Monthly Archives: March 2006

it’s that little souvenir of a terrible year

3/30/06

Found while cleaning up Eudora email mailboxes this evening – folder entitled “move to inbox sep 01.” Out of hundreds of emails, some excerpts below:

*************

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 01:08:24 -0500

From: “Southwest Airlines”

To: Ian

Subject: southwest.com Weekly Internet Specials September 11, 2001

Southwest Airlines e-mail update for

September 11, 2001

Baltimore Washington Int’l, MD

$30 one-way, to/from Albany, NY

$30 one-way, to/from Buffalo/Niagara Falls, NY

$30 one-way, to/from Cleveland, OH

$30 one-way, to/from Columbus, OH

$30 one-way, to/from Hartford, CT/Springfield, MA

$30 one-way, to/from Long Island/Islip, NY

Dallas Love Field, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Amarillo, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Austin, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Houston Bush Intercontinental, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Midland/Odessa, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Oklahoma City, OK

*************

From: Steve Williams

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Linda Williams, Michelle Williams,

Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordana

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:15:07 -0700

Subject: Hope everybody’s okay

I’d welcome a message from each of the New Yorkers. Looks pretty grim on the TV.

************

From: R. T.

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 13:27:58 EDT

Subject: HOPING YOU ARE ALL SAFE

Forgive me for using this impersonal email address, but it’s the only one that I have mass emailing privileges from at the moment.

It seems inconceivable that last night’s show ended just hours and a few blocks from the disaster. Yes, thanks to everyone who has emailed. I am safe and fine.

************

From: “A. W.”

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 21:36:58 -0400

To: I.W.

Subject: Re: all ok

Ian-

Great to hear you and Tessa are OK as well. I’ll fill you in on details later, but we were uncomfortably close to WTC when the second tower fell-had to go down to lower Tribeca to check on sick friend. Sound was like deafening jet roar/bomb detonation, felt like earthquake, was screaming at W and Amy to run as massive cloud of debris and smoke moved like a freight train behind us up Hudson Street. We’re OK, hanging at friend’s place in East Village right now, staying with other friend’s in Nolita tonight. Can’t go back to Tribeca as police have whole place blocked off. Let me know about Jamie Block.

*************

From: Steve Williams

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Linda Williams, Michelle Williams

Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordana

Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 09:01:51 -0700

Subject: Speculation about Mom’s plans

Mom, any updates?

Anyway, I don’t think it’d make much sense to try to get back to the U.S. early, as it’ll be some time before the airports are back to normal. A week might just be a good amount of time to wait, assuming things remain calm in Ukraine and Austria. There are no new travel warnings for either country yet.

It looks like yesterday’s shutdown of all airports (including general aviation) has removed any further immediate threat to us here in the U.S. And when the airports open, the security will be very, very tight. There will be no curbside check-in and most hand luggage will be physically searched, I think. Soon, multiple IDs and multiple ID checks will be required, and despite the civil liberty issues, I think a system of automated background checks on all airlines passengers will soon be in place.

************

From: Michelle Williams

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 00:03:17 -0400

To: Sean, Ian,

Linda, Steve,

Kent, tessa, jordi

Hello to all-

I’m sending the following email to everyone, mostly to let everyone know that I and mine are okay. Even as the bomb scare hits the Empire State Building. This feels like it may never end…

People all over the streets, just wandering because nothing is open and there is nowhere to go and if we are inside we will just watch it over and over and over. It will never get old. As we are walking to one of two restaurants open in that part of the village, there is a child yelling. Nothing specific, just yelling, and his Dad is sort of pulling him along by the hand and we hear the little boy say, or rather almost scream “I just can’t stop yelling”…

Ian and Tessa and another of her friends showed up in the early afternoon yesterday and helped organize a trip to Belleview where there were hundreds waiting in line with pictures of their missing friends and family. Most of them were numb and calm, a few just haunted, and one woman I saw looked as though she had always been crying, and always would. Ian had an enormous box of Wendy’s salads and I was carrying a literal bucket of dressing (donated by the deli across the way, with no questions asked) and I heard him say “my sister has the dressing” as he passed out the greens…

************

From: Tessa

Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 03:56:25 EDT

Subject: day 2, 3, 4

To: Sandy, Ian, Sean, Michelle, Linda, Kent, Steve, Jordi, mastro, Jessica, nell

A fierce storm hit last night. I was standing at Ground Zero under a tarp with 26 police, and 7 firefighters as the rain and wind swayed the buildings around us, when one of the policemen said in a funny, kid-like voice, “I don’t like this. I want to go home.” And he meant it.

