Monthly Archives: July 2006

in french, chat, chapeau

7/31/06

For the first time in about a year, and for the first time in her toddlerhood, one of Lucy’s parents is spending the night away from her. And surprise! It’s not me! That’s right, Tessa went to Texas to spend a couple of days with her ailing grandmother Nonnie (actually named Lucille, which is where Lucy got her name) and for Monday and Tuesday, I am a Swingin’ Bachelor Single Parent.

Without the confines of my stuffy marriage for two days, I decided to get some serious ya-yas out. Lucy has been eating nothing but BEEF TALLOW and FUNNEL CAKES covered in MRS. BUTTERWORTH and I have been indulging in a Major Freakout!!!

A few things:

– Man, people sure are picky about calling the police! Just because we had more than fifty people in our house tonight and Deee-Lite was cranked to 120 decibels. Whatever happened to bigtime dance jams? If the floorboards aren’t bendin’, it ain’t a party, copper!

– I was told that if you spill an entire bottle of Everclear on the floor and light it on fire, the flames will be violent but nothing gets burned. Man, is THAT wrong.

– Who knew whores were so expensive? It’s always “that’ll be extra” and “that’s not covered in our agreement.” I assumed that ladies of a certain moral character would have some wiggle room, but no dice.

– The new paint job I did in the living room looked cool while the opium lasted, but now that it’s wearing off, I’m not so sure. It’s not really Tessa’s “style” and I’m not sure if she’s going to “like it.”

– Lucy loves birds, so I started a small quail farm in the guest bedroom. OUCH they’re stinky! AND LOUD! And now we have fleas. But I’m the Best Dad Ever, right?

Oh well, one more day of single parentin’ left. Just in time for our “Cleaning the House Montage Scene” with “Number One (Man in the Making)” or “Maniac” playing in the background. Cue shots of Lucy and Dad taking time out of repainting to get into a paintbrush fight! And then rolling out the new carpet and giving each other a HIGH FIVE!

requiem aeternam dona eis

7/30/06

I started several blog topics today, but I just can’t. I know it may sound precious and silly, but after seeing pictures of those dead toddlers being carried out of the rubble of Qana today, I’ve had it. Go ahead, conservatives, make fun all you want. But I’m utterly heartsick over the way every piece of this Middle East mess has been conducted.

I imagine Lucy in all of those little children’s faces. There was a time when I could read a story like today’s, be suitably horrified for about five minutes, and move on. Those days are over.

New Yorkers, while cleaning up the charred remains of their compatriots downtown in late September 2001, were noticeably reticent about going to war, any war. We saw firsthand what happens, we were breathing the air, we were washing soot out from behind our ears for weeks. You’d think we were the ones crying out most for revenge, but all around us you saw people clamoring for peace.

I’ve had it. I’m going to join my brother Kent as a pacifist Quaker. Perhaps not a pure pacifist, but Pragmatic Pacifist (look it up if you’re interested). I know Israel has to defend itself and root out terrorists, but nobody will ever convince me – or any other sensitive living creature – that the only way to do it is through blowing 37 children to bits. Don’t anyone dare say that war has casualties, and they are regrettable. Fuck you in advance if this is you default setting. Your heart is diseased, and mine is damn near broken.

hey hey, the clouds are whey

7/27/06

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The above poster, stuck on an Athens, GA wall in 1982, is the greatest show I never saw. While I was studying for Mr. Marchionda’s biology test at the age of fourteen, my Ultimate Dream Show featuring my favorite band in the world – along with REM at the height of their awesomeness – was being played about 400 miles away. The “English Settlement” and “Murmur” tour. I can barely stand it even decades later.

A few weeks after this, Andy Partridge of XTC freaked out on stage and never toured again. REM became what they became. But today’s CODE WORD is a question for you: What would be your dream double-bill concert? It has to be a show that could have existed, or did exist – no mixing two different genres or disparate time periods, like pairing George Gershwin with De La Soul (although that sounds pretty awesome).

Sing!

i’ll have the regular and keep ’em comin’

7/26/06

I really miss drinking, and I say that as somebody who can still drink. I keep a bottle of Macallan 18 in the cupboard and usually something else in the freezer (like Chopin vodka, or something equally snooty) but the dropoff of alcohol consumption in my life over the last six years has been gargantuan and dramatic.

In Chapel Hill, as many of you will remember, there was a will, a way, and a place to get drunk every night of the week. These nights tended to change every year or so, but in 1990, it was Ham’s on Monday, Groundhog’s on Tuesday, Players/Club Zen on Wednesday, Molly’s on Thursday, and the list goes on and on. Each of you can fill in the names from your own college towns, but we had no problem getting actually drunk five or six nights a week.

