Monday, August 28, 2006

Walking On Sunshine

Inasmuch as I am happy, my life is good and I enjoy waking up every day, I wish I could say that this morning's mood finds me in that happy-go-lucky state.

It's about 10:30AM on a Monday; normally I am knee-deep in work-related stuff, digging out the clients who called over the weekend, reviewing their files, contacting City agencies (who are rarely thrilled to be back in a city agency office after two days of freedom to begin with) and basically catching up on any- and everything not handled over the prior 36 business hours.

This day, however, is a bit different; our office ISP basically went belly up -- and not because of technical reasons, apparently, but political ones. So Friday we were essentially out of the office because our office server, which houses our entire database -- including client lists, city property information, everything -- was inaccessible and locked down. Funny how technology manages to have its way with anything and anyone in its path. Our server is ten steps from my office but it might as well be in Pakistan among Osama bin-Laden's personal effects.

Meanwhile, when the ISP's feed into our office originally died, we presumed it was a temporary outage; between the heat and the rain, things like copper broadband wiring goes bad, especially that located below huge office corpo-structures. And considering even Con Ed's service is dying by degrees (no pun intended) we figured a day or two of non-Internet service was somewhat feasible.

Except that our server is tied into our Internet service; without getting into too much detail, the Internet runs on certain protocols, and one of which is resolving locations of computers, whether it's the main server at or our little data server. And without our ISP's ability to help our computers navigate one another in the little pond we call our office, it might as well be trying to log onto the CRAY supercomputer behind a mountain at Norad. The same result applies: it ain't happening.

So pressure-packed weekend sessions on the phone with our (old) ISP finally resulted this morning in one of their tech guys -- a guy with whom I've been dealing for the past eight or so years -- quietly advising me to find new service. He revealed that this isn't so much a technical issue but more one involving lawyers, disconnections through Verizon, verbal wars and multiple organizations and buildings. Great, it's a multi-corporation game of "Whose dick is bigger" and I basically can't even unzip.

That brings us to this morning; I've been dealing with almost two-thirds of my clients via cellphone so the server's temporary absence isn't life-threatening. However, at the same time, other components of our office are barely on life support because of this situation, so even if I could go about my business without any significant problems, this is taking up most of my attention because the business as a whole needs to get the problem back on track. On top of that, once the immediate problem -- ie getting our server back online -- is solved, we need to find us a new ISP. And considering the number of issues we've had with our current ISP, we're not just getting into bed with the next one that comes along. Problem is, any worthwhile ISP company isn't going to just snap their fingers and appear at our door; it's going to be at least a few days until they're able to show up onsite and get us back up and running.

And aside from it ruining a good majority of the weekend, with me running around mentally and physically trying to solve the problem, it's now, ironically enough, infringing on my ability to actually do the work that all this technology was designed to facilitate.

Some Mondays are just better spent in bed.

Speaking of which, Kaia arrives tomorrow. This past Saturday night, a bunch of friends of ours got together -- first for sushi, then thereafter for karaoke -- and we're doing Part II on Tuesday night since Kaia wasn't in town for when the Karaoke-fest was originally called. I posted some pictures here and I'm sure I'll post more of Tuesday night's festivities as well. Either way, I finally got to hang out with SuziQ in Florida and a bunch of other people I had been looking forward to seeing, and between my friend Mark hitting town later today from LA and Kaia's arrival tomorrow, things are looking up. Of course, all I really need is a week or two with Kaia; but with everyone looking to party it up before September arrives, I'm not unwilling to oblige. The problem is that with everything office-wise that's been happening, it's nearing fever pitch and I am just hopeful I'll have plenty of time to spend with Kaia.

It seems like every time she's in town, things are always floating up in the air and coming back at me at high speed; more importantly, it seems that, despite the manic craziness that seems to inhabit my world, I've noticed that when I walk through the door and she's there in my apartment, everything pretty much melts away and I find myself smiling.

If they find a way to bottle it, I'm sold.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Week from The Wake-Up Call to The Nudge

Yesterday was a long day, as per usual, but since it's my nature to see a silver lining in even the darkest of clouds, I realized that yesterday marked a week until Kaia finally hits NYC yet again. So despite the fact that both of us powered through busy, successful days yesterday, last night was a quicker-than-usual wind-down for us both. She had woken up an hour earlier than normal to hit an early-morning meeting, and I had also been up early running around far earlier than normal.