And then I saw a firefighter, head bowed, and it seemed like maybe he was crying. I felt almost too reverent to ask if he was okay but then I did, because if I had any real job down there this was as much a part of it as handing out ponchos and making hot coffee. And he said “It’s over. The water… the rain…it’s over.” After a day of false hopes, retractions of reported rescues, the rain came and contributed the same weight as the rubble that had been removed, filled up air pockets that may have sustained people and everyone down there knew what that meant. No more hope. No survivors. Nothing to work toward. Just grief.

I want to end this with something, you know, positive. I don’t want to seem dour or humorless or without perspective. And I want everyone to know that I am taking comfort in friends and family, in our safety and love for each other. I started to do work again today. We are all beginning to talk about other things. I am not bleak. Weirdly, I am not afraid. I have a faith in all sorts of things — in our collective strength, in a wisdom broader than my grasp, in the generosity of this city and this country and the world. But for now, I am sad. So deeply sad…

************

From: Michelle Williams

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 02:22:18 -0400

To: Sean, Ian,

Linda, Steve,

Kent, tessa, jordi

Thankfully I was KBW at the restaurant tonight, which is the “kitchen back-waiter”, which meant that all I did was cut bread and run food. I talked to almost no one, which was for the best, considering these were the things people were saying:

“I heard you guys were closed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday! Are you always closed those days? I was afraid we wouldn’t get in here to eat!”

“This salad is too bitter!” “can I make you a salad with no raddichio? It will be less bitter” “No. When I get a bitter salad in a restaurant I just throw it away.”

and my favorite:

“How come you guys are so slow tonight?”

To which I would have liked to answer, “Well, sir, there’s less people alive tonight. Oh, and a few trying to find their bodies.”

Good thing I wasn’t on the floor.

************

From: Tessa

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 15:33:09 EDT

Subject: Re: afghan american angle

To: Sandy, Ian, Sean, Michelle, Linda, Kent, Steve, Jordi,

It is hard to hear but easy to imagine all of this being reduced/elevated (?) to cartoon and cinema. It feels like that sometimes here. I tear-up a lot on the street, hearing a story or seeing an image and I am afraid that someone is going to scoff or be perceived by chic uptowners as treacly and earnest. But here, at least downtown, things remain pretty simple and reverent.

We were at out local video store last night and told them that we had a movie out that we rented on Monday and wondered if would it be counted late. But she explained that all the movies out on Tuesday were forgiven in the system and then as we wandered away we realized that all those tapes had been forgiven because hundreds of them would never come back.

**********

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 15:48:59 -0500 (CDT)

From: Kent williams

To: Tessa

cc: Steve, Ian, Michelle, Sean, Jordi, Mom

While it’s hard, and especially hard for y’all who have been down in the thick of it, to think beyond the immediate, it’s going to become even worse if Bush and Powell go off on a military adventure in Afghanistan, something they’ve all but said out loud they’re going to do. A lot of innocent, good people died tuesday, but it’s only going to be compounded, with terrible interest, if we start a war.

What Dubya shares with Herbert Walker Bush is a complete lack of imagination. They live in a Manichean universe where the only tools in a crises that comes to their minds are things that blow up.

************

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 20:40:06 -0500 (CDT)

From: Kent williams

To: Sean Williams

cc: Tessa, Jason, Sandy,

mom, Ian, Jordana

Michelle, Sean, Steve, Nell

Subject: Re: Recovering

Before you all start buying land in Wyoming and stocking up on automatic weapons, maybe everyone needs to chill out a bit.

Strange as it may sound I’m thinking that there’s a slim possibility cooler heads may prevail. I mean I’m no military expert but I’d guess that at least someone in the White House has noticed that we’d be invading a mountainous, barren country, fighting people who did their undergrad work with our finest military minds, and whose PHD dissertation was defeating the entire Soviet Union…

I mean jesus, people thought Somalia was a bitch. This is a bitch with 5 angry boyfriends hopped on meth by comparison. If we put ground troups in Pakistan, they’ll have their hands full just keeping from getting blown up by the local non-combatants.

Even though I’m categorically opposed to any military campaign, no matter how slam-dunk, I have to think that the brain trust in DC aren’t nearly as dumb as they look.

