Dec 11 2010

the great purge

For the longest time, CarrieNation thought I was a neat freak.  This came out after I’d known her for maybe two years.  What happened was: the first time she was ever in my apartment was the first time I met her, which was also right after I’d done a fairly major cleaning.  My place was…. well, not spotless, but as close as it’s been to spotless in the past decade.  And then we always hung out somewhere else after that.  So naturally she just assumed I was always so fastidious.  She’s under no such illusions any more.

It has recently come to my attention that I’m not a hoarder.  It’s not like this was a huge concern, but I’ll admit I had my doubts.  But a friend of my friend Cait’s father is the world’s leading expert on hoarding – he wrote the book on it, literally – and I don’t exhibit any of the big warning signs.  It hasn’t been impossible for me to move around my house; I can distinguish between throwing away an object and throwing away a memory or a person or place.  It turns out I’m just lazy.  And disorganized.  That’s why this stupid task is going to take all goddamn weekend.


10-ish PM — I started with the bookshelves, which maybe was a bad idea.  There are more tough decisions to be made there than probably anywhere else.  It took about an hour, but I think I made decent progress.In the foreground is my first of many bags of trash.  I’ve obviously ignored the pressing problem of compact discs for now, but I identified more books than I expected to get rid of.


10:16 AM — After a visit to Alexandria’s finest (and only) breakfast joint, I write my introduction to the live-blog and mentally prepare to tackle the closet in the bedroom.  Clothes should be easy, because if they don’t fit or if I haven’t worn them in over a year, they’re going.  I give that plan about half an hour before I revise my criteria.

11:40 AM — The Leaning Tower of Pasta clanked against the floor as I carried the trash outside.  I’m up to two full bags, and removing them from my apartment was a good excuse to head over to Misha’s for a cup of coffee.  I also have three bags of clothes to donate.  The less fortunate of Northern Virginia will soon be sporting the fresh styles of 2002.  I’ve reached the back of my closet in my bedroom.  The excavation has just reached a box of crap from my office two jobs ago and my old cassette tapes.  This journey just got interesting.

1:32 PM — If one is inclined to believe – as I am – that an undertaking such as this is a exercise of self-discovery, then the overwhelming revelation this morning is that I really like to swipe pens from the office.  I’ve found some in every box, bag, and parcel I’ve sorted through.  And of course they’ve all been tested, because I’d hate to throw out perfectly good pens.  Trash bags number three, four, and five have been carted downstairs and I’m officially done with all of my clothes and the closet in my bedroom.  Going through my tapes was surprisingly anti-climactic because (except for the Mighty Roy’s account of his move across the country) they all got tossed.  I have nowhere to listen to them and they have no resale value.  The only mild amusement was the occasional reminder that U2 wasn’t always on the spite list.3:14 PM — There is no more appropriate label for the boxes in my apartment than “Misc. Shit”.4:29 PM — The trash bag count stands at seven, not including assorted items that are too large to go in the cans.  And these are lawn and leaf bags, mind you – not the wimpy kitchen variety.  I just wanted to be clear on that.  It’s been over an h0ur now since I’ve touched any of the dozen remaining boxes in my “Misc. Shit” closet, and though I’ve eaten lunch and done some laundry in that time I now need to power through the rest in order to wrap that up before a holiday party this evening.  It’s like a game.  Can I throw out all my crap before time runs out?  We shall see.

7:14 PM — Ten bags.  And I didn’t quite make it.  I have five boxes left.  I’ll have to get to them later.


2:42 PM — Um, okay…  This break wasn’t supposed to be so long.  But I was wiped out after last night’s holiday party and then had brunch plans with Cait and Daby and CarrieNation.  After taking my beater bike in to the shop for a tune-up, I’m finding my motivation at a low point.  I’ve already started bargaining: if I get through the middle closet and the coat closet, I can save my storage unit in the basement for another day.  I guess I need to get to it.  I sure wish the Steeler game was on to distract me.

3:50 PM — Two and a half more bags of trash later and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

4:30 PM — I came across a box of stuff that obviously ended up with me because my mom insisted that I clean out my old bedroom when they moved out of the house I lived in during high school.  I know this because I threw out four broken Walkmen.  I also found this gem, which makes me think of M-Dashes and is appropriate right now.5:20 PM — Screw it.  I’m going to the movies.

8:59 PM — Fair Game wasn’t bad.  I’m up to fourteen bags of trash.  I’m racing the clock again, because I want to get the coat closet done before I hit the sack.  And I’m ready to go to bed now.

