March 31st 2002: Sprung
Yesterday it was for real: 68 degrees and blueskies. Everyone was smiling, the layers were coming off, it was a good day for life in New York City. I got to see some theater by some old heads from NYU. Endgame: very good work. It was very much the beautiful people's scene, and I felt a little out of place. We dropped by the cast party, then made for Greenpoint and hung out in a gorgeous loft where we didn't know anyone (older crowd: sad-eyed men and dark princesses of love), so we did the three-guy circle, drinking port wine Jeremy brought and scheming mad schemes for our collective future. I hope the children can save us.
I'm off to chappaqua for a work-binge with my buddy peter crawford. Got to see if I can't get it together to earn enough dough to go to ren fayre at the end of April. Peace to everyone.
March 30th 2002: Deuling Banjos
Recovering from another late night with copious amounts of coffee. I passed out with my shoes on again after making scrambled egg and creme cheese quesidillas, this time not even correctly oriented in bed. Woke up, felt there was something wrong, then realized that I was curled-up fetal style across my bed, no blanket, with one leg propped aganst the wall. Perhaps that explains the strange dreams.
Speaking of dreams, I was at this strange party last night (well, not strange, it was an NYU party, which was awkward for me, being an alum and all) and this woman I know was telling me how I had appeared in her dreams on a regular basis. I think she likes my style (but she hooks up with my roomate), and the whole deal gave me a little bit of the Fear. Luckily, my friend Johnny (a good soul from Vermont who collaborated with me on a couple pieces of art  ) was there, hip-pocketing a pint of Wild Turkey 101. He's a good country boy. We drank and talked about cooking up something for the next axiom. See above paragraph re: eventual sleeping position.
I had come from seeing a strange little play about ice skating done by/with people from ETW [where I learned my craft]. It was good, strange, sexxy, a little jumbled at points, but thoroughly punctuated with brilliance. Funny to see these kids that helped me out by crewing my first full-length play (nitewerk) on stage and doing really good work. It made me feel rediculously old, tired and used up in my 22-years.
After the above-mentioned party, I retired to the Lyric (hipster outpost across the street) and had a few with Jeremy. We toasted "to escaping analysis/paralysis." I also did some exotic shot with the owner/manager/bartender, Karrie (who likes my style too, I think... she invited me/us to a party at her place tonight). See note in first paragraph re: eventual sleeping position.
A world of confusion, but not necessarally an unpleasent one. Waiting for a light to break through and show me the way. It's a nice day out and I'm off on the bike to meet Yulia for a friendly brunch.
March 28th 2002: Mobility
Bike is back up to speed: new rear axle, tightened breaks, greased chain... ready to rock. That's a metaphor for my own inner state by the way. What Would Geezus Do? Geezus would rock!
Geezus, heh, that was my friend Mark's BBS handle from back when we were 15. BBS's were the precoursers to the internet: online community bulletin boards you logged into via modem. We used to go on and converse with people: teenagers, punks, goths, strange acidheads, poets, gamers, artists. People. You could download low-quality porn gifs at 14.4k and debate the viability of western thought or your computer platform of choice. My other friend Luke used to write a lot of beautiful/violent poetry and short fiction that was good for a 15 year old. He convinced the adult's only bbs that he should be given an account because their audience would appriciate his work. There was only one (the horn) that had the ability for two people to log on at once. Those were the days: when it was a real subculture thing. With Dave and Chriss Pruett and those weird SCA people who likes Role Playing Games. How I deserted them, abondoned simple fun for the sake of socialization. And where are they now... I'm not sure. Now it's all so mainstream. Sigh. To be a geek again.
March 26th 2002: From the journal...
Last night I wrote the following techniques for Improving the Odds for Triumph:
- Practice the art of inter-relating with people on a regular basis. Meant both in the sense of "putting something into practice" and "practice makes perfect".
- Express confidence in your desires, for they are the most profound Truth you can ever know.
- (Side note as I am currently preoccupied with the meaning of "masculinity") To the degree that one male or another is "a man," can be measured insofar as this person is comfortable with their desires. Thus it takes a man to date a women 20 years older or younger than himself.
