Sunday, January 30, 2005

Like Millions Of Iraqis, I Made A Long Journey To The Nearest Polling Place Today

--A brief note: as of March 1, 2005, excerpts and photos from this piece can be found in the current print edition of Maisonneuve Magazine. Use the store locator to find a copy near you.--

Unlike all those other Iraqis, I lost my freaking notebook. What follows is a true-as-I-can-remember account of our afternoon, with approximated quotes and absolutely no hope of recalling the names. Should you or anyone you know these people, please have them contact me...

I've had a guilty taste in my mouth since the inaugural protest's cocktail of adrenaline and pepper gas wore off. I haven't been able to shake the feeling that while the right is wrong, the left might not be right either. I looked around those protests and saw legitimately angry people who were well-fed and intentionally scruffy. Not to be presumptuous, but I didn't detect sadness and suffering ringing the eyes of most protestors. People were angry, loudly vocal, and legitimate in the depth of their feeling...but I didn't see anyone from the middle East. While I would guess that many people there had traveled, I doubt any of them had an Iraqi stamp in their passports.

This is not to discount the suffering felt by thousand of families and friends connected to those lost in the war.

Ever since I got ready to leave America, I've felt the country wobbling out of balance, like world events have been spinning out of control and America is right there at the center pulling the levers. I've needed the comfort that comes from answers and been really jealous of the righteous sense of stability that the religious right and Bush supporters and other stupid white people seemed to have. I took refuge in a knee-jerk liberal identity for a long time, but now it's threadbare and not as comfortable as it once was.

Tash and I are both terrifically loudmouthed critics of the Bush administration, she from an Australian perspective and me from a disgruntled American's p.o.v. We are also both white, young, healthy, and from lands that enjoy a vast degree of privilege, thousands of miles away from true suffering. We knew we didn't have the full story so we went out to the Iraqi Out-Of Country Voting poll on Sunday to get another truth and see ground-level democracy for ourselves.


This man has lived in America on and off for the past seven years. Three of his uncles were murdered by Hussein's regime. He has been back and forth between Iraq and the U.S. during this war, helping as a translator and contractor to the U.S. military. His most recent project was to build a high school in Fallujah. When not assisting the United States military he works for the Republican party.

He is sort of smiling in this photo, but only because I told him to. He spoke carefully and slowly, in very subdued tones as I interviewed him, like someone emerging from shock. The skin around his eyes was a hundred years old, like the trauma that had passing through his retinas had burnt the skin around them and somehow weakened the strength of the tissue itself.

In his words,

"The insurgents and the people fighting the United States are the ones who were favored under Hussein's regime. They had land and houses when nobody else had anything. Now that Saddam is captured, they are fighting violently to cling to what is already gone. They do not represent Iraq. They are the chosen people of an evil, evil man and they have benefited for too long from everyone else's suffering. Older people in Iraq, poor people and the uneducated are confused right now because there is no order and the old ways are gone. But we all are hopeful,and we know that things will get better."

"Almost all Iraqis in America will vote Republican for the rest of their lives, as will their children and their children's children. George Bush has freed us and we are grateful forever for this. America has more power than anyone else in the world, and it is their responsibility to end the type of suffering that Iraq has endured. It is a terrible shame, the loss of life and suffering on both sides. Many good people have die. What Americans at home must remember is that this is war, and war is what it took to free us. When you go to war...when you go fishing, your pants will get wet. This is the way things are."

"Maybe Bush did not do it the way that the world wanted him to, but he has done a wonderful thing, and I think that the rest of the world will look to Iraq and America as a model. Syria, maybe Iran will hopefully do as Libya has and change their ways."


This woman is the man above's aunt. She has four living children, two of whom are under eighteen and were extremely disappointed to learn that they could not come and vote. The daughter who is no longer living was brutally murdered when Hussein's army bombed her house. Her husband died after the family moved to the U.S. While she has no plans to ever return to Iraq, she was bursting with nothing more complicated than sheer joy when she spoke to Tash and I about voting today. She thanked me repeatedly for photographing her and caring enough about her and her people to tell their story.

Having lived in Richmond, VA long enough to really stunt my career, I can tell you that a lot of Americans are obsessed with appearing tough. Tattoos, wallet chains, and pit bulls are all fashion accessories that Americans adopt to try and look real bad-ass. But you know who's tougher than like fifteen pop-punk fans with really expensive tattoos all wrapped up with wallet chains like some sort of weird Voltron?

