Thursday, September 27, 2007

An eyeless homeless man saddled beside me outside the Staten Island bodega.

"You got any spare change?" he wanted to know.

I digged through my pockets, fingering strands of lint and wrinkled rolling papers. Finally I shook my head in a stern 'no.'

The eyeless homeless man wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. "You like football?" he asked.

"Um, not really." I shrugged my shoulders with an aloof gesture of "oh well."

He wasn't buying what I was selling. "You like basketball?"

"I don't really like sports." The words fell out of my mouth with an emasculating thud. I couldn't shove them back inside.

"You like suckin' that cock, don't you?" he prodded.

I didn't know what to say. I stood there panic-stricken for a moment. I really needed to purchase some Chinese food.

"Can I buy you a Coke?" I proposed.

The eyeless homeless man paused. Clearly, he was thinking it over.

"Yeah, get me a 7-Up."

I went inside the Staten Island bodega, ordering a Styrofoam box of MSG-encrusted Chinese food. The problem? No 7-Ups.

At the crucial moment of indecisiveness, I decided to purchase a Sprite, instead. I mean, lemon-lime scented, right? It works on some level.

"They didn't have 7-Up, so I bought you a Sprite," I told him outside. I presented him with the green can like it was a prized possession.

The eyeless homeless man looked at me like I spat in his face. "I'm not drinkin' that shit," he said.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Overheard in New York: Hardhat Watersports

Hardhat: Sometimes I like pissing on the sawdust floor and seeing the dust come right back up in the air.

--Bryant Park

Overheard by: TVontheFritz


Monday, September 24, 2007

Tanglewood Numbers

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Cortney Tidwell
Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled

UK critic darlings are a tricky thing. Slap an NME-mark-of-approval on willy nilly, and you’re likely to alienate the soy latte hipsters you’re so desperately trying to attract. (Hipsters can smell your desperation like an Arthur-reading basset hound.)
But if given the proper breeding ground, UK critic darlings endure the second-coming-of-The-Muse overhype that turns hipsters off faster than you can say the words “Toad the Wet Sprocket” and “reunion tour.”
UK music journalist fave Cortney Tidwell is the real deal, however. Her US release Don’t Let the Stars Keeps Us Tangled is a slow burn of beer-soaked tears, c’untry music and trippy electro-pop hooks.
Ms. Tidwell’s fragile voice sounds like the Ozark version of Bjork, too. It’s lovely and damn near bizarre at the same time.
Ms. Tidwell’s mama was a failed country music ‘sanger’ and her grandpappy a rotating musician derelict for the Grand Ole Opry. And listening to Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled, it’s obvious that this girl’s got the broodin’ in her blood.
On the title track and ‘La La,’ Ms. Tidwell’s voice trembles in the lower registers before soaring into a breathy trance at the prodding of her psychotropic backing orchestra. It’s as if something supernal is taking place with the way Ms. Tidwell merges her chamber-Americana and nu-folk leanings.
Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled was recorded in Nashville, Tenn. And it isn’t shocking that Ms. Tidwell’s caravan of sidemen includes countrypolitan indie-band, Lambchop, yet another band that constantly nudges the dead corpse of country music.
Lambchop and Ms. Tidwell are two peas-in-a-pod. They’re constantly expanding the definition of what it means to make country music in the dawn of the techno-age with sounds so left-of-center that Music Row execs can only shoot their dumbfuck gazes in response.

Reasons Stephen Colbert is Gay

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Overheard in my boyfriend's apartment

Joey: I think the crackheads are staring at my balls again."

I always think that the crackheads who live across the alley from my boyfriend's apartment are staring at my balls. In reality, they're smoking copious amounts of crack and watching Larry King reruns at all hours of the night.

I know that the social anthropologists in the reading audience are saying to themselves, "Joey, why do you walk around your boyfriend's apartment bare-assed naked?"

To which I respond, "I usually don't."

You see, I grew up in the hollers. We didn't have neighbors nudged up against us, let alone crackhead neighbors.