So by the time night approached, and we had finished our co-conspiracy regarding her impending visit and everything we wanted to do, we both quickly fell asleep. Around 7:15 this morning, I got a call from who I expected was my sister about her doctor appointment this morning. Instead, it was Kaia. Apparently, she had been having trouble sleeping and didn't want to call me until my normal wake-up hour, and when she called my machine picked it up. Half-in and half-out of sleep, I checked my messages and immediately called her back once I knew it was her.

We talked for a little bit as she slowly drifted back to sleep, and as I tried to quietly ease her back to sleep, I realized how much I was looking forward to waking up with her in a week. We have a lot of things planned -- a couple day-trips over the holiday weekend, maybe the beach, some museums, a possible boat-ride on the East River (if a friend of mine gets his ass back in town sometime this year ;) and a lot of shared time. But as much as the "events" -- dinners, parties, cocktails, brunches, whatever -- are fun, the best part of her being here, for me, is the mundane, daily stuff; coming home and seeing her working at my desk, bringing her some new, unexpected flowers on a whim, getting out of the shower while she's putting on make-up in front of the hall's always a treat.

Now despite the fact we'll have been dating for close to two years this November, part of the fact, perhaps, why this mundane stuff still rocks me on a regular basis is because it isn't -- she and I live on opposite coasts so the "regular" stuff is not really regular. While that helps instill "newness" in the relationship, it can also casts doubt as to whether we can handle a shared daily life. Considering we've spent two- and three-week periods together without a break of any type, and that we rarely have even a minor disagreement, I'm far from concerned. I keep waiting, on some level, for the other shoe to drop -- it doesn't seem, after all the shit I've survived and/or endured since and before she and I met, that this could be this good -- but there's no other shoe, nothing about to drop, and all we really need to do is pick a zip code, some furniture and live happily ever after.

Sure, there are some obstacles. There's cross-coastal plane trips for family, holidays, work, appointments, cleaning to pick up, laundry to's all in there in the tapestry of our lives. But the real key to it is that I'm looking forward to the day we're sharing a mailbox and a set of keys. I'm looking forward to her nudging me rather than calling me when she can't sleep.

And most of all I'm just looking forward to seeing her when I walk through the door on the 29th, and thereafter.

Friday, August 18, 2006

All Systems Go

Despite the fact that lots is happening in the world, lots more is happening on the home front. True, authorities finally nabbed Jonbenet Ramsey's killer, John Karr, who was discovered teaching second grade in Thailand. What's more disturbing is that Mr. Karr looks like the son of Frank Gorshin, the guy who played The Riddler on the old Batman TV series. What's even more disturbing is watching Mr. Karr being whisked through Thailand, which makes him appear to be a waifish, ghostly puppet in a polo shirt; what's yet more disturbing is that Mr. Karr -- who wrote odes to Jonbenet Ramsey -- managed to make the entire sordid saga seem even more whacked and bizarre than it already was. I hope this whole story, as well as beauty pageants for young girls, will now, mercifully, just go away.

Needless to say, there are other things happening in the world; there's still a huge mess to address in Lebanon (as will there always be), as humanitarian, geographic and militaristic issues and problems continue to grow. And it was disclosed this week that the commander of a base that surrendered to Israeli soldiers ordered his troops to supply the Israeli soldiers with iced tea. The incident was captured on video, and as soon as its release was widespread, the commander was dismissed from the army. Apparently, it's unlawful for any Lebanese citizen to acknowledge or associate with Israelis, so I suppose serving them tea is probably a no-no. And treating them as humans is likely off-limits as well. Seems about right -- it is Lebanon, after all.

Meanwhile, the main domestic stuff on the horizon is the ticket. First, we're doing a field trip to Costco this afternoon; avocados, cases of water, diet coke, tissues; frozen fish fillets (tilapia, salmon, swordfish and mako shark); frozen multi-packs of chicken breasts/cutlets; and if there is a god, we'll score another bottle or two of that bitchin' Bruschetta mix and make an Italian-inspired guacamole. The logistics are fuzzy but one way or the other we'll make it over there.

