Thursday, December 27, 2007

four heads

I was pretty excited to learn that spiny anteaters have four-headed penises that can bend like bows. Check it out.

Also, a "cloaca" is a single opening out of which some animals piss, shit, and fuck. The four-headed penis of the spiny anteater emerges from this power hole when it is ready for love.

I'm learning all sorts of new things during my winter vacation! I also learned to play Queen's "Seaside Rendezvous," my new favorite song, on the piano o' pain, and am working on my own vaudevillian tune in C major, although every time I think I've written a new measure it just ends up being Freddie Mercury's catchy C-B-Bb-Am riff.

That's a song I think everyone should give a listen to.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

noun verbs

There are machines that can predict which pop songs will be commercially successful, based on measurements of tempo and timbre, thus obsolescing tastemakers and record producers, trimming the fat out of the music industry, and delivering tips on how to create winning pop to a generation of musical aspirants. There's no reason recent college grads living by the quadruplex in Silverlake apartments, working at FedEx by day and rehearsing improv comedy and watching Adult Swim by night, holding the dream of the next "Good Will Hunting" dear, should have to struggle through drafts of roller derby zombie scripts and high school grad night screenplays and be deprived of the same scientific analysis that benefits their 22 year-old peers in the music business. With these poor people - not so far from my recent memory - in mind, I decided to analyze some recent Best Picture Academy Award winning nominees to see what that magic formula was - what tragicomedomelodramusical alchemy brings to the people what the people want to be brought. The results are below:
  • A dysfunctional family takes a long road trip in a beat-up Volkswagon bus to a girls’ beauty contest. The raunchy but kind grandfather dies peacefully, the gay uncle fails at suicide, the optimistic but failed father discovers his grand business ambition is for naught (just as his son discovers that his congenital colorblindness prevents him from pursuing his life’s ambition and has led him to squander six months of his voice to silence), the mother has been forgotten, and the little girl for whom everyone else endures the travel tears her pants off in the climactic sequence. Doors of cars falling off, and other such antics, ensue.
  • An old, fuddy, extremely rich, purebred English woman doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
  • Men get shot for a war.
  • A woman on a bus in a strange dusty country is shot by two boys who accidentally discharge their father’s rifle. Her husband panics. At home, the babysitters have killed the kids. In another part of the world, another language is spoken.
  • One man says he is a cop but he is a thug. One man says he is a thug but he is actually a cop. Another man says he is a thug but he is an informant. One man says he is a good cop but, in the end, he assassinates the last thug standing. Blood is spilt. Lives are ruined. Psyches are destroyed. Everyone dies.
  • Israelis getting shot, from the point of view of Olympic spectators.
  • Two nineteen year old boys adrift in a pre-Vietnam rural America meet during a shared summer stint as shepherds in the high mountains of Wyoming. They fuck all summer. It is not until they part, after leaving the mountains, that they realize each is the only that can fulfil the other, but one of the boys is more scared than the other of the consequences of sexual non-normativity, and they can never return to that moment of grace where they were alone in the mountains and holding love without holding back. In the end, the less cowardly man is killed for his bravery and the cowardly man can only remember him by the scent of their shirts.
  • A bunch of people get in a car crash.
  • A comedy about fat, bald, insecure, middle-aged oenophile, and his better-looking, charming friend on the eve of his marriage, taking one final bachelor weekend in the wine country north of Los Angeles. Both find girls. The slanty-eyed zany one beats the bachelor for not disclosing his engagement. The pretty, aging blonde one trains her sights on the unlikely fat candidate, who blunders his chance, but gets a second chance by epistle. Wacky antics, like cars being driven into trees, naked hicks, and ninjitsu, ensue.
  • A famous blind musician.
  • A crazy jazillionaire wants a really, really big plane.
  • A girl power/incest movie about an old lonely man who adopts/trains/kills a tough-in-the-ring, sweet-little-thing lady boxer.
  • A famous horse named after a pastry made of only bread and water wins some races. A little man balances atop.
  • One man is a cop. One man is a deli owner. One man is mysteriously covered in blood one night. One girl is dead. The second man kills the third man for killing the girl, but the third man did not kill the girl. Everything is uncovered by the first man. The woman who stands by her man is virtuous, and the one who does not causes the cruelly mistaken revenge murder of her husband. The light is long, winter is coming, and everyone speaks in a Boston accent.
  • A man with a blond ponytail rides a ship for a while.
  • A washed-up actor goes to Japan to make some extra cash and finds in the hotel a pretty young woman whose husband could give two shits about her. The actor and the young woman discover their union can make them both young, but both cannot bring themselves to take the risk. The neon lights emphasize their isolation.
  • The four members of Winger set off the third leg of a very long journey to destroy a ring. A former member of the band still hangs around, coveting the ring. One of the members of Nelson shoots arrows. Kurt Cobain is a wayfarer who is actually of royal lineage. Sir Ian McKellen, in nose prosthesis, is a goodly wizard whose powers are unknowable. All the good people win in the end, and all the bad people die.
  • An author walks into a river with rocks in her pockets. Meryl Streep puts flowers in a vase.
  • Italians, Irish, and nonethic Americans kill each other with workaday tools in the filthy slop that is lower Manhattan. An Irish boy with a grudge kills the preening maniac who killed his father.
  • A red windmill filled with dancers.
  • A schizophrenic mathematician sees patterns in everything, such as pigeons and newspaper articles. This is partly helpful, because it inspires him to develop game theory, but it is also destructive because he sees things that don’t exist.
  • A spaceship doesn't blow up.

These movies are: Little Miss Sunshine; The Queen; Letters from Iwo Jima; Babel; The Departed; Munich; Brokeback Mountain; Crash; Sideways; Ray; The Aviator; Million Dollar Baby; Seabiscuit; Mystic River; Master and Commander; Lost in Translation; Return of the King; The Hours; Gangs of New York; Moulin Rouge; A Beautiful Mind; Apollo 13.

The verdict: when nouns perform verbs, critics are smitten. Go forth, young writer, and give me a hit.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

freddie mercury

I didn't think it possible, but my devotion to Michael Jackson has just been surpassed by a Freddie Mercury fever. Watch the first 51 seconds of this video and tell me why a man who can make 75,000 people scat in unison should not be worshipped. This man made millions of people eat faggotry out of the palm of his hand. (I say this with only admiration, as a fan of camp.) He wrote an album of operatic duets for Montserrat Caballe, for god's sake!

I stayed up until 4 a.m. watching videos of him performing and then had a dream he was alive. I also dreamt that Facebook started charging for its services.

I spend a lot of time, generally, thinking about whether historical superlatives have existed in my lifetime. What I mean by this is that of all the people who have ever lived in the world, one person is or was, for example, the hairest person of all time, the person who has endured the most pain before death, the person who has fathered more children than any other. Some neutral, omniscient observer of human history would be able to determine which person qualifies for what superlative. This belief, paired with my eschatological conviction that heaven is just a big almanac in which there are answers to every question you've had - who shot JFK, was 9/11 an inside job, what grew in the hanging gardens of Babylon? - and hell is a mahogany-walled auction hall in which people wearing jewel-toned velour peruse antiques, is my theology. Apposite to this, Freddie Mercury makes me think that some superlatives have been achieved and documented in my lifetime. Which those are is a question for the almanac.
One should not freak out about entertainers, especially not decades-dead ones, especially when one is 27, but hysteria is the only appropriate reaction to outrageous creativity.
As is commerce. Please buy me this.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Step on me, shoe!

My lover texts this to me:

"Urine pail, oh Walter! Inimical if horning in. Spiritu!"

