Wednesday, November 30, 2005

John McCain---In the Middle

There was an article in Newsweek, the November 21 issue by John McCain about why we should not torture our prisoners. He did not say anything that new: It's wrong, information is unreliable, it will jeopardize our prisoners in future wars, etc. But what was very interesting about the article was his choice of words. The guy is being truthful about who he is while at the same time speaking to both camps, Redders and Bluesies.

He used the following terms a few times in the article:


Best example:

The enemies we fight today hold our liberal values in comtempt, as they hold in comtempt the international conventions that enshrine them. I know that. But we are better for our faith.

Also, there were pictures of him as a young soldeir, one in combat gear (a smaller picture) and one with him in a military hospital. In both photos, he looks virile while showing both sides of what war is all about.

In some way, I would be happy with a moderate Republican for our future...anyone would be better than our current lunatic. But mostly, I find this article interesting because of how well it was written while at the same time speaking to to both sides. Is it a bit calculated? Sure. What the hell isn't? You can't buy a Fig Newton these days without being manipulated in some way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Left Holding The Bag


This bag has been sitting around our house for a few months. Was it from a trip to the beach? The Hollywood Bowl? Who owns this bag? And would you like it back?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Gorgeous Floors of the Queens Apartment

Though it was disconcerting to discover that one of the subcontractors who was working on our little New York apartment walked off with

Screw Drivers
Tape Measure
2 Rolls Blue Tape
Roll of Brown Paper
Putty Knife
Wall Scraper
Nose-Dust Guards
Steak Knives
2 Boxes Silverware
Wine Opener
Potato Peeler
and even
The Dish Soap.

It was nice to know that the floors came out so well and the contractor will deduct the cost of the stolen items from his bill.

Welcome back to New York...a city where they will snatch the bottle of Dawn.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Happy and Sad

There is a new play at the Ahmanson called THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. Go see it. It's the smartest musical I've ever seen. And it's extremely funny. Created by Second City about seven years ago as nothing more than an engagement party stunt, it was developed into a full length, hilarious play. This guy, Bob Martin, sits in a chair in his present day New York apartment and just has to share with the audience the love of an old 1920's musical. Next thing you know, the musical takes over his apartment. It's quite brilliant. And the cast is outrageously talented. And did I say it was smart? The tone is just right. It's heading off to Broadway. If you can, get down to the Ahmanson and see it. On any day it is playing, you can get $20 tickets at the box office. Really, it's so worth seeing. This is the second play downtown that has turned out to be a great surprise. Romance being the other one.

Now the sad: My Aunt Helen died today. She was my Godmother and I've always felt very close to her. I'm off to New Jersey in the morning (Monday) to spend some time with my relatives...doing the Catholic body, coffin, crying and eating thing. I am actually looking forward to it. My Aunt Helen was quite ill for a long time, so, it's best. I saw her about six weeks ago. And then last week, we talked on the phone and we said goodbye. She was all doped up on morphine and she said to me, in a very fun way, "Adios!" I will miss her. TO AUNT HELEN!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dan's Birthday


Seems like Picasa now has its own Blog interface and one can just say "TA-TA HELLO."

So, it was sort of ME, sort of HELLO that was causing me trouble. Isn't it interesting that it almost always takes two to make problems?

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, Happy Birthday to Dan Kaufman. He is now 41, filled with greasy food from Yemen. The restaurant was called THE MAGIC CARPET, which is pretty funny.

The woman who worked there was lovely. The man was kind of like a goat beater.

In attendance: Leslie, Jeff, Ramona, Chantal, Sarah, Bart, Adam & Don

Try to guess from the picture the names of the faces!

And Dan: Enjoy being 41. It's so prime!

Posting Pictures


It's so get used to a freebie like HELLO, which works with PICASA to post pictures onto your blog, and you wake up one day and it just won't work.

Is it down?

Is your computer down?

Am I down?

The way one interprets technology that does not work probably says a lot about a person.

If you think it's all your fault, then you might be in the neurotic camp.

If you think it's the fault of HELLO, then you might be in the personality disorder camp.

Yesterday, I blamed HELLO.
Today, I blamed ME.

So I'm feeling pretty balanced psychologically.

But frankly, the problem remains and the mystery seems unsolvable at this point.

I look forward to a future posting with pictures and I also retain a wise detachment from the problem.

Everything I need to know will be revealed to me in time.

Have a gorgeous weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

November 17, 1974

You wouldn't believe this but I got picked up by the cops for loitering at the corner with Sally, Lisa, and Wendy. I didn't get in trouble.

I was 12. The girls were 14.

Sally: My sister. Smoked Parliaments.

Lisa: A neighborhood friend. She was really tall and had blond hair and looked kind of like Susan Dey and Carly Simon...though she was the long jean coat type. Smoked L&M's.

Wendy: Our upstairs neighbor in our two-family house. She was my friend before she was my sister's friend. Smoked Marlboros.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

November 15, 1974

I went to the school dance tonight. It was a deffinate pisser. I had so much fun. We banged into walls ran around the school. Beat up everyone and you name it we did it. I hope the next dance is even better.

In the Seventh Grade, I was a bit of a ruffian. I smoked cigarettes, smoked pot, drank and hung out with a rough girl named Jackie (my first girlfriend) who later became a lesbian. We would make out and then go around the school and terrorize people. We were even nastier at the ice skating rink, Sportorama, where we would body slam other skaters into the walls. One time Jackie turned on me and slammed me down hard and I hit my head on the ice. I pretended I was knocked out. For a while.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Compelling Mollusk and Mammal

Noah Baumbach's film, The Squid and the Whale, is one of those movies that will never be shown at the mall. Is it because very little happens or is it because so much happens in a very little way?

