Monthly Archives: January 2005

rhymes with australopithecus


It’s been another scorcher here this week – last night at the farm, we sweltered through wind chills of 27 below zero, frigid enough that basic shit stopped working. Sometimes it seems so cold that I’m surprised that our cell phones work, that the microwaves actually get through that air and make it to the antenna towers.

Getting over this throat infection took the wind out of my sails for nearly five days now, making each step a little more laborious, the invisible chain mail jacket of lethargy weighing a few pounds heavier. I’m finding that political issues are really getting to me again: to whit, ABC News reported that 61% of Americans believe the biblical story of creationism as actual truth.

I could go on a rant about this, and in fact had a juicy one planned up, but I’m recovering, and news like this makes me feel so inexorably sad. I seems like it’s just a matter of time before all the thugs take over, and the few innocent men and women of science and truth are given swirlies so bad that they drown head-down in the toilet of superstitious bullshit. Weren’t we supposed to be working towards a greater understanding of the world around us?

It’s times like these, glaring into the the dark maw of Bush’s second inauguration, that the concept of Coastopia stops being a clever, sarcastic idea and becomes the only life raft I can hold onto. I need to believe there is a rich, full community out there that takes science seriously. My Mormon uncle tells us that dinosaur bones were put on Earth by God to test our faith – is that what 61% of the country thinks of Java Man and Lucy?

I look out on the skyline of Manhattan and pray that although we live in an Age of Morons, that our city is not. Oh Manhattan, home of anti-folk, gay riots, performance art, the Rose Planetarium and trannie waitresses: please, my darling, tell me, may I not count you among the 61 percent?


at sunset today, 2 degrees Fahrenheit

life explained, insert 25


An interesting discussion came up over dinner last night, as we were sitting with Tessa’s sister and her family (and, of course, the delightful Kelly W.) – namely, our niece wondered if we would mind switching the table conversation to abortion. Always ready to tear into a ripe sociological subject with the wide eyeballs of a lion ripping into a gazelle, we told her to go for it.

Our niece, whom I’ll call “K” and is 20, said that she’s been talking to a right-wing friend of hers about abortion, and basically got out-flanked argument-wise. She wanted to be reminded why we are all pro-choice, and to give her some encouragement, because arguing with this guy has been giving her fits.

An hour later, we were all discussing the finer points of our own personal feelings – there are always the pro-choice folks who say “I abhor abortion, but I stop short of telling others what to do” and those who say “thank god for abortion! YAAAY!” Speaking as someone who participated in one roughly sixteen years ago, you can probably guess on which side of the spectrum I landed.

I don’t really give a shit about the “when does life begin” and “potential for a human equals a human” discussions and the other Dred Scott Decision bullshit that conservatives like to bandy about, nor am I particularly interested in what religion OR science has to offer. All I know is that when you outlaw abortions, women die. Period. They will kill themselves trying to have one, whether they apply some homemade trick, or go somewhere for a messy infection. And when they go, the fetus goes with them.

Right-wingers have a hard time with this one. That’s where I usually stop arguing, because my other argument is a little more ethereal – basically, I feel like pro-lifers are far more interested in keeping women domesticated and telling them to fucking SHUT UP ALREADY than they are in the health of the fetus – but let’s discuss that some other time, shall we?

The upshot, stepping back, was this: the Internet

time enough for countin’


“Say, Ian, didn’t you win $600 off twenty bucks a few weeks ago?

Why, yes. Yes I did.

“Mind telling us what you did with the money?”

Why, no. I always believe that money you get through windfalls like gambling and Bank Errors In Your Favor should be spent on nothing but fun stuff, you know, assuming your rent is paid. In 1993, when Wachovia accidentally gave me $200 (just like the Monopoly card) I bought a leather bomber jacket I’d been coveting forever, even though I was broke. Tessa informed me last year that it is “way too 1980s” and made me give it to Housing Works.

Anyway, here’s how that $600 got pumped back into the economy!

$100 to pay for Tessa’s pre-natal workout. Yessir, she got to bounce around on her big belly and do weird sit-ups and god knows what kind of grundle exercises to make her rock solid and ready to pump iron on April 2. Get your tickets now!

