Thursday, November 23, 2006

Medium in New York

I finally succeeded in getting my sis out here to visit, and just in time for our Thanksgiving festivities, nonetheless. Score! Here she is, waiting for the JMZ in Williamsburg at the top end of our Tuesday adventures...

E-Luth on da JMZ
Moments later, we jumped on the tracks and danced around madly as the train bore down upon us, then were yanked back onto the platform by several surly MTA cops, who put us in a van and took us "downtown" for a "chat with the man." Thankfully, The Man understood, as he happens to be an avid track dancer as well, and let us go with a wink and a slap on the wrists.

Despite our brush with fate, we still had plenty of time to get down to the bid-ness of the day, which meant exploring Chinatown in the rain, in an attempt to fuel the Asia nostalgia of the E-Luth (successful, I believe). I always love poking around Chinatown and the ever-shrinking strip known as Little Italy, even on a rainy day. It has so much wisdom to impart on us simpletons; in a mere afternoon, one can learn:
  • Every shop seems to have at least one person who actually speaks English. Often times, it is only one person.
  • Real ginseng root costs about $500/lb. That is not a small number. Fortunately, it only takes 2lb to give you superhuman strength, x-ray vision, and Go-Go-Gadget arms.
  • Uma Thurman makes a damn fine action figure/statue.
  • Coffee "Hong Kong Style" seems to mean "strong coffee with evaporated milk." It's actually pretty good for the first half of the cup.
  • A big bowl of Pho for lunch/mid-afternoon-snack on a cold, rainy day is about the best ever.
  • If ever you dreamed of eating at a restaurant called, "New Big Wang," your dreams need exist only in dreamland no longer.
  • Little Italy is just a bunch of restaurants. These days, at least.
And that's how it goes. Friday, we will attempt the "Five-Borough Blitz." Yeah, what it is. No matter what happens, you'll read about it here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The best in holiday wishes, from the late William Cooper, straight from the pages of Behold A Pale Horse (p 116):
I know from my stint with the Office of Naval Intelligence that these dossiers consist of information collected about American patriots, men and women who are most likely to resist the destruction of our Constitution and the formation of the totalitarian police state under the New World Order. The patriot data bank is constantly updated so that when the appointed hour arrives all patriots can be rounded up with little if any effort. The plan calls for this to be accomplished in the dead of night on a national holiday. The most likely holiday is Thanksgiving, when everyone, no matter the religion, race, or creed, will be at home. The targets will be ripe for the picking after a heavy meal, maybe some alcoholic beverages, and during a deep sleep. ...

Not my CAPS. His. Yet another Thanksgiving has come to pass, and They haven't stopped by for turkey and stuffing. For that I am thankful, I suppose.

Monday, November 20, 2006

It Happened In Monterrey

...but not a long time ago, just last week. What happened? A few things. Maybe even more. Mainly, I did a show with Meat last week, and my poor lappy entered that phase where you start to contemplate whether this might be the appropriate time to finally pull the feeding tube. Sad. But the Meat show proved to be a good time, the crowd making up for its stature in enthusiasm.

This visit was my first to Mexico, and well-placed it was after four days of dealing with the vacuous soullessness of casino resorts. * Monterrey and surroundings are beautiful, especially stunning for someone who isn't used to waking up at the base of a mile-and-a-half tall mountain. 100 miles or so south of the border, desert and scrubland give way to the Sierra Madre range, and it is here, among the foothills and first valleys, where Monterrey lies.

I wasn't able to explore the city directly as much as I would have liked to, as our hotel was located in an area where the most prominent features were other hotels, a mall, highways, office buildings, and a golf course. Not too ped-friendly. However, several of us, boss included, piled into a couple cabs on our day off and spent the afternoon driving around to a handful of flea markets, which afforded us the opportunity of a fly-by tour at least. By the second market, though, I started to wonder if the driver may have interpreted "Can you show us some cool places where we can walk around, poke our heads in to shops, scope the city?" as, "Take us to the places where tourists go to by cheap, kitschy, tourist shit," as it had pretty much the same stuff as the first. The third, though, bore fruit in the form of a groovy marble/quartz chess set, pieces hewn Mexican-style, which forms succeeded in thoroughly confusing several of my friends who attempted to wrangle the first game out of it.