9:24 PM — The weekend’s biggest mystery: Why do I own a metal detector and where did it come from?

11:15 PM — I just limped across the finish line – utterly defeated.  The final count was sixteen bags of trash, and I’m a little surprised that it wasn’t more.  All I can say is that those are some big bags.  I have more thoughts, I think, but those will have to wait for another day.  6:00 AM comes around awful early.  At the risk of sounding like every other asshole who goes to an office, I need a weekend after my weekend.

Oct 30 2010

restoring fear

The plan was to attend the rally in person, and I am eternally in CarrieNation’s debt for suggesting the bail.  The telecast was bad enough.  I spent the afternoon enveloped in spite and scorn while watching a smug spectacle and an enormous crowd feeling really fucking pleased with itself.  It should be no surprise, given that background, that I thought of this song for today.  I just wish somebody – anybody – was sporting a mullet as heroic as the one in the video below.

Sep 28 2010

jeremiah was a bullfrog

I recently became friends with someone whose all-time favorite band is U2.  As if that’s not enough, her favorite sports team is the Boston Red Sox and her favorite television show is The Wire.  One of her favorite movies is Slumdog Millionaire, which she has delivered directly to her flat-panel television via Netflix.  And I’m pretty sure she eats cupcakes while she watches.  On the surface, none of those things have anything to do with anything.  But the thing is, I have this list.

Once my friend got over her horror that I would be so petty as to A/ make a list of things I spite and B/ actually write it down, she issued a challenge.  And we all know how much I enjoy a challenge.  That’s why I’ve compiled below a similar list of things that bring me joy.  According to our initial discussions, this was only to be at least one-fourth as long as my spite list.  But my spite list consists of eighty-one items, and listing only twenty here is too easy to be worthwhile.  So I upped the ante by suggesting I exceed the spite list by at least one.  The only other stipulation was that I am not permitted to use this list as a way to make fun of her.  It’s amazing how well she knows me.

Antoni Gaudi / Arrested Development / aquariums / Baltimore, Maryland / Batman / Bill Bryson / blogging / bowling / Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band / buildings / Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid / chimpanzees / Chuck Klosterman / Conan O’Brien / crosswords / cycling / Daisy / dreams / euchre / Euskaltel-Euskadi / fantasy football / freshly cleaned sheets / game night / Games Magazine / Harry Potter books / history books / Homestar Runner / hot dogs / Iceland / Indiana Jones / Joel and Ethan Coen / Jon Krakauer / Karaoke to the Death / Kate Winslet / Lake Diane / Lake Tahoe / Lando Calrissian / Lego / Louis Kahn / macaroni and cheese / Marta / Michigan Wolverines / mimes / museums / nephews / New York Yankees / NFL / Nick Nolte / nieces / The Old 97’s / Old Town Alexandria / Outer Banks / pie / pigs / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / Pittsburgh Steelers / Pixar movies / Polaroids / Prince / pug farts / Ricky Gervais / roller derby / sandwiches / Santiago Calatrava / schnitzel with noodles / Scrabble / The Simpsons / snowboarding / soup / South Park / spite / Star Wars trilogy / strange maps / sushi / swimming / szechaun chicken / Thanksgiving / Tour de France / trains / traveling / vegetarian chili / video games / water skiing / westerns / Wilco / yinzers / Zooey Deschanel / zoos

Nov 9 2008

victory lap

This past week was a big one – one for which we had been waiting for
four long years.  I don't think it's an overstatement to say that the
contest pitted crusaders for all that is good and just against forces
of unmitigated evil.  Joyous celebrations spontaneously erupted all
over this great land when righteousness prevailed.  And then the very
next night there was an election that also turned out pretty swell.

Last Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Washington ***skins at FedEx Field.  I was there.  But there was more at stake than just a football game.  There are bragging rights.  You see, Dabysan
is a life-long ***skins fan, and we had a little bet on the game.  Per
the conditions of our wager, Daby now has to sing a song of my choosing on a public stage at a to-be-determined karaoke venue.

We both knew going into the bet that
the stakes favored Daby.  He has never been one to shy away from the
spotlight.  In fact, he thrives on it.  (This is why he needed a down
year from the usual suspects to win the KttD crown,
and why he will never again know such glory.)  It will be tough to
embarrass him.  I could, I suppose, select a song like "Sweet
Transvestite," but Daby has threatened without prompting in the past to
sing that on the grand KttD stage.  Or I could select a particularly
unctuous U2 song; Daby loves him some U2.  But the best
strategy seems to be the selection of a cloying and emasculated ballad.  The
leading contender is posted below, but I'm open to other suggestions.