************

From: Steve Williams

Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 09:31:39 -0700

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Michelle Williams, Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordi

Subject: Kije

Again, I’ve left Mom off this list. Sean agreed to talk to her in person when she gets into New York.

Kije lay in a outdoor pen this morning. The staff at the vet’s had put down a couple of blankets to cushion him, and then thrown another comfy blanket over him. That’s just what I did Friday night when I found him stricken. He was very calm…

But it was time. They brought him on a doggy stretcher into the exam room, and the vet and his helper stood with me, and we all stroked him. After Kije was gone, I stayed a few minutes and burrowed my fingers down through his fur. He was always so warm.

The vet said we can have his ashes. Maybe Mom will want them, I don’t know. The vet removed his collar and gave it to me. I have photos for you all.

So many people have lost so much this week.

************

From: Tessa

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 02:01:07 EDT

Subject: (no subject)

To: everybody

My father died tonight. It was peaceful and expected. And I feel grateful that he is no longer suffering. But I am, of course, deeply sad. In the face of such endless sadness. Ian and I were walking through the memorial at Union Square Park when I found out and I felt so grateful to be there, swimming in so much sorrow and so much love.

We will drive down to Texas tomorrow. We expect the service to be held on Friday in Houston. If you feel moved to send flowers, I would be so grateful if you made a small donation in his honor to the relief effort instead. Or you could send us your love and support and that would be more than enough.

Thank you all for being such extraordinary friends through what has been a truly difficult year.

*************

From: Ian Williams

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2001 09:31:39 -0700

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Michelle Williams, Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordi

Subject: Kije

Since I can no longer afford to eat at Michelle’s restaurant, we had a burger around the corner, then walked into Union Square Park to see the makeshift altar that has become the corner of Broadway and 14th Street. It is truly amazing – thousands of candles, pictures of the missing, signs that vary from heartbreaking to creepy, and enough flowers to staunch the horrible smell that still wafts up from downtown. One row of posters were American flags painted by the third grade class at a local elementary. Written in the white stripes part of the flag (who knew our flag doubled as lined paper?) the kids wrote little sayings that were so wonderful: “I am very sad about the Worlds Trades Centers. I think the terrorist should say their sorry. I felt bad but then I felt good. Because I love the firemen and they rilly rilly brave. I love living in New York City.”

************

Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 01:05:43 -0500

From: “Southwest Airlines”

To: Ian

Subject: Promotional and Anniversary Specials for September 25, 2001

A message from the Employees of Southwest Airlines:

Together…

We salute the American Spirit.

We pledge our allegiance to the flag.

We will stand with our fellow airlines.

We vow to continue.

We will keep America flying.

Southwest Airlines Weekly E-mail Update for

September 25, 2001

Albany, NY

$30 one-way, to/from Baltimore Washington Int’l, MD

Austin, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Dallas Love Field, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Houston Hobby, TX

************

don’t know what a slide rule is for

3/29/06

This entry is going to be short, and you know why? Because I discovered the “search” function on my online UNC alumni database! Hey, you chick on the ninth floor of Hinton James in 1985 – I CAN SEE YOU!

Why is there always this morbid – or at least insatiable – fascination to find out how (or where) people ended up? The database occasionally only gives out a current address and spouse, and I’m forced to fill in the eighteen years in between, often with some pretty bizarre stories.

Anyway, instead of writing a real blog, I was searching for a bunch of you and “inviting you to be my friend,” which I like for its irrepressible creepiness. I couldn’t find several of you cats so: UNC grads, go here to register, so that we can be “friends”. I never did friendster or myspace or anything, so this is my stab in that direction.

And if you didn’t go to Carolina, why not? What led you to your undergrad school? That is today’s CODE WORD, so let the stories unfold.

gonna have a party when the bouncers leave

3/28/06

As I am wont to do every once in a while, I’d like to single out one of my old friends who is still doing tremendous things after all these years. You’ve heard me rattle on about Salem and Ann and Bud, Chip and Jon among others, but it’s time to say a few words about my buddy, the Id of New City, Jamie Block.

IanJamie88(bl).jpg

me and Jamie, 1988

Everyone gets monumentally depressed their junior year of college, which is why most people spend it abroad. I was about to sink into my own post-parental-divorce saturnalia when Block showed up with a giant jug of wine, a guitar, and a cover band that played U2 songs for screaming chicks at Granville Towers. We proceeded to spend every waking moment together, convinced we could bed any woman willing to listen to our heartstring-yanking version of “April, Come She Will.”

