Thursday, July 31, 2003

The indomitable Dave G has embarked on what D Magazine recently named “The Most Indomitable Campaign of the New Millennium.” I admit, that was a complete canard. A prevarication. A falsehood. “Hobbs! You come back here and turn off that infernal light!” Whew. And but so anyway, DG the Indomitable has posted an online petition to legalize male prostitution in his district. Which statement may or may not be a fabrication.

It’s Thursday morning and after everything this week has thrown at me, I’ve managed to keep my grip. A bit tired, sure, but not defeated. I had a dream last night about The Great DiMaggio. He was on a small boat in the sea, reeling in a massive fish. Talking to the beast as it was tied up to the hull. But the birds ate the thing before he could reach land. It was the anatomy of a fish story. DiMaggio was crestfallen. So he went to the hills and set a booby trap because he was living in times of war. His loyalty to his love was surpassed by his loyalty to his country. He knew the risks, setting that trap on the bridge. And when he took his final breath, DiMaggio, he thought of his Rabbit. His little Rabbit. Not of his country. And his Rabbit, she named their son Roberto. He grew up to be a great writer. Living in Paris. Drinking pernod at cafés and engaging the coeds of the city in a string of dalliances that he needed to keep his blood pumping. One girl, his best friend’s girl, got to him. Poor Roberto, he moved to Barcelona. He lost the love and the desire to write. And now stuck in Barcelona with a bull bearing down on him with angry horns leveled at his head and so he ran because it was the best he could do. With that hot breath on his heels the best he could do was forget his bad fortune and escape. Get out alive. But not out of life.

I had this dream. But no, I really didn’t.

Last night the vultures sat at a green plastic table on a patio in Dallas. Drinking dollar drafts and discussing hair care and the efficacy of glitter. How everything changes as we age. The drunker we got, the more the vultures flapped their wings. Big dirty birds giving the waitress dirty looks, nestled behind dirty thoughts of her behind. Ed did a yoman’s work, giving it his best effort despite the spectre of certain failure. I wanted to tell him that these things are absolute. That No. 1 on the list of things we can take for granted is the fact that really hot sporty waitresses do not give in to drunk patrons. But he did a yoman’s work. Gave it his best effort. There was laughing and back-slapping and I left early feeling a little more intoxicated than I had intended. But it had been a long week and I got what I deserved. Good times, those Wednesday nights. You could put them in a row that would stretch back to 2001. Maybe. Maybe not that far, but pretty damn far. Every Wednesday. It’s nice when there’s something you can count on.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The mystery behind the Tipperary closing revealed!

The Mayor of Greenville Avenue has known for quite awhile, since at least last October, about the situation concerning the leading up to and closure of the Tipperary Inn, but I have had to keep quiet on many of the details as they were told to me in confidence. I also had been known through my sources, that when the Tipp closed for "vacation" in July that it would not reopen under present ownership. I will simply say that the situation that caused this was worsened by the sagging economy. I was also told at least three weeks ago, from one of my sources that someone had looked into the possibility of leasing the defunct O'Dowd's on McKinney Avenue. These same people also inquired about possibly leasing the Tipperary at that time. I know nothing more at this time, but it is a sad time for this city when two Irish Pubs sit empty! The Tipperary Inn closure is especially sad, because even if it reopens, it will not be under the helm of my very long time friend and County Tipperary native Martin Lombard. The Tipperary Inn started on Greenville Avenue thirteen years ago at the site of the present pub — The Dubliner. I have frequented the Tipp for 12 of those 13 years, and attended the actual St. Patrick's Day there every one of those years!

Martin Lombard enhanced the Irish Pub scene in Dallas and made it what it is today. We still have several good pubs such as the Dubliner, the Irish Rover, Trinity Hall and Mulligan's.  Prior to the Tipp, there was the old Nick Farley's Lounge (NFL) on Oaklawn, which I never had the pleasure to see and George Wesby's, which used to be off of Hall and Live Oak. The Mayor of Greenville Avenue tips his hat and hoists a pint in honor of the great Irishman whose pub created so many great memories for me! I wish him great joy in his new ventures!

By the way, here is a quick rundown of where some of the former Tipp people are now working:  Carin - Cosmo's, Helen (one of my top rated waitresses) - bartending at Mulligan's, and Cat is at Breadwinner's. The General Manager Nicole is going back to school to study interior design and getting totally out of the bar business.  (Some of you remember Nicole as having originally come from Kansas City to Dallas where she was the manager of the O'Dowd's on McKinney Avenue years ago!)

— Information courtesy the Mayor of Greenville, whoever the fuck he is

There you have it. You (probably) heard it here first.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

OK, I’ve got enough time to say something, but not enough to say anything I want to say. Yesterday and today have conspired to put me on what physicians commonly refer to as “A Strict Regiment of Occupational Ass-Kicking.” Yes, I am getting slammed. Like Onyx. Three massive sections, all designed by yours, all woefully incomplete from an editorial standpoint, and all needing to be printed before sunset. Abandon all hope ...

This weekend I rented three-letter movies. May, which, of course, I’ve already seen and I’ve endorsed with the full helping of cinematic enthusiasm and so on. And Wit, which I had to turn off an hour in because it was so painfully bad. And what made it all the more painful for me, personally, was the fact that Mike Nichols is like one of my favorite directors and so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but then. It. Just. Kept. Dragging. On. Horrible.

I shall never speak of it again.