Imin's hawk! Ursa talon, Ted!

Friday, December 21, 2007

test test

Richard the Fecalith asked me to try his new laptop so I tested my typing speed by writing the following:

“Gibbous peach, Tom!” he exhorted. “Stand up, gibbous peach!”

Dominick Mondeverte did not understand the frantic ululations of the red-faced man who clapped him heartily on the shoulder. He was a recent immigrant from one of the extraneous Greek islands, not far from the isle of Meepos, which rose to momentary prominence in the mid-1980s when its most famous expatriate, Balky Bartokamus, moved to a windy city in North America and learned the ways of Americans, committing gaffe after entertaining gaffe for the continent to be endeared by. Balky’s career careened to its end after a sex scandal involving an Malay pleasure woman named Divyne, half an ounce of cocaine, and counterfeit specie. While Balky slunk off to ignominious, anonymous obsolescence in Monaco, his home country resolutely maintained its pride in its famous son and the statuaries and stamps were not demolished or torn but merely moved behind curtains and into locked cupboards, so that the humble citizens of Meepos would not have to be reminded of the sins of the sons of the past.
Dominick thought of this as he was pulled to his feet by his employer, a friendly, coarse man who wanted his best employee to address the holiday revelers and explain his part in the company’s meteoric fourth quarter rise.

“Guman, Tom! Gibbous peach!”


I've been home for about 36 hours, and I have spent at least a fourth of that time watching my brother's Ultimate Fighting DVDs and episodes of a new show on the History Channel in which two Americans travel around the world attaching themselves to martial arts masters and learning new ways to kill other people. My favorite of these is the balletic French technique called savate, which involves kicking people in the ribs with felt shoes. This compulsive television watching follows a seven hour flight on a horrid little Delta jet made barely tolerable by nonstop viewing of "Superbad" and American Gladiator re-runs on ESPN Classic . . . and I pine for a Wii . . . all of which has made me realize that I am essentially just another fat dude one Transformers obsession short of a Maxim subscription. (I did use to work at FHM. Ask me about this later.)

It also made me think of my first wrestling match. I say "first" as if there were many, but because there were a bunch of guys on my high school team in my weight class, I was never good enough to get a match during meets and would have to wait for the county-wide tournaments to compete, so I only wrestled maybe five people in two years.

I was fifteen years old and 134 pounds, which was kind of a lie. I think I am and have always been 137 pounds, but because there were no female coaches, Coach Ed Hart (coach to the stars! Dave (R.I.P.) and Mark Schultz are from Palo Alto and wrestled for my high school) would send me into the PE office in the girls' locker room alone to strip naked, weigh myself, and report my weight. It was the honor system, and I always lied, but it didn't really matter, because whether I was wrestling 140 pound guys or 135 pound guys I was still going to get my ass beat.

(Dave Schultz, Olympic champ from Palo Alto, not long before he was murdered by the psychopathic DuPont heir who shot him in front of his DuPont-owned house.)

Actually, I didn't do this alone - the other girl on the team, who also wrestled at 135, who eventually became the epic love of my young insensate life, would also lie. Maybe she wasn't lying, she did seem to have hollower bones than me - but how is it possible that the two girls sent off to weigh themselves always weighed exactly 134.99 pounds? Once I successfully lost four pounds to make weight, but I think only a pound or two of this can be attributable to the running around in circles with plastic bags on/spitting saliva into the water fountain and the rest was probably just the difference between weighing myself with clothes and then without.

Anyway, we are now in October 1995. I am fifteen and am joining wrestling team because of a very attractive "Come Tryout for Wrestling!" poster that someone in the main office has posted to a kiosk on campus and because my friend Olivia, a spry girl thirty times more athletic than me, wants to give it a shot. I last longer than Olivia but we both eventually get boyfriends off the wrestling team so it is not a complete bust for her. I am a terrible wrestler, not just because my muscles are inflexible and sheathed in fat - I imagine that my muscles don't look like bands of fiber, but muscle fibers alternating with fat globules, like a digital sequence of 1's and 0's - but also because I think of any excuses I can not to go to practice (I have woman troubles twice a month, I sprain things) and when I go to practice I just lay on top of Kyla and we pretend to apply and struggle out of whizzers but put in only about 18-36% effort to do so.

I am basically a lazy pud. Wrestling helps me develop a lifelong dismorphic vision of my body as a shredded green monster even though I am still only 137 pounds - a 210 pound, 6' tighthead prop on the rugby team (whose name began with a "Z") taps my head with her own four years later and I collapse into a dream of stars and atmospheric pinging, and I still manage to hold onto the belief that I am the strongest, toughest woman to have lived since Teddy Roosevelt. During practice we do push-ups, then run around the wrestling mat, then fall down in unison, then do more push-ups. We do push-up plustorials - ten, then nine, then eight, etc.

Fifteen minutes are devoted to our neck muscles alone. Lift your head off the ground. Set it back down. Lift. Down. Lift - hold - down. The boys on the team have no necks, just parabolic domes verticed at the uppermost point on their headgears. In fact, when state-qualifying 190 pound wrestler Pavel Gonzalez, whose upper body looks like the Hagia Sophia, is tragically ejected from an SUV tumbling down 101 South the day after prom (these things do happen) the doctors attribute his miraculous survival - his neck is literally broken but his spinal cord was not severed - to the musclature around his head and he returns walking to school mere days later with a neck brace - his unlucky girlfriend Katie Conway spends several weeks in a coma and fourteen months recovering, entering Chico State a year later than planned.

Anyway, it is with two weeks of this training that I enter my first match. Someone drives me in the back of a baby blue sedan to Kennedy High School, across the Dumbarton Bridge in Fremont. The Kennedy team practices in a big quonset hut next to the parking lot, which signals to the affluent boys and girl of Palo Alto High School that we are messing with kids tougher than us. I am matched against a boy wearing a red singlet and Asics shoes. I am wearing green sweatpants and a SCVAL Championships t-shirt from the spring season, which I spend spinning in a circle on the track throwing discii a paltry hundred feet or so, and Asics shoes. The referee entreats us to shake hands. We do. (I remember very clearly that his hands were cold and wet, whereas mine were just cold.) He blows a whistle.

Then I am on my back and the match is over. It takes the boy in the red singlet three seconds to do a double-leg shoot and a takedown and pin me. It is not enough time for me to do anything except wonder how much better I would have fared if I had applied myself to the neck exercises more diligently.

Twenty minutes later we get back in the baby blue sedan and drive back home over the bridge.

(These are the other matches I can remember: (1) against a floppy fish who was even fatter than I was, whom I beat; (2) against a wide-shouldered boy who pulled my right arm over my chest hard enough to tear my rhomboid muscle a little bit, who won by decision; (3) against a boy during a Valentine's day tournament, he pinned me in the third round but not before I accidentally peed a little bit into my singlet (what can you do?); (4) against a girl who I beat but was too misogynist to consider a victory, but we were pretty evenly matched.)