We participated in some crazy shit: misty, weird parties in the Hamptons; breaking into every hot tub in Chapel Hill; even an aborted trip to California, where he had to fly back to NYC after being in LA for three hours. I was one of the few people who met his mom, a vivacious, wonderful woman who helped up put together flyers for our shows.

She passed away suddenly the summer before our senior year, and it threw Jamie in the kind of tailspin I can only imagine. When we graduated, we both stayed in Chapel Hill, but it was no place for a folksy musician, so he began his Lost Years up in the East Village, headlining the “anti-folk” movement of the early ’90s (a genre I still don’t quite understand, but was happy to go to the shows). He lived in a room on 5th Street that was six floors up and no bigger than a double bed.

As his songwriting muscle strengthened, he began to write some of the most incredible music: “To Alice in Thunderland” (a tortuously beautiful ballad about his mother) and “Reuben Says” freaked my shit out. It was no surprise that by 1998, he signed with Capitol Records and released Timing is Everything, getting on the soundtrack for “Never Been Kissed” and “Rounders” in the process.

I was living in Los Angeles by then, and we tore the town apart every time the tour came close. It was amazing fun, but of course, the music business is an unbelievably cruel clusterfuck, and for the want of about 20 grand, Capitol wouldn’t send him on the MTV Spring Break tour. And that was that.

BlockArlenes(bl).jpg

late 2000 at Arlene’s Grocery

In 2000, he started over and created another band, this time with me playing keyboards and violin on select numbers. There was nothing riding on it, just for fun, and the music is a total blast, veering into strong dance, then backing into some beautiful, contemplative solo voice-and-guitar. Loopy, eclectic, sunshiny, dark, surreal pop. It’s a little tour de force that he’s been working on for five years, and as of today, it’s available on Amazon. And you should buy it, not because I’m on the album (although that’s a damn good reason) but because it’s a run for the home team, and if we can get it jumpstarted, good things will happen.

Here’s the thing about Block: in the midst of the Capitol Records debacle, he looked at his family (the amazing Susan, and their two daughters Johanna and Sophie) and had a conversion experience. He quit touring and became an investment banker. His training day occurred on September 11, 2001, a few feet from the World Trade Center in Manhattan. When the planes hit, he had to dodge falling bodies in order to actually jump onto the last ferry pulling away before the second tower came down.

He was one of the only trainees who stayed with the business after that, and in five short years, has become the wunderkind of Morgan Stanley, in charge of more money than he’s allowed to say. He’s the funds person for ASCAP, and has carved out a niche as every musician’s broker, since he knows from experience how to be an “artist” and keep finances flowing.

We’re all capable of rebirth, but Jamie has had to do it, dramatically, several times over. I’m beyond proud of him. Shuffling millions by day, and singing by night, he accidentally became the Sustained Artist, the very person we wanted to be when we were still trying to get that chick Lisa into the hot tub by singing “Mozambique.”

wish they all could be california

3/27/06

It’s been a while since I had any pictures of The Bug on the website, and since we’re in LA, this is the only way most of my family can see the way she’s growing up. I will say this: Lucy is a giant handful of the most fun you can have. She talks all the time and, as of 11 months, can say “bye bye” and “hi” and “uh-oh”… and “da-da” and “mama,” but her use of our names is still pretty random and arbitrary and we’re still trying to get her to understand that “funny-looking redheaded guy” is actually “da-da,” but CHRIST it breaks my heart to hear it.

Her first words were uttered not for me or my wife, but for my mother, and they were “bye-bye” to our neighbor Rebecca Lowman, seen here:

RebeccaLucyMorning2(bl).jpg

We have an orange tree in our front yard, and they are beyond delicious. The look on Lucy’s face when she tried her first orange was documented thus:

LucyOrangeDiptych(bl).jpg

Another neighbor gave us their kiddie “yard castle” (complete with mailbox), and when she’s inside it, she couldn’t care less about us; she has shit to do, yo. I finally got her to look up from her projects:

LucyYardCastle(bl).jpg

Pretty typical scene here: before her bath, she got into her jar of carrots, smeared them all over her body, stood up on the changing table and plastered food all over the walls. She was in such a frenzy that I could barely capture it:

LucyDinnerEverywhere1(bl).jpg

She can stand on her own for about five seconds before grabbing something for balance, or kneeling gently to the floor. Her primary means of transportation is a very fast yet unbelievably inefficient crawl that makes a lot of noise, especially since she’s singing and barking all the way across the house. It’s a lot of work being La Luz, and when she sleeps, my little girl has earned it.