I'm still getting used to the idea of a set of peepers dissecting my every move.

It's just that these peepers watch Larry King reruns at 4am and have a crystal clear view of the BF's bathroom as I relieve myself and give the crackheads a little salute like, 'yeah, here's Larry King's halftime entertainment."

It's just weird.

I wish they didn't smoke so much crack.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Charm School

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Suffice to say, I won't be making it to the Quasi Boyfriend's Boston cabaret show this weekend. If you are in the Boston area, it's gonna be a good show with Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls and John Waters-approved performance artist, Meow Meow. See hazily posted press release below:

American Repertory Theater and Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls present Sxip's Hour of Charm in Boston!

Wonderful, Curious and Fantastic. Music, Comedy and Variety hosted by real-life circus composer Sxip Shirey! Regularly described as indescribable, Sxip's Hour of Charm is an exhilarating sampling of the most exciting performing artists in the country today!

A long-time staple at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in New York, Sxip's Hour of Charm is three weekends of music and performance that will delight, confuse and enlighten!

Each show is hosted by Sxip Shirey and features 6-8 different acts, including songwriters, circus artists, human beat boxers, story tellers, comics, aerialists and more. The darkly enchanting cast of characters changes from week to week with 3 unique weekends of performance. See all three shows!

American Repertory Theater's Club at Zero Arrow Theatre - Mass Avenue & Arrow Street in Cambridge Mass
Weekends, Sept. 14th-30th (Friday and Sunday at 8PM, Saturday at 7PM & 10PM)

Week One: Sept 14-16
Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls
Vocal loop wizard Reggie Watts
Cyr Wheel acrobat Jonas Woolverton
Gypsy punk accordionist Jason Webley
The aerial artistry of Una Mimnagh
Sxip Shirey and the incredible Obnoxiophone

Week Two: Sept 21-23
The enticing music of Erin McKeown
The dark and delicious Beat Circus
Cirque de Soleil's Eric Davis as "The Red Bastard"
Rock accordion powerhouse Corn Mo
Una Mimnagh and the beautiful Corde Lisse
Sxip Shirey and the haunting Industrial Flute

Week Three: Sept 28-30
The rich music of Emily Grogan
The deep original songs of Dayna Kurtz
Bronx rope-spinning cowboy AJ Silver
Raunchy, sweet, sexy comedy of Greg Walloch
Una Mimnagh and the rare and unusual Ceiling Walk
Sxip Shirey and his Mutant Harmonicas

Zero Arrow Club - Mass Avenue & Arrow Street in Cambridge Mass
$25 tickets available now (617) 547-8300

Monday, September 17, 2007

Southern Culture on the Skids

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The parental unit roared into Manhat this weekend. We lived large by visiting Strawberry Fields and generally partaking in the East Coast Sodom and Gommorah enclave.

The visit provided moments of high class culture shock comedy as I took Dad to Revolution Church, the progressive pseudo-Christian skater-punk congregation headed by one Jay Bakker (yes, the late Tammy Faye's liberal son.)

Located in a mildewy bar in the hipster heaven known as Williamsburg, the bar-church is plastered with band flyers including a blasphemous shoutout for Brooklyn band, Goddamn Rattlesnake.

"I like the church, but I disapprove of that there flyer," my Dad said with a hint of resignation, the cockleberries rolling off his tongue in a lazy 'r' sound.

Out on the streets, an effiminate looking hipster spazzed out in a velvet cape, twirling around on the street corner while barking like a rabid, American Apparel-wearing dog.

"You don't see that everyday in Nashville," was my Dad's spot-on cultural commentary.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Can I tell you something?

Riding the subway at 2am, it's always a grab bag of which intoxicated homeless prototype you're going to land.

I'm one of those libertarian-liberals with a heart of gold. My heart hasn't fully sunken into a hollow hole of Rand Institute economics quite yet.

But occasionally, my fresh faced idealism has been chomped to the bit by surly nomadic drunkards with a well-placed "whatchu-smiling-about-cracker?' That shuts my idealistic trap right up.