I'm bored and am bored of writing about this now. What I would really like to do is kick my brother Richard, who is a fecalith, in the nuts. Ta for now!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Talking Head Be-Holder

I promised a picture of this thing a few posts back.

i am working on my vertical leap

Absence without tidings for two years qualifies as a common law death. Eighteen more months of this and you can collect life insurance on me! Today I woke up at 12:45pm because with the shades drawn the night is indistinguishable from day in my little apartment in Williamsburg, and there were no poorly matched house beats from the propped Technics coffin of the downstairs bohemios to wake me with dissynchopation - note to the boys in 2B, you cannot match 140 bpm house music with 110 bpm hip-hop, no matter how many vain times you spin those four measures under a needle . . . please stop it! The days are shorter, I wake up in the dark three hours before dark, and then fill the hours not giving a shit about Evidence. Why study, when the eventual war with China will bring future regrets about a young adulthood misspent on the laws of a country I can't live in? In the spirit of nihilism, I spent six hours a few days ago constructing a Walter Ruffler papier maschinen

and then, in my chinky voice, re-enacting scenes from Rashomon and Cold Mountain while making my paper samurai (Keiko) pump his sword like a wildcat well. I also spent a good portion of the day reading about Farrokh Bulsara's orthodontics - homosexuals and hard rock fans will remember this man as the author of the best rock song ever written ("Bohemian Rhapsody"), which I also tried to re-enact today, in unrhapsodic solo form, via a girl's voice and guitar.

Which is all to say, BLOW ME TO BERMUDA. One New Year's resolution: stop writing like a fucking lunatic. Apologies, readers.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

overheard on the L train

Several days before Thanksgiving. Sitting across from me on a half-empty, late-night, Canarsie-bound L train are two white men who are probably in their early 30s but have clearly done so many drugs that their faces (pocked, scarred, missing teeth) could be fifty. They look like anarchist-punk hitchhiker types, but not cute and malodorous like the ones you see begging in front of the Virgin Megastore, but ruined and repellent. Both men are wearing black hoodies, one with the broken zipper held closed by a safety pin; one wears originally-green double-kneed Carhartts that have turned black.

The man on the right, with wider shoulders and a beard, has his feet propped up on an olive green external frame backpack that looks like it has been tied behind a truck and dragged about four miles. This man has a bat tattooed on his forehead - not necessarily a bat, but a symmetrical shiruken-thing with gothic fluting that travels down from his forehead in tapered lines that end under his eyes, kind of like a jester mask or the Batman logo. It covers an area about as large as your hand would if you put it on your face.

He is squinting at a cell phone held at arm's length, and the bat on his face flaps with the effort.

The other man is scrawnier and appears unable to focus his eyes or is merely wall-eyed. He has the word "FIST" tattooed on his right hand, and "FUCK" tattooed on his left.

They are talking very loudly to one another. They sit next to each other but don't look at each other. There are empty seats on either side of them. The other passengers who have been riding the train a few stops won't sit next to them, but at the First Avenue stop a pretty young woman gets on and takes the seat next to FIST FUCK, and then looks very uncomfortable as the train travels under the East River, and this conversation unfolds:

BAT FACE (BF): (not looking up from his cell phone) What's that?
FF: Human pampler virus or something like that. It gives girls warts on their pussies but doesn't do anything to men.
BF: How do you know you have it then?
FF: Because of that girl I was fucking in Vermont.
BF: (yelling at phone) Goddammit!
FF: She was so nasty. When I was fucking her, it looked like she had all these tumors on her vagina. It was like all over her pussy.
BF: Heh-heh.
FF: Talk about "ribbed for his pleasure"!
BF: Heh-heh.
FF: Heh-heh. Heh-heh-heh!
BF: Heh-heh-heh.
FF: But she was the one who woke me up by kicking me in the face. Fucking bitch. That was the end of her.
BF: (still looking at cell phone) FUCK!
FF: Then we got a bunch of people to beat her ass down.
BF: (at phone) They make it fucking impossible to beat these games.

The woman who sat down with them at First Avenue got off at the next stop.

Monday, December 03, 2007

someday this will be used against me in a court of law

I'm the least ethical I can be without unethical. I'm decently ethical in California but only barely ethical in New York. I am in the lowest decile of morality in the New York bar. But bitches, I passed! I'm ethical! Scruples aren't just money in Russia! Morals aren't just paintings on the wall! Ethics aren't just Italians!

Word to Big Bird.

Friday, November 30, 2007

with the sound of a crescendo

Hello, I'm the New York Times! China is so exciting and backward- and forward-looking, all at once! See these funny Chinese people imitating Western culture! See these funny Chinese people driving funny! See these funny Chinese people building too much, polluting everything--we would never do that! See these funny Chinese people using lead-based paints! Words in italics denote funny Chinee!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

bloodstains on the carpet

I can't stop reading about Michael Jackson. HEE-hee!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

shorty you a tin

My cab from JFK to home was pulled over by cops (!) yesterday morning at Metropolitan Avenue right off the BQE because, allegedly, the cab driver took an illegal left turn at a no-left-turn intersection. This interaction, between a modestly-sized South Asian immigrant man and two gigantic late-30 something white men, both shaved bald, included such memorable moments as (1) the cops pulling up to the car and saying, "What the fuck are you doing?" (2) the cops demanding license and registration and saying "This picture doesn't look anything like you" (to which the cab driver responded, "Because I have a beard now") and (3) the cops' parting shot ("I'll see you in court. You should shave."). And bless you, Mr. Chaudry, you said, "You don't need to tell me what to do."

I spent a week in California with Stephanie over Thanksgiving. It was sunny, warm, and filled with friends, family, and commerce - the details can be filled in by imaginations familiar with the well-known tropes of American Thanksgivings. While many exciting, illuminating, and possibly heart-rending things occurred between Wednesday and Tuesday, I documented none of it, yet Stephanie and I managed to take about 30 pictures posing with my parents' talking "Head Be-Holder" skeleton pirate doll, a post-Halloween drugstore purchase that gyrates to a K.C. and the Sunshine Band song and drops its skull into its skeletal hands whenever K.C. sings "Get down tonight!" I will post pictures just as soon as I am able.

Back in New York now, stir-crazy and almost 30!

Monday, November 19, 2007

icicles by cynthia, meter from me sybil

I just underwent some tortured waffling about not taking time or money available, kainotophobically, expressly available, reserved to art. No doubt, in dozens of nearby townships, crapulence abounds. Reasonably, each ailment begs of unguents, talmuds, yogis, omens, usufruction.

mama say

"Mama say mama sah mama sukah" is a stroke of genius. "Atcha-hoo!" is a fine new child of America. "There were bloodstains on the carpet." How I love pop and wish there were storytellers and inventors in it. Take a risk! Make some new words! Butterflies inside, inside, inside.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

sorry i couldn't make it to your birthday dinks

Because my sweet little Boo started convulsing and gasping for breath and licking the carpet/floor/electrical sockets frantically and then threw up a half gallon of barley and balloon fragments! And while this was happening I didn't know what to do so I ran between my computer (googling "How to make a dog throw up" and "NYC emergency vets") and my camping equipment where I knew I had stashed an expired bottle of hydrogen peroxide in some old first aid kit! Then I rushed him to the 24-hour emergency vet clinic in Carroll Gardens! Where there was one nice lezzie receptionist and five MILLION MEAN ASSHOLES! Where me and Boo and Stephanie and David waited for 90 minutes even though we were the only people there and Boo was still convulsing!

Poor little dog. By the time the bitchy vet came down to inspect Boo ("Johnson Avenue? I used to live in Williamsburg but I've never heard of Johnson Avenue"), he was asleep, and I had finished the 300-page vanity book of handwritten love letters New Yorkers had written to their pets, and had written one to Boo, beginning, "Dearest, dearest Boo."

Anyway, that's why I couldn't make it to your birthday party. I'm really sorry!