This lady:

Even her little girl looks like she could jump out of that pink coat and show Mike Tyson a thing or two.

Here's another photo of the same woman, another proud Iraqi expat voter:


No matter how tough anyone on earth is, there's no way they can fuck with these guys:


The guy on the left came to America from as a refugee, shifting from camp to camp until finally granted resident status. He was nearly killed in a 1998 uprising. His friend, in the green, was an officer in Saddam Hussein's army until he defected and joined the opposition in the late 90's. I asked him if the change was difficult, to which he responded,
"well, nothing in this life is easy. But if something is worth doing, and you have it as a goal, you see that it gets done, no matter how hard."
Why do I think that this statement applies a little more broadly than just losing ten pounds for bikini season? Because when he said it, I could feel the pain this guy has been through to do what he believes is right. I told him that I was no supporter of the Bush administration, but knew that I did not have the full story. I asked if there was anything he wanted to communicate to the world at large. His response, as I recall, went like this:

"What you see on the television is not the news It is nothing. The Arab media and the Arab world hates Iraq as well, and they portray us very unfairly. While we know that American news is still somewhat distorted, it is not run by dictators. We just want our voices to be heard. Saddam Hussein was a brutal, evil man who cared nothing for humans. I wish that I could tell all those protestors I see booing Bush to stay at home because he has done such a fantastic thing for my people. I know that I cannot because everyone can be heard in a democracy, but that is my wish."

You may think that you have felt dumb before, but let me tell you something: until you have stood in front of a man who knows real pain and told him that you are against your country's alleviation of his country's state-sponsored murderous suffering, you have not felt truly, deeply, like a total moron.

I still am no Bush fan, and I believe that America got lied to. I don't believe we should have gone into Iraq the way we did, and I think Rove is as evil as they come. But through all this deception and lying, through all this dismemberment and pain, America has wrought a beautiful, fantastic side effect: joy, freedom and a hope for peace. Does it take lies and misdirection to do this?? Is this what the other side of justice is? I feel like such a whiner and I don't know what to think anymore. Ultimately, in total defiance of my mother and grandmother's teachings, two wrongs have made a right and my moral compass is tired and busted.

I can't tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, and I want a clear cut mandate, some lines to believe along. But there aren't any. There's just right and wrong and following your heart of hearts. And for the first time in my life, I can say that I was wrong to be compulsively critical of the current administration without seeking my own truth.

Some clear wrongs rise from this morass like an evil swamp monster, reeking of decay and crawling with filthy insect larvae. Puppeting a belief for social or financial gain, without seeking the truth within one's heart is real, real wrong. The level of discourse in America has plummeted to a name-calling ping-pong match with a turd for a ball. It doesn't matter how wicked the serve is, both sides are still smacking a bunch of shit around. Just like Ann Coulter and the Protest Warriors, those "Fuck Bush" signs hurt America and all that it stands for. Even though I don't know what it stands for anymore...but I am so glad those people can vote.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Dick Cheney Makes Me Proud To Be American

All you can really say is "ooOOoo...FACE!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2005



Big Time

Ever since the gallery of protest signs got linked to Gawker, my traffic has gone through the freaking, 300 times as many people visited in the past few days.

It's fulfilled my ego a little bit, making me think that I can reach people with my brand of wit and insight and maybe make somebody's day better. As long as I forget to remember that the reason everyone is looking os so they can spend five second laughing at the "Brad and Jen We Miss You" sign, I feel like the king of the world.

Back to banking research...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Protest Sign Gallery 2

At the risk of running old news, here's some more signs from last week's inaugural protest...







Protest Warriors Got Their War On, Alright

You have probably not heard of the group Protest Warrior. They are a small, confused bunch of young loudmouths who are idealogically in line with Fred Phelps and his army of gibbering retards and tactically aligned with the sort of green haired trust-fund boys that smash car windows during supposedly peaceful gatherings.

These confused souls entertain themselves by creating inflammatory, far-right signs and crashing left-leaning protests in order to draw attention to themselves. You can see one of their signs in one of my earlier posts...

