Monthly Archives: April 2003

4/30/03 Brooklyn, NY I’m so

4/30/03 Brooklyn, NY

I’m so tired right now that I kept typing 4/41/93 in the space above; however, I should say right off the bat that our pickup shoot for the Pink House movie was just about the most flawless day of shooting the movie has yet seen. Practice makes perfect, I guess, but I could have done without the typhoons, the broken bones, heat waves, rage disorders and sociopathic horses of the last two shoots.

We started at 7:45am with a quick shot of Gil Rogers as Old Man Maddox. Originally, he was called Old Man Kenan in the script, but Todd knew someone in North Carolina with that name (from the Kenan Oil family), so we changed it to Old Man Pritchard based on the name of a slave tombstone at our shooting location. Then Old School came out earlier this year with a character named Dean Pritchard (our Pritchard was also a dean), so I decided to go with “Maddox.” I got the name from a cool Southern guy I knew at CitySearch, and I liked the “mad” quality of it.

Anyway, we felt like the evil Maddox didn’t have enough of a character arc in the movie, so we gave him a quick scene this morning that should round out his character. Suffice to say that the thing he looks at and the thing we make you think he’s looking at

4/29/03 Brooklyn, NY I’m going

4/29/03 Brooklyn, NY

I’m going to keep this really short, since I have to get up in four hours to begin our re-shoots for The Pink House, but I just have to ask something.

Rumsfeld announced today that we were withdrawing American forces from Saudi Arabia this year. Let me also admit that I spent most of the year 2002 caught up in an apocalyptic, apoplectic fit that made me move out of Manhattan so I could start sleeping again. September 11 instilled fear in the hearts of Americans so deeply that it only takes a few well-placed stories to get Home Depot to run out of duct tape again, and Bush/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft have committed themselves to a platform of civil liberties so restricted that they have re-written the American constitution so that more dark-skinned people can be held in prisons for longer times without even being charged for anything.

I know the overarching desire for Bin Laden ‘n’ Company was to establish a “caliphate,” or a giant fundamentalist Muslim country stretching across the Middle East. But the immediate purpose of 9/11 was to instill fear into the hearts of Americans, turn our government on its head, fuck our economy, and get our troops away from their holiest sites of Mecca and Medina.

So… I spent a year gulping down Celexa to quell my anxiety. American kids are taught radiation-poisoning drills. The stock market is in a giant shithole. The government has taken away the liberties of normal Americans. And now, we are leaving their holy land.

I mean, if you were in Al Qaeda, couldn’t you claim an extraordinary victory? Didn’t terrorism work?

4/28/03 Brooklyn, NY Is slacking

4/28/03 Brooklyn, NY

Is slacking dead?

I mention this because I’ve been working on an article for Salon about this year’s crop of graduating seniors, who seem amazingly upbeat about the state of the American economy, and definitely don’t plan on “dropping out” the way so many of us did in the early ’90s.

I’d guess the early roots of our kind of slacking not counting slack forefathers of the Woodstock generation

4/27/03 Brooklyn, NY One of

4/27/03 Brooklyn, NY

One of the last things ever said to me before I went to college came from the mother of Hampy Tucker, one of my best friends at Norfolk Academy. She said, “you’ll make good friends at college, but your lifelong friends will always be from high school.” I seriously love the woman and always will, but she had been wrong about that. At least so far.

My high school was deeply repressive, a bastion of southern breeding that had been chartered in 1680 off the shores of Tidewater, Virginia a hundred years before we were an actual country. I’ve been led to believe that we were among the last of the “ignored generation” to pass through those hallowed halls – I never met with any kind of emotional advisor, and I frequently burst into tears at inopportune moments during my years there. Thank god nobody saw me – we were all so emotionally shut down that any display like that would have freaked everyone out PERMANENTLY. It was no wonder that my first kiss happened in college.

Changes in educational style have come swiftly over the years as the baby boomers had children, but Columbine may have woken most snoozing administrators up to the strong pheremonal stench of their students’ misery. These days at Norfolk Academy the artsy students are not mocked; there’s a line 85 people deep for auditions at the musical. All of which is great for those kids, but I still feel an amazing animosity for the place.