One day a guy came into our fraternity, most likely at the behest of the Inter-Fraternity Council in a desperate attempt to keep Fun in existence without the requisite lawsuits (a move that failed, but that’s another story). This man was some sort of Alcoholic Counselor, and told us “if you drink to get drunk more than twice a year, you are probably an alcoholic.” A nice enough guy, but his message was insanely stupid, as it only made us go out and do fourteen tequila shots in his honor a couple of hours later.

At Club 510, where Salem and I lived at the beginning of the 1990s, we used to have two kegs of Goebel’s ($40 each!), stashes of vodka, bourbon and wine – and Salem used to concoct vats of kamaikaze shots, going around to the party guests and getting them each to take a ladle. It was par for the course, and I remember all hangovers (such as they were) easily cleaned up with two Tylenol Sinus pills.

I loved the culture of drinking, perhaps because I came so late to the party. My first actual sip of alcohol came in Jon Vaden’s dorm room in Lewis when we were freshman. He had gotten his roommate Bradford to buy us 2-liter bottles of Sun Country Wine Cooler, and thus Jon, Chip, Bud, me and whomever girls we could wrangle from Cobb Dorm would come over and play a card game called EGDAP (Everyone Get Drunk and Puke).

Those particular drunks were the best I ever had, innocent and free of agenda, and I spent the next fifteen years trying to feel like that again. I came close (Dook game in ’92, my bachelor party) but soon felt the effect of diminishing returns. By the time I was 30 and living in Beachwood Canyon, drinking felt like a luxury I could no longer stomach.

These days, I have to:

a) decide I’m going to get drunk

b) take two Chaserâ„¢ pills

c) take one Zantac

d) imbibe alcohol

e) drink one glass of water per drink

f) cancel all plans for the next two days.

I mean, it’s usually worth it, but the spontaneity factor is pathetic. The Chaser pills do work in removing the “feel like death” element of the next day, but it can do nothing for the fatigue.

But on a Wednesday night like this, with both my awesome wife and my unbelievably fantastic daughter already asleep, I think about the nights that began at midnight and ended up four fingers down a bottle of Midori. I remember all those great liquors we kept around the house: Kahlua, Goldschlager, cinnamon schnapps, Jack Daniels, Cuervo 1800, even Jaegermeister. You are not gone, not forgotten, merely truncated. I will visit you again like my old friends; every few months, so we can still howl at the moon and behave terribly.

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I’d caption this pic from ’89, but you all know who you are!

meditation xvii

7/26/06

God dammit, yesterday’s comments were awesome, but there is so much there worthy of righteous indignation and garment-rending anger.

Stop me if I’m misrepresentin’, but did some of you really say there is a meaningful cadre of industries that stand to benefit from global warming hysteria, and THAT’S how the pro-environment agenda gets its energy? You have GOT TO BE KIDDING.

For every one small company that sells backpacks that recharge your cell phone, there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of companies that benefit from things going the way they always have (McDonalds, Union Carbide, Halliburton, Unilever, etc etc etc.). British Petroleum has a nice solar department, but it accounts for… what, .0001% of their revenue?

To even hint that there are a powerful group of industries that stand to benefit from lying – or exaggerating – the threat of global warming takes a staggering lack of perspective. It’s like the elephant claiming an ant blocks his view.

As for Democrats seizing it as a wedge issue, first of all, that’s mostly crap, and second of all, Republicans can never blame any other political entity for exploiting a wedge issue again, given the utterly shameful way they’ve gone after homosexuals, people of color, and 9/11 widows. “Democrats needed something scary”? This is coming from the people that brought us Saddam’s “mushroom cloud” and telling us that if Kerry was elected, “we’d get hit again”? Do you guys have any idea of the murderous hypocrisy at work here?

Climate change transcends politics, and is quite simply a matter of survival. The wave of black water doesn’t give a shit if you’re liberal or conservative, and while you send for whom the bell tolls, your estate is being washed away. For those of us trying to do something about it, why can’t you just say thank you?

LucyFutureDemocrat2(bl).jpg

seriously, Lucy and I are wondering what your problem is

guelphs and ghibellines

7/24/06

Okay, I have a question. It can be asked about pretty much any heated topic, but let’s take global warming, because it’s near and dear to our hearts. Namely thus: Why are you conservatives so hellbent on keeping the rest of us from trying to save the Earth? I just don’t get it. Every time I bring up global warming, climate change, or tangential topics like corporate responsibility, you immediately try to discredit the data, ridicule the messenger, obfuscate the topic, throw your hands up in despair, or chuckle like we’re poor saps who just don’t get it.