However, last night, geez o' petemoss, the drunken black homeless man on the A train was a hoot-and-a-half.

"Girl," he told a well-to-doer, "I may be shit-faced, but Ima' Sagitturus."

"That's nice," she responded, barely nudging her nose from her newspaper.

There was a pregnant pause. "Girl, you look like you Russian or some shit. You live in Greendale?"

The woman twisted uncomfortably on the subway bench, sharply shooting a glare from behind her glasses. "No," she said coldly.

"Well girl, lemme tell you sumethin'. I think you look Russian. Girl, I know all about them Russians. Matter of fact, I've got a book coming out later this year. It's called 'I Know Shit.'"

I couldn't help to laugh at this. It just tickled me just the right way.

The homeless man didn't seem to mind, either. He was the consummate performer.

The whole car descended into a fit of laughs, in fact. Big beautiful laughs, too, ones that you feel emanate from the pit of your belly.

Republican Like Me

Whenever TBS reruns Animal House on its late-night lineup, I always find myself nodding with drunken nostalgia. The drunken fraternizing and acid-induced streaking are universal hallmarks of institutionalized higher education.

Jim Belushi's piggish machismo and goonish hijinks remind me of my own youthful indiscretions—like the time I crashed the monthly meeting of MTSU's Raider Republicans.

While my classmates partook in less nerdy pursuits, such as digging through upturned sofa cushions for misplaced condoms, I hobnobbed with tightly wound George Bush lovers. In the purest sense, this so-called covert operation was actually rather well publicized. I had e-mailed my intentions to MTSU's conservative blogger and resident firebrand, Kara, months prior to the tentative troublemaking.

“You want to do what?” she wrote.

As her liberal-blogging adversary, I could hear the fear in her voice. I imagined her fingers clutching the keyboard, her jowls clasped tightly shut like a monastic nun who stumbles upon the seminary glory hole.

I explained that my purpose was far from predatory. There would be no galvanizing or Michael Moore-worthy rantings on her watch, thank you very much.

"It's just for kicks,” I told her. “You know how these crazy college kids today snort a line of rufies for their impending all-night boinkfest? Well, I get my jollies from pretending to be Republican."

Truth be told, I didn't have a lot of experience with Republicans. Most of my face time with conservatives had been of the tight-fisted libertarian variety, and while Libertarians are like Republicans in some ways, they're generally less evil; mainly because they're too stoned to stir any dander.

On the other hand, I've dated my fair share of sport-utility (SUV) drivers. These fleeting relationships always end miserably as I tend to pick at their chosen means of transportation like a festering scab. We'll be idling peacefully in rush-hour traffic, and my rabid tree-hugger persona will suddenly unbind itself from the formal doe-eyed niceties: "Do you realize that by driving this monstrosity you're drilling a hole into the ozone the size of Texas?" I tell them.

I can't help myself, really. Suffice to say, SUV drivers never return my phone calls. I'm probably blacklisted or something.

I wanted my scheduled tryst with the Raider Republicans to be less, well, confrontational. I’ve seen The O’ Reilly Factor. I didn’t want my ass to be torn apart by vicious conservatives like it was a beef-jerky party tray.

So 30 minutes prior to the meeting, I couldn't stop fretting about my outfit. I wanted to waltz into the room and have their beady Raider Republican eyes automatically scanning my figure and finding me one of their own. But most importantly, I wanted to know the republican secret handshake.

"Does my outfit scream Republican to you?" I asked a co-worker.

"You look like a lesbian with a 5 o' clock shadow," she said.

Considering my Birkenstocks and Buddy Holly glasses, my bloodshot eyes and uncombed hair, I had to admit she wasn't too far off. I looked as if I were attending the monthly Planned Parenthood meeting and not a soiree for pinstriped young money-grubbers.

During their tireless Pledge of Allegiance and emotional fireworks display for all things American, I snaked into a back row seat. A roundly Limbaugh-esque Raider Republican shot me a sour look with his sunken little eyeballs.