March 24th 2002: Week Havoc
Last night went to a fun party in hipsterland with neo-roomie Miranda. A large basement in an old warehouse by the bridge, every inch covered in art, classic R&B sock-hop music, french R&B, funk, lots of reefer, kegs, belly-dancers, an absynthe bar... it was a bit like the Country Fair, Williamsburg Edition. They even provided costume-pieces for the revelers to put on. After I had my absynthe shot, there was no reason to look back. Dioneysus was in the house.
Saw a few familiar faces there, in general a high-energy crowd, lots of exciting/excited people, the laconic cynicism of your run of the mill hipster conspicuously lacking. Maybe because I was on the dance floor. As the night progressed, the music evolved (Sabbath, the MC5, old school hip hop, rhumba) and the crowed packed in. The Beautiful People showed up, and it got hot and heavy. We bailed at 4am and it was still going full tilt. I could have stayed another hour.
It's kind of what I want the future to be like: a lot of creative people turning urban decay into a good time. Energy and youth and beauty bouncing around with no fear or need for egregious self-protection. It was the perfect answer to my blade runner blues.
March 23rd 2002: Ecstasy on the Doorstep
Well, it's been proven to me twice in two weeks that there are eligible bachelorettes out there that could be suitable for me. I've been on the soulmate tip for a while, and it's only just now getting fun to meet people. Still not quite there yet, but I did play the geography game with an attractive woman last night at a bar. That's about as good as it gets.
In other news, you must check out this site. It's a homepage for "The Anti-Sexual Stronghold". Give it a look over, then click the "contact us" link and look at the pictures of the people. This is the internet at it's absolute finest in terms of entertaining anthropology.
March 22nd 2002: The First Night of Spring Taketh Away
Man it was shitty last night! 25 degrees, freezing rain, 45mph winds. The worst biking weather ever. I literally was almost blown over on the bridge: caught a tailwind that would carry me uphill without pedaling, thought I was the bomb, then the wind shifted 90 degrees and I almost hit the wall.
I've been reading a little about this controversy over Scientology. Google, my favorite search engine, de-lised this site [xenu.org] after the CoS threatened to sue them. There was geek outcry and the site's homepage was re-listed in the search engine. So I checked it out... now, I've known ever since I was a kid that Scientology was a scam, but I also thought that most religions are as well. The CoS is more focused on making money for what it does, but no moreso than the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. It's just fascinating to me to read the "What is Scientology Page" and think about how you could stub in more or less any religion. What is it that drives us to ritual and spiritual absolution? It seems pretty basic and biological. Some people go to church, some go to yoga, some go to the theater, some go to rock concerts. The quest seems to remain the same.
March 21st 2002: The First Day of Spring Delivers!
Yeah! Booyeah! Who wants steaks? I'm buying...
I love the springtime. I was riding around the city today doing some meetings and I kept passing all these little streets with their trees just starting to bloom. Pure magic, the way it changes how you look at an avenue. It's such a beautiful thing: winter is so long and dreary that you almost forget what it looks like, what it smells like, and then when it comes up and appears in front of you, you're surprised and amazed and suddenly in love with the world.
Contrast, methinks, is the source of almost all the wonderful experiences we get to have in this life.
March 20th 2002: The Year of Patience
Tonight watched the international version/director's cut of Luc Besson's The Professional (which is actually called Leon) on DVD with Christine. It's very good, the 24 minutes of additional footage making what was already a pretty good film an almost great one. There are a few moments of excessive dialogue (Besson wrote as well as directed) but on the whole the extra footage adds layers and meaning to the film, lifting it into the illusive action/drama/romance section.
We talked a bit about why they would have cut the footage and why movies are made the way they are and why they tore down old Penn Station in the '60s and why they probably won't build anything magnificent at the old WTC site... and we agreed that Americans lack foresight, and that's a central problem. We lack patience. We don't think ahead, about consequences, about the future. We think in sound bytes, in commercial breaks, and the manufacturers of culture play on this for the quick buck.
