out at the inequities of political corruption and government cheese. In fact, lead singer Huy Dao once referred to himself aptly on stage as "Zach De La Dao." Huy established quite a reputation as the unofficial barber for the punk and punk-adjacent crowd we hung out with in Ithaca and tried valiantly, though unsuccessfully, to dissuade me from some extremely poor coiffure decisions circa 1995. Oh, and my dad liked him a lot.

Guitarist Mason Wolak has also has deep debaclyptic roots as he spent a year living in my closet on Stewart Ave. (and not in a gay, Vito-from-the-Sopranos sort of way, he actually resided in storage space). Mason was something of a 1990s guitar legend thanks to his band Stab, who were quite the power trio (but not in a gay, Rush sort of way). Stab holds a special place in my heart because they were the first band at my college that I really got into. Going to their shows, I started to really find my way socially and, in a time in my life when I reflected often about my identity, they helped me work through tough questions like, "Drag race til death? Is that what you want?" Oh, and my dad liked him too.

On drums was Doug C. Bacon. Hmmmm. You know that autistic lupine kid who would sit in the back of your class, shout out a non-sequitur once in a while, but beyond that would just stare into space? That was Doug. His impact on my life lingers. He was who renamed America's late fall harvest celebration "Thanks-taking," which I still mark every year like you all do, by gorging myself on gaudy mounds of gravy-slathered excess. The difference is that, where others feign giving thanks, I simply accept that I am acting out this country's perverse imagined birthright to be greedy, repugnant imperialists. So, yeah. Think of Doug as the hairiest of those imperialists you ever did see.

Dan Moon was also in the Babyhead, but I really didn't know him well enough to be snide.

So go listen.

While you're listening, please enjoy these complementary PR photos from the archive. OK, it's been fun shilling like Curt. See you tomorrow.

Huy and Mason w/ Babyhead

Huy likes you

Mason w/ Stab (May 1994)


This Can't Be What They Mean By 'Sweating The Small Stuff'

Dateline: Last night. Before me a dilemma of dorktastic dimensions. What book to read next? It was down to two non-fiction heavyweights. First, The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors. I've been a little lax in keeping up with the latest in early hominin evolution (for instance, I didn't know that 'hominin' was a term, as opposed to 'hominid') and I've always enjoyed rolling phrases like "Koobi Fora" and "Taung Baby" around on my tongue. Plus, you know, paleoanthro is exactly like rap, with its feuding for old school cred. There's hot shot Donald Johanson on one side comin' and callin' that Kenya scene bullshit; he rolled Ethiopia style and whatnot. And then there are the Leakeys and the Hominid Gang, which is like the G Unit of the Rift Valley. They're badass and they've got lineage. So, that book seemed like it was gonna rock.

Then there was Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather. I know, I know. I sound like I'm jumping all over the hot topic with Katrina and whatnot, but I'm no Roker-come-lately to the weather world. I was on that back when John Hope was doing the Tropical Updates at 49 past the hour and shit. There's nothing I love more than hot cyclonic action. And if you think I'm lyin' we can take this to the Intertropical Convergence Zone and settle it.

I gave 30 minutes of my life to this decision so lets hold back that laughter please.


Instant Parade!

Not much happens on my street. I do live in a big ol' bustling metropolis and my street is by no means a tree-lined country lane or a suburban cul-de-sac, but not a whole lot happens. There are these guys next door who are a little odd. They hang out in their garage a lot and can occasionally be seen wandering the sidewalks balancing a soccer ball or, a bit more unconventionally, a broom on their head or shoulders, but other than that I hardly live where the action is. Still, and this is what is superlative and surreal about city dwelling, a guy, even on my street, can take a nap, wake up at 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon, and have a parade going on outside their window. Yup. Sleep. Wake. Rub eyes. Boom! Instant parade!

I guess it can be more accurately termed a religious procession. It had all the hallmarks of a religious procession anyway: flowers, crosses, singing, Virgin Marys, and little girls dressed all Jon Benet in their crazy white dresses from stores like Bebe Elegante. That's a freakin' procession.

Look out! Parade!

