THE DAY WITHOUT THE NIGHT

Bob: “If you had to choose between coffee or alcohol, what would you choose?”

Tim: “Wow, that’s a great question. Both beverages offer so much on so many different levels, from the physical to the psychological to the societal.”

Bob: “Which is why I’m asking. I’ve been asking people for years now. It started out simple enough, just asking women that depended on both to some degree and trying to figure out if I would like them or not, and eventually, I started to understand how you could characterize and categorize different people according to their results.”

Tim: “And what have you found?”

Bob: “Well, this is all speculation, but I’ve found with people that drink both forms of beverage somewhat regularly, that you have day and night people. Correspondingly, the day people choose coffee, while the night people choose alcohol. And then there’s often one or two weirdos that asks about coffee cordials and what group they would fall into, but I’ve never understood the people that want to combine a chemical on switch with a chemical off switch.”

Tim: “Because coffee is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant?”

Bob: “Yeah.”

Tim: “I know what you mean. Lately, I’ve been noticing so many people drinking Red Bull with vodka, which probably tastes good, but is also probably physically confusing for your body.”

Bob: “Exactly, and it’s hard enough to understand and separate the motives of the coffee drinkers from the alcohol drinkers, let alone a new group that wants to combine the two, but then also, join the night people at the party.”

Tim: “Plus Red Bull’s a lot more fucking expensive than tonic or club soda… But that would lead me to assume that it’s not about people trying to combine stimulants and depressants, but actually just a chance to appear more lofty in a dirty bar. Of course, I don’t inhabit bars all the time, so I don’t really know.”

Bob: “Yeah, you’re probably right. Some idiot saw an ad in an upscale cigar magazine suggesting the combination, and thought to himself, well, fuck I better do this if I want to get woman while I’m out partying.”

Tim: “Or it could’ve been one of those little alcoholic drink street teams that go to bars, give away free samples and tell people that it’s the cool new thing to do. Coincidentally, that’s how I heard about Sparks, the Alcoholic Energy Drink.”

Bob: “That sounds awful.”

Tim: “Yeah, it was, but it was free so we drank it til our stomachs hurt, which wasn’t long… What beverage did you choose to eradicate by the way?”

Bob: “Coffee.”

Tim: “Why?”

Bob: “I found a loophole by asking the question using the word coffee. I’d still have access to caffeine, just not coffee.”

Tim: “OK, well modify your own question then: caffeine or alcohol?”

Bob: “I’d choose to cut out caffeine then. I’ve been drinking it for so long, that it’s not really a kick start for me anymore. It just makes me more regular in the morning, which at this point, is just detached and apathetic. I guess what I’m getting at, is just that coffee is more of a daily requirement than an enjoyment, like taking a shower or shitting. It doesn’t do much for my mood. Alcohol, on the other hand, can either enrage me or force me to appreciate something I wouldn’t have thought twice about were I sober…. I become more emotionally charged if I’m drinking…. It makes me less regular and I like that part of it…. I’ve also had some great sex while I’ve been drunk…. But I’ve never had great sex with a woman after being out all morning drinking coffee with her. We might have some great shits together, but that would be about it..”

Tim: “So your take is just that the novelty of coffee has worn off then?.. And also that you’re not interested in joint-shitting with women?”

Bob: “Yeah, plus it’s not as socially or emotionally valid to my well being anymore.”

Tim: “And this makes you a night person then?”

Bob: “I presume so. Days of drinking coffee are too mundane for me. What about you?”

Tim: “I’d give up alcohol without thinking twice about it…. I can go days without drinking alcohol and feel fine, but caffeine withdrawal is a bitch. Anytime I’ve gone without coffee or caffeine, I get the worst headaches ever, and they last all day long…. The simple act of giving it up for me right now just doesn’t seem physically feasible.. if I were to… well, at least keep going at the pace I’m at. I can’t go a day without coffee.”

Bob: “So you’d say you’re physically addicted to caffeine then?

Tim: “Definitely, and any medication I might take if I were to withstand caffeine withdrawal would just be full of caffeine anyway, which would negate the effects of eliminating it from my diet. I’m officially a junkie I guess.”

Bob: “At least you’re honest about your shortcomings…”

Tim: “If I were to be totally honest with you, I’d tell you there’s no way I could do one without the other at this point. That’s my biggest shortcoming…”

Bob: “What do you mean?”

Tim: “Just that I’m dependent on both to some degree, and that eliminating one or the other would simply involve some sort of change that I’m too comfortable to make right now…. I can’t take the day without the night I guess.”

REFERENCING BRYAN ADAMS WITH EASE ISN’T SOMETHING YOU SHOULD NECESSARILY BE PROUD OF

Bob: “Name one person that really irritates the shit out of you, just by their being.”

Tim: “That’s easy: Bono from U2.”

Bob: “And why’s that?”

Tim: “Because to me, he embodies all of the excesses allowed by being filthy rich into one person… and also, because he has no problem in flaunting them.”

Bob: “You get all that from dark suits, bug eye shaped sunglasses and bad pop music?”

Tim: “It’s not his physical persona at all. It’s the fact that whenever I see him in a music video, he’s always surrounded by harsh weather conditions like pouring rain and wind gusts.”

Bob: “And this, to you, symbolizes a lavish lifestyle?”