Yes, I know I was blessed, and I know N.A. is the reason I got into any college I wanted, and complaining about prep school in this day and age would have Salinger, if he were dead, turning over in his grave.

Besides, we were never alone. My friends were a tight clique full of weird, surreal, intellectual independents that I still think about every day. But after our graduation in 1985, we saw each other less and less, and by the time 1992 or so rolled around, I hadn’t seen anybody in years. We had a bizarre, deja-vu-ish 10-year-reunion in 1995 where we ended up in a parking lot in Virginia Beach with nothing to do, but most of us soldiered on with our lives with the occasional email from lost souls every three years or so.

I think part of the reason is that we never had our “glory days” at 17 like everyone else. Our clique entertained most of our personal success well after prep school, and some well after college. We look upon the early 80s fondly with one another, but when I see pictures of us, I see cake batter: yellowy globs yet to form into anything coherent. It probably didn’t help that many of my male friends in my grade ended up being gay, which, back then, made me feel “not part of the club” (and furthermore, I had to get over my weird kernels of homophobia once and for all).

My friends were all tremendous people in their own right: Karyn was the brilliant pianist, Sherry the brilliant singer; Lynn turned me on to most of the culture I still adore; Marcie taught me puppy love while Sharon taught me how to flirt; Steve Shapiro had a surreal, brilliant sense of humor that lingers in my writing even now; and Hampy (now “Hamp” thank you very much) was the heart and soul (if not the car keys) of the group.

We all transgressed each other at some point. I insouciantly left my hamster to die in Steve’s care, I annoyingly refused to drive Sherry home after our prom date, and no doubt I took advantage of Hampy’s parents’ kindness on 400 occasions. At various points in the last 18 years, I thought we were just too annoyed with each other (or me) to bother raising the energy to get back together.

But somehow, the most cranky of us all – my darling Lynn – got a bunch of us to meet in New York yesterday, and while such reunions can run the risk of being demoralizing and awful, I ended up having a pretty fucking great day. Lynn was in the city to see the Throwing Muses, Dawson was in town for her sister’s bachelorette party, Karyn lives uptown, and Steve and Hamp trucked in for a surprise. It took about 12 nanoseconds to remember why I like these people so much, and while kingdoms can be built in the times between “we must not let so long pass again,” it was deeply satisfying to see how we turned out.

yesterday, in the East Village

1986, in Norfolk, VA

4/26/03 Brooklyn, NY You know,

4/26/03 Brooklyn, NY

You know, most of the time I get the camera to do pretty much anything I like. I’ve got the meter readings down, and mastered the “delayed picture” option that allows for so many solipsistic images of myself. I think I take better pictures than 80% of most people, which puts me right above “okay” and just into “pretty good.”

Then sometimes I go up on the roof of a building during a rainstorm, and try to capture Dana and I – with the misty skyline in the background – on her birthday.

4/25/03 Brooklyn, NY When we

4/25/03 Brooklyn, NY

When we first got cable TV, it was 1979 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a town that was a frequent test market for new services. At first, we got about 14 stations, which was quadruple what we’d received via antenna. WGN was on a lot (making me a temporary Cubs fan) as well as WTBS, the “Atlanta Superstation.” When CNN came to cable, the first thing I thought was, “24-hour news? How on earth can they fill up that much time? Does enough happen in the world each day?”

I was used to Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, gruff 30-minute newscasts that gave you the basics and then shuffled you off to the Love Boat/Fantasy Island 2-hour extravaganza. Nightline came on when the Iranians took Americans hostage, but I was pretty sure that show would be short-lived. I mean, how can you possibly have enough news for it to never end?

It turns out that 12-year-old Ian was right. There is no way. CNN, a station I respected in the early days of Ted Turner’s reign, providing that amazing 1991 coverage of the first night in Baghdad, is now so salacious and stupid that I have taken it off my “favorites” for both TV and the web. Other outlets are such embarrassments that they don’t even require mention in any serious media analysis (except for, perhaps, their wantonly destructive effect on this country’s interior populace) but CNN actually pretends to have their shit together.