For some reason I got it into my head that this was all very Filipino. I was seriously convinced of this. The participants were Asian, but that's not much to go on. I haven't any clue where there might be a Filipino enclave in Chicago, but my anthropology training has taught me to look at signs and come to startlingly useless conclusions like "That looks kinda Tagalog-ish." Turns out that's exactly what it was. Go figure.

The procession, I believe, was for Flores de Mayo, a month-long celebration of the Virgin Mary. All through May people bring flowers to the altar of the Big V. It's just a nice thing to do and I presume it has been going on right under my nose for weeks. The culmination of the festival, the Santa Cruzan, is what randomly marched by my apartment. There are various accounts of the origins of the Santa Cruzan. One has to do with early festivals brought to the Philippines by conquistadors, another with a vision a monk had about the Virgin Mary, and a third dates back to events in fourth century Rome:

The highlight of the celebration is the Santa Cruzan, the procession on the last day of the festival in honor of Reyna Helena. In the year 326 A.D. she and her son left Rome and searched for the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. At last they found the Holy Cross and brought it back to Rome, the capital of their empire.

It is more a parade than a religious procession. Instead of icons or images, beautiful young women (or gays) with appropriate theatrical costumes, portray biblical and historical characters. Almost all sagalas, the persons in the parade, symbolize queens from the past! Each sagala is dressed beautiful and is looking as the 'real' Reyna (Queen)!

This last attribution is as good as any since there were clearly a number of different Reynas represented in my Insta-Parade. They were older girls, late teens I guess, all prettied up in white with flowers and escorted as shown below.

The Procession of Reynas...or so the Internet says

Icons, Flowers, it had it all.

I didn't follow the procession so I don't know where it ended up. There is a Church a few blocks away which seems to a person like me (i.e., one totally ignorant in the ways of Christianity) as a sensible place to wrap up a religious mystery march like this one. But really, I have no clue. I do know this, however, like any self-respecting "in-the-name-of-the-Lord" event, it comes with merch. Presenting the Flores de Mayo Barbie:


Jinxes. I hate 'em.

I hate when I stay stupid shit that seems tailor-made to bite me square in the ass, or in this case the sinuses. The dumbass declaration du jour reads as follows: "I've mostly outgrown my allergies. Not nearly as bad as when I was a kid." Oh, have you outgrown them Mr. Bigmouth von Weisenheimer? Clearly not. The mighty power of Loratadine in the form of non-drowsy Wal-itin seems no match for this nasal drip-drip-drip. Viva Pollen Nation!

Now, I don't mind when I bring this upon myself. When, for instance, knowing my predisposition to swell and snort in the presence of feline dander, I still manage to spot a cat, pet it, pick it up, and rub my eyes with it. Mmmm. Soft and purry. The results are particularly hysterical when I have contacts in. Those two-week disposal Acuvues are amazing. They are breathable, but still lock in allergens for maximum red- and puffiness. But I can accept said acts of my own (repeated) stupidity. How many gorgeous Spring days will be ruined by these acts of airborne assiness? When will the mold stop sporing? The floral fornication finish? Probably when I shut up about it.


A Little Fight Music

It may not be a good thing when MTV and my brain are asking the same questions, but it could be telling of something, right? The folks over at the Moonman Network took time out from hyping the thrilling finale of 8th and Ocean to ponder why more protest music isn't taking center stage on the music scene. The article features snippets from a number of politically vocal musicians (e.g., Chuck D, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, and Anti-Flag's Justin Sane) proffering various theories about where all the protest music has gone:
  • The business of music has made it too risky for artists to get "Dixie Chicked," especially young bands that are still trying to establish themselves. More established acts, whether they be Neil Young or Green Day, can afford to do it, but newcomers cannot.
  • Most fans want entertainment, not political sermons.
  • Some artists may still feel the post-9/11 pressure to not feel unpatriotic in a lingering "you're either with us or against us" climate.
  • Or maybe the belief that music can change the world is an anachronism. "[D]o you have any idea how deep this thing really is? Trying to 'turn over the system' by talking about it and voicing your opinion was an idea that died at Woodstock — and it ain't doin' so well in the nonprofit-organization sector of things nowadays either."
Not bad theories. And considering how much contempt this administration has for the intelligence of Americans, you'd think that everyone should have a theory.

