Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh, stop it

Lately I've been reading a lot about some right-wing paranoia regarding President Obama's alleged plan to turn the United States into a socialist state. National health care, apparently, will give way to some mystical sociopolitical cataclysm and mark the end of this great experiment in democracy while condemning the good people of America to bread lines...presuming they have any time left after waiting in line for toilet paper and cheese. Thus, our magnificent empire crumbles.

First of all, stupid, do you honestly think that any real change is possible in this stupid country of ours? Our nation is run by corporations. Not by the people. Not by the president. Not by grand ideas of freedom, justice, or this bullshit patriotism everybody seems so mesmerized by. It's run by corporations who will crush any idea that doesn't make a buck.

Secondly, and to continue that idea, even if health care reform DOES come to this country, you can rest assured that it will be a disgusting, mutated hybrid of socialized medicine and the good ol' privatized system we've all been fucked by. You think insurance companies are going to sit idly by while their livelihood is taken away? Your insurance company OWNS you, you ridiculous inmate, so don't you worry your pretty little head about socialism because there's a huge capitalist thug in the yard and he'll do anything to protect his bitch.

Please, please, please stop pretending that any of this political nonsense actually means anything. It doesn't. Believe me, whatever happens, you'll still get fucked EXACTLY the same way as you always did. So, chin up.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tough racket

One of the perks of the reception position I'm currently filling is fielding the barrage of sales calls this place gets by the truckload every day. Whatever job you currently pretend to do (unless you're cleaning out sewers with your bare hands in the Philippines) I am absolutely certain that it's not as psychologically damaging as a job in fucking sales. Especially when it involves cold-calling people during an economic recession. Honestly, now, in 2009, it'd be easier to convince a person to consent to butt rape than it would be to get them to buy anything. So, I'm not shocked when these sales folk are audibly stressed out on the phone.

An example (the name of the company has been changed to protect the innocent):

ME (picking up phone): LBR Inc.

WILLY LOMAN: Can I speak to the person in charge of retirement benefits?

ME: No.

WILLY LOMAN: (in a strange mock weeping voice) WHY NOT????

No, I'm not kidding. These people call disinterested parties all day and they've lost their minds. Any semblance of cordiality or professionalism is thrown out the window as soon as they know you're on to them. Today's example:

ME: LBR Inc.

SHELLEY "THE MACHINE" LEVENE: Who is the person in charge of your photo copier equipment?

ME: We're actually happy with the set-up we have now, thanks.



Indeed, that isn't what he asked me, but I'm not sure my cutting to the chase should warrant his wanting to pull my balls off with his teeth.

What I've noticed is that these poor dopes are now resigned to one of two states of being: playful nonchalance or mind-numbing rage. After you pull back the curtain on their little game, you get to see which character steps out and it's actually pretty fascinating. I mean, can you imagine being a photocopier salesman in Manhattan, walking into work every morning knowing that your livelyhood depends on your ability to sucker people into purchasing items they most likely already have and are perfectly happy with? The very fact that you don't wedge the barrel of a double-action revolver into your mouth and pull the trigger while tears of relief cascade down your face is a blessed miracle.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Knockin' me out with those American thighs

I'm not sure if it's a matter of upbringing or neurological endowment, but New York City commuters seem to be unable to sense the critical moment when their expansive, sweaty flesh gently abuts another human being. Sure, we've all experienced a lovable scamp who doesn't seem to understand that his awful body has crossed over into foreign territory, but what's even more insufferable is the moment when this cretin leans into it, as if he's discovered a magic cushion in the subway car. No sir, that's my elbow. You're sitting on my elbow.

On the newer trains, each bench is bookended by metal railings that form a sort of grating that separates those standing by the doors from those sitting at the end of the bench. On the older trains, these gratings were actually solid walls through which no flesh could pass. Now, loose skin can creep, like jelly through the tines of a fork, through the piping and rest on the shoulder of whatever unsuspecting dope is unfortunate enough to be sitting beneath it. I am, more often than not, that very dope. What I find shocking is that the owner of the flab pressing against mine rarely acknowledges we're touching. Either these folks don't have nerve endings in their asscheeks, or, to them, this is acceptable contact, a sort of agreed upon evil we all must endure. Now, if I were to jump up and kiss them tenderly on the nape of their neck, I have a strong feeling that the social contract would be rendered null and void.

