Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Best Weekend Ever

A Portrait of a Young Man in Repose:

This Memorial Day weekend may go down as my favorite ever. And, like most great things in my life, I forgot to take pictures. But, I'd rather it be that way, of course. There was enough food to sate Katherine McPhee's ass, Kelsey Grammar dressed as a good luck troll, and plenty of bad impersonations of Canadian-Indian comedian Russell Peters. There was even a trip to the ol' swimmin' hole, which featured water so unbelievably cold that I can comfortably say that my balls are floating around somewhere in upstate New York. I believe Brenda's blog will feature some video of the riverside event, including my jumping girlishly into the frigid water from a seemingly benign rockface, but, seriously you guys, once you get up there, it's totally higher than you think and pretty daunting (shut up, it was). However frightening, it was observed that jumping into the river was the "in" thing to do, relieving stress and worry through loss of motor functions and hypothermia. It should be said that the second time I jumped in, the granola bar in my pants (read: penis) I'd forgotten about made a break for the Canadian border. I hunted the errant snack down in the water and returned it to the warm shore, where I resuscitated it by consuming half of it (read: I ate half of my own penis). Also, I bemusedly watched a baby drink beer. Not only did she drink it, she brushed her sippy cup aside in pursuit of more beer. These are my kind of people.

We also screened the 1982 mini-epic (?) The Dark Crystal, which, to my surprise, really holds up in this jaded, computer-generated entertainment environment. My only question: Was the role of Jen Lou Diamond Phillips' first screen appearance?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Better late than never

Yours truly, the notorious G-A-B-E, hopped a bus to Pennsylvania to visit the rest of the G-Unit (all of my siblings and I have names that start with G. Shut up). The first order of business was to pick up my mother's belated Mother's Day gift, a car kit for the XM radio I got her for her birthday. Little did I know that the mission would be compromised by my mom's need to pick up a new frying pan, a task that had my sister Gracey and my brother Gunner and I trapped in the pan aisle, a strange, magical place where everything does the same basic thing yet the decision regarding which pan to choose takes a half hour.

Walmart, K-Mart, S-Mart, Target, Pennypincher's, Radio Shack, Stereo Hut, Circuit City, Motherboard Town...no one had the simple XM accessory I was looking for. Defeated, we looked for new feet. Defeated, I decided that I'd just order the item online, thereby rendering my trip to Pennsylvania more of a lark. Like this one:

All for me sainted mudder, who went to the Sean Penn school of photo posing:

This is why I love my mom: I told her the old joke about the penguin driving around in the desert. His car breaks down, but, luckily, it does so just outside a mechanic's garage. The mechanic tells the penguin that it's going to take awhile. The penguin panics, "I'm a penguin!" he says "It's far too hot out here for me!" The mechanic calmly points out that there's an ice cream shop just across the street. Delighted, the penguin goes to the ice cream parlor and loads up on vanilla ice cream, but, due to his unfortunate inability to manipulate a spoon with his flippers, gets ice cream all over himself. It cools him off, so he doesn't worry about it. He looks at the clock and decides it's time to see if the mechanic is ready for him. So, he returns to the garage, covered in vanilla ice cream. He asks the mechanic, "so, what's wrong with my car?" The mechanic replies, "looks like you blew a seal." The penguin, embarrassed, says, "no, it's just ice cream."

After hearing this story about a penguin thinking he was mistakenly blamed for fellating a fellow aquatic animal, my mother says, "AWWWWWWW, that's so CUTE!"

There was also a rainbow sighting in PA off of the back deck:

And, for the first time in my life, I believe, I finally beat Super Mario Bros. I can rest in peace.

Ghosts N' Goblins will have to wait for my next visit.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A New Hope

My agent has informed me that the legit representation search would best serve me if done in June. Apparently, May is reserved for MFA students. Although understandable, what the fuck are these agent cretins doing wasting their time with MFA students? If you went to school for a second time to learn how to pretend, chances are you weren't all that great to begin with. There's something to be said for natural talent.

