Friday, June 29, 2007

What the Heck is E-Mail: Honeywell E-mail Ad, 1977

Honeywell E-mail Ad, 1977
Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion
The crunch is on -- packing's a bear under the best conditions and I don't have air conditioning. Imagine sorting through months of old mail while a giant dog the size of God breathes on your face. That's about where I am right now.

In lieu of a bigger thing, here's an unintentionally awesome ad from 1977, found via Technobusiness, via Reddit:

What the Heck is E-mail?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Farewell Drinks at the Raven Friday

Hey folks -- a lot of you, I've never met. And may never meet. I'm having a drinks night on Friday, and if you're in the area, come out and shake hands:


This crowd's a bit different than the DC Blogs Happy Hour crowd -- but at least as welcoming and effervescent. Hope you can make it ...

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Paper-Mache Power Figure

If the Garment District is low on wire hangers, they need to call me soon. If Smuckers has a jar crisis this week, they need to let me know by Friday. As mentioned previously, I'm a terrible packrat and I'm moving. Everything must go, and it's a little heartbreaking.

While the bleeding-heart greenie in me, the boy partially reared by the thriftiest woman of the entire Depression era hates to see such useful stuff hit the bin, there's another kind of heartbreak happening here. A lot of the quirky errata that clots my shelves is soaked in personal, emotional significance, and on some level, letting the item go means chucking the memory out into the road.

In my mind it's no different than Congolese power figures or Orishas in Santeria - collections of ordinary objects are repositories for powerful feelings and forces beyond human understanding. One man's wooden figure with nails in it is another man's prayer for strength, made in a time of duress and filled with sadness and hope.

Or, in my case, an Incredible Hulk pinata:

His Explosive Rage Is Our Sweet Candy

My sister came to visit me on for my 29th birthday (2005) and gave me this pinata, filled with candy. I was suffering some serious heartbreak at the time -- a woman I loved had left 2 weeks before to go home to her side of the planet. I felt numb most of the time, a paper dummy filled with wood shavings. Sometimes termites would invade my wooden body and chew up my guts, making me cry, cry, cry. My work was heading south, and every day at the office felt like stepping into crosshairs.

Jess (my sister) and I had been on the outs for several months. We spoke, but briefly, and mostly at family functions. Every time we talked, we focused on not fighting rather than actually communicating.

We love each other so deeply, me and Jess, that it's hard sometimes to cut each other a break. She and the lady that had recently left shared a love for me, a naked loathing for each other and a temper like our green paper friend up there. I'd been stuck in the middle and it made me resent everyone.

But then it was my birthday, at one of the lowest points in my life, and Jess came to visit. And instead of saying anything at all about my situation, she came in with a big bag and bigger heart and gave me a big, long hug as soon as she walked in the door.

"You know I love you, Jeff, right? You're my fucking brother and you always will be. Now check this thing out," she said, pulling the pinata from the bag. "Open that bad bitch up, 'cause we both need some candy right about now."

Then she took me out to a Mexican restaurant where we ate, drank margaritas and talked about everything in the world.

Do you think the person that finds that pinata will pick all that up, too? Either they'll get a sweet blast from the Hulk's paper skin and feel a lot more at home in the world -- or I'll get to hang onto that a little longer. It's a win-win either way, really.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Transformers Art by Me, 1985

I'm a total packrat, a lifestyle that I inherited from my mother. As much as I chide her for keeping old papers and magazines around the house (just TRY to throw out a damn National Geographic down there, man), the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. My problem is, I can see the artistic potential in freaking EVERYTHING and I hate letting something interesting just go to waste.

Old comics with the covers tore off and gnawed up corners still have these insane ads in them that could totally go on a t-shirt one day, and if someone writes me a love letter or a christmas card, I can't bring myself to just wad that sentiment up and throw it on top of some old coffee grounds.

When I was visiting my folks a few weeks ago, I found some old drawings of Transformers I did in 5th grade. Touching them made me come unstuck in time, and I swung instantly back to my childhood bedroom in Herndon. I was sitting at that desk my Dad built for me one snowy afternoon, drawing the Transformers and listening to the Saint Elmo's Fire soundtrack on cassette. Look, it was my first tape.

Here's the art itself:

Soundwave 1985

Twin Twist 1985

I'm excited about the Transformers film for a number of reasons:

1) I was super into Transformers as a kid, and experiencing the story again reactivates memories that make me feel good
2) The movie looks cool as all hell (cool and good are two very different things)
3) It's the purest example of a sheerly commercial film that has ever existed.

Seriously. This is a movie based on a cartoon that was developed to market a line of toys that had been popular in Japan to American children. There's no originality or artistic integrity to squander here, no mythos or greater canon to honor -- it's just gonna be flames and explosions and giant hunks of metal left right and center. It's going to be the cinematic equivalent of smoking banana peels and I can't wait.

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Learning With the Heart the Hard Way

I've been sweating into the same reasonably priced department store suit for the past three days, dragging ass and laptop all up and down Manhattan looking for a job. I leave my wool jacket on during interviews out of the very real fear that my shirt will draw flies to its translucent back.

My feet are two thick flaps of pure pain, suffering daylong beatings in my dress shoes then slapping the pavement in a pair of hip and useless Chuck Taylors at night. I sleep four, maybe six hours a night, get up, put on the suit and trawl the town all day in a flurry of meet-and-greets with recruiters, then spend the night drinking iced coffee in my underpants, hunched over a laptop trawling the job boards and sending cover letter after cover letter.

Everyone knows this, everyone understands this, and nobody says it out loud: New York doesn't fucking care. New York doesn't care about what you think, how you feel, or what kind of behavior was normal back in your sleepy Southern hometown. Anyone that thinks differently is a complete fool. That city's full of heartbroken fools that thought they knew and learned with their hearts the hard way.

The past few months, I've been slacking on the writing and slacking on the gym. I've just sat here in my festy little apartment swatting cockroaches and cussing the darkness, getting fatter by the day. I've been mad at the world for denying me adventure, travel, work and thrills and mad at the Web for delivering just enough distracting material that I can't get down to brass tacks for myself. I've been mad at everyone and everything, blaming everyone but myself and then I swept that clutter away in the past few weeks and had a good go at blaming myself.

The thing I've learned, the thing I always forget is this: everything starts now. Right now. That new job, that fitness program, the blog post, that pitch to that magazine. It starts right this second and doing anything else means not doing what you wanted in the first place. Which leads to too many drinks, too many late nights and dreading the morning, when you wake up to a huge empty day alone in the apartment blaming the entire world.

I've realized that I'm never going to be happy with myself or my writing unless I find a challenge and a challenging community -- find a place where everyone's racing ahead and try to catch up. I need to be someplace I haven't figured out, someplace that doesn't care and just fight like hell for a little while.

And maybe I'll never be happy with myself or with my writing. It's my personality that needs to change, not my ZIP code. I'm a moody dude, and things are never good enough. I'll come to terms with it or I won't, but I'd sure like to tackle this in a new town.

The mother in Almost Famous sees right through a cocky rock star's bullshit and tells him "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." Works for me. I've been bullshitting myself for a long time and when I heard those words the other night they cut me like a laser.

I'm moving to New York City, the city that doesn't fucking care, in precisely seven days. I've put in notice at my building in DC, rented a truck and a room in that beautiful stinking city. Hopefully, this will be bold enough.

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