Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The First of the Gang To Die

It was nearly midnight when we arrived in Pittsburgh. The Quiet Storm cafe was packed with our fans, making it all the easier to cart our equipment through the deserted club. I deposited my corpse on a sofa at immediate stage-left, and commenced a form of nausea-suppression therapy I like to call not listening to my drummer's opinions on Israel. Our friends, The Bullet Parade, played a stomach-turning rendition of "Shoplifters of the World, Unite and Take Over"--which is to say really first-rate. Carrie attended to my Gore-Tex hood with massage therapy, while Joanne procured peppermint tea to settle my stomach. I felt like a regular Mao Tse-tung; I worried constantly about the shameful spectacle unfolding before our Pittsburgh audience.

Monday, December 29, 2003

The True Meaning of Christmas

Jesus never had anti-bacterial soap--and unless you work in doctor's office, you shouldn't either.

Friday, December 19, 2003

A Warm Missive to Fox News

I was saddened to hear Fox News analyst Liz Trotta associate Moveon.Org with the "World Socialist Movement." I don't know how she arrived at this conclusion, but it's generally regarded as inaccurate, to put it nicely.

Many people enjoy The O'Reilly Factor, and enjoy the guests he features. Let's not discredit Fox's professionalism by making bold, inaccurate claims; or at least without correcting these errors once they are discovered to be wrong. I would like Ms. Trotta to correct herself, for the sake of journalistic integrity and accuracy, which I am certain she holds in high regard.

Thank you for your consideration,

JR Boyd


Through Fox Watch, many of you have helped monitor every single program that has aired on the cable station Fox News Channel for the past month. Those of you participating have filed hundreds and hundreds of reports about distortion, inaccuracies, and bias -- breaches of the basic standards of journalism.

Wednesday night, a Fox Watch monitor caught an outright lie during one of Fox News' flagship programs, The O'Reilly Factor. In a discussion of progressive websites, host Bill O'Reilly called TomPaine.com "the most rank propaganda in the world."

Fox News analyst Liz Trotta responded:

"Well, how many people do you think -- who look at MoveOn.org, know it's affiliated with the World Socialist Movement..."

This outrageous and false charge could only have been intended to discredit the work of MoveOn.org and its members. It is akin to the tactics of the McCarthy era.

Call on Fox News to dismiss Liz Trotta for such an utter lack of journalistic scruples:

Fox News Channel
(212) 301-3000

--Noah T. Winer
December 19, 2003

Monday, December 15, 2003

My Mid-East Crisis

In retrospect, I could have done without the crossfire discussion of the West Bank. I am riding with George and our drummer, Dan, in the last remaining vehicle of the Overlord fleet; Jon, Carrie, and gear have been gathered up by a Pittsburgh-based salvage team also known as Jon's sister in a minivan. We will attempt to make this show. My spirits are high: hot tea and Tylenol have done the trick. I repose in the passenger seat. Somehow, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes up. Dan has taken Islam to task in the back seat, and George is not agreeing. I am not either, but I enjoy hearing the perspective, because I think it reflects a popular attitude towards Muslim culture which warrants close attention. George speaks wonderfully to the disparity of power between the two sides, and against the idea that Islam as a religion is uniquely intolerant of other perspectives. The argument escalates, however, and 45 minutes later I no longer have an opinion; but my stomach is ready to make a concluding remark all over the streets of Pittsburgh.
The Capture of George W. Bush

The Democratic candidates just have to take off these kid gloves. I'd begin by asking some hard questions about Republican administrations' past relationship with Saddam. Put that photo of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand in 1983 in the commercials; ask hard questions about former Reaganites now serving in the Bush administration who supported Saddam to the hilt while he was gassing Iranian troops and Kurds; find out who authorized the US sale of chemical and biological precursors to Saddam; and be so rude as to bring up the horrible betrayal committed by Bush senior when he stood aside and let Saddam massacre all those Shiites in 1991, after they rose up in response to a Bush call for the popular overthrow of Saddam. The US military could have shot down those helicopter gunships that massacred Shiites in Najaf and Basra. Bush senior clearly told them to let Saddam enjoy his killing fields. And imagine, the Bush administration officials are actually getting photo ops at the mass graves their predecessors allowed to be filled with bodies!

What happened Sunday was that the Republicans captured a former ally, with whom they had later fallen out.

--Juan Cole

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Quiet Storm Cafe, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Overlord suffered some casualties last night. I became sick yesterday morning and proceeded to be sicker in the course of the seven or so hours it takes to travel from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Not to be outdone, our bassist, Jon Robb, jettisoned the passenger-side wheel of his car into the icy night along I-76. We spent the evening buying 50-cent hot chocolate out of a machine and reading copies of The Independent Trucker at a small service center outside of the city. Vitamin B may help counteract depression, studies show. Jon Robb observed that most American dialects vary in vowel sounds. Central Pennsylvanians, to whom we are indebted for keeping the price of hot chocolate reasonable, do not sound Southern because of this. There was a woman traveling in our party, Carrie, who is engaged to Jon Robb. She procured Tylenol from the bearded Pennsylvanian and told me to knock it off with the hot chocolate and drink hot tea instead. I felt about hundred times better by the time we were moving again.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

A December Schedule of Live Concerts

Overlord plays Pittsburgh tomorrow, and the Khyber in Philadelphia next Friday, the 19th of the month. George meets tonight with two prospective "reverse strippers" who will systematically put their clothes on during the show. George has asked that I show up to lend credibility to the scheme; right now it's all I can do to locate my second pair of trousers. I will also contrive to bring a female of my own, as if to say "we too know what it is like to be a woman."

Also, new song (cover) called "Kelly" in more audio, by George.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Band Names

  • Social Security (my solo project, in the tradition of other hip bureaucracies such as Interpol and The Postal Service, except it will be defunct before I write anything worthwhile)

  • The Trans-fats

  • Operation Iraqi Fiefdom
  • Monday, December 01, 2003


    The correlation between pharmaceuticals as a hugely profitable industry and the relatively new fashion of diagnosing depression and anxiety as a biological 'problem'--instead of a response--just seems a little too convenient. It's really the medical profession that should be blowing the whistle on the fact that people are unhappy in overwhelming numbers; the sheer scope of it should suggest some external, societal cause. But that would put doctors in the position of advocating social change. It's much easier to accept the pseudo-science of the pharmaceuticals, whose everlasting message is that life's problems are biological--not political, social, or economic--in form, and that the solution to our problems lie in a better, more sophisticated drug.

    Sunday, November 30, 2003


    I'm not convinced that our economic system meets the needs, material or spiritual, of its citizens. For example, I have the material need to get a good night's sleep. But this is not possible when your father curses in the middle of the night because he hates his job. So I indict our economic system for giving my father nightmares about financial security in his golden years.

    The solution now is to medicate people who are reacting normally to a profoundly false social system. People will naturally react to insecurity, fear and acute stress with the biological response of depression. It's not because our brain isn't properly regulating serotonin; it's because our lives actually do suck to a phenomenal degree.

    Monday, November 24, 2003

    More on Death and Dying

    We did not make this world, but we make part of this world. In dying we let go of both the things that we make and the things that have been made. Because death is a normal, healthy way to end one's life, it is helpful to consider the things we will miss, but equally important to consider the many things we won't miss.

    Most of us have some idea of the things we will miss. Chocolate, for instance, is high on everybody's list. Also, ice cream. Consider now, some things we won't miss, like men who adjust themselves in public. I hold out great optimism towards death for this reason alone. Also, network news-broadcasters.

    Saturday night I was not permitted to attend a fetish ball because I wore objectionable pants. I was instructed to take them off, if I wanted to attend the event. As I rode the subway home, I considered the advantages one enjoys in rejection. Fondly I recalled the time I was rejected at a dance club because I wasn't wearing a wife-beater or adjusting my genitals in conversation with friends. I thanked the bouncer--now I had money for milk and bread. Social rejection is a big money-saver.

    When you are rejected from Philadelphia's premiere fetish event last Saturday night, you do well to have cab fare home. Instead, I wandered Northern Liberties wrapped in pantyhose and duct-tape with welder's goggles dangling from my neck. Poor people are not really interested in this, but that does not make riding the subway any less upsetting. I was fortunate to have my work jacket at my disposal, even though Saturday was very warm night.

    Monday, November 17, 2003

    A Brief Reflection on Saturday Night

    Music isn't any kind of life. I can't hear out of the left side of my head. I spent yesterday in my bedroom, with the bedsheets secured against the windows and my corpse immobile for the duration. It was a good show, overall. I wasn't nauseous until this morning; it always takes a few days for my nervous system to bounce back. I'm not any kind of performer, is what I mean. Just ask my ex-girlfriends.