Things were not as cheap as one may think, given the stereotypes spun into our notions of Mexico. I found a few very nice linen Guayabera shirts, and immediately thought I'd hit the jackpot until I looked at the price tag: 1,500 pesos each, or about $140. Yikes. That's even high for the Dominican boutiques up in Harlem...

The day of the show, I broke from the pack several hours before sound check and took a cab from the hotel up into the mountains, to a park called Chipinque, overlooking the city. Had I more time, I could have killed many hours hiking back and forth along the mountainside. I was quite happy to have the time I did, though, as these adventures don't seem to include much of an opportunity for nature-wandering. In addition to the opening pano, there are a handful of other pictures which will soon be available on my Flickr page.

A notable discovery was the Mexican obsession with 22 year-old French euro-pop superstar, Alizée:

And admittedly, after seeing three of her videos on TV while eating at a local bar, a couple of which were shown twice, several of us Loafers were pretty much hooked, too. Considering her sultry voice, excellent wardrobe choices, and respectable talent at hip manipulation, why wouldn't we be!? Even given the overwhelming techno-poppiness of the music, her videos, while saccharine, are ultimately satiating. ** Sometimes, it's just a wonderful thing to celebrate the superficial joys of being male.

Dammit, why did we have to get stuck with Britney? Not fair. I call a misdeal...

Now, back in New York for a couple weeks. It's good to be back in the city. But Williamsburg seems only to grow more maddening with each return. Is the degree of its obnoxiousness actually increasing at an exponential rate!? Maybe it's time to think about moving...

* Yes, I know, I owe y'all a review of Atlantic City. Coming. Sometime. Slightly inhibited by the performance of said lappy. Your patience is most appreciated.

** Go to YouTube and poke around if you need any convincing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

ROM Extended

Subtitle: The Thriteen Dollar Posting. Yeah. I broke down and paid $12.95 for the right to have internet access in my very own room in the Trump Taj Mahal hotel. Gad, this place sucks. But, in continuation of recent habit of spatial-temporal displacement...

As you may remember from previous postings, I was in Toronto last weekend. Driving from the hotel to the airport, well into downtown Toronto, I looked out the van window and suddenly saw this strange, faceted building under construction:

ROM from below
My reaction probably starteled the others in the van, as I reached across the seat to point, shouting in surprise like I'd just seen an Elvis parade or something even less common. But there was good reason for surprise: the building under question is none other than the extension to the Royal Ontario Museum, designed by my old boss, architect Daniel Libeskind.

For the 15 months I worked at Studio DL, I watched as construction started on the extension and the building slowly grew to resemble the models and renderings I dealt with on a daily basis — steel frames making vague suggestions at first, and then cohering into the seemingly improbable, defiant forms now evident:

This was the first time I'd ever seen a Libeksind building face-to-face, whether completed or under construction. Even after having been exposed to this and countless other designs over the course of my stay at the office, many of them, including the ROM extensi
on, seemed too surreal to ever be fully realized outside the realm of concept sketches, models, and computer renderings, despite the knowledge that a handful had attained such status, and others were on their way. So to stand next to the building pictured above, to experience it at the proper scale — even just to observe from beyond the construction fence — was incredibly satisfying, and I daresay inspiring.

The two pics above are part of a larger set posted on Flickr, for those who may be interested.

If the ROM extension twists your brain, check out the newly-opened Extension to the Denver Art Museum. For the October opening, they flew the entire office out to Denver — well after I left the office, of course. And I'm not jealous at all. Pictures of all completed Libeskind buildings, including Denver, can be found on the photographers' website,

Coming tomorrow: Impressions of Atlantic City. Judging from the opener, I'm sure you can take a stab at the general slant of the content...