I actually didn’t love the movie while I was watching it. I saw certain character tricks the filmmaker used to show which alliances the children were making. And since this is basically a memoir movie, I accept that most likely, this is how things went down. Each son takes on the personality traits of whichever parent they are allied to...interesting.
But this sort of threw me while watching the movie. I imagine during a divorce, kids go through a bigger muddle than something as neat as taking sides and imitative postures. Of course, I could be completely wrong.

The literary tone could have been, I thought, even more literary. References are made to only the most famous writers...Dickens, Fitzgerald, etc.

But after the movie was over, it stuck with me for a couple days. I mean, the journey is so small yet the depiction is so rich. And you don’t get to see that very often in films these days. The acting is perfect across the board. Every actor is pretty much perfectly pitched and believable. It is rare to see this. And for this very reason alone, it is a film worth finding. Get thee to The Squid and the Whale at an art plex near you.

Official Squid and Whale Site

Friday, November 11, 2005

I Missed France

Because I was in New York for a little over week and not reading newspapers, spending my days with a mop, Spic-N-Span and a trowel, I missed the entire France nightmare.

And I have to say, I am glad I did. I’ve been to the Northeastern section of Paris many times and it was always scary. But I also held that it was kind of fun and it seemed like a place where you could rent a pretty cheap apartment. And in my fantasies, I always thought, “Well, if I wanted to live in Paris, I should live North of Place de La Republique. It’s affordable. Sure, it’s a bit moche, but how exciting.”

Now, the Northeastern suburbs of Paris, that’s another story. I’ve only been through there a few times on the R.E.R. (the commuter train that goes to the airport) and I have to say, it is hell out there. The buildings are as awful as any urban American projects and the graffiti is layers thick on absolutely everything. That part of the world looks like a place where no one should ever have to live. Also, I imagine the government just gave up trying to clean the graffiti because there is just so much of it. The streets in those banlieue are just awful.

Which brings me to the problem with poverty. I just don’t understand why we still have poverty. Anywhere. Whether it’s in California, France or sub-Saharan Africa, it just seems so silly at this point. Furthermore, though many of the citizens in those nasty projects in Northeastern Suburban Paris are on the dole, why not make the dole bigger? Why not help these people set up businesses? Why do the corporations get absolutely everything which leaves people who could possibly have small businesses unable to compete?
And, though I am no social-political-economist pundit, it just seems to me that someone in France, with their socialist views, should be able to solve this problem.

I am glad I didn’t see any of the carnage. I need to retain some sort of fantasy that there is at least one powerful, yet civilized country on this earth. So for now, I keep my reverie alive about France. I am so glad I missed the pictures. I hope someone can figure out a way to hyphenate Christianity and Islam into one big religion...tone it all down...and get on with it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Your Taste

The blog is back.

I have missed blogging, but there was a great need to be in a very filthy apartment...the New York apartment that out the remains of pigeons...including a nest by the heater.

I didn’t want to have my laptop in that environment, but now it’s a sparkling clean place, soon to be painted, and the blog should continue sans interruption in the future.

The excitement of getting a second place to live, and that second place being New York City, is enough to make any mid-life crisis abate.

The closing went smoothly. It was hilarious. All these lawyers out in the FBI building in Queens (Kew Gardens). There we all were, signing wads of paper. I have no idea where any of it went. Though I did receive my proprietary lease. The building we were in gets more bomb scares than any other place in Queens.

I saw Rufus Wainwright at the Beacon with my sister and brother-in-law. He was amazing. A little croaky. The sound system was not good.

But mostly, it was all just cleaning and cleaning and spackling and moving things around.

Adam came for the weekend and he was just as excited as I was. We ate at an amazing Peruvian restaurant on 37th Avenue around 86th street.

All the electrical outlets have been changed. The gas is turned on. Megan made us little drapes from an old sheet. A pot of flowers sat on the windowsill.

On the last day I was in New York, I took the F train to 23rd and 6th Avenue. Did you know there is a Home Depot right there? Odd, yet so comforting and useful. I stole the rubber bottom to a leg from one of the step stools because the one we bought at the Home Depot in Queens was missing one. And you know how much easier it is to steal the little rubber thing than it is to lug the whole ladder back. Call me a pig, but do it in the name of domestic peace.

After Home Depot and poking around ABC Carpet and the Murphy Bed Center, I had a tuna wrap at Your Taste on 23rd and 6th. It’s just a ramped up Starbucks. At the counter facing out the window, a lovely older woman sat next to me and we were both mesmerized by the humanity streaming by. She was eating chicken salad on pumpernickel.

We got to talking. She’s an empty nester. And she’s a builder. And she lives in Fairfield, CT. Her husband works on Wall Street. And she just has to come into the city a couple times each week just to see the people. We talked about what we do. She was very excited that I was a writer. “It’s all about being creative and putting it out there. Good for you!” But I was even more excited when she told me that she built eco homes. At first, I thought this woman might be conservative since she was a builder and her husband works on Wall Street (Aren’t these wild times, always looking to see what camp someone is in?)--- and ultimately, I am not sure where she is politically, even with her eco homes. But her sloppy makeup and her open demeanor suggested just left of center.

As we were leaving and we shook arms (you know, when you get so happy that a hand shake isn’t enough and you have to grab the arm of the person and they do the same thing back in an arm to arm delight-hold?)—and she said about her eco homes, “Everyone builds these big homes in Utah and they can’t heat them. Well, we are building them but we are covering every single home with solar panels. This is what we do. Fuck the Arabs. We’ll do it without them.”

She told me her name, but I forget it now.