Sunday, September 30, 2007

news you can use - part 2

a few summers ago gawker had a "hottest men of the new york times" online poll. of course, i immediately dispatched the link to my friends, including c4ts, who made a pretty convincing case for sewell chan (who, unfortunately, apparently was nominated for neither his body nor his brains). btw, 10 points for anyone who can befriend this guy on facebook. demonstrating that i'm not the only one obsessed with the faces behind the bylines of the times, gawker's subsequent "hotties of X" polls were met with tepid reactions and i think they stopped after "hotties of conde nast" or something equally boring.

i know the holidays are coming up and people are looking for gift ideas, so i thought i would suggest this. i mean, look at that thing. gorgeous. and positively a bargain at $100!

Friday, September 28, 2007

my brushes with fame

SO...big week for me here in new york, aside from being mauled at work.

anyway, i happened to see oprah-hating jonathan franzen at a book party the other night. which was featured on gawker, no less. i was gonna ask him about spring awakening, but his giant head (tucked away in a corner) intimidated me.

but the WAY more important news is that i went to see genesis last night- in new jersey, no less. hell yes, people. we had bad hair, bad denim and seriously bad dancing. i mean, c'mon, you really just can't dance to "invisible touch" no matter how many pyrotechnical feats are involved (and in case you were wondering, there definitely were pyrotechnics).

before i say anything more about the concert, i just want to assure people that i didn't start liking genesis out of some homage to bret easton ellis. no, i was just a really fucking cheesy kid. "hold on my heart" (which phil performed, seated, and even ridiculed himself thereafter for the song's sentimentality) and most of phil solo (e.g. "separate lives" or "one more night") really spoke to me as a 10 or 11-year-old. i know, i can't explain it either.

my love only deepened when i saw their behind the music. the departure of peter gabriel, the class differences between prep school preppies banks & rutherford vs. hoi polloi collins (which was underscored last night by the prep boys' smart blazers and collins's member's only jacket), collins's melodramatic separation from his first wife, etc. really great stuff.

so about the concert...yeah sure, they looked pretty old, although i loved tony banks. not fazed by anything, this guy. it was as if he put down the ny times crossword puzzle to rock out on the synth. while phil collins was going "crazy" in a very choreographed fashion with the tambourine, banks just played on, unperturbed. i mean, just look at that mug. you can trust your life to that guy.

i was pretty sad they didn't play "don't lose my number", "misunderstanding" or "illegal alien" among their many great hits, but you can check out here what the tour setlist is. what the setlist doesn't tell you is that there was a 15 minute drum solo between phil and that other drummer. so i guess a drum duo?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Whoah, this dude's kid was my best friend from kindergarten to third grade.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Odyssey -- Epilogue

So, we've settled into a nice place in Temescal, Pockets and I--just down the street from Bakesale Betty and Lanesplitter, so if I get all choked up about Brooklyn, I can saunter down there, eat a ginger cookie or a slice, and surround myself in the emitted warmth of the patrons' Saucony kicks, rectangular glasses, and old-timey bicycles. Otherwise, not much to report. Pockets has begun work, while I sink further into an Al-Bundy-like void of ambition. Three weeks hence I am to report to my job, I'm told.

I share the place with an unruly and extended family of unpacked boxes. Also, we're still perplexed by this whole you-have-to-pay-for-garbage thing--garbage, mind you, that's removed once a week.

We bought a mattress. I'd never considered the economics of mattresses before, but wtf, those things ain't cheap. I mean maybe I'm some sort of naif, but after my car and my computer, that's the most expensive thing I own right now. On the plus side, who knew that having a dishwasher could make you feel like an adult? Oh, and E, jeanmeanie, anonymous in India, jbell, others, we've got an extra bedroom, so when're you visiting?

Monday, September 24, 2007

barack on broadway!

seriously, that was the name of the event i attend tonight. one of those "only in new york, kids" type things. my friend was generous enough to invite me to hear barack obama speak. or so we thought. turns out it was some broadway fundraiser/tribute to barack obama. no joke! some song and dance number featuring the main character from hairspray, christine ebersol singing "balm in gilead" (i don't know what the heck it is either) and a young and admittedly skilled tap dancer.

nonetheless, if there's one thing i am sure of it's that i hate musicals. i hate spontaneous song and theatricality so much so that i don't even like opera. shit is so over the top.

anyway, the saving grace of the evening was that jeffrey wright (among others) narrated some famous passages from notable playwrights, including odets, august wilson and others. and of course, the piece de resistance, barack obama himself.