Monday, July 28, 2003

By the time I took a bite of the dry fish cracker at Kalachandji’s, I was already worn out. I mean, I didn’t get to bed till 5 a.m. the previous night because we closed the Landing and kept on going. Woke up Sunday and resigned myself to an afternoon of Cubs baseball and couch-sitting. Then H invited me to the New A-Dam for an impromptu writing seminar and coffee. I got my act together, grabbed my notebook and headed down there, this despite the fact that my head was still filled with evil spirits. Once at the NA, I drank some Panamanian coffee that set my synapses on fire. Then came the gin & tonics. All the while me sitting alone at a tippy table writing it all down for posterity. (Life choices, fire safety, drug laws, The Elements of Style, film editing, sado-masochism, and more. For the most part, I was able to avoid getting involved in any of these conversations.) By the time we took off, my ecosystem was having trouble deciding if it should be enjoying the caffeine or the alcohol. Or hating both. I wanted to go home and nap, but H and Fireman lassoed me into Kalachandji’s. Mostly H though. I went against my will and it was worth witnessing. Though the smells kind of set my stomach in motion. And maybe the ill-advised zucchini.

Some things just don’t mix well.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Tony B meets CBS Sportsline customer support:

Hi Anthony:

Sir, you have a Mac. Mac's might as well be from Pluto, they use different programming and frankly I'm surpised that as a platform they work with the majority of functions on the internet at all.

As such, you can use IE 5.2 or not, but failure to do so means that we can not support any issues you may have.

Thank you for your business,
The Commissioners' Office
Commish Erik

I'd like to drop a G5 on this guy's grandmother. Then take the G5 home and bed down with it.

I have come to the conclusion that when this work day is over, I will need a massive drink. Any ideas?

So the news. The big news. The newspaper I work for, People Newspapers, has been bought by D Magazine. The head honcho over at the new office (where we’ll be moving our operations before Oct. 1), is Wick Allison. I like the guy already. He seems part hard-nosed journalist and part bottle-nosed dolphin. Which is a joke, Wick, in case you’re reading this. For the record, I think you are the most charming, charismatic human being I have ever met. And mighty handsome, to boot.


So yeah, we’re moving to a posh new office on Oak Lawn, where the sacred cows shit in the street at their leisure. Or am I thinking of Bali? Eh, whatever. I’m pretty excited about the whole thing. D Magazine is a pretty good publication. And if I can glean some writing opportunities from this, my path to fame and fortune will be paved.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I’ve kind of lost my taste for clever links lately. Because they’re seldom clever. But this one deserves circulation.

(Courtesy of Julie G, a fellow OPRF alumni and all-around swell gal ... whoever she is.)

If by spellbinding you mean lame. As if you would even use the word lame to describe anything. Because if you do, you might want to adopt a new word. I'd say lame is lame, but that would be ... well, you know.

There's big news on the work front. Big news, I say. And aggravating the occupational tumult is the fact that there are some very time-consuming projects I've got to get started on. And while you sit there at your desk and feel sorry for me and my dire situation (OK, it's not that dire; the big news, which I'll tell you about on the morrow, is actually quite good and will possibly lead to my being named Governor of Texas ... possibly), I am charged with the responsibility of coming up with something worthwhile to write. The bug bites? Boring. U.S. foreign policy? Amusing. Baby-throwing contests? Non-existent (in spite of what you've heard to the contrary).

So I confess: I'm winging it. I've done it before. I'm sitting here at the apartment basking in the soothing glow of an extended lunch break. Birds aimlessly darting hither and yon outside my window like evil messengers sent to slaughter your bunnies. Squirrels chirping in the distance. A stray cat gnaws on a live wire. Grass grows. Snow falls gently in the parking lot while the wind whips up a makeshift dust storm on the patio. A school of crawfish flap their wings and rise toward the heavens and, realizing they have no wings, plummet to earth and find purchase on the pavement with a faint crack.

The best of all possible worlds? Only the crust of my turkey sandwich knows the answer to that.

After two world wars, five grand openings, a dozen lawsuits, four divorces, fifteen cloned pigeons, a foot race around the equator, NKOTB, the moon, the seventh seal, the sixth sense, a rubber band or two, the electric razor, some really great films (like Network), an unlikely friendship with Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, two Fox News special reports with Shepherd Smith, a cornucopia, a plethora, a cavalcade, the Great Depression (and several lesser depressions), drought, famine, ten packages of raman for under a buck, colored pencils, pet dander, chigger bites aplenty, two Volkswagon payments, a new TV stand, a brush with death, a toothbrush, an airbrushed portrait of Elvis, a pelvic exam, thirteen terrorist alerts, an unpaid parking ticket and a healthy baby girl, I am happy to announce that Seize the Dave has, at long last, been updated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Julio Iglesias ...

Crystal Meth (AKA speed, crank, ice, cheese, fiat, pork pie, slubber) is a dangerous and increasingly popular drug. Well, let me amend that. Drug users tend to be the dangerous ones, as the drugs themselves (meth, in particular) tend to be docile when left alone, and may even be inclined to do a wash while you're at work (which accounts, in some cases, for the popularity... Well, that and the fact they tend to be very athletic, often possessing high cheekbones, broad shoulders and crisply sculpted, photogenic buttocks). Meth-addict roommates, on the other hand, seldom do a wash and tend to stink of pig jowels and proletariat. Their bodies shrivel as if placed in a microwave and set on thaw.

My roommate, Kenneth, is a meth addict (AKA bitch-smoker, carrot-banger, ape-tosser). He hasn't paid rent in two months, which normally would lead to eviction, but the friendly folks at the leasing office have given me quarter (thanks, Amy). I am not a meth addict. I don't even use meth, though I must admit that my socially aspirant associates think it kind of cool (in a slumming sort of way) that my roommate is hooked on what frequent users call "the ole' elephant gut." For a while, I thought it was pretty neat. Even tried the stuff, but found it made my bilabials shift to fricatives and then to glottals in mid-sentence, making me quite unintelligible and subjecting me to the kind of ridicule sociologists refer to as "extreme ridicule (by way of pointing, laughing and application of atomic wedgies)."

So my roommate is a meth addict. He spends his days in his bedroom playing video games and smoking copious amounts of cigarettes. So his walls and fingers are yellow. As are his teeth, cheeks and hair.

I wrote that about 1.5 years ago. Drug addiction is hilarious.