    Music and women don't mix. Anyone who goes into music to just to get girls is a lot smarter than me--but that doesn't mean you'd be very impressed by them. They're the type of jerks who, when you drink a beer with them, they're constantly in a good mood, on account that they got a girlfriend by posturing as some kind of musical jackass. I can spot a musical bastard like that a hundred miles away, because they usually have a hot girlfriend. That's the goddam pisser about it all. One time I knew this jerk in a surf band who was a real talented bastard when it came to being musical. I mean, I'm maybe half the jackass this particular individual was when it came down to sheer talent. Anyway, he had this girlfriend that was always popping up at his goddam shows--I only know because I had a close friend who enjoyed this sort of thing, and so I'd try to make an appearance and all--and you couldn't help but notice that this girl was pretty. Even my friend would tell me all about it. Well, one time we all sat together and I asked this girl what she was studying in school. I feel like I'm constantly asking girls what they're studying in school, but you can hardly blame me. You have to take an interest, particularly in other people's girlfriends. So this girl started telling me about how she studied philosophy and how Kierkegaard thought you shouldn't believe in religion, but that you should act like you do. I couldn't imagine how she'd gone so long dating this chooch. I don't want you to think I'm drawing any kind of lousy conclusions about this. I'm just saying that music is a crumby way to meet girls, especially when they become attracted to you so easily.

    Friday, November 14, 2003

    Concert at Penn State

    An article about tomorrow's Overlord show at Penn State. Fine quips from Mr. George.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2003

    Historians Dispute Analogies to Germany, Japan, with Iraq

    The Bush administration has continually compared the situation of post war Iraq with that of Germany and Japan under occupation after WW II. At one point, administration spokesmen even alleged that US troops in Germany had faced attacks by "Werewolves," or, former SS men. This allegation is unfounded. No US troops were killed by Werewolves in post-War Germany, and they assassinated maybe one mayor, though I understand that is controversial.

    Likewise, the administration of Japan was by old New Dealers who strengthed trade unions and democratized. The major projects of the Bush administration in Iraq have been to dissolve existing unions, to completely throw open the country to unregulated investment (which could easily turn speculative and predatory), and to install a regressive flat tax that will favor the emergence of super-rich robber barons.

    --Juan Cole

    Tuesday, November 11, 2003


    How did our narrator solve this puzzle?

    The narrator cannot ordinarily afford to drink Vitamin D milk out of a glass, but on this particular evening he made an exception. The total calorie content of this food exceeded the narrator's normal suppertime allowance, causing his stomach to expand and subsequently creating a sensation of 'fullness'. It was this physiological manifestation which the narrator mistakenly took for an interloper.

    Monday, November 03, 2003


    But tonight the taverns would not have me to swindle! I sat down at my desk and lighted the overhead lamp. From my shelf I selected only the most appropriate title for an eve as fine as this. And do not doubt for one moment that this eve was not a fine one--indeed, one of the finest in recent memory! Every thing about it was ideal; every last detail conspired to make it great. The light from my lamp had never burned so benevolently. And the words illuminated! For your life, you have never seen a text so positively readable. My hands, in sifting the pages, never once fidgeted or took to distraction. My general posture, in fact, had never before been so sensible. My hair laid agreeably and my toenails did not quarrel. My nose contented itself above my mouth as never a nose has been observed to do. My eyes! I daresay my eyes were so excellent that just one of the usual pair of ocular organs would have suited me on this night. The desk could not have been a better height; the chair rose to greet my fundament with the most conciliatory of expressions.

    There can rarely a comparison be made to the miraculous fever of industry which
    took hold of me that night. All around me the house was still--perfectly still!--as though
    its very breath had been suspended for my labors! But, no... that was not entirely true; there was an odd presence here now--I could sense it! There was something else here; something not made of wood, brick, or mortar. Surely I know a stranger in my own home! But I will tell you what was stranger still: something was moving in the very chamber where I now sat!

    I cast the lamp about in every dark corner. Nothing. I addressed my intruder in a respectable tone: "Hello, there, my friend. Do not be alarmed. Come out into the light where I can see you better! There's no reason duck about in the shadows--ha ha!"

    Just then the foreign presence moved, pressing hard up against my abdomen. I fell upon the bed with surprise. It was then that I realized the folly of my pursuit.

    Saturday, October 25, 2003

    House of Ellsworth

    At length I have endeavored to detail the circumstances attending this night in my own mind; my recollection, if the reader should find it peculiar, no doubt reflects the strangeness of the occasion, as my memory in this regard would remain the evening's sole inheritor. It is only now, several days elapsed, that I purpose to take up my pen and relate the harrowing ordeal as it occurred:

    The evening was dark, and the gloam pressed heavy against the house. True!--famished--very, very dreadfully famished I had been; but witness how craftily I hastened my way to the kitchen; why will you say that I cannot find my way? The famine has only sharpened my senses--not destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of taste acute. I tasted all things in heaven and earth. I tasted many things in hell, and several in Congress. How, then, am I delirious? Hearken! and observe how healthily--how calmly I resolved to make a sandwich.

    I steadied myself before the refrigerator door. Inside was cold, frightfully cold, like the tomb of Ann Coulter--how curious that life and warmth should be drawn from within! As the bell sounded the hour, I was perched over my plate like a jay, anticipating a fine repast. Not once did I rise to pace, rant or rave! I presided over the feast as a king might over a banquet--with grace and poise--do you mark me well? But no sooner than I had finished my plate than my attention was arrested by a banana. Ah-ha!--the banana, with its sugary, seedless pulp! But you should have seen me. How I strode to the fruit and handled its porous exterior. And then, with a glass of Vitamin D milk, how stealthily I retired to my chamber--quietly! oh, so very quietly--so not to disturb the sparkling, seamless garment of night that whispered throughout the house.

    Oh-ho! And now how perfectly I was concealed within the city; if by some chance a visitor would call upon the house--some familiar plague of acquaintance--no answer would be issued forth from the darkness! I was perfectly small now--perfectly unobserved! Perhaps they would discern I was home; perhaps they would suspect it! For it is commonly understood that I am loathe to venture far from my books. It is hardly any secret. And yet they persist, like a terrible clockwork, never quitting me, scaring me half out of my wits at every hour, unceasingly as they materialize, unannounced, at my door.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2003

    Night in the House of Ellsworth


    At 8 o'clock, p.m. Roommate, Nicholas and a gentleman caller took their departure, leaving me in possession of the Ellsworth Shanty. The first observation I made thereupon was, "Verily does my estomago protest for a meal." The impulse so acute, it put me almost beside my propriety; and I counted myself most fortunate not to be entertaining, lest I should collapse forthwith in a famine-induced slumber. Many were the evenings of my youth that fatigue did visit itself upon the house, calling expressly for lack of sustenance, with neither ale nor wafer to tide me till the morn; and so I greeted my condition with the weary resignation of someone for whom the familiarity of their symptoms is as marked as much by complacency as by vexation.

    In the south of Philadelphia there exists an impressive tradition of eating, and it would be folly to think I have not pursued this nonpareil to my every advantage. There is of course the Washington Avenue pretzel dispensary, whose destination in transit I am often times spied for by the men and women of 9th street row, a few minutes after midnight, and whenever a dollar proves handy. The proprietor is a round man with large bundles of currency wrapped in elastic bandings which he snaps curtly should you produce any large bill. There are many nomadic packs of youth at this hour, and my crab-like compatriot recedes into the belts and furnace of his machinery until summoned for another exchange. (In a similar way, I make a hasty retreat to Ellsworth; I am not by nature a person of easy talk.) There is also the Italian Market, which must only be attempted in the early hours, lest one be swallowed by the throng mid-day. I learned early on to prepare myself the meals I hoped to profit by in days ahead, and the market has been instrumental to this end. For instance, I have spent considerable time in the development of a type of pan-cooked battercake, which I employ to offset the shooting pains I awaken to most mornings. I have also a rice and bean compound which goes very well with bread, and a potato and cabbage mixture that was a favorite among the Irish in times of prosperity. Of these articles I have subsisted heartily for many years.

    Saturday, October 18, 2003

    On the Question of Mortality

    Dying is an important part of a healthy, active lifestyle. After all, nobody wants to live forever--unless they already enjoy rent-control. And even if death is a total state of nothingness, it's still better than $700 a month for an efficiency in Bella Vista. Dying should be a welcome part of the human experience, especially when it comes to gentrification. If your life's ambition is to die before thirty, you can save big bucks, even if you forfeit the security deposit on your apartment--and it's never too early to start thinking about retirement. Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live, but short men that live with women encounter many bosoms. Some things are hard to give up, and women don't make that any easier, unless they watch Dr. Phil on a daily basis.

    Friday, October 17, 2003

    Wars of Compassion

    How Very American

    by Overlord

    You beat up my bad boyfriend
    And became my worse boyfriend
    How very American
    You took everything I had
    Left me in your cronies' hands
    How very American

    Still I fell for your tales of home
    Where the streets are paved in gold
    To cover up the blood
    Now you're taking your show on the road
    And we're all going to pay for it
    How very American

    You've got a sickness
    That you can't admit
    It's very American

    Still, the lessons of the pioneers
    Weren't lost on my schoolyard peers
    Arena or battlefield
    Since they first traversed these shores:
    How very American

    Sunday, October 12, 2003

    Job Corner

    by Stephen Lentz

    Sorry to have not responded to your many politically motivated forwards recently, but I must confess that I have spent the last month readjusting to the work world. Yeah, it sucks. I much preferred the summer, when the City of New York paid me to sit on my ass for an entire month. But, as Shakespeare once said, "ain't paybacks a muthafucka?!" Yeah, the children are definitely getting the last laugh these days. But seriously, school has been OK, and it's nice to be in place where I know everyone's name now, and am able to kiss the appropriate asses that need to be kissed, rather than simply groping around in the dark trying to figure out the identity of my actual boss. That's the thing about schools... who the hell am I supposed to report to anyway?! Principal, Assistant Principal, Staff Developers, the Special Ed. Director, the head custodian? It used to be so confusing, but this year it's like, "Ah yes, I know your opinion means this side of dick... I'll just keep nodding in agreement until you finish up though."

