Monthly Archives: February 2005

V-Day or …

This is Kent.

I’m not really the sentimental type, or if I am I generally don’t share it with random strangers, but, Valentine’s Day is a day reserved for sentiment. That and sorting out Hallmark’s bottom line for the quarter.

I was thinking today about my marriage to Melissa, which will have endured for 24 years at the end of May. That’s a really long time in marriage years — most people don’t make it that long. It’s a duration of marriage beyond a lot of people’s conception. I certainly have friends my age who have been divorced more than once during that period. Of course, I have friends who died of heart attacks, cancer, AIDs, too. Shit happens.

So I guess it’s something to be proud of, on some level. I don’t really feel like the quality of my work on the project has been extraordinary, but I’ve sure done a lot of it. I continue to love and admire Melissa above all other women, and we’ve mostly made our peace with each other’s idiosyncracies. But in a lot of ways, the way you get to 24 years in a marriage comes down to a negative — you don’t break up, even when you feel like it.

Of course my romantic history can be summarized thusly — meeting Melissa when I was 17, having a few random collisions with other women that never amounted to much, starting to go out with her when I was 19, and getting married 5 years later. I can honestly say that I have absolutely no experience with breaking up with anyone. So if it seemed like the only course of action, I’d have to google the subject for pointers on how it’s done.

We’ve had our crises, and arguments, and blowups, and the going is rough from time to time, but it’s never gotten to the point of googling yet. Melissa has been very patient with me, and when she’s bugging me, I figure it’s my problem, because when it comes to doing the right thing with and to other people, she’s the brains in this operation.

In the recent movie “In Good Company” the young guy asks the older guy how he’s stayed married so long, and he says “pick the right person to be in the foxhole with, and when you’re out of the foxhole, keep your dick in your pants.” That sounds about right.

None of the above sounds very romantic, but I think most romanticism is hooey. Sure your brain makes some kickass chemicals when you first get together with someone, but it wears off. I think a lot of people go from relationship to relationship because they miss the buzz. It’s really a whole nother thing when you just, like, keep doing it for the long haul. You’re a family, with all that implies. No paradise, but something good and true, and as constant as anything in this world can be.

Now I’d never encourage anyone to stay in an abusive or dishonest relationship. But if you’re just unhappy, or discontented, in a relationship with someone who is an good person, you owe it to yourself to maybe stick it out and try and get past those feelings. After a while, like, say 20 years, it starts to get easier. And then you’ve done something that most people find hard. Like running a marathon, only with no shin splints.

So maybe I’m a little proud of us.

Oh, yeah, a great Valentine’s Day!

Steve, here, wondering how Ian could have the outright gall to ask his single older brother to blog for him while he whisks his smiling blonde bride off on a Valentine’s fling to sunshine and soothing surf. What was he thinking?! Yeah, Ian, I’ll be thinking of you and Tessa Monday night when I’m sitting alone in my room lit only by the pale glow of computer monitors.

Ah, well, I’ll do my best. Here are a few things that caught my interest lately.

GoDaddy's spokesmodel Candice Michelle

First, I want to say that I think Bob Parsons is an extremely cool dude. His company is a great place to get your domain name, putting to shame the vast wasteland of discount domain registrars. But to tweak the nose of FCC on their own turf, abetted by the Fox network, and then to get censored by the National Football League? He’s my hero!

Hey, Bob, I know what it’s like to be squashed by the NFL: In their zeal to suck the last possible sou from their events, the NFL has banned me from flying anywhere near Oakland on game days, using a trumped-up terror charge as justification. Bob, thanks for spending millions to make a point. How cool that you made Fox waste a Super Bowl ad minute on a Simpsons promo!

Also in the vein of officials run amok, following up on Sean’s illegal photos of the New York subway system, I see that even our San Francisco Muni cops are drinking the faux-security coolaid, hassling a freelance photographer for shooting the city’s transit system. Friends, put your illegal photos on your blog, especially when some tin-pot security guard tells you not to.

Finally, a bit more subtle story: Philly wants to give all its citizens wireless broadband, but the phone companies are against it, because it’d cut into their cozy monopoly. Fortunately, Philadelphia has a cool, no-nonense CIO who won’t tolerate the phone companies’ disinformation campaign for a minute.

Look, it’s simple: The network soon will blanket us like the electric grid and running water. But the network doesn’t require big monopoly utilities. Get informed, resist the entrenched powers, and you’ll get your wireless-everywhere, too-cheap-to-meter inkernet that much sooner!

meta-morpheus

2/10/05

The Miracle of the Internet, Part XVIII

First off, go here and start typing names at top left. That’s two hours of your life gone, right there. This is one of those things that you find as a prospective parent and think “shit, they didn’t have ANYTHING like this in 1887!”