What I don't understand is how anyone can be comfortable with rubbing up against a stranger. Of course, there are perverts, but most of the time I'm being molested by regular people. I can sense immediately when any part of my body is near someone else's. As a result, I rarely step on toes, I know instinctively when to move to a less intrusive position, and I most certainly know when my skin is dangerously close to alien beings. Hell, this sensation even extends to where my BAG is in space, much less my person. Do people not FEEL the presence of someone else? If so, doesn't it creep them out?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Prospect Avenue Affair

I often feel as if I was born woefully late, as I seem to be drawn to old-timey language and entertainment. Occasionally, I'll throw on a radio serial from the 40s and bask in the "tune in next week" anticipation of it all. The show Lost is sort of like that and I suppose that's why I'm drawn to it. I guess I'm not only drawn to these serial-type dramas, but I actively seek them out. For instance, while waiting for a train at the Prospect Avenue stop, I noticed a bit of writing on one of the I-beams:

Where, indeed. At first I thought this was an isolated chunk of graffito, and, in fact, it was painted over a few days later. The truth, however, is that this was episode one in what may be an interesting tale of pornography, crime, and butt sex. The next week, I documented this brash offer:

Forgetting for a moment that this gentleman's slogan sounds dangerously close to a hotdog advertisement, I think it's really interesting that there may really be a pornographic program, most likely of the internet variety, that is shot on this platform on the R train. Throughout the ensuing week, I saw new graffiti on the wall that poked fun at a transit cop who reportedly got in on the action and was admonished for having "a small dick." Bear in mind that ALL of this is painted over within a few days of its being written, so it's almost as if there is a string of dialogue between this aspiring porn producer and an MTA employee, who must surely have read the messages before he/she paints over them. Speculation, you say? Well, in response to seemingly nothing (as there were no previous offers written in someone else's hand), I found this tidbit this morning:

The plot thickens. As does this dude's member.

I know this is all probably some tweener thinking he's being cute, but I would love for it to be real and for real trouble to befall both the anonymous poster and the MTA. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Secret eating!

Last night saw your intrepid reporter at a bar dangerously close to where he used to work (I noticed all of the shelving is still up...weren't we supposed to be out of there four months ago?). After several rounds of what midtown Manhattan tries to pass off as a happy hour, my former colleagues suggested we go to a somewhat hidden Japanese restaurant. Now, this mystic eatery was something of a myth where I used to work, a place few had been to and practically no one spoke of. So, I was not surprised when my pal, after we'd walked a few blocks, herded us toward a simple, nondescript door sandwiched between a hotel and a flashy fast food joint.

ME: Wait. Wait, this is it?

HE: Yes.

ME: This is a restaurant?

HE: Yes.

ME (thinking): Do we need a password?

I can honestly say I didn't know what to expect. I wouldn't have been shocked if all three of us were promptly gutted with sushi knives and left to bleed out in an alley. However, the small room into which we were led was as understated as the door and it was filled with Japanese men in business attire chatting away and ignoring the fact that three American dudes just seemingly stumbled upon their hideaway. My friend, a frequent customer, was warmly greeted and we all sat down to enjoy dinner which, like the place itself, was a complete mystery as there is no set menu. You're asked how hungry you are, a little or a lot, and whatever Japanese delight the chef has concocted that evening is brought to your table until you tell them to stop. We were treated to noodles in caviar, cucumbers served with a rich Japanese mayonnaise, shaved bits of fried fish, and an unbelievable Japanese curry.

The meal ended the way it began, in a sort of dreamy dissipation. We all parted ways, promising to see each other more regularly. But we didn't speak about going back to the restaurant. It was a secret place. I'm not sure if I could ever find it again.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thanks MTA!