    Friday, October 10, 2003


    The Organ bio has finally arrived!

    Monday, October 06, 2003

    Reproductive Rights

    Everyone should have the right to reproduce, although not everyone reproduces right, which only underscores the importance of finding a partner first. This is not easy: even with the advantages of technology, dating services, and women walking their dogs on Sundays, still we find ourselves turning to chocolate for decent company. But what about our biological imperative to populate, or, more popularly, copulate? This will vary by individual--and God help you if you are Catholic. Every religion finds a place for nature's oldest ice-breaker, although if you think this includes the church confessional you should probably see a psychologist.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2003

    Nickel and Dimed

    When someone works for less pay than she can live on--when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently--then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The "working poor," as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that others will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.

    Barbara Ehrenreich

    Monday, September 29, 2003

    Mad Girl's Love Song

    by Sylvia Plath

    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
    I lift my lids and all is born again.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
    And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

    I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
    And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
    Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

    I fancied you'd return the way you said,
    But I grow old and I forgot your name.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
    At least when spring comes they roar back again.
    I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
    (I think I made you up inside my head.)

    Friday, September 26, 2003

    On Solitude

    It is not easy to obtain solitude in an urban environment. One might think poverty would be isolating enough to guarantee an evening without visitors, but just tonight as I retired to my private chamber an individual from the order Coleoptera announced himself from behind my bureau. I've been preoccupied with him ever since. And to think I had my evening so carefully planned! What he was doing around these parts is anybody's guess, although eating seemed to be a substantial part of it, as I originally had him mistaken for some kind of cricket. Then I was reminded of similar visit some weeks ago, only from a much smaller sojourner, maybe half his size. "I thought for certain you had gone for good!" I exclaimed, marveling at the resemblance. My companion whirled his antennae. "But how have you managed this long," I inquired, "for clearly there is no sustenance to be found in this house--indeed, so rarely even for myself--and nary are the crumbs that should fall within your many legged reach!"

    This is what I tell all my houseguests, because while I don't mind a bit of the old ecosystem around the home, I prefer a fine-tuned one. Somebody died on the first floor this week and I didn't even know they had been staying here, nobody bothered to tell me about it. I still don't know who it was because they managed to conceal their presence in death with the same craft--and probably the same furniture--as they had in life. Of course, death in the late summer is scarcely concealed at all, as I'm sure you can well appreciate. But producing a body has proved a vexing occupation at best. I've only uncovered a gnawed Kool-Aid packet and some colorful fecal deposits where I thought for certain I would discern a shallow grave. I'm sure the old sport was only extending the courtesy of expiring in some out of the way place, but really death can be such an inconvenience when it begs the temporary repositioning of a refrigerator.

    How, then, can one maintain a life of complete solitude? Murder comes immediately to mind, as it is much easier to work someone's death into your schedule when you are able to consult your calendar first. Of course, this brings with it certain moral considerations which are best suppressed--unless you enjoy moving heavy appliances on the weekend. A vow of solitude does not give us license to begin killing everyone willy-nilly, however. This is particularly true as we climb the evolutionary ladder, for instance, beginning with the arthropods and extending laterally to certain members of the Nematodes, commonly known as "the Bush cabinet." Also, anyone cute, who wears their hair in any sort of bob, should be invited in for dinner--and in this case I am not speaking of mice. Solitude is a permeable condition, not bound by trifles over right and wrong, and in this way mirrors the religious morality of our president, who more than anyone exemplifies what it means to be alone in the world.

    Saturday, September 20, 2003

    Love Vs. Infatuation

    What then is the difference between love and infatuation, and will one's bank statement reflect it? Is it better to admire someone from afar--say, across the street with binoculars--or would it be better to invite them over for showering? This depends on whether you have to work the next morning. For it is said that to admire someone, one need only know them in passing, whereas in love, one must share something longstanding, like bronchitis. But how can one ever know for sure? If you feel yourself light-headed with excitement and unable to be productive, it is infatuation; if your doctor prescribes antibiotics, it is love.

    The Economy of Love

    The economics of love are less exact. We all pay a price for love, although I understand the rates are lower at Broad and Spring Garden streets. But don't think you can buy love like any other commodity, unless of course it is Valentine's Day. Let's face it: love requires some level of discretionary income. If you are poor, date someone with money who will see you for who really are--earthy and uncomplicated--and avoid dating your peers, who will also see you for who you really are: a bum. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if the beholder earns under 30k you will probably hear about it.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2003

    The Advantage to Dying

    Two days ago Maureen's father died of terminal cancer. (Our second date took place in Philadelphia after she had relocated here to be with him during this period.) I called the house yesterday but she had just stepped out. I spoke with her youngest sister on the phone. She's engaged to be married in November; there was a hope on the part of the whole family that her father would be able to see it. Maureen's told me a lot about her--about her job which routinely flies her to Paris and her fiancé who's sold B-movie screenplays to Hollywood. She's closer in age to myself than Maureen. She's also very sweet natured and less prone to butt heads with Maureen than some of the other sisters in the family (it is a big family dominated by women).

    I was caught off guard when she introduced herself over the phone, and when I realized there was no Maureen available to speak with. Awkwardly I blurted out my condolences. I wish I had spoken in a more familiar tone.

    While Maureen's father was dying he spoke with the dead. He didn't speak with the living--for instance, someone who simply wasn't there. He specifically had conversations with people who had already died, or other people who could not be identified. Some of his episodes were rife with metaphors involving trains and gates and times and unseen people, a little boy in particular, who would be helping or showing or opening or somehow involving themselves in a process which her father was preparing himself for.

    Maureen's father was an phenomenal reader, a history buff who spent any free time in his study, surfacing occasionally for meals. He lost all interest in these things--books, newspapers, headlines--while he was dying. In a similar way his body stopped consuming calories--his weight dropped to 123lbs. Gradually he let go of the things which had comprised his life to that point. On Sunday Maureen sent out an email; hospice said that her dad probably had two weeks to live. He died the following afternoon.

    Maureen is lucky because she was able to be with her dad while he was dying. They talked extensively; he talked a lot about his feelings about his life, perhaps because he was a good communicator to begin with, but also because hospice-care facilitates these types of activities. Someone once told me that, if we're lucky, we are born, we grow old, we get sick, and we die. That's if we are lucky, because that is what we are designed to do: part of our purpose in life is to die.

    There is not a lot of time to our lives, and death reminds us. This makes choosing our life immediately important. It also lends perspective to life, when we consider our preoccupation with things like conflict and war and money and reputation. Large institutions--governments, corporations--don't experience mortality in the same way, so their cultures don't acknowledge it. It is easy for governments to justify war, for example, justified or not. That's because governments never die of cancer. They lose the advantage of having that perspective; they never gain that wisdom. So they persist, being consistently foolish, serving the needs of power, as all institutions naturally do. Even a fool can come close enough to death to have it touch them, and force a change in perspective. That's the advantage to dying.
    The End of an Affair

    We were riding the subway to Maureen's apartment in Brooklyn. Maureen was wearing a crazy nylon jumpsuit and a red hat, and her shoes were strangely angular, reminding me of a carpentry tool. I'm not stylish but I didn't feel too intimidated being with her. A lot of people couldn't tell we were together. I was standing up most of the time, trying to keep a particular expression. Maureen would begin speaking to me and excite the attention of everyone around us. Or I would start to say something and then distract myself thinking about all the leering men and what they thought about it. I can distract myself quite easily this way. I didn't want them to think I'd just had sex all over town with this girl and that they didn't have a chance. Everyone should have a *chance*, at least--even a jerk. But the worst jerks are the kind that have to smother all over their girlfriends to make everyone else feel like they don't even have a chance. I get very tired thinking about it.

    We did quite a bit of walking that day, even though we weren't feeling too hot. I got to see Maureen's apartment and her view of the city. We bought some vegetables and ate lunch and Maureen changed into these bright pink Chinese slippers that looked like they had the arch-support of a wheat thin. All the kids in the neighborhood couldn't shut up about them. But they were nice about it, and it made Maureen laugh. We finally sat down in this park that didn't have any grass but had a lot of dogs and joggers. There was also a utility truck that kept passing by, throwing dirt on us at every opportunity. Still, it was nice to sit and talk with Maureen in the waning hours of our date. When we departed Brooklyn we rode over the Williamsburg bridge and Maureen told me about her rides to work, crossing that bridge at dawn. We both returned home that evening, and were sick for the rest of the week. Maureen had bronchitis and I had sinusitis. At first we thought it was SARS.

    Sunday, September 14, 2003

    We were both sick when we woke the next day; Maureen had chest pains and my throat felt funny.