I'll have my day, it's just that I'm gnawing away my fingernails with anticipation. Then again, I was waiting around for eight years, I'm pretty sure I can last one month. In the meantime, Aaron and I are going to put on a play. Originally, we thought the Philadelphia Story, but I recommended Rozencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead as another option. The decision hasn't been set in stone yet, but when it is, rest assured that I'll post it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Back in Black

There is no city like New York City. I've been around the world and I I I, I can't find my baby, (actually, I did find my baby, but that's not funny in this context), and I will go on record as saying no city compares to New York. I understand folks buying places in the country, but in terms of cities? Don't bother moving. Chicago, Detroit, London, Moscow, Rome, Dublin (EVEN DUBLIN) have NOTHING on New York.

And Detroit knows it, because it wanted to keep me there. The job I was in Michigan for became suddenly complicated on my last day, and it started to look like my plane ticket was increasingly becoming obsolete. However, I went the distance and was allowed to head toward the airport in a faint smug fashion...perhaps...too smug? The car I had rented, the PT Cruiser, served me well for 18 days of incident-free traveling. Until, that is, it knew I would be leaving it. I took the exit off of I-94 to return the car and, a mere half mile from the National rental facility, the car started shaking like Michael J. Fox on the Tilt-a-Whirl. As I slowed to a crawling fifteen miles and hour, I suffered a barrage of expletives from inconsiderate truckers who seemed unable to hear my suggestions that they fuck their mothers over the deafening vibrations of my car. As soon as possible, I pulled over to the curb expecting a flat tire. What I found was an exploded tire:

It was then that I vowed that this backwards, sissy state of Michigan WOULD NOT DENY ME MY RETURN TO MY PEOPLE. I called National and they sent a gentleman caller:

A few seconds before he was finished, I wiped his chin a little bit...NO, OF COURSE I DIDN'T. A few seconds before he was finished, he asked, "You DID rent with National right?"

It was ALL I could do to not run with this and make my new mechanic friend think he just spent fifteen minutes changing the tire of a Thrifty customer. Unfortunately, all I wanted was to be done with this place, so I gave him an emphatic YES and a smack on the ass and I was on my way.

Safely on the plane, I chuckled to myself a little bit. Then I cried. Then I enjoyed my complimentary beverage. Then I got home. Then I watched House M.D. Then I saw Brenda, who looked more beautiful than anyone ever. Needless to say, all of Tuesday felt like getting released from jail.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Art Official

I greeted the rainy Saturday morning here in Detroit with the knowledge that my time here has been given a solid ending point. Tuesday. I'm out of here Tuesday. Will I miss it? No, are you fucking kidding? If I had survived a brutal eye socket rape, I'd miss that more than living here for two weeks. It's a pity, because I'm beginning to think part of me grew up here.

I wanted to make sure that I checked out the Detroit Institute of Art before I left. You know how most of New York's art museums are surrounded by pretty affluent neighborhoods? Detroit doesn't enjoy such distractions. As soon as you get out of the car, you get this urge to run to the cluster of museums or run the risk of being mugged by the most art-conscious criminals on the planet. Still, the DIA was charming and diverse and I enjoyed myself immensely.

I live near the Cloisters in Manhattan, a collection of medieval art and structures that flank the very northern tip of the island. If you've ever visited, you know it's an extremely calming and meditative environment. I was happy to find a similar set up in Detroit's art collection.

If there is a single idea, a solitary zeitgeist that permeates practically all of Detroit life, it is the automobile industry. One can see it in the city's subtle apprehension of Asians, its blue collar taste in food and drink, and, of course, in its art. In the Grand Hall of the DIA, there stood two murals on opposing walls depicting an elaborate car manufacturing scene, replete with conveyor belts, engine parts, employees, and employers. A mere camera phone can't capture the overwhelming movement in this piece, but you might be able to see a person enjoying the mural in this next picture to give you an idea of just how big this thing is.