Monday, November 05, 2007

buy me this please

god save the monarchy

Ooops! Only three minutes left in Evidence to grouse about why I hate contemporary fiction. I made the mistake of blowing $14 (which I want back to save up for a Wii) on "Best American Short Stories 2007" last weekend. I made it through 2.3 stories before tiring of reading about 60-85 year-old dying bourgies reflecting somberly on the failures of their lives. BARF!!!! If I read another well-measured, intricately-observed, technically expert, reflective and meaningful shit-stravaganza I'm going to vomit shit into David Remnick's mouth. After I read the opening story by Louis Achinschloss I wanted to scream "SOAPY BALLS! SOAPY BALLS! SOAPY BALLS! SOAPY BALLS!" - something, anything, please, God, something that is not so fucking BORING!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

speaking of butt sex

Did anyone else see Julio Lugo tenderly finger one of Manny Ramirez's unruly locks behind his ear during ALCS Game 7? It happened during the seventh inning rally. The dugout candid cam caught Julio gazing longingly at Manny, who was leaning on one knee and looking at the batter. Julio then glanced up nervously, made eye contact with the camera lens, and then retreated a foot or so from the scene of aching homosensuality.

Watch out, Julio! It's not easy to wash Boston cream pie out of those nylon pants.

song of solomon 5:4

"My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him."

Tell me what this means. In the NRSV, it's translated: "My beloved thrust his hand into the opening, and my inmost being yearned for him."


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

sox v. rox

I've gotten really into baseball recently and am ready to sire Jacoby Ellsbury's child, which I've already decided we will ship to China to groom to be a 5'3" male gymnast and/or decathlete. (Jacoby is the left/center fielder for the Red Sox, the team I've been rooting for.) Anyway, so I plan to be out of commission for the next few nights watching the World Series and making zongzi at the same time. I really, really, really like baseball in October, because even exciting games aren't very exciting in July when there are still 100 games left in the season. It's not so much that I feel excited because I feel like the Red Sox are my guys, it's that I get so excited that so many people get excited about their teams - does that make sense? It's just so weird and wonderful to see all these people smiling when Dustin Pedroia hits the ball. I also have an affinity for men named Dustin. My and Jacoby's son, the Olympian, will be named Dusting (to make it a little more Chinese-sounding). Anyway, what am I say...oh yes. Go Sox!

guilty of being punk

Speaking of whispering kaddish, good night and good luck to my brief bedazzlement by the lights of the punk rock mythmaking machine. I watched "American Hardcore" two days ago, after the DVD had collected three months of dust on its wrinkled Tyvek sleeve, because I needed something to distract myself with while I peeled and gutted eleven soft apples for applesauce.

It's a documentary about the beginnings of the hardcore punk scene in D.C. and SoCal, 1980-1985, and how it went from being angry white fifteen year-olds playing awfully and awfully loud to angry twenty year-olds playing slightly better, and the culture of violence, the DIY ethos, and the teenage wastrelism that grew up alongside it. It's comprised of interviews with punks from yore, like Ian McKaye (pictured above before he got sick of all the kicking and screaming), Henry Rollins, H.R. from Bad Brains, etc. Actually, these three turn out to be the most articulate of the bunch but are still fumblingly stupid. Most of the interviews are with people who are now in their late 40s, who mist over with sentimentality when talking about how much they hated the suburbs when they were kids, but now work as CPAs (for example) and say that kids these days are doing it all wrong. But every batch of late 40 year-olds think that every batch of kids these days are doing things the wrong way! Are sellouts, phonies, derivatives! Vehicles for product placement!

I'm over it. I dropped my MP3 player in a glass of wine this summer, not really by accident - just as it dropped in the words "Hey baby, look! My MP3 player sits perfectly against the top of this wineglass!" were about to leave my mouth - which means it plays MP3s terribly but plays the FM dial pretty good. So all I can listen to now when I walk Boo is Top 40, hip hop, R&B (and the constant shuffle through "What's the Story (Morning Glory)?" and the UB40 oeuvre that comprises the playlist for Fresh 102.7 FM). What have I learned from this month of radio? I like the processed noise. I like craft. I like singers who can sing with their mouths open. I like songs that last over 55 seconds. I like Alicia Keys. There's nothing pure about hardcore punks syncopating white noise and calling it the real deal. And whether you pay $5 to see a punk show in someone's basement or $55 to see Justin Timberlake's nose broadcast fifty feet high on megavision, you are paying for performance. You pay to be entertained, which might mean, for one, having one's political views sung in simplified form back to you in an audience full of the converted, or, for another, watching people who can sing and dance do that with speakerboxes, mercenary dancers, and against millions of light-emitting diodes. One profits Pepsi, and the other profits all these angry young white kids who grow up and profit from Pepsi. I don't really see the difference.

What the fuck am I saying? Oh, right: I think Ian MacKaye is full of shit. Also because in this documentary he says, "How was I supposed to know when I wrote that song that some Polish neo-Nazi was going to be coming up to me fifteen years later and being like, 'Thanks for sticking up for the white man'?" That song in question is called "Guilty of Being White." Here are its lyrics:

I'm sorry
For something I didn't do
Lynched somebody
But I don't know who
You blame me for slavery
A hundred years before I was born


I'm a convict
Of a racist crime
I've only served
19 years of my time


This is a man people get their hand-sown [correction: sEwn] DIY panties in a sop about because he's so anti-racist? Break me a fucking give. I'll take Alicia Keys (what the hell, even UB40) any day. The love affair with punks, anarchists, straightedgers, etc., is officially dead. Time to buy some pantiliners to replace this motherfucking glad rag. RIP, DIY.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the things they learned

I: could not give two shits about the First Amendment; hate social science writing; find it very difficult to sleep with mosquitoes (IN OCTOBER! GODDAMN GLOBAL WARMING) dinging my exposed flesh (forehead, eyelid, wrist, soles of feet) every hour on the hour; want to sue the FDNY; can't decide which state's bar to take.

I've spent the last two weeks underground working on a brief brief. Yesterday I velobound and re-velobound 48 copies of this brief, and sent it all via overnight shipping to an address in San Francisco that may or may not exist. Now I am filling the brief-shaped hole in my calendar by blogging, and doing research about propaganda, which has led me to the belief that the First Amendment is a strange and useless constitutional dingleberry that makes bedfellows of Nazis and civil libertarians.

Blah, blah, blah. Probably the most interesting thing to note here is that I've started cooking Boo's food. I spend $11 once a week on ground turkey, frozen veggies, chickpeas, peanuts, garlic, and chicken parts (either the word "gizzards" or "innards" is printed on the packaging, but I can't remember which one it is) and throw it in a big pot and stew it for an hour, and then pack it in baggies that I keep in a big baggie in the freezer, and then defrost two per day and stir fry them with rice or pasta and add a 1/2 cup of kibbles and feed it all to my dog, who inhales everything in seconds, except the peanuts, which he spits out and leaves in the bowl until noon, when he gets really hungry, and begrudgingly gums the spittle-covered nuts to tide him over until 6 p.m. I do this because I really have become that dog-crazed lezzie/spinster who will do anything to prolong the life of her dog, which she calls "my friend" (as in, "I went on a walk with my friend this morning"), because her life is already too bereft to contemplate its continuation without a tirelessly loyal, unflaggingly stupid heated fuzzball distracting her from syndicated re-runs. I also crawl under my bed periodically and spoon Boo and whisper to him that we are on our own now.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


At about 1:45 a.m. Saturday night, I got on the L train at First Avenue, headed toward Brooklyn. On the train were two people already engaged in some sort of a fight. I gathered from their exchange that this had happened: a young man and his friend were horsing around, and the friend flicked his lighter on momentarily; a woman got very upset that a lighter had been flicked on in the subway and told the two men to put it away; the man asked her why she was getting in his business about a lighter at a time of night when people do much worse shit on the subway; she said something about terrorism; and that's where the fight was when I got on the train.