Tim: “It just says to me that this person is too good to appear in everyday mundane life. If I were to see Bono walking down the street and stumbling over cracks in the sidewalk created by overgrown tree roots, I would think different. But to create the illusion that he must only be seen in extreme weather conditions, come on! It says to me that he thinks he’s some sort of god or prophet or biblical figure. It’s the same shit Charlton Heston pulled when he played Moses.”

Bob: “Wow, you’ve really thought this through huh?”

Tim: “I actually have. I keep seeing that damn commercial of U2 on TV where he’s singing that ‘Vertigo’ song in the desert with the wind focused behind him as if he’s control of it, and I get madder each time it’s on!”

Bob: “But I also saw a photo of Bono as a pall bearer for his father’s funeral though. You’d say that’s pretty everyday and mundane, right?”

Tim: “For people that aren’t famous and rich musicians; yes. For him, it’s just another press opportunity to actually support the myth that he is in fact a good human being.”

Bob: “That might very well be the case too… I don’t know though, it seems like there’s always been a tendency for music video directors to depict musicians in harsh weather conditions as well. Is it really just a Bono-centric occurrence?”

Tim: “Who else then?”

Bob: “Ummm… Bryan Adams in the song ‘Run To You.’ He got rained on more in that one video than I ever have in my entire life.”

Tim: “That’s different. The rain in that video signified desperation.”

Bob: “Maybe Bono’s just eternally desperate then?”

Tim: “Would you be if you had his money?”

Bob: “Probably not. I know I would find it hard to actually have the everyday, mundane life you speak of if I had the fame that he has.”

Tim: “Point taken… OK, another example then?”

Bob: “How about…… Milli Vanilli’s ‘Blame It on The Rain’ video?”

Tim: “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Bob: “Yeah. I just can’t think of anymore examples off the top of my head. I’m lucky I pulled that Bryan Adams reference out of my ass.”

Tim: “Bob, referencing Bryan Adams with ease isn’t something you should necessarily be proud of….”

SHOULD WE SHAKE ON IT THEN?

Bob: “I don’t get people that base their whole impression of you on the handshake you give them.”

Tim: “You mean people that used to be in the military?”

Bob: “Not specifically them… I mean anyone or any situation where offering a firm handshake hints at many other social ramifications, like getting interviewed by people for jobs and meeting your girlfriend’s father… I guess you could include ex-military in that group actually. Those guys are haters to anyone that doesn’t look them directly in their eyes and choke their hands. I guess you’d be really fucked if your girlfriend’s dad used to be in the military…”

Tim: “The reason I blurted out that reply was because of that actually happening to me. I was introduced to a friend’s father that used to be a Marine, and I softly shook his hand because I really didn’t give a fuck about being properly introduced to someone I really didn’t give a fuck about knowing. He got all grumpy and asked if I was a real man.., so I told him that I probably wasn’t by his account, and that was that.”

Bob: “Have you seen him since then?”

Tim: “Hell no, so I’m glad I didn’t play his ‘Be a real man’ game…”

Bob: “Because you’re not?”

Tim: “Well, like I said to him, probably not by his account.”

Bob: “It’s as if certain people take entire stock of people they meet simply by measuring the amount of force one uses while clenching.”

Tim: “You know what they should do, and I’m surprised this wasn’t on Seinfeld already, they should make a handshake gauge that measures PSI, and then assign recommended pressures for varying people and situations.”

Bob: “That would be a brilliant idea! Imagine the recommended amounts scale: 60 PSI for a girlfriend’s father, (80 PSI if he’s former military), 65 PSI for a job interviewer, 90 PSI for your girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend….”

Tim: “And… get this… you could wear the gauge disguised as a wristwatch if you weren’t sure of pressures. No one would suspect or even notice…. We should actually pursue that idea.”

Bob: “Well it was your idea. All I did was sarcastically suggest recommended pressures for different people and situations.”

Tim: “Yeah, but you broached the topic… I’m serious, this could actually be a useful idea for a place like that joke gift shop in the mall. Fuck, what’s it called…..”

Bob: “Spencers? The place the sells dildos disguised as personal massagers?”

Tim: “Yeah them.”

Bob: “Should we shake on it then?”

The Difference Between This, That and the Other Thing…

I don’t know if everyone that reads this knows that I put most of my effort into a BMX magazine called Dig. I’ve been working and writing for Dig for, oh, about 8 years now, and it’s become a huge part of my life, and also something that I don’t want to lose anytime soon. We need subscribers to grow though, which means new people to buy and read the damn thing. I am the shittiest pitch man in the history of pitching though, so it’s hard for me to beg and plead with people to buy anything. I’ve come up with the following spiel though, and if anyone wants to help Dig grow, I would encourage you to keep reading and keep in mind that I’m horrible at sales. It’s kinda like in the end of UHF, when Weird Al’s character retains ownership of the TV station and saves Noodles McEntire’s job…..