In a lot of ways, the murals are perfect images of the soul of the Motor City. Busy, dynamic, confusing, difficult, bold, cheerful, sinister, and beautiful. And all tied together with cars.

I was happy to discover that I can still recognize specific artists by style alone. There was a nude study by Francis Bacon, one of my favorites, an Alberto Giacometti sculpture, and an amazing portrait study also by Giacometti of his wife Annette. This is one of many iterations of this pose and I don't believe it's the final version, but I think it's something special (it's also sharp and almost violent, a bit like Bacon).

I sometimes think of my old high school art teacher from Britain and wonder if he knows how influential he was and probably still is. How many of his students still go to see art? If they're like me, if they "got it," chances are a lot.

I also couldn't help but realize how much art comes out of love. Not just romantic love, but all love. Love of nature, humanity, machines. And not just love in practice, but love in absence. And it's that eternal pulsating of the human heart, whether it's beating with elation or remorse, that fuels everything worth seeing. It's not what it's beating for, but the simple fact that it's beating at all.

We're getting the band back together!

I ventured out to sample Detroit's local music scene this evening. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the "local scene" is also a place that looks very much like where they take people to be shot. Still, the Paycheck Lounge had a certain ashy atmosphere that reminded me of a place where a band like MC5 would have certainly originated. I got there in time to pay the five dollar cover.

BOUNCER: What band are you here to see?

ME: All of them.

(BOUNCER makes strange "You asked for it" face. I would later find out why)

The first band I got to see I believe was called Philo. Two guitars, one drum, zero charisma. The pity was that their songs were actually pretty good, but lost in the performance, which would have been improved if actually breathing humans were on stage. No such luck.

Philo was followed by Sister Elsewhere, a band so called most likely because that's the response the average listener gives to the question, "where would you rather be right now?"

I don't remember how many guitars were on stage. I lost count at seven. But they were fun and happy to play. The lead singer, an elder stateswoman of rock and roll, sang with a certain studied animation, as if she saw these moves in a rock documentary once. They did the 80's. They did the 70's. They did the 60's. They did the 50's. Before they got into ancient ballads written in Middle English, I left. But, I did manage to get a clip of the opening of White Rabbit.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Family Business

Inspired by Amanda's blog find, Permanent Monday, a study of Garfield comics from which Garfield's thought bubbles have been removed, I've collected a small sample of Bill Keane's Family Circus and removed the dialogue. What we get is a strange and disturbing look into a dysfunctional and somewhat violent family. I give you a sample:

It leaves a lot to the imagination.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Friends With Money

All I can say is that Nicole Holofcener's Friends With Money is fantastic. It's a study of friends, relationships, and the intricate web of complications they can cause. For me, the film relays a simple message: happiness is a virtue independent of success, security, or sense. It's found in simple places. Superbly acted, directed, and written, Holofcener delivers a cinematic rarity: concise honesty. And even that small gift is blurred in the end. I really, really enjoyed it and recommend it, even though it's being marketed as a Jennifer Aniston movie, though it's more of an ensemble piece. Simple, but not predictable. And it doesn't even let you believe everything's as it seems come credits time.

I found a restaurant that I will be frequenting until I leave this midwest inferno. It is called Fishbone's and it is superb. I had seafood gumbo followed by Pasta Orleans (crayfish, shrimp, crab meat, pasta in a creamy pesto sauce) and it was delightful. And for eighteen bucks? Reckanize.

Got some new shoes, ghetto fab-o-lus style:

You cannot leave Detroit without at least taking a modicum of pimp with you.