It's a problem. We're polluting our cultural atmosphere with the by-product of too many one-off flashes in the pan. This is nothing new, there's always been fluff, but the pace at which fluff is being created (and increasingly at the expense of more meaningful or thought-out culture) is only getting quicker. There are only so many natural resources out there to consume... and maybe it's time to de-couple the creative process from the economic. During the rennaisance, cultural creation (e.g. painting, sculpting, composing music) was not used to make money directly. You didn't have to worry about getting enough viewers or selling enough albums. There was a different problem of pleasing your patron, but you didn't have to justify your concept in terms of a bottom line. You just had to make something that the patron would be proud to show off. In other words something good.
The fucking truth is that not all good things make money, and letting The Market determine what is and what isn't will lead you to a world that's missing a lot of key things. Love doesn't make money. When people try to make love make money you get things like Valentines day, perhaps the greatest instance of culture-wide emotional manipulation since the heyday of the Catholic Church.
Can't buy me love. No no no no no.
March 19th 2002: Babylon Escape
Saw this while paying bills online today:
For electric and gas emergencies please call our toll-free number 1-800-752-6633. DO NOT send us Email.
Yes. I imagine that's best.
Otherwise just a little lonely, listening to bossa nova music, after a successful day working up at Everett Studios in White Plains, where I may be getting even more gainful employment. I like that prospect: it gets me back into a social work setting (a friendly office) for a change. I like shop culture, the having of co-workers. It makes the whole gig kind of easier to handle, as long as you get along that is.
Finally, maybe one of the weirdest links ever: a british journalist does a travel bit on a colonic cleansing resort. Not for the faint of heart, but fascinating nonetheless.
March 17th 2002: Happy St Paddy's Day
Irish that coffee up and contemplate your gallic melancholy and your manic celtic furor. Get out of your sleek american shell and sing some songs with friends.
Though I tend to despise most indy-rock and the accompanying scene, I've given The White Stripes a listen, and I think they might just be Zepplen for the 21st century. The White-Boy (and Girl now too) Blues return. This is the real thing, not the fucking Strokes. Give 'em a shot.
March 16th 2002: Moving in the Right Directions...
Flipflop energy judo and the cessation of hangover has brought the spirit back.
Here's a great article from the NY Times that proves someone out there gets it when it comes to how the digital revolution could be the best thing ever for art and artists.
Also, I recently got another fantastic email from my friend Nick in LA:
Man, sometimes I just get really fucking tired of myself. Last night I went out to the bar with some friends and had a few pints, or like seven, so I'm being all ornery, I pierce my own ears with the pins of these flashing buttons they're giving out, smear blood on my face like war paint and promptly get into a fight and get tossed by the bouncers. Drive home drunk and momentarily pass out on the way. I wake up this morning to go to work and see myself in the rear view mirror with encrusted blood on my face. Man my question to you is this: am I actually getting worse?, when am I going to grow up and get past all this macheezmo shit that keeps me from acting like a normal civilized person. i'm really tired of being such a fucking asshole all the time.
That's Nick for you. Funny and frightening in such a wonderfully specific way. His email spurred a lengthy and rant-like response... read it >>>
Hard Knock Life
Well, it's been a rough half-week. Long days and long nights, with little time for recreation and fun. Thursday I lost my brakes while making for the Queensboro bridge and had an unfortunate run in with a traffic-dividing barrel. You know, those big yellow ones full of sand meant to keep trucks out of medians and such? Thankfully I absorbed the impact with my thigh and so there's little permanent damage to me or the bike. Just a broken brake cable and a bruise, an easily reparable situation.
But it just seems like I can't get the cards to fall my way. You know how it is, you have three beers with your business partner after work, talking about corporations the way a lot of people talk sports, having a good old westchester time, but you miss the train back to the city, you're late to your rehearsal/reading, and the reading turns out to be a bust anyway, but your friend is throwing a party at a bar, and you want to be with people, so you go, they've even got a drink special: a shot of tequila and a corona for $5 (later on you'll get the cool bartender, the one who reminds you of your friend JD from home, to switch the corona for Dos Equis), you lubricate, you socialize, you end up talking to a girl you sort of know from college, who's doing some consulting now, but wants to be a math professor and just had her boobs done -- in a tasteful way, "they look great naked," she says -- and she has a boyfriend, which she casually slips into the conversation, you know the way they do...