On top of that, there's a mini-get-together for Suzi, a friend who's coming to NYC from Florida for a few days; we're planning it for Saturday the 26th, and I am setting it up for about 20 or so people. Sushi and karaoke -- not in the same place -- are on the menu, so it's a question of coordinating that group of people, two separate locations, and making sure everyone is where they should be, and when. I'm looking forward to it, and despite the minor aggravation of having to juggle everyone's needs and schedules, it will definitely be fun.

Thereafter, there's another party on November 4th to plan; another friend is handling it, but he's pretty much out of pocket so I expect it will -- eventually -- wind up being mostly left to me to handle. This one, though, is shaping up to be about 150 people, rather than just 20. Based on past parties, we're guessing that people are going to be coming for a week or more if they live far from the City, so we're going to need to do some scheduling/blocking off of hotel rooms and schedule some fun stuff to keep them out of jail and smiling. And since it's a co-ed group, a dozen hookers, nachos, beer and poker chips won't do the trick; after all, some women just don't enjoy poker.

Last, but far from least, is Kaia's upcoming visit. She's hitting town on the 29th, which -- if you are relatively gifted in that pseudo-science, mathematics -- is three days after Party #1. Luckily, she'll be able to hang out with Suzi, our friend from the first party, so despite our tradition of spending our first night together, ie just us, we're going to waive it so we can all hang out before she heads back home the next afternoon.

Between Kaia's and my schedule, we're both quasi-buried with work but we're keeping up with everything in front of us. We're looking forward to spending a few weeks together, and while there are lots of things happening in the City -- street fairs, shows, concerts, etc. -- we're just anxiously awaiting the chance to spend time together. We haven't scheduled my next visit to San Fran, but I am hoping it's sometime in October; I won't head out there in early November because of the party, and while late November might be workable, traveling on or near Thanksgiving is about as appetizing as a crushed-ice enema. We'll play it by ear, but in the meantime, I'm just jazzed knowing she'll be here within two weeks. Every day I spend with her feels like a vacation, and every time she leaves feels like an eternity. One of these days I think I need to get over to the post office for some change of address forms.

Sooner, hopefully, than later.

Image courtesy

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Anti-Semitism & Anti-Zionism; Perspectives and Observations

The following is a response to a comment left today by "Kelly" -- rather than relegating the discussion to a variety of posts, I decided it's easier to follow same by keeping it all in the same space. -Ed.


When I referenced anonymous postings on the web, I wasn't (merely) equating your position with the hate-groups and the white supremacists and the closet racists that are increasingly abusing the anonymity of the Internet. Even before reading your response, it was clear that you're not in the same realm as are those twisted, hateful people.

However, it's very easy to see things from only one perspective, especially when you hear first-hand accounts of Israeli brutality and perceived injustices. The problem is when you see things only from one perspective, you perhaps fail to grasp other perspectives. For example, it's easy to characterize Israeli soldiers as being abusive and sporting "hair-trigger, jittery nerves." However, consider that every day, Israeli soldiers face the possibility of being killed by a random suicide bombing, or losing family members to a random mortar or rocket being fired into Israel – indiscriminately – by Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah – you name it. They have “hair-trigger” jitters because every Arab with whom they come in contact – whether at a checkpoint, on a bus or on a regular patrol – could be wearing a belt with the intention of killing as many Israelis – especially soldiers – as possible. There are pictures of children being trained to perform suicide operations at ages as young as five, and women have increasingly been tapped to perform these martyrdom operations as well. So their nerves are on edge because there's no simple way to distinguish civilians from enemies. Retaining their mental "edge" is the only thing on which they can rely to stay alive.

Without asking the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg – meaning, has Israel actively attacked its neighbors or is it merely defending itself in any way possible – I think that most people of that region, including some Arabs, are in favor of peace. Recent Palestinian elections in which Hamas seized control of the Palestinian state suggests that peace might not, however, be tops on the list. The problem, however, is the notion – misunderstanding, actually – that Israel somehow wants bloodshed and conflict and seeks it out rather than avoids it. Speaking of pacifism, I know several former soldiers in the Israeli army and they detest conflict; for them, however, conflict – when necessary – is a matter of Israel's survival. When you are fighting a faceless enemy that hides among civilians, hides rockets, munitions, explosives, etc., in civilian settings, and who blow up cafes, buses, theaters and hotels – civilian casualties are the regrettable result. They also provide very effective PR for the same groups that hide behind these human shields; that rarely is communicated, but that is the inevitable, and unenviable, truth.

