Monthly Archives: February 2013

around the world in 80th of a second

2/11/13

Two things:

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First, I got Tessa the Lomography Spinner 360º camera for Mother’s Day last year, and because it uses ACTUAL FILM, we saw some of the pictures it took six months after they were taken, just like the good old days of our childhood.

The camera itself is a weird little beast – you load the film, then pull the string as if you were making a talking doll speak. Then, if you’re an idiot, you don’t keep your pulling finger out of frame. Which makes you look like this (click for bigger):

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We tried one over dinner with almost no light, giving us the exquisite Annie, Chip, Lars, Tessa, Laura (and me) in glorious grainy abstraction:

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If you’re thinking more 360º experiments are in order, then you’re my kinda thinker.

Oh, and secondly, go see Tessa’s awesome article about crazy incarceration at HuffPo!

 

a little milk thistle and rhodiola root cleared it right up

2/10/13

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There were times when people liked me to ask questions on here, at least on days when I was too raked over the coals to give forth a coherent blog, but we all know that sort of thing has been taken over by other entities. I can, however, ask you questions that might take a little longer to answer.

Here’s one: a few days ago I posted The Specific Insults to My Body and Their Cures, and someone wanted to add theirs, but felt it would have been too “hijacky”, a word I now quite like. To which I say, get all hijacky! To wit:

What specific insult to your body have you endured, and how have you cured it?

 

one lost soul swimming in a fishbowl

2/7/13

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There is a big joke going around, everyone is in on it, everyone’s adding their brilliant one-liners, but I’m afraid you don’t get it. No, it’s not about you, you just wouldn’t understand it. You weren’t around when the whole thing started, and by now, having to explain it just wouldn’t make sense to you.

Oh, I wish I’d thought of that. Or: I did think of that, but someone beat me to it. Or even worse… I said my piece before I knew THEY had already done it, and mine looks so sad and bandwagon-jumping now. Oh, I’ll never recover from this.

My god, look what everyone has done already. My resumé looks nothing like theirs. When did they find time to work there? And there? And they went to both of those schools? And they lived in all four of those places? Where did they get the money? What have I been doing the last 12 years?

Man, I said something I thought was funny. I said it at the right time, and with the right emphasis. Nobody responded. But he can just say anything at any time and everyone laughs. I don’t understand, it must be magic. Because I can’t learn it.

Look. Look at that. So many friends. A bunch of them are famous. Or at least I know who they are. So beautiful, in every shot. Leading such a fabulous life. I don’t even say “fabulous” to sound sarcastic, I mean it’s actually fabulous. I mean, I know everyone curates their persona to a certain degree, but nobody can fake all that. I’m too despondent to even hate them.

Excuse me, how can I find out how well I’m doing? I just need a benchmark by which I can be measured. Yes, I know it’s apples and oranges, but come on. There are absolutes, and I need to know where I stand. Don’t tell me everyone looks at everyone else and feels inadequate. I refuse to believe that. I want to be graded. Who’s in charge here?

you know what they said, well some of it was true

2/6/13

A couple of people asked what I’ve put in place of all news, if indeed I’m never going to indulge in it anymore – especially in the case of driving, which can get pretty god-awful if there isn’t something on the radio. If you’re not listening to NPR anymore, nor the of constant patter of a 1010 WINS station, and your community is bereft of good music stations, you’ve got to think a little further afield.

As such, here are the major categories of What To Listen To Whilst Driving:

• “Your” Music – I’m not sure how it works with Android, but with an iPhone, keeping your songs in the Cloud™ is a damn fine way to hear anything you want, ever. It can lead to unexpectedly transcendent moments, like when I played Time by the Alan Parsons Project for Lucy on the way to school. Watching her listen to that silly (yet bizarrely beautiful) old song with her huge eyes staring out the car window – just wonderful.

You can also go the Spotify or Pandora route, but what I really wish for are the old days of mix-tape swapping, when we used to borrow cassette tapes for weeks at a time, and get our music curated by our best friends. Why the hell can’t we still do that?

• HD Radio – If your radio is relatively new, it can access HD stations, which are these crazy streams of content that are hard to find until you lock into it. Here in LA, to the side of the JACK-FM 93.1 normal feed is the Last.fm Discover HD2 feed for new music, which is really fantastic. I wouldn’t even know how to tell you to get there, but when you do, save it.

• Podcasts – I know there are people in the world who don’t dig podcasts, but I’m not one of them. So many of my commutes have been saved by podcasts – hell, my many drives to upstate New York have been fueled by the This American Life app.

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In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg will make you a smarter human, the History of English podcast is exquisite, and if you follow the Heels, you gotta follow Andy and Reed’s Tar Heel Bred, Tar Heel Dead show.

• Sirius XM – I have been an active cheerleader for satellite radio since the very beginning, and still hold the torch. If you have nothing else, you’ve got plenty. And while 1st Wave gives you all the Clash and Cure you could want – and Sirius XM Hits 1 offers a quick rundown of the top 10-ish songs for your cultural currency – nothing comes close to Sirius XMU, the station I wish WXYC had been.

• Absolutely nothing – There is always silence and meditation. Just let go. As my vedic guru told me, do not dwell on thoughts; treat them as party guests and politely excuse yourself.

 

i’m not kenneth, there is no frequency

2/5/13

Alert the media; tell them I will no longer be watching them. I know I’ve talked about taking sabbaticals from the news before, but yesterday in the car, it suddenly became very clear: I no longer have to listen or watch any “news” ever again. I mean, really, never.