Numbered, but in no particular order:

7. “So yeah, um, I’ve been thinking maybe of getting my balls waxed ...”
2. “I drank too much ...”
5. “Izzle to the jizzle dizzle, wizzle mizzle fo shizzle ...”
8. “That marathon kicked ass ...”
4. “I’ve decided women are not worth the trouble ...”
1. “Julio Iglesias ...”
3. “Man, what a shuttlecock ...”
10. “Last night, the gay bars were rockin’ ...”
9. “Her eyes amaranthine pools of light, and her ears of unrivalled symmetry ...”
6. “I’m an intellectual ...”

(Posted in conjunction with loriestories)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

If it had been anything else, I probably would have been totally freaked out. I would have thought the FBI was rooting through my trash or that underground hipsters were playing some mindless prank. But it was just a plant. And it was almost dead anyway. So I never really worried about it.

You see, I had this plant out on the patio. Two plants, actually. But the one that was near death was an herb. Rosemary or sage. Maybe parsley. Whatever it was, I had bought it at the beginning of the summer because I thought it looked cool and would spruce up the patio a bit. Then I realized it had to be watered regularly and I gave up. But a few of the sprigs were clinging to life, so I never actually threw the thing away. It sat on my patio, a constant reminder of my botanical ineptitude. At least, until sometime last week. When it disappeared without a trace. And like I said, I never paid it much mind. If someone wanted my sickly plant, they were welcome to keep it. But then yesterday I looked outside and there it was. Back again. Someone had apparently stolen the ailing thing, nursed it back to semi-health and returned it to its perch. Weird.

My initial theory (and the one that seems to stick) is that someone in the leasing office or maybe a local constable thought I was growing marijuana out on my patio in full view of my neighbors and any passersby. Because that makes sense, right? So they took the plant for testing and realized, after smoking half of the damn thing, that it was simply a garnish. So they fed it some plant food and returned it.

It’s this kind of thing that makes assimilating with society quite difficult at times.

Operation Kindness alert. Wimpleston’s ad is running Thursday. If this cute little bugger doesn’t have a home by Friday, then I shall declare war on society.

Wimpleston is a 9-week-old red tabby with blue eyes. He and his littermates were born to a stray mama cat. Wimpleston is friendly, playful and full of fun. Come meet this cute little guy!

Wimpleston is available for adoption from Operation Kindness, 3201 Earhart Drive (near Midway Road and Beltline) in Carrollton. The no-kill shelter is open 7 days a week and has a great selection of adoptable dogs and cats. Stop by Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, noon to 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. For information, call 972-418-PAWS or visit

Sorry to throw kittens up in your grill on a Tuesday morning. But Wimpleston spoke to me in a dream. He said "Meow. Help a brotha out. Rowr." Then he started licking his little paw. It was cute as fuck. Then the aliens came.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Like I said, Saturday we woke up against our will. Sort of. Friday night’s events left us listless and uninspired in the early hours. Alberto played video games. I made coffee. We bandied ideas around, including the possibility of giving camping another shot. But the moment was gone and it didn’t come back. We realized the heat would be the end of us, soothing, cool natural springs or no. Better to get some good noon breakfast at Cindee’s and discuss options on a full stomach. And so that’s what we did. We flipped cream cups at a booth near the back and watched a madman shake his baby for a solid half hour. I drank iced tea heavy on the sugar and the food spread out in front of us like Christmas presents. We tore in. It was the shit. After some people-watching and digesting and considering of options, we headed next door, as planned.

As planned. On our way into Cindee’s we had passed by the Casket Store. Yes, the Casket Store. Open to the public. And so we being public, we opened the door and went in. A kindly old man from central casting came out and greeted us. He seemed a bit wary, what with three late-20-somethings walking into a casket store. We were clearly not dead or dying, and we explained that we were simply curious, meant no harm and wanted to have a look around. Alberto was having none of it. He stayed in the waiting room and read Marie Claire or some such while Heather and I ventured in. I had no bad feelings about the place. It was clean and comforting. No dirty death. It was a casket store. The Casket Store. Not a mortuary or funeral home. We were surrounded by the vehicles, but thankfully there were no passengers. Strangely beautiful. Don’t believe me? Recognize:

Heather is a closet journalist. And by closet I mean Casket Store. Read her interview with a casket salesman. Marvel at her boldness of wordery.

We headed back and forth all day, dodging dead things at every turn. I was craving an evening with Mediterranean flavor. We were going to rent La Dolce Vita, watch it and head to the restaurant of the same name. But that movie is a solid three hours long, so we settled on a crappy Jackie Chan number. But by then it was too late for movies. We needed to get out and about because Jaime was getting off work at any minute and I wanted us to seem like we were doing something. And watching movies was a bit too passive a way of jumpstarting a Saturday night. We headed to La Dolce Vita for the greatest Dallas pizza ever and a steady diet of Shiners. Jaime showed up absolutely sparkling. For her, it was a rare Saturday night away from the copydesk. The Doors, or some derivation thereof, piped in from the background. It was better than expected. We got off to a great start, and now we were four.

We headed off to Lakewood Landing, taking note upon our arrival the the Tipperary was still closed without explanation. The Landing was packed to the gills, so the fish headed down the block to Cosmo’s. We wedged ourselves into a good spot and ordered drinks and settled in. Because it was early and we had plenty of time. Heather hit it off with Bang and his nameless accomplice. Alberto ran off the way he always does and struck up conversation fragments with every woman in the zip code. Jamie and I sat thigh-to-thigh. And that went on for the next few hours. A drink and then another drink. We all headed back to base and watched the Jackie Chan flick until 4 a.m. These guns are weird. We had had enough.

And I’ll keep the rest to myself.