Their mission statement, as excerpted from the FAQ section of their website, includes this passage:

We must admit we get a certain high from puncturing the moral self-righteousness of leftists. These people claim to have a monopoly on what is good, their entire self-esteem depends on it.

On January 20th, a small party of these self-sacrificing retards crashed DC's massive inaugural protest. You can read a much better written, more factual story here, but the upshot of it is this: these bozos came to a large gathering of angry, disaffected liberals with intentionally inflammatory radical right-wing rhetoric posted on signs and shouted through megaphones.

Shortly after they were noticed, a small army of black-clad "anarchists" encircled the group and violently escorted them from the park, ripping signs and kicking these poor little protest protestors as a crowd chanted a good old-fashioned "na-na-na-na hey hey hey gooood-bye..."

I am usually not a fan of people that call themselves anarchists. Nearly 100 percent of America anarchists never had to sleep in the woods and eat crickets as children because warlords had their parents killed in a tribal feud. However, I totally support that beatdown.

Here's a picture of the "protest warriors" shortly after their ejection:

While they may appear to be frowning, these people are actually very, very happy. In fact, they may be as fulfilled as they can have been in their brief, joyless lives. Here's why: they got the reaction they wanted. Someone paid enough attention to them for long enough to actually touch them, to hold their hands and frustrated bodies to escort them somewhere. Then, someone else took their pictures. That someone was me.

When I started talking to Gil Knobrin, the self-described organizer for this chapter of the Protest Warriors, his birdlike chest puffed up two sizes larger as the pride swelled in his tiny, misshapen heart. I was talking to him, taking his picture and writing things down and taking him seriously. This was big stuff.

His eyes behind his cheap late-80's sunglasses as he gleefully described how the left are a bunch of hypocrites, launching into a carefully planned tirade about how he and his group were just a bunch of innocents. Have a look:

He couldn't tell that I was just some blogger, and even if he could have, he wouldn't have cared. I was paying attention.

He told me that he and his group have a constitutional right to attend any protest they want and wave any sign that they like. That is true. It is also true that college kids in Manhattan had the constitutional right to dress like Osama Bin Laden on Halloween, 2001. I also have a constitutional right to swim in a shark tank in a wetsuit crafted entirely oout of ground beef. The American constitution protects all manner of assholery.

If Knobrin and his ilk read this right now, it's going to make their weeks...I am a liberal who is paying them attention, giving them some desperately needed cred. They have angered me and I have paid them some mind and it's going to make them chipper and angry all at one time, happily outraged with a newly validated sense of purpose.

It will totally cancel out the deflated frustration they must have felt when the cops they called after their well-earned beatdown totally ignored them while an entire parade of protestors marched by, once angry and now over it, moving in a large, throbbing party that welcomed everyone but those bozos.

Now I am getting the same infectious sense of puffed-up self-righteous happiness just writing this, and it is making me feel like I ate too much pizza and too much ice cream. I am experiencing the moral/ideological equivalent of a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. I need to go lie down and dream of an America that knows the difference between having rights and doing what is right while all this idealistic birthday food dribbles out of my head through my mouth, into a crusty puddle I can wash off the pillowcase.

'roo shooter
Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion.
The West Australian sun is a silent nuclear scream that can burn unprotected skin right through a car's windshield. It can tan a man through a thin layer of concrete and quietly flay the flesh off of unprotected tourists.

Kevin and I had been hammering over the highway with the A/C cranking since dawn. I imagined the sun blasting its way through the windshield and my massive pair of Blue-Blockers, tanning the surface of my actual retinas. Kevin wasn't sweating it. A sixty year-old man raised in the bush, he had trained as a kangaroo shooter and roof carpenter since the age of eight. Apparently he had never worn a shirt to work, either-- the man looked like a crocodile hide stretched over a human frame, a frustrated expression by a taxidermist who went to art school.

We were driving ten hours each way to a million acre plot of red sand and sun-blasted rock to slaughter four and a half tons of kangaroos. I was there as a hired hand, working on a story for Vice magazine. I'd come to Australia for all kinds of adventure, and this trip was it. Today was just another day for Kevin.

Kevin had already played both his Elvis tapes by eleven and was saving the Jerry Lee Lewis ones for the all-night drive back. On the way back from a shooting trip you've gotta drive all night so the meat doesn't spoil. It takes all the novelty you can muster to stay awake on a drive like that. We ended up eating fifteen sausages apiece and drinking enough water to make our straining bladders keep us awake, but that's later.