One theme that recurred in the article is that the artists do not believe that it is an issue of apathy. Maybe. For me personally, apathy has evolved into something like an arrogant incredulity. I don't seek out political debate like I did in '04. Basically, I believe that, at this point, if you still ardently support Bush on issues such as foreign policy and the environment, then you have proven yourself more or less incapable of rational critical thought. Why bother? Like I said, it's an arrogant position to take and not one likely to sway people to my side, but I'm not sure what there is left to talk about or protest when met with a Bush supporter face-to-face. Of course, the people who do need to be speaking are the ones who agree that Bush is a disaster. Since the world really isn't black and white, "with us or against us," we should get together and figure out the best way to clean up the mess. But that's another entry. Back to the music.

Maybe the real problem isn't that protest songs are absent from the music scene. Political songs are there. Look at the people they interviewed. There's plenty of politics in the music of Anti-Flag, NOFX, Talib Kweli, and acts with a wider audience and greater visibility like Green Day, System of a Down, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and those Dixie Chicks. So, the stuff is there, but doesn't feel as effective.

The lack of efficacy could be part quality, part market forces. The fact is that I don't recall hearing any songs recently that have real protest anthem potential. I love NOFX, but more for the fact that they wrote the best song ever about being a Jew and not because they've inspired me to tear down the system with songs like "The Separation of Church and Skate." Punk poets they are not. I suppose "American Idiot" by Green Day had potential and maybe I'm out of touch and it has, in fact, become anthemic, but I don't think so. Here's where the market forces come in.

The Sixties, in as much as they have been handed down to people my age (i.e., children of Children of the Sixties), seem to have a finite set of iconic songs, images and events that helped the counter-culture and protest movement coalesce. Is it possible that the explosive speciation of media outlet choices and potential youth identities (emo, hipster, hip-hop, indie, punk, etc.) has made it impossible for any one set of anti-mainstream markers (including a musical politcal voice) to unite against authority? Could be. And it also could be that the competition for the attention and money of America's youth is such that the flag-bearers of each of those identities (i.e., the musicians) have to tone down their political voices or risk being bumped out by someone more marketable and appealing to a lower common denominator.

Then again, maybe this whole problem is imagined. Maybe the songs are there and I'm just too busy complaining to hear them. Or worse, maybe the generation gap has snuck up on me to the point where I don't even know how to hear them. It's not as if protest singers were dominating the charts back in the day. Look at the Top 20 songs for the super-tumultuous year of 1968 for instance:

1. Hey Jude, The Beatles
2. Honey, Bobby Goldsboro
3. Love Is Blue, Paul Mauriat
4. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, Otis Redding
5. People Got To Be Free, Rascals
6. Sunshine Of Your Love, Cream
7. This Guy's In Love With You, Herb Alpert
8. Stoned Soul Picnic, Fifth Dimension
9. Mrs. Robinson, Simon and Garfunkel
10. Tighten Up, Archie Bell and The Drells
11. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Hugo Montenegro
12. Little Green Apples, O.C. Smith
13. Mony, Mony, Tommy James and The Shondells
14. Hello, I Love You, The Doors
15. Young Girl, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
16. Cry Like A Baby, Box Tops
17. Harper Valley P.T.A., Jeannie C. Riley
18. Grazing In The Grass, Hugh Masekela
19. Midnight Confessions, The Grass Roots
20. Dance To The Music, Sly and The Family Stone

Kind thin on the anti-War anthems, in spite of international riots, numerous assassinations, and the Chicago Democratic Convention. Still, I wouldn't mind one "The Times They Are A-Changin'" or "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" to rally around. Ironic, actually, considering that Bob Dylan wanted nothing to do with being the Voice of a Generation and Phil Ochs drifted from his anti-authority troubadour roots and embodied a delusional proto-bling bling persona of being the next Elvis in gold lamé before hanging himself in 1976.