First The House...

...and now the Senate?!? Somebody did something right!

But before we get too carried away and do anything crazy like nationalize health care or throw W into the ocean, we must remember such wisdom as found in Spider Man, "With great power comes great responsiblity." Got that, Nancy? Harry?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Final Word

Perhaps not the most annoying thing in the world, but right up there with wet socks: about to hop into bed and realizing that you haven't put the clean sheets back on it quite yet.


Pictures of an amazing building in Toronto coming soon, maybe later...

I'm off to Atlantic City today with ML. Following will be an appearance at Mohegan Sun in the Enduring Land of Lieberman. Hopefully, I can conjure some stories from that scary landscape of casino resorts which lies ahead. After that comes the reward: a few days in Monterrey, Mexico. No promises of stories to be told here; I'll be quite occupied with petty things like sun and warmth and tequila (the kind with a real worm in it).

A big cheers at the end of what may have been the brightest sign of hope since the same day in the year 2000, on which the Shroud of Despair hath descended. That it has lifted even a few inches puts an extra little kick in our step.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Morning After In That Other City

Note for those who are concerned with matters of time and location: I am currently in Toronto, but the following was partially written in LA. If this is problematic for you, well, sorry. Deal with it.

On this last morning in LA, I woke up fairly early (still haven't quite gotten off NYC time), kissed with the well-known symptoms of a hangover. Instead of sleeping longer, though, I figured that getting back on good ole EST would be a little easier with only five hours of sleep the night before (I was right), so I took a walk up to Sunset to spend a couple hours sitting outside at the Coffee Bean, taking in the scene as West Hollywood sprang to action for the day.

Sunset Strip is a spectacle, closer to a ride at Disneyland than an actual place where people work and live... at least to a New-York-dwelling ex-midwesterner. I don't really believe there's an hour of the day or a day of the week when it could be considered by a random sampling of Americans to be "normal," as was the case earlier. As I sat outside, sipping the brew, a steady stream of people came by for their morning fix, pulling up in cars, leaving with a cup of caffeination. No sooner than one perfectly coiffed, busted, and sunglassed woman would board her SUV and leave, another would show up. In a bigger SUV. Then came those clad in gym clothers emerging from a Mercedes. And so on.

But the best were those who still, for whatever reason, hadn't taken off the previous night's Halloween costume. No one batted an eye, and I had a feeling that it wasn't really all that out of the ordinary, even considering the proximity to 10/31. A guy wearing a funny hat and silly pants walked in with two 21-ish women both dressed like sluts. I couldn't really tell if they were going for anything further, maybe one was going for something of a devil look, who knows.

In fact, it seems that the vast majority of females I saw the previous night, walking down a Santa Monica Boulevard overflowing with 'ween revelers, were wearing costumes that could be described as such, save a couple of good Baptist virgins who actually wore pants. It wasn't a question of if, but to what degree and what variety.

"So what were you last night?"

"Oh, I was a Pirate-slut... Captain Hooker, in fact!"

Pirate-sluts... rather common this time around. Almost more popular than the perennial Cat-sluts and Devil-sluts.

"Wow, that's like totally rad! I was a Firewoman-slut. But I think I started more fires than I put out. Hehe!"

This should not be read as a complaint, but rather as simply an assessment of surroundings. While the costuming choices certainly made for pleasant scenery, they were also somewhat maddening and a bit saddening. The best costumes to address the issue were worn by a pair of girls I met at a Saturday night house party. One wore all blue, and carried a blue-tipped wand, and the other dressed provocatively with a red tutu and a red angel halo tilted 90 degrees from its usual horizontal orientation: the first being the Blue-Balls Fairy, and the second the Orgasm Fairy (the former being, naturally, the busier of the two). In tandem, their commentary of the condition was most poignant and chuckleworthy.

And now I must leave. 'Tis a silly place, and it managed to outfreak New York, but I will miss the weather.