"Mate, let's pull off for a piddle here, then have a stretch up in Geraldton when we check the tires at the petrol station, ay," Kevin barked.

"Why don't we just use the bathroom at the gas station? It's only like 3k away."

"Shit, I know, I just hate going to the toilets at a petrol station if I'm not buying anything. It just feels fuckin' wrong, mate."

I had nothing to say to that one. I'd been doing it all my life, but I saw his point. For a lifelong kangaroo slaughterer and a heavy user of the word "cunt," Kevin had a unique sense of honor.

"Ah, shit, what do I know, though, you're the guest," Kevin said. Let's sort these tires out and celebrate with an indoor piddle, hey? Fancy an ice cream while I'm in there?"

"Nah, I'm cool," I said.

"Bullshit you're cool, we've been driving all morning and we've got five hours to go yet. This is the last fuckin' store you're gonna see for a week, mate. That's it, you're having an ice cream and put your purse down." Kevin's face split into a massive, crooked grin. "I told you, while you work for me, I buy the food, and last I checked, ice cream was fuckin' food."

You couldn't help but smile at that, and I must have beamed. It was the last time I smiled for several days.

Five hours passed with nothing much to report. The red dust and spinefex all ran together into one long ribbon of alien terrain under a Technicolor blue sky. The only event of note was when we turned off the paved road into the dirt tracks that led us deep into the bush. Kevin navigated on pure instinct, muttering to himself "must've had rain up there, that bit's all washed out from floods, there's some green, have to remember that." The cab filled with the roaring tires on bumpy corrugated roads, Kevin's muttering and the two metal barrels full of petrol sloshing around in the back of the Ute.

Camp was in a stretch of bush more godforsaken than all the rest. Cans rattled aimlessly across the landscape and tatters of newspaper flapped from sticks in a silent, manic greeting propelled by the desert wind. We pulled up to a long shack, like a corrugated tin tube sliced in half and graced with a concrete slab porch. Two giant refrigerators sat out front like fat metal marshmallows dotted with mysterious reddish stains.

"Go on, pick your room, mate, just not the one with me cooler in it," Kevin ordered. "I brung that up special."

My bedroom was a segment of tube with a low metal cot and an extremely suspicious looking foam mattress. Everything was covered with a thin layer of red dust: my bed, the table, the toothbrush and wadded-up tissue the last guy left behind. A table scarred with the cuts from a million knives, stained with oil and old, clotted blood sat next to a forlorn, dusty generator out on the front porch. Our camp was like an abandoned prospector's cabin on Mars, or an axe murderer's holiday home.

"Whoa, Kevin, this is so cool," I shouted cheerfully. "It's the most godforsaken place I've ever seen in my life!"

I meant it with the sort of joyful, artificial exuberance that my friends back home use to describe roller-skating, duckpin bowling or their supposed love for Journey. You know the tone, it's ironic detachment in a cheap mask of sincerity, meant to say, "Hey, friends, dig me digging this lame experience!"

Kevin grunted. "Call it what you want, mate, but it's me fuckin' life, and I like it."

Embarrassment shot through my veins and I stuttered out an unnecessary apology. I later learned that it's impossible to hurt a 'roo shooter's feelings with a bunch of tiny words. And as I would discover when I chopped the paws off of my first kangaroo, its blood spraying into my eyes and open mouth, our lives were more different than anyone could hope to imagine.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Protest Sign Gallery

I took a lot of photos of a lot of signs at yesterday's inaugural protest/peace so much material that it's completely distracted me from working on my story about shooting kangaroos...

Here are some of the best:






Not really a sign, but clever...Richmond residents, doesn't this remind you of the guy that sits on the corner of Broad and Lombardy with the sign saying "Bush is Hitler?"

This is just baiting the bitter at its best:

These made me laugh out loud...

And this was just the lamest sign I've ever seen:

More inaugural protest photos here...

Rich Man's War


There was pepper gas, cuss words, funky music and a lot of cool signs at yesterday's inaugural anti-war protest.