Phil Ochs (1940-1976) -
Voice of Dissent, Elvis Wannabe


Golden Angel, Angry Angel

It's been said, or I seem to remember, or rumor has it, that eating certain foods just before bed can affect the tenor of one's dreams. Cheese seems to be one of those foods of not just lore, but the rigor scientific experimentation, well, as much science as can be credited to the British Cheese Board anyhow. The BCB undertook a study of 200 individuals who volunteered to cram their maws with fromage, sleep and then report the results because "A lot of people still believe the old wives [sic] tale that cheese gives you nightmares but this study endorses the scientific facts." The results are nothing short of silly:
  • Red Leicester proved to be brilliant for helping participants to get a good night’s sleep – one quarter slept well every single night of the study, and 83% of all nights under the influence of Red Leicester were good sleep experiences. As for dreams, Red Leicester is the cheese to choose if you are feeling nostalgic about your past – over 60% of participants eating this cheese revisited their schooldays, or long-lost childhood friends, or previous family homes and hometowns.
  • Stilton -eating participants enjoyed their sleep too – over two thirds had good sleep experiences during five out of the seven nights. However, if you want some vivid or crazy dreams, the King of British cheeses is the one for you – particularly if you are female. While 75% of men in this category experienced odd and vivid dreams, a massive 85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most bizarre dreams of the whole study – although none were described as bad experiences. Highlights included talking soft toys, lifts that move sideways, a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children, dinner party guests being traded for camels, soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns and a party in a lunatic asylum.
  • British Brie caused all participants to sleep very well, but dreams varied between males and females; women tended to experience very nice dreams, such as Jamie Oliver cooking dinner in their kitchens, or relaxing on a sunny beach. By contrast, the men who ate Brie experienced rather odd, obscure dreams, such as driving against a battleship, or having a drunken conversation with a dog.
  • Cheddar -eating participants tended to dream of celebrities, ranging from the participant’s family sitting in a pub with Jordan, to a Glaswegian old firm football match with Gazza and Ally McCoist. Ashley from Coronation Street also featured, as did the cast of Emmerdale - and one lucky girl helped to form a human pyramid under the supervision of Johnny Depp.
I, however, did not have cheese last night and thus had dreams distinctly lacking in Jamie Oliver or fun on the Glaswegian pitch. Still, I woke exhausted.

Jamie Oliver:
Dreamy Because Science Says So

It was corned beef hash and eggs over easy for me last night at 11:00 p.m. courtesy of the Lincoln/Montrose Golden Angel Diner. It was tasty, even tastier for the fact that I had to fight doggedly to get my side of rye toast. (The menu specifically states that corned beef hash and eggs, unlike other egg combos does not come with a choice of hash browns or pancakes, though no specific toast exclusion is cited. The waitress chose to infer this exclusion andwished to deny me my toast. However, she finally conceded this point not because she realized I was right, but because I was quickly proving myself to be precisely the type of argumentative, pain in the ass customer that every slow Tuesday night should, by all rights, be free of.) Anyway, turns out that the Sandman is no friend of corned beef hash.

I had two very stressful dreams last night. Or maybe they were two parts of the same dream. The first began with confusion as to whether I had signed my lease on time and if, had I not, I would be allowed to stay or forced to move out suddenly. It initially appeared that I would have to move out. Not particularly distressed by this drastic shift in housing status, I enlisted some friends to help me move my stuff out immediately. Where I was going to move to was not clear and, it turns out, not relevant. Apartment Finders must work on a different plane than dream logic I guess. In any case, literally in mid-move, I got word that the signed lease and eviction notice must have crossed in the mail. I was granted a stay of relocation and could remain in the apartment. Whew. However, before I could get everything back in the apartment, I had to go to an appointment of some sort. With boxes still strewn everywhere and my couch still in the stairwell I asked a friend if he could stick around the apartment and watch my half-repatriated stuff. Didn't have to move anything. Just needed him to make sure that I didn't have to play out that scene from Coming to America when Prince Akeem and Semmi come back to their place in Queens and everyone on the street is sporting their stuff.

Enter betrayal.