LucySleepsPurpleBear(bl).jpg

brother’s keeper, mother’s ruin

3/26/06

Earlier this week, the New York Parole Board denied Winston Moseley his freedom yet again, and thank god: he was the man who brutally stabbed, raped and killed Kitty Genovese in 1964. As most of you know, 38 people in Queens, NY witnessed at least some of the crime and none of them did a single thing about it. I studied the event in college for a psych thesis, but I hadn’t known all the details until now.

Read this article about the incident, but be prepared – this crime was methodical, savage and unbelievably grim even by today’s standards. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, and the face of that pretty 28-year-old Italian girl will haunt you for a long time.

Kitty’s murder went unnoticed for two weeks, when a Times columnist wrote a disgusted treatise asking how thirty-eight people could possibly have watched it happen. It’s so grisly: Moseley stabbed Kitty at her doorstep, then left when he thought he’d been seen. Kitty staggered to the back of her apartment building, and the killer came back, stabbing her again. Spooked by noise, Moseley left and CAME BACK AGAIN to rape and kill her. Three goddamn times he came for her, and the slightest action by any bystander would have saved her life. It’s sickening, even now.

I had a sociology teacher who once said that America did not lose its innocence at Pearl Harbor, nor with the JFK assassination. It happened that night with Kitty Genovese. Strong words, and entire schools of thought were developed to explain why we could be so cruel.

Of course, New York City bore the brunt of it, as it just confirmed what the rest of America already thought: NYC was a trove of uncaring, brutal animals. When the so-called “bystander effect” was noticed even in small towns, it wasn’t so easy to blame those frickin’ New Yorkers anymore.

My social psych prof at UNC, Bibb Latané, was one of the first to give the Genovese Syndrome a real name: the Theory of Social Impact, which states (roughly) that the more people there are in any given situation, the less likely any one of them is going to act.

This theory had so many outlets it was ridiculous. Among them:

– Look at a giant choir singing. Due to the theory of social impact, 10% of them are just mouthing the words. Not only that, but they don’t even know they’re not singing.

– Basketball has a historic 76% home court advantage; football has only 51%.

– The researchers stuck five McDonald’s gift certificates on an elevator wall. When eight people got into the elevator, none of them took the certificates. When ONE person got in, he/she took them ALL.

Add to this the recent book by UNC’s own James Surowiecki, which states that well-informed, diverse crowds make better decisions than individual experts (a book I mentioned here). Pretty weird. That means crowds make wonderful decisions in the theoretical, but catastrophic decisions in the particular.

Why does this stuff get me off? I guess because the definition of being an individual, of being alive, of being present, is to avoid being a victim of either theory. First off, do not consider yourself an expert on anything without giving massive credence to the sway of the spiritus mundi. Don’t be made complacent by the few things you get right.

Secondly, whether you’re in a crowd, or alone: ACT! This is one that has been a nightmare for me, because my first instinct is always to believe that I’M the one who doesn’t get it. But if you hear a kid screaming, feel like something’s wrong on the subway, or, god forbid, see a woman getting raped and stabbed, assume nothing and call the cops! That, and throw a tire iron at the bad guy. A clean shot at the skull can really mess up his plans.

Don’t become a voiceless sheep in the fact of Social Impact! Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe, and sometimes a woman screaming bloody murder is actually bloody well being murdered.

stars and planets realign

3/23/06

Those of you who are sports-repellent may find relief that this may be my last NCAA basketball-related post until autumn, but I can’t let the night go by without relishing in the special schadenfreude that is Duke University losing. I absolutely loathe seeing them play, so I’ve managed to miss every dook game except the ones where they play us – and tonight was no exception.

It wasn’t until my curiosity got the best of me when I began downloading the score on my Treo with about five minutes left in the game. Tessa and I were in a Mexican restaurant on Pico, and instead of eating, I was hitting the ‘refresh’ button over and over while giving her updates. I swear to god, there’s no better way to experience a dook loss. All of the ill will without actually having to see their players.

Much will be made of J.J. Redick’s horrendous performance in this (and, for that matter every) tournament of his career, and I know a few die-hard Tar Heels who even expressed a tiny bit of pity when he fought back tears on the bench. I’m no alabaster-hearted monster, but fuck that. Those were not tears of tragedy, they were tears of “denied entitlement,” the same tears cried by every dook player in their last game (Carrawell, Wojo, etc).

