Thursday, December 16, 2010

Men Are From Mars (And other dumb cliches)

Hello again, friends.


As I wind my way through the massive life changes of the past year, and because all the good shows on TV are done for the season, I have had a great deal of occasion lately to consider just how bizarre and ineffectual our relations with each other are. I don't mean on a massive scale, such as our geopolitical sandbox shoving matches, or even some crazed Christmas shoppers resorting to fisticuffs to solve the dilemma of "Two Shoppers, One Prada Handbag". My rumination has been very localized - something we all deal with, almost every day.

I am not sure what I believe in terms of a Higher Power/Imaginary Sky Father/Universal Force That Flows Through Us All, but if I did have the chance to address the Cosmic Architect, I think my first question would be, "If we are supposed to go forth and procreate, so that we may populate the Earth, why did you make us SO FUCKING DIFFERENT, YOU IDIOT?"  Ahem. Sorry. Got a bit carried away there, but you get the general idea.

Clearly, I'm not pulling aside a shroud of secrecy to reveal a vast, hidden conspiracy. This is fodder for about a zillion books, magazine articles, jokes at comedy clubs, watercooler conversations, and court transcripts at double homicide trials. Yes, men and women are different. The tropes are as old and weathered as it gets. From the dawn of time, it's been "All you cavemen do is go out with your buddies, hunt mammoth, and drink fermented corn juice! You also aren't real big on the manscaping, are you? Oh, and I think you are clearly compensating for something with that stupid eight-foot spear", to which our Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal gentleman responds with "All you do is sit around the cave and gather roots and nuts, while I risk my life every day to feed your fat ass! And what does a caveman have to do for someone to invent the fucking blowjob? Also, you could benefit from a brassiere, lady!"

It's only gotten uglier from there, people.

So, in thousands of years of evolution, technological advancement, and psychological printing-press navel gazing, we are now reading articles in Cosmo about "What Your Man Is Thinking Beneath That Silly Emotional Unavailability", written by a woman. Maxim retorts with "How To Bang That Cheerleader You Weren't Attractive Or Rich Enough To Convince Ten Years Ago", written by a man.

What the hell is going on here? Am I the only one who thinks our entire system of discourse is thoroughly and irrevocably fuckwired?

All jokes aside, I guess what I'm asking here is what is it about the opposite sex that makes us hold on, and try to form singular and long-lasting attachments? For every example in the animal kingdom where a couple mates for life, you could name about three hundred more that sneak up on a female, mount them from behind, and then disappear to go hunt a zebra or climb a tree and nap for ten hours.

Think about every single couple you know, or have ever known. How many of them have lasted for more than a handful of years, especially when they don't have children to tie them down? We're one of the few races on the planet that doesn't exactly have to worry about dying out or having our habitat turned into a Super Target Strip Mall. We're the ones forcing every other creature on the planet into ever-shrinking pockets of real estate. We are the obvious victor, so what are we really trying to accomplish? What's the efficiency? What's the gain?

I feel like human relationships are like batting averages in baseball - a player is considered an All-Star if they fail seven times out of ten. I think out of every person I've ever met, I can name perhaps five or six couples that have stayed together for longer than five years and don't semi-secretly wish the other person would spontaneously combust or suddenly decide to join the Peace Corps and teach villagers in Mauritania how to sew jeans for The Gap.

I realize that I see this through cancer-colored glasses right now, but I leave this open to the comments section to hash this out, because I'm sort of clueless right now. Is there value in monogamous, lifelong relationships? Don't most of us just end up disappointing and hurting other people? Is the problem perhaps in the expectations we lay on each other, or is it just mathematically unlikely that we'll meet someone that has enough in common and is tolerant enough of our foibles to put up with us for sixty-five years or so and not skimp too much on the casket when it's over?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jesus Was Cool (So Why Aren't You?)

Hey friends. Long time, no post . . . I know. It's been up and down the last two weeks or so, but I'm in a much better frame of mind today, and ready to get back to blogging for your entertainment. I see there is nine of you now (though I think two of you are actually CJ, but thanks for inflating my numbers!), so feel free to let other people know about this thing.