Yes, I know they tried to be Fox for a while and it backfired. They shitcanned “Talk Back Live” because they found out that average Americans can hardly think their way out of a hot bathtub. Then they sacked Connie Chung, who tried to charm her way through horseshit stories of the Gary Condit variety, but mostly looked like she had Bell’s Palsy.

But don’t kid yourself; CNN has put a coat of spackle on a crumbling wall. Their recent full-scale, breathless coverage of the SARS virus is shameful pandering at its most nakedly desperate, and this Laci Peterson story is just unadulterated crap. CNN should be honest with itself and abandon the barrel-bottom scrapings and brain-dead jingoism; let the other guys have it. They should get their core, educated, better-off viewers back who can actually afford the Mercedes their advertisers want to sell.

Second, they should fess up just and say it: There isn’t enough news for 24 hours. There wasn’t enough news for 24 hours even on September 11, ostensibly the biggest news day in modern history. We were forced to watch those planes hit those buildings an average of 450 times each. Revelations took weeks, payback took months, ramification took years. The problem with real life is that it moves too slowly.

And while we’re on the subject of fallen institutions, what the fuck happened to Dennis Miller? He used to be the funniest thing on television, and his rants – on tape – kept me awake for three days across the desert Southwest. His views on abortion, foreign policy, racism and sexism were not only progressive, but hilarious.

After seeing his latest HBO special, however, I’m through with the bastard. For someone so clever, I’ve never seen anyone so quick to abandon higher principles for a cheap laugh. One such tiresome joke was that he didn’t think global warming was such a big deal because the average temperature of the earth has only gone up 1.8 degrees in a hundred years. Why, he could fiddle with the thermostat in his hotel room and not tell the difference! Yuk, yuk, yuk.

What he fails to grasp is that the temperature has gone up very quickly in the last two decades, and that even a difference of 3 degrees celsius could melt enough ice caps to augur the end of every coastal town in America and Europe. He also said he didn’t care about his descendents, because he’ll never know them. Yuk, yuk, yuk!

He continued on about how we should bomb the hell out of Baghdad until the sand turned to glass… but the coup de grace came when he announced how glad he was that Clinton was out of office (to thunderous applause). After watching Dubya playing t-ball on the White House lawn with kids, he sanctimoniously announced that Bush has brought Dignity and Respect back to the White House. More thunderous applause. I mean, WHAT THE &@#%#*&^$%# ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Screw Dennis Miller. Maybe after his ousting at Monday Night Football – for being a smartypants – he feels a financial need to court the late-night cable audience by dipping his wick into angry, simpleminded populism. As for me, I fully admit to being a hotheaded, whiny, needly liberal with a touchy streak – but this is a guy who has always been respected by thinking, sensitive Americans, and I’m horrified that he picked a time like this, when the world is so unbelievably fucked up, to make it a little bit worse.

4/24/03 Brooklyn, NY We snapped

4/24/03 Brooklyn, NY

We snapped this picture while we were driving the BQE the other night, and screwed up, obviously but isn’t there something about this image that evokes being stuck in the back seat of a long car ride as a kid? French fries cold, your brother sleeping, knowing you won’t get home in time to play while there’s still light?

Or maybe it’s just me.

click for bigger

4/23/03 Brooklyn, NY So I’ve

4/23/03 Brooklyn, NY

So I’ve written in here for over a year now, and since I don’t have a “comment” button, I’ve done it largely anaerobicically, without much contact from the fine folks currently reading this, like, say, you. But now I have to ask a few questions, and I hope none of you mind. Each of the questions has a different way to reply, rendered in an image because so many web bots have my email address now that I sift through 50 emails a day about my penis even with a spam filter. So here goes!

1. What the hell are the PCI slots for in my computer? I know what it used to be on the older Macs, but now we have the new dual 1.42 GHz Power Mac, and inside, it has four slots for PCI cards and one slot for an AGP 4X (check it out here). What goes into these things? More little pieces of brain? Will it help us render our digital video faster? I’ve been using Macs for 16 years, and somehow I didn’t do the summer reading on this stuff. If you have a clever explanation, email me here:

[ed. note: okay, I found out]

2. Are you a college senior about to graduate? Does the world look pretty miserable and daunting right now? I’m writing an article about YOU and I’m going to make you famous. At least semi-famous for a short time. Those who want to vent their spleens can really help me this week. Please email me here as soon as you can:

[ed. note: okay, I got enough! no mas!]