Yes, yes. I think we do live in the best of all possible worlds. And as I lay breathless on the hot blue rubber of an inflatable jumping gym situated in the corner of a back yard in Dallas, I found myself surrounded by smiling faces. Breathless and hot, we got up and jumped again. Missie’s birthday jamboree was a success, even though by late afternoon most of us were too exhausted for conversation. We laughed about it because it wasn’t uncomfortable. We congregated in the shade, scarfed down hotdogs and threw back a couple of the choice beverages. Here and there we found common ground and explored every corner and tapped it out. It was like the first day of school. And Missie, long-lost no longer, just how I remember. Her sunglasses the size of planets. Her smile perpetual. And no, she had nothing to do with that wayward street sign.

The heat eventually got the best of us. Dave G, Rebecca and I made an early exit and went home to swim it off. We held our breath underwater like normal people, but not the same way normal people do. It was about 7 p.m. I’m sure of it. And this Sunday the capstone on what was a legendary weekend.

It began Friday night, when I dropped in on Heather and Alberto for a couple hundred glasses of chardonnay. We walked in neighborhoods shady and bought wine of questionable pedigree when the liquor store of first choice closed earlier than expected. Fitzhugh is a thing of beauty — lined with puppies, fried chicken, hubcaps, crab grass and broken household appliances. Our soundtrack was an international mix that rotated countries by the second and that echoed forth from passing cars and trucks. Passing at low speed on the narrow, pothole-addled avenue. We got back with bad wine, but lots of it. And we drank that silver lining on a humid European patio while the housecat looked on.

Heather, who at one time tried to trick me into drunken karaoke at Expo, had graduated to a more sophisticated ruse. As we three prepared for whatever it was we were going to do next, she decided to test our mettle and see if we were brave enough to go on a drunken midnight camping trip. Are you in? I was in. And before the laughing and back slapping could start, I realized she was not kidding. I was in and the adventure was on. And I liked the idea more and more with every passing moment. She rummaged through her closet for head lamps and swim suits and such. The car was packed. And then a phone call beckoned her to the New Amsterdam for a drink with an old friend. Perfect. Alberto and I will head to my place so I can get some stuff together while Heather catches up on old times. It’s 11 p.m. at this point. Maybe. By that time I may have lost track. I’m merely guessing. And but so I packed my bag and we headed south to pick up Heather. We stopped in the N.A. and had a couple drinks. A couple shots, Alberto and I. And Heather polished off her margarita and we said hello to a bunch of people, goodbye to others and paid the bill and stumbled outside. It was on. But then no, maybe it wasn’t. Alas, Heather found herself hopelessly intoxicated. Unable to give us directions or enthusiasm. Passed out in the back seat among the backpacks, books and notebooks. So we headed to my place and hoped for the best. The best being that she could sleep it off for a couple hours and then the adventure could continue. We killed time by drinking some more wine. The situation got gloomier by the moment and I started to realize that we were not going camping after all. I was devastated. Drunk. But devastated. H was down for the count. I followed shortly thereafter. And we all slept a fitful sleep until the morning sun wasn’t having it anymore.

And that next day was as strange and wonderful as the first. As new as the last. And fit perfectly in the middle of what was, indeed, a wonderful weekend.

But I’ll get to that in a bit.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Man, I am out of it. I didn’t get much sleep this week until last night. And so I woke up this morning feeling like the King of Awesomeville. I was ready to change the world. At the very least, I was ready to drink some coffee and eat an egg sandwich. Missions accomplished. I made it through the morning hours with flying colors and decided to reward myself with an extended lunch break. And then disaster struck. I was suddenly like totally out of it. And now I’m back in the office feeling ready to fall into a hundred-year slumber. That, and I’m pretty sure I’m feeling the fledgeling symptoms of some serious carpal tunnel action. But mostly it’s the fatigue that’s all up in my Kool-Ade. I think I may have just drooled on my boss by accident. And that really sucks because I wish I could have accidentally punched him in the face instead.

By the way, ABVega got back online after an extended vacation and promptly found the Polyphonic Spree iPod commercial here. He also updated his site. Scattershot, indeed. I still have no clue what he’s talking about half the time. But I guess that’s his charm. That and he resembles Carly Simon.

Looking forward to Missie’s Sunday Birthday Jamboree. I will do my best to help her get evicted. And while I’m giving shouts out to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the continental states, I should mention that Lorie is a closet nudist. And by closet I mean office. Because she strips at work. Because she’s eyeing a promotion.

Nap time.

If I had ever devoted the time and energy to my schoolwork that I currently spend researching fantasy football, I have no doubt that I would have been the world’s first pre-teen Harvard graduate. The youngest to get a PhD in hydropneumatic physics or early Aristotelian philosophy. The first to isolate the gene that causes camel toe. The first to perform successful head transplant surgery on an infant. I mean, the point being, I could really have done some amazing shit if I had only applied myself. And I never would have known just how capable I am of deep analytical thought had it not been for my introduction to fantasy football.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

So I was sitting here working diligently and I get this call from the receptionist that I have a visitor up front. I never get visitors. It’s just not in my job description. So I was all flippin’ out and waving my arms around in panic. And then I went up to the front desk. This guy who works in the building, with whom I’d smoked many a cigarette back in the days, was standing there with a fresh white Chicago Cubs ballcap. And he gave it to me because we used to talk baseball over nicotine back in old times. This was like four months ago. And but so he remembered my staunch allegiance to Chicago’s Northside baseball organization and he brought me the cap, which a friend had given him. This just out of the clear fucking blue. Karma is like a crazy cab ride. Or a roaring river. Or a dollar draft. Karma: it’s what’s for dinner. You see, my last favorite ballcap of all time (a sweet blue Cubs ballcap that fit my head like a hat) got caught up in the drama somehow when my meth-addict roommate skipped town with 90% of my belongings back in Feb. 2002. Karma: the other white meat. And so the circle of life continues. Like a crazy cab ride. Or a random high five at the opera house. Or pants that suddenly don’t fit.

The smiles of the world spring from the strangest faces.

Last night we were three — Photojake, Tony B and I met up at Ozona for tomfoolery, warm breezes and a steady diet of dollar drafts washed down with dollar draughts. But that’s not really the point.