When I returned home, I found my apartment locked and none of the boxes on the curb or in the stairwell, nor did I spot any of their contents in the hands of the street's denizens. Perfect. But when I entered the apartment I found that most of my furniture, most notably my couch, had been pilfered and replaced by one tattered, bluish, clearly garbage-picked loveseat and a legless seat of some kind. It looked like someone took a giant-sized one of those hinged wired grill baskets, pried it apart so that the two halves of the basket formed a right angle, plopped a cushion down on one half for a seat, left the other half bare for the back, and called it a chair. It was hardly comfortable, but a sitter would have perfect grill lines every time.

Helpful Home Tip #62:
When Grilling Season is over, bring your basket inside
to insure the comfort of your holiday guests.

I came to the immediate conclusion that my friend had taken my couch. I tried desperately to call him, but only eventually received some indirect response, perhaps a voice mail, to the effect that I was not getting the couch back. Remorse, or even the hint of interest in remorse, was absent. I ran into another friend during my search for an answer, who tried in vain to convince me that there must be some explanation for this. I ended the discussion curtly with a simple Darwinian conclusion: "He's Alpha." I was distraught by the idea that I was helpless in the face of being naturally selected out of my own furniture by a friend. And it was not simply furniture. What regular readers there are to DebaclypseNow may recall that I explicitly have noted that my couch is a material symbol of my adulthood. So, for all intents and purposes, my friend was socially demoting me, if not outright infantilizing me, by stealing it. But it was hopeless.

A second hopeless situation, though far less personal, arose in a dream segment which I now believe to be part of the errand that I went on and ultimately resulted in my decouchification. Somehow I found myself in Hyde Park and needed to get to the Northside quickly. I hailed a cab and gave the address. The cab was being driven by what appeared to be a young scraggly cabbie intern as there was a supervisor of sorts (or at least some official-looking woman with a clipboard) sitting in the passenger seat. We started moving and my attention drifted elsewhere.

After some time passed, I looked around and discovered that I'd racked up at fare of $17.10 already in this hack, but had been taken to 75th and Western, the opposite direction of where I was supposed to be going. I flipped, screaming about how this cabbie was just was fleecing me by aimlessly driving me around the ghetto and not where I needed to be. (75th and Western is not actually the ghetto, but represented it in my dream. The explanation for this could be that I was roped into a conversation by a homeless man at Dunkin' Donuts yesterday. He was pretending to read a menu - yes, they have menus there now - while hitting people up for change to get to 81st and Western. Perhaps I stopped the cabbie only when I realized that I was on a collision course with Dunkin Menu Man Redux.) Still, though obviously flustered by having his ruse exposed, the cabbie maintained his innocence regarding his obligation to take me via the most direct route. He wasn't going to let me off for the fare and I wasn't going to let him get away with the fleecing. We tussled.

Through the struggle, I managed to barricade the three of us, driver, supervisor and me, into a cafe until I could figure out a proper authority to call. I sought contact with some imagined Taxi Ethics Authority and then I sought recourse at corporate. There was a phone number on the hat of the supervisor, which I tried to dial over and over again, but kept missing or inverting numbers. Part of me was distracted by the futility of it all since I was sure the number for a Cincinnati phone (the area code was 220, which turns out to not exist) and therefore would get little direct response other than a runaround. Another part of me was distressingly uncoordinated and simply unable to complete this everyday task with the pressures of the dream on me. Eventually, after numerous touchtone fumbles, I had to admit defeat and fled the area on foot, running through backyards and alleys to safely get myself to some public transportation. Why I thought the CTA was a safe haven is another inexplicable dream fact. It was, I believe, at this point that I was coming to realize the theft of my couch.

So, when I woke up I was frustrated, angry and drained. I don't think I've conveyed in the least how much. I always find that task difficult and disjointed. Waking up totally screws you out of remembering what you were doing while you slept. Now I get to spend the day rationalizing and interpreting what details I do recall.