But your roommate is there, and he just got screwed for the first time on a real-estate deal, so you go and do some shots with him and shout about disintermediation and getting fucked over, stumble to the bathroom a couple of times, talk to your friend who organized the affair, have another beer, get bored, work up the nerve to approach one of the girls on the other side of the joint, not a part of the party, converse for some time with this 6'1" tall, very pretty as far as you can tell (it is rather late after all), Princeton-educated, working for a wind-power company woman -- sounds like a winner right? -- and the conversation is going along, you're trying to keep up because she's more sober then thou, but being a sport about it, and the vibe is good, but she lives in Phillidelphia, has to catch a ride with her folks at 9am, and so slips away into the night without you even trying to exchange contact information.
And then there's nothing left to do but ramble to the L-train, trade nervous glances with the other drunk hipsters riding home at three in the morning, take the brakeless bike from the station in Williamsburg to the house in Greenpoint (watch the herd thin as you traverse north), eat a bowl of corn flakes, get razzed by your sister who's been home alone watching old sitcom reruns on TV all night (she said she didn't mind staying in) and make foolish plans for the morrow.
So bring it on home. You're hung over, drinking coffee in your apartment, missing the st Paddy's day parade because they had it a day early, waiting to spend the afternoon with the sister-pal, contemplating whether or not there's any meaning in the obtuse amount of drinking done last night (testament to the ringing head), what the meaning of life is, what the future holds for us, when will you get back on the sunny side, and other pleasantly hard to answer questions. It's a beatific saturday.
March 12th 2002: Quickie
You wanna see something really scary? Find out Who Owns What...
March 10th 2002: La vida Loca
Supposed to go see the Bouncing Souls tonight with the sister dude. But it was sold out. Bust. Also supposed to do some dinner with Christina. That was nice. We ate some really good soul food and had fried plantains and watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind on DVD. I got to observe her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend, wild love-people in their natural habitat. Reminds me of Mark and Shannon, and gives me a kick in the astral pants to go out and live. All this whining about loneliness and desire, it has an end point: just like acting, at some point you put down your homework, forget everything you know, and just go out and do your thing. I think I'm getting close to doing my thing, whatever that ends up being. Just a little more self-inspection, a little more figuring out what I'm all about, and I can lay off for a while, start putting the theories into practice.
In other news, I got some great email from my friend Nick in LA, who is not someone I would normally think of being a beacon of "health" and/or "wellness", regarding my recent posting about working out with Thermadrene:
Subject:Hi Dr. Nick!
just chillin sick on a sunday mornin, both hungover and actually sick, was cruisin your website as I often do when I'm in need of a beacon of hope and optimism. But I raised my all too wispy eyebrows at something. DOn't take that fuckin ephedrine shit.
Now I want you to step back for just a second, when Nick is giving you health advice there may really be something wrong with what you're doing. The ECA stack (ephedrine caffeine aspirin) is highly touted and very effective workout supplement. I should know I've taken it before. There's nothing wrong with the caffeine aspirin part of it either, I take that all the time. But ephedrine, or ma huang as the chineese refer to it is about one molecule away from being methamphetamine and is seriously not good for your heart, there are lots of people who have had serious heart problems, strokes etc. after taking it. Don't just take my word for it check out: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/NEW00531.html, the fda and countless other medical organizations have been warning against it. You take it all the time in cold medicine as a decongestant but the dosage is way lower.
Just lookin out for ya bro, think I'll go find some coke
Will drugs never cease to be a topic of debate? On the one hand, I can respect what Nick is saying (I read recently an article in my roommate's rolling stone about high school athletes abusing these products, some dying), but on the other hand, having done some research on my own, I don't think I'm really putting myself at any great risk. It's a relatively low doge (250mg of an 8% extract, so about 20mg of active ingredient), I don't have any history of heart condition and I'm not using it during a cardiovascular workout, and never more than three times a week.
That being said, Frank calls this stuff "Herbal Crack" for a reason, and I probably won't be shelling out for more of it once I run through the bottle. One should remember to check one's self before one wrecks one's self. Do you have an opinion? Let me know.