A couple days ago I got another in a series of manic emails from Gehrt. But let me explain. Gehrt. She who is hopelessly stuck in Central Illinois acting as an assistant producer for a local television station. Shacked up with some guy 13 years her senior. With 7-y-o child. And not her child. His. Maybe an ex-wife, to boot, because I’m not really sure his divorce is final. At least, she hasn’t mentioned it in a while. And her correspondence is such that it makes following the actual trajectory of her downfall very difficult. Like tracking a ripple in water from afar. Because, I shit you not, Gehrt writes every email she has ever sent me five minutes before her news goes on-air. So she’s only able to communicate a few breathless lines of text and cryptic updates on her emotional status and the whole head-spinning ordeal of reading these things usually leaves me in dire need of a cigarette and foot massage. And a dollar draft, for good measure. But here, read the latest installment:

hey, mike... called you back the other day... did you get my message? it's been crazy-busy... so i'm sorry it took me a bit to get back to ya! so, is the hurricane bringing bad weather your way?? is anything new or exciting there?

not much here... might become a yoga instructor... my teacher suggested it, and i'm kinda toying with the idea... but i don't think i'm very good, so we'll see! well, gotta go back to my show... airtime in 2 mins!

Gehrt also has a habit of sending me ridiculously inappropriate chain letters. Like “What to do if you have a heart attack” and “How to avoid being sexually assaulted in a parking lot.” And don’t get me wrong, she’s like the little sister I never had and I love her to death. But while the rest of us busied ourselves with getting our butts out of the cornfields, Gehrt, a perennial city girl, seems to have resigned herself to a lazy life of rural contentment. So somewhere outside Peoria, Ill., lives a hot, formerly spunky 27-y-o girl, her possessive 40-y-o boyfriend and his brat kid. And I know she desperately wants to get the hell out of there, but a bevy of convenient excuses has held her down at every turn. That and what I can safely assume is the fear of actually making a Profound Life Decision. Like the one I had to make when I came down here to Dallas. Only hers should be easier because she’s suffered there so much longer.

Teaching yoga? Surely you jest. But anyway ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

So the other day Jamie told me about how she spotted one of her coworkers walking out of the men's room with a huge stalk of celery in his hand.

We live in troubled times.

I’ve been reminded a lot lately of my old neighborhood. Childhood neighborhood. Right around Taylor and Harrison in Oak Park, Ill. Just across the Eisenhower Expressway from the notorious Barrie Park. Right down the block from Cardinal Grocery and the First Church of Somethingorother. A mile south of city hall and a half-mile mile west of Harlem Ave. A fur piece from any school or hospital or sit-down restaurant. Strangely removed from most of the things I would come to recognize as My Teenage World. It doesn’t seem familiar to me anymore, that old block, but I know for certain that I was there for a time. And I find this fact at once exhilarating and confusing.

And but so most of this recent spate of neighborhood reminiscence has centered around Mike Edwards, who at the time was a 14-year-old juvenile delinquent. Who lived two doors down and who my dad hired on as my babysitter back when I was about 6 or 7. I am certain, to this day, that my dad sees this move as one of the great mistakes he made in an otherwise lightly blemished career as a stand-up parent.

Mike lived in a shed out back of his parents' house. A shed whose walls were covered with crude Playboy cutouts and whose mini-fridge contained an intriguing supply of Alizé and kiwis. A shed his parents built for the express purpose of keeping Mike out of their house. And so anyway, as my babysitter, Mike felt it was his civic duty to kind of shepherd me into what I could only assume was a very young and strange adulthood. So we (Mike, his younger brother Damien, his sisters and I) used to smoke cigarettes and breakdance to WBMX in his parents’ basement and he’d tell me about his women and his life of crime (as he was a self-proclaimed Vicelord — which, looking back, was probably closer to truth than I thought it was as a skeptical city kid). Mike's name is attached to countless stories about my coming-of-age. Countless. Most of those stories too strange to tell to strangers.

And so eventually Mike stole my dad’s car and drove it into a snow bank three blocks from our house. And for some reason, I can’t say for sure that he never babysat for me again after that. What I do remember, maybe, is that my dad moved us out of that neighborhood shortly thereafter. But man there are images of that place that are so vivid in my memory. And it was the kind of upbringing that inspires really bad independent films. But I am profoundly tired at this point, so I am about to do this whole story a great disservice and leave it for later. I just wanted to sort of introduce you all to Mike Edwards: Suburban Gangster/Babysitter Extraordinaire. And the guy who taught me everything I ever needed to know about making gang symbols with my hands.

I am Mike Innocenzi: Ex-Honorary-Junior-Vicelord. And these are my stories.

Did anyone else see the iPod commercial featuring music by The Polyphonic Spree? It aired twice last night during the All-Star Game and I nearly spilled wine on my pants. For the record, the best concert I have ever seen was PS at the Gypsy Tea Room a little over a year ago. For me, it was the inaugural installment of what now stands at four PS shows. The name of this very page was inspired by that of the band. Etc.

Hey, it’s the sun. And it makes me smile.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

...joints, because I’m pulling solo duty in the office today and there’s no time.

Titus, who you’ll all remember as the cool cat with a story to tell.

Sleeping on a park bench is like so cliché.