And the relief was so pure, so weightlessly effervescent, that it was a little like being drunk.

Does this make me sound like one of those lefty braggarts who claim they “don’t even own a television”? Perhaps, but this revelation allows me to watch more good TV than ever – in fact, it allows me to do more great everything ever.

No more CNN, no more MSNBC, no more local news, and yes, no more “All Things Considered” on the radio. I can’t stand any of it anymore. “Why?” you may ask… in fact, it doesn’t even matter if you asked or not. I’m going to tell you anyway.

1. It’s a Contentment Killer. Studies of the amygdala – the part of our brain responsible for our emotions – show that much of the news brings on a semi-permanent state of chronic low-level PTSD. When my doctor told me to erase my bookmarks after 9/11, he unwittingly carved a path for me back to sanity. Essentially, everything we did after 9/11 was wrong for our collective amygdalae (watching constant repetition of the planes hitting the towers), and it has been the media’s unicorn blood ever since.

2. People Are So Fucking Stupid. Obviously this relates to #1, but I just can’t watch Republicans do things anymore. Their behavior is so sick and reprehensible that I wouldn’t be able to explain it to a 2nd grade class without unwittingly introducing them to existential shock. And they’re on the news all the time, inevitably sending me into a rage coma.

3. There Actually Isn’t Any News. At least not past the first 3-4 minutes. The rest is spectacle, sadness, schadenfreude and cultural death-jacking. Sure, there are occasional Arab Springs and rare moments of living History™, but like porn films of the 1970s, you’d have to sit through hours of garbage just to get there.

4. It Is Inherently an Unnatural Act. With nuclear weaponry, our species evolved technologically before our tribal animal bullshit could catch up, putting us in constant danger. The same could be said for us watching horrors unfold in other parts of the world while we sit on the couch. There are just some things our brain-meat was never meant to see.

In our primate hearts, we are meant only to understand and protect our immediate environment – “act locally”, if you will. But seeing so many unfathomably awful things happening 10,000 miles away, every day, every hour – we’re just not meant for it. I believe it inherently drives our loneliness and sense of despondency, and even keeps us from acting locally.

To clarify, I will still read the paper, as it is a controlled substance and flush with the brilliance of folks like Ron Lieber and Jodi Kantor and Hilary Howard and Thanassis Cambanis.

But my soul is exhausted by deafening drum circle of broadcast news, and I’m done with it. These days you can stay well-informed just by incidental contact, whether it’s something on Facebook or even just floating in vague ether. There’s also “The Daily Show” to give you a curated meal of the goings-on with a sugar-dose of humor. And for those who think I might suffer from a lack of perspective or that I’m preparing myself for Vacant-Eyed Dumdumville, well, that’s a calculated risk.

Besides, I sat through Carter, the Iran Hostage Crisis, Jonestown, 2 shuttle explosions, Chernobyl, gun massacres, fucking Ronald Reagan, 2001, and decades of conservative cruelty. Hell, I even sat through Watergate because my mom stuck us in front of the TV while we were at the Ramada Inn in Waterloo, Iowa. Don’t worry about me; I’ve already forgotten more than most of you right-wing dipshits will ever know.

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cloistered in hotel, Waterloo, IA, August 1974

 

it’s the memories of the shed that make me turn red

2/3/13

The Specific Insults to My Body and Their Cures, A Visual Retrospective

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EVENT: Loaded huge boxes of my stuff into upstairs crawl space at the Purple House in Chapel Hill, NC, January 1991. Crawl space was almost tall enough for me to stand, meaning I was slightly stooped for the entire ordeal.

AFTERMATH: Immediate, unfathomable back pain. Continued several episodes throughout the 1990s. Finally in summer 2000, played basketball and fell down subway stairs, and ended up in osteopath hospital. Spent months with a cane in unbearable, searing pain that no drug or massage therapist could abate.

CURED: May 2001 by a set of abdominal exercises shown to me by actor and Pilates instructor Jessica Arinella.

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EVENT: Pushed giant city trash bin up the driveway shown above, August 1999. Bin slipped forward, sending lip of trashcan across the bridge of my nose. Blood spurted 15 feet, misdiagnosed at hospital.

AFTERMATH: Spent 13 years with a deviated septum. Got sicker and sicker with each compacted sinus virus, until 2011, when I had strep four times in one year.

CURED: Surgery May 2012. Recovery was long and awful, but ultimately successful.

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Langdon, Dana, Lindsay, me in Central Park, June 1997

EVENT: Played “Chicken” in the pool at Timber Hollow Apartments in Chapel Hill, around 2am, September 1997. The wonderful Langdon Nadeau was on my shoulders, equally-fabulous Dana was on fan favorite Lindsay Bowen’s shoulders. During a vicious battle, Langdon slipped and nearly took my head off. Neck on left side twisted into something unnatural.

AFTERMATH: Couldn’t effectively drive a car for a month, due to inability to turn my head to check blind spot, or even approaching traffic. Left side of neck pinpointed as source for chronic headaches. Even now, need a special pillow to sleep, or else a 2-day migraine ensues.

CURED: Not really. Maxalt tablets help in emergencies. Learned meditation techniques to relax left side of back.

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EVENT: Shitty childhood.

AFTERMATH: Long bouts of depression, bursts of paralyzing anxiety, ADD combined with PTSD, sensory integration. Random phobias (flying) that came out of nowhere, odd sense of entitlement mixed with self-loathing. Need for affirmation only eclipsed by desire not to be judged. Sort of a dick.

CURE: Holding Lulubeans for the first time, April 14, 2005.

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