March 9th 2002: Sister in Town
Brie is staying with me for the next week. Spring break kicks her out of her Emerson dorm. Tonight finished White Teeth by Zadie Smith (thanks for the loan, bunz!), a great piece of multi-generational literature. Also watched Wall Street (link to some fan site) starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. The latter reminded me of my shady businesslike .com days, and of my ongoing entrepreneurial activities. It reminds me how greed and desire are two sides of the same coin, and how I believe the future is the small business person, the free radical, the third way between worker and owner, between total free market and socialism. The true route of creation: more than just effort on the assembly line or corporate raiding. Intellectual capitalism.
Ended the evening at the Lyric Lounge, which opened across the street not too long ago. Outpost gentrification, but a good place. Many quality beers. There's friendly photographer guys behind the bar and a cute owner from Michigan who's friendlytoucheyfeely (and showed up at the last axiom) and her roommate, who is the consummate designated pool shark siren. Reminds me of Rachel from the old days. Absolutely devastating. Yes, son, the sap is rising.
March 8th 2002: Ride Johnny Ride
Today I will return to the Gym in what will hopefully become a regular habit. I work out at the Asser-Levy, which is a small gymnasium and pool complex run by the city parks department. It's only $25 a year, and reminds me a lot of the YMCA back in Eugene: crowded with real people and well work equipment. About a year ago, my then roommate Christina brought me to Crunch as a guest. I didn't like it at all... too many of The Beautiful People showing off for each other. It highlighted my preference for form over function. Although I'll cop to a small amount of vanity, I work out because I enjoy the ability to utilize strength, to do things I would not have otherwise been able to do, not because I want to look better. It also improves my mental and physical well-being (tires me out, gets the endorphins flowing, etc).
I've also layed in a stock of "Thermadrine" which is a workout supplement consisting of lots of caffeine, ma huang, asprin and cayenne pepper. It basically hopps you up and makes you sweat so you don't cramp as long as you drink a lot of water. I used it for a while my Junior/Senior years of college when I was taking Suzuki (intense physical acting training) and directing Nitewerk. I take it prior to hitting the gym, as well as liberal doses of vitamin C, a multi vitimin with ginsing and a banana. Basically I like to top off the tanks with a little nitro before putting the robot through it's paces.
Links du jour: BRAKING WAR NEWS! READ NOW! Also if you happen to have massive amounts of bandwidth, NASA has really high quality pictures of the earth for you to peruse.
March 7th 2002: Slammin'
It's warming up here! The comparatively balmy weather makes me feel like everyone and everything is beautiful and true, that the world is full of possibilities. I had a neat conversation with friendly couple on the train up to White Plains, got a business card, and talked with Peter about how companies need to stand for things. Then I saw the latest Richard Foreman piece (Maria del Bosco) which was unpleasant save for its brilliant conclusion and formal achievement. Now it's home and rest and shower and sleep.
Silly autobiography. In the meantime, check out this (if you drink) and this (if you like kitties).
March 5th 2002: The Town and the Country
I often refer to heading over the bridge as "going into town," and there's definitely a difference between cozy old Greenpoint and bustling decadent Manhattan. A rather unpleasant reminder of that popped up at the Palace (local watering hole) while I was sitting there with Slusarz having a beer. Next to us was an older man with a big moustache, reading a book about Teddy Roosevelt, looking for conversation. We, being fans of real history and real people, oblige him.
So here's this guy, Eddy, who's family's been in Greenpoint since 1840 (immigrants from Germany), living up in New Hampshire now with his wife, and he's seen all the waves of people move in and out of the hood. He remembers when rent on an apartment was $45. Now they're up in the thousands. I and my pal, he says, are perfect examples of "this new shit" which is people "moving here from far away."
I've encountered more than a little resistance from the natives in my time here, and more than a little love as well, so I take it in stride. I know I'm helping drive the rents up. It's not like a really have a choice in the matter. At least, I tell myself, I'm a good person from a real family. As Julia pointed out to me a few days ago, "you're not really the proletariat, now are you?" And no, I'm an educated intellectual from a fiscally poor but culturally rich background. But I'm not a trust-funded peter pan or a princess either, so I think I have a little bit of something in common with the denizens of the neighborhood.