There are important details that I thought I should save for the second paragraph of this retelling, namely, that the two young men were Spanish and dressed how lots of guys from Brooklyn dress -- baggy pants, backwards hats, big polo shirts. The young woman who made the comment about the lighter was of a very pale white, with long blond hair. She was dressed in a way that you would expect a young white woman headed to the first three stops in Brooklyn on the L train would be dressed: party-pretty, feminine, summery. (It's October but apparently was 87 degrees in New York Saturday.) These facts are important to omit in the first telling of the story because they unfairly bias the reader in the first instance.

The man was berating the woman, saying, "What did you think would happen? What did you think he was going to do with a lighter? You think we're terrorists? No, you didn't, you just thought because I'm Spanish that I was gonna do something, because you think everyone whose Spanish is going to do something. You couldn't just leave it alone, so I'm not gonna leave you alone. I'm gonna talk to you until you get off the train. What's your stop? I bet you're stop is Lorimer, isn't it?"

It was unclear at this point where sympathies should lie; with the woman, because she should not be so angrily, loudly, and publicly berated for seeing ves algo di'ing ves algo in a post-Rudy world; or with the man, who identified something the woman would not admit -- namely, that if the young men horsing around with a lighter had been two slack-haired white guys in tight ironic graphic Ts coming home from the Randall's Island Arcade Fire concert, she would not have harassed them for flicking open and on their stylish Zippo. Yet for the other white people on the train -- and there were only seven, and they were all standing or sitting near each other -- and I do not count myself accidentally among them* -- and speaking now is not my own crass hypersensitivity toward race but a specific, empirical observation, a simple act of reportage from your neutral scrivener -- it was clear that the Spanish man was at fault. So gradually, a triumvirate of defenders emerged, among them the (1) white woman, apparently not in the first woman's company, whose personality lent itself to healing chakras and earth-toned clothing suitable for extended periods of sitting meditation; (2) the tall, self-righteous white woman, most likely soused, also not in the first woman's company, whose boatnecked styles are of the day but will be roundly mocked on cable "Remember the 2000s?" retrospectives, accompanied by (3) the artificially brunetted white man in his early thirties, wearing tight black jeans and a black T-shirt stretched like the head of floor tom over a distended belly that read "J.H.S. Gymnastics," who stayed mostly silent until he wryly mumbled some poorly-delivered insults before exiting the Graham Avenue stop.

*I say this because when I lived in the Bronx with community garden-affirming, SoBro-gentrifying caucasoid Vermonsters they would say things like, "We're the only white people in the neighborhood." And I would think, "I'm white?" and I would say, "Yeah, smash the state."

The first to rise to the first woman's defense was (1), who tried repeatedly, to no avail, to calm the situation down. Lighter lady continued to try to explain why 9/11 changed everything and lighters should not be lit on trains, and (1) said, "Now wait. I want to know too. Why did you think it was a problem that he lit the lighter?" She was mostly ignored for the remainder of the ride.

Her participation, however, prompted (2) to begin her assault. (2) shouted at the man, saying, "Why can't you just shut the fuck up? You're making such a huge fucking scene! Just shut the fuck up and stop picking on that woman. You're making such a big fucking deal out of it and everyone on the fucking train wants you to shut the fuck up!" The man seemed delighted to have this new target, especially one who moved the conversation quickly from being a genuine, if very agitated, debate about post-9/11 paranoia to a contest of voluminous insults at high volumes. He responded by saying, "Yeah? Why don't you just shut the fuck up? Huh? Why don't you just shut the fuck up?"

This particular thread repeated for a few cycles. (Meanwhile, (1) tested her dispute resolution chops by saying, in her "outdoor" voice, "Hey, do we really need to be this angry right now? Everybody just stop and think: do we really need to put so much anger out there now?" Despite her pleas to the universal third person and her leading by example, she continued to be ignored completely.)

Then, he said, "Why don't you just get off at the next stop?"

To which (2) responded, "Yeah, I'll get off at the next stop...after I put my foot in your ass!"

The man responded by shouting, "Yeah? You're gonna put your foot in my ass? Go ahead! Put your foot in my ass! You want to do it, go ahead! Put it in!" and standing, turning his back toward her (over her shouts of "I can practically see your ass because your pants are so low!", drawing some applause from the other vascoconstricted hipsters) and dropping first just his pants, and then, with a defiant yank, his underwear just to a point where, from where I was standing, about four feet in front of him, I could see the plunge from pyramidalis to penis and a roll of flubby, fatty, shorn flesh directly above it. Most people on the train gasped, several said "Damn!" and I could only think: "Flesh tube!"

At this point I very discreetly and slowly retreated ten feet and continued watching the show from a vantage where I might not be accidentally hit by a seminal stream of tidy. I stood near two gothy/Renn Fayre types, one of whom had a hemp chain dotted with punk spikes connecting his wallet to his raver pants, who were commentating on the action unfolding. The conversation continued, to everyone's great amusement:

(2): You're a fucking idiot! You just made an ass of yourself! The whole train saw your ass!

Man: Well, you said you were gonna put your foot up my ass. You wanna put your foot up my ass? Go ahead! Are you gonna do something about it?

(3) (hipster man): [laughing, standing slightly behind (2), presumably his girlfriend]

Man: Oh, you think that's funny? You're a man. You're just gonna sit there in your cheap-ass shirt and hide behind your woman?

(2): You think you're so cool with your backwards hat? "Ooooh, I'm so cool! [In falsetto, gesticulating vaguely and derisively in the air, frowning like a tragic mask, rolling eyes back into head] I'm wearing a Yankees hat backward!"

Man: [grabs hat off head and points] It's the METS! My clothes are worth more than you are! My shoes cost more than your whole outfit!

(2) and (3): [cooing] Oh, money's everything! Money is everything! You're so important! Money is everything!

Man: My pants cost $120. My shirt - this cost $100. My shoes cost $120. They're worth more than everything both y'all are wearing.

(2): Oooh, well, I bought him [jerks a thumb at (3)] this shirt for $4.

(3): Yeah, I don't waste money on my clothes. My brain is worth more than your clothes.*

*Implying that his brain is worth at least $340.

Man: What are you, a bunch of cokeheads?

(2) and (3): [dissolving into laughter]

Man: Oh, I see, y'all are just a bunch of cokeheads. Get off this train and go do your coke somewhere else.

(2): So what if he's done coke once in the last...three...and a half...years?

Man: What a stupid-ass shirt. "J.H.S. Gymnastics." What the fuck is that?

(2): [hysteria increasing] Can't you see he's a gymnast? He's a superstar gymnast? This is a cool shirt! I bought him that shirt. That's a cool shirt in this neighborhood!

Man: I'm from this neighborhood!

(2): Yeah, right! If you were from Williamsburg, your shirt would be tighter! Your pants would be tighter!

At this, el blanco in a tight shirt sitting directly across from me applauds wildly and says, "Yeah!"

Man: I'm FROM WILLIAMSBURG! I live at South 5 and [unintelligible]. Fuck you!

(2): Well, go back to Century 21 and buy another $21.99 shirt!

The trains pulls into the Graham Avenue station.