Putting the Lord Back in Lord Stanley's Cup

On the shopping beat, here's one that the collector of Anachronistic Christ Absurdities in your life will surely cherish. It's the gift that will be adding fuel to the fire that Jesus may have walked around not on water, but on some errant ice in the Sea of Galilee ("Son of God my ass! He's just as bad as those schmucky dogs that end up in the freakin' Lake every February."). Or maybe you need a Guide as you try to figure where to find the Outdoor Life Network so you can actually watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Perhaps you just want to put to the test whether He's way cool enough to score more goals than Wayne Gretzky. For whatever reason, it's the Jesus Hockey Sports Statue.

Also note that this appears to be the only of Catholic Shopping's statues in which Christ is wearing regulation footwear, skates instead of his signature sandals. Although he needs to get better positioning on those two kids. They're just going to lift his stick up before he gets to the puck. Jesus may be Magic, but he sure as hell isn't Canadian.

Many thanks to Prof. Holly for pointing this Jesus Gem out.


Context Dependency

This is cheating in the sense that it's a re-post from Always in Transit. Rev. Transit had a really alarming post concerning a movement reported in the New York Times to make contraception impossible to get because it, along with such practices as abortion, devalues sex, making it about pleasure and without consequences:

"Focus on the Family posts a kind of contraceptive warning label on its Web site: 'Modern contraceptive inventions have given many an exaggerated sense of safety and prompted more people than ever before to move sexual expression outside the marriage boundary.' Contraception, by this logic, encourages sexual promiscuity, sexual deviance (like homosexuality) and a preoccupation with sex that is unhealthful even within marriage."

Lovely, eh? So I tried to lampoon this with a bit of satire. Mixed results. Either way, I highly recommend the NYT article. Enjoy. Or not.

* * * * *

I would like to take this opportunity to present some thoughts about the obesity epidemic in the United States. It is high time that our morally bankrupt society comes to terms with its gluttonous self. We need to realize that Americans have long devalued eating. The act by which we take in the substance that gives us life has been debased to a thrice-daily orgy of flavor sensation. Have we forgotten what it means to be given our daily bread and become a bunch of keen-palated, metrosexual, seasoning-fetishizing, crypto-French, grotesquely obese gastronomes? I’ll answer that! We have and it must stop.

Everyone knows that it is not simply the content of the foods available, but also their variety which is driving this mania of mealtime malfeasance. People, in their state of nature sitting in ersatz bistros and roaming the aisles of organic markets, are greedy. They want it all in its diverse splendor. They will eat more if there is more variety and thus contract diabetes and exhibit sloth. They will eat less and be more regimented in their behaviors if when consume edibles; they do so only by the bland necessities of biological imperative.

So, right here and now, I am proposing that the USDA and FDA ban all flavorful and flavor enhancing substances made popular since the end of the Cold War. Chicago’s foie gras ban is a good start, but I think it must be taken much further if we are to curtail the crippling engorgements of our cosmopolitan tastes. Henceforth there shall be a ban on products not limited to, but especially: cardamom, fruit-flavored vinaigrettes (especially raspberry), pomegranate juice, quinoa, non-peanut nut butters, porcini mushrooms, crème fraiche, bruschetta, artificially de-carbified breads and pastas, coconut milk, and anything inspired by the flavors of Indonesia/Java/Sumatra

I thank you for your support and hope you join me in the fight to reclaim the tongue as a secretor of digestive enzymes and not allow it to be whored out as a taste dildo for yuppies, couture hounds, and creative vegans.


Opening Wide

I don't care what the Denver Post says, it's true. Sex sells. The reason for this is simple. People either: 1. like to do it, 2. like to think they like to do it, or 3. like to think they don't like to do it and therefore very strongly like to dislike it. Anyway you slice it, for capitalism, sex is an instrument of perfection.

Personally, I may not really be drawn to Coors because of those alpine amazons playing volleyball in their commercials, but I'm pretty sure that the only reason I know that American Apparel even exists is because of the cute girls in their Onion ads. I don't know where to buy the stuff, but I assume it's somewhere in the sexy model 'hood. Too bad I can't go there because my teeth hurt. Or maybe the dentist's office is the perfect place to hook-up. Hmmmm. I wonder.