    "I wonder if we're allergic to each other, Salvador."

    I went to take a shower. You might think it's very romantic to take a shower with your date, but my plan was to expectorate all over the floor. Actually, I'm not crazy about showering with people even when they are my date. There's a lot of standing around for one thing. I'm not saying it's the worst thing that could happen; I guess it depends on your mood. But I don't think I feel too strongly about it. They say when you reach a certain age you get set in your ways, and this is probably a good example of that. Maybe if I showered with people everyday I would feel differently. But that hardly ever happens unless I go to a pool--and how often does anyone go to a pool?

    I was showering for a while. I showered the hell out of that hotel, trying to get the water to run into the middle of the room. It was constantly running down the drain. I showered all over the place but whenever the water went outside the curtain it would just sit in the middle of the floor, not trying anything funny. It was the goddamndest thing. I investigated until I could see where the floor was just slightly angled at the border of the stall. It was a clever design, I can tell you that.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2003

    Why Can't A Woman Be More Like A Man?

    by Donald Rumsfeld

    Why can't a woman be more like a man?
    Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
    Eternally noble, historic'ly fair;
    Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
    Well, why can't a woman be like that?
    Why does ev'ryone do what the others do?
    Can't a woman learn to use her head?
    Why do they do ev'rything their mothers do?
    Why don't they grow up--well, like their father instead?
    Why can't a woman take after a man?
    Men are so pleasant, so easy to please;
    Whenever you are with them, you're always at ease.

    Why can't a woman be more like a man?
    Men are so decent, such regular chaps.
    Ready to help you through any mishaps.
    Ready to buck you up whenever you are glum.
    Why can't a woman be a chum?

    Why can't a woman behave like a man?
    If I was a woman who'd been to a ball,
    Been hailed as a princess by one and by all;
    Would I start weeping like a bathtub overflowing?
    And carry on as if my home were in a tree?
    Would I run off and never tell me where I'm going?
    Why can't a woman be like me?

    Saturday, September 06, 2003

    On Maintaining a Good Humor in Combat

    There comes a time for every citizen when our nation calls on us to go to war. Most of us eagerly await this call, unless of course we have just sat down to dinner. If your nation shows up at your door, tell them it is not a good time, as you are in the middle of a bath. If your nation persists, say that you have a hard time remembering basic details--like how to launder your shorts in the rain--particularly when exploding in a fiery ambush. If your nation says it is your civic duty, do your best imitation of a South Philadelphian and accuse them of being soft on "the enemy," then chase them out of your neighborhood with an American flag cudgel.

    If you do go into the military, for God's sake please pick a job that keeps you from getting shot at. This is never any kind of fun--and it's a very good way to spoil an evening. If your hope is to be killed instantaneously, certainly there are better ways to lower your monthly electric bill. Not that killing other people is any fun either. Remember Ezra Pound's lasting impression: "The real trouble with war is that it gives no one a chance to kill the right people." More often than not, the "right" people are watching you expire in droves on CNN from a yacht serving cocktails in Lake Michigan, with a hand-written sign that reads, "We Support Our Troops." But this is no reason to despair. The right people will always die of their own accord, and sometimes in embarrassing positions.

    It is particularly important for combat troops to "be of good cheer," and certainly not to "ask for the resignation of the Defense Secretary." This only serves to hurt the Defense Secretary's feelings--and doesn't he already have enough thrust upon him without the weight of hurt feelings? Bear in mind also that questioning the policies of one's government only helps the enemy, who also questions our government, but in a multiple-choice format. This allows the enemy to grade the results much faster, whereas most Americans receive their responses in essay form. This leaves Americans getting most of their information from the National Football League, which speaks volumes about our society, if only they weren't measured by the pint.

    Monday, September 01, 2003

    The Big Sad

    Overlord played a live set at WMUC yesterday (and I played with them); here are three songs from that performance.

    The Big Sad

    The Brand New Panic

    A Boy In Name Only

    Saturday, August 30, 2003


    This site was reviewed twice by The Weblog Review.

    Friday, August 29, 2003

    Labor Day

    Overlord embarks on their lecture tour of the East coast in promotion of George Pasles' new album, The World Takes. The East coast originally included New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C.; it has since been consolidated into last night's performance at Doc Watson's in Philadelphia, and three shows in D.C. over the weekend.

    The World Takes lecture series includes many of Mr. Pasles' newest songs, including the Elvis/Smiths tribute, "A Boy In Name Only"; the anthem for living, "Give it Up, Let it Go"; as well as re-workings of older favorites such as "The Big Sad." The weekend schedule of appearances is available at Overlord's website.

    Monday, August 25, 2003


    Obedience has special meaning in the spiritual context. It refers specifically to one's relationship with God, and on the true realization of this relationship in one's daily life. This is especially the case within the sacrament of marriage. Obedience is an important part of living in communion with a spouse, particularly if you hope to have them house-trained before winter. Obedience does not necessarily mean a strict adherence to the laws of man--for instance, going the speed limit on the Garden State Parkway, or abstaining from pornography on Sundays--and should never be misinterpreted as such.

    Most everyone experiences periods of questioning in the course of their spiritual journey. A person may ask themselves, "How can God exist, and especially under the current administration?" This is a normal feature of a healthy spiritual life, and should not be taken as a sign of flagging obedience. There are many great people known for their deep questioning of God, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Vladimir Lenin. Lenin questioned God for the benefit of the Russian peasantry, and the peasantry questioned Lenin for the glory of God; finally the peasants questioned God directly for the whole convoluted affair, but it turns out God would not speak without his lawyer present. In a similar way, Friedrich Nietzsche made a name for himself questioning the existence of God, and this worked very much in his favor until God questioned the existence of Nietzsche, ruining his vacation plans for that summer. The moral of the story is that it is all well and good to question the existence of something, just so long no one has to forfeit their deposit in a French bordello.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2003

    The Organ

    The Organ are a Vancouver quintet, formed in 2001. In a short space of time, this all female ensemble has gained rapid exposure with the release of their first EP, Sinking Hearts; an accompanying two-song single, and a live show that has spirited them on tour with some of the most significant bands today. A critical and popular favorite, The Organ write melodic and introspective music based on layered interplay between their instrumentalists--Debora Cohen, guitar; Ashley Webber, bass; Shelby Stocks, drums; Jenny Smyth, Hammond organ--and the intimate and doleful lyrics of their lead singer, Katie Sketch.

    The Organ's "sound" has been commented on and debated over from the very beginning, so great is the fascination that it inspires. "The Organ's melancholy melodies are intoxicating," writes Cyndi Elliot of Magnet Magazine. The band is consistently compared with the best songwriters of the early 80's new-wave, writing structured songs around minimal arrangements, and creating a nuanced, textured sound that can be brooding and catchy at the same time. The best of many bands can be found here--whether it is the weaving counterpoint melodies between organ and bass; the lean, bell-like intonation of sparkling guitars; the charmed tenacity of the snare; or the suspended lamentation of Sketch's cascading vocals--and much excitement is borne out of the desire to name The Organ's sound in precise terms. "The Organ does it so well, it's hard to believe these kids are in their early 20's," writes John Parish of The Big Takeover. "It makes me feel better than the electronic craziness of some of those 'I love the 80's' bands, and almost as sad as I used to feel in the 1980's, and I love 'em for it." For their own part, the band accepts the associations with an amused detachment. "Originally I was trying to do something a little more rock, like Elastica," says Sketch, "but obviously it didn't work out that way."

    The Organ have played with an wide variety of contemporary bands such as Interpol, Hot Hot Heat, The Walkmen, The Von Bondies, The Soledad Brothers and Bratmobile; and most recently finished a tour across North America with Matador's New Pornographers. The band has become well-known for the somber intensity of their live performances, which they happily acknowledge as involving very little physical movement on-stage. "That's the only way we can be," says Sketch, "if I paid Debora a million dollars to jump up and down, she wouldn't. That's just her personality." "The Organ's approach is classic European detachment," writes Michael White of Calgary's News and Entertainment Weekly, "It creates an enveloping mood, and fully complements the music's soulful melancholy." And perhaps it is a testament to the saliency of Sketch's dark lyrical themes--which range from interpersonal relationships to politics--that The Organ is so often perceived as a wholly melancholy affair. Organist Jenny Smyth is herself caught between the band's music and its rueful subject matter: "The Organ's music sounds really happy and cheerful so I always get really shocked when people say 'your music is so sad and emotional' and I'm like really!? I think it sounds like la la la..."

    With so much attention already devoted to The Organ's sound and presentation, there remains nevertheless a lasting captivation with their distinction as an all female band. "Other people tend to point it out," muses Smyth, "'Oh, an all girl band!' and I'm like, 'I'm a girl?'" "I'm just playing with my friends," says Sketch. "We wouldn't have cared if we'd found some really great boys to play with us, but instead we found some really great girls." Still, the distinction is not without significance, as drummer Shelby Stocks knows first-hand: her seventh-grade band teacher took her drumsticks away and gave them to a boy, informing her that girls don't play the drums. "There was a part of me that wanted to prove him wrong--that girls can actually play. What an idiot."