Who feels pity for the mid-major seniors playing for teams like Southwest Missouri State, who foul out of their last game, knowing their job prospects lie barely north of service management? Don’t shed a tear for Redick; a couple million in the NBA as a four-year journeyman flameout will put the smile right back on his face.

And hats off to LSU, who obviously brought it, and brought it together. I find it immensely satisfying that a school from Louisiana, a state battered by a hurricane and left for dead by our administration, beat Duke University’s squad, helmed by an unmitigated jerk who uses Koach K Kourt to raise money for Republicans.

K himself now goes on to coach the Americans in the Olympics, which, as I’ve said before, is why I’m pulling for Croatia. Unless Antawn Jamison is on the team, and then I’ll be torn. Frankly, I don’t see the value in K’s two coaching edicts:

1. Win at all costs.

2. Fuck you.

He has been happy to throw his kids and his assistant coaches under the bus in order to solidify his draconian empire (see Randolph, S. and Gaudet, P.); he played Redick and Shelden Williams 39 minutes a game this year while sacrificing the careers of his blue-chip bench. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play for that guy, but the Kool-Aid seems to be strong over there in Derm.

Pity? Whatever. Tessa hates it when she sees the glee I take in dook’s misfortune, but you know what? They have always stood for everything I stand against. You can’t appreciate the singularity of your convictions unless you have an antithesis. The Carolina Way is my faith, and every religion has its Devil.

here’s your hat, what’s your hurry

3/22/06

Dearest J Boogie:

You are, in many ways, why the internet doesn’t work. Every living organism needs its nasty rotavirus, and it seems as if you are ours. Your mean-spirited, reactionary, crazy-ass wingnut ramblings used to be purely philosophical, but have recently degenerated into calling attention to perceived problems with my appearance, which has turned your comments from merely wrong to lamentably pathetic.

I have given you a long, long leash, especially when I can delete anything you say with the merest click of the mouse. I have allowed you to ramble on in this forum, mostly because I think your argumentative tone – as well as your opinions – are so twisted that they actually lend credence to my side of the spectrum by comparison. In essence, you’ve always been an unbelievably rude cad, but I’ve come to enjoy your occasional outbursts of effluvium powered by the blood of the unbelievers.

But you have grown tiresome, drunk with the power of anonymity that I, ironically, keep giving you. First, a word about my face: it has always been fat, even when I’m skinny. I have the hugest head in North America; nary a hat fits me. Badly-cropped pictures make me look like a bloated fool, but in person, my large-headedness has served to keep me looking preternaturally young. Not that it has been all cakes and roses (I still get carded), but something nice to have around as I approach my 40th birthday in a few years.

And, to validate another one of your criticism, I indeed am “pill-popping,” that is, if one pill of Celexa thrown into my mouth around midnight each night constitutes “popping.” Guilty as charged. I might also tell you that I “pop” an Allopurinol (300 mg) every night, which as Neva can tell you, is because I have gout.

But, in all seriousness, enough about me. I would not normally call you out like this, or even dignify your “comments” with a blog, but quite frankly, you’re bumming out my wife. And a lot of my friends, at least the ones that don’t think that you’re actually Lindsay writing in disguise.

So I’ll make a deal with you. I will continue to abide your rancor and allow you to say whatever you want (as long as it doesn’t slag other individuals, which has always been the rule here), if you provide a link to a web page with some personal info about – or a picture of – you. As Andy Partridge says, I’ve “wobbled my pork about” on these pages for years, so I get to say whatever I want. But I’m afraid you must pay for your venality by giving up some of your anonymity.

So provide us some kind of biographical information, and/or post a picture – it can be anything you like. And don’t provide a link to the RNC, or aborted fetuses, or someone who isn’t you, as it will be as obvious as a fart in a car. Step up to the plate and unveil at least a small part of yourself, and you can have your say on this website as long as it exists.

If not, I’m afraid you’ll be asked to leave. I think it only fair.

no, not THAT kind of hummer

3/21/06

I’m afraid I’ll have to pull a CODE WORD for today, because it is my 6am shift with The Buglet tomorrow morning, and that is now only a few hours away. Today’s topic? Yep, you guessed it: PEAK OIL THEORY!

You can find out for yourself what Peak Oil actually means (like here or here), and I’m sure you conservatives out there will trip all over yourselves to deny it’s happening, but my question is simple. What the fuck are you going to do?