I hate sounding like a salesman, but there are some times in life when you need to. We make Dig BMX each month for people that ride BMX. We’re not interested in showcasing Dave Mirra’s latest contest exploits. We’re more interested in real BMX by real people. Whether that’s jumping off a curb or riding the local skatepark on a 16″ bike is up to you. I know this is the most cliché thing we could say, but Dig is made by people that ride for people that ride, so if you can show your support for the magazine, we’d greatly appreciate it. And we need subscriptions to grow, so here’s the deal…

If you’re not subscribed, now is the perfect time to get on board. Here’s the deal: if you subscribe to Dig now, you get a full year of the magazine (9 issues) delivered to your door, a free Etnies ‘Forward’ DVD and a Dig BMX Mag t-shirt in the size of your choice. This offer is available in the U.S., U.K. and throughout Europe. and the price is beyond reasonable. Here’s the prices: $24.95 in the U.S., £24.95 in the U.K and €40 in Europe.
Without this special offer, the combined total of the subscription, DVD and t-shirt would be over $50 in the U.S., £50 in the U.K. and €60 in Europe, so you’re getting quite a deal.
Here’s how to get in on the fun: log onto http://www.digbmx.com/ find the subscription link, and order online with a credit card. Then, go watch TV for a while and wait for your magazine and free gifts in the mail.
There’s more where this came from if you go to the dance with me. Yours truly, Dig BMX Magazine

Christmas Day/Night

driving
It’s Christmas night. I had recently endured driving and more driving and then more driving, before arriving home. First was to my father’s house in the early afternoon (8 miles), followed by further travel to my brother’s house soon after (50 miles), followed by the departure from my brother’s house back to my father’s house (50 miles), before ultimately landing at home after driving home from my father’s house (8 miles). The morning drive to my father’s house was as pleasant as I would hope Christmas could be. I’ve given up on relying on the gifts of giving and receiving in regards to Christmas; it is now an excuse and ultimate dependence on the fact that certain times of the day (both morning and night) will be characterized by the lack of people and crowds and traffic and the population going about their business as usual for one day of the year. Peace on Earth doesn’t arrive through the birth of a savior anymore, it arrives through empty roadways and desolate parking lots given unto us weary early morning travelers by Christmas morning, and it is marvelous. For a few hours each year, rushing to destinations isn’t an issue and there’s no need to make extra travel time to accommodate for traffic. It’s peaceful for the few of us that get out of bed and get behind the wheel, though that serenity only lasts til the early afternoon in most locations. (By 2PM, life is back up to speed and traffic is prevalent to the wayward X-mas traveler.)
But I enjoyed it while it lasted. I savored my glimpse of what I envisioned life to be like, were I the only driver on the road, and it was good. Then I arrived at my father’s house and we got stuck in traffic on the way to my brother’s house. Peace on Earth is fleeting in regards to the Garden State Parkway, but we endured.
The drive home was less grueling of course, as night had arrived. We made it back to my father’s home, and I left bound for my house soon after. My drive home was more of what the morning offered me; empty roads brought on by the general public’s obligation to be at home with family, and I savored it once again.

escapees
I returned home and realized I had nothing to drink for the festive night, then quickly shot back down the street to the bar that serves packaged goods out of the side of the bar. It was packed. The strangeness of feeling obligated to spend more than a usual amount of time around one’s family usually has people itching to escape the confines of home come X-mas day, and as everything is closed, not many options for refuge are available to the familial escapees. Luckily, bars and convenience stores remain open throughout the holiday season. Kisko’s is a tavern down the road that additionally serves packaged goods in a small alcove of the bar that was recently fashioned into the shape of a small liquor store. It’s cheap and open past 10PM, which allows every would-be-alcoholic in the area the chance to not seem like they need to rush to the normal liquor store before 10PM. It’s the loophole drinkers seek when friends are hinting that there might be a problem, and it’s only a bike ride away.
I entered the bar and made my way to the packaged goods section. The crowd was boisterous and additionally filled all sides of the bar. Parked just within the door were other bikes aside from the one I just entered with. I filed past the bar and into the store area, oblivious to the bartender. She was at the other end of the bar, serving customers and partaking in the festivities. I perused the various wines available conveniently down the road from my house at 10:30PM on Christmas night. The selection wasn’t outstanding, but at least this option of a poor selection of various wines from California was available to me, reminding myself once again that it is 10:30PM on Christmas night. I ignored labels and simply went by price. $5 was too cheap and would have to be forced down, and the selection didn’t vary too greatly from the $5 variety. I reached up to the top shelf and grabbed a Cabernet. It was $9.40.
I waited for the bartender patiently for about 3 minutes, whom was still serving patrons of the bar. I assumed she hadn’t seen me and decided to walk from outside of the store area and into the bar, hoping to make enough eye contact with her so that she would understand the “Hey, I need to pay for this wine over here” aloofness I was aiming to portray. Ultimately, she did.
Bartenders serving packaged goods have, in the past, not been the most friendly cashiers. I assume that bartenders see people buying packaged goods as missed opportunities for getting tipped at the regular bar. At least I would were I a bartender.
Kisko’s is different though. I think the clientele at the bar harass the bartenders to the point that they appreciate less business, but this is pure speculation brought on by one event about a year ago, buying packaged goods in the same bar on a less festive night than Christmas. The woman bartender ringing up my purchase asked me if I had a girlfriend. I immediately stuttered, and softly replied, “Umm, yeah I do. Sorry to disappoint you.” She then quickly retorted, “No, I wasn’t hitting on you… Some dirtbag back there (motioning in the direction of the bar) brought my flowers today, and he’s a total creep, so I was asking you if you had a girlfriend because I was going to offer you to take the flowers off of my hands and then surprise your girlfriend.”
I was taken aback. Here was someone simply trying to present me with a nice gesture, and I made it seem like I was a pompous fuck riding my bike around the downtown area, assuming every woman I came into contact with was interested with me. I slowly replied, “Fuck, sorry about that. I hope you didn’t take that the wrong way. It’s just that the last time a woman asked me that, she then tried to ram her tongue down my ear.”
“No, I didn’t. It’s an understandable reaction. Do you want the flowers though?” she followed with.
“Sure I guess so,” I replied. “Will the guy get mad?” I asked.
“No, he’s a complete psycho. He does it to all the girls that work here,” she answered.
I paid for my wine, thanked the bartender and made my home to a newly happy girlfriend, content with the fact that the flower buyer was just “a complete psycho.” I didn’t pass it off like I bought the flowers though, sure that I would’ve paid dearly for such a karmically poor action somewhere down the road.
Anyway, this encounter reinforced my assumption that the bartenders embraced packaged good customers at Kisko’s with open arms; on the basis that the quick fire in and out customers presented less of a problem than the ones that stayed a while and offered up their self-fortified brands of liquid courage.
The new Christmas night bartender approached. She asked if the wine I was about to buy was a gift or not. I immediately started to worry if there was some unknown law about buying wine for yourself on Christmas night, but then blurted out, “Whatever way puts me to sleep faster.”
She then replied, “So I guess I don’t need to wrap this then?”
“Yes,” I said.
She packaged it up and then said, “Maybe you should just get some Nyquil instead?”
I grabbed the small talk bait and replied, “Yeah that would work, but it just doesn’t go down as smooth. I need a hint of the fruity aftertaste that a nice Cabernet offers.” I was two things here; surprised at my quick and witty reply, but also surprised that I was somewhat comfortable in making small talk with a strange woman, whom also had a revealing top on that cradled her rather large breasts together. (Usually, the breast thing spells ‘intimidation’ in all capital letters.)
She gave me a courtesy laugh, took my money, gave me change and offered her sincerest holiday greetings, which I returned. I think she had bigger assholes than me to attend to in the regular bar, ones that would tip on behalf of the cleavage factor. I rode home through the cold Christmas night air, fully aware that I was about to escape reality through two quick glasses of wine and a 1-2 punch to the pillow. 40 minutes of The History Channel later and I was out cold and done with another Christmas, (the actual day at least).