    Friday, August 15, 2003


    The appeal of chastity has waned considerably in the modern era. This is because chaste persons don't have sex--not even on their lunch breaks. The advantage to living chastely is that one is permitted to love indiscriminately all of humankind. This is not ordinarily possible, unless you own a king-sized bed. Chastity harnesses our baser impulses and channels them into mission and duty, even when we are off the clock.

    There are not many people practicing chastity today. The commercial secularism of the industrial societies has all but relegated the concept an anachronism from more religious times. Most chaste people do not begin that way, but rather are driven to it by husbands who regularly quote dialogue from The Godfather. This is not always ideal, particularly if you don't enjoy other forms of cardiovascular exercise, like masturbation. Some people, hoping to find a happy medium, instead imagine themselves making love to Robert Deniro, or a young Marlon Brando, depending on the scene. Few people enjoy sleeping with Luca Brasi, as this accounted for half of all new chastity converts in 2002.

    Thursday, August 14, 2003

    On Poverty

    For innumerable centuries, Christian tradition has extolled the benefits of poverty, chastity and obedience. Of these, poverty is by far the most popular today, and across all age groups. Jesus taught that in the Kingdom of Heaven, the first will be last and the last will be first--an important thing to consider if one is to get a good seat; or, conversely, if you are going to beat the rush to the parking lot after the show. Jesus also taught that the poor will inherit the Earth, and clearly this is true in many places already; however I am told that the waiting list for apartments in Manhattan is still rather long.

    Jesus was not alone in placing singular emphasis on the poor. St. Francis of Assisi harbored such love for his "Lady Poverty" that he wedded himself to her, but suffered a sudden change of heart when his in-laws began discussing Italy for retirement. The final straw came when Francis predicted her father's appetite would guarantee a comfortable impoverishment for years to come. Being good Catholics, they would not permit a divorce, but they did sleep in separate beds through much of this period.

    In contemporary times, it is easy to understand the appeal of poverty for so much of the world today. Poverty restricts and governs one's worldly distractions, thus allowing more fully the cultivation of the soul and spiritual pursuits. One direct advantage of poverty is that it bolsters community in an increasingly alienated world. It compels one to find the good in every unwanted corner of life. The disadvantage to poverty is that your wardrobe will suffer and you will frequently be self-conscious when leaving the unwanted corners of life to attend a wedding. Unfortunately, when you are poor, just as many people will be getting married as when you are rich. This is a depressing thought, but so long as the wedding is not Catholic, the occasion may be expedited, leaving you with the better part of a Saturday afternoon by the time you get home.

    Sunday, August 10, 2003

    Never Shine On Me

    Through the course of the night I laid with Maureen sleeping at my side. At least she was asleep; I was forever unsettled in the dark. I am not, after all, accustomed to sharing a bed with women, as doubtless you must readily accept, having ventured this far with me in our story. It is quite a different thing than sharing a bed with a younger sister on a family trip, for instance, or with another man for the sake of economy. No, to lay with a woman in this way is quite a different thing altogether.

    As often happens in periods of sleeplessness, I was soon beset with a myriad of considerations. There were many things to observe in the hotel room at that hour, for one thing. We had retired with the windows open--the day had been unseasonably warm--and the sheer curtains of the room had at once taken up my cause, fluttering in tacit agreement. From without came the sound automobiles and the air brake reports from city sanitation vehicles. The Hudson river was however many blocks West of here; it could be seen from our window. The thought occurred to me that in my senior year of high school I would sit on the rock-face of Hook Mountain and stare East, across the river, at my very location now. But that was many years ago and I did not entertain the thought for very long.

    Maureen's breathing was deep and steady. In the dark everything took on the grainy texture of old film stock. Her body was perfectly ghost-like beneath one white sheet. It was indescribably lovely, as you might imagine. My body was cool, too--and this was not lost on me: how often is one granted the opportunity to observe such things about themselves? Not often enough! Life would be much better lived with an artificial light source accentuating only our best curves and angles. I don't believe in the sun.

    Saturday, August 09, 2003


    The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly on what should be said on the vital issues of the day.

    --Theodore Roosevelt, August 5th, 1912

    Monday, August 04, 2003

    It's Only Divine Right

    That nobody likes Philadelphia is one of the reasons I've always enjoyed coming back to it. I'm forever coming back to it, on buses and on planes, late in the evenings; and in summertime it is always storming when I arrive. Secretly, it's very exciting. The streets are empty at night, warm and close, the oldest buildings are wet, and it is not unpleasant to walk alone, should you feel confident in the soundness of your route, or in the gamble one takes purposing to find a bus at some point along the way. You will find people at this hour, of course, many of them city workers, or those involved in the production and distribution of baked goods; but in all you are left spying your way without passing a single soul for many blocks.

    When you are as travelworn as I was last night, however, you do not walk, least of all when you have arrived at the international airport after many delays and too few meals. Should you arrive at PHL after midnight, there will be no train to take you to Center City; not only will there be no train, there will be no attendant at the terminal information desks, there will be no attendant at the transportation information desks; there is only the unflagging insistence of airport signs and markers that you continue to baggage claim and ground transportation. At the Philadelphia International Airport, "ground transportation" is an extensive queue of taxis, limousine and van shuttle services, with a $20 base rate to escort your soon-to-be-shystered buttocks into Center City. It shames me to think that I joined this line of hapless sheep before resolving to find the SEPTA bus terminal for the airport--which is about as easy as finding a deadly weapon in Iraq, I might add. After some anxiety relating to changing large bills for the bus fare and being uncertain as to the frequency of the runs, I was able to catch the route 108 to 69th street and transfer all the way back into the city via the subway shuttles--net gain to me $22.40 including tip. Today I was able to buy milk.

    Part of the excitement when flying into Philadelphia relates to my traveling companions. When you fly to Denver, it's a perfect fit: everyone is white, they wear canvas hats and sandals, the older women have long straight grey hair and deep wrinkles, they are fit and attractive. I understand the people traveling to Denver just by observing them. I know what the tans are for, and the sunglasses, and the white T-shirts, and the strappy backpacks and mesh accessories and the bottled water and the books and the hats--oh, the hats! Young moms and their ponytails; I'm forever falling in love with young moms and their ponytails.

    But you'll never make heads or tails of people traveling to Philadelphia. They're either black or they're like me, unremarkable. There's no overarching selling point to define the culture of the city, so there's no particular commonality, no giant stereotype beating you on the cranium. I understand the blacks based on their families and their histories; but what the fuck are the white people thinking? There's no natural beauty here--no bristling seaport, no adjacent mountain ranges or nearby wine-tasting valleys; the humidity is high and the air is not clean, and neither are the streets. They must, like, live here or something. The warm hand of commercialism has not descended on Philadelphia so singularly as Denver, San Francisco or Seattle; as a result, none of us know what the hell we are supposed to be about. Put simply, we don't know how to dress.

    Denver has been figured out commercially, if ever the point of commercialism was to determine what people like and sell it back to them at exorbitant rates. The supermarket--nay, almost every major franchise in the city--has polished wood grain floors, an espresso bar, and some sort of "library" and lounge area. (The supermarket also doubles as an art gallery and a night club where live bands perform.) Everything is purposely, self-consciously, unspontaneously designed to sell not just bread, but community.

    My growing suspicion is that it's very easy to live in a place of great physical beauty, but hard to suffer the people--unless the place also happens to be poor; unfortunately we can't all live in Cuba. I say this because I live in a sweltering hole and would never be able to afford to live somewhere nice. Inasmuch as this is my station, please allow me to elaborate: A beautiful place is where everyone wants to live--and that's why it takes an hour to drive into San Francisco at practically any time of the day. The more people want a beautiful home secluded in the wilderness, the more their neighbors will surround them, pushing further back to get further away; meanwhile their supermarkets sell back the community that they don't want to pay for in taxes. Oh the humanity!

    As for Philadelphia, well. There is something refreshing about poverty when the alternative is being badgered by dreadlocked trust-fundafarians in the all white Boulder, CO--easily the acoustic guitar capital of the world--for money and cigarettes. One thing I will say about Philadelphia though: it's a nice place to live, but I would never want to vacation here. That's just depressing.

    Friday, July 25, 2003

    Vacaciones! Mua! Mua!

    I will be in the Denver, CO area from July 26 through August 3. If I have the opportunity I'll share some of that excursion as it unfolds.

    Bon temps!
    XV: James Bondage

    "I should probably get going," Maureen told me.

    "Get going? Is the date over already? It's only... what time is it?"


    "It's only two. What's wrong with that?"

    "I told Debbie I'd be back tonight," Maureen said. "I should call. I hope she's not staying up."

    Maureen set her hand on the receiver and then paused. "What if she's asleep?"

    "I don't see why you should have to go back tonight anyway. I'm not such a bad guy."

    "Not bad."

    "What do you mean 'not bad'?" I said, surprised.

    "Well, I didn't know that before."

    "You don't know that now, either."

    "Then why are you trying to convince me?"

    "Anyone can try to convince you they're not a bad guy! That's what every jerk does."

    "Well, at least you're not any type of threat. I should call Debbie and tell her I'm staying. I don't feel like trekking back to Brooklyn."

    "Tell her if she wants to be so involved she should have showed up two hours ago with a change of clothes. Why am I not a threat?"