If the days of American exurbia and our gluttony for oil is truly about to end, do any of you have an escape plan? Do you have a place to go where you can wait out the worst? My farm is solar-powered, has fresh water, damned fine arable land and is welcome to those who can tell really good stories (and have a decent jump shot) when the Oilpocalypse happens, but what about the rest of you? Any plans at all? I’m serious!

it gives a lovely light!

3/20/06

While perusing Digg.com today, I came across one of those life expectancy calculators, this one courtesy of MSN. I’ll occasionally indulge myself in these, because generally, I like the results: I drink alcohol maybe once a month now, my BMI is still around 25, and I had half a cigarette in 8th grade before I threw up and never touched one again. This particular test, however, places huge influence on how long your grandparents live and your gender.

As a male, I was supposed to make it to 75, which SUCKS. Dying at 75 is perfectly lame, especially if you want to see how everything turns out. So I made myself a woman, and it gave me until 91! How can there possibly be a sixteen-year discrepancy just by having labia?

I went over to the Death Clock, and they were barely more sanguine. I do have more than 1.2 billion seconds left according to them, so that’s something, but I’m still stunned at how much better women are built for life on Planet Earth.

While taking Psych 28 (Personality) with Dr. Richard Lucas – easily one of the greatest classes ever taught in 217 years of UNC’s existence – all of us students were asked to make a little line graph of when we were born, when we were to die, and where we thought we were in relation to those two events. Mine, and many of the kids’ around me looked like this:

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It’s incredible how being a teenager truly makes you think you’ll live forever, or at least until you’re 145. But I have to say that I only gained true sanity in the harrowing months after 9/11, when I fully came to grips with “the rest of my life” not being so impossibly long. When you have some sense of your ending, even if it is far away, it allows you to stop making incredibly stupid decisions and (if you want to) get married and have a child.

Before that conversion experience, I was genetically unable to commit to anything because I feared the word “forever.” Now forever doesn’t seem that long, and part of that is actually comforting. Liberating, even.

But now, with the unlocking of the human genetic code, the lambent promise of stem cells, and the research on shutting down the sub-cellular proteins that say “it’s time to die,” living past 100 looks like it might become quite common regardless of what MSN and the Death Clock say. One gerontologist at Cambridge believes that “the first person to live to 1,000 may have already been born.” That’s the equivalent of a young soldier invading Britain with William the Conqueror still being alive today.

If that’s the case, let’s just agree on this right now: no nuclear weapons used for any reason EVER, no more fossil fuels for transportation in ten years, and let’s think of some truly excellent television pilot ideas AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. We got air time to fill, yo!

zigga zoomba

3/19/06

Usually when I write about basketball, I warn you right off: if you don’t enjoy it the way I do, then feel free to skip this particular entry. However, in the lingering sting of today’s loss, I’m going to try and put into words exactly why I bother, and use language designed for those readers who only see a leather ball, an iron rim, and a bunch of people running around in culottes.

Nutty fans give college hoops a terrible name. In particular are the Kameron Krazies, a numbnut group of ravenously twee dorks who shoepolish their nipples dark blue, scream classless and deeply unfunny bullshit at opposing teams, and jump up and down with the sort of mindless hegemony last seen by the German army in “Triumph of the Will.”

Add to this Madison Avenue’s idea of college fandom, which is unfailingly a balding, fat, aging fuckwad busy torturing his family with a minivan painted orange, or freaking out at Applebee’s, or woofing at insurance ladies while wearing styrofoam antennae. This kind of shit is fine if you want to sell deep-fried wings or beer, but it gives me Stupid Feeling™ and no doubt makes some people rankle at college sports in general and March Madness in particular.

Understand, then, that this type of obsession is not practiced by everybody. There are those for whom college basketball is a spiritual thing – as serious as medicine, as frivolous as dessert, and as important as religion. For me, Carolina basketball came to represent a way of thinking. It’s not just scoring more points than your opponent, it’s a method of conducting your affairs. I know that sounds silly, but bear with me.

The progenitor of much of this is Dean Smith, who was UNC’s coach from 1961 to 1997. He innovated entire swaths of the sport that affect everything from YMCA pick-up games to the NBA Finals. Apart from being an incredible man who was the first to integrate southern white-only basketball, he also lent his hand to gay rights, peace activism and stopping the death penalty – all under the auspices of his religious faith. He is truly one of the last of a giant, dying breed: the liberal Christians.