Your subway fare at work:

Thanks for all the help. God, I hope this corrupt and poorly run company gets burnt to the ground. I'm buying a bike.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's hot

Real hot (click to enlarge):


Part of the fun of unemployment is trudging through the painful and wonderfully inefficient bureaucracy behind it all. For instance, telephone directories for most major companies can be convoluted, but government help lines take automation to an almost cartoonish extreme. After about fifteen minutes of the usual choose-your-own-demise style menu system, the New York Department of Labor hotline prompted me, at long last, to press 3 if I would like to ask a question. I was convinced that the next command heard would be:

"If you have an easy question, press "1." If you have a hard question, press "2." If you would like to ask your question in a high-pitched voice, press 3.""

And so on.

Finally getting through to an operator didn't help anything. I was immediately placed on hold for another ten minutes while being told by the robot voice that there was a "high volume" of other out of work suckers waiting to be gravely disappointed by their state government. So, when I did get through to a questionably live person, she suggested I write a letter.

ME: A what?

HER: A letter.

ME: On paper?

You see, this is why people jump at the chance to cheat the government out of ANYTHING because if you do play by the rules, which in this case I was trying to do, you go through so much more of a hassle than if you simply break the law. It is actually easier and less time consuming to go to jail than to spend weeks, months, and years attempting to file the appropriate paperwork for any given task in this country. Seriously. WRITE A LETTER? WHO WRITES A FUCKING LETTER EVER ANYMORE? I'll tell you who: Grandmothers and people trapped on an ISLAND.


Monday, March 02, 2009

All of the above

My staggering depression last week erased from my memory a little blurb on steroid abuse I saw on either ESPN or It was an interactive poll which asked the fans "who is responsible for the steroid scandal in baseball?" The options were something like (I hate that I didn't write this on the day):

A. The players who took the steroids.
B. MLB management
C. The players who knew about the steroid abuse but didn't say anything

And some fourth option I can't remember, but I can tell you what the fourth option WASN'T. It wasn't "the fans." Now, I know neither MLB nor ESPN would attack sports fans on their sites, so the absence of this option isn't surprising. However, the fans are the number one reason steroid abuse is so rampant in Major League Baseball, not to mention professional wrestling, other major sports, and the film industry (the FILM INDUSTRY??? Yeah, stupid, the film industry). Regular folk want to see the big plays, the monster homeruns, the impossible feats. The subtle intricacies of ALL popular entertainment are victims of the crowd's thirst for extraordinary experiences. No one wants to see a well placed sacrifice bunt anymore. They want to see the long ball.

I read an article somewhere about up-and-coming ballplayers in the Dominican Republic, and each of the guys interviewed confirmed that the popular consensus on making it in the big leagues is that one MUST hit homeruns. MUST. Because you will not be asked to join the majors otherwise. Sure, that's what team owners and GMs are looking for, but they're in search of power because that's what the fans want. That's the marketable commodity.

Fans are impossibly jaded and have always harbored an oppressive hero worship. The pressure on the player is this: do the impossible or go home. That effect on the players isn't just about steroids, either. Baseball professionals are ten times more muscular than they used to be even 15 years ago. And that's not all substance abuse, it's strenuous exercise routines and fitness regimens. So, in an environment when every guy in the clubhouse is the size of a barn, why wouldn't you look for alternate means to get that edge?

It may have been lost along the way, but the fans asked for this shit. The same beery dildo who calls in to sports talk shows complaining about "cheaters" like A-Rod is the same obnoxious shithead who jiggles delightedly at each homer Jeter hits. It's more "natural," he figures. Is it?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dark days indeed

I'm pretty sure the initial panic I felt coursing through my veins after being laid off has been absorbed and diluted by my body and has resolved itself into a constant dread. It's no longer a stab, it's an ache. When this all went down almost two months ago, I was overwhelmed with the urge to fix it, to reenter the workforce come Hell or high water. The meager responses from employers have trickled down to absolutely nothing and an eerie dark silence has oozed in to my days. It all seems impossibly futile.

While talking to my beloved Mandrake, I likened it to tossing copy after copy of my resume down a well. As each sheet is swallowed by the blackness, I'm puzzled by my insistence on sending them down the well in the first place. I've spent seven years working in a place that has offered me no marketable talents. I have more than a half dozen years experience in idling. In busywork.

And one would think that the length of my stay at my now defunct position would stand as a testament to some sort of industriousness, of loyalty, but that's not how it works in New York. You're considered a fool if you stay at any one place for more than two years. The focus of the workforce here is always upward. Of course, that's assuming you're actually in the profession of your choice. Then one's focus is on the clock and the long hours remaining until happy hour.