(2): [unintelligible] That's all gonna change...November 2008! Peace in the Middle East! Peace in the the Middle East! [(2) and (3) exit train]

After the Graham Avenue station, there are no more hipsters on the train. All there is on the train is silence, and the man and his friend with the lighter shaking their heads at each other. The goth kids are discussing who has won. "The right thing to have said was 'How long did you have to work at McDonald's to pay for your clothes?'" one says. I interject and say that it the woman lost because she thought that she was entitled to the neighborhood when ten years ago people who look like her didn't live here. The goth kids disagree, and I exit the Montrose station to go walk my border collie who doesn't know a thing about why people yell at each other and is just very, very happy to see me, every time he sees me.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


A new mantra. I will say, "My mouth is a moist environment" when extremely angry. I tried it yesterday for twenty minutes after getting in a fight with a pissy neighbor/neighborhood vermin. (A carbon-based life form who will eventually, and spectucularly, get his comeuppance, to the pleasure of all misfortunate enough to have met him. More on this when that day happens, though such pedestrian heartaches as middle-management politicking exposed and unattended funerals are so minimally covered that one may never hear news about this so-called man.) Though it dried my mouth, it deflated my temper.

Also, a new ambition, to supplement previously existing ambitions (early retirement to an administrative post in a small but well-funded college; cult stardom in twenty square blocks of Williamsburg and Echo Park). Now I'm planning a triptych. It's going to be a thinly-veiled autobiography in three parts, called "M.O.I.", unfolding as a (1) reminiscence of heady, greasy-faced teenaged passions; (2) a murder mystery about a book plate; (3) a long distance romance between a disappointed hausfrau and the New Yorker essayist who, unbeknownst to him, has written everything he's ever written for her; a volcano keeps them apart. I will not disclose all the titles I have in mind, since I don't yet know how to secure patents for my intellectual property, except to say that #2 will be entitled "Ex Libris" and that embossed, Haettenschweiler-studded covers for it will be printed by the ton. I am only half-joking about this.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

things i did during and after the first birthday party i ever had that was not arranged by my parents or a girlfriend

(1) Organized and attended Nerd Field Day. Some people were accidentally struck (a) in the head by footballs and (b) in the legs by softballs and (c) in the arms by frisbees. My dog ran through the picnic blanket and stomped on several cheese on his way to retrieving the love of his life, a deflated size 5 soccer ball. Conversations about anal winking were had, Scrabble was played with a great deal of restraint (though some were clearly too nerdy to contain their excitement about unplayed bingoes), baby carrots were interrogated. The Rubik's Cube successfully allowed some nerds to pretend to concentrate on other things while chagrin was felt about inabilities to penetrate social groups. The company was great. We left after six hours.

(2) Heard new music. Then Stephanie and I lay on the bed and alternated playing tracks from old CDs for each other. I heard, for the first time, a Christian folk band from Stephanie's evangelical past (and was not convinced that hammer dulcimers could be part of any liturgy), and a live take of "Concierto de Aranguez Part 2," and bored my gf with French sousaphone and accordion octets and Leonard Cohen.

(3) Watched the complete videos from Michael Jackson's HIStory, and then read the Wikipedia entry on State of California v. Jackson. He was innocent! That bastard just wanted the money! I am in love with Michael Jackson.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

chi-town bound!

So I got a job in Chicago, starting September 2008.

Holy fucking shit!!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007


What it is is that the colder weather slows the blood, the blogging. Fall includes: jacket shopping to find something that is both weatherproof and not too androgynous/California Active Style; returning to school; returning to insomnia; returning to industry; my birthday, and a corresponding deepening of the crevasses that mark years on my face like concentric circles do in a cleaved hemlock; general anxieties about all of the aforementioned. Check the September archives of the past three blogged years and you will find that these are themes that recur. I even hum "The Circle Game" in the same way that I did last year when I reflected on the same themes!

Which is to say, Bananarchist is taking hir fall hiatus to think about bigger picture things, like how to escape the legal profesison in 2-3 years despite my concern for (1) making money and (2) oppressed people. How do I do it?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


New York on my mind.

(Photo from

Friday, August 31, 2007

blogging from crim pro pt. 2


Totally delirious today. Welcoming the new school year as I always have, with utter sleeplessness. Lay in bed trying not to wake Stephanie with extremely foul gasses escaping my body at extremely loud volumes, then puttered around cleaning, then ate a bowl of oatmeal while reading old magazines. School school school I'm turning 27 in three weeks and too old to sit in a big room and get talked at by 2520s. I have also decided to write a treatise about how the wide reach of "free speech protection" hurts people of color. 'Cause you know what? Imus deserved to be fired. Let's see if I can say this without pissing off my employer.

("'ve abandoned it! Nobody wants it back!" says the prof, re: searches and seizures of urinanalysis without consent.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

blogging from crim pro


School is in its first two hours for me. Already I have exhausted my websurfing options. I have eaten my plum and drank my Emergen-C. I read and rejected an article for Social Change. Yet this man in front of the room continues to talk. Please god, let it end.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

for reference

Just so ya know,

DLdldfDF or dfDFDLdl
LurU luRU2

how to make zongzi (chinese sticky rice bundled in bamboo leaves)

I spent Monday making zongzi* with my grandma and returned today to do the second batch of them. I thought I would share the wealth with the rest of the world and put her recipe online. It took five hours start-to-finish, including a shopping trip to Marina Market in Foster City and a slow lunch of banh mi and fried fish, and an hour I spent walking Boo while the zongzi boiled, so I think a more efficient person could do this in much less time.

*Zongzi is what Marco Polo stole when he came to China and then the Spanish stole from the Italians and brought them over to Mexico, where they became tamales.**

**If you are not Chinese and did not grow up being told every time Italian food was mentioned or ordered that the Italians stole the idea of spaghetti from Chinese chow mein and the idea for pizza from Chinese da bing, then this joke will make no sense to you.

Grandma Hu's Zongzi Recipe (makes 16)

7 cups sticky rice (little plastic rice cups, not big cups!)
Lots (1/2 cup?) of soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine
cooking oil
salt to taste
1 lb. boneless pork cut into 1.5" cubes***
4 T dried tiny shrimp
4 T dried fried shallots
One polyethelene bag filled with (16) chestnuts
Peanuts or pinto beans or some other bean-shaped thing of your choice
8-10 dried Chinese mushrooms
star anise
guai pi (which might be cinnamon)
bamboo leaves
cotton string cut to 3' lengths

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

Since my memory for Chinese names is terrible, I took pictures of everything we did so that I could reconstruct the ingredients when I go hunting around for them in Flushing.

***Once I was vegetarian, but this summer I have become a very poor vegetarian, to the point where I advise the web public on making pork zhong zhi. My excuse is that I am living with my family and the demands of culture outweigh the environmentalism/guilt of Byron****, though that doesn't explain why I stuffed my piehole with a very non-Chinese rotisserie chicken this afternoon while ostensibly "feeding Boo." Anyway, we hunted around for the proper slab of pork to cook and settled for the boneless pork butt, which the handy reference chart above the butcher's station taught me is not from where you and I would consider a pig's butt, but actually from what you and I would call a shoulder. Apparently you can also use wu hua pork, but we didn't.

****Only the Mandarin-speaking among you will understand what "Byron" (say it aloud) refers to.

Star anise, an integral spice. I think given how strong star anise and the earthy taste of the bamboo leaves are, one might be able to make this recipe vegetarian without losing too much of the flavor. Star anise is called "eight feet" in Chinese because it is an octopod! Not pictured is what my grandma kept calling "guai pi," which a sniff test revealed to be some form of sweet bark, like cinnamon, perhaps cinnamon, but I can't be sure.

You can also just buy five spice if you can't find the other spices.

Fried shallots.

Some people don't like chestnuts, but then again, some people club baby seals, so you can choose which camp you want to be in when deciding whether to include chestnuts in your zhong zhi.

Chinese dried mushroom. Not pictured are the rice wine (we got the cheapest kind), soy sauce, or beans/peanuts.
Step 1: Prep

(1) Soak the bamboo leaves overnight in water to make them pliable. You might want to change the water a few times so all of the panda excrement is washed off.