I mean, exactly what dog do you have in this fight? Why is the concept of climate change so threatening to you, as if it’s some kind of deadly misinformation that must be sublimated at all costs? If you don’t believe it’s happening, well, I think you’re being ignorant and making my kids pay for your laziness, but I can grudgingly respect your decision. What I don’t get is why you don’t just ignore the calls for environmentalism; instead, you fight them with everything you’ve got. There has to be something else afoot.

Are you afraid of losing money, personally? Will certain stocks you own go down in value if the world starts trying to act responsibly? Or does the thought of a hundred good years of capitalism taking this planet to the brink fill you with so much guilt that you have to deny global warming in order to sleep at night?

Is it cognitive dissonance? Is the news so overwhelmingly bad that you are willing to retreat into the first pair of open arms who tells you that everything is going to be okay?

This may raise guffaws, but I think the best thing about being a liberal is a constant self-questioning search for truth. Yes, American culture since Reagan has vilified liberalism/progressivism, but the truest among us always sets aside chunks of time to doubt our beliefs. It’s why we lose a lot, why we dabble in nuance, and why we let conservatives scream louder. But I think 99% of liberals would be more than happy to learn global warming was bullshit, if shown evidence.

Conservatives fascinate me; when proof of their mistakes are shown, they usually just believe it even harder. Witness the last six years, probably the biggest, quickest breakdown of governmental competence since the Great Depression, and still our president has the temerity to give us headlines like Bush Sees Mideast Strife as a Step Toward Peace.

So I need to know: are you discrediting thousands of scientists and a near-unanimous global consensus that man is causing the CO2 rise, making the Earth unsustainably hotter just because you’re a conservative, and that’s what conservatives think? If so, I would have thought better of you. That’s not choosing a position, that’s just choosing sides.

don’t tell me to calm down

7/23/06

So, let’s see…

1) Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, apparently has enough support to fire an endless number of rockets into Israel and even has the capacity to destroy ships. Conversely, Israel is blowing Lebanon back into the 15th century, with massive civilian casualties, entire families being vaporized, and a blank check from the rest of the world.

2) Iraq is in full-blown civil war, and the situation has gotten so bad that the Sunnis are asking the Americans to stay. Which they are, and when we’re not dying in waves, we’re dying on average about one soldier a day. That’s one of your high school classmates, worse off than you, going to serve and coming home in a box. Once a day. For a war based on utter lies.

3) The power is out in New York City, St. Louis, and all over California. Temperatures from yesterday and today have shattered records. 2006, so far, has been the hottest year in recorded history, and estimated to be the hottest year in 400 years. What was in second place? Last year.

4. Gas is the most expensive it has ever been in this country, going over $3 a gallon. This absolutely kills low income families not lucky enough to live in a place with realistic public transportation (pretty much everywhere not called New York, Chicago, Seattle and Washington D.C.)

5. Bush just spent his first veto on the only ray of hope to come out of this year’s political fiasco: a real stem cell bill passed by the Senate. Paraplegics, those with ALS, Parkinsons, macular degeneration and Alzheimers are all told to fuck off. By the way, one out of two men (and 1/3 of women) reading this blog will get cancer if current rates persist. If your cure does not come in time, you will know who stopped it.

6. Rent The Corporation. We watched it last night, and while it can be literal and heavy-handed, you will not come away unaffected. It is so depressing that it made me want to curl up with Tessa and Lucy and never leave our bed.

7. Which we can’t do, because Lucy is so uncomfortable with her heat rash on her back and arms because of the weather. Watching her writhe in misery absolutely floors me – I just want to take all of her pain away (fortunately, hydrocortisone did the trick).

These are desperately bad times, no matter how comfortable you feel. You may like your job where you’re reading this, you may find your home office or laptop a little piece of serenity, but the world is in mid-disaster. Things move slow enough not to be noticed, but they’re happening. You’re living history, you just don’t know it. They didn’t know it in 1066, 1215, 1512, or 1848. They didn’t know it when the medieval sickness came from Italy, they didn’t know it when Noah began pounding.

I’m reminded of two quotes, one from George Orwell:

“We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

And of course, this from Christopher Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus”:

FAUSTUS: Where are you damned?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: In hell.

FAUSTUS: How comes it then, that thou art out of hell?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.

ambrosia in, garbage out

7/20/06

To: The NEA (National Endowment for the Arts)

Re: Proposal for Funding Grant

From: Ian W. representing Lucy K. B-W.

Gentlemen-

It has come to my attention that you have funded incredible works of art in the past, including the Shakespeare in American Communities program and the NEA Jazz Masters. I also read that you have occasionally funded projects dealing with human excrement.

