Monday, June 18, 2007


"Whatcha doin?"


"Can you help me with my homework?"

"Doesn't your mom?...why don't you do as much as you can and then show me."

"I already did."

"You didn't even try."

"What's the answer to this one?"

"Well, what do you think it is?"

"Just tell me. My mom gives me my answers."

This was the first 3 hours of my day, with a six-year-old. The boss's kid had a half day and mommy had a meeting. Playing ball, writing reports, commenting on the differences between the first Star Wars characters and the second generations' set and researching companies. These are the kind of tasks that I'm supposed to perform with head-nodding efficiency.

I had done a lot of work for Soledad, one of my bosses at the company I temped for. I worked hard, and quickly developed a reputation for good work, a fast learning curve and an ability to take on all loads of work, no matter how much was going on around me. Quickly though, I realized with frustration that this woman was taking advantage me. Soledad was from Chile, and was a fiery fast talking, wiry blonde with cutting blue eyes and sharp features. She was newly divorced, newly dyked and always dramatic. She sped through the office on foot and talked with the confidence of someone who comes to a country in which they are not a native of and succeeds.

I knew all about her because of the personal records I scanned for her. Suddenly I was the garbage man of the neighborhood. Oh, you left these on top of the stack...the affidavit of your kid's nanny who says (translated from Spanish) that there was evidence of negligence on the hubby's part. Uh. Oh.

"Do you know a good real estate agent in Clear Lake?," She asked me one day.

"Well, I said I used to live near there, but no I don't."

"Could you find one for me?" she said, those eyes urging, demanding and asking.

Well, no. I almost did, I felt guilted by those eyes. Like it was my job to interview my Uncle Larry who lived there and tell him. "Look, I've got cray on line 2 she needs a good realtor, could you give me a name? Oh by the way, thanks for the candies you're wife, my aunt, gave me for Christmas. Does she know I'm 26?"

Soledad was like a robot sometimes, with the inability to either feel empathy or someone who lacked the capability for common manners. People don't assume that someone, who is a stranger to them, will automatically want to do their personal business, do they? Isn't that a pretty much standard operation? Get to know them before helping them deliver a court summons for ex-daddy.

She wore on me. I wasn't just her assistant, I was 5 other people's, but in her world, everything must be done the fastest and firstest. I began to loathe doing anything she asked. I could be totally bored and look with contempt in my eyes at the mere mention of a researching task from her email. I'd do everything she asked and she'd smile a devilish grin and speak to me in Spanish. Her rapid-fire Spanish was light years beyond my comprehension level, but she'd smile when I'd reply to her in her native tongue, even if it was an easy phrase.

It had been a rough two weeks, I narrowly missed out on a job, and a girl I was dating moved to Ft. Lauderdale. At the office, Soledad's 6-year-old stared at me behind his mom's legs. Her eyes and his were the same. "Martin, if you need anything Jeff can help you." Thanks. That's all I needed was some kid asking me a million questions while I tried to get in an updated media list to some other department by 12 noon. I always forget that younger kids have no concept of personal space, and how it is to be respected, so it's always a little shocking to have some kid hang on your arm, or talk in your ear, or hug your leg. Finally, the bugger was gone, but Soledad informed me that she was too busy to order food, but she was hungry, and could I order the salmon roll for her with miso soup, thanks.

Last week Soledad's youngest child was present when I walked into my cubicle. I eyed the 3 foot little beast with a wary eye. Was I going to be conscripted into watching this one? Luckily for me the young girl held the attention of the women in the office. A close one to be sure. I gave her a stink eye just in case she decided that my cubicle was a McDonald's playland. It's not that I don't like kids, I just don't like hers.

Monday, June 11, 2007

BGB Revealed

Yesterday I waited by the phone. And waited. And waited. Why won't he call me? I made sure to sound as unassuming as possible when I dropped my phone number neatly underneath my signature of the email I wrote him.
Dude, pretty kick ass concert on friday if you want to go. I've heard that Animal Collective is pretty boss (i'm bringing it back) live.


He told me he might flake, but I didn't want to believe it. The concert wasn't the same. Where was my buddy who would tell me,"Tall boy time." Or the second pair of eyes for the massive crowd in front of me, "Check that out."

The best guy buddy is a grown-up (slightly) version of your best friend when you were younger, except you now add into the equation booze, girls, work, play and general philosophy. Maybe he's your roommate, a co-worker, or your bartender but never your lover. Nothing wrong with the latter, just doesn't end up being your best guy buddy as much he becomes your gay buddy.

My best guy buddies and I made a split this year, moving to different cities across the states. At times it wasn't pretty and now it's sad. Jealousy arises when some other dude is mentioned as "really cool guy," or if said other guy says something admittedly funny. Damn it, don't do this to me best guy buddy, I thought we had something!

After I put back a fifth of JB and suitably expanded the contents of my stomach into a "how digestion works" diorama, it was time to face the facts. Find a new best guy buddy.