I am not sure where, specifically, your friends live or where they work, but while they decry Israel's controlling of borders, do they also acknowledge that Israel has a need to protect its borders from people wearing bomb-belts and who would sooner kill Jews (and themselves) than live peacefully alongside them? Does that sound anything like pacifism? It doesn't to me.

Incidentally, two of the most outspoken Arab voices for peace of whom I know are Anwar Sadat and Mahmoud Abbas. It’s interesting that the former was assassinated – by fellow Muslims – and the latter was replaced by the Palestinian referendum which clearly, and soundly, replaced him with Hamas, essentially rejecting the concept of peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Further, it is ironic, at best, that the three words you used to sign your response – peace, shalom, salaam – are all used to indicate the same thing: peace; yet, I know of only one word that is invoked each time a suicide bomber fulfills his or her mission. The term "salaam alechem" (forgive the misspelling) – “God is great” – is typically part of a suicide bomber's lexicon. It's not a message of peace, however; if it were, I suspect that the bomb being detonated – filled with shrapnel and machine parts to maim or kill as many as possible – would not be part of the equation.

If we were to examine the three major world religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – and determine which of these had designs on remapping the entire world in its own image – I think Islam would be the first on the list. What I mean by that, and why I’m bringing it up, is that, as I indicated above, the term “God Is Great” is not a statement indicating “My god is great and I’m really jazzed about that;” it’s more along the lines of “My god is great and he’s better than your god, and here’s my final statement about that.”


Since the Crusades, I don’t recall Christianity in its various permutations attempting to convert en masse people of other religions through violence. Missionaries might attempt to convert peoples of the world, but they do so with books and discussions, not bombs and beheadings. When was the last time Judaism attempted mass conversion? Even if I spent the next decade scouring history books and the Internet for verified proof, I doubt I’d find it.

Islam, however, seeks to absorb and dominate all facets of life and all countries and governments. You might disagree; however, between statements from al-Qaeda to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speeches to the Koran itself, the existence of any religion or beliefs contrary to the worship of Mohammad are pretty much the domain of the infidel. On this regard, of any of the aforementioned three religions, Judaism – and Israel – is the only one which has always and will always practice the notion of “Live and Let Live.” Put another way, if we are going to discuss injustice, we should at some point consider what it might be like being Jewish and walking on a Jewish holy day to a synagogue in Iran, Libya or Syria.

Your reference to a peace group and your friend and her associates being beaten is obviously regrettable; however, groups like Hamas and Hezbollah – groups that admittedly and proudly bomb schoolbuses and other places where civilians, including children, congregate – also claim to have peaceful (non-military) components, like hospitals, schools and housing. So which components are peaceful and want to meet face-to-face with Israel at a negotiating table and which want to meet on the streets, exchanging gunfire and munitions?

I've read numerous stories of Israeli refugee camps; I've heard how these camps "breed" terrorists, and how Israel is creating its own enemies. What I never understood was how or why other Arab nations – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, et al – would not absorb their fellow Muslims knowing doing so would alleviate the pain and suffering at the hands of Israel. What I've concluded is that it's better for some among these nations to allow this situation to continue to be able to develop and maintain an anti-Israeli mentality among Arabs. The term Zionism, as you used originally, is a term which suggests that Israel is an aggressive, blood-thirsty enemy and will destroy anything in its path. And again, I suggest that term and its uses are generally restricted to anti-Israeli Arabs and white supremacists. Even for pacifists, that's not the company I'd ever want to keep. The point is, if terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah and al-Qaeda were to disband and disarm, do you honestly believe Israel would suddenly begin to swallow up chunks of real estate and detain, imprison and/or abuse Arabs? Do you honestly believe that anyone in the world would believe these groups would remain disbanded and disarmed, even if Israel returned lands and granted additional freedoms to Arab Israelis? The answer to the second question, I hope, is no, as there have been numerous examples on which to base an answer. As for the former, is Israeli "aggression" – perhaps like that which is occurring in Beirut and in Southern Lebanon – them attacking a neighbor, or them attacking an enemy that hides among civilians, knowing Israel warns civilians of an impending attack? How many armies in the world warn its enemies prior to imminent attack? Do suicide bombers give these warnings, or are their actions praised with the chant of "Salaam Alechem," after the body count – and pictures of bloodied or murdered women and children – are published?