What I'm saying is that I've painted myself into a corner. After college, I had to work at a pointless, mindless job in order to pay the bills so that I could act. But working left no time for acting, and I feel as if that ship has sailed (hell, I'm not sure if I was ever even near the dock). It's funny that the now curiously absent actors' "manager" from a few months ago and the corporate headhunter told me essentially the same thing: I'm too old and I have nothing to offer. I can't act, apparently, because I wasn't around in my twenties to build the relationships I needed to succeed because I was too busy working at a job which endowed me with absolutely no hope for a future in any other field. It's horribly perfect.

But, this is all narcissistic tripe. I'm just crying the blues into the void. I suppose I'm just glum because it was a little overcast this morning. It looks to be clearing up though.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You gotta have heroes

Continuing the screen-cap goodness, I ran across this on

This speaks for itself I feel.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Someone want to check that copy before it goes out? Cool.

Unless this ad is supposed to tug on all of our racist heartstrings...

Monday, February 09, 2009

No no no...not Toby KEITH

I just finished, at long last, Toby Young's memoir entitled "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People," and I have to admit I enjoyed it. The book is larded with seemingly impossible tales of ignorance and audacity, many at the expense of celebrities, which makes me grateful and happy. As a bonus, somewhere between the obligatory personal accounts there lies a really wonderful and accurate criticism of America, specifically New York and it's obsession with status, fame, and wealth.

Kind of makes me want to move to London.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New things, new problems

The problem with the sheer quantity and quality of various technologies we all enjoy is that the people who make and install each item, whatever it is, can handle only their product and their product alone. Strangely enough, this rash of specialization spreads even within the same company.

For instance, Time Warner, apparently, doesn't install their own wiring. It's contracted out to cheapish nincompoops who end up spending more time slapping each other in the ass with the cables than worrying where any of said cables actually go. Because, who cares, right? It's not MY apartment building. Months later, when people sign up for cable service, befuddled installation specialists stare at the jack, throw up their hands, and say "looks like you're fucked."

Indeed. Indeed I am fucked. So, what's the next step? Well, the befuddled installer makes a call to his foreman, who he doesn't know, by the way ("Clarice, who is my foreman? Can you patch me through to him?"). All the while you wait for the foreman to call back, the installer puts on a jaded, frustrated tone as he complains about the foreman.

Time Warner Guy: Make sure you tell him that it came on for a minute and then went out.

Me: It didn't do that, though.

TWG: Yeah, but you have to tell him lies or he'll try to reschedule.

M: Uh...ok?

TWG: I mean, as far as I'm concerned, it went on (WINK WINK).

Then, you're regaled with stories about how all foremen suck and THIS GUY is the cog that REALLY makes this shit spin. He leaves with an air of "good luck," and you're left wondering if you'll ever see television again.

By now, the foreman, in your head, has reached mythical proportions. You begin to wonder "is he a criminal?" and "if he's as useless as this man said, will my apartment be on fire by the end of this day?"

Of course, the foreman strode in and fixed the problem in two minutes. TWO MINUTES. The problem? The original guy hooked up the wrong cable. YUP. After you personally watched the guy check, double-check, and TRIPLE-check the wire, it turns out, he wasn't even looking at the right one to begin with.

Tomorrow, my thoughts on my new gas and electric accounts, which according to their respective companies, do not exist in this realm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Your daily asskicking

You know what Jack Burton always says...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stamp out hunger

I'm not sure if any of you fellow citizens of the United States have tried finding the price of one standard U.S. postage stamp, but it seems that this simple question can't be answered online. You'd think that on, there'd be a big box surrounding strong, red type reading "your current standard U.S. postage is: blumpty blump cents." Sadly, their "Pricing Calculator" gives you the option of sorting out every non-standard option that isn't the simple base price. It's a perfect existential puzzle. It's sort of like going to the car dealer and hearing:

SALESMAN: Airbags cost $80 each to install.

YOU: Great. How much is the car/

SALESMAN: Also, automatic steering will be an additional $200.

YOU: Fine. How much is the car?

SALESMAN: $15 a month will get you satellite radio.