$100 to my shrink. I got a good hour in which I complained yet again about my childhood, worried that I was going to be in agonizing sleep deprivation when the baby is born, and wondered when this all stopped being about ME ME ME.


$200 for the new Adidas One shoes for Tessa. That’s right, that shoe with the computer in it. This was supposed to be my Christmas present to her, but Adidas delayed the release until February, which was nice, because I pre-ordered it and now I can actually pay for it. This shoe is going to make her post-partum life AWESOME because it also TELLS FUNNY JOKES and GIVES YOU BACKRUBS and WRITES POETRY.

$100 to MercyCorps for tsunami relief. Yeah, that wasn’t so fun, but when you win $600 on the same day so many people were swept to sea, you have to do something. MercyCorps came well recommended – friends of friends work there – and donating online was easy.

The rest for baby shoes and Carolina crap. When I said that old gambling phrase “baby needs shoes,” I wasn’t kidding, and carried that money all the way to Chapel Hill where we bought the Nikes for Newborns with an awesome Tar Heel logo on the side. Our kid is going to look SO RAD in these, and it’s going to make Lindsay’s kid cry ‘cuz we’re so much cooler.


We also got a Carolina bib, a mini basketball and even cute drool-proof refrigerator magnets. GO HEELS!

verdict: not guilty, yr’honor



Okay, I am going to step up to the plate and say it: I really liked Elizabeth Rohm. For those of you without cable (or an appreciation for the Dick Wolf oeuvre), she played the assistant D.A. Serena Southerlyn on “Law & Order” for the last four years, and thus will be seen ad infinitum on TNT until the Sun turns into a “red giant” star and dwarfs us all.

The internet is a perfect place for shit-talking, and the brave anonymous souls over at Television Without Pity have been heaping opprobrium on her since tonight’s episode, where her character came out as a lesbian, and was summarily fired for being a loose cannon. First off, that’s a ballsy move by “L&O” to actually fire somebody rather than have them quit or get killed off, and the lesbian thing seemed like a perfect choice.

I was always drawn to Elizabeth – she looks a little bit like my wife, for one, and her mother is close to my stepmom. I thought she was sexy on “Angel,” and her stint as Serena added a little confusion to the fire. I do know she was roundly disliked by many of my friends as something of a robotic actor, but I think the female assistant district attorney du jour is always a hard role to pull off without being too cute (Jill Hennessey), a trifle dull (Carey Lowell) or scarily skeletal (Angie Harmon).

Personally, I was charmed by her weird delivery, and in the context of her character’s sudden lesbianism, it might be interesting to look back at the past few episodes and see if her blank exterior was actually masking volcanic rage. She didn’t seem to have chemistry with Sam Waterston, but in the end, I think that turned out to be a good thing – he’s at his worst when he has a cute lapdog to waggle tail the minute he fixes up a nice dinner of righteous indignation.

And so now we’re on to Annie Parisse as our new female A.D.A. – does it seem a little sexist that “L&O” eats up little hotties and spits them out after 2-4 years? Why can’t another woman besides the venerable Epatha Merkerson chew the scenery for a decade like all the rest of the guys?

stopping by woods


Somewhere in the air of a subway cabin

Or a party hors d’oeuvres or the unheard cough

Of a patron at “Tea and Sympathy,” a tiny pathogen

Made its way to me, and lodged in the back of my throat.

And there it sat for a few days before taking action

Finally coming into its own, last night

I saw it for what it was, and thought

I have to get home to my baby.

Two hours north of her, however, the skies opened up

And I knew it was going to be a race between

The twin goals of Nature’s biggest and smallest;

Thousands of miles of sleet on one side and

The tiniest microbe I can imagine on the other

On a mountain between us, on tops of two hills

My car hit a patch of ice, and stayed there

With the front wheel spinning, going about one mile

An hour.

Ghosts of past journeys with the same car

Whizzed past, blurs of red in warm seasons,

Barely noticing its future self struggling for just

A few more inches, and each revolution I repeat,

I have to get home to my baby.

My girl is blonde and 35, the daughter of a tyrant

And a queen, and knows how to give relief

With the solidity of one and the milk of the other.