this was my first ever political rally of any sort. my friend and i noted that most certainly one of the two americas was present in this broadway theater, and i assure you it was the one with great health care coverage. despite my extreme cynicism, barack was impressive. i think what i enjoyed most about hearing him speak was how natural he was in the spotlight. no false modesty, no awkward attempts at humor. his jokes were understated and not without some bittersweet elements ("americans have grown so desperate for change that they're willing to try out a black guy named barack obama") . yes, i was a little turned off by the ginormous american flag that filled the stage, which my friend likened to the set of "the music man", and his repeated emphasis on what it meant to be "american" certainly was alienating, and i can't say that i am ready to cast my non-vote to his cause, but the man is damn persuasive.

oh yes, for those of you who may care, he was not as tall as i thought he'd be and wore a black suit with some nondescript light blue tie.

so what is the point of this post? as unwilling as i was to be moved, there is something to be said about an individual who can stir the thought of change, progress and, egads, hope in a hardened individual like myself. along the same lines of the old "ask not what the country can do for you", obama emphasized the need for individual sacrifice for the collective good. and harkening back to his 2004 convention speech, he reiterated the need for a communal belief that if one of us is undereducated, unhealthy, earning a pitiable wage despite hard work, etc., something is amiss. and i think he was right to weave this into his subtle leitmotif of patriotism. indeed, being "american" is not just about having the biggest guns and persecuting the greatest number of gays. this was more compelling than any bush-bashing or cheney-hating, although i did appreciate his shout-out to the demise of habeas corpus.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

super sad statements made to me by people who have no idea how sad they sound

i think this is going to be an ongoing series of posts. i used to post about awkward moments at work, but they've not occurred as much of late. not sure why. stockholm syndrome? drinking the kool-aid? who knows. i hesitated with this line of posts at first because i thought, in one of my more paranoid states, that omg a) people at work is going to read this, b) they are going to recognize themselves and c) be upset with me.

well, let's hope (a) never happens, shall we? okay.

this guy i work with and his wife just had a baby recently. i knew he'd been working a lot so i said to him, "oh, i bet you don't get to see your new baby much, eh?" he actually said to me in response, "yeah, it's true. but i tell myself that she [Ed note: the baby, not the wife] doesn't know the difference yet."

and this one comes courtesy of "anonymous": this partner at his firm was walking with his kid down the hall in the office and the kid says, "daddy, how come you live here?" so the partner, without missing a beat points to anonymous's friend (who regularly works around the clock) and says, "i don't live here. he lives here."

ps if you can come up with an apt photo for this line of posts, lemme know.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

signs of the apocalypse

holy shit dudes. what.the.fuck. i've been having extreme nostalgia thanks to this onion piece that pretty much summed up my college years, musically anyway.

watch what happens when hipsters grow old, settle into boerum hill and start popping out babies.

there goes the neighborhood

omg! one half of heathchelle is totally leaving the 'hood! in the most indiscreet manner ever!

Odyssey -- Conclusion

4896 miles and 20 days later, we've arrived. We (that is to say, I) thought about swinging by the Las Vegas courthouse earlier today to check in on OJ, but the appeal of so doing was lost on Pockets.

As we exited our hotel, I told her we should each do one last spin on the slot machines. My one dollar crank yielded a ten-fold return--a good omen, but her luck was sour, sadly. I cashed out and we got in the car. Even the irksome check engine light decided not to follow us to California. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas indeed. Yet another good omen.

We drove. Bugsy Siegel's desert dream gave way to farm country, which then gave way to hills, then to the lights by the Bay. Tonight it's sleep, and tomorrow it's staving off the very real possibility of homelessness--apartment hunting, an odyssey in its own right. More on this later. In the meantime, enjoy my provocative song choices:

LCD Soundsystem -- New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down.mp3
Journey -- When the Lights Go Down in the City.mp3

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

beat em? join em?

just beat them up?

sometimes i find myself on the upper east side and i feel as if i'm in a foreign land. i see all these perfectly coiffed people in their pressed clothes looking indescribably content and i grow uncomfortable. why? because i'm not sure whether my resentment is directed at them for their complacency or at myself for secretly wishing i could be one of them? who the hell knows.

but i think that sentiment and ambivalence pretty much describes my feelings toward this times article on wealthy 20-somethings who forgo business school. yes, a caveat: i have virtually no talents in finance, so it's not a realistic assumption that i could join them even if i wanted. can you believe these quotes? omg!

* So he, too, decided to forgo an M.B.A.. Instead, he raised $5 million and started his own hedge fund, Alerian Capital Management, in 2004. The fund now manages $300 million out of offices in New York and Dallas, and Mr. Hammond, 28, enjoys seven-figure payouts.