    "Orion!," Maureen squealed, pushing her face close to mine. "I didn't mean it like that, honey."

    "You think just because I had an episode in the hallway--"

    "Hey, look buster, I've been waiting around all night for you to take advantage of me. It's getting late and I'm tired."

    "Well, how am I supposed to take advantage of you, anyway? I have to be in a position of advantage. We have to create some kind handicap for you."

    "Do you want to tie one arm behind my back?"

    "I mean a financial advantage."

    "In that case I should be taking advantage of you."

    "I wish you would hurry up. I'm about to pass out over here."

    "I'll call Debbie. I hope she's not already asleep."

    Tuesday, July 22, 2003

    A Solidarity Among Women

    To all actresses who have played actresses, to all women who act, to men who act and become women, to all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother.

    --Pedro Almodóvar

    Fourteen: Sex

    Well, we didn't have sex, that's for certain. The reader may ask how this can be--how, after all that has been shared so far, and with such clarity of purpose, just how can it be that intercourse did not announce itself at our chamber door, beg pardon for the delay--it had come direct from an engagement in the South Bronx--and conspire to remedy the situation posthaste? It is a hard thing to make sense of, I will grant you that. Many have been the evenings since when I have pondered this mystery; to my best estimate, all the component parts were in place, to say nothing of the political justification provided by the war. Of course, it is all too easy too blame oneself in these things--for my rather embarrassed station in life, say--and that is why I prefer to blame my date instead. She seemed persistently in a state of not having sex with me for the entire evening, and in retrospect it strikes me as grossly inappropriate.

    On the other hand, when it comes to sex I am not very persuasive, not even to myself, and doubtless this contributed rather centrally to the outcome. Sex is excellent in theory. Unfortunately, in practice it is even better. This is a tremendous injustice when you haven't had any practice since the Carter administration--doubly so when the only thing you were practicing was Catholicism. I want no truck with Catholicism; it is a discussion best left for another time. And what can be said of sex in this particular circumstance is pitiful little; as such perhaps the reader will grant me reprieve for the duration.

    Monday, July 21, 2003

    On Love

    by Woody Allen

    To be a really good lover, then, one must be strong yet tender. How strong? I suppose being able to lift fifty pounds should do it. Bear in mind also that to the lover the loved one is always the most beautiful thing imaginable, even though to a stranger she may be indistinguishable from an order of smelts. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Should the beholder have poor eyesight, he can ask the nearest person which girls look good. (Actually, the prettiest ones are almost always the most boring, and that is why some people feel there is no God.)

    Sunday, July 20, 2003

    Calls from the Public

    To :

    Subject :
    scenester get thee behind me

    Date :
    Sun, 20 Jul 2003 07:46:27 -0700 (PDT)

    good morning,

    i watched the animated short (if one can call it that) and i have 2 observations. first, people under the age of 30 overuse overusing the word "random." i am appointing you, 26 year old ryan to combat this plague.

    the other judgement is on the voiceover guy. that fake cheech and chong voice is so very bad i'm having trouble finding just the right un-random words to express my disdain for it. i'm sorry to rain on your new found love for these little animated twirps that have simply classified their friends by the outfits, or shall we say costumes, that they wear, but i feel strongly about speaking my mind.

    ryan, please help rid society of the overuse of the word random, it is being ruined, diluted even.

    thanks for everything,


    Saturday, July 19, 2003

    The Scenesters

    This is pretty good, but where are all the indie-rockers? For now we will have to let the Emo-kids suffice.

    The Scenesters!!

    Friday, July 18, 2003

    In Defense of the CIA

    CIA Director George Tenet:

    FACT: Although Tenet Took Blame For Misinformation, He Had Repeatedly Warned Bush Officials That Evidence Was Flawed.

    March 2002: CIA discovered and then advised the White House that reports connecting Iraq and Niger were probably false. [Time, 7/13/03]

    October 2002: CIA Director George Tenet personally warned Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley that Niger intelligence should be excluded from Bush's Oct. 7 speech. The White House cut all Niger references from that speech. [New York Times, 7/13/03]

    September 2002: CIA warned British intelligence to discontinue use of Niger information, saying its accuracy had been questioned. [Washington Post, 7/11/03; Bush State of the Union Address, 1/28/03]

    December 2002: CIA warned State Department to eliminate references to Niger in briefings. [USA Today, 6/13/03; AP, 6/12/03]

    Days before Bush's State of the Union address CIA analyst Alan Foley warned NSC staffer Robert Joseph that the intelligence was not certain. [New York Times, 7/13/03]

    Play George W. Bush Credibility Twister!

    Tuesday, July 15, 2003


    At length I divested myself of the evening's hardships, prostrate on the bed of our hotel suite. Much to the credit of my companion, I was not solicited to detail the varied misfortunes of my trek, but rather was left at peace, and attended to with a welcome impartiality. From some place Maureen had procured a tray to be placed at the bedside; and on this tray had been assembled some pieces of fruit and chocolate, and a decanter of ice water. Of the citrus fruits I did not readily partake on account of their tricky nature, but with the chocolates I was greatly pleased, and of these I ate a considerable quantity before Maureen thought to join me.

    "Chocolate is good," I reflected, and Maureen nodded, smiling.


    While much is made of the enamouring qualities which chocolate is believed to possess, and while Maureen did, indeed, strike me as particularly lovely in this circumstance; and while in the duration of my recovery I had not felt so acutely the strum of my heart-strings as I did at present; still it is very hard for me to explain the outcome of this exchange by the simple introduction of sugary treats to the equation. I should rather like to think that the unseemliness and mounting misfortune of this whole affair had by some means induced itself into throes of an erotic crescendo! Terrorists be damned--I was no longer to be deemed a soft target!

    Sunday, July 13, 2003


    The ice bucket was nowhere to be found. I first ventured to trace the trajectory of its flight from the site of my collapse; but this ultimately proved fruitless--I could no longer distinguish the direction I was heading from the direction whence I had come. A mounting frustration weighed itself upon my spirits, prompting me finally to flail and kick about the darkened corridor, jerking my already beleaguered anatomy hither and thither, in the vain hope I might smite the accursed thing with some piece of me, thereby revealing its location. I felt myself being reduced to hysterics in short order, half-cursing and half-sobbing my way along the thoroughfare--now pleading with the article that it should return to my possession, now vowing its certain and wholesale destruction when it did. If I did not find this wretched ice bucket, and procure some god-damnable ice, then surely the terrorists would win.

    Finally I sat down. My physical exertion had once again produced a feeling of lightheadedness and nausea, and I found it hard to breathe, what with the peculiar tightness in my chest. I am not any kind of athletic person, after all; my present dilemma being enough to daunt even the most splendidly capable brute, I thought I did rather well for myself, all things considered. At least I had not lost consciousness or been trod upon by any of the hotel wait-staff. I was a special operative deep behind enemy lines, having suffered a string of indignities, but never to compromise my tactical imperative of stealth and concealment! Why, my very objective remained concealed, even from me!

    When Maureen appeared alongside me with the ice bucket in hand, I was still crouched in the darkness, contemplating my central role in the war and in the valiant cause of homeland security. What next I remember was waking in bed with a damp towel across my head.

    Thursday, July 10, 2003

    Eleven: An Unfortunate Setback

    No sooner had I advanced several yards than I was arrested by a curious, radiating pronouncement through the left hemisphere of my body. Presently I cried out, and crumpled to the floor of the passage, ejecting the ice bucket from my grasp at a considerable velocity, and purposing in some way to cushion my fall--in this case with my shoulder and the better portion of an ear. There I would remain, corpse-like and immobile, until sensation saw fit to revisit itself upon my limbs, and life upon my cadaver.

    With some effort I erected myself, taking careful inventory of my every extremity, lest some item should prove lost or impaired. Satisfied to this end, I sought to survey the corridor for any token of immediate approach. I discerned none. Could it be that the terms of my pursuit were wholly imagined? Surely I might easily have been overtaken in the course of my tribulation. Or perhaps the strangeness of my method struck bewilderment in the heart of my pursuer? Whatever the case may be, I could sense no immediate threat; nothing, that is, beyond the irregular ticking of my heart-valve.

    Tuesday, July 08, 2003

    Give It Up, Let It Go

    This song is one of my favorites. From a woman's perspective it may have much more "crunchy" guitar than we normally tolerate--I am not a woman, but my musical tastes are largely emasculated: I don't care for crunchy guitar myself--but what's great about this song is how melodic it is. The harmonies are crazy, like something out of the Beach Boys. Check out the harmonies on the very last chorus of the song. Crazy-retarded. I can't tell you what this song is about, but with a name like Give It Up, Let It Go, I like to think of it as an anthem for life; or, if nothing else, my music career.

    Give It Up, by George

    What began with an
    Earnest yearning
    For pure utility
    Quickly became
    A hemispheric purging performed
    With Stalinesque finesse

    All their papers burned
    And their tapes erased
    With their arms cut off
    All hands were lost
    Left helpless for anonymity
    To snuff their infamy

    Not revenge for an
    Opaque offense
    Merely irrelevence
    Lesson to be learned:
    Muses, use your aesthetes with care
    For they're your archivists

    Ten: Riddles in the Dark

    The corridor was still. No boss, no bludgeon. On the other hand I couldn't see very far, not even to the end of the hallway, nor back to the elevator, peering as I might.