With such a blizzard, you can’t see much but the

Faint shimmering of the sky in the South, no doubt

Caused by some obvious white blue eyes.

The snow turned to rain and the rain turned to misery

And a trip usually two hours reserved a block for nine.

Even as book read aloud spoke of the ancestors we needed

250 from year 1800, sixteen thousand from fifteen hundred

And how they all craved each together at precisely the right time

To produce you

And me

And whatever is inside you

It was a number high enough.

dish best served cold


A little under two years ago today, I sat through the most miserable sporting event of my lifetime: my beloved University of North Carolina Tar Heels were shellacked by the University of Maryland to the tune of 40 points. Fortunately, I’ve been keeping this blog a while, which means I can go look at that night’s entry any time I like, which makes our current circumstance all the more sweet.

That season, two years ago, I finally started turning off the TV before games were over. I always considered that dreadful karma, but by 2003, three years into the Matt Doherty coaching debacle, I knew it was robbing me of precious stomach lining.

That night, I posted a picture of Michael Jordan, “to remind us of what once was, and what could be again.” Which is proof that if you live long enough you get to find redemption in unlikely circumstances: we pasted Maryland this weekend by 34 points. It would have been 50 points had Roy Williams not called off the dogs and put our “C team” in with six minutes to go.

I consider myself fairly enlightened, and have a pretty good sense of my place in the world. I’ve studied Buddhism and tried to stick to positive thoughts. My anti-depressants have tended to curb the highs and lows, and I’d say, with my wife, I’ve even tried developing a working spiritual ethos.



just one thing I wanna know


Sorry about another political post, but one of the commenters from Friday said I was against the war in Afghanistan and against criticizing Islamo-fascists in general because I believe terrorism to be largely America’s fault anyway. Not that my opinion about this matters much (god knows my vote didn’t), but it’s actually a little simpler than that.

I need to come clean about my own personal response to 9/11, which is on my mind since Tessa and I lay in bed and recapped those awful months last night. I think I was basically fine for the month of September 2001, still jacked up on the “high” that accompanies a war zone, but as the days grew shorter and colder, living in downtown Manhattan got a lot tougher.

By November, I was having small waves of apocalyptic dread; by Christmas, they were tsunamis. The last time I fought with my brother Sean was around New Year’s 2002, when I was filled with rage that anyone could go back to the city and get on with their lives when I was so paralyzed. In January, I stopped eating for two weeks and lost about fifteen pounds. I turned to the internet for solace, figuring that my “research” on terrorists using nukes or biological weapons would edify me, but the more I read, the more I descended into madness.

In February, I checked myself into the Washington Square Institute psych program, and met with two of the worst therapists in the history of psychology. They sat and stared at me, asking no questions, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. As I was broke, and it was free, I guess I got what I paid for.

By March, we were editing the Pink House movie and took a few road trips, which put my devastating anxiety on “pause.” In April of 2002, I made a pact with myself to do two things: a) illegally start taking some of Tessa’s old Celexa pills, and b) keep this blog regularly, which I have done since that day.

But back to the topic at hand. In those early days of my dread, I wanted to blow the Middle East off the face of the fucking map. I felt like they – whoever “they” were – had taken my sanity away, and I wanted them to pay. I hated that I had to live in a world with nuclear weapons that could EVER be used by terrorists, and I told Tessa that no matter what happened with us (we weren’t even engaged yet), there was no way I wanted to bring a child into a world this fucked up.

When Bush started bombing Afghanistan, many New Yorkers were ambivalent. Not in the “couldn’t care” sense, but in the “someone has to pay for this but we can’t take any more death” sense. We knew the blowback, if any, had a really good chance of hitting us again, and we were exhausted, still ravaged by the remains coming up from the steaming ground by Battery Park. My anti-war stance was, in the beginning, fueled by self-protection in a target zone.

Even now, more than three years later, Afghanistan is still a shithole, warlords rule any lands outside of Kabul, the Taliban is regrouping, Mullah Omar and OBL are still at large, and Afghanistan’s biggest export is opium. Nice.