All the news that prints in fits

One thing is certain: this assignment in Michigan is as slow as Star Jones' metabolism. However, it DOES make one hunger for reading material, if not a hunting knife to fillet the next person who has even a vague midwestern accent. In the past two weeks, I've averaged four to five crosswords a day, attempting to consume the news in their respective papers as well (yes, I eat the news...wiseass). Now, two of you (Jordan and Solomon), know about my favorite headline of last week (as reported by USA Today, of all periodicals):

"Free Comic Book Day is Graphic, Novel"

It gave me a chuckle. So, I've been keeping an eye out for headlines or stories that raise a wry smile. They don't have to be clever. They can be also be worded in an unfortunate manner. Here are today's:


"Iraq Set to Unify Security Forces to Battle Chaos" (reportedly, the Greek "Founder of all things" could not be reached for comment)

"An Agency's Worst Nightmare: Ads Created by Users" (the heroin spots for Nike are particularly fucked up)

"Judge in Enron Case Delivers a Serious Blow to the 2 Defendants" (tee hee)


"Babies Get Their Own TV Channel"

"Are We loving Orcas to Death?"

"'Poseidon': What a Sinker!"

"Police: Boyfriend Apologized in Murder"



"Squid Saves Drifters"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You can't beat our meat

And other cliches.

After my five mile run, I distractedly wiped off the "good" hotel treadmill and nonchalantly got some water from the cooled dispenser in the fitness room (such decadence!). The fellow on the other treadmill stopped his run and greedily ran over to the machine I was using and realized that his eagerness was greeted with the realization that sometimes you have to let things dry off. Serves him right, the self-satisfying cad. Honestly, having used both machines, there's NO difference, save, MAYBE, that the "good" machine has one or two more buttons. But, seriously, how practical is it to see how much energy you're exerting in units of newborn babies? Not very, sir, not very (I used up eight babies).

So, I ventured out to get new shoes. My Docs have seen better days and my "new" dress shoes have already fallen apart. TO THE MALL!

The mall had nothing. NOTHING. I want something snazzy (first on my wishlist is the pair of two-tones the guy who opened for Carlin wore...red and white two-tones...that is mad fly, yo) and all Michigan has to offer is stuff in which one might get buried. Then, I realized, "Why am I looking for shoes in the Detroit suburbs?" I scrapped the idea and decided that I'd take it up again once safely in New York.

Across from the mall sat a Fuddrucker's. When I was a wee bairn in a steel mill, a co-worker made a big stink about visiting a Fuddrucker's (there aren't any in Eastern PA) and kept saying the restaurant's name over and over until he finally called out the obvious, "Hey, Fuddrucker's kind of sounds like motherfucker." Indeed it does, Biff, indeed it does. Needless to say, I forgot what he thought of the burgers.

In my mind, I assumed Fuddrucker's was not unlike a Hooters; a bar-like pestaurant filled with frat boys and truckers. Not so! It's for families! Families who like beef, and lots of it. Upon ordering and paying for my food, I was given an electric tracking device in case I made a break for it and tried to flee the area, in which case they would hunt me down and force me to eat my burger.

I was ordered to enjoy my drink and await my burger. With this kind of ruthless efficiency, I looked around to see where they were herding the Jews into the showers but found nothing. Fuddrucker sounds German, no? Then, my GPS megachip went off, letting me know that either my food was ready or the Luftwaffe was on its way.

Now, I "upgraded" to onion rings. Big mistake. If ringworm could be made into a side dish, Fuddruckers has the recipe. The burger, however, was both great and awful at the same time. The beef was, by far, the FRESHEST meat I'd ever had. The bun was like two flaccid breasts powdered with sugar caressing a lil' beef patty. I like my buns the way I like my women: serious, firm, and unseeded. This was a clown's bun. It was FAR too sweet for the meat. Huh? Yeah, I said it. It was so donutty what it took a great deal away from an otherwise delicious beef treat. I offer a picture.

So, overall, Fuddrucker's gets a seven out of ten. The service gets a Nazi out of five. Seriously, it's almost like the midwest charm is dropped as soon as you enter the place and the brow-beating begins. Just eat your burger and shut up.