“You’re not one of us,” he seemed to be saying. “I can smell the patchouli and incense on your breath three ways ‘til Sunday.”

But sadly, the bulk of the Raider Republican meeting unfolded without incident. I did have to punch myself, though, when the chapter president likened both Harold Ford Jr. and Bill Clinton to Satan. I considered jumping out of my seat to bark, “And Hillary is a first-class bitch.”

However, I thought that might be overdoing it.

As the meeting petered out and the young conservatives invited me to a nearby Mexican restaurant, I took a rain check in favor of hippie-vegetarian food at Calypso Cafe with my socialist friend, Maria. There, in the middle of bean dishes and tofu burgers and my friend's railings against the man, I felt like Dorothy after her trip to Oz. I had failed miserably at moonlighting as a Republican, but at least I was home.

All I want for Christmas is a pair of rhinestone titties

Let me just say that I’m not Dolly Parton.

As a ten-year-old boy, I wanted to become Dolly Parton. I would tear into the brittle plastic wrapper of my mother’s Dr. Scholl’s heel cushions, later clamping them securely around my bosoms. The foamy mouth brushed coolly against my skin as the round, fleshly orbs protruded comically from my shirt like two deformed tits.

I craned my neck, giving myself the once-over in my mother’s armoire. In my mind’s eye, the faux boobage bloomed into perky breasts speckled in rhinestone. It was to be a living monument to Dolly Parton’s 1977 album, Here You Come Again.

I was gonna be drinking and laughing and having a party with my mother’s Dr. Scholl’s Heel Cushion for Women with the Sensitive Heel.

I jiggled the Dr. Scholl’s heel cushions and shot the armoire a plaintive look.

“Hmm. Would it be possible to gerryrig a contraption so that I could spout little rivulets of breast milk down the chins of my sister’s Cabbage Patch dolls as they licked their lips in childlike anticipation?” I wondered.

Who knew that Dr. Scholl’s Molded Cushions for the woman with the sensitive heel could in turn make me feel like a natural woman?

I yammered senselessly about my newfound idée fixe at Christmas dinner, providing my parents with a cringeworthy holiday moment for years to come.

“Remember that time your kid mentioned something about trying on a pair of titties that turned out to be your wife's heel cushions?" my uncle would casually remark in his later years. My Dad’s face blanched, losing all color. He barked a polite laugh and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He looked like he could shit a cinderblock.

The “incident” as it was later called happened at Christmas 1994. Ma in her kerchief and I in my Dr. Scholl Heel Cushion for Women with the Sensitive Heel.

Up from the plates arose such a clatter. I was like the CarMax salesman with the perfect pitch blather.

“They provide perfect suction on their foam tips and it makes it look like I have actual titties,” I recklessly explained.

Long silence. My Uncle Sluggo stared me down as he thumbed his utensils at his sides with a look as if I just announced that I had terminal cancer.

My Aunt Deb attempted to crush the ice into palatable mounds. “Oh, boys will be boys will be boys,” she carefully surmised.

But it was there amid the bowlfuls of cranberry jelly and the tufts of hardened turkey encrusted on Uncle Sluggo’s round belly, that a seed had been planted and it was sprouting into something fresh, strange and new. I sure as hell wasn’t Dolly Parton, but I also wasn’t similar to these people at all.

So what if I stood in front of an armoire punching my titties down into my mama’s heel cushions? Was that a marginally better life than sitting in front of the television’s incandescent glow watching NASCAR while chewing on turkey gristle?

That night I went home and took my mama’s heel cushions out of the shoebox. They glistened like two glittery orbs , beckoning to be touched, as a sliver of Tennessee moonlight peeked through my bedroom window.

I jiggled the Dr. Scholl’s heel cushions and shot the armoire a plaintive look. And somewhere, deep in the corners of my brain, I heard the opening chords of the Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil ballad Here You Come Again play on my granny’s scratchy RCA phonograph. It was clear as crystal. And Dolly’s warm voice was like an old friend.

And for a split second, everything seemed okay with the world.