I think the chasm is notable here; many, if not all, Arabs distrust and/or despise Israel. Arab children are taught that Israel is and always will be the enemy. It has always been that way, and unless things change, they always will be that way. Israelis do not hate or distrust Arabs; they, however, like the rest of the world, see Muslim suicide bombers as barbaric thugs. The phrase "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" has been cliched and repeated more times than I can even count, but it applies here. These are two perspectives that are diametrically opposed. The key is understanding the other side.

Briefly put, I know there are injustices occurring in Israel; Mohammad Atta, one of the lead hijackers on 9/11, was in an Israeli prison and would have languished therein except Bill Clinton implored Israel to release many of their prisoners in exchange for "peace." I'm not sure what Atta's background is or was, but his example is not atypical; the line Israel must walk, and face on a daily basis, is which of their Arab neighbors are truly for peace and for mutual acceptance, and which of their Arab neighbors, harboring notions of anti-Zionism, would rather die in a self-detonated explosion – along with some of those so-called "Zionists" – than live another day in a world in which Israel exists?

That's why I find the term "salaam" so ironic, and that's why my response to "Anti-Zionism" is jaded, cynical and distrusting.

However, I stand corrected: the term "Anti-Zionism" should not be equated with anti-semitism. Anti-semitism is, technically, a dislike of all semitic people, including Arabs; anti-Zionism, if we're being accurate, is just a polite way of expressing disdain for Israel.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What's Real and What's Actual

Somewhere, tucked in the microscopic cells of my brain, the daily minutae of my life are, I thoroughly believe, are somehow entertainment for some higher being. Either that, or I need to address this inescapable need to somehow take the boring tasks which fill my day and put them on a grand(er) scale.

The last few days have been blurry -- and no, I'm not referring to needing to change out my extended wear lenses. Lots has been happening, but most of what's been happening is deadline-induced excitement at work or the random stuff I get done when I'm a) conscious and b) not in the office. Mainly, it's been a lot of work stuff and a lot of coming home/passing out. The weather's been relatively agreeable, so that hasn't been too much of an issue; it's just the question of having lots to do and not much time in which to accomplish it.

Of course, the biggest thing on the reality menu is the revelation that al-Qaeda was/is plotting to blow up airliners traveling from the UK to the US. That's an actual; the real part, of course, is the tandem of knowing that one day we will be prohibited from bringing anything with us on an airplane. On the one hand, people have decried the fact they can no longer bring hair gel, toothpaste, perfume/cologne and contact lens solution with them on a plane. However, since they can bring these things with them -- stowed under the cabin in the belly of the plane -- it's not quite the monumental inconvenience as was originally suggested.

That's not to say, of course, that this isn't another chink in the collective armor of nations who don't train children to be suicide bombers and martyrs. Is this latest non-incident significant? Pretty much. Is it somewhat disconcerting? Absolutely. Is it going to mean air travel as we know it will hereafter be an awful, dreadful experience we must endure if we will ever go anywhere for business, pleasure or both? Not particularly. I'm still eager to fly westward to San Fran in a month or two, and hopefully Kaia will be landing here within a few weeks. I think, basically, that this entire situation has been a bit overblown, but the key to understanding the situation is acknowledging that there will never be another day when some number of radical muslims don't concoct new ways of attacking the West.

On that note, I was downtown this afternoon driving around between a few different destinations; normally I'm on foot, but today I took the car and was going from place to place as expeditiously as possible. As I head west on Fulton Street to the water, I came upon Ground Zero, and while -- with the trailer for Oliver Stone's "WTC" somewhere in my head -- I recall 9/11, I also noticed the whole site had become a combination of a tourist attraction and a mini-mall. There were people selling American flags, USA t-shirts, America bumper stickers, and hot dogs and pretzels. And what I noticed, for better or worse, was that the majority of people who were selling this crap -- to mostly people from outside the metro area, natch -- were from other countries and other cultures. Unfortunately, I did not fail to notice the irony.