How I Ended Up at Ivy’s Birthday Party (The Night I Should’ve Stayed Home)

Let me set the stage here. I received an album from a guy named Mike Kinsella a little over a month ago. The album I received was called ‘I Do Perceive,’ and I spent quite some time getting to know the words, thoughts and emotions of the song writer. Kinsella was in a band called American Football a few years ago; he wrote all of their music, broke the band up after one album and, to the outsider, didn’t really seem to be up to much. He actually was quite busy within the past four years though. He was in countless bands backing his brother Tim up as a multi-instrumentalist (including Owls, Joan of Arc, also helping out Aloha and Maritime on his own) and was also busy writing and recording his own music, under the guise ‘Owen.’ The sound and feel of Mike’s music is important here, but describing it would do little to aid in the actual unfolding of the story. For storytelling’s sake, I will say that Mike’s music as Owen is amazing to me, and that would explain why I scribbled in a date to catch him live when I knew he would be in the area. The date was December 19, 2004, and Mike as Owen was going to be playing at a club called Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ.
Let me now also set the tone of late December weather in New Jersey, which can basically be whatever the fuck December feels like doing. Sometimes, New Jersey December wants you to enjoy the outside in jeans and a t-shirt. Other times, NJ December doesn’t want you to know that the outside exists. It would rather you suffer innumerable days inside your home, warmed by artificial heat that dries your body out, both inside and out. This particular year, late NJ December opted for the latter. It had been formerly bearable, but December 19 was a Sunday, and by dusk, the temperature was steadily dropping. This normally happens to a certain degree, but the combination of wind and precipitation prompted the night to freeze beyond anything 2004 in NJ had seen thus far. It was the first night of the new winter which truly allowed all that were suffering through it to say, “It’s too cold. I’m staying home.” By 7PM, the temperature was in the low 20’s, snow was coming down and the late day’s rain was quickly freezing on the roadways.
I was half-heartedly expecting myself to back out of leaving the house, but often times when I do, something will happen that makes me kick myself for not going, so I’ve always tried to wage decisions on my first instincts- If I first wanted to go do something, but then have second thoughts against the first thought, I go with the first thought. This rule also applies to picking lines in supermarkets- Stick with something and follow through with it. It’s part of the persistent nature that’s gotten me this far, and I usually don’t let petty things like snow, ice and freezing temperatures keep me from doing anything.
I’ve also given up driving to see live music for the most part, with a few reasons backing up my decision. One, is that live music is usually accompanied by alcohol, and since I go to a lot of shows on my own, I often rely on alcohol to ease the nervous tension of standing in a room full of people dressed more hip than myself. So driving after the fact is usually a bad decision, one that would put me into more debt that I already am in, so I take the train. My second reason is my truck, and it’s un-trustworthy-ness, coupled with the fact that the exhaust system has now become a dirty smoke manufacturing machine. It’s not Earth-friendly at all, and as of lately, has become a local-only mode of transportation. Thirdly is, the train. I’ve taken a liking to traveling on the train because it offers me the chance to interact with a broad range of people, possibly broader than that of the Division of Motor Vehicles. I don’t feel unusual on the train. Everyone on the train is an outcast of society, and I like to think that we all pick this mode of transportation because, when outcasts mix it up so fervently, something fucked up is going to happen, and we all want to see what in fact it is that’s going to happen (and usually does). Perhaps we all know this? And perhaps, this is why so many strangers silently nod to each other upon entry and exit of the train? I’m not here to speculate on our secret society, but I will say this, if you have to give up drinking but love the strange scenarios that bingeing on alcohol produces, get a cup of coffee, ride the train for an hour and be glad that you remember your dreams when you wake up the next morning hangover free. I digress yet again though.
I liked an album from Mike Kinsella, he was scheduled to play not too far from me, it was cold outside and I like trains; there was only option for me. So I broke out my winter coat, my gloves, a hat, my backpack and my bike lock, trudged out to my garage, got on my bike and started pedaling full bore into 20 MPH wind gusts. My hands immediately froze underneath the thin layer of protective stretch cotton, but I continued onwards. By the time I reached the station, a mile or so from my house, I was frozen, as was my bike. I grabbed the frame and carried it up the stairs to the platform, and noticed that ice had frozen onto the tube where water had been beating off of it while riding up the street. I waited about 5 minutes, then received a call from April. She would be in the area around 11PM, and wanted to pick me up. This was the catch though- her phone only worked when when her car was on and plugged into the car lighter, so there was no way I could contact her until she was in her car on her way to get me.
Shortly after, the train arrived. A man got on a stop after me, made a big deal of missing the ticket station on the platform, then argued with the conductor over not paying the $5 surcharge for buying tickets on the train. It wasn’t fucked up, but it did provide a distraction for everyone in that particular car. He also needed a cigarette, which no one had, and informed everyone that he was driving to Buffalo after picking up his car in Newark. He really just wanted to talk to anyone that would listen, and I entertained his story for a few minutes before our last stop in Newark. He was going to endure an all-night drive, needed some smokes and needed to break a few $50 bills. I offered him no answers to any of his problems, but he still remained content in simply communicating his grievances, which you don’t get when you drive on your own in a car. We arrived in Newark and I customarily ran through the station to the PATH train, destined for Hoboken. Down one set of stairs, across the station mall, past the popcorn stand where everyone gets sucked in by the aroma of freshly popped popcorn, and up another flight of stairs to the PATH entrance. I paid my way and entered the train, seeking the handicapped location where i usually stow my bike, then grabbed a seat. A young woman entered, asking me if this train was going to the 33rd St. Station in New York. I never realized it before, but I’ve become a connoiseur of PATH train lore. And it wasn’t even a chore. (I’ll stop rhyming now.) It was Sunday after 7:30PM, which meant that only one line ran from Journal Square to the 33rd St. Station. I explained the awkward loop to the woman, though she didn’t ask about it, then informed her that it would eventually arrive where she wanted to go, and that because it was a Sunday night, it just took longer. Most people don’t talk on the train, but once you get them started, they don’t stop, and I was now the man driving to Buffalo, seeking cigarettes and smaller bills in exchange for his $50 notes. I did quiet down after my nights, weekends and holidays spiel, then exited the train without saying another word to the woman when my train arrived in Hoboken.