For your perusal today, I have two wildly disparate topics which I will condense into one giant-size blog post, to make up for my long delay. You're welcome.

The genesis of what I'm going to talk about today comes from a late night Skype chat with the lovely Miss Hyde, currently holding it down in lovely Jew-maica, whom you can find over at http://wagwanjamaica.blogspot.com/. It was her idea to take these elements of our chat and blog about them, so if you are offended - feel free to fill her inbox with spam and hate-filled emails. She loves that kind of thing. (But seriously, don't do that. She'll cut me.)

As we talked yesterday, one of the topics that came up was the inherent differences between men and women. Clearly, this topic could fill up three hundred billion books (and has, seemingly), but what I was focused on specifically was our physical differences. I had to ask a woman just what was appealing about men, in any way, shape or form? We're gross. It's just science.

We bantered back and forth about it for a bit, until I unleashed my secret weapon. Shorts. I now postulate to the rest of you - is there anything LESS attractive in the history of the planet and the people on it than a man wearing any kind of shorts? An example after the jump (this is your chance to bail out now, if you need to. I understand).


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome to the Suck

"Pass me that lovely little gun
My dear, my darling one
The cleaners are coming, one by one
You don't even want to let them start

They are knocking now upon your door
They measure the room, they know the score
They're mopping up the butcher's floor
Of your broken little hearts"


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - O Children 


"Welcome to the Suck."      Alan Troy - Jarhead


I hate to do it, kids, but I have to break the streak of lighthearted posts. I am in a strange place today. . . I think I'm starting to degrade a bit under the constant low-level stress that comes with every day lately, which occasionally heat-blooms into full scale, nuclear-fuckin' war for an hour or two, only to recede back to the murky cold war that casts such a long, long shadow on me.


To submit my candidate for understatement of the year - divorce is fucking terrible. There's quite literally no quick, easy method of closure, unless you own nothing valuable and have no kids. For the rest of us, it is a drawn-out, bloodless murder of the soul.

A semi-apt metaphor is something I read once about soldiers in combat. Before you pillory me for comparing my marital woes to people getting shot at to defend our country (or other, more nefarious political reasons, but I digress), I only use it as a brush to paint a broad picture, as it were.

I'm paraphrasing here,  but the description was long and drawn out periods of crushing boredom and malaise, filled with menial tasks and directed by authority figures that you are absolutely powerless to disagree with or defy. Underneath this already terrible feeling is a gnawing, insidious fear that comes from knowing what is going to happen next, compounded by not knowing WHEN it's going to happen.

Finally, the first shot rings out and your whole world disintegrates into pure survival mode, with every sense heightened to preternatural levels, everything around you seeming to wish you injury or destruction, and time and context have absolutely no meaning. You keep your head down, move as much as possible, and try to do what you know will get you through this and safely back in your bed.

Almost as fast as it begins, it's over. The universe slows back to its normal, torpid pace. You are thankful that you made it through alive, but that feeling is undercut by the knowledge that it's just going to happen to you again. And again. And AGAIN. You have no idea when it's going to end, you just know it isn't going to be anytime fucking soon.

Now, my actual life is in no danger, and I would never try to detract from what those people actually go through, but it FEELS like that sometimes. I relate to that description.

My kids alternate between smothering me and pushing me away out of confusion, and in the case of my one-year old, sometimes actually recoiling from me in fear, reaching out for my wife desperately. My three-year old asks me why I don't live with Mommy anymore. I spend every day with them wondering if this is going to be the week my wife finally realizes that staying in the Northeast doesn't make much sense for her, and she decides to pack them all off to Texas. I find myself alternating between smothering them in return, trying to drink in every single cute little word or act, and sliding wildly back into a weird apathy - letting them run rampant around the apartment while I sit and stare at the TV or the internet, refreshing Facebook over and over hoping for some adult contact (not THAT kind of adult contact, get your head out of the gutter).