* “The sales pitch of these private equity funds or these hedge funds is, ‘Come here, and you’ll make a million bucks in two years,’ ” says Gregg R. Lemkau, 38, managing director and chief operating officer of investment banking at Goldman Sachs, who passed up business school to stay at Goldman in the early 1990s when that choice was more rare.

* And because today there are more self-made millionaires — and billionaires — than ever before, 20-something traders seem bolder in their monetary ambitions. Business school often does not fit into these plans. [Ed note: where? i don't know any of these people]

anyway, as my sister once told me after i received my first real paycheck, "hey e, you're a thousandaire!"

Odyssey -- Part VI

So, things are wrapping up for me and Pockets. It's very late on Friday night, and I'm bringing disgrace to Las Vegas' famous maxim by blogging from the 51st floor of some hotel on the Strip. Reflected in the mirror, through the window behind me, is the Bellagio, which Brad Pitt and George Clooney once so handsomely robbed--in the distance, behind it, the Palms, site of Britney's crime against humanity. We came for the spectacle, but the spectacle, and the $20 unagi-avocado rolls have gotten the better of us, so we're holed up in our hotel room, catching up on some sleep.

The last couple of days we were in the Grand Canyon. Miraculously, yesterday we rousted quite early and set off for a hike in the South Rim. The Grand Canyon's a strange place, not the least because it exceeds your expectations in this God-affirming sort of way. I think we took a hundred pictures, mostly because we couldn't get over the sight. Today, before heading out of there, Pockets and I stood on one of the lookout points and gazed out at one of the jutting ridges. An elderly Korean couple had ventured out onto the ledge. The woman was dangling her feet over thousands of feet of nothingness, and the man sang a plaintive Korean song into the echoing void. It was strange and beautiful. After they left, we conjured up some strength and climbed down to the same ledge, but Pockets' flip-flops and my neuroses precluded us from making it as far as that old couple. How old have we become?

The day before we spent in Tucson. Not much to report from there except that if you miss the exit for downtown, God help you. We walked around campus a bit, and I looked for someone to talk basketball with, but all we encountered were a few interesting bugs and some sun-burnt sorority girls whose scales had never tipped into the triple digits.

But don't be bored, dear reader, because the day before was a doozy We spent the night in El Paso, and I thought it wouldn't be a half-bad idea to venture into Mexico. We parked our car and took the Bridge over to Juarez. Pockets bought the molcajete she'd been talking about for months, and I thought long and hard about buying a lucha libre mask. Juarez itself is pretty typical border-town I suppose, but both Pockets and I couldn't get over how much it reminded us of Pakistan, and how much--in a strange and nostalgic way--we liked it. After a couple of hours, we collected our purchases and made our way back over the Bridge to the land of dripping honey, flowing milk. Pockets made some joke in the line--the obvious one about our heritage, my unkempt beard, and I snapped at her unkindly. It was in the back of my mind. It was there, but I had been downplaying it. Here we were, making our way back over the border, on September the 11th.

Now, I had insisted that we take our passports with us. You don't have to take your passport with you--that's the official rule, but the last two times I've crossed back into the country from Canada, I've been asked for it, so I know not to take chances. I know official rules don't apply to everyone. Pockets and I waited in the line with your odd tourist and loads of day laborers. Each flashed his or her driver's license and was sent along--literally, no questions asked. When our turn came up, we offered our driver's licenses, and the border agent started to look them up and down with some vigor I hadn't seen before. Pockets then told her we had our passports too, and she said, "Oh, yeah. If you have your passports, that'd be better."

She looked over Pockets' and looked over mine: Visa from the Republic of Pakistan. Visa from the Kingdom of Jordan. I knew the drill. She got up out of her seat and asked us to follow her into the office. We did as we were told. What followed was interesting. She sat us down, in a room with a Mexican guy with his ear bashed in and his hands in cuffs, and took our passports to a colleague. Loudlly, they discussed a "discrepancy" in Pockets' passport. That's the diversion. Another border agent showed up, and looked over the passport too. A female agent took Pockets to a side room, patted her down, and had her count the money in her purse, before dismissing her. But I waited--with the cauliflower ears guy and another guy in wrist-and-ankle shackles. The border guy tried to make "small talk" with me, as he was trained to, and I knew there was nothing wrong with Pockets' papers.

"So, what line of work are you in?...Oh, you're a lawyer. Where'd you go to school?"

I gave flat, informative answers: "I'm going to be an attorney. I just graduated from the University of Michigan Law School." He smiled and nodded. Another border agent--yes, a fourth agent--came up, and asked, "What nationality?," and the original agent stared daggers at him for his faux pas and made a big show of saying, "American. See?," while shoving our passports in his face. That made me laugh a little. It was for my benefit. Heaven forfend I begin to think I'd been racially profiled.