But this woman summed it all up...

link goes to video, hosted and remixed by Andrew Morgan aka DJ Pantyraid.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inaugural Madness

We are heading out just now into frozen D.C to participate in the inaugural madness. I'm taking my camera, pen, paper and my big fat mouth. My girlfriend is bringing her big fat mouth and two middle fingers.

Watch this space and I'll have inauguration day photos and my classic, well-thought-out side-of-the-neck commentary this evening.

As long as America is going right down the toilet, we may as well go watch the water swirl.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Bit Of Workday Excitement

This news is currently unfolding:

A man has parked a van right down the street from my work--3 blocks. This is right in front of the White House and along the inaugural parade route. He's threatening to blow it up by lighting a bunch of gasoline in the van.

I really, really hope this does not end in death, fiery or bullet-riddled.

Monday, January 17, 2005


Most people change and mellow out after they graduate from college. Other people take their eccentricities, hone them and really make something of 'em.

My friend Don Cambria was this wiry, absolutely electrified guy who talked a mile a freaking minute. He could sit there and have like three impassioned conversations with you at once, looking you in the eye the whole time and totally paying attention, but just blurring all over the place about music, politics, movies, everything. I remember wondering what would happen if a generator were attached to his jawbone--how many dinners could you microwave from one conversation?

Usually when people get described as talkers, it connotes a lack of depth or a type of inaction. Not so in Don's case. He just thinks and cares about so much stuff and happens to have the energy to communicate all of it...talking to him is exciting because it pumps you up with so much passion and energy, you just want to run right out and change something.

I haven't seen him in years, but as it turns out, he's the singer/shouter for a hardcore band. This makes total sense.

Shellshocked is a discordant, indie-hardcore hybrid sort of band. Their sound is explosive, quiet-then loud, with jangling atonal guitars and Don's focused yelps punctuating the rhythmic fog. They are the sort of protest-oriented, ultra-left rock-with-a-conscience band that proliferated madly here in D.C. in Fugazi's shadow.

Many would argue that bands use a mission as an excuse for a sound--sort of a just-add-ideology-and-drums approach. It's easy, boring territory to slip into. Knowing Don as a person, I know for a fact that his band is a loud, organized sonic outgrowth of that same babbly, hectic passion I loved having lunch with in college--with the internal mandate to fight Republicanism wherever it stands. Admittedly, there is little Republicanism in Brooklyn's hipster clubs, but you gotta start somewhere.

They're playing this free party, Death Disco at the Delancey on Wednesday, January 19th. The party starts at 9 pm, Shellshocked goes on at 11. If I didn't have to take the Chinatown bus up there from D.C., I'd totally check it out...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Ali G Strikes In Roanoke

Ali G struck in Roanoke recently, taping a Borat segment for an upcoming episode. He nearly got his ass kicked, too. It's a shame his fame is eating away at his opportunity to really strike at the unsuspecting. However, my grandparents could have been in that crowd, and my grand-dad does not need that shit either.

The Carlsonics Rock Like Pink Stars Can Fly Out Of Their Crotches

...I managed to capture the phenomenon on film here:


Oftentimes I have used this space here to blow up the Carlsonics, loudly braying their rock-n-roll virtues like a car horn that has gotten stuck. Sure, they're my friends from college, so I'm biased. I mean, they're not perfect or anything...but last night they came real close.

Last night's show at DC9 set the band up well. The venue is cozy and familiar, and the whole room had a real sense of community. People were digging the opening band but talking a lot, hugging and high-fiving and I overheard a lot of "so what'd you do for New Years'?" I felt really cozy there, and I can remember thinking "yes. I am among my people."

That cozy sense of community must have given them the go-ahead to get onstage and rip the joint apart, because they sure did just that with the first two songs. Their opening sing was tense, jittery, with this crotch-rumbling doo-doo-doo bassline gluing the whole thing down. The first two songs definitely felt like nervous rock for frantic times, edgy stuff in total opposition to the desk job--just the sound DC does best.

The C-sonics have been trying really really hard to get away from the conventions of post-every-damn-thing punk and garage rock, a commendable effort that does not always work so well. They've been heading in a beeline for the psychedelic jam session...potentially dangerous territory. You can't wander or faff around too much in a jam, or else you'll totally lose the people. The C-sonics have made this mistake onstage before, probably more than once. But they've learned from those mistakes and emerged on the other side as loud-rock improv wizards. They're really grasping when to jam, how to focus and steer the session, and trimming the fat from the whole process to escape the murky noodling bog that so many improv bands get stuck in.