3. Okay, so we’re planning the re-shoots for the Pink House movie. We need some young folks interested in the movie industry to help us out. We will feed you, give you a valuable glimpse into the indie film world, and give you something cool to put on your resum for other film gigs. It’s a one or two-day shoot, so it won’t be a “Titanic”-like commitment. We’re looking for:

a) Assistant Camera. You’d help our Director of Photography. Previous experience with video/film is preferred, but if you’re smart, you’ll pick it up.

b) Gaffer. You’d help with the lights and scene set-up. Previous experience preferred, yes, but we need you more for your brawn and occasional creative ideas.

c) Talent Coordinator. You’d help with the actors. Help them get to the production with everything they need, and assuage their fragile egos. Being a “people person,” whatever the hell that means, is a plus.

d) Post-Production Office Coordinator. You’d man (or woman) the office during the shoot, helping with costumes, food and answering the phone when something insane happens. “Havin’ your act together” is a definite plus.

Sound cool? Email us here:

[ed. note: no more emails, we got staffed – jesus, there’s a lot of you out there]

4. Readers have told me I come off as rather blustery and pissed-off, and they waited weeks to ask me something that turned out to be fascinating. Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to ask? I’m only partially blustery, and the antidepressants have novocained the pissed-off parts, I promise.

4/21/03 Columbia County, NY I always

4/21/03 Columbia County, NY

I always find myself starting these blogs at about 3:28 in the morning, not because I’m procrastinating, but because I always take a stroll through the other folks in the blog world to get my mind limbered up for the experience. Some of these strolls turn into parched marathon walks, however, and now I sit having given three of my hours to some of the most mind-numbing people on earth.

Let’s start by understanding this stat: 42% of Americans are not online, and plan on staying that way. That’s 109 million Americans who don’t even have an email address. Of those online, maybe 10% know what a blog is, and .01% actually have one. I understand fully that I’m bitching about something that the majority of Americans don’t even know exists.

But in order to have a meaningful experience on here, you’ve got to assume that the medium has a standard, or at least a few accepted masters by which a benchmark can be measured, and though everyone has their favorite, there is no Master Blogger, no Walter Cronkite, no Michael Jordan, no Jane Austen. There is only taste. I love this guy, but you no doubt want to see this chick take her shirt off. Hell, most of the time I want to see her take her shirt off too.

But there is a game we all play with ourselves, called My Insignificance, in which we try to make sense of our own existences in such a vast universe. We fool ourselves into thinking that we make a difference in some way, whether it is by having children, or giving love to one another, or building pyramids in a desert. But soon enough, an angry, giant red Sun in its death throes will gobble up this Earth and the ones around it, and there’s very little we can do to stop it.

The same applies to blogging. I have to believe that I make a difference by writing in here, but there’s so much else to choose from that I begin to feel a creeping sense of sisyphean futility. It is all ego, I know, it is all just the desire to be loved, but it exists nonetheless, and gets in the way of almost everything I do.

I just spent an hour reading an entire blog the archives and current entries – of a woman, 21 years old, living a debauched life of moronic drug parties, dancing all night with hirsute hipsters, heroin chic snapshots taken gracelessly in restrooms, entries that consisted entirely of the words “fuck all of you.” Hers is a dark life, the kind I suppose I would have lived if I’d moved to the East Village in 1993 like I was supposed to. She’s pretty, there’s always boys around, she thinks she’s post-apocalyptic; she’s so desensitized and calloused by a short, brutish life of such saturated irony that she’s actually post-humor.

And I wonder: does she have regular readers? You can’t follow any particular throughline, there’s no plot, and the cast of characters seem to drift in and out of her consciousness as though it were a Joycean dream. Do people need a daily fix of this girl before they tackle the chores?

I don’t know, but I’m glad I spent the last part of my evening sliding through her life. It gave meaning to her writing it. I will never meet her, and nor will you, but my reading her ensures that she exists. All of you do the same for me.