Secondly, go here and upload a picture of yourself. This, too, is something they didn’t have in 1887, but you can make it look like they did – it’s the best facial transformer I’ve ever seen.

You can make yourself a different race, like Tessa as an East Asian:

TessaEastAsian(bl).jpg

Or you can do bizarre things like “feminize” yourself, like I did here:

IanFeminised(bl).jpg

But the best part is making yourself the portrait of a famous painter. Here’s both Tessa and me as seen by Modigliani:

TessaModigliani(bl).jpg

IanModigliani(bl).jpg

Here’s Tessa as seen by Alphonse Mucha:

TessaMucha(bl).jpg

And I quite like this one of me by a Virtual El Greco™:

IanElGreco(bl).jpg

Oh internet. How I love you so!

an ineffectual river in Egypt

2/9/05

I like cheese. I sure do like cheese. Cheese is almost always the best thing about any meal.

I probably like cheddar cheese the best. Monterey Jack is good too, and there’s always Dill Havarti. I think Parmesan Cheese sometimes smells like barf.

They shouldn’t be allowed to call American Cheese a cheese. It’s more like a petroleum by-product. They should call it a cheese-like substance.

I like goat cheese too. And Camembert. And the occasional Stinky Bishop. I don’t like Swiss cheese, but a slice of Gruyere on top of French Onion Soup sure is nice. Yep, I guess you could say I like cheese a whole lot.

FUCK.

It’s only a “rivalry” if both teams occasionally win. What part of “taking it up the ass for eight years” constitutes a rivalry? I’m going to take a brick of Red Leicester and a half-wheel of Colby, and sit in the corner until I fucking feel better.

we feast tonight

2/8/05

Say you don’t like sports. Lots of people don’t. In any given contest, they don’t really care who wins one way or another, I know some of these people, and some of them even went to UNC. They look upon these sporting events as curiosities because they don’t need it like the rest of us do. They has evolved past the point where a sport can fulfill the instinctual desire for tribalism and a lust for hunting; we, however, have not.

If you think about it, basketball is hardly different from hunting. There is a goal, there is a pack of five young men dressed in the same garb trying to get at it, they must make decisions based on .7 seconds into the immediate future, and the swish of a basket is exactly as satisfying as the first bite of steak. Or does that not appeal?

Say you don’t like sports. Say you got stuck at a Carolina-Duke game in 1974, when neither team was battling for first place in the conference. Say there was 17 seconds left, and UNC was down eight points, and you wanted to head for the exit, ‘cuz this one was over.

Let’s say this happened: North Carolina’s Bobby Jones sinks two foul shots to cut the lead to six. Then John Kuester steals the inbounds ball and scores a layup to make it four. Jones steals another inbounds and the lead is two. The next play, North Carolina fouls Duke, who misses the free throw.

UNC is now on the opposite side of the court from their basket. Somehow, the ball ends up in the hands of Walter Davis – nicknamed “Sweet D” by Carolina fans – who dribbles it up to about half-court, and heaves a 35-foot shot. Let’s say it banked in, because that’s exactly what happened.

wdvsduke.jpg

Folks who were at the game (at least 20,000 claim to have been there, even though Carmichael seats about 5,000) describe the pandemonium that erupted as one of the loudest burst of human voices in sports history. UNC went on to win the game in overtime, making an immediate legend out of Walter Davis, and cementing coach Dean Smith’s voodoo. From then on, a Carolina game under Smith was never over until it was truly over.

The question is this: would Carolina have been able to pull off a game like 1974 against any other opponent? Could there be something else at work here, an edge given to players on both sides, an emotional charge that allows for the mathematical impossibility of actually giving 110 percent?

Could it be the silent rush of adrenaline that rescue-workers experience in times of trauma, the fight-or-flight hormones that kick in when one’s livelihood is at stake, the perfect marriage of athletic alacrity and psychological intensity, forged together in an alchemy that produces the purest of all sport contests?

Say you don’t like sports. You wouldn’t be interested in any of this. In a way, I feel a little sad for you, because this much hunger, this much longing for brotherhood, this much hatred of your rival tribe reminds lesser-evolved folks like us that we are still quite alive.

as long as me, jerry and touche are here

2/7/05

My old friend Tanya said she wanted something akin to the old article I wrote about why I hate Dook University so much, but I dare say that it’s hard for me to expound without resorting to expletives and a brow that has been furrowed since about 1997. I’m glad the internet exists, however, so that something I dashed off in 1990 can remain available to those incoming freshmen who were 4 years old (?!?!??!?!?) when it first ran.