Let’s not even get into the Iraq mess. We can’t see how colossal a fuck-up it is, because we’re living in it, like ants roaming the Great Meteor Crater in Arizona. Maybe some of you conservatives are cool with living in the Dark Ages, but let it be known that a few of us tried to say something.

Eventually, what fueled my hopelessness was the realization there was NO WAY to fully stamp out this kind of terrorism with force. The only way to ensure my family’s survival was to TAKE AWAY the things that made this part of the world furious with us in the first place. America had to stop behaving badly; that’s not some gooey flower-child mantra, it’s the truth.

Deep, deep inside themselves, I think every conservative has a healthy dose of self-loathing, because they know America to have been very, very bad to a lot of the world. They know all the shit we’ve pulled, all the governments we’ve manipulated, all the dioxin we’ve dumped in the ocean, and they sublimate this horror with heavy doses of furious denial, and a two-decade assault on liberals. No wonder they’re more interesting on cable TV, these guys are as conflicted as Shakespearian antagonists.

Okay. Yes, yes, there are a few intractable bad guys in the Middle East, people hell-bent on killing as many Americans as they can, and they need to be taken out. But there aren’t very many of them.

That’s the lie I fell for. The lie of “the enemy” took away almost a year of my life. You conservatives are so fucking sure of yourselves, so convinced you’re right about “how the world really works” and how us liberals can’t accept the threats we now face, and how we blame America first and sympathize with terrorists.

Honestly, I can’t fathom your hubris – it takes a boggling amount of self-delusion to think you can predict our future. I’m a pacifist, as faggy as it sounds. I don’t like killing humans, and I’m humble enough to accept that I can’t know the future. Wars like Afghanistan and Iraq are fought in a way to force the future into our liking, but it never works. Thousands are dying on BOTH sides while you snicker with derision at us clueless lefties, but seriously, I’ve lived in your world for a while now, and I’d like to know what’s so fucking goddamn funny about peace, love and understanding.

outta sight, outta mind


An interesting discussion erupted from yesterday’s post, and yet again, someone mentioned how great it was that “America came together” following the attacks of September 11. I don’t mean to belittle this feeling, because I was there (or quite close), and it felt like the entire world came together for those incredibly surreal days following the event.

But let’s be honest, shall we? On the actual day of September 11 in New York City, the intensity of caring dissipated the farther north you walked; in Chelsea, I remember people still laughing about other topics and actually flirting. It wasn’t until the media started their week-long coverage that everyone in Manhattan suddenly got the enormity of it. Could you entirely blame them? After all, it was something of a binary event: you either knew ten people that died, or else you didn’t even know ANYBODY who knew ANYBODY that died.

And I have to say, it is true that the rest of the country engaged in a civil lovefest unseen in American history before or since. I was in Texas eight days after the event, and when I showed my driver’s license to a shopkeeper, she looked at me in a stunned silence with tears in her eyes, asking me if I was okay. We were objects of talismanic affection for people who had never even been to the City.

But anybody who thinks this moment of national unity was long-lived is fooling themselves. I took another trip about six weeks after 9/11, and by then, the AM airwaves were already burning up with incandescent rage, aching to bomb the holy motherfucking shit out of some Arabs.

For our part, New Yorkers were not that interested in war, not even with Afghanistan. We’d smelled the ashes of 3,000 people, and we were sickened by the whole concept of any more death. I saw the following graffiti in several neighborhoods: “our tears of grief are not cries for war.” That may seem fruity to some of you red-staters, but it was the beginning of the country’s divorce from New York (and reality, but that’s another rant).

Soon thereafter, the government decided to tell New Yorkers to fuck off, and gave friggin’ WYOMING more money to defend themselves. If it weren’t for our stunning home-based terror system – built with scarcely no help from Washington – I wouldn’t even take the subway. As it is, I feel safer than ever, but only because we came to the realization that we are basically going it alone.

Looking back on the episode from the vantage point of three and a half years, I would conservatively suggest that our “national unity” lasted about four weeks, give or take a few days. I wished it had been longer, but our fear was instantly hijacked. I want to remember what that taste of togetherness was like, but now, whenever I hear anybody wax nostalgia about America coming together, my first thought is “yeah, that was a wacky month, wasn’t it?”

