An Open Letter To The Kinda Young Cannibal That’s Stalking Me

Dear Mr. Cannibal,

Well first of all, why do you want to eat me? It’s not like I’ve been fattening myself up for the past six months in anticipation of you eating me. I don’t even have that much meat to spare. And the bit I do have, well, it’s in no way healthy. You know how they always say corn-fed when they’re talking about different kinds of meats? I think that’s supposed to be the benchmark of a good piece of meat, but I’m not really sure. Anyways, that’s not me! If anything, my flesh might taste like an old beer can that’s labeled “Banana-fed” and now used as an ash tray for cigarettes. Trust me, I just wouldn’t be that good to eat. I don’t even like the way my own body odor smells. Think about that for a second before I continue.

Moving right along, you think I haven’t noticed you stalking me? You’re everywhere I go, somewhere off in the corner trying to look all aloof, and it’s not working. Maybe if you weren’t holding a knife and fork, or wearing a dinner napkin around your neck, you wouldn’t seem so out of place. But I’ve seen you a lot lately, and I gotta tell you, you’re just not a good stalker. I saw you at the bowling alley last week. And I saw you at Dunkin’ Donuts the other day. And I saw you in line behind me at Duane Reade just this morning. What kinda stalker school did you go to anyway? I mean, it would be one thing if you were secretly stalking me for my inevitable dinner-plated end, but come on! There’s just no surprise anymore. If anything, I’ve started introducing my friends to your presence. Like the other night, I met some friends for drinks in the city, and I saw you drooling at the end of the bar, still holding your knife and fork and wearing that dumbass dinner napkin. I said, “Hey guys, don’t look all at once, but when you get a chance, check out the guy wearing the napkin at the end of the bar. That’s my cannibal stalker.” Eventually, everyone checked you out and had a laugh. But not because of you really. They thought I was making a joke.

Do you have time for an aside here? This is a serious question. I wanted to know if you were ever liked that late ’80s pop group The Fine Young Cannibals. Obviously, you’re kinda young, and you’re also a cannibal, but you’re not very fine at it. So I was really curious if you ever got pissed off when you heard The Fine Young Cannibals on the radio. Maybe you should look those guys up on MySpace and tell them that you’re an aspiring Fine Young Cannibal. Hell, maybe they can help?

So anyways, I wouldn’t be a good meal and you’re a bad stalker. Where does that leave us? Well, there’s a few ways this could go. I could play dumb and fatten myself up for your plans, but I don’t think that’s best for my future. I could instead start starving myself, making myself unpalatable and too weak to leave the house, but that would render your poor stalking skills obsolete. Or, I could find a better stalker, with more devious plans for my demise, leaving you in the cold on both accounts. But I’ve got a simpler solution to this dilemma. Well okay, it’s not simple. But it insures that I survive while bolstering your skills as a cannibal stalker.

So here’s what I’m going to do. Next time I’m walking home from the PATH Station, you’ll notice that I’ll appear larger than I usually do. It’s not really gonna be me though. I’ll be wearing a meat suit, the kind that Johnny Knoxville wore for the Jackass Rolling Stone cover shoot from a few years back. On the way home, I will appear to become woozy and faint on the sidewalk. When that happens, you can approach with caution and cut as much meat off of my meat suit as you like. Put it in your pockets after you cut it off and run away. Go home, cook it up and feed it to your dogs. I don’t even care what you do with the flesh. Then, after a few minutes, I’ll wake up and continue walking home. But from there on out, we’re done with each other. You get to satisfy your cannibalistic urges and I get to keep my flesh. End of story.

If you think this sounds like a plan, let me know later on tonight when we’re at the bar.

Thanks, brian




Function: adjective

40 Year-Old English


1: Having verbal arguments that involve “You look like” insults over dinner or while playing video games. Commonplace among members of the male sex depicted in Judd Apatow films. <He told me that my beard looked like Robin Williams’ knuckles. I mean, how apatowian can one person be!>

Blame The Wind

So it’s cold, and windy out. Maybe for good now, I can’t say. Normally, when it’s cold, I just throw a few extra layers on and push myself out the door. But I learned long ago how useless it can be to ride a bike with the cold wind bearing down on you. Pedaling is one thing in the wind; doable but not particularly fun. BMX in any form is another thing altogether; not particularly doable, not particularly fun (and if you’re a vert rider, kinda dangerous.)

So no BMX today. Rather, I ran some errands. First was the bookstore. I wrote a thing about a band for a certain skateboarding magazine and hadn’t seen it yet, so I pedaled against the wind to the bookstore to check it out. Next, I needed a new winter hat. So I pedaled against the wind some more to American Apparel and did the responsible thing; buying a hat made of recycled cotton that’s marketed using underage girls in thongs, head bands and gold chains.