* * * * *

The following brochure is from Dental Profile on 53rd St. in Hyde Park. Let's forget for a moment that I once knew someone who literally ran from this House of Pain screaming and crying because they were so incompetent in the ways of anesthetic technology. They have a new image, a world away from their 13th century means of pain relief, and here's what it looks like.

Not bad. Has a handy calendar and a map of locations so the when and where can be taken care of. It asks you take action for the sake of your dentition and your inherent beauty: Discover your Brightest Smile! Hey, no one ever said that the brightest discoveries are ever made without blindingly excruciating pain. In any case, a smile is nice, but hardly hipster clothes hawking nymph sexy...or is it? Maybe a little cleaning and scraping can be a little hot. Just picture a gravely voice whispering "eeeenaaamel" or "inciiiisor" in your ear. Whew! Is that a bead of sweat mixing with your saliva in the spit sink? It should be. And I didn't even begin discussing "fluoride treatments." (Plus I'll skip the "whitening" jokes for the sake of class and decorum.) Let's take a closer look at the brochure, shall we?

Hmmm. How odd. What's that going on in the bottom left corner. Is dentistry like electricity? All the parts have to make a circuit for it to work? Well, I have always heard that nothing makes for cleaners gums than a hygienist rubbing all up against the dentist. And look at the smile in the eyes of that hygienist. It's the sweetest taboo. With all the scraping, bleeding and mechanical slurping, this patient has no idea what is going on just inches away. Perhaps some frottage is planned for the bridge work in Room 3? Or maybe she is simply awed by the dentist's masterful assessment of this extreme case of periodontitis. "I believe the probe reaches 6.5 millimeters below the gumline, Doctor. What ever shall we do?" "We'll just treat the patient and play footsie. Because we're dental professionals and that's what we do, Ms. Hygienist. It's just what we do."


I Now Pronounce You Punk and Rock

There was a whole lotta marrying going on this weekend. Fuji-San (aka Judge Injury) and The-Now-Officially-Mrs.-Fujimoto are now...official. I've been to a handful of really good weddings-as-events, but only two which I loved as weddings-as-weddings, the marriage of improv power couple Shalene (purely a career move if you ask me) and this one. The whole weekend (which actually started with a glass of Glenlivet at the Hyatt Regency on Thursday as we waited for the shuttle to the Horseshoe Hammond) was amazingly fun - more than enough to get a cynic to gush.

What makes a good wedding-as-wedding? It's simple and not particularly revelatory. If you do it by the book as everyone does, then you may have a good event. When you dye your hair purple, have artichokes in your bouquet and name your tables after punk bands (I was a Ramone. Jealous?) instead of numbers, then you have a kickin' wedding. Doesn't hurt when John Jughead is the minister either.

Ninety-percent of the readership of Debaclypse Now has heard the stories of my weekend or was actually in attendance, so here are the highlights, observations and generally those things jostling for posterity in my head:
  • Weddings, even great ones, make me at least a little bit depressed. (That's right, I'm starting off on a positive!) Not because it's not me up there, but more because I tend to miss the people I don't get to see often when I see them at such events even more than when I'm not seeing them at all. Also there is usually a person or two who I hang out with who I totally wish I had gotten to know better at some earlier point in my life. Rebecca S. wins this weekend's prize for that.
  • If you do not already have a crush on Liz from Even in Blackouts, I suggest you get moving on it. And not just because she's pretty either. She's an infectious and ingratiating performer. If I ever have a dinner party I think I'll invite her so that when I screw things up people will just remember how cool it was hanging with Lizzie. And I saw the girls lingering around her even more than the guys during cocktail hour, so it's not just me.
  • I like toasting. Sure it's because I kinda like the spotlight, but let's face it, my self-worth is pretty heavily determined by whether I am able to be funny. The fact that I was given the chance to do it up for two dear friends at their wedding, well that's all the better.
  • What I don't like is giving video testimonials when I'm drunk. Logan, who I will gladly give a plug to as the talented videographer, had asked me to say something on camera early in the evening. I procrastinated. And I drank. Ugh. Sorry guys for whatever I said. I think I made fun of the bride's first ever gift to the groom. I had planned on some joke about the fact that since their children will be half-Asian we should try to make at least one of them the Tiger Woods of bowling. I'm not sure if the joke ever came to fruition.
  • I miss Phil.
  • In a brief You Got Served moment (the sound of breakdancing smack talk was in the air), Windy City Roller ass-kicker and über-Chicagoan Val Capone put me in a headlock. Never fear, this is not going in the evandebacle-gets-off-getting-beaten-up-by-girls direction. All I have to say is that I now firmly believe that, should I ever have to be killed by someone's bare hands, I hope they are Val's. She is just, and from the acute pressure applied by her arm onto my cervical vertebrae, justice would be swift and painless.
  • There needs to be an online petition to get butternugget to start a custom cake business. Oh wait, here's one.
  • I violated my personal rule about no tobacco smoking on American soil by having a cigar at the bachelor party.