There’s nothing I love more than coming in to work in the morning and being greeted by a down internet connection. So I’m typing this post in Quark, because I am the type of sick individual who uses Quark for his word-processing needs. But anyway, today will be the day that I figure out why the Tipperary Inn suddenly decided to close its doors until August 1st. The website doesn’t offer much in the way of an explanation. As a matter of fact, it offers nothing in the way of an explanation. And the mysterious circumstances keep mounting. For one, at Team Trivia only two weeks ago Martin, the bar’s owner, announced that the Team Trivia Tournament was set to begin. The winning team would receive two tickets to Germany to attend Oktoberfest. The tournament, if my memory serves me correctly, is an eight-week-long endeavor. So why make this announcement and then close the bar without explanation shortly thereafter? Suspicious, I tell you. Something is afoot. Unnamed sources have speculated that Martin used the Tipperary as a cover for international espionage and high-stakes spy-game shit. The speculation further posits that Martin is a member of the Irish Republican Army and had to rush back to his homeland for an underground meeting of key overseas operatives. And yet another theory is that Martin, whose hair appeared to be falling out in clumps, is ill and unwilling to let the bar open without his supervision. So I’m asking that any reader who knows the real story behind the mysterious closing of the Tipperary write me and let me in on the dirt. I promise to keep all sources confidential. Unless, of course, I get drunk.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Another Chicago joint. This one from my trip to Wrigley last Monday.

People with whom you simply do not fuck.

Well I’ve just been delivered from an enchanted weekend. Yeah, enchanted. Friday night, everyone who is anyone and some other people gathered at The Corner Bar on McKinney to give Jeff the send-off of the century. OK, maybe it wasn’t that big of a send-off. And maybe not everyone who is anyone showed up. But there was a good turnout. And beers. And some of the best chicken tacos on the map. So then Dave G and I eventually headed off to meet Stevan at Cosmo’s, where we were treated unkindly by some band members and their bubble-headed groupies. Because the place was packed big time and if you’re in a band you can pretty much push people around at your leisure. That’s part of what makes being in a band so insufferably cool. And even though Stevan is in a band (well, OK, two bands), he conducted himself with aplomb and started taking incriminating photos of the whole ordeal. Meanwhile, I drank my last gin & tonic and headed home. Hours later, as the first unforgiving rays of Saturday sunshine peeked through the slats, I steeled myself for cooler shopping. Copydesk Jamie and I headed to Target in the early afternoon and I bought what may be the coolest cooler in the western world. Big. Blue. Plastic. Convenient handle. And a stunning guarantee: Will keep contents cool for 3.5 days in 90-degree heat. I shall bring it next week to the big back yard birthday jamboree. And I will be a hero. Saturday night was low-key as all get up. While Dave G tirelessly tweaked his new site design, I closely monitered 100-odd channels of digital cable for the balance of the evening. Sunday was another story. After spending the morning cleaning and reading and cleaning some more, Jamie and I headed down to the Meridian Room for a few pints and some stellar conversation. Jamie, it seems, has a knack for becoming a serial victim of sundry wedding mishaps, including a poetic tumble down a flight of cruise ship stairs. I promptly signed on to ghost write her Nuptial Memoirs. But before we knew it, midnight was upon us and it was time to exeunt. Home. Sleep. And now it’s Monday morning. Just another manic.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

After a little research and hard work this morning, I have, at long last, fixed my lingering archive problem. That problem being that my archives were vacationing in South America or some shit. Drinking drinks with tiny umbrellas. Sleeping with cabana boys. Blowing conches. Smoking high-grade hashish and drinking the coffee of legend. All the while making my life unbearably miserable. I had to take action. So I took action. Success. Now, my archives are back. Refreshed and rejuvinated. So check out some of the old joints. Sure, some of the picture links are broken beyond repair. But shit man. And but so. Because.

Friday, July 11, 2003

I got a nice little guestbook message today from Missie. I went and checked out her site (which you can now find on my sidebar — The Libido and The Moon). So yeah, she said some stuff and I said some stuff and she invited me to a party and it all seemed very familiar and strange and supernatural. Like lightning. Or comets. And then somewhere along the way she mentioned that she used to be a waitress at Allgood Cafe. Stop. Now: Missie. Allgood. Polyphonic Spree. Migas. Good Records. Summer of 2002. It all fit. Allgood indeed. You see, Missie was like the best fucking waitress of all time. She served Miya and me twice last summer and was all cool and hip and sat and drank beers with us and generally just made the Allgood Cafe my new favorite place. Freaky. Uncanny. Eerie. That now we’ve been reintroduced by a cosmic convergence of all kinds of karmic black magic and shit. Maybe that’s not as strange as I think it is. Or maybe it is. Is what? Whatever.

I’m off to buy a lottery ticket. Welcome to the monkey house.

At long last, my guestbook has been revamped to coincide with the cutting-edge design and slick color scheme of my blog. This change courtesy the lovely and talented Loriebug, whose html skills are the stuff of fiction. Or non-fiction. I have spent much time and energy trying to figure out why someone would want to do this for me, and I think I finally nailed it down: Girls have serious issues with matching. They want everything to match. Things that don’t match throw their entire paradigm into utter disarray. If they had their way, the world would be a hot-pink playground. It’s a gender-specific sickness. But thank goodness, because now my guestbook matches my page. Thank Lorie, too. Goodness didn’t do shit, but she did. Out of the goodness of her heart. Which is right under her left boob.

Jeff and Hank are leaving town under the cover of late afternoon. Driving out to the east coast to pursue a law degree at the prestigious College of William & Mary. Jeff, that is. Meanwhile, Hank will pursue a career manufacturing lawn fertilizer and barking at passersby. So let’s send the guy off in style. The official unofficial gathering is set.

Here’s the demo:
6 p.m. tonight — Corner Bar (at Monticello and McKinney)

So I guess at this point the most appropriate thing to do would be to recall one of my fondest memories of Jeff. Here goes: There was this one night. Lightning. Heavy rains. Tornadoes and flooding and maybe an earthquake or two. It was Tuesday. Jeff, Tony B and I were at the Tipperary playing trivia while the whole gamut of climactic fuckage unraveled outside. Suddenly, the sound of tires screeching, metal meeting metal and shattering glass. We looked outside and saw that two minivans had hit head-on and fallen into a crack in the pavement brought on by one of the massive earthquakes that was rending the streets of Dallas. Jeff finished his beer, ran outside and dove headlong into the mess. When all was said and done, he had singlehandedly pulled 15 screaming babies, two grown women, one man and a litter of puppies from the tangled wreckage. He then performed successful cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the man, who had passed out from shock. And he somehow managed to get the phone number of the girl he’d been hitting on inside the bar while he personally nursed an injured puppy back to health with his own breast milk! It was pretty impressive, but Jeff did shit like that all the time.