As close to Nirvana an atheist can be

I was given a gift last night. It's a gift I had before and had brutally squandered. I don't intend to fuck it up this time.

Here's a bold promise, but true: I will be represented by a legit agent by the end of the summer. I will book something significant before next year. In the words of Mr. T, I pity the fool who gets in my fucking way. And, more poignantly I feel, in the words of Bone Crusher, I ain't never scared.

It's long been said that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. What they haven't noted is that when that shit happens to me, it makes me unstoppable. Just ask my grade school chum David Doll. When we'd play homerun derby, I would put in a passable performance until I got mad. Once I got mad, the waves and particles of quantum reality came into sharp focus and I could do anything. Because I cared. And I knew what I was capable of.

That being said, I am eternally grateful to the person who got me to care again. And I will not fail. This is a guarantee.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Hair Acts Too, or, I'm bored in Michigan

Sometimes when I'm feeling caged in and spunky, I like to screw with my hair in the mirror and create different characters. I mean, we've all done that, right guys? Guys? Anyway, I thought I'd take you along for the ride.

"The Ryu Hayabusa" or "The Gay Rapist"

"Disaster" or "3 1/2 Minutes with the Gay Rapist"

"The Gentleman Caller" or "Kissable, Aren't I?"

"Paper Mister?"

"Angry Euro Star" or "Michigan Gas Station Attendant"

It is now clear who the "office card" is at the copy place. It is the younger sister, a girl called Amanda, of one of the scanners. She actually isn't all that unfunny. An exchange I witnessed:

AMANDA: I don't know what kind of drugs she be doin', but she was foamin' out da mouth.

SISTER: Nawww.

AMANDA: (with studied timing) FOAMIN'....OUT...DA...MOUTH.


AMANDA: And don't you take any more of my candies. Because I WILL sue you.

SISTER: Shut up.

AMANDA: I will. I sue you for stress in the workplace.

SISTER: Nawww.


I think I'll miss these people.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Travelogue 3

This post is later than a teen girl two months after prom night. Switchpod, my podcast server, crashed last week, so the archives died. Enjoy this new podcast here, or, as always, slap this in your iTunes: http://www.switchpod.com/users/fodj/feed.xml

I decided to walk around downtown Detroit today after lunch. Detroit's not half bad. Well, the river bank isn't half bad, then it goes downhill from there.

As an example of how out-of-touch I've been with myself for the last few years, it turns out my part is actually on the other side of my head. I'm sorry to have deceived you all.

Here's me looking up at pure corporate evil (read: the GM building). Don't get me wrong, the automobile industry rapes because it cares.

Enjoy the show.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Thanks be to George

After the elation from the purchase of my George Carlin tickets subsided, I realized that the concert hall was in Flint, Michigan, an economically depressed hellhole about 88 miles away from Detroit. How depressed? Well, it isn't often that you can stand in the middle of the main street and take a picture.

After I parked outside of "The Whiting," a college auditorium that would house the event, I surveyed the area for possible food merchants. None to be found. So I walked. And I walked and I walked and I walked. For about a mile and a half. Then, I found a strip of buildings, most of them empty, barren, husks where food used to be served. Now, they were ghostly and dilapidated. Finally, I found a Ya Ya's, and they have chicken. On pitas. With neon yellow mashed potatoes.

Showtime. George Carlin's opening act was singer/songwriter Vance Gilbert. I fell in love with another man, and his name was Vance Gilbert. He was fantastic. And I was a dollar short of buying his album in the lobby. No ATMs? Not shocked. It may be my emotional state of mind, but his opening song almost moved me to tears. Or, it could be the fact that I was in the aisle seat and had to suffer the intense and unpredictable bladders of my Flintian aislemates.