(2) Wash the mushrooms and then soak them in hot water until they are soft. Save the water to add flavor when cooking the pork. Same with the dried tiny shrimps.
(3) If you're using peanuts, boil them for a bit until they are soft. Personally I detest peanuts in my zhong zhi, and this time my grandma came up with an innovation all her own: pinto beans. She said that my relatives kept giving her these Mexican beans because they didn't know how to cook them, and she just boiled them until they were soft and used them in the place of peanuts. They're much tastier because they soak up all the spices and aren't nasty soggy peanuts.
(4) Cut the cotton string into 3' lengths. This step is not necessary but makes the wrapping go by faster.

Step 2: Prepare the Rice
(5) Measure out about 7 cups, or half a 5 lb. bag, of sweet sticky rice. Wash it a few times and then pour as much of the water out as you can.
(6) Pour in a bunch of soy sauce. I wish I could be more precise about this, but it just has to be eyeballed. It looked like my grandma poured in about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup, and she kept saying it didn't look brown enough, and then she tasted it and threw in a bit of salt for good measure.
(7) Add 2-3 T of cooking oil to the rice. This helps the rice not stick to the bamboo leaves.
Step 3: Prepare the Pork
(8) Apologize to your former college lover, who converted you to vegetarianism/veganism for a spell, for cooking, for the first time in your life, meat. (Yes, this was my first time EVER cooking meat! Hot dogs do not count. I have spent my entire adult life vegetarian and have maintained that vegetarianism by refusing to cook meat, since if I can't cook it, I won't be tempted to buy and make it.) And then...
(9) Hack your boneless pork butt into 1.5" cubes.
(10) Heat 2-3 T of cooking oil in a pan on high heat.
(11) Cook the cubed pork for ~5 minutes, until the outsides start to turn white.
(12) Add 1/4 c. rice wine and then ~1/4 c. soy sauce (my notes say to hold the Kikkoman bottle over the pork for fifteen seconds).
(13) Turn the heat down to medium high.
(14) Spices: add the star anise and guai pi, then add the water from soaking the mushrooms and the water from soaking the shrimp.

(15) Bring it all to a boil, then cover and simmer at medium high heat for 35-45 more minutes. You can poke the cubes with a chopstick and if blood squirts all over your face, then the meat is not yet ready. (I'm learning a lot about how to cook meat!) While this is happening, you should watch a very slow-talking Buddhist monk on television read quotes from some offscreen book and try not to fall asleep as your grandma tells you that even though we are Catholic we can learn something from the slow talking Buddhist.
(16) Then, when the "amituofo" (amituofo, amituofo, amituofo, amituofo - say this in different pitches and it becomes a song! om mani padme hum) song signals the end of the sermon, the meat is ready. Take the spices out because no one wants a mouthful of crunch star anise.
Be sure to use your 2003 Michelle Kwan calendar as a trivet.

Note: while you are cooking the meat, give the rice a few stirs so that the soy sauce is evenly distributed. The rice should soak up most of the liquid, giving it a nice, even brown color.
Step 4: Cooking Everything Else
(17) Combine all of your other ingredients...the time has come for them to acquire flavor. We used shrimp, peanuts, beans, and mushrooms cut into lengths. (You don't need to cook the chestnuts - they come pre-cooked and they are fine without the extra flavoring.) Here's grandma examining her two pots of cooked zhong zhi stuffing.
(18) Pour whatever leftover broth there is from cooking the pork over the other ingredients, then add soy sauce to taste.
(19) Heat on medium high with a little oil until most of the liquid boils off, about 15 minutes.
Step 5: Assembly!
(20) This is the trickiest step and cannot be described by the blunt instruments of the English language. It is best if you imagine the bamboo leaves to be people and allow me to describe the process in metaphor. Two bamboo leaves are in love. They are young and limber, perhaps only teenagers, perhaps in their early twenties; college friends, maybe. They drink all night with a group of their friends, all of whom are lascivious and single, all of whom expect to pair up by the end of the night. Our lovers know they are meant for one another because they are roughly the same size, and they are fresh and clean, not frayed at the edges. They twine and dance and have intercourse. They are genderqueer, and politically conscious, so their positioning is equitable and, like a mobius strip, there is neither heirarchy nor finity. One hugs another. The other accepts the embrace. Their world is full of possibility, and they cradle the space between them as if it can provide nourishment. Then a giant hand comes down and wraps our oblivious green lovers with one long piece of string, and then brings our lovers to their tasty, boiled deaths.
Step 6: Cook!
(21) Cover your zongzi in water and boil them for an hour to 75 minutes.
Step 7: Enjoy!
(22) You can eat them right out of the water or, since you are making sixteen and cannot possibly eat all sixteen of them unless you are a disgusting, disgusting person, you can just refrigerate them and eat them later. (You can also freeze them for indefinite storing - they'll just as tasty in seventy years!) If they're cold, you can just microwave the whole thing, no need to take off the bamboo leaves first. To eat them, cut the string off, remove the leaves, and add a little soy sauce to taste.
My very first zongzi - asymmetrical but still very tasty! I was much better by the end. The finished product should have the shape of a tetrahedron.
Anyway, with these flawless directions, you are ready to make your own zongzi! Please let me know how it turns out if you try to use this recipe.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The Virginia statute prohibiting miscegenation that was at issue in Loving v. Virginia made an exception for marriages between whites and the descendants of Pocahontas.


desolation wilderness

Just got home from a three-day backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness, just south of Lake Tahoe in the Sierras, with two old pals of mine from Palo Alto, Ruth and Olivia. Fuller descriptions and more photos can be found here and here. It was beautiful, serene, physically exhausting and fun (everything backpacking should be) and a wonderful end to a sun-addled California summer.

Here we are in front of the otherworldly Lake Aloha, a shallow giant puddle dotted with tiny granite islands. We passed five lakes during our trip - there are seven within eight miles of the Glen Alpine trailhead! - and spent most of the time not hiking or tending to camp swimming in the frigid water.

Boo got to work on his favorite hobby, retrieving and chewing sticks close to the lakeshore. This poor dog has never worked this hard in his life. It's hard to be a black dog under a Sierra sun, a picky eater when pickins are slim, and a light sleeper when the ground is cold and hard (though he tried to alleviate this last issue by waiting until I appeared to be asleep and then crawling on top of my sleeping bag (with me still inside)). Next time I will probably not (1) take a black dog (2) on backpacking trips (3) in places named "Desolation" anything (it is so called because there are no trees, hence no shade, in this stretch of the Sierras). I'm also thinking about getting Boo a little sleeping bag because he didn't seem to sleep at all the two nights we were out - we've been home 26 hours and he has slept for 25.5 hours of that time.

Me trying to stay warm after an afternoon dip in Gilmore Lake, also choking down the world's driest, grossest food (drywall-esque lavash bread with peanut butter and honey).

Ruth and Olivia on top of Mt. Tallac, 9700 feet. Tahoe, which is apparently larger than Hong Kong, is behind them. We did a day hike to the top of Tallac on our last day, and managed to get lost on the poorly marked trail and bushwacked back to Gilmore Lake. Leave Some TraceTM!

The top of Tallac, looking out toward Tahoe. Apparently there were big wildfires right by Fallen Leaf Lake, which is where we were, but we didn't see anything, even from here.

Me and Olivia in Gilmore. Cropped out of the bottom right side of this photo is a little black dog in a dirty orange bandana barking his head off at us. Each time we would go further than fifteen feet out into the water he would panic and bark and whine as if telling us we were about to drown, and wouldn't stop until we'd returned to shore.