Meanwhile, my erstwhile wife does her own vacillation, either attempting to seduce me with the physical contact I miss so badly, or venting her sorrow and rage all over me  . . . telling me through a haze of tears over and over how this is all my fault and wondering how I could do this to her, sometimes both in the same day. She claims with one breath that she still loves me and she swore before God to work it out one way or the other, and in the next tells me that she only accepted my marriage request because she was pregnant, and was afraid I would have run out on them if she said no.

In the middle of this, I have no job or means of supporting myself or the children, because I agreed to stay home and take care of them. With the job she had, it made more sense at the time. Now I live in my car, seemingly, driving to the city to watch the kids and driving home to crash on my mom's couch in the country. I get up before the sun and don't get home until well after it has set. I hardly see friends or get the chance to do normal, adult things. I just don't have the means.

After two months of this, yeah . . . .I kind of feel like some grizzled veteran, watching the new kids come in with wide-eyes and completely unaware of what they're in for, and all I can tell them is, "Hey kid, welcome to the Suck."

Sorry if this wasn't what you came here to read, but I had to get this out and this is the only place I have to do it. I'll dispense with the emo crap, and hopefully feel much more inclined to talk about that one time I funneled Jagermeister and tried to fistfight a pine tree. Until next time, Disciples.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Would Jimi Do?

Hey Disciples,

I don't like to repeat topics if at all possible, but like I mentioned last time, my brother requested a topic specifically. What follows is the post he left on my Wall, verbatim:

"Pandora tells me Jimi Hendrix was only at the star level for 4 years. Had he survived and continued to make music, would we have been treated to tons more world-class material, or do you think he'd have gotten jaded and coasted on his accomplishments? Interested in a musician/songwriter's take on it."

So, yes, we have another post about music this week, but I think this is interesting enough to debate regardless. I love having these kinds of discussions about anything artistic . . . it truly makes it clear just how subjective our methods of self-expression are, and the value of what these songs and the artists who create them mean to us personally.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Disintegration Days

Greetings, Disciples.

A few days ago, I actually received a request on my Facebook for a topic to cover on this very blog. I was indeed pretty flattered (yes, it was my twin brother making the request, but at least SOMEONE's paying attention), and I intend to tackle it in the very next blog I do. I actually have a topic I've been meaning to address, but it's taken me some time because of the very things that have inspired the topic. Oh, sweet irony.

I'm not sure if everyone in the world is like this, but many of the people I know turn to music when everything seems to be going wrong. Maybe it's a case of "misery loves company", but I know that when I'm upset, I like to listen to music that reminds me that other people have had it just as bad, and will again. It gives me hope that I'll get through whatever the situation is.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Attack of the Train Zombies

Thanks to the inimitable Kashif Ali, those of you that follow my blog shall henceforth be known as the Disciples. I like it. It's narcissistic, but that's how I roll. I would also like to take this time to note that my spell checker is telling me that "Kashif" is not a word. Blogger.com, you are a fucking racist.

Now that we have that silly nonsense out of the way, I've noticed something upon my return to New York City that I think merits some discussion, or at least my critical, pointed observation (yay, narcissism!).

For most of my teenage-into-adult life, I have been a huge fan of riding the subway. Any line, any part of the city, any time of night. I have had some of the craziest experiences and seen things that will someday scare the bejeezus out of my grandchildren.

I have seen a drugged-out Mexican stripped like a car in three stops. Two guys got everything - his watch, wallet, shoes, coat, shirt, necklaces, earrings . . . the works. It was the middle of winter, and they left this guy his jeans and socks, full stop, end of list. I have seen a foot-long sewer rat run headlong into the foot of a three-hundred pound man, who screamed like a child and punted the rat in question like a football. In short, the subway experience in general is pure, unadulterated entertainment, if you aren't a total pussy.