Mostly I'd just like to redeem my videotaped debacle and again wish the happy couple much love and awesomeness in their marriage. xoxo evandebacle


And There Was Much Rejoicing

Not only was I met with the news this morning that a project that has been on the brink of disaster for the past two weeks has basically been nipped in the bud, but I also found this headline: "'Knight Rider' coming to big screen." Thank Jeebus! I have been wondering for a long time what kept my favorite transport-centric show as a kid (Sorry, Airworlf) from coming to the big screen. And I'm not kidding either. I loved this stupid show. I wanted to talk to cars through my watch. I felt it was every American's right to have equal access to turbo boost. And when KITT had to face his arch nemesis Goliath, well, that was the shit.

No sufficient explanation was ever given to me about why the show hadn't been adapted before. Surely there was interest. It has all the nostalgia you could want. The show is a natural for gratuitous special effects. And the opportunities to sell sex are obvious. Mechanic Bonnie Barstow was the thinking man's Daisy Duke after all. The only conclusion to be made was that Hasselhoff was somehow blocking it. Didn't want any reminders of life before he went up-market with Baywatch I guess.

This leaves me with wondering about whether The A-Team will make the jump. Tough call. It could be really entertaining. The plots were simplistic, the case of Good v. Evil, but the characters were more or less likable so that was fine. There was a little humor. A Rube Goldberg-meets-Rambo set of booby traps were set up. Before you knew it the bad guys jeeps were flipping over with dramatic, but non-lethal finality and the Little Guy won the day. What I fear is not the continued formulaic formulae, but the casting. I don't care about Face and Mr. T would have to reprise BA, but who'd be Hannibal? They wouldn't have Jim Carrey as Murdoch would they? Ugh. Nostalgia makes me anxious.


Improv Update

Improv Update

After something of a hiatus, The Flying Buttresses will be back at the Beat Kitchen on Sunday June 4th. No word on a theme just yet, but Naomi will be sitting in the director's chair.


Tales of the City

Tales of the City

I have a great view from my office. It doesn't make it worth showing up to work, but it helps. I face east out to my former residence, the Del Prado Apartments, and to Lake Michigan. I also overlook the Metra tracks and the 53rd Street viaduct which runs underneath them. This is where today's tale takes place.

The Viaducts of Hyde Park

I took a peek out the window and there was a man, probably in his 40s and extremely wobbly, wearing a red jacket and greyish-brown pants. He was facing the wall at the mouth of the viaduct. After a moment of wondering what the hell he was looking at, it became evident that he had the slightly bent posture of a stoned public urinator. I say stoned because he wasn't lurching enough to be drunk, yet if he had even a handful of synapses firing correctly he would have had the sense to take himself underneath the viaduct to do what needed to be done. After a minute or so more he turned to face the world. We, my co-worker and I, were looking frantically to see if he had been pissing by trying to spot a wet spot against the wall (that's the kind of corporate culture we have here - nurturing a bunch of piss-gapers). There was none. Odd. Maybe he was just trying to not fall down. Or not. The front of his pants were a distinctly darker shade than the sides. Evidentally, he hadn't bothered to actually unzip before relieving himself. And then all he did was stand there, waiting to become a sopping tale of the city.