Sure, you must be thinking, that is so 1996! Andrew Serrano’s Piss Christ is yesterday’s papers. But my daughter Lucy begs to differ.

Yesterday morning around 4am, she became dissatisfied with an ill-fitting diaper, and took it off in her crib. What happened next could only be described as a “shitsplosion”. By the time we arrived around 6:45am, there was very little in the room that hadn’t been soiled: walls, sheets, draperies, the bumper, the rails, several stuffed animals and various other surfaces were dealt with in a Jackson Pollock-like artistic frenzy. Even former NEA-grant-receiver Karen Finley – the chocolate-smeared woman – would have been proud.

While throwing away most of her bedding, and indeed, most of that part of the room, I began to think: am I throwing away an accidental masterpiece? A testament to our culture and our times? As my wife and daughter spent forty-five minutes in the shower, I began to think “perhaps!”

So I ask you now: how about supporting the arts for the littlest Americans? Let’s start early with this generation, so they should know performance art when it happens. After all, won’t somebody PLEASE think about the children?!?

Your most humble svt.,

etc., etc., etc.

IRW.

garbage in, ambrosia out

7/19/06

The Latest in the Who Gives a Shit Dept:

Hey, I took apart my Mac Mini! Y’see, I want to do some demo songs and create GarageBand tracks with the ol’ pre-2006 Mini, but the hard drive was too slow. You know what I’m screamin’, right? So I got a 7200rpm drive and tackled the crazy amounts of screws and wires and delicate motherboards and after two hours of sweating bullets, I did it!

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That shit is not so easy, my friends. Watch forty-five seconds of this video if you don’t believe me. My brother Kent once said I was shitty at computers, you know, back in 1993 or so, and I’ve been trying to prove him wrong for thirteen years. In your FACE, chaircrusher!

Anyway, so I created a “sparseimage” in SuperDuper, then connected the xtcian-refurbished Mac Mini to my Powerbook and the LaCie hard drive, and it’s cloning as we speak! How did I do that with only one Firewire port, you ask? Well, I also used the Firewire 800 port with a Firewire 400 connector. Pretty sweet, huh? Huh?

Wait, where is everybody?

HELLO?

state tree: longleaf pine

7/18/06

Tonight we went to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (yes, that academy) for a low-key yet inspiring party for this years crop of bright-eyed Tar Heels trying to make it in Lalaland through the UNC Hollywood Internship Program. I wish everyone could see how much fun these folks were having, exactly the sort of thing we would have LOVED if it had existed in 1990 when some of us tried coming out here the first time.

Of the things UNC has now (but didn’t when I was there): air conditioning, drop/add by phone, THE INTERNET, and this Hollywood Internship Program. First off, the internet. Can you imagine how much easier everything is with Google? I was one of the last classes to graduate before the internet came to Carolina, and I remember actually having to go to the frickin’ library to research something. The book would inevitably be gone, and I’d be stuck on the sixth floor of Davis wondering what the fuck I was going to do about my paper due in eight hours.

I don’t say this like other old farts say stuff about “kids today.” When old people kvetch about kids’ manners, or their dress, or their technology, they’re usually complaining about something that had evolved differently over the decades. The internet, however, exploded onto UNC in the course of about two years and I just missed it by a matter of eighteen months or so. Unbelievable.

Anyway, this internship is awesome – lots of these UNC grads get internships with other Carolina alumni, gigs in major movie production houses, TV studios and whatever else we can rustle up for them. They have that wide-eyed excitement of being in Hollywood, and as one of them said, “escaping from the boondocks” (she was from Salisbury, NC).

This is my old fart rant, and it is 100% true: when I came to LA in 1990 and looked for a job, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and drove gas prices out of my reach. Not being able to find employment, I subsisted on a brick of cheddar cheese and Branola wheat bread for two weeks (I know I’ve said that before, but it feels good to type). Finally, through my angel of mercy John Altschuler (who was also there tonight), I got a gig at New Line Cinema as their first intern. Three weeks into the job, I got rear-ended by a reggae drummer in a white truck that gave me whiplash and totaled my car. Weeks later I was back in Chapel Hill, wondering what the fuck went wrong.

These UNC program interns will be spared that fate, and from the looks of a few of them, they’ll be producing some of your favorite movies and TV shows in 2012. But I don’t begrudge them a centimeter; it’s right for each successive generation to have a slightly easier time, and while my adventures in Hollywood have been occasionally horrific, I wouldn’t trade one second of the Wild Teacup Ride that got me where I am.

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at Mallory May’s house just before leaving, May 1990