This is a hard job. You've got to tell yourself that asking to play a game of darts or pool with someone is no big deal, and that they have no clue you're on the search for new BGB. This should be your basic template. "Hey man, you got next on ______? Wanna play doubles?" A simple innocuous question that either works or it doesn't.

Sometimes you hit pay dirt, sometimes you hit the sandbar. I knew I was in for a tough sell when I tried to make the bartender, at my neighborhood bar, a new BGB. It wasn't an active mission by all means, but it had the makings. Nothing forced, just an every Tuesday trip down to the bar, some chatty time and a couple of beers on him. "Hey look at that Upper East Side d-bag. You should check this band out. I'm playing at this bar. Hey I might go to that concert you told me about," he said on many occasion. What was I supposed to think? I know the old service industry boundry line, if you're not one of them you're none of them. But I thought he might be different, he could be my new BGB. Maybe FL.

I related my troubles to a friend of mine over pulled pork and brisket on a warm Brooklyn night. "I've got the perfect guy for you," she said. I told her to go on, and I heard her case for BGB matchmaker. She told me this weekend we could "hookup." I quickly told her that BGB's weren't about hooking up and maybe I had given her the wrong impression. She quickly apologized and rephrased it, "Look, he's looking for a BGB too, but don't tell him I told you."

Secret's safe with me.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Exploitation 2000

Red and white fragments of pre-paid envelopes pile up on the kitchen bar in my studio apartment. A book of Verdi classical operettas and songs props up the laptop to a proper viewing height so I can lay on my couch/bed and watch movie after movie that graces my mailbox. New York is, to quote my sister, "Fucking expensive," and catching a quick beer often means that $5 and $10 bills magically burst into flames as soon as you walk into any service based building. My temporary solution for this forced liquidation of cash flow, is to stay inside and only come out when my salary allows me to buy new clothes, a plane ticket and food from a restaurant, in the same week.

If you or someone else you know is currently is a similar situation, then I recommend taking full advantage of your hermit ways. First things first, get a Netflix account or become a regular at your local indie movie store, they still have the mainstream titles and have the foresight to retain an archive of older and less well known films. Next, pick a genre, director, actor or producer and give the person a thorough study. Today's lesson, exploitation films.

Many of you have seen a recent film, Grindhouse. Its tribute to older exploitation films of the past was an appreciative tongue implanted into cheek. I like the Tarantino and Rodriguez's films respectively, but I was more interested in the genre itself. Fast forward to my renting of exploitation hits like, The Big Doll House (sexploitation), Coffy (blaxpoitation), Sweeet Sweeetback's Baad Assss Song (supposedly first blaxploitation, but really a great art-house film), Mad Max (Apocalyptic Carmeggedon), The Gumball Rally (fastcarploitation). All of these films have similar characteristics, with the exception of Mad Max and Gumball Rally, they're not great movies. In fact, they're terrible. What they offer maybe cliche now, but put yourself in the world of the late 60's and 70's and these films offer inventive story lines and content everyone wants to see: sex, drugs and violence.

Oddly enough while doing a little research on the subject of exploitation, I came upon a Kroger Babb, who in the late 30's and 40's and into the 50's touted a 'personal hygiene' film called Mom and Dad. The film was an early "public health" film that showed the dangers of not informing your children thoroughly on the topic of human sexuality; its climax being the showing of an actual child birth. Great to know we're related, hey this man should be recognized for the invention of legalized porn on the big screen. We must share some genes. I leave you with a clip from a movie that I haven't seen yet, but you can bet it's at the top of the Netflix queue. Death Race 2000 is probably the greatest name for a movie, ever and the fact that Sly Stallone and David Carradine are in it, make it 20 times better. This scene featuring a crazy Stallone is awesome.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Kick it

I don't wish I had actually been there for this, but I do walk by these guys from time to time. It always makes me wonder...should I stay in case anything else gets kicked?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

give it more throttle you bloody c**t

¡oyen mucha! zanman did something today that tons of people do everyday but the difference is...i have what i think is a funny story to go along with it. i learned to ride a motorbike today at a local mototour outfitter here in antigua. the bike i had somewhat resembled this one. (i should have some pics soon on my site) the lesson itself is more or less your everyday garden variety anecdote chock full of stalling out, leaving the turn signal on, and locking up that rear break a bit...but the imagination of this prodigal student is something else. my instructor, a friendly welsh gentleman with what i thought was a thick australian accent could not have been more helpful and insightful. he did have a substantial cranial scar on his shaved head that made me think he knew what he was talking about, it also made me feel less like a moron for wearing my helmet with sun visor. (i was like the ricky williams of cobblestone dirtbiking) anywho, david was patient, professional and polite in the education process. (i think there were a few other P's to success including Poise, Personality, A Positive Mental Attitude, (im)press the customer, Primp Always, Positivity, Please Don't Flush Sanitary Towels Down the Toilet, Phreeze Plenty of Ice, Placate, Posture, Pomp and Circumstance, Pterodactyls, Good Dinosaurs to Mention to Kids, Patriotism, Pepper and Professionalism. i'm sorry i thought of about 5, then had to look up the rest, classic!)