I found myself at a dinner party on Saturday night with ten people, three of which had gone to Duke. One of their wives turned to me and said, “I’ve only heard the Duke perspective. Can you tell me why Carolina hates them so much?” As Lee and Suzanne will attest, it was a little like asking a ravenous mountain lion first dibs on a freshly-caught deer.

There’s all sort of ways to go about such an endeavor, but I’d had three single-malt scotches by then, so I decided to go for the jugular. In the summer of 1988 or so, our center Scott Williams found out that his father had killed his mother and then turned the gun on himself. At the next UNC-Duke game in Durham, the “Cameron Crazies” shouted out “Orphan! Orphan!” That’s really all you need to know.

Some people asked me to make a T-shirt for the Dook portion of the Roy Williams 2005 Carolina Revenge Tour, so I kept it really simple:

dookT(sm2).jpg

Click here if you’d like to get one in time for the home game. All proceeds go to the Wilson Library at UNC, where Tessa’s great-great-grandfather took his tests. Rock on, mighty Heels!

i like my oatmeal lumpy

2/6/05

I hope you conservatives who were bored snotless at the Super Bowl and its commercials realize that you’ve just seen the future of American culture. Yes, thanks to your exhortations surrounding Nipplegate 2004™, we had a NFL Championship that began with a bunch of military hoo-hah that, to me, has no fucking place in professional sports, and then continued on to be the most mind-numbing parade of unfunny ads in the history of modern television.

Shit, even the game could barely keep us awake. Except for a never-shoulda-happened pass in the 4th quarter that briefly rekindled the hopes of Philly fans, it almost felt like the Patriots sleep-walked to the Lombardi trophy.

The nadir, for me, was the kiss-ass Budweiser commercial that featured a bunch of actors who were pretending to be military people coming home from Iraq, while the entire airport erupted in bathetic applause. I’m sorry, but since when does an entire platoon take a commercial flight home? And the dour “Thank You” at the end – I mean, I guess that shit shouldn’t make me insane, but it does.

This whole Super Bowl experience was shrink-wrapped, scrubbed free of any life, sterilized beyond recognition, lockstep, Stepford, 1950s-era robotic automaton numbness at its most lobotomized. The only cool thing to be seen was a monkey photocopying his own butt, and a nice rendition of “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney.

I want my nipples back. I want to see someone moon the crowd without the exhortations of “MY GOD, WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!?!?!?!?!?” I want to see 1975-era Wimbledon streakers and people accidentally saying “fuck” during the post-game interview. I want to turn to the Super Bowl to see testosterone-laden mongrels beating the ever-living shit out of each other, and if I want to go to sleep, I’ll take a fucking Benadryl, thank you very much.

anonymous call, a poison pen

2/3/05

I never forward emails – well, I forward all the ones that make fun of Duke University – but Tessa’s best friend Jason just wrote a missive that I felt I needed to put on here. Jason happens to be a gay man who married his long-time partner Tim during that brief stretch of civility known as February 2004. In December, they adopted a baby they named Noah, and since then, the two of them have been juggling their jobs and the hair-losing craziness of raising an infant.

A few days ago, Jason sent out this email, and I wanted to share bits of it with you. Because of the fucked-up way the world works, a letter like this has intrinsic value coming from my blog, because, well, I’m not gay, I’m in a monogamous marriage with my wife, and I have absolutely nothing to gain from the defeat of any anti-gay legislation, other than the feeling this country may have a few good people left in it.

Here’s his email:

I have spent a lot of time trying to express the situation we find ourselves in. Since Noah was born, this subject has become incredibly urgent for me.

I am writing to ask you to speak out against the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment,” which is again being considered in Congress. The “pro-family” people behind the amendment are doing all they can to ban recognition of my family, despite the fact that it can only serve to hurt my son. They know this is true; the sad fact is, they don’t care. Tim and I are tax-paying patriots just like you. In addition, I give a great deal of time to my city and state in not one, but two, volunteer public service positions. Yet, these people are seeking to permanently make Tim and me second-class citizens by denying us the basic civil right of marriage.