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Oct 27 2008

this machine kills fascists

What Bono doesn’t know, and likely will never know, is that you don’t have to be a preening dickweed to change the world.  Woody Guthrie learned – as did Bruce Springsteen, Ted Leo, and Billy Bragg after him – that sometimes you just need a guitar.  And probably a different song from this one.

[UPDATE:  Well, this is timely.  Bono is such an ass.]

Aug 26 2008

(white man) in hammersmith palais

The punk rock movement was a reaction to two decades of increasingly bloated excess.  The objective was strip away all the superfluous bullshit and recapture the vitality and essence of rock and roll in a way that was still forward-thinking.  If we accept as a given that the basic story of rock music is the appropriation by white dudes of music typically made by black dudes, then this early Clash song succeeded spectacularly – adding progressive reggae beats to standard blues-based rock.  So you could say that “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais” is a seminal punk rock song.  And you’d be right.

But the more salient issue here is the faddish nature of the rock and roll milieu.  Trends – from beach music in the late 1950’s to the grunge of the early 1990’s – are fleeting and the Clash were one of many bands who recognized a developing trend and managed to hop on board the bandwagon at just the right time.  That lyric about turning rebellion into money couldn’t have been more apt.  By the early eighties, the Clash were the biggest rock band in the world – the only band that mattered, as it were – and they paved the way for sanctimonious arena rockers such as Radiohead and U2.  Somewhere, Joe Strummer looks down on Bono and smiles.

May 10 2007

not guilty: U2

on this, the forty-seventh anniversary of paul hewson's birth, we here at would like to take a moment to recognize the one U2 record that isn't a total piece of crap.  in fact, not only is "zooropa" a good record by the unbelievably low standard set by all of U2's other records, but it's a decent record even when compared with those by, you know… good bands.  the skeptics out there will point to the presence on this record of the late, great john r. cash as a factor in our lofty opinion of "zooropa," and there may be some truth to that; the closing track 'the wanderer' does feature the best vocal in U2's extensive catalog.  but more significantly, this is the one time in their career in which the band does not come off as magnanimous pricks about saving the world.  that they come off as magnanimous pricks about being enormous rock stars is infinitely more palatable.  and that tired guitar sound – you know which we mean – is nowhere to be heard.  maybe that's why they let the guitarist sing on the first single.  he needed something to do.

kudos go out, incidentally, to dave evans here, for suffering through our own personal vision of hell at just after the three minute mark with the feet all over his face.  of all the many reasons summer is our least favorite season, the prevalence – nay, acceptance – of inappropriate footwear (i.e., that which does not complete encase the offending foot) ranks very near the top of the list.

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Nov 7 2006

monster pop

you've gotta hand it to stylus magazine – in a pitchfork world they're doing what it takes to call attention to themselves by daring to ask the soft-hitting questions nobody else will tackle.  to wit: REM or U2?

seriously guys, can't the answer be "neither?"

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Nov 2 2006

silver and gold

taxes are a serious issue.  they're right up there with death, or so i hear.  one alphonse capone committed countless crimes but it was ultimately an utterly banal tax evasion charge which sent him up the river.  so you'd think an individual who campaigns tirelessly and publicly on behalf of the world's poor – those who might genuinely be helped by a government's unique ability to collect taxes and use those funds to aid the downtrodden – might willingly accept taxes as a necessary, if sometimes unpleasant, part of life.  you might think, also, that if such an individual were to be repeatedly recognized and fêted for his efforts to fight poverty to the point of having been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times over that such an individual might be equally conspicuous about paying his taxes.  well, you'd be wrong.

ladies and gentlemen, meet paul hewson.  you know him as "bono."  i know him as "douchebag."

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Oct 27 2006

not guilty: mary j. blige

i guess technically this is only a fifty percent "not guilty" because U2 sings on this and, um, wrote it.  and i sure as shit feel at least a little guilty about liking anything U2 with which is even remotely involved.  on the other hand, i've been heavily immersed in the indie rock orthodoxy this week and actually had to surf though my itunes to come up with something to feature here.  you could say this is my least inspired "not guilty" post to date and you'd probably be right.  but i had to choose something and i really do enjoy (and always have) when some inteloper upstages the world's most self-satisfied rock band on its own turf.  this version may lack the gravity that john r. cash brought to the same vapid material, but then very few singers have the baritone to sing the phone book and still make it sound like the most important thing you've ever heard.  mary still sings circles around bono, and on some days that's enough.

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