    "Christ almighty," I observed.

    I oriented myself in keeping with Maureen's instructions and began to tread
    lightly in this direction. So far so good. A little ice would do well, I thought. I only hoped there would not be a crowd, nor any dancing. I'd hate to make something like this into a major production. How long is this hallway, anyway? It seems not to run perfectly straight either, rather in some kind of trend-setting arc. It's a pretty fascinating hotel, after all. And how about that crazy shower? I would get to the bottom of that before I left, that was sure. Somebody's bottom had to be got to, anyway, if the date was to be deemed a success. By the standards of on-line dating this was a watershed moment which now rested wholly in my capable, if violently tremulous hands. All things being equal, it was unfortunate that I had since assumed the role of hunter-gatherer, which I have never enjoyed, except perhaps when I can find a 2/$3 bargain on bread at ACME. Saturday nights are the best time to go, when the greasy throng are busy sluicing themselves up for date-rape and a fist-fight on Delaware Avenue, although by that time there is not much hope left for bread, or for produce; but at the very least my sanity is preserved, and I can oft times escape unmolested by man or child--

    "What the hell was that?" I started. Some distance behind me was suggested the soft thud as of a door closing. There was nothing to be seen; the distance was too great. I held perfectly still. Even my breathing was suspended. What was that? Footsteps? Or the intolerable din of blood in susurration about my head! Oh, what torment held sway in that moment! It could very well be footsteps; after all, there was no reason to imagine Maureen's boss did not have feet! And now with everyone spying about for terrorists!

    "Oh fuck," I declared.

    I endeavored to hasten my emaciated frame down the corridor. In confrontation I am pointedly bereft of any natural ability; but in flight I am more than able. I also boast an impressive gait--all the more impressive after years of not owning a car, relying on my dogs as a regular means of propulsion. It was clear to me that I could outrun a small, spiteful man. But could I evade him?

    Monday, July 07, 2003

    Warm Body

    The next installment of A Man for All Treasons is forthcoming, with an estimated arrival time of Wednesday evening, I think. In the meantime I hope you will listen to more of George's music. I'll be spending most of tomorrow evening rehearsing with him, so blame him for the delay, and whatever else suits your fancy.

    I've had this song in my head all day today; it has great toy-piano.

    Warm Body

    You know it's a long walk home
    Don't think that you have to go
    Better here than on your own
    Better me than all alone

    In your youth, time was on your side
    But the years have not been kind
    Where once you could always choose
    Here tonight I'll have to do

    It's hard to view someone like you
    Encumbered by your past
    So throw that yoke upon the back
    Of somebody designed for that

    You're sharp-tongued and armed to the teeth
    Oh, but don't point that thing at me
    I'm as far from beautiful
    As I am dependable

    It's hard to view someone like you
    Encumbered by your past
    So throw that yoke upon the back
    Of somebody designed for that

    You pine to climb in someone's arms
    It doesn't matter whose
    A king would yield his scepter
    For a warm body to use
    Savage Fired by MSNBC

    July 7, 2003

    Michael Savage's MSNBC show, The Savage Nation, was cancelled today
    because of homophobic remarks made by the host on the July 5 edition of
    the show, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Those
    comments--labeling a caller "a sodomite" and telling him to "get AIDS and
    die"-- were the subject of a FAIR action alert earlier today.

    MSNBC spokesperson Jeremy Gaines told AP, "His comments were extremely
    inappropriate and the decision was an easy one."

    Over the past five months, FAIR activists have written more than 2,000
    individual letters to MSNBC expressing their concerns about Savage's
    record of bigotry and hate, and criticizing the network for hiring a host
    who routinely traffics in slurs while firing host Phil Donahue over his
    anti-war views.

    Saturday, July 05, 2003

    A Musical Interlude

    It's a strange and wonderful thing when the songs that stick in your head are either your own or a friend's. George Pasles' songs have been in my head for years now, regularly playing themselves out for me on my commute, at work, or at the surface of sleep. I want to post several with lyrics (click on the name of the song to download), and here is the first:

    Room Enough, by Overlord

    Well we've lived too long
    Much longer than we'd wanted
    And we grew so dull
    Far duller than thought possible
    Yet our maudlin wails
    Trail any hint of trauma
    For though we've no hope
    We're still addicts to its drama

    Are the depths of your sympathies so endless?
    Is there anyone that you couldn't love?

    The sad are wretched
    And the happy are merely wrong
    So you shift your pitch
    To match who you'll string along
    Demonstrate your love
    With a straightedge and compass
    Proving our lifelines
    Are strictly asymptotic

    Are the depths of your sympathies so endless?
    Is there anyone that you couldn't love?
    Is the breadth of our empathy limitless?
    Is there anyone that you couldn't love?

    Nine: Prelude to a Disaster

    "That was Debbie again," Maureen reported.


    "She says New York has gone to code cadmium orange-lite with just a smidge of alizarin crimson."

    "What the hell does that mean?"

    "It means a heightened possibility for a terrorist attack. And she says they'll be going after soft targets, like hotels and restaurants."

    "Oh god, look at this place--it's one big soft target. Even this bed is soft."

    "It's a little disconcerting."

    "Well, what do we do? Ask for a discount?"

    "No, snoopy, the Hotel doesn't discount for terrorism. That's just letting the terrorists win."

    "Look, I'm from Philadelphia. I don't believe in terrorism. I believe in discounts."

    "Well, that's how management here feels. They can't let the terrorists win."

    "Let them win? What the hell does that mean, anyway? Are they trying to break into the hotel business?"

    "They're trying to blow up the hotel business."

    "Right. Well, I should probably get going. I have to work Monday."

    "I'm sorry, lambchop," Maureen said, taking my arm. "Did I make you uncomfortable?"

    "No, you're perfectly all right."

    "But all the talk of terrorism... did I frighten you?"

    "Look, I'm from Philadelphia. I'm not afraid of dying in a fiery catastrophe. I just don't want to be here when it happens."

    "Honey, we've been dealing with this for two years. The staff is taking every precaution to screen the items and people who come into the hotel."

    "They're not doing us any favors letting people like me spend the night. God, I'm thirsty. Didn't we get any water to go with our alcohol?"

    "There's some bottled water, but it's warm now."

    "Do we have any ice?"

    "We did. There's an ice machine at the end of the hall, though. Would you be a dear and get us some more?"

    A fresh wave of anxiety seized me. "What? You mean out in the hallway?"

    "Yes, boy-toy, right at the end of the hallway. I would order more from room service but I'd rather not be their singular source of entertainment for the evening."

    "Won't you come with me? I don't know where you mean exactly."

    "Silly, it's right at the end of the hall. Just make a left and follow the lights. Here, take our ice bucket," she said. "I would get it myself but I don't want to run into you-know-who."

    "Your boss?"

    "That's right."

    "Well, I don't want to run into your boss, either. At least if you came with me it would be two against one. Besides, can't he just look you up on the register? He's probably lurking out there right now, ready to bludgeon the first person who steps out of the door."

    "He's with the restaurant, not the hotel. Whatever he's heard he won't be able to verify. The hotel manager tonight is my buddy," Maureen winked.

    Reluctantly I got up. I was all out of sorts, frankly.

    "You don't have a flashlight or anything?"

    "Sorry, hon."

    "Okay," I said dejectedly. "But listen, keep the door locked and don't open it for anyone--not even me, unless I'm screaming 'Open the door!' Then open it quickly."

    "Go get 'em, tiger."

    Friday, July 04, 2003


    After a brief interval and some anxiety over the positioning of my left arm, the phone in our suite began to ring. Maureen shot up.

    "That's for me," she said, and grabbed the extension. I imagined it was some member of the restaurant staff--and sincerely hoped it would not be her boss. I didn't know anything about Oompa-loompas, but I knew well enough that where small, angry men of authority are concerned, they do best to wax apoplectic in my absence. I could clearly envision him barging into our room, Maureen and I caught in the act of some extreme immorality, like watching Showtime, or eating take-out pizza on chic plates. His rage would radiate like an iron smelt at the nexus where professional duty met his private campaign to woo Maureen into precisely the same scenario--namely, bed--only by means of power instead of poverty. The betrayal would be all the worse for it, stoking his wounded pride and discarded authority into a murderous hemorrhage. It will be noted that I do not do well in these scenarios, where pizza dinner is suddenly recast into a high-plains African fracas for land and dominance. I have never cared for competitive athletics on any level (including billiards) and I resent circumstances which create for me this expectation to perform in a predetermined role of action: I am better suited to disappoint at my own discretion than to impress at someone else's.

    "That was my roommate," she told me afterwards. "If you want to strangle me and cart my remains out of the building you're out of luck. She's home and will probably be calling every fifteen minutes now."

    "What if I told her you went for a walk?"

    "It's 10:30, sugarchicken."

    "You decided to get a separate hotel room. You're right down the hall from me, doing well."

    "Not on my salary. And she knows you don't have any money."

    "Who ever heard of a poor mass-murderer?"

    "This ass is not a mass, dear."