Please understand that this amendment would ban recognition not only of same-sex marriages, but of domestic partnerships, civil unions, or any other relationship that included the “incidents of marriage.” The Amendment would force California, Vermont and Massachusetts to strip their citizens of any rights and protections afforded to same-sex and other “unmarried” couples.

Are you aware that it is dangerous for Tim and me to travel to visit family in Kentucky or North Carolina together because, were either of us injured or in need of hospitalization, the other could not only not visit but could not make vital medical decisions — despite the fact that we have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for nearly six years, share property, and have a son together. There is even some question of whether we would both be allowed to make decisions for Noah, should one of us be injured. (Now you know why we are hesitant to visit.)

This sad fact is true in most states. Same sex couples can not receive Social Security death benefits for a deceased loved one. Often, the surviving partner is subject to reassessment and higher taxes on a home they have shared for years — and that’s only when both names were on the title; otherwise, partners often lose their homes because the state doesn’t recognize partners as next of kin. I could go on and on. There are over 1,000 federal and state benefits to being married which you receive and I help pay for, but which I am denied. And this group wants to see that I am permanently unable to receive them.

This idea of marriage “protection” is crazy — and dishonest. We are not attacking the institution of marriage by seeking to be included in it. How could your marriage be harmed by mine? Will you get divorced if Tim and I get married? Please know that this is not a question of religious freedom, either. No law in any state would in any way force an unwilling church to perform a same-sex marriage. This is only about the civil institution of marriage, a basic service provided by states for their citizens. If same-sex marriage were legalized in your state, willing churches, like mine (All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena), which perform marriages or commitment ceremonies, would continue to do so; those that do not would not be required to start.

And yet, the President and others on his side know that they can get a lot of support by making you think you and your values are under attack. The truth is, Tim and I, and millions of couples like us, share your values. Why else would we work so hard to get married? So we can protect our family and teach our son about the meaning of commitment.

I am reminded of a famous quote by the Nazi propagandist Hermann Goering, who said, “it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked.”

This is exactly what we’re seeing in our government today — the systematic vilification of a group of citizens by playing on stereotypes and unfounded fears, just as the Nazis vilified the Jews and others. Please speak out before this nonsense gets worse. How far are we, really, from some right-wing nut in Congress asking to have same-sex couples detained before we “attack” more marriages? Is this so crazy? I imagine it sounded crazy in Germany in the ‘30s, too.

This amendment is wrong. Please let your representatives know how appalling and un-American this is. Please stand up for basic human decency. Stand up for democracy. Stand up for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Click here to find your representatives and your senators and call their offices to ask them to vote against the “Marriage Protection Amendment.”

(You’ll need to know your Zip-Plus 4. If you don’t know it, check any business envelope to you, click here to find it first.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and consider. It’s a very serious matter for me and my family. Please think about it. And feel free to forward this letter.

noahtim.jpg

ideas as opiates

2/2/05

I don’t talk about it much here, but I am utterly helpless when coveting cool technology, and the new iPod Shuffle (“give chance a chance” – now THAT’S good copy) was no exception. The sub-$100 price barrier was so physiologically undeniable that I plonked down my money the second I read about it. I bought that motherfucker the way hungry kids grab Zagnut bars at the Walmart impulse-item rack, and I’m now making sweet, sweet love to it.

This is one of those items, like the iPod itself, that would have BLOWN OUR MINDS IN HIGH SCHOOL. If someone had walked into Norfolk Academy in 1985 with a music player the size of a stick of gum that played 240 songs, our eyeballs would have exploded. Shit, I don’t even like 240 songs!

I’m remembering all the road trips I took with those TDK zip-bags full of cassettes, and Velcro folders crammed with CDs – and then you had to bring your Walkman and/or have a reliable tape deck AND fight with your friends as to which R.E.M. album you were going to sit through in the car. The iPod shuffle is something I’m still able to see with eyes from the early 1980s, which is why I’m so grateful to have made it into my mid-thirties.

IPodAndShuffle(bl).jpg

Usually having two music players like the iPod and the Shuffle would seem redundant, but now that I own both, I feel myself creating an organic sense of aural hierarchy. Basically, with this much technology at your fingertips, your own brain becomes a radio station, and it beams out to whatever device best fills the need.

The iPod itself might become the classical music repository, as the song files are too large and un-navigable on a Shuffle. I’ll also use the iPod to try out new albums and see which songs make the cut. Those that are deemed worthy of “heavy rotation” will get slipped onto the Shuffle, where they will spend the next few months bouncing around my hindbrain during workouts and dreadful trips on the subway. In essence, it’s exactly the way Top 40 radio used to work, only I don’t have to be held hostage to the moronic tastes of the American vox populi (or Casey Kasem).