The more things change, the more things remain the same.

There's more happening and I'm sure I'll head back here soon; for a change, however, I figured I'd be brief, to the point, and get out leaving the audience wanting more.

Or less -- I'm not completely sure.

But when and if I am, I'll be sure and let you know.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Where, When, How and Why

Considering the lack of Mel Gibson apologies these days, and the number of anti-semitic freaks seeping out of the woodwork -- but staying right below the surface -- bashing Israel's offensive against Hezbollah, it's pretty tough focusing on work and the stuff around the house on which I need to focus.

However, having said all that, the excitement around these parts continues. About twenty days ago the front panel on my microwave stopped responding, so about ten days ago I replaced it with a white Panasonic monstrosity that takes up a shitload of counter space; it's got some sort of cooking sensor in it so it heats stuff perfectly and another sensor that keeps stuff warm perfectly. The problem is it's the size of a catamarand. The other problem is that I only use it to make baked potatoes, chinese food, roast chicken and popcorn; now there's a nice dinner combination. All I need is some Boisenberry Barf-Crunch Cereal and I can officially submit my newly-radiated creation to Fear Factor or The Food Network. Of course, the final problem is that I got fed up with replacing microwaves so I was determined to read shitloads of reviews to insure this one wouldn't die. What do I do? I wind up picking Panasonic, which some dude on claims will blow up in my kitchen sometime over the next year. As long as neither Kaia nor I are in the kitchen -- or anywhere near it -- when this thing blows up, I'd actually get off knowing I had an exploding microwave. That's what -- 1-in-100 odds? If anyone has a Panasonic that exploded, let me know -- or send me pictures. Video would be even better if you have it ;)

Meanwhile, the days are full but, thanks to an actually pleasant day in New York City, I spent a good deal of time outside the office without wishing I was wearing a towel spooning water onto lava rocks in a wood-lined room. On top of that, we had a floor-wide fuse blow out that wound up frying a PC in our office; but the server, the copier and the phone system were fine and bounced back like a rubber check, so I can't complain.

But wait...there's more.

I confirmed Kaia and I won't be making it out to Seattle for a friend's wedding. We'd been planning on heading out there and staying at the W for a four- or five-day vacation -- I've never been to Seattle, though Kaia has -- but I have a major meeting that's going to keep me in NYC that weekend. It's really aggravating, because I've missed two big weddings over the past few years, this one included. If I had good reasons, I would be okay with it; for example, if Eric Clapton invited me to sit in on the studio session for his next album entitled "Boogie & Me: Jam in NYC" -- well, then I could see missing a good friend's nuptials. Yeah, I'd send a blender :) But both misses were for shitty reasons, and that never feels good.

Although, if anyone happens to have Eric Clapton's number and he needs some late-night studio time anytime between tonight and the end of August, I'll see if I can dig my Strat outta storage ;)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's so hot... (How Hot Is It)

...that I spied a naked homeless guy dancing in the fountains at Columbus Circle -- and was actually jealous of him.

...that Associated Supermarket on 57th Street shut down all its lights and all power to non-refrigerated equipment, effectively inviting its customers to hit the pavement.

...that tourists were buying
cold pretzels from hot-dog carts.

...that I actually considered acing my dress shirt and tie, cutting the legs off my slacks and visiting City agencies sporting my first pair of homemade Kenneth Cole "shorts."
The thing is, I don't hate hot weather; as long as I'm not carrying 20 pounds of paperwork in my bag and I don't have to be rushing from one place to another, it's all good. On days like this, give me a convertible, a 100-mile stretch of open road, a selection of pre-loaded tunes and some tasty beverages, and I'm good -- as long as I can pick Kaia up before I start on Mile 1.

Problem is, the last couple days have been, essentially, me running around in this intense heat and humidity with loads on my plate. Being that today is the second day of a new filing period, I've been humming along with everything in the background, and sho'nuff, the first two days of said filing period have been the hottest of the calendar year. Two weeks ago, California was baking like copper-enamel figurines in a kiln; now it's our turn.