If you ride long enough, you'll see mariachis in full uniform playing "Te Amo". You'll see jugglers, homeless guys with inventive signs, world-class violinists, fistfights, people of every stripe, color, and creed, all just trying to have some fun or get home safe. I've had some of the best conversations of my life with people I rode the subway with, never to see again. I think there was something romantic and cool about that. Yes. I said "was".

My entire romantic subway lifestyle has been utterly destroyed by one insidious, ubiquitous invention. You know it . . . the goddamn cellphone.

Droid, Blackberry, Android, Nextel . . . . I'm looking at you, you bastards.

Since I have moved back to the City That Never Shuts Up, it went ahead and shut up on me. I get on a subway, on any line, at any time of day or night, and it's the same scene. You still have the same crazy, awesome melting pot of interesting people going about their lives, except now they have their cute little black earbuds in, and they are all playing Brick Breaker, listening to Nickelback, and watching vampire porn . . . or as you probably call it, True Blood.

It is a downright eerie scene. Where there once was vibrancy, life, noise . . .  the pure, unadulterated cacophony that made New York so awesome to the people that lived there and understood it and so terrifying to pretty much the rest of the world . . . there is now the creepy, church-like silence of a population tuned out to the world around them, all going for the high score or listening to the latest Lil' Wayne jailhouse freestyle. I am riding with the Subway Dead. The Zombies of the A Train. Dawn of the Droid.

I want to grab people by the collar and shake them, make them talk to me. I want to hear the mariachis, or someone's crazy story about the time they got mugged by a midget on PCP, or a homeless man tell me that he needs money so he can take karate lessons to get revenge on the ninjas that killed his family.

Instead, I pop in my headphones, fire up my iPod, and listen to Lil' Wayne. My hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Zen and the Art of Getting Better Tips

Hello, Readers!

So, I've noticed that many the blogs I follow that have been around for awhile have a good name for their followers. I don't have enough of you to field a decent baseball team yet, so I don't think we're there. I am taking suggestions for when I hit double-digits, however, so send any suggestions. It's what I'm going to be calling YOU, after all, so choose wisely.

But, I digress. Often.

What I actually wanted to talk about today was a new trend I've been seeing in the evolution of the bartender. To further clarify, this phenomenon seems to take place almost solely in sports bars and wing and beer franchises.

I went out with some of my bandmates last night to a Buffalo Wild Wings, which is your standard haven for fried, gut-busting food, college football and hockey on about seven thousand televisions (you literally can't look in any direction without seeing at least four flat-screens, I was impressed), and throngs of college or just post-college kids looking to get hammered and possibly make terrible decisions with a member of the opposite sex. Ahhhh . . . youth.

I must also note that for a wing franchise, this place has one of the best selections of truly good beer I have ever seen. On the strength of that alone, I can see myself doing this again.

What I found strange, however, was the demeanor of the bartender who served us for most of the night. She was a beautiful girl, as bartenders tend to be, and gregarious, which also fits the job description. As the night went on, however, I noticed that her behavior on the job reminded me of a different trade altogether.

Yeah. She reminded me of a stripper. Straight up.

To explain - the young lady wasn't giving dudes lap dances in the men's restroom or gyrating wildly to a Lady GaGa song or anything. I'm not saying she gave off slutty vibes or any of that. It was completely in her method of conversation and how she reacted to all the guys at the bar. She was constantly leaning over the bar to talk in someone's ear, smiling little seductive smiles. She would lean over and steal a bit of food off someone's plate, and make a coquettish joke about it. She tried very hard to cross the typical line of "Here's your beer, give me your money, and stop looking at my chest" that you usually see in a female bartender.

I was half expecting to hear her tell me she was only doing this so she would pay her way through law school.

The whole thing sort of made me a bit uncomfortable, like it does in strip clubs. I tend to dislike strip clubs a great deal - solely on the fact that I hate dishonesty. If a pretty stripper said to me, "Look, I don't think you're cute or even all that interesting. I also have no interest in you sexually. I make more money in a half-hour than you probably do all day, and I'm only on your lap so I can afford good weed and Ketel One by the gallon, to take away the soul-crushing malaise this job brings me in exchange for relative wealth",  I would probably give her the contents of my wallet and hit the ATM, as well.