He’s good people. So come out tonight and celebrate. Calibrate. Bring a date.

Movies I’ve watched in the past five days:

Withnail and I
Training Day
Wonder Boys
Old School
The Ring
Mighty Aphrodite
and, of course, May

Now I’d love to give a little commentary on each movie — my thoughts and dreams and interpretations. My complaints and criticisms. My Adidas. My Giant. My Little Buttercup. But it’s Friday morning and it’s just not going to happen. But I confess: I enjoyed all of the above movies. Even the ones I thought I would hate. Embarrassing as that is. Either way, none of this blather is very interesting, I’m sure. Instead, I’m going to try, once again, to figure out my archive situation. Because we will sell no wine before its time.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

I should be tired. Out of steam. Feeling like a low-down dirty shame. But I don’t. I think I’ve been getting more sleep these past two nights than I did during my entire trip. Sleep relativity. Know it. Love it. Take it to a smokey bar and buy it drinks. Get it liquored. Touch its knee. I spent Friday night talking to Titus, a cool young black fellow with a story to tell. But he wouldn’t tell me his story. “Don’t worry about it.” So we exchanged numbers out on north Clybourn in the middle of the night. This after I agreed to tell his story without having heard it. His girlfriends looked on: Tanisha, Candy and Lamonica. Sweet ladies. Again, like Alley Mike back in June of 2002, the smiles of the world spring from the strangest faces.

I may fear air travel, but I don’t fear people.

Good news, Dallas folk: May begins its local run tomorrow at the Magnolia Theatre.

Yesterday I felt pretty crappy. The extended weekend in The Chi treated my ecosystem unkindly and the mass confusion at O’Hare left me slightly frazzled. But I told my associates I would be at Ozona for dollar drafts, so at 5:30 p.m. I dragged my carcass to the patio and commenced with the you-know-what-ing. Jake, April, Tony & Nicole, Dave G and a cast of strangers collapsed upon the joint like urban vultures and bad metaphors. All of us battling for a piece of the action on tap. The nectar of the spigot. The magic amber carbonated shiznit. And so on and so forth. We discussed many things, including, of course, documentary films. My favorite documentary of like ever is Hoop Dreams, which just blew me away and forced me to reconsider my goal of pursuing a career as a professional basketball player. I mean, I couldn’t even make the freshman squad at OPRF. The writing was on the wall. And the writing said: You can’t play basketball cracka. The writing also said a couple of other nasty things which it took years of therapy for me to reconcile. But I don’t want to talk about it. Stupid writing. Stupid wall. But anyway. My second favorite is Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, which tells the story behind the story of the making of Apocalypse Now, which is also a kick-ass flick (if not a tad pretentious), but is not a documentary and therefore does not fall within the bounds of the conversation. Dig it? So we drank a drink or two, maybe three/four and talked about documentaries for a better part of the evening. Movies. I love ‘em. I saw May with Ben at The Village Theatre in Chicago and the movie freaked me out proper. Angela Bettis has some acting chops. Keep your, ahem, eye on this chick because witness: she will be doing some things with her career. And I am spreading the good news. Spreading it on a sandwich.

And despite the fact I drank last night I feel better than a something in a something.


Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Here are just a couple of the hundreds of photos I shot during my weekend sojourn.

There’s nothing like a 90-mph taxi ride to sober you up en route to the next spigot.

One of the last vestiges of the old Cabrini Green: the most notorious housing project in the United States. Most of the buildings have been torn down, but this one still stands.

Fishing in Lake Michigan

I’ve got a bunch of photos yet to come, some of which will be posted as a part of this project. Stay tuned.

Reach in your pockets. Pay the bill.

Just about everyone in Terminal One of O’Hare International overheard the following as a distraught man argued with his girlfriend on an airport pay phone:

“Well, Roger didn’t think it was a problem.”
“Roger thinks we should talk about this when he gets back to Newport.”
“I don’t know baby, Roger thought everything was fine. And now you’re telling him there’s this issue and I have to wonder where this is all coming from.”
“Roger’s flight is delayed and he’s getting angry.”

The girl sitting next to me turned to her travel companion at some point during the above exchange and said “Wait a minute. I get it. He’s Roger.” And I realized she was right. It all suddenly made sense. The guy deserved whatever he got. Anyone who refers to himself in the third person pretty much has it coming.

I love crowded airports.

But so yeah, I’m back. With stories to tell, I tell you. And I’ll get to all that in due time. But right now I’m really tired. My circadian rhythms are all out of whack. I’m at work and I’m struggling. I’ll break it down later. Because I’ve got mad squabbles.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

I have eaten the finest food in the city. I have walked the streets. I have imbibed with the best of them. Them being characters of all genders and socio-economic backgrounds. There are nicknames I can't remember that are attached to people with vivid faces and speech patterns. I'll remember eventually, but in my current state I would much rather cut to the chase and get you up to speed. What I do remember I could stuff into a series of books on tape. Notorious Reb, Punk, Dash, Sarah, Captain Furious, Stick, Titus, Bunk, Wumpus and a cornucopia of others who, like I said, have handles I can't recall. It's Sunday morning and my body is expressing its anger. My best bet at this point is not to listen. Baseball in Oz Park two days running and running a couple games of full court to clean the palate. Ben says we're hitting the links today but I have my doubts. I haven't picked up the sticks in a couple years now. And any attempt to golf in the condition I am in will surely result in a special kind of failure. Friday night was an appetizer of full-course-meal proportions. And last night's heroics will go down in some sort of secret history. I gather we have been to every bar and dance club in the metropolitan Chicago area. Our performance was the stuff of fiction and yet here we are only 48-hours in. I could get into specifics, but no I really couldn't. Not now. Not in this shape. Maybe give me a couple hours. I'll get back in character. Bear with me. And recognize: I love this city. And I have the photos to prove it.