The weather was now much colder, and as Hoboken is surrounded by water, off-shore wind was now added to the equation. I bundled up yet again, stopped at an ATM, then rode the two miles to the club. I was frozen when I arrived, and quickly locked my bike up outside the exit.
My first thought, when I entered the door, was to peruse the show schedule, which displayed no mention of the word ‘Owen’ for the night of December 19. Instead, it said ‘Ivy’s Birthday Party w/ Bern, Fly Me Courageous, The Misery Loves, 7PM, $5.’ I thought “What?” to myself and ventured further in, hoping that might be in the restaurant section of the club. It was not though. The door guy politely said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” when I asked him, and I then went outside to see if I could call someone and see what happened. No one that would have any knowledge of the purported mixup was near a phone, and no one that could cull some knowledge from the Internet was also not near a phone. The time was 8:30PM, which is important to remember, because if you might recall, I had a scheduled pickup for 11PM, with no way of reaching that pickup person in the time between then and now.
I was basically left with no option other that to wait it out, and as it was too cold to actually be outside at this point, I was also going to be relegated to waiting this ordeal out through Ivy’s Birthday Party w/ Bern, Fly Me Courageous, The Misery Loves at 7PM for $5. So I marched back inside and paid the $5 to stand in a dark club by myself for 2.5 hours.
I grabbed a beer first and foremost and found a corner to lean against. Bern was now playing, which translated into one young woman singing while playing acoustic guitar. It actually wasn’t half bad and reminded me slightly of PJ Harvey. Then she played a PJ Harvey song and I felt better about making the comparison to myself. By the end of her set, I had moved from Bass to Yuengling and on my way to beer number 3. And things were already improving as a result.
The following band, as best I could describe them, was a 3-way split between Living Color, Lenny Kravitz and Parliament Funkadelic. The Living Color segment of the band was the guitarist. He wore his hair in dreadlocks underneath a winter beanie and played nonstop metal riffs not far from ‘Cult of Personality.’ The Lennzy Kravitz segment of the band was the lead vocalist. He also wore his hair in dreadlocks, except he also wore a ruffled poet’s shirt that was unbuttoned halfway down his chest and tight jeans. And then there was the P-Funk bassist, who put on sunglasses when the band played, then took them off when they were done. He was wearing plaid pants that were tucked into suede knee-high boots, with a leather vest and a medium-sized but well managed afro. He was also thoroughly bored with the music unless allowed one of his many funk-based solos, which prompted him to cut loose on the stage. They were called ‘Reese,’ and each song began with the lead vocalist screaming “Maxwells, I can’t hear you!” I could be a wise ass and say that he might’ve been deaf, but it was simply one of those miserable attempts that willing rock stars concoct to connect with audience members, and it was actually working here, as the whole of the club began twisting and contorting with the metal-riffed, funk-fortified rock of Reese, The Band. Reese, The Band also encouraged the entire audience to feed birthday girl Ivy as many shots as she could manage, which no one actually did.
The highlight of the band, aside from the band itself, was one choice audience member in his late 40s to early 50s. He wore his hair in a ponytail, with a beret over top of that, and had a unique style of dancing to funk metal. What he did was, he would take each foot and make the shape of an x on the floor with that foot, and then follow through with the remainder of his body. 40 minutes of this dancing on soil could’ve shaped a 6-foot deep x in the ground, but this was Ivy’s birthday party, and the dance floor wasn’t collapsible in the least bit. The audience carved out an x-shaped parabola around the dancer and let him get his creative and drunken dance fix in. This was the moment I realized that I enjoy throwing myself into awkward situations. Reese, The Lead Vocalist shouted “Happy Birthday Ivy!” between another song, the bass player slapped a few funk chords out, the beret-ed dancer marked his spot on the floor and I sat in the corner, wondering how the hell I ended up in the current scenario, but somewhat glad that I did.
I exited the club and walked into the lounge area. It was now 10:30PM. I caught the last few minutes of 40 Days and 40 Nights, the tale of a web programmer that’s supposed to go without any type of sex for the duration of the movie title, then got a call from April a few minutes earlier than expected. She picked me up outside the club and we drove home while the rest of New Jersey fell under a cold and thunderous period of frost.
The next morning, I emailed Seth from the record label that puts out Owen records. He had no idea what happened, asking me if I was sure that I’d actually gone to the right club. I informed him that I’ve been visiting said club for upwards of ten years and unless someone slipped me some really good acid, that the show didn’t happen and no one in the club knew anything about it.
The first instinct thought process I mentioned earlier isn’t fool proof, as evidenced by the unfolding of this night’s events, but it does allow me to explain away some of the unusual circumstances I’ve entered myself into. I guess I really don’t need an explanation of this night though. I had either been the victim of a scheduling error or some erroneously placed acid that worked wonders on my brain. I think I can safely rule out being slipped acid, and although I’m waiting on a reply from Mike Kinsella (of Owen who may have started this whole mess), I’m blaming scheduling for the time being. Life has a way of taking you where it goes, which is, often times, not the most direct route to where you want to be.