YOU: How. Much. Is. The. Car?

SALESMAN: Let's talk about seat warmers.

YOU: Let's talk about your impending funeral.

Just mad, I tells ya.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Forgive me for curbing my enthusiasm

I understand that economy stinks on ice right now, but do employers really have to take THAT big an advantage of it? Every job posting is like:

Looking for hard-working, dedicated individuals who are detail-oriented, friendly, self-starters, and can think on their feet. This position may include heavy lifting and other rigorous manual labor, so all interested applicants should be willing to dead-lift 250 lbs of hot steel every ten minutes. Also, this is a professional environment, so it is preferred that all applicants, both male and female, dress in a full tuxedo replete with top hat and monocle. This position answers to the President, Vice President, Assistant Vice President, Assistant to the Deputy, the Deputy to the Bursar, John J. Google, Cap'n Crunch, Mayor McCheese, Doctor Strange, Vlad the Impaler, and L'il Timmy. Compensation: $10 an hour

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alternate Headline Anyone?

Ricardo Montalban, early Latino leading man, dies

or, my version:

Ricardo Montalban, early Latino leading man, now late Latino leading man

Our house...

Mandrake and I are moving to Brooklyn! We found a really awesome apartment at a very reasonable price (of course, Mango put the screws to them to lower it. Seriously, she was like a shark. A SHARK!!!) and we can't wait to move in. In honor of the occasion, I give you a song by Madness about an English family living in a cramped house somewhere (not sure how's it's applicable, but it seems this song pops up whenever folks close a real estate deal):

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

But it's gonna take money

This song reminds me of almost every morning I got up to go to school in sixth grade. I'm not sure about the rest of the country, but on WSBG in Stroudsburg, it was insanely popular and must have been played at the exact same time every day because my alarm clock almost invariably switched on in the middle of the tune. Like fucking Groundhog Day. In fact, I heard the song so much I never bothered to learn who the artist was. Turns out it's George Harrison. Weird.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Juggling chainsaws

I don't recommend looking for an apartment and a job at the same time. Especially when using for the latter. It's like a reverse search engine. It gives me perfect listings of jobs I'm either not qualified for or don't want. And it doesn't seem to have a middle ground between titles. You're either vying for "Chief Grand Marshall of Internal and External Operations for all of Eastern Pennsyltucky" or "car experience necessary." I don't like it too much.

Also, what is it with America's fascination with cliches and "buzzwords?" Are folks so bereft of imagination that as soon as some dildo concocts a cute phrase or term, everybody's using it? Right now, it's "bailout." Everybody's getting bailed out, or wants a bailout, or is asking for a bailout. "Journalists" are applying it to incongruous stories and I'm sure somewhere there's a terrible poet talking about "emotional bailout." Put these words down. They're not for you. They are, as Carlin used to say, lazy language. Like "downsizing." For awhile there, everyone and everything was being downsized (in fact, spellcheck doesn't even highlight that word). I don't mind the words themselves. What I dislike is how they exemplify the rabidly and rapidly virulent nature of pop culture. When something gets popular, it spreads like wildfire (he wrote, using a cliche) and everyone uses and misuses the phrase or word until it becomes a totally benign collection of letters. These words are the Hollywood stars of language. They wait for fame, they are wildly popular for a year or two, and then they end up burnt-out hulks at the bottom of a river somewhere. Can you imagine saying "Where's the beef" to someone today? They'd slap you in your stupid face. Because that phrase is done. It's over.

And speaking of virulent, doesn't it anger anyone else that the strongest trend in commercial advertising right now is "viral videos?" These people are actually using terminology reserved for ILLNESS as a viable marketing strategy. In essence, they want you to get infected by their campaign. When exactly did the public decide that not only would the nefarious machinations of advertising companies NOT be hidden from them, but they'd actually EMBRACE the cold, calculated indoctrination of materialism? So, now we LIKE this shit? I think it was in the book Fast Food Nation in which internal memos from the McDonalds corporation were printed illustrating their meticulously laid out plans to lure children into addiction to their product. It seems like nowadays, advertising companies are screaming from the hilltops "we're here to fuck you, folks" and we're lining up to take it.

I really really really need a job.