Last night's jams were free but focused, something listenable and groovy that the whole crowd could get really melted the sense of "band-on-stage" into a thicker, more electric sense of community, strengthening an already friendly crowd into something really participatory and real, real, fun.

They passed out heaps of percussion instruments to the crowd, and like at least 40 people shook, rattled and rang along to a thick sort of scary groove. I myself got to go right up on the dang stage and play on Mike Scutari's drums while two other dudes helped themselves to some guitars. At one point I was alternately beating on the drums and hitting the saucepan and tambourine Carlson carried around the stage--he rotated the two in one hand, hitting one side with a rhythm-stick while I rocked the other. Looking Mike right in the eye and collaborating on some wandering tribal beats was the coolest-sounding fun I've had in weeks. The whole thing, the band, the crowd, the sound just whirled itself right up into a pink, swirly psychedelic frenzy that looked just like this:


The great thing about the Carlsonics is that you, too can be a Carlsonic...all you got to do is show up and get over yourself and just shake that tambourine. They're playing a residency at DC9 every Tuesday this month...get out there the next two weeks and join the band.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What Is Music Doing?

Man, I came across this auction on Ebay, and it made me drool. Music was so exciting in the 90's, and this record collection completely remind me of how much rock, uh, rocked. I'm totally kicking myself for not taking part in the SubPop singles club when it was around.

I guess everyone can remember thrilling to the sounds of their favorite locally-accessible rock band...mine was the Sleepytime Trio, pictured below.
You may recognize that moppy black-haired drummer as Jonathan Fuller, currently a screamer/guitarist with Engine Down. And the dude with his back to you is Ben Davis, who I last heard has been tapped to maybe have a song on the O.C.

Music used to be so exciting, and I can't tell if it was a swelling wave in rock'n roll, or if it's exciting now, too, and I'm just out of touch. I know that the stuff that moves me lately tends to be more mainstream, but it's because the sound I like has gotten more popular. Is there anything thrilling in the wings, any completely amazing house-show scene going on that isn't emo-derived? Everything sounds so bland and formulaic now. Is music in a downswing, or am I just a cranky guy who's out of touch?

And my final question: what music is truly new and spectacular?

Friday, January 07, 2005

This Sort Of Changes The Phrase "Getting Sacked"

Perhaps one of the best ways anyone could ever get fired...

"...applied for unemployment benefits but was denied by Administrative Law Judge Susan Brightman, who ruled that "a reasonable person would know the act of showing a naked body wearing a Wal-Mart sack would not be good for the employer's business."

Wayne Hodge: Video/Performance Artist, Old Friend

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion.

From 1993 to 1994 I attended the Governor's Magnet School for the Arts. This program gave high school kids the opportunity to delve more deeply into artistic study, busing kids from all over the Hampton Roads region to ODU and Norfolk State University in the afternoons, where we took advanced art classes by professional artists and college art teachers.

What this basically did was take all of the most intelligent freaky kids for a 100 mile radius and give them the opportunity to network and really get each other into exciting weird stuff. Wayne Carlton Hodge was one of my first and best friends at the program. We totally bonded over Big Black and comic books, and his eleventh and twelfth-grade paintings blew my mind. The son of a Baptist preacher, Wayne lived way out in Suffolk, serious redneck country, where he must have been the only black guy to love punk rock. He always wore an eastern-European military-issue trenchcoat with a communist pin buttoned into the lapel. Hodge told me one time, "You know, when I was a little kid I tried fitting in, and man, that stuff is just not for me."

I can remember a field trip to New York one time, when Wayne hid in the stairwell of our hotel at like three o'clock in the morning wearing a beanie cap he found on the driver's seat of a bulldozer. He ran up and down the stairs like a monkey and shouted "mouth-rape!" every chance he got.

Wayne's bedroom looked like what would happen if you took several libraries and record stores, compressed their contents into a 10' by 10' cube and stirred the whole thing with a big stick. Wayne's brain was just this conduit of art, movies, comics and music, he just sucked up everything, processed it, and spat it back out as either fascinating art or a ceaseless conversation.