From there, I didn’t really have a destination. But I did have a $5 bill in my pocket and distinctly remembered that at what essentially amounts to a different era in time, there was a record store down the street which had a pretty sweet dollar bin. So again, I pedaled against the wind, to a place that probably won’t be around in six months to a year, a (mostly) independent record store. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the last time I had entered a record store. I’m not exactly nostalgic for the days of old when I frequented record stores up to the three or four times a week, but tonight did bring me back to what will soon be a forgotten time. Surrounded by maybe four or five other 30-somethings perusing the used vinyl and CDs, I started thumbing through the selections.

At another time in what’s now history, there used to be something I called the “Record Store Stack Switch.” Person A would be moving from left to right, thumbing through selections, while person B would be moving right to left, thumbing through the same selections. At a certain point, both parties had to acknowledge each other, switch places and keep on searching the stacks of CDs or vinyl. It’s not a terrifically big deal; more of just a quirky, occupational hazard for the record store frequenters. But the awkwardness of the switch always made me silently giggle on the inside. Tonight, I managed what will probably be the last record store stack switch I’ll ever have in my life. Me, moving left to right. Unknown 30-something with glasses, pea coat and a Neneh Cherry CD moving right to left. I took the outside, backed up and let him through. He mumbled something that resembled something like a thank you. We kept on moving in our respective directions.

It got me thinking. I honestly do like buying music on the Internet. I like randomly thinking of a song that I want to hear and being able to hear it within five minutes of that thought. I like getting drunk and spending way too much money in the iTunes store. And I like not having to buy more furniture to house my abnormally large selection of CDs. But I am going to miss the sociality of buying music before the Internet age arrived.

Record stores were, at one time, truly strange and wonderfully dark places, full of awkward music fans, diehard collectors and know-it-all clerks that laughed off any honest questions you might have. You could spend hours in there and not get hassled. Eventually, if you were a return customer, you would develop a quixotic relationship with the clerk/know-it-all DJ of the store, and he or she would be able to suggest new releases for you according to your tastes. And more often than not, you’d have to pull a few record store stack switches to get to the one record or CD you had been searching for all summer long. It was one of the most enjoyable social experiments I’ve ever partaken in, bringing people from all walks of life together, listening to the clerk blast the A-side of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and peeling open the CD packaging to read liner notes as your car warmed up in the parking lot.

Okay, so I got a little nostalgic. Shoot me. The record store is just about dead. And with it, the sociality and physicality of buying music. Something the Genius feature on iTunes will never understand…

Good Things

I didn’t watch election returns last night. I wanted to, but I instead ended up going to see Rival Schools play one of their first shows in the area in a long time at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ. Both before and after, I managed glimpses of the coverage, but I missed Obama’s acceptance and McCain’s concession. Fortunately, 24-hour news networks are on the air 24-hours a day, so I did catch them much later on in the night.

As a band, I don’t think Rival Schools has played a show in the area since 2003 at the latest. Fronted by Walter Schreifels, Rival Schools played a slightly more melodic version of the volatile post-hardcore virtually created by his earlier project from the ’90s, Quicksand. As products of the New York hardcore scene during the ’80s, Schreifels (along with drummer Sam Seigler) played in a variety of youth-oriented outfits (Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, Judge, Bold) that preached the gospel of straight edge and friendship, formulating each of their songs into two-minute bursts of energy. It was a simple formula; one that thrived on the prospect of release. But as Schreifels aged, his song writing moved beyond release, into an age of tension. It was tough and expansive, with Schreifels deftly able to navigate the many states of alienation, describe what was happening, create an adjoining ear-shattering rhythm and get out alive. If I might, I believe that both Quicksand and Rival Schools were part of an unfortunately perfect soundtrack for a post 9/11 world (even though their music was created beforehand.)

I entered a pretty strange world last night. The entire country, or Jersey City and Hoboken, NJ at least, were pretty tense places to be last night before the final election results were announced. There was a certain glimmer of anxious hope on the streets, but life remained fairly tense for most people I encountered. So it was a good time to get away from the television and witness some live music that animated the spirit of so many alienated Americans. Towards the end of Rival School’s set, the many iPhones in the audience presented us with some promising news. Obama had won. “It looks like Obama won,” announced Schreifels. “And this is a song about surfing,” he continued.

A few songs later, Rival Schools had reached the end of their set. “This is the last song and it’s for George Bush,” said Schreifels. “It’s called ‘Used For Glue…'”

The tension had been released. Post-Bushism is almost upon us. And I’ll borrow a Rival Schools lyric to finish this off: “Good things are coming our way.”