A fifth agent--a bit older--then appeared. He was unnaturally friendly. He explained to me that there were new rules and regulations, and that anyone in the "secure area" had to be patted down in a private cell, and then I said it. I couldn't help it. I tried to bite my tongue, but I just couldn't. I stood up and I said, "Don't worry about it. I know the drill." It bothered him. I could tell. He was just doing his job. He was being perfectly nice. I wasn't supposed to draw any attention to what was going on, but there--big mouth and all--I had. He stayed quiet for a few minutes as he led me into the cell by the back wall. I put down the post cards I had bought and Pockets' molcajete, and I put by hands against the wall, and I pressed my forehead against the cinderblocks. I spread my legs apart before he told me too. I wasn't kidding. I know the drill. He did his pat down, and continued with the small talk:

-What kind of lawyer are you going to be?
-I'm going to be a first year litigation associate with a law firm in San Francisco. I graduated in May, and will begin work in October.
-Oh, great, great...Where'd you go to college?
-I went to Duke University in North Carolina. I graduated in 2000 with a degree in Political Science and English.
He had to confirm I went to Duke, so...--You didn't play lacrosse, hunh?
-No, sir, I didn't. I believe there's a lot wrong with the lacrosse team, but Nifong should be punished for the various ways in which he overstepped.
He had to confirm I went to Michigan, so...What's up with your football team?
-Well, honestly, while the loss to Appalachian State was devastating and the loss to Oregon embarrassing, if you've been following the team for the last few years, you'd see that Michigan is slow on defense and the coaching staff is rooted in an antiquated style of play. We've lost every bowl game in the last four years, and will continue to get annihilated by the likes of Ohio State, unless Carr resigns.

The frisk ended. I was led back into the main room. A few more questions about my parents, where I went to high school, when I got married, what kind of work Pockets does, etc. Then...Hey you're a lawyer, let me give you this questionnaire.

I was sent on my way, and while part of me felt sad for our country--after all, four border patrol agents spent 20 minutes this past September 11th dealing with me and not with the various threats our country actually faces--I thought to myself, goddamn, it's good to be reminded who you are and who you're never ever going to be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ooh la la pierre -- Part Deux

My feelings about Pierre Turgeon are best expressed by Dale Hunter during the 1993 Playoffs.

Monday, September 10, 2007

ooh la la pierre

whoa, classy gent and lady byng winner pierre turgeon decided to hang up his skates after nineteen seasons in the NHL.

but you know what really gets to me about the wikipedia entry? the following used to have a totally different meaning when i was an uninformed youth back in canadia: "In 1991, Turgeon, along with Benoit Hogue, Uwe Krupp, and Dave McLlwain, was traded to the New York Islanders for Pat LaFontaine, Randy Wood, Randy Hillier and future considerations." y'know, the sabres were gonna sit around and contemplate for a while, scratch their chins and then get back to the islanders with what they wanted at some point down the line. i guess that literally is what happened, but the word "consideration," much like the word "reasonable," makes my brain melt now.

anyway, kind of nuts that turgeon never won a stanley cup. even ray bourque squeezed one in in his final season! alas, au revoir, pierre.

at least trevor linden is still in the game. whew.

Odyssey -- Part V

Alabama wasn't a total loss. We stayed the night in Mobile, and though initially my queries of the front desk were met with some confusion ("So, where is the cool part of town where stuff is happening?") we did manage to score a lead on a nice little seafood spot overlooking the Gulf. From there we continued our westward cruise on I-10, detouring onto 90 near Biloxi. We got caught in a very isolated tropical storm. As soon as we crossed into Gulfport, the rains stopped. I tried to keep my eyes peeled for Trent Lott's house, but couldn't find it. There were a lot of posh new condos and homes, next to foundation blocks with addresses painted on them--all amidst trees with branches torn off. Some of the piers out into the Gulf are still pretty damaged, but that federal money sure is being spent. You can tell.

After a while, Mississippi gave way to New Orleans. We stayed with our friend Marcia right in the heart of the French Quarter, which, of course, was spared by the storm and, more important, by the flooding waters from the Lake. But things are different there nonetheless; a muted energy. Pockets and I did our best to inject some funds into the local economy; we took a haunted history tour, the same one I took right before the storm--with twenty other tourists. But this time around Pockets and I were the only ones who showed up. Pretty much the same result when we went out to the bayou in Slidell to look at gators: just me, Pockets, and some lady from Seattle. This is just anecdotal evidence, but the state of tourism in New Orleans and surrounding parts seems pretty grim.