That said, I think bartending is akin to a holy profession. They are the priests of our bar culture. They dispense the stuff that binds us all together, lets us release our inhibitions and have a great time, and yes - possibly make serious mistakes with members of the opposite sex. I already think you're awesome, and as long as you do your job well,  I will TIP THE HELL OUT OF YOU. So please, stay behind the bar and keep your fucking hands off my Parmesan Garlic wings. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

American Beauty?

I know, I know. I just blogged. I'm still enjoying the novelty, and I just noticed something I thought was worth discussion.

So, I went out to smoke a cigarette get the mail and take the trash/recycling out, and as I was sorting out the mail, I noticed my upstairs neighbor Heather had gotten two Victoria's Secret catalogs. Being a red-blooded American male and having time to kill as I smoked a cigarette, I decided to flip through the one that didn't seem to be dominated by super-expensive jeans and winter coats. What can I say? I like the articles.

As I was unabashedly ogling these beautiful women (and marvelling that women actually spend what they do on a goddamn bra), I noticed something. This was the whitest group of women I have EVER seen. There were blonde, Scandanavian women. There were swarthy, brunette Italian-types. I think one girl had some Irish features and red hair, and she was the exotic one. End of list.

Why is this? Can someone explain this to me?
There was a sort of token black girl, who was so light as to be more akin to an exceptionally-tanned and prettier-than-average cast member on The Jersey Shore. No dark-skinned black girls. No Asians. No Middle Eastern or Jewish girls. It looked like the Republican National Underwear Convention.

Is this really indicative of American beauty? Are these the only women we're allowed to masturbate to when the Internet isn't working see cavorting in expensive panties? Am I alone in thinking this is just broken and weird?

As a mission statement, I will say this: I love, love, LOVE women. This is not solely a sexual statement, nor is it just because they are often so much better at things that I am terrible at. It's not just physical in nature.

I like being around women. I like the break from the undercurrents of machismo and posturing that goes on in a group of men. I like that women aren't afraid to say what they're feeling, once they are comfortable with you. Women also smell better. It's just science.

That said, I am astounded that there are people who just cannot see how beautiful a woman is, because she is African or Vietnamese or Iranian. I cannot believe that white skin, blonde hair, and giant mammaries are the only benchmark for what we should find attractive as Americans.  Am I taking crazy pills, or can we all benefit from a little more diversity in our spank bank description of beauty in this country?

It's time to admit it.

I'm not sure if this is the right time to do this, as I only started blogging yesterday and all, but it may be time for my first big bombshell. A sharing of a deep, dark secret to bring me even closer to the four of you that are reading this. Something that, if the world knew, they'd only believe what my friends, bandmates, and family believe - that there is a point when metrosexuality becomes "should have been born a woman".

Okay, deep breath. Here we go.

In some ways, I'm a pretty manly man. To paraphrase Denis Leary, I like baseball, porno, and books about war. I can tell you who won the AL batting title three years ago or what military battalion scaled the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc during the invasion of Normandy. That said . . . I love Project Runway. I mean, I really, REALLY love every single drama-laden, bitchfest, "make it work" moment of Project effing Runway. There. I said it, and I feel better.

To defend myself immediately from the various insults and innuendos that this can bring, I love any show or situation where I can watch people create things that I cannot. I have the art of playing and writing music pretty down pat, but watching someone whip up a four-star meal (Top Chef, anyone?) or sew a runway-worthy outfit in less than a day is wildly entertaining to me. At my core, I just love to see creative people succeed under extreme duress and elevate themselves and their art form to a whole new level.

I also like to see women and gay men say terrible, terrible things to each other when they think no one is looking. That may be human nature, or there may be some prescription medication in my future. Time will tell.

In the interest of pure honesty, however, I have to reveal the true reason why I would watch Project Runway for the rest of my life, on any channel, even if I had to pay for it. I have a platonic, but very real, man crush on this man:


Yes. Tim Gunn, y'all.