About five or six years ago, a friend of mine from right outside NYC relocated -- temporarily -- to San Jose for a quasi-lateral job offer. He was out there three months when the rolling blackouts began, and while the idea had been tossed back and forth in the public spectrum for awhile, he didn't believe it would actually happen. Well -- sho'nuff -- it did. He had a townhouse filled, like my apartment, with enough electronic equipment to power NORAD for a week. And while he had battery backup equipment in place, everything went down at once and he ended up with a room filled with dead computer equipment. By the time everything was replaced, the damage checked in at around $25k. I would bust his balls every so often thereafter, reminding him "Hey, got a spare surge suppressor around, my water-pik got fried."

At least in connection with this particular incident, he rarely appreciated my sense of humor.

Needless to say, karma leaves no stone unturned, and now that we're in the midst of a heat emergency in NYC, and Queens and Staten Island have already experienced significant power outages, I'm debating what my next move should be. I won't have a problem living if the power should go out for a day or two; I live on the ground floor of a six-floor building so I will have access to running water (cold -- cold is good), and I won't have to climb or descend a multitude of stairs in stifling humidity. Plus, if there is a blackout at some point soon, it will give me a chance to reconnect with the inner me -- in other words, it'll force me to defrost my freezer.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll slip on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt and go join that naked homeless guy in the fountain.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A New Horror Movie: Return of Mel Gibson and His Many Personalities

Today brings, as per usual, a bevy of expected things. A sunrise, the sound of birds chirping outside my window, intense heat burning and roasting NYC, and more bullshit from America's Pee Wee Herman du jour, Mel Gibson.

Mel issued a new bullshit apology, since his last bullshit, publicist-penned apology only apologized to cops and not jews, ie the group he suggested caused all the world's wars.

So he spewed -- er, issued -- another apology, some of which is quoted below:

"But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith."

That's sort of like an al Qaeda member professing that he abhors violence due to his devout observance of Islam, which prohibits violence. Please note, I'm not comparing Mr. Gibson's stupidity and bigotry to that of a member of al Qaeda. While they may or may not share many beliefs, Mr. Gibson -- at least not to my knowledge -- never embarked on any endeavors in the hope of killing people by the hundreds or thousands.

I give him credit; he knows how badly he's fucked up. Of course, it's a day late (thanks to the universal criticism and abuse by the public to remind him he should have apologized to Jews as well as cops. Oops.) Problem is, at this point, he should just cut his losses and hide. The guy's a bigot, an anti-Semite and a piece of shit. To be frank, it's not the first time the American public will get a chance to see an anti-Semite on display. And I am sure it won't be the last.

Incidentally, I give him points for creativity. His ultra-devout religious observance led him to conclude Jews are responsible for all the world's wars, among many other ills. In addition, his religious beliefs dictate -- as evidenced by his film "The Passion of the Christ" -- he believes Jews killed Jesus. At the same time, he -- in theory -- wants to "heal" with the help of the Jewish community. According to today's apology, "Hatred of any kind goes against [his] faith." I thought his faith was the source of his hatred in the first place.

So which is it?

More importantly, does it really matter?

In a word: no.

Me, You, Dupree, Owen Wilson, Steely Dan and Some Idiot at

Last week, before Mel Gibson's tequila-fueled romp through Malibu and Anti-Semitism, I happened upon the Steely Dan website, hoping to check out summer tour dates which I'd read about and considering if Kaia would be in town while The Dan was in NYC, or I was there if/when they were playing in or near San Francisco.

If you've never heard of Steely Dan, here's a short (and hopefully brief) bio: Steely Dan was a major 70's era staple of AOR (album-oriented rock) radio. They hung up their microphones after their 1980 release, "Gaucho," burned out on drugs, late nights in studios, paranoia, self-insulation and the backdoor dealings of payola and the music business in general. The two primary members of the band, Donald Fagen (vocals and keyboards) and Walter Becker (guitar, vocals), had been making hipster, ironic, well-crafted smart jazz-rock-pop for nearly a decade and they'd, for lack of a better term, shot their load.