Michelle and I pass out salads to victims’ families at the Armory, 9/12/01

turf and surf platter: $9


Working up a good political rant has been hard for me since the election; the American Coastopia brouheehee sated my desire for immediate discourse, and of course, I’ve been on a self-imposed media blackout so as not to hear Bush’s voice even for a nanosecond. But America’s reaction to the tsunamis has, in my humble opinion, been utterly shameful.

The second those waves hit Southeast Asia, we should have had a disaster-relief program ready to go, funded by at least 500 million dollars, on the level of a sped-up Manhattan Project. If we can put people on the moon (35 years ago), we could have some massive humanitarian project that kicks into gear in the case of mass casualties, like the hundreds of thousands of souls lost two Sundays ago. I don’t care whether they are Sumatran, Norwegian or American, that shit should be ready to rock.

Why us, you ask? Because we’re the richest motherfucking country in the world, gobbling up 26% of the world’s resources with only 4% of the world’s population, that’s why. We fuck the world every day, so when Nature fucks back, we should call for the ball. Any other response is abject racism, tribalism and greed of the most repugnant variety.

But what did we do? Barely anything, initially, and when we were criticized, we dished out a comparatively paltry $350 million. Australia on the other hand, whose Gross National Product IS A THIRD LESS THAN OURS per capita, is already pledging $810 million. Yeah, sure, Australia was nearer to the tsunami than we were, but we’re all human fucking beings, aren’t we?

More sickening was Colin Powell, who thought the U.S. response would give us an image boost in predominantly Muslim countries. Only the United States could stage a P.R. move on the drowned backs of 170,000 floating Asians. It’s enough to make you want to gargle Listerine for three hours just to get the taste out of your mouth.

Bush, for his measure, has donated $10,000 – which seems gracious only because we can’t contemplate his personal wealth: $26 million, and an eventual inheritance ten times that. Bush could find $10K between the naugahyde cushions of his La-Z-Boy if he had the maid look for it. If that’s his definition of personal sacrifice for the global good, then by all means, I encourage all of you to send .0004 of your income to tsunami relief as well. For most of you, that’s about nine bucks. Get cracking!

oh, tannenbaum



This is that magical day in Park Slope when everyone drags their dry-ass brittle Christmas trees into the street and leaves them there for the garbage guys. First off, can anything be more depressing? And secondly, I wonder how much sap those guys get on their gloves, because all those trees are covered with it (oh, and dog urine).

This is the time in New York City that makes people move away. The holiday lights have faded, the Upliftin’ Christian radio stations have stopped playing “What Child is This?” and there’s nothing left but the prospect of freezing rain and 4:30 sunsets. I fully understand why restless seniors say “fuck this” and buy an Airstream to stick at the Roarin’Hollow RV Park in Pensacola, Florida.

My least favorite part of winter? Brown, diesel-colored snow. I look upon dirty snow the way Sisyphus looked upon the giant rock as it slid past him down the hill for the 44 billionth time. For me, dirty snow reminds me of the parking lot at the Hy-Vee supermarket in Cedar Rapids, IA circa 1979 – I burned my pinkie with my brother Steve’s soldering iron, and it hurt so bad that I had to hold my hand in the brown slush just to dull the sensation.

Frankly, I don’t know how people live in places like Duluth, Cleveland or Detroit. I’ll suffer through these winters because I’m 15 minutes from the Museum of Modern Art and a Broadway play, but how does the rest of northern America do it? Perhaps I am kept warm by my abject snobbery.

So I’ll let my mind wander where it is still nice and balmy: down in rural Georgia, yards from my buddy Salem, is the Woodbridge Inn, owned by Hans Reufort. Hans’ father was an East German soldier who threw his gun down and ran for the Berlin Wall, dodging bullets all the way. He made it over, and settled with his family in Jasper. Now Hans is a very eccentric, wonderful fellow who is NOW A FINALIST to be the NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR.

I’ve eaten there: the lamb is unthinkably good. Now the inimitable Hans has a chance to be on the Food Network, but it can only happen if you vote for him on the site. Just look for “Hans from Talking Rock, GA” and give him a little click. He’s one of the good guys. Not a bullshit whiner like me.