Without a screen, the Shuffle becomes your aural Id. In determining which songs go on the little guy, I’ve held to the “nothing that’s good for you” rule, meaning it has to be stuff that will put a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip and make you come on to the mothership. Nothing I think I ought to be listening to. As such, my Shuffle playlist will remain a closely guarded secret to those questioning my manhood.

I can also see the bulkier iPod becoming the main conduit for all my reading. As it is, I haven’t actually “read” a book in a year, preferring instead audible.com – those who think that makes me a lightweight can suck it. Since I started downloading books, I’ve become better-read than I’ve been in the decade since school let out. Besides, doesn’t all storytelling spring from the oral tradition? Long before papyrus and quills, bards were called around the campfire to sing songs of Roland to a rapt tribe. I’m kicking it old skool. Crucial!

*ahem* – I meant “Croosh!”

what is was, was blogging

2/1/05

When you work in the businesses I frequent – TV, movies, journalism, arc welding – you get awful sick of Ivy League schools being bandied about as a mark of quality. Look, I’m sure Harvard is just fine as a school, and I have plenty of friends from Princeton and Yale that seem to know their way around “Madame Bovary” without the Cliff Notes.

But I’ll tell you right now that I am a TOTAL RACIST when it comes to schools, which means, succinctly, that I have an overwhelming preference for human beings that happened to go to the University of North Carolina. Go ahead and insert your “eye rolling,” your “teeth gnashing” and even your “plaintive sighs” here right now, but I’ve been out of college for 15 years and I still have yet to meet a collective group of people with the kind of personality, raw intelligence, humor, preternatural skills and trustworthiness that was indigenous to our population.

Sure, there are individuals from other schools who merit our undying love and attention – UVA and NYU seem to have sprouted a bunch – but my heavens, the people we went to school with at UNC were (and continue to be) abject delights.

I’ll show you how much of an asshole I am; I’m even a racist about which YEARS the UNC alums must come from. I’ll put the graduating classes of 1986 through 1993 up there with any Algonquin Round Table, Les Six, or any movement of the last century. Include any decade of any Ivy League you want, too. Nothing comes close.

I’d give you a laundry list of people in movies, television, banking, chemistry, Olympic sports, the NBA – but it’s late and I’ll let you do the research for yourself.

IanTessaLeeAnne2(bl).jpg

me, Tessa and Lee Lee

Why do I bring this up? Well, we just had a visit from our very own Lee Anne Coggins, and we got to talking about the hundreds of people we had in common from the early years at Granville to her current stint at the Indy, and I left the conversation staggered, and feeling like I had to get back to work to live up to any promises.

When Tessa and I work in media, the second I hear someone is from Carolina, my heart melts. Sean and Jordana have basically stopped hiring anybody in their shows that didn’t go to UNC – and when they do, that person generally ends up betraying them. I used to admonish them, to tell them to hire people outside our sphere to get butts in seats, but now I see they were right all along. Fuck the rest of the world, especially if you want to get something done.

When I worked on 13th-GEN with Neil and Bill, they prognosticated that our generation (born ’61-’81) would be full of great artists, awesome novels and lead a revolution in film; we would be excellent raconteurs stemming from our wild childhoods and inbred cynicism.

Oh, how we have fucking failed them. Our generation was sidetracked by the early-90s depression, the money of the dot-com boom, and now the soul-sucking lockstep of the post-9/11 world. Since we have done nothing miraculous, or created any masterpieces, our generation has to find brilliance somewhere, and the only currency anyone’s got is their affiliation with the Ivy League.

I’m here to say FUCK THAT. I went to a public university in the middle of the Piedmont of North Carolina, with a roommate that spilled his collection of spittle on my dorm rug. We had a drama department that barely knew we were alive, but we still managed to give the world Billy Crudup, Peyton Reed, Bill Martin and Laurel Holloman. We had a coach that played by all the rules, graduated 97% of his players, and still gave the world Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Antawn Jamison, Rasheed Wallace and Vince Carter. Guess what Sally Krawcheck, David Rees and James K. Polk have in common?

O, rising seniors, filling out your forms and cramming for the SATs! Don’t be fooled by the siren song of the Ivy League! I know a place sautéed in vinegar, where you will fall in love, and secretly rule the world. Maybe you can aspire to be as fabulous as the great classes of 1986 through 1993. Come to the Southern Part of Heaven!

and FUCK DOOK!