However, while Fagen released a well-received solo album ("The Nightfly") in 1982, "The Dan" remained virtually silent. After a reunion of sorts for a Steely Dan box set and another Donald Fagen solo album ("Kamakiriad") in 1993, then a solo album by Walter Becker in 1995 entitled "11 Tracks of Whack," the duo opted to tour. They did two or three legs and reemerged as a talented, updated version of the old original.

Soon after -- in 2000 -- they released another album which featured, as per usual, a bevy of curious, intellectually mysterious tunes. One of these was "Cousin Dupree," a tune about a shiftless aging loser with no motivation who winds up crashing on his Aunt's couch...until he can get back on his feet.

Normally I don't veer off into spontaneous band bios, especially herein, but the whole story deserves mention.

Enter 2006 and Owen Wilson's newest film, "Me, You and Dupree," a film about a newlywed couple who take in a friend on the day of their wedding who has no real motivation but they decide to let him stay on their couch for a while...until he can get back on his feet.

See where this is going?

Apparently, the similarity between the song from Steely's album "Two Against Nature" and Owen's latest movie was a bit too significant to ignore. Back to my visit to the Steely Dan site...I came across an open letter to Luke Wilson, brother of Owen. The letter, which is written in a rambling, casual but acerbically sarcastic, over-the-top manner (much like everything written by Steely Dan), was presented on fake stationary: "The Residential Suites at Longworth" (sounds more like a prison than a hotel) featuring the slogan beneath, 'Where Value is King -- and So Are you!!!' -- is even more Dan-esque. The letter, signed by Fagen and Becker, basically charges Luke with reigning in his brother Owen to get the latter's career back on track and, more importantly, to apologize for ripping off their "Dupree" idea. Further, they demand Owen come to their concert in Irvine to apologize to the band and to their fans.

If nothing else, Steely Dan has made a habit of using their wit for ironic, wry gags. The name of the band was lifted directly from a William Burroughs novel ("steely dan" refers to a vibrator). Everything they do is the antithesis of serious; for example, one of their early songs, "Everyone's Gone To The Movies" is a bouncy, hook-laden song -- about a child molestor. Another, "The Fez," is a song about condom use. Yet another, "Haitian Divorce," describes the breakdown of marriage: "Soon everybody knew the thing was dead; He shouts, she bites, they wrangle through the night." Their goal, which they semi-readily admit, is to present irony musically the way David Letterman presents it nightly through comedy. The point is: the letter to Luke was a joke.

It gets better, however.

Sometime after reading the letter on their site but prior to Mel Gibson melting down, I visited and noticed a piece on Owen Wilson and Steely Dan, right below a story about midget farmers in Iowa. Apparently, some clever reporter at noticed the letter posted on the Steely Dan site and mentioned it; the next day, Owen Wilson, through a representative, released a statement in response:
"I have never heard the song 'Cousin Dupree' and I don't even know who this gentleman, Mr. Steely Dan, is. I hope this helps to clear things up and I can get back to concentrating on my new movie, 'HEY 19.'"
CNN missed the gag when Owen referred to "Mr. Steely Dan," he was goofing on CNN. Steely Dan, like the band names for Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull, isn't the name of a band member, just the band name. What is even more disconcerting is that CNN, in describing the band, mentioned "Hey Nineteen"as one of their hits, yet they didn't catch Owen's reference to that song as the name of his new movie. Essentially, whoever followed this story on CNN's behalf completely and totally missed the point, and the joke.

I don't know if Donald, Walter and Owen expected people would or wouldn't understand the letter was a joke; I presume they knew 99% of the people visiting the site would "get" it. But having CNN cover the whole thing -- and Owen firing off a statement in response that actually got picked up by CNN -- had to be the icing on the cake.

The punchline, of course, is if Owen Wilson had done The Dan "one petite solid" and showed up in Irvine on July 19th (the band kept asking between tunes if anyone had seen Owen, to their endless amusement); perhaps his appearance could be rescheduled to the Jones Beach or Atlantic City gigs. This way, I could record it and forward a copy to CNN -- just to be sure this exercise in journalistic integrity doesn't go for naught :)

After all, this thing we all do -- writing, creating, creating -- it's a glamour profession ;)

My apologies for the reworking. The original version was an older draft and belonged, and landed, in the recycle bin. - Ed.