We struggled with the idea of being poverty/catastrophe tourists, but in the end the curiosity was too much. We took a drive through the Lower 9th, with a couple of friends who moved back to the city after the storm. Most of the clutter's been removed, and a furious nature has taken its course--weeds and shrubbery have spread across an expanse of land that used to have homes. Empty blocks in the middle of the city, with the levee walls looming in the back. Hand-painted street signs remain, as do the rescue markings on the fronts of houses. Seeing it on TV is one thing, but it really hits home when you look at the water marks on the old houses that are still standing.

As a total outsider, there's little I can say about the pace of redevelopment in the city, and while you can tell there's something lost in New Orleans, the people--from what I remember--remain the same.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Odyssey -- Part IV

So, Alabama on a Sunday? Not a good plan. Most everything was closed, and what wasn't didn't make for too edifying an experience. From Atlanta we headed west. Pretty soon into our drive the skies opened up, and we pulled over to check out the Tuskegee Airmen national historic site. A National Parks ranger was really excited to see us, and made sure we watched the informative video, but a trailer next to an airfield doesn't exactly capture the momentousness of the Airmen's accomplishments. From there, we went to the Tuskegee Institute itself (now Tuskegee University), where more friendly Parks rangers greeted us. Not much for us there. Booker T's house was closed, and the George Washington Carver Museum wasn't much more than a room, with pictures of him looking into beakers.

Next came Montgomery, where we saw literally three people: one more park ranger, and two other tourists. We went to Maya Lin's Civil Rights Memorial, and MLK's church, and then we blazed out of town.

From there the drive down to Mobile was interesting only because we stopped at a Stuckey's gas station, and took the picture above. Who says southern culture's on the skids?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

news you can use

just something i noticed in the times. an article about vancouver's restaurant scene a while back entitled "Asian Stars Are Bright in Vancouver's Firmament". and this week's way early preview of an article on jack goldsmith begins as follows: "In the fall of 2003, Jack L. Goldsmith was widely considered one of the brightest stars in the conservative legal firmament."

btw, i caught "the king and the clown," which i think was the 3rd most popular movie of all time in korea. the story in a nutshell is about a troup of performers that become court jesters in 14th (15th?) century korea. the more intriguing aspect of the film is that one of the jesters, gong-gil, wins the affection of a lascivious king, who realizes that gong-gil can meet his emotional and physical needs more than his many (female) concubines. i know, there's a reason why this movie was called the "brokeback mountain" of korea. even though only one very quick male-on-male kiss verifies this homosexual subtext, i was pretty darn surprised that a mainstream movie was acknowledging and not denigrating homosexual love.

granted, i think the movie's popularity may be attributable to the very bawdy humor, skewering of the upper class and depictions of lavish royal life, but i dunno, maybe we've come a long way, baby? yeah, i don't wholeheartedly endorse this movie bc i think they could've cut out about 20 min, but it was entertaining.

this reminds me: the heath ledger/michelle williams breakup kind of got to me. maybe bc they're my quasi-neighbors? who knows.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

sympathy for the devil

no, not implying nicole kidman is the devil. but this woman has a seriously good PR rep. we feel sorry for her, yet again, for her sham marriage to tom cruise, her trouble conceiving and her general loneliness. she's attractive, successful, wealthy, oscar-winning, etc., yet stars--they're just like us! maybe they also enjoy watching dvds in their underwear while eating potato chips. what? ha ha...omg, nobody would do that.

anyway, school's starting up again. i saw all these kids lugging their books (even casebooks!) and suitcases around the city on labor day and i almost became anxious myself. do i have the right pens? notebooks? will my classes be okay? then i realized, whew, none of that applies to me anymore. the closest i'll get to school is listening to the new kanye west.

Monday, September 3, 2007


did oprah approve of spring awakening or something? what's to explain whiny whinerson jonathan franzen's vitriol directed against duncan sheik's musical? don't get me wrong - as an entire genre musicals are insufferable, but franzen's reaction seems a little over-the-top to me. this guy just seems like he'd be the worst dinner guest, ever. don't invite this dude to disneyland, kids.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Odyssey -- Part III

So, I guess it was the right time to get the hell out of Ann Arbor. While 110,000 wept in the Big House we were oblivious, touring the Carter Library and Museum and considering the state of Atlanta hipsters. Tomorrow it's Tuskegee, Montgomery, and Mobile. I'm a fast talking, beleathered Lawyer-Brooklynite; Pockets is my sassy, sexy, big-haired sidekick. Hilarity surely will ensue.