ok, so everything went great. the lesson lasted about 4 hours. but all the while, i was remembering back to when i was learning how to drive for the first time in my dad's standard F-150. 2nd! 3rd! Clutch, Clutch! all gruff, resonant commands that still echo throughout my subconscious to this day. my dad was an excellent teacher, but psychologically reduced me to a skittish cat that gets beaten with a bat if he gets to close to the furniture. most of you know me to not be the most patient individual, and today, no exception ...after a few consecutive stalls, i was beside myself with anger. i looked up at david and he didn't appear disappointed or frustrated. the weird thing was i kinda felt disappointed. why wasn't this guy more like pops?

i actually laughed out loud after imagining my dad getting on my ass with a thick southern uk argot and not holding back with the expletives. "godammit! if you run over one more cone you can forget any more lessons, you can also kiss college goodbye, now chop bloody chop mate!" i relaxed a bit after this imagery. i suppose if this was s.o.p., this guy wouldn't have a job, but it really did have me wanting the abuse, some really rough feedback, i felt like like robin givens moonwalking back into the arms of iron mike after a decision loss in the early 90´s. all and all, i got the basics down. i think with a full day's practice i'd be just one dennis hopper sidekick away from easy ridin' central america style. vrroom!

History of a download

Rewind in time to 1992. It was the first time something I listened to had actually moved me into action. The first CD I ever bought was Jimi Hendrix and The Experience's "Are You Experienced?." I got it at the mall. The mall was a place that I suddenly had to show appearance at. I was wearing my Girbaud Jeans and a T-shirt with my Duke Blue Devils hat on. I made sure my mom was walking well behind me, as if someone was going to come up to the 13-year-old me and tell me how cool I looked. Hastings was the local book/music store that was the only outlet for cds. I walked into Hastings to the Rock section and spent $14.99 on a Jimi Hendrix album that my father had on vinyl.

Maybe I should rewind some more though, that Christmas I had received my first stereo system. It was an Aiwa with a tape deck and a CD player. I had some tapes, they were of the Young MC and Milli Vanilli variety. I traded Milli Vanili for New Kids on the Block in 5th grade from Daniel Leal. But it wasn't until I heard the psychedelic guitar of Hendrix, that obsession took over. Suddenly, all my disposable income went to cds. The Breeders, Nirvana, Metallic ("And Justice for All), Soundgarden. These were the first on a list of many that composed my collection.

Fast-forward to the advent of a cd burner and my first, personal, computer. A 56K modem was the fastest thing you could own, and I was borrowing cds from my friends like mad, creating a pile of markered blank cd's that would eventually overtake my bought cds.

In the summer of 1999, it somehow got wind of a little program called Napster. I think the first thing I downloaded was Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." By the end of August, I was in college, and I had access to a T1 connection. T1 meant 10 times as fast as my feeble modem. I downloaded songs as singles. I had a hell of a singles collection. By 2000, the Napster phenomenon had lapsed and I now had a collection of mix cds. It was like the tapes you used to make from the radio, except now they sounded better. In 2003, I was introduced to DC++. My friend Alex directed me to the correct hub, and I suddenly had at my disposal, any indie band I ever wanted. These days, the indie hub still works, but I find that the mp3 blogs are out-pacing the dc++ hubs in terms of new music.

I'd like to think that all this music has kept me abreast of new trends and new bands, and it has, but the sheer power of word of mouth has beaten all of these new avenues of acquiring music. I've heard of more bands that I absolutely love from various friends of mine, than I have from these digital avenues of downloaded music. My taste have spanned generations, and my love for live music has only increased. Do I think it's wrong that I don't purchase everything I like immediately? No. I use the mp3 platforms to find new music, and then support these bands by attending live shows, and I still buy real albums. If anything, the download generation has taught me that what is put out for the masses' consumption is only the tip of a large undiscovered iceberg, the majority of it underwater, waiting to be noticed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

That's bone. And the lettering is something called Silian Rail.

There's no debate that the idea of judging a person solely on his business card has been around for awhile. But when you spot something truly genius, it can take your breath away. Take our friend Dr. So & So with MAXIMUS. If the gold lettering, and for those of you who don't have 3D glasses on, raised Times New Roman bold-face haven't set off the douche bag alarm in your head, then the quote under the title should. "Helping government serve the people." You could easily mistake this for a penis enlargement company, in fact I'm sure there's a court battle in the San Fernando Valley over trademark right now. Come on Dr. So & So you're no friend of the human being component of the word person, you're more good buddies with the corporation (law-defined person). So & So the lobbyist isn't green backing the glad hands of Senator Rightside for your children's educational interest. This d-bag ought to take a lesson from mother dearest below:

Keep it simple, make sure your logo doesn't give you a persona you don't want and try and take it easy on raised lettering and any use of gold font colors. Also, no script of any kind.