Alone on the phone; and it’s injection into movies of the past

More ubiquity, this time cell phones. Everyone uses them, and everyone knows they’re everywhere. They can be very practical when the opportunity presents itself, but more often than not, they seem to simply serve the mundane moments of physically being alone that arise during the day. Think about people you see walking down the street alone, or eating alone, or driving alone. They’re not alone anymore. More than a fair share of those same people are now on a mobile phone.
My fascination with the technology has arisen from the fact that the technology was virtually non-existent ten years ago, and now it is omnipresent in society. Because of this fast rise to social prominence and acceptance, I tend to wonder how people thought and acted prior to the technology. What did those same people do while they walked down the street or ate food in a restaurant alone ten years ago? I walked and ate alone in 1994, and contemplated. Not grand schemes of life or anything, just minor occurrences that I may have encountered earlier that day or just prior. And I think I was pretty comfortable walking and eating and contemplating and alone. But you don’t see this behavior nearly as much as you used to, which leads me to believe that people walking and eating and doing anything that would involve being alone, whom are also on the phone, are probably not comfortable being alone.
So if I had to speculate on why cell phones are so important now. I’d say it’s because only very small percentages of the public like being physically alone, and not because it’s handy when you get locked out of the car.

I do think as well, that cell phones can be practical. But for some reason, I don’t usually apply their practicality to my own life. I do, often times, inject cell phone use into movies made before the turn of the century and the technology’s ubiquity. I often speculate over how the technology could’ve averted conflict and basically eradicated the entire premise of the movie or program in question. Of course, this equation only works with movies that do not have rich people or spies in them, because they always seemed to have some sort of mobile phone with them prior to the introduction of mobile phones into all strata of society, which makes their movies unalterable. Historical movies also don’t apply. Jesus still would’ve been crucified in ‘The Passion of The Christ’ if the apostles had cell phones. Actually, they probably would’ve been crucified as well for even having them. But I digress. Crimes and any form of miscommunication could certainly have been averted, had the technology been more widespread, as displayed in the following scenarios:

Die Hard: Would it have happened if everyone inside Nakatomi Plaza had a cell phone? No.