It's a very defensible man-crush. He is possibly the best dresser on the planet, he redefines class and etiquette, he seems to genuinely want to help and appreciate every single person on the show, and defend them from the Teutonic Evil that is Heidi Klum. Lastly, the man could probably bed anyone on the planet. I think he makes the Most Interesting Man in the World look like an unshaven barbarian, fit only to go on Tim Gunn's Guide to Style to learn how to dress and talk to girls.

So, there it is, for all four of you to see. I'm sure all this has earned me is gay jokes and jibes about my manliness (which go together all too often, and will likely be fodder for a more serious post in the future - I HATE that shit). So, slings and arrows found at the bottom. Let me have it, or stand up and just fucking admit that Tim Gunn kind of makes you wish you owned a better suit.

Monday, November 8, 2010

By way of introduction

It's 2010, and I think everyone in the world has a blog, now. You aren't complete as a person until you're typing out all the intimate details of your life, to be forever captured for internet posterity . . . or to be used against you in a court of law. Everything we do is now fodder for everyone in the world to nod in agreement, laugh at, or revile. It's just the way of the world.

So, of course, I had to finally join in. I haven't blogged consistently since the halcyon days of LiveJournal, though I've tried a few times before - I just never felt like I had an angle or anything truly interesting to say.

Turns out that my life has gone in a new direction, and whether anyone reads this or not, I need the space and time to vent and give some voice to my raging and conflicting thoughts and desires, and to possibly find some levity in both my personal situations and the world at large. This blog, therefore, isn't really about anything per se, but more like a heat sink for my overworked and underappreciated brain.

The name of this blog is kind of an inside joke to myself, and the name of a song I've recently started working on. I've always been a total martyr-type, always on the lookout for a hopeless cause to fall on my sword for. I have also often found myself drawn to people that I felt "needed saving", which has been a constant roadblock in my own growth and development. This habit has died hard, truthfully. I'm still working my way through it.

Saint Sebastian, for those of you who aren't Catholic or a recovering Catholic like myself, was a martyr who was strung up on a tree and shot with arrows by the Romans for preaching his beliefs. Improbably, he survived this unfortunate encounter. After being nursed back to health by a woman, he undid all her work by heckling the Emperor at a parade, and was clubbed to death and his body thrown in a privy. This man and I, in a lot of ways, are loudmouthed, kindred spirits.

As I enter my thirties, it seems more and more obvious that I have to stop stringing myself up to trees for all those Roman arrows, and maybe I need to start looking out for my own best interests. I'm on the verge of being single again, which is dominating my frame of mind at the moment and may just be the catalyst for this new outlook of mine.

I've been married for the past two years, to a very nice girl from Texas. Sadly, we are completely and utterly different in almost every measurable way -  from how to best raise our two young daughters, to our religious (or non-religious as it were) beliefs, to simple matters like musical tastes or how best to spend a lazy weekend. Our courtship was fun, because we were so out of each other's wheelhouse, but when our first daughter was conceived it turned into "let's stay together for the kids" very, very quickly. The rest is turbulent, tumultuous history.

It's still unclear whether she's going to pack the kids off to Texas or not, or when our divorce will be finalized (that shit is EXPENSIVE), or even what I'm going to do with myself. My occupation has been parent and homemaker for a year now, and I have to start all over, in a way. I should be frightened, but I'm mostly just excited to see where my life takes me.

As for the blog, I may get heavy like this sometimes. . . I have a lot of stuff to work through, and writing has always helped me. Since diaries and LiveJournal are SO 1993, a blog is clearly the best answer.

Just as often, I may be extolling the virtues of Ketel One vodka to virtually every other beverage ever created, linking to monkeys playing guitar, or discussing politics or Proust. No, just kidding . . . . I have no idea who Proust is. I used to date a poet, and the name just stuck.

So, stick around. Tell your friends. Tell them to leave the slings and arrows at home, though. . . this is a celebration, bitches.