He also hated to lose. There are a number of stories about him getting under the skin of other coaches, pushing their buttons, and occasionally being a sneaky little gadfly. He was also a virulent smoker with a failed marriage (who quit smoking and remarried happily) but it is also his slightly-flawed humanity that makes him such a stunning character.

I will cut to the chase. He had several rules about playing basketball, some of which I will list here – first describing what they mean to the game, and then what they mean to me.

1. “You play the first half to get to the second half.”

Basketball meaning: Just survive the first twenty minutes of play, because what counts is the end of the game. If you are still competitive at halftime, start over and outscore them.

To me: The first part of any endeavor is almost always a slog, especially when dealing with massive works of art: a script, a musical, a novel, even a long piece of journalism. Think of how great it will be when you give your work the last semicolon; the last period. Don’t worry too much in the early going of any relationship. Don’t get despondent. The final act hasn’t been written yet. You aren’t fired. In fact, for all you know, your boss might be fired first.

2. “Take the shots you want, not what the defense gives you.”

Basketball meaning: Your game plan is to get the ball to your hot players, and to make set plays for an open shot. Your opponent is big down low? They like to run? Who cares? Make them play YOUR GAME.

To me: Don’t ever second-guess your strengths, and don’t ever give up on a plan without concrete evidence of failure. Come into an interview with a clear knowledge of the conversation you want to have. If you are a brilliant actor, don’t try to write; if you don’t want to be bored, bring a book.

3. “When you get blocked, go straight back up with the ball.”

Basketball meaning: Usually, a player who makes a block has either exhausted his energy getting to you, or is busy celebrating, so if the ball comes back to you, chances are good for an open lay-up.

To me: A huge failure generally frees you for another project. If someone pulls the rug out from under you, and all your funding is gone, make seven phone calls THAT DAY. When God closes a window, it’s usually because the door was always open.

4. “Point out the passer.”

Basketball meaning: When you make a basket, immediately point out the person who threw you the ball. This deflects praise to the true creator of the play.

To me: Never forget where you came from. Never foster resentments to those under you. You had help, and don’t fucking forget it.

5. “Give the tired signal if you want a rest.”

Basketball meaning: The coach doesn’t take you out – YOU decide when you need a rest. Put your fist in the air, and you will have relief.

To me: Know your limitations. Don’t stay at that party until 3am; she is never going to come.

6. “The Carolina Way.”

Basketball meaning: Dean Smith and his successors Bill Guthridge and now Roy Williams never let any of their players go out alone into the world. The Carolina family will always be there with advice, help, and occasionally life-saving gestures. When ex-point guard Phil Ford went into rehab, Dean learned the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and went to meetings with him. When Richard Vinroot went to Vietnam (a war Dean despised), the only postcards he got were from his parents and from Coach Smith. Old players never quite leave. Michael Jordan will show up to give a pep talk. Vince Carter calls for advice. It is a loving fraternity like no other.

To me: You will see commenters on this blog who have been friends for more than twenty years (and we’re not that old yet). My life would be so much the lesser without Bud, Chip, Jon, Lindsay, Kendall, Salem, Greggy and everyone of us (Gribster! Lee! Suzanne! Andy! Bill! Greg! Dean! Scruggs! Neva! Etc! SO MANY!) who spent those spring days in Chapel Hill soaking in the dogwoods.

I admit it, I’m an asshole homer. I will instinctively give jobs, hire and promote fellow Cackalackians. And for those of you who didn’t go to school with us, we’re an open fraternity/sorority, and you’ve got a bid. Hell, my two favorite roommates ever were dookies, Scotty and Lars (well, tied for third. My Tar Heel wife and my Tar Heel brother get #1 and #2).

I may be a jackass, a pill-popping leftist stooge and fat with a double-chin(?) but I am fiercely loyal. You’d have to murder a lot of puppies to lose me. Carolina taught me that nothing is meaningful without your family, both nuclear and extended.

As for the game today, sure, I’m heartbroken. We had what seemed to be a golden path to the Elite Eight. We made terrible decisions and it’s hard to believe this dream season is over. But this has been my favorite UNC team ever – they worked so hard and obviously loved each other. There is also this sense with Roy that if you followed his directions and toiled beyond compare, any one of us could have made the 2005-2006 squad. Even Lindsay.

And I’ve never said this before, but this time I think it’s fitting: Just wait until next year.

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