So I Married An Axe Murderer: Would Mike Meyers be so afraid of his new bride while on their honeymoon if his friends could’ve used a cell phone to call him and tell him that his wife is not in fact, an axe murderer? No.

Pulp Fiction: And would Jules have been able to give Ringo such a long speech about his recent epiphany if everyone in the restaurant had cell phones? No (because someone would’ve called the cops and we would’ve got short changed of ‘Path of the Righteous Man’ speech because of it. Did I really need to make that connection for you?)

I went for a walk to go get something to eat today, all alone, and this was what I contemplated…

Horton Hears a Who, Duncan Shoots a Shotgun and Gloria Jean Brings a Transsexual Home for the Holidays: Coffee from Canada to Middle Class-dom to Mid 90’s Snootiness…

People are always trying to meet each other by discovering common interests and behavior patterns. Ever had a friend tell you, “You like such and such books and/or music? Oh you should meet my friend, you two would get along so well..”
I don’t need to meet people that I have similar points of interest with. The people that act like me on some levels don’t really interest me, cause I can at least somewhat understand their behavior.
I need to interact with more people that are vastly different from me, like god-fearing Christians that vote Republican and listen to Garth Brooks. I’ll never understand that type of behavior, but would appreciate some insight into it nonetheless. My point being, people should strive to meet other people based more people on dis-commonality rather than simple and compatible commonality. I think it would aid in breaking down boundaries that god-not caring about agnostics that usually vote independent and listen to Fugazi (like myself) put up against all the really strange people in the world.

As a postscript, I’ve felt bad that this hasn’t been updated in a while. I’va had all these great titles that I’ve been scribbling down but not enough content to make anything out of them; jut random scribblings of shit that comes and goes in my head. So yeah, I would make a great titleist this week, but not such a great story teller. And please don’t make any comments now about the golf balls named titleist; I’m onto you golfers out there.

The Race

I raced a race on my bike yesterday. It was called the Hub City Alleycat 2 race. It transpired throughout New Brunswick, NJ, and it was organized by a bunch of guys that just like to ride bikes and happen to live in New Brunswick, which made it, for lack of a better word, pretty punk in the bike race sense of the word. The object of the race, was that everyone entered had to make 5 stops at different places throughout New Brunswick. We had to pick up either a can of food or a flyer (depending on the quantity available) at each stop, collect all of them and then return to the starting point (which was at the top of a 6-story parking garage and no, we couldn’t take the stairs). There was no preset order either, so it was up to each competitor to decide what routes to take and what strategy to use. The area involved in the race included most of the downtown area from Douglass Campus to the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University. Not to sound pretentious, but I’ve been riding that area on my bike for about 12 years now, so I was looking forward to finally using my street smarts, my knowledge of slopes and my ability to get from Douglass to College Ave. in 4 minutes.
The race began at the very top of the parking garage, and we had to run about 100 feet to get to our bike. I grabbed my bike, started running as fast as possible and did my best 20 mph ninja mount (grabbing seat and bars and jumping to the pedals). The race down the inclines of the deck was amazing. Imagine 25-30 of the most random assortment of people you can imagine (men, women, black, white, asian and of course, someone with dreadlocks) on all walks of bikes, tearing down a somewhat crowded parking garage at 4:30 PM on a Friday afternoon amid a busy college campus, and you get the idea. BMX bikes corner about twice as easily as anything on a 26 inch wheel, so the few of us riding BMX bikes jumped to the front of the pack with ease.
I made the mistake of not pacing myself at the very beginning and pedaled my ass off into the first stop I had chosen; the gazebo in a nearby park I used to play basketball in. It was located close to the starting point and was easily attainable by sprinting out of the garage. After grabbing the first proof of stoppage, we decided on the next stop (a comic book shop/cafe) across the street from a house I used to live in. The route we were taking formed a triangle and allowed for an even mix of uphill and downhill routes, so we weren’t going to kill ourselves anytime soon. After zig-zagging down suburban streets off the beaten path, we had arrived at the second stop, grabbed the proof of stoppage and made way hastily past the hospital, up a small hill and down another which only happened on one side street next to a dollar store that used to be a club in 1992 that I could get into without ID. At this point, I began to lose my two riding partners, making my way past 3 places I used to live in, through the ghetto and over to the Douglass area, past a house where my brother used to live and into the backyard of a Bicycle Library. I had my third stop done and tore down Commercial Avenue towards George St. (And this is where a BMX bike came in handy. Because of our smaller-wheeled handicap, we only had to make 4 stops.) So I pedaled my ass off back through the ghetto of downtown George St., past another place I used to live, past a few houses where friends used to live and past empty spaces where shops that I frequented once existed. By this time, I had made it to the train station, up some spiral stairs that I stumbled down half drunk in the past to my 4th and final proof of stoppage. I was now finish-line bound, further up George St, past College Avenue Campus where I once had classes a plenty and through the parking lot where my mom used to park when she worked at the College Ave. Campus Post Office. Finally, I had arrived at the parking deck, in no shape to pedal up 6-stories of incline. Another rider appeared on a 24-speed and quickly passed me. I caught him at the third level, but couldn’t keep my pace up. He quickly made his way ahead of me. I turned around behind, and noticed no one behind me, so I sat down and enjoyed a slow ride for two levels, trying with all vigor to regain my breath. It was nowhere to be found, so I said, “Fuck it!” and pedaled as hard as I could. When I reached the finish line, the few people there were clapping. I had placed 6th overall with a time of 23 minutes, 4 minutes behind the guy in first place.
At this point, I was much too wound up to sit down and regain composure, so I paced back and forth on my bike til my breath slowed, and then sat down. And I began to think; in 23 minutes, I had ridden a triangle around the location of some major events that have transpired in my life within the past 12 years. Going into this race, I was probably over self-confident in my knowledge of the streets we would be using. But by the end, it was easy for me to realize that these streets I was tearing down had as much knowledge of me as I did of them.
I think this is one of those special relationships with places that only people on bikes can relate to. And by that, I mean, people that pedal the streets everyday, not just grinding a ledge or riding a wallride. I mean, real gritty pedaling, whether that’s for getting to work or getting to the liquor store; the kind of pedaling that makes you realize where your true home might just actually exist….

