Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Hey, pals!

If you are reading this, then scroll down to where it says "PROLOGUE:", and move up. Otherwise it makes zero sense. Can I fix that?


So here I am discussing with my little friend how to bury something in an urban area that is all concrete. I could get so lost in his eyes. He moves me in ways in which there are not enough semesters to explain. (I had a way more awesome photo of this, but I can't friggin' find it in my iPhoto cache)

We came to the conclusion that our best option was to bury Little Woody where everyone can see, but not reach, rather than bury him underground, where he will one day be reached, but to someone's surprise.

And so...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


This story begins at the very first stool in the picture of the bar above. It starts before all the other stories you've read. It is crass, and obnoxious, and unacceptable. If I have not earned your trust by now, than I ask you to turn back, and forget that you ever endevoured to read these indulgent ramblings. Just walk away. If someone is holding a weapon to your head and demanding that you read this, it is me; and I assure you, I would never really hurt you.

So we are comrades, then. Good.

You have understood that I was drunk as the previous narratives unfolded. But for this one, you must consider the difference between the simple "drunk", and the mystical sort of "drunk". We can all get "drunk", and Bob bless us for it. What I'm talking about is an intoxication that comes only from alcohol consumed on the emptiest and loneliest and most careless of stomachs. A stomach found in the belly of a man who has given up on the gentler possibilities of youth, and has made a decision to simply not give a crap.

What I'm trying to say is that I was shit-housed.

And at the time, tragically, to my embarassment, I considered myself something of an actor. And so it was that an effort had been mounted to bring David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross" to the stage through the magic of sock puppetry. It must me said that I was not alone in this undertaking, and those that joined me with vigorous intention remain friends to this day. Though this dream failed to materialize, they were glorious days, and I confidently speak for us all when I say that we look back upon those halcion days with a stirring pride in what we dared.

Anyway, so this one time, I'm totally fixated on playing the Ricky Roma guy, who is deftly portrayed by Al Pacino in the movie. And I'm really getting into character. In the "stupid actor" sense of getting into character. Like, I have my friend by the shirt, as he bartends, pulling him to my face, going way off script, and explaining to him explicitly why he is not a "man." But he's cool; he's along for the ride.

I berate him to the point of breathlessness, and then I turn my head...

Okay, now, at this point I need you to read with an "ear" that can discern underneath all of this, a certain "charm." You, reader, need to understand that I am NOT THIS GUY. I am just being a character... I am just saying things that I don't mean... and being drunk is my excuse.

So I turn my head, and I see this girl, and she looks done with the goddamn world. She just wants a drink, like anyone does this late in the day, and fella, she looks like she deserves it. And I lean in eye-to-eye with this stranger, whose bartender I have by the neck, and in my best Al Pacino, I announce clearly, with clarity, and concision, and intention, "YOU... ARE A WHORE."

And then I continued. I never remember the streams of obscenities that come out of my mouth in these situations, but my instinct is that this one was fantastic. I'm talking about a Mighty Mississippi of perversions committed by her lineage, and what she could do with her dog, and her Bible, and her mommy and daddy... Fucking Joycean, my friends.

When I'm done, her friend shows up. Who is also my friend. And she is livid. And would like to get Sicilian on my ass (she was short, but with a glare and intensity that would make you stay up all night to make sure your purebreds were safe, or make sure you didn't tell her to go get her "shine box" ), and she wants to know who this "asshole" is.

Then everything went haywire, and the next thing I know is, I'm on one knee, at the shoe museum in Toronto asking the very same girl to marry me.

After much confusion and disbelief, she said, "Of course."

Her name is Angela, and lieu of pulling out my heart, I offer up a vial of my own blood as a totem for this story.

Story #2: Another in a series of stupid, stupid things...

This next story embodies the danger that I am to myself, rather than the danger presented to me by the rest of the world.

It was a Thursday night in early December, 2002. It was snowing. I was walking from one bar to another with a friend of mine, and we were running and sliding on the icy streets. We were having a drunken, gleeful time. I said to my friend, "This is fun, but seriously, dude, I should get some better shoes for the winter. I'm gonna fall and break my neck."

SECONDS later, I mean SECONDS, I was laid out on my back with my nimble-footed friend looking down at me. He helped me up and I faced this garage you see above. It was the second thing I saw when I embarked on what would become a two year Odyssey of pain and disfigurement. For it was not my neck that was broken, but my arm. And it was a tricky break. One that the doctors could not initially set properly. When my first cast came off, my arm was crooked and would not make all the motions that arms are supposed to make. It didn't hurt, but it looked hideous. My only option was a painful surgery that involved eight screws and a chunk of my hip and ten additional weeks in a cast.

As I am a man who desires to not work too much, I could not afford said surgery, and so I had to wait months to be enrolled in a state funded insurance program that would cover my medical bills. For two years my mangled arm drew the attention of anyone who had ever chipped a bone, or stubbed a toe, and I heard hundreds of testimonials of pain and suffering and "so-and-so's wrist can predict the weather."

By now it may seem like I've lost the narrative thread with this interlude, but I promise you: the next story will tie it all together. Also, I recently added two more to my collection of internal screws.

And so the totem for this story is a screw.

Story # 1: The Death Of My White Liberal Guilt

Before I begin the first story, I should make it clear that I am intoxicated in every episode. I know, I know; every drunk guy thinks he's got fascinating stories, but hopefully these will be put into a context that will have you all on the edge of your seats.

The story starts here, on the northern edge of the block, Brown Street. The incident itself took place right outside the door of a man who once lived in what is my current apartment, which itself was the site for my project last semester. Beat that narrative thread, pal!

Anyway, it was a Sunday night in late August, 2002. I was making a walk that I made every Sunday from one particular bar to another particular bar. I remember thinking to myself, "Why do you always take the same route? Mix it up a little! Think outside the box, man!" Well, I thought myself out of the box and into a mess of trouble.