I am Mike Innocenzi: Fiscal Conservative. And these are my stories.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

I am going to impress my friends and associates. I am currently carrying on three IM conversations, eating a turkey sandwich, setting my roommate's checkbook on fire and typing this post. Simul-fucking-taneously! And I never learned how to type, which fact makes this feat all the more impressive. And but so now I have to be getting back to work, which I will do while I am typing this entry! So now I'm walking out of the apartment, locking the door and, oops, I just stepped on my neighbor's puppy. OK, walking to the car. Singing a little song in my head. ("Da-da-da-da-da/Walking to the car/Da-da-da-da.") Starting the car and putting on my seatbelt. Safety first. Clutch pressed, reverse, release, gas. Throwing it into first and off we go. Right onto Village Glen. Over the speed humps. One. Two. Three. That always seems a bit much. Three fucking speed humps over the course of 100 yards? What kinds of traffic problems were they having over here that made that necessary? So signal. Check left. Turn right on Southwestern and proceed. Southwestern is one winding mutherfucker between Skillman and Greenville. Fun. But there's always that cop in the Country Club parking lot making sure nobody actually enjoys the G-forces. Assholes. And there he is. Wave. Proceed. Sometimes I take a left down Amesbury to avoid Greenville traffic. Not today. Because danger is my middle name. So left onto Greenville. Moving right along. Right on Yale. Left into the Expressway Tower parking lot. Crappy parking space in the sun. And I don't have a windshield shade. Confound it. OK. That's it. I'm off. This has been fun.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I hereby vow to devote my life to helping people come to grips with the questions and uncertainties that plague them in their daily lives. To working with crippled children and endangered species. To making the world a better place for our children, even if they are illegitimate. OK, not if they are illegitimate. But if they have the proper shots and papers and are making a living wage, I suppose there's nothing wrong with letting them in on the action. So maybe just clean, hard-working children. Point being the world will be a better place. Because of me. Not that it isn't already but hey, nobody's perfect. There's always room for improvement. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. A bird in the hand ... You get the picture. The picture is this: I have been packing and doing laundry and cleaning my room and talking to Chicago people on the phone like gangbusters. And maybe a couple beers creeped in somewhere along the way. Muh-Muh-Muh-My Corona. But the world will be a better place. Mark my words. Mark them with a Sharpie. Then mark your words for good measure. Leave no word unmarked. And so I've been doing laundry and being a generally productive person all evening and I got to thinking it's high time to fix up my archive problem. And the problem, as far as I can determine, is that my archives are majorly fucked and I haven't a clue how to fix them. User error. There are clothes that need folding. Bags that need packing. Remind me to buy a new CF card for the digi-cam tomorrow. Remind me with a Sharpie.

I also hereby vow to capitalize all my headers. Live with it.

A little morning whatever. I'm trying to see just how many sentences I can begin with and, but, because:

And so I ducked and dodged and somehow made my way home after a nine-hour struggle with the Calaman Brothers. I owed them money. We met in the park by the forest preserve and played Frisbee for like a half hour before they started bringing it up. The money. Where’s the money. And when, if not now. And like I said, I ducked and dodged. Because I was smarter than they were and I had a way of making them forget what they were talking about. Forget what they were driving at in the first place. So we stood in a triangle and slung the Frisbee around. And eventually one of them would bring it up again. The money. Where. When. And the fact that I’d been successfully ducking and dodging the questions made Block, the one with the big knuckles, increasingly upset. So again with the where and when until there wasn’t any way of ducking it anymore. And when Block advanced on me with his fists clenched I reared back and tossed that Frisbee right into his brow and ran into the woods. Large and powerful as they were, the Calaman Brothers sorely lacked footspeed.

Blogger still hasn't updated its interface to be compatible with the Mac. My posts will continue to suck until there's a remedy.


Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Let's Clear This Up Once And For All
When I was in high school I used to routinely use i.e. instead of e.g. for the same reason I think most people do: They believe it sounds more scholarly. (Most people, myself included, do the same thing with "in lieu of" in lieu of "instead of," which is fine grammatically albeit equally pointless.)

The problem is that i.e. and e.g. mean two separate things, two completely different things. And when, during my freshman year in college, I learned what i.e. meant, I felt like a dolt for having misused it so often. I imagined hip socialite linguists chuckling to themselves as they overheard me trying to impress some broad at a party: "I like film noir, i.e. 'The Postman Always Rings Twice.'"

I was petrified, and quickly made sure to drop the habit and use i.e. appropriately from then on.

But this came as both a blessing and a curse. I was astounded at how often it was me who was doing the chuckling as some socially aspirant undergrad tried to impress a coed with his use of i.e.

Then, a shaft of light illuminated the tunnel of public misunderstanding. The movie "Get Shorty" addressed the i.e./e.g. conundrum and at last, I hoped, the abusers would realize their folly. Unfortunately, the movie was not as popular as I had imagined it would be. Wholesale misuse of i.e. continued and the movie now collects dust at video rental joints across the nation.

So I will reprise the explanation for your elucidation:

e.g. = exempli gratia — for example.

i.e. = id est — that is. (e.g. Kevin Spacey is an exemplary thespian, i.e. when he's not high on uppers.)

I usually don't get my panties in a bind over matters of grammar. Sure, I'll roll my eyes when people confuse "anxious" with "eager" or use "hopefully" as a sentence modifier, but I usually keep my trap shut until the grammar abuse is particularly bad.

As I see it, making a correct distinction between i.e. and e.g. is not being overly finicky. There is no debate among linguists as to the meaning of the two abbreviations (as there is with the etymology of "hopefully"). Therefore, no one should be able to argue that misusing either abbreviation is OK as long as the point gets across. With that line of reasoning, there is not much hope for the sanctity of grammar.