Two Things

The battle of conservation vs. consumerism

I’ve made some small changes lately concerning conservation. First and foremost are plastic water bottles. Yes, the kind we all use (usually just once and then throw away). As it turns out (like I needed someone to tell me), this is bad. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade back into the Earth. It sits around, ever so slowly deteriorating, and gets to watch us and nature either e- or de- volve, depending on your perspective. There’s a moral dilemma here, because if one takes a conservative route and decides to re-use these plastic bottles, they are essentially drinking water along with the plastic that makes up the bottle. Yes, the bottle’s construction and chemical makeup is slowly deteriorating after being open, so you’re doing the Earth a favor by re-using the bottle, but there’s not enough scientific evidence yet to decide what plastic intake can do to the human body. I’m assuming plastic intake can’t be good for the body, right? These one-time only use plastic bottles take up a lot of space in the world’s landfills, so if possible, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
The solution, or best bet so far that I’ve been told, is a high density plastic water bottle that can be re-used often, is constructed of recycled plastic and doesn’t chemically break down over time. Yeah, they’re a little pricey, but it’s a small price to pay for a plastic-free body, so I’ve been bringing one with me on excursions and drinking water whenever it feels right.
The first problem arose the other night when I ventured out to see a band at a club in Brooklyn. The door guy asked to search my bag, did so and asked me to remove my water bottle and dump out the contents in front of the club, stating that outside beverages are not allowed into the club. I told him that the outside beverage would not be drank inside the club, that I intended to drink beer inside his club and then went into my plastic bottle spiel. His reply was that if I drank out of my own water bottle inside the club, that I was in fact taking money away from the club, because usually, had I not had my own water bottle, I would purchase a one-time only use plastic bottle of water inside the club for $2.00. I stated that it wasn’t about the money, and though it sounds dumb, that it was about a small change I was trying to make for the better of myself and the Earth. The doorman stood in front of a dirty club in a gentrified section of Brooklyn, thanked me for the ethical argument and told me that if I in fact was caught drinking from my own water bottle inside the club, that I would be ejected and not allowed back in.
It was a lofty battle for a bottle of water, and it made me realize that the entire act of conservation is a moot point when there’s money to be made off of being wasteful, unless people can figure out ways to make money off of being conservative, which is how I got to this argument in the first place (by reading about the damage of plastic water bottles in a book I bought and purchasing a water bottle made of recycled plastic). Once again, either way you’re fucked…..

Quick Chek, Potato Chips and Close Calls with Toothpaste Fights

Last night, after riding my bike, I decided to stop at my local Quick Check and purchase a bag of Wise Lightly Salted Potato Chips. They’re two bags for $2.00, so I grabbed two bags, a poppy seed bagel and made my way to the counter. It was slightly after 11:30 PM at this point, and the man that works the graveyard shift is, well, not the happiest guy in the world. I usually empathize with his grumpy mood and try not to push his buttons too much and vice versa, but he had in fact already pissed off the person in front of me with his grumpiness, unwillingness to answer consumer questions and lack or cordiality. He had in fact refused to sell the person in front of me a pack of Dutch’s. (I think they’re cigars that most people hollow out and smoke weed with, but since I’m not the weed smoking type, I can’t really tell you.) You need to be 18 or over to purchase Dutch’s, and this man had no ID. An argument ensued, one that our Quick Chek friend had no interest in partaking in, so he simply stood there and ingested berated racial slurs from someone that wasn’t getting high anytime soon. This person was also purchasing a tube of toothpaste and a bottle of Sprite. He continually said over and over “Look, if you don’t like your job, get out of here!” which was followed by, “That’s all I got to say to you!”
The problem was, he said these two phrases in succession three times each. I started to smile, realizing the irony of it all. He turned around, saw me smirking and asked what was so funny, so I told him.
“You’ve ended your sentence with “That’s all I got to say to you!” and then you said it two more times. It’s slightly ironic, don’t you think?”
His reply was not. “I ought to slap you upside the head with this fucking toothpaste if you don’t shut up bitch!”
I shut up, he left, I paid for my items, went home, ate my chips and watched TV. When all that ended, I brushed my teeth and went to bed. The toothpaste made its way into my mouth and not, in fact, upside my head….