    "Who ever heard of a poor single-person murderer?

    "Hey, what's all the talk about murder, anyway? What if you just wanted to take advantage of my body against my will?"

    "That's how all my dates turn out. Why can't you take advantage of my body against my will?"

    "Then Debbie would have no reason to call."

    "What's wrong with that?"

    Maureen reeled back. "I'm alone in a hotel room with a stranger and you're saying a single girl in New York can't have a friend check in on her!? ....I would never take advantage of you against your will," she said obstinately.

    "Well, what if I gave my consent?"

    "Then I would have no reason to take advantage of you."

    "What if you gave your consent?"

    "Then Debbie would have no reason to call."

    "What's wrong with that?"

    "A Russian woman just disappeared not two weeks ago and you're saying it's safe to shack up with any strange, impoverished fool you meet over the internet!?"

    "What if I wasn't saying it was safe to shack up with any strange, impoverished fool you meet on the internet?"

    "Then you would have no reason to be dating me."

    "What if I wasn't dating you?"

    "Then you would have no reason to be poor."

    "You have high-class tastes."

    "I do."

    "If I weren't poor I would never be able to afford dating you."

    "If you weren't dating me you could never afford to be poor."

    "Then Debbie would have no reason to call."


    That was when the phone rang for a second time.

    Tuesday, July 01, 2003

    Seven: The Burden of My Affections

    Now, it has never been a trademark of mine that I should enjoy particular mastery in beseeching the wily female to suspend better judgment in favor of gradually becoming naked in my company. (For years this woeful inadequacy, this nettlesome spectre, has haunted even the grandest of opportunities.) To this end I am usually resigned to despair from the outset; I endeavor instead to invest myself in the few small things I can affect, such as breathing through my nose instead of my mouth, maintaining an appropriate posture, and taking care not to hold hands lest mine prove unduly temperate. These are small things, hardly commensurate to the caliber of upper-class chicanery required for the American woman to remove her bra, but whose aggregate weight I like to regard as working somehow in my favor. And to their credit, they have at times afforded me the calming knowledge that all bras must eventually be removed in one context or another--of this we can be certain--and as such so too will my beloved be removing hers, even if it is several hours after our date, while brushing her teeth.

    For the moment, Maureen has since ended our spat of patriotism in favor of an HBO movie starring Jessica Lange. I am watching it contentedly myself, remarking occasionally on the points I find noteworthy or humorous. It is not a very good film, I am afraid; and yet it seems to entertain nonetheless. The strangeness of our circumstances are being consumed by the familiarity of this American pastime, perhaps; and naturally there is little question as to the effects of alcohol and the steadfast approach of midnight on women and on men: Maureen pulls me alongside her singlemindedly.

    Sunday, June 29, 2003

    On Frugality

    by Woody Allen

    As one goes through life, it is extremely important to conserve funds, and one should never spend money on anything foolish, like pear nectar or a solid gold hat. Money is not everything, but it is better than having one's health. After all, one cannot go into a butcher shop and tell the butcher, "Look at my great suntan, and besides I never catch colds," and expect him to hand over any merchandise. Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. Not that it can buy happiness. Take the case of the ant and the grasshopper: The grasshopper played all summer, while the ant worked and saved. When winter came, the grasshopper had nothing, but the ant complained of chest pains. Life is hard for insects. And don't think mice are having any fun, either. The point is, we all need a nest egg to fall back on, but not while wearing a good suit.

    Saturday, June 28, 2003

    Six: Prostrated punditry

    And so it was that I found myself in the improbable embrace of romance, dear friends, viewing war coverage in bed with a date! So what if the embrace was initially my own--a nervous reaction to doing anything in bed with a date? Surely the chances were good that someone would join me soon, and with both arms, or both legs, depending on the arrangement. If ever there was a payoff to the ease of internet dating--three months of intensive correspondence, exorbitant phone bills, and the anxiety you would be bound and kidnapped; or, even worse, that you wouldn't--this had to be it!

    "It looks like we're winning the war, shminky. It's not easy though. Leon says the Iraqis aren't fighting fair."

    "Did he just say they're hiding weapons instead of leaving them in the armories where they're easier to destroy?"

    "I think so. They're also firing at us and then hiding behind things when we shoot back. They won't face us in the desert like men."

    "They truly are a dastardly race of people. Don't they know our bombs are only there to help? Why do they have to resort to terrorism all the time, blowing themselves up hither and thither; why can't they just fight fair--with jets and tanks and naval destroyers?"

    "Blowing yourself up is so passé."

    "There's no bravery in it anymore. Bravery is manning the controls at a safe distance."

    "Well, at least Saddam Hussein won't be flying planes into buildings ever again. Consider your pilot's license permanently revoked!"


    "This only underscores our benevolence as a superpower, that we would care so deeply for the needs of these backwards people."

    "I know I never cared about them until now."

    "Look! Leon says we even provide medical care to the wounded, orphaned children of our enemies! I mean, we don't even do that for the wounded, orphaned children in our country!"

    "We don't even do that for the healthy, non-orphaned children in our country!"

    "Clearly, sudden, extreme violence will usher in a new era of liberal prosperity for these people."

    Five: De Oppresso Liber

    "Well, here's to Hudson Hotel thinking of everything," Maureen said, wine in hand.

    "Yes, and to victory in the Middle East...at least, for somebody."

    "Yes, to victory. And liberation. Don't forget that."

    "Of course. Liberation."

    "Military or otherwise."

    "This Sam Adams needs liberation."

    "My career needs liberation."

    "I need to be liberated out of my tax bracket."

    "You need to be liberated out of those pants."

    "You'll never get UN approval."

    "Then I'll just have to go it alone, won't I?"

    "Can I watch?"

    "Hey, you're the boy, aren't you? You're the pace car. Why am I doing all the work?"

    "Oh, okay... Well, why don't you step out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?"

    "What wet clothes?"

    "Step out of those dry clothes, then."

    Maureen laughed, "and into what?"

    "That's immaterial."

    "That's not a very convincing argument."

    "I'm the pace car, remember? If I'm going make all the advances you have to do your part, too."

    "I am!" Maureen said indignantly. "My job is to resist your advances!"

    "You never told me that!"

    "Of course, snoopy! Don't you know how these things work? The boys fight each other for the girl and the girl holds out for the best genes."

    "Let's not talk about my pants."

    Maureen rolled her eyes. "You and your monkiness! Listen, I want to help. Look at the monks, they wear beautiful saffron silk robes and carry cell phones. The pope has all of his robes and vestments hand tailored by the finest tailors from, I don't know, Milan. And his shoes, well, an Italian man wouldn't be caught dead in cheap footwear."

    "Great. I'm competing with the Pope."

    "Or take Calvin Klein. His aesthetic is monastic. But he uses the most luxurious fabrics and other materials. So there's hope for your unmaterialistic soul yet."

    "If you're really going to resist we're never going to get anywhere. I can only pretend to be clever for so long."

    Maureen considered. "You know, it's really very selfish of us to be going on about our own affairs when there is such turmoil in the world tonight."

    "Yes!" I declared. "Let's let the turmoil of the world distract us from our own. We don't even know the current score, or whether U2 will be performing at half-time."

    "I'm sure Leon will inform us of everything worth knowing. We'll have a much better view of the television from the bed, no?"

    "Verily, verily, my dear. A capital idea."

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    In Defense of Yellowstone

    President Bush and Secretary of Interior Gale Norton are working hard to develop as much protected wilderness as possible; and now they've set their sights on Yellowstone National Park.

    Next Monday, the World Heritage Committee will meet in Paris to consider a Bush administration request that international protection for Yellowstone National Park be downgraded.

    Visit the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) to make your voice heard.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2003

    Part Four: A Curious Riddle

    The suite itself was very nice, and easy enough to traverse. A bed was plainly visible, as well as a loveseat, coffee table, and television. An office area consisted of a small glass table and chair. The bathroom was an enormous space, with one self-illuminating mirror, toilet and shower. Interestingly enough, the shower was not physically distinct--it boasted neither stall nor basin--and instead simply presented itself on one wall of the room. Maureen explained to me the luxury of space in New York City, but still I insisted on knowing how the water from the shower did not end up beneath the sink.

    After some deliberation, I contrived a protected position on the loveseat, with my hat serving as an ad hoc waist-level buffer. I resolved not to make eye-contact with the bed until absolutely necessary. Maureen joined me, fully female and now ordering drinks. Was I thirsty? Yes, I am fond of beer. Juice, maybe, only don't add too much juice. Water is best, just be sure put the scotch in first. When the room service arrived I hid behind a partition, which I now regard as particularly foolish, as it only prompted Maureen to ask, "Why are you hiding behind the partition? I want you to meet someone." I was summarily introduced to a Hawaiian, if you can imagine--one of Maureen's subordinates from the restaurant of the hotel. The Hawaiian was a friendly-enough fellow, and not entirely unsympathetic to the chance of finding his boss alone in a room with a person of questionable income. He would return later with more drinks and a complimentary gift from the restaurant staff: a Hotel Hudson intimacy kit. In retrospect this Hawaiian understood my predicament better than I did. Neither money nor occasion have I had to purchase such a device in years.