But then the guy goes all sideways racist on us, confiding that the real thing making Greenpoint great is, "no ni**ers". It's such a strange thing when I meet someone like this: I can see their nervousness, their fervent desire to find another person who sees the world like they do, who understands. The amount of psychic and emotional energy on the line just jumped tenfold. Now, it's clear that Jeremy and I are uncomfortable with his line of reasoning, so he explains and hems and haws about really what he meant was that, you know, the thing is that people in this neighborhood have always had jobs, not been on welfare. That's what he's really talking about. I didn't really buy it. You could tell when he was talking about the black people who had jobs taking the bus into the neighborhood in the morning and back out after work was over.
From a historical standpoint I can understand what he's talking about. I was just watching Ken Burn's New York on PBS, and I just happened to catch the episode about white-flight. As it happens, Greenpoint was one of the few neighborhoods that didn't have its working-class population leave for the suburbs en-masse in the early 1960s. Since then the outflux of long-time residents has been balanced by counter influxes, first of Polish immigrants hungry to make it in America, and now of moneyed hipsters.
But the truth is they guy was just a fucking racist bastard sitting in a bar in his old neighborhood alone on his 56th birthday, sad and pathetic. As Jeremy concluded after we left, "leave it to a fucking German."
Later on that night...
I went into town to hang with Christine and I made the mistake of getting a little drunk, which made things a little strange and muddled. But what are you going to do? After we conversed about things for a while (I swear, I can intellectualize with that girl about life for hours) she left, and I stayed at this bar with her friend Natalka and some other people, and Natalka bought me Pabst, and I ended up canoodling with her on the couch in the bar, in the street at the end of the night. I don't know quite how I feel about that, since I've always had it in the back of my mind that she and Slusarz would get along really well... and I still feel some kind of nagging badness whenever I kiss a girl I know I do not love. But it's a guilt-free 2002. If nothing else, it seemed to be fun for the both of us and ended up innocently enough. Very cold night for riding home.
March 3rd 2002: Intellect Unleashed
I got this great email from Luke the other day:
my life has been going unbelievably well. It's been sunny here which is great, and I met an amazing girl who I have been spending as much time as possible with. She's really smart, fun to hang out with, and she is so fucking beautiful! Not to mention the copious amounts of incredible sex we've been having.
Sigh... that sounds about right. I feel like we're all growing up a little bit, ready to move to the next level. Mark now speaks openly of marrying Shannon someday, which is sounding more and more like a beautiful thing. I keep flashing back to riding down from the mountains and them singing along with John Prine and Iris DeMent: "In spite of ourselves/ We'll end up a'sittin' on a rainbow." And now Luke, the lost rebel, has found himself a special lady and is making for graduate school. Seems maybe I aught to get down to business.
On a completely different note. This morning I was inspired to finally pen (ok, type) my opinion on drugs and culture. This is something I spend quite a few thought cycles on... I've always been fascinated with drugs and drug culture. Since I was old enough to figure out how to start actively looking for information, I've lapped up opinions and ideas about drugs from all sides. So when I turn on the TV or look at the news and I see there's another cautionary tale or slick commercial coming from the partnership for a drug free america, I always read the article or watch the spot. That's how I came across this information about the latest round of anti-ecstasy ads that will be hitting TVs. This ad series just re-enforces my belief that the way our culture deals with its relationship to chemicals is seriously misaligned... read more >>>
March 2nd 2002: The Power Curve
My friend Mark in California recently remarked to me, as a general principle of life, that one has to, "keep it in the power curve." Well, I'm doing my best. I can see the slow and steady ratcheting up of the engine of my life, the ascending RPMs, the shifting into higher gears. Yes, I put on the dual-exhaust kit and got a custom carb in this mother, and it's got muscle.
I've been spending a wonderful afternoon relaxing and reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Christine my literature dealer hooked me up and gave the recommendation. So far she's four for four.
Christina, meanwhile, has moved out to points elsewhere. It makes me a little sad, but I know it's what's best for her. We grew a little distant over the past 3 or 4 months: first with her being so involved with her show and then me being away in so into mine. But now that she's gone I miss her. However, all is not lost. She's just moving to Park Slope, and the replacement subletter, Miranda, looks like a shining gem of humanity so far, so I'm staying positive at this point.
Well, in an effort to fill out the site some, I've finally added a page talking about my neighborhood and what I love about it. Coming soon: more people I know, more stuff about love and lust (spring awakening!) and more art to boot. Stay tuned.
Back in time to February