As I was walking down Brown, I noticed up ahead some youths who were just hanging out in the middle of the street. It was late, and it was dark, so I thought it best to avoid anybody, and hurriedly tried to make it to 2nd Street, which was well lit. As my pace quickened, they began to call at me to come over. Being the slick urbanite that I am, I gruffly declined and moved faster to safety. I was rounding third, when one of them said it. "WHAT! Because I'm black?"

I stopped. I felt like the worst kind of leftist hypocrite. They probably just want a cigarette or something. I believe in the innate goodness of man. I can never let that belief die in me... Within seconds I was surrounded by the four youths and had a knife pressed to my belly. I was asked to empty my pockets, which I did without resistance. They laughed at me, called me something derogatory, and went on their way. I put my hands in my pockets to continue on dejectedly, slouched and beaten, when I felt something in my pocket. It was a five dollar bill. I turned back to these youthful highwaymen and said, "Yo!"

The ring leader spun around in disbelief and marched straight at me. With arms open as though to invite attack, he leaned in to my face and barked, "WHAT?"

"You forgot this," I said, holding out the five. Never have I seen a more pure embodiment of "what the fuck?" He took the five and strutted back to his friends, and I went on my way.

I have never been able to recall my exact thought process, but it seems to me that I emerged victorious. I one-upped them with this gesture that said, "Nice work, boys. Real smooth, no one got hurt. Your future in petty crime is incandescent. I'll be watching out for you fellows!" I tipped them. What do I need five dollars for?

Do you think the guy kept the five for himself, or included it in the larger booty? I like to think he shared.

So the totem for this story is a five dollar bill.

PROLOGUE: A Voodoo Love Letter

The block that I chose for my final project is one that has been the stage for many dramatic moments in my life since moving to Philadelphia five years ago. It is the block that lies northwest of the intersection of 2nd St. and Fairmount Avenue. This block is in a molting phase right now. Every time I visit it, something has changed. There are high rises going up where once there was just empty lots. The streets have been repaved and had lanes and parking spots painted in. There are new businesses opening, as well as long dormant ones reopening. The character of the entire neighborhood is changing rapidly, so it seemed like a good time for me to personally say good-bye to what it once was, and honor some very hilarious, sometimes dangerous, and occasionally heartwarming (sorry, Hana) incidents from a misspent late youth.

My vehicle for this memoriam is a voodoo doll of myself which will become a semi-permanent observer of the neighborhood's activities. I will tell you three stories that share a narrative arc, if you squint. Each story will generate an object that will be magically charged by the tales telling. The objects will be placed within the chest cavity of the doll, which will be "buried" in a cleverly urban way.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Kiss my knee.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Welcome to my pockets...

Generally the contents of my backpack remain consistent, with various beverage bottles and packaged foods rotating in and out. The real action is in my pants (HA!) and jacket pockets. I often imagine scenarios where I would have to decide between my life and my backpack; like if it was caught in a hay baler or something, and I would be left with only the stuff in my pockets for survival. I feel confident about my odds should I decide to cut the backpack loose.
First and foremost, one should always have fire. It is primal. To not have it is to render Prometheus' Promethean efforts moot. Starting fires is probably one of the first things we did when we got our new thumbs. In fact, I would argue that all technology is simply a combination and extrapolation of the mixture of fire and talking.
Secondly, there is tobacco. After all, we are civilized. We are living in a civilization. One of the perks of this fact is leisure time. And what says leisure like sitting down, lighting up a delicious cigar, and contemplating shit. Freud was wrong- a cigar is never just a cigar. For some it may be a penis, for others it may be mommy's denied boob at a fragile age, and there are certainly a multitude of different points between. But what it always is to me is the comfort that the next hour or two will be on my terms exclusively. I am, for a moment, a Master of the Universe. Cigars ought to be a required vice for all film students.
Thirdly is the lip balm. I loathe chapped lips, and because of this my lips have decided to be of the variety that chap easily and frequently. In my lifetime struggle against this unfortunate circumstance, I have found most labial unguents to be lacking; they taste funny, they are lost easily, or they simply do not work. However, this past holiday season, I was delivered the solution to my balm qualms in the form of a product dubbed "Anthony: Logistics For Men". The title itself conjures images of Patton, Peckinpah, Lombardi. It is slightly longer and wider than the usual "chapstick", and the tube design tweeks the traditional delivery system just enough to allow you to feel like you are at last living in the future. Jet packs can't be far behind. It is non-petroleum based; it is not tested on animals; it pays for prostate cancer research. It's label claims "strategies" and "objectives". It has more focus and purpose than a rabid hyena. My fiancee will frequently ask to use my lip balm. I love her dearly, but in these instances I can only look into her effulgent eyes and say, "Angela, love, you ARE the fire that burns in my belly. The fabric of my universe is spun from your hair, and for me to hold you is to know the Buddha. But no. Not. This. Lip balm."
Always there are the crass necessities of money and subway tokens; items not worth commenting on at the moment.
And then the things which are conspicuous in their absence: wallet and keys. This tandem occupies a special status among my stuff as replaceable only through incredible inconvenience. In service of this fact, they remain tethered to my person at all times.
Lastly, there are the contents of the small front pocket of my backpack. These are the secret artifacts, to be revealed only to those who have achieved a certain rank in unnamed esoteric orders. To many of you these items shall remain a mystery. This is not out of a desire to exclude or alienate; it is simply a matter of your own personal safety. Or sanity. To know the contents one must ask the right questions, provide the correct answers, and make their offerings to the Widow's Son.

Floating My First Blog


THIS is blogging. Fascinating. Hopefully from now on I will think of more things than poo jokes.