We briefly connected in Richmond, several years after high school, and tried to hang out. It didn't work, and I shoulder all of the blame for it. I remember going with Wayne to see Cronenberg's high-concept stinker, "Existenz," sharing beers in a musty, dilapidated second-run theater. Me and Wayne and my man Clarence were the only people in the theater, and it was just like old times again.

I was going through a pretty serious spell of depression, though, and I just blew him off every time he called me. The slightest thing irritated me at the time, and I just brushed off Wayne's attempts to rekindle a great friendship. He had just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and was having a rough time himself. But like most depressed people, I was too self-centered to care about anyone's struggle except my own, and I totally blew him off. Eventually he stopped calling me to hang out.

In the relentless screening of one's past that occurs every night just before sleep or in really boring meetings, we all have reels that make us wince. This reel is one of mine, one of my life's most tiny and bitter successes.

The last I heard, Wayne was heading off to Yale to go to grad school for sculpture. He's gotten some critical acclaim for his artwork (scroll down a bit), and at least one completely psychotic fan. A google-search indicates that he has studied or shown at Rutgers, Yale, and a number of other schools in the Northeast. He may be a photorealistic sign-painter or a really lame sci-fi artist (doubtful), but he's out there somewhere. If any of you know him, or know someone who does, please ask him to get in touch.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Back At Work

After a day or so of rest, fluids, and antibiotics, I am slowly reentering life among the living. Thanks for your emails--I drank a glass of water every time someone suggested I get lots of fluids.

Here's some news for you...

I am a casual comic book nerd, in case you had not already noticed. And while I am excited to see the Fantastic Four film next summer, the movie adaptation of Alan Moore's V for Vendetta has me really curious and thrilled. Here's a teaser image...

V is an anarchist post-modern Guy Fawkes, set in post-WWIII England...England has become a neo-fascist state. The book is chilling no matter where or when you read it, but given the direction America is heading, V is eerily less fictional every day.

This article describes the rapidly growing tensions and problems inside the prison where Clarence, juvenile prison history teacher works.

This section is particularly chilling:

"The kids are beginning to fight us now. Officers are being injured," he said.

Just last month, King said, a male officer assaulted by juveniles had his nose broken and a female officer had her nose and jaw broken when she was assaulted.

However, department spokesman Bruce Twyman said the male officer's nose was not broken in the Dec. 18 assault that involved three juveniles. The female officer had her nose and jaw fractured when she was assaulted by a youth in a mental-health ward. Twyman said charges of felony assault and indecent exposure will be filed against the youths. In the case of the male officer, it is not yet clear whether his injuries will lead to criminal charges.

I'm hoping to get Clarence's take on this. More soon.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lord, Am I Ever Sick

I was supposed to come into the New Year busting with blog posts simply cracking with wit and insight. My prolific writing and ceaseless wit was totally going to make up for the obvious fact that my writing has kinda fallen off as of late.

Instead, I am sick. Real sick. I've never had so much phlegm in all my life. I'm coughing, sneezing and snuffling, filling up wastebaskets with used tissues and treating my coworkers to a symphony of sinus sounds. My face looks appallingly like a glazed doughnut at times, my New Year's moustache occasionally buried under unprecedented facial tsunamis. Call me disrespectful, but when a quake in my nose makes snot-nami crash onto my lip's shore, it is a freaking disaster.

Whenever I am sick, I imagine the not-so-distant future, when men that look like Jeff Goldblum will have invented machines that actually TELEPORT mucus. I fantasize about standing on an empty city sidewalk all strapped into the apparatus and entering the coordinates...after a loud vibrating hum, all the fluids that my body will produce for the duration of my illness appear before me on the sidewalk. They hover in the air in a riugh shape of my body and organs for a second, then collapse onto the sidewalk with a thick splash,. Then I step lightly over that sloppy doppelganger and go have a coffee, whistling all the way.

I think the codeine in my cough syrup is kicking in. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 03, 2005


So I'm back after a weekish-long vacation, much needed...

There will be more posts in the new year, ones about emo/indie rock in the late 90's, long-lost friends and the secret world of one-hour photos.

I've made some resolutions for myself as well, some to do with food and others with work...but the main one that you all need to know is:

This year I resolve to grow a boss moustache. And by boss, I mean sweet.