Carlin came on an he looked great. A lot of you know that I was really scared for him after his most recent HBO special, in which he was noticeably off his game. This, it turns out, was the result of fluid build-up from a heart condition he had been suffering which was affecting his breathing and energy. Well, some expensive medical procedures later, and he seems like he's back to his old self. Unfortunately, he pretty much did the "Life is Worth Losing" routine, which I already know, but he DID throw in some new stuff and variations that made it worth it. Despite how much I wanted a picture with him, the place was packed and I was an hour and a half drive away from the hotel. So, I'll wait for him to do the Beacon again. He looks like he's got a lot more show left in him.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ford: Built to Last

Deciding that spending my weekend witnessing the incredibly slow process of people feeding documents into a machine, I decided to travel to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. A hearty trip requires a hearty breakfast, and it wasn't long after my four mile run that I found myself at the sinister grip of Bob's Big Boy, who goes to same hair stylist as I do.

I have to say that Bob's Big Boy is not as big as the giant cheeseburger he wields like an ork's battle axe. It was on to Henry Ford's museum, which is basically a collection of cool stuff. Like this old car.

Here's an old Mustang that could have easily fit in my pocket on the way out.

Here's a cool race car that, despite how awesome it is, does nothing to convince me that race car driving is an actual sport.

This car was made as a bold stride into the future. Later, someone pointed out to the automakers that planes actually did exist and there was no reason for something like this ever.

Here's the Tucker Torpedo, one of the greatest flops in automobile history. They made a movie about it starring Jeff Bridges called Starman.

A question on everyone's mind when they pass this car is, "That can't be the actual car in which Kennedy got shot, can it?"

Your answer:

A question on everyone's mind when they pass this car is, "That can't be the actual car outside of which President Reagan got shot, can it?"

No...no that's the Weinermobile. And believe me, the Weinermobile doesn't have half of the majesty as this car, truly the symbol of the American automotive future:

Or maybe THAT'S the Weinermobile. But hey, it wasn't all cars. No no no! They also had other marvels of industrial ingenuity. Like motorized skates.

It didn't list a death count, but I'm sure those took someone's life and they screamed the entire time their bodies rocketed down the street toward oblivion.

Here's an interesting fact. Harley Davidson didn't always make motorcycles. In 1907, they made GAY motorcycles.

Somewhere along the way, Harley Davidson enthusiasts were introduced to rape, and their whole image changed overnight.

In the "Heroes of Flight" section, there were many fascinating exhibits, but when I saw the "Build Your Own Paper Airplane" station, I knew I'd be staying awhile. Brash and arrogant, I of course opted for the "Advanced" instructions. She was a good ship and, dare I say, a good friend.

But she would meet a disastrous end.

I actually briefly discussed rudimentary aerodynamics with a twelve year old and enjoyed it. Then his father, assuming I was a child molester, ushered him away. I then made a paper doll and told the father "This is you!" and ate it in front of him. None of this happened, but in my head it did.

I capped off the trip to a jaunt through Greenfield Village, a collection of old buildings and shops that Ford actually tore down and brought all the way to Dearborn only to rebuild them with the original materials. They had a courthouse in which Abe Lincoln practiced law (the woman told me that they even re-used the original plaster), Robert Frost's house, slave quarters (I have no joke, but I should), and even the ENTIRE EDISON MENLO PARK FACILITY, machines and all:

Of course, that's not all they had. They had working farms, weaving, pottery (I picked up a lil' something for a special someone), and animals floating around the place. My favorite was this friendly beast:

Best laugh of the day (BESIDES the Kennedy assassination car) was when I was walking in the "Working Fields" section of Greenfield Village and an employee asked me, "Do you like to grow things?" When I answered, "yeah, beards," she paused and laughed heartily. These people get the joke. It just takes a bit.

One last thing: I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the "Baseball as America" exhibit, but fuck these people. It was Jackie Robinson's jersey for christsakes.

It's not like I took it out and wore it. Well, maybe I did, but they didn't let me take a picture of the Honus Wagner tobacco card.