Desolation is also so called because the trails are just jagged pieces of gravel, not the soft fluffy duff this east coast trooper is used to. Boo wore these cheap red booties to protect his paws, which I also waxed with Paw Wax for further toughening, but he had worn through both sides of all four boots by the end of the second day. He would also lose these boots at a rate of one per hour, sending us running back along the trail to find it, and therefore effectively doubling the distance that we hiked every day. I kept thinking that the human analogy to these boots would be Chuck Taylors, and that I wouldn't want to be trampling over granite gravel with just a piece of canvas between me and the rocks. Boo's paws were in pretty rough shape by the end of the trip, so next time we go I'll buy the heavy duty dog boots for him.

Clyde Lake, our first day's campsite. It is at the south end of Rockbound Valley, a scree scramble that goes on for three miles.

Olivia resting her bones.

Olivia and me during the first mile of the hike. I thought I might try to do ultralight backpacking but decided that I didn't have the money to make that possible. Our packs ended up being about 35 lbs. per person, including food and water (I also carried all of Boo's kibbles, snacks, and leashes), which is not so bad considering that the longer trips I've been on have been with 40+ lb. bags. My new 60 liter (3700 cubic inch) REI bag, which replaced the heavy green 5,000 cubic inch monstrosity that I used for nine years, was just about filled to capacity - I don't think I can do a solo trip of longer than three days with it, and definitely not something that requires a bear cannister, at least until I figure out how to design the parasol/poncho/tent/hiking pole contraption that I know is possible.

Ruth at day's end on Gilmore Lake. There were more people at this place than anywhere else we'd seen all weekend, but then again it was Saturday and this is the closest camping spot to the trailhead, and even then there weren't that many people. To the right of this picture is the world's dustiest campsite, where I pitched my tarp in a dust bowl and woke up with a dust mustache and dust caked on my gums.
Okay, that's it for now. Three days is a great length for a backpacking trip because it's long enough so that you have to concentrate on all the distracting backpacking tasks and triumphs (like successfully shitting) so you forget about your ordinary life, but short enough that you can get right back to your ordinary life when your free time ends on Sunday night. I can't wait to do this again and am open to suggestions for autumn weekend trips accessible by public transportation out of New York. Any takers?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

fuzzy math

I've been thinking about this article from last week's New York Times, all about how the statistic that men have more sexual partners than women is not mathematically possible.

What I have been thinking is that mathematics professors, who are notorious for never having sex, should not try to correct statistics that people know, intuitively and empirically, to be true. Because the statistics that these professors dispute are stated as medians, whereas the professors put forth corrections as averages. All it takes is one flooze in a population of prudes to create a situation where men and women average the same amount of partners but actually have very different sexual behaviors.

Take as an example Mathland, a population of exactly ten men and ten women, all perfectly heterosexual. Each man pairs with one woman, so M1 + W1, M2 + W2, M3 + W3, etc. Then it turns out that W10 has a clitoris at the back of her throat, and she is insatiably hungry, so one by one M1 through M10 accompany her down the sneeze guard at the buffet. M1 through M10 now each have had 2 partners; W1 through W9 all have 1 partner each; W10 has 10. The average amount of sexual partners that the Mathland men have had is two, and for the women the average is the same. But if you look at the medians, the men have had twice as many partners as the women.

Am I missing something here? Isn't this simple maff?

Also, these statistics totally don't take into account the fact that men have sex with each other all the time, in secret, scared of the implications, and then pretend like those partners have been girls. I rest my case.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

los angeles, pt 2

I only got home from Los Angeles six hours ago, but have somehow managed to acquire a brand new pair of skateboard shoes already, which is a sign that my SoCal brain infection is much more serious than I thought it was. I had a great time, notwithstanding my attitudinous previous post about improv comedy, so thank you Reena, Sonia, Navneet, Bubba, and Ray!! Since I was too sleepy to do too much yesterday, Bubba and I spent the day singeing our whiskers by her pool, taking Soda for walks, playing with her and Raymond's hisnhers berimbaus, eating things, lifting very light weights at the gym, and talky talky talking. It conjured the image of my dentist standing above me holding metal lances against my gums and telling me that the cure for my teeth-grinding problem is to go somewhere and relax for a while - he'd be so proud of me!

Here's Reena and Sonia laying in a blue bed on Sunday morning talking about immigration law. Reena is about to scold me for failing, for the 12th consecutive hour, to say anything funny.

Navneet buying a spinach torte. (I just Googled "spinach torte" and "spinach tart" and there is no difference.) She looks relaxed and happy because everything we cherish has not yet been insulted by a troupe of hack improv comedians. Happy birthday! Right after this picture was taken, we had to sprint down the block into the theater, where Ray's gigantic friends were holding five seats for us in the theather where hack improv comedians perform.

I took about 70 photos in L.A., and Bubba is doing this in 75% of the pictures I have of her. Here is everyone in a bar that was playing a Bob Dylan album all the way through. I felt my heart flutter at the prospect of kismet/the impossibility of free will when Sonia said that she knew my friend Deepa, but that feeling was quickly smothered when Bubba and Ray - cruel, athletic, popular bullies - pretended to push glasses up on their noses when I said something incredibly nerdy about Reihan Salam's highly-trafficked blog.

The cover of a free magazine I found somewhere in Burbank.

Here I am instructing Bubba to photograph my stomach in a way that minimizes it and adds pigmentation. Bubba was a V.E.S. concentrator in college, so she did a fine job with the visual effects here. Viva SoCal!

the grouch

Every time I get an email about clerkships, I think it's my friend Oscar writing me.

I have no friends named Oscar!

Also: what exactly is the "family" that Karl Rove is returning to??

Monday, August 13, 2007

los angeles

Hello from sunny L.A., where it is currently 6:43 a.m. and warm and bright and I have been awake for two hours listening to some sort of fan mechanism throbbing underneath Bubba's apartment. I am staying on a black 3-click futon with a orange pitbull named Soda sleeping in an Ikea Poang chair next to it, in the office/second bedroom of a two-bedroom new condo unit downtown. My body is currently working two Newcastles and a pale ale out of itself, and my torrid, on-again, off-again relationship with sleep is at a low ebb...I only slept for four weak hours and now I'm trying to figure out if it will be imprudent to hike in the rattlesnake-infested hills when I am too disoriented to find the lightswitch, let alone avoid poisonous herps. I'm here for three days - well, only one more day now - just to hang out with old and newer friends, and at the moment I'm sad to have lost my companion in prudent summer recklessness Sonia to an early Monday flight back to SFO to start the working week.

For hours, Sonia and I showered Navneet with hopelessly naive questions about southern California, because unlike the Bay Area, it is very warm and nearly impossible to inhabit without a car. The question "What is this place really like?" was asked at least a dozen times, often in rapid succession, and I decided it was getting ridiculous when Sonia inquired, very earnestly, how one was to determine if one was eating the fruit and the yogurt in a medium Pinkberry in the appropriate proportions. Navneet was kind to navigate our curiousity. Sonia's sense, induced by Joan Didion, that California is a place of serene beauty and sudden, manic outbursts of violence made me worry as I munched my poorly-constructed vegetarian sub (a kilogram of sprouts and wheat bun with one frugal sliver of avocado and no salt) that one of the leathery iguanas cruise-biking on the Santa Monica street was going to spray us with a hail of gunfire. Driving around made me nervous also, not because poor Bubba has developed a bloodspot on her retina and is therefore partially blind in her right eye and left-turned into oncoming traffic, but because I am afraid to look at people in their cars because cars are treated like private spaces. So unlike New York, where you can glance briefly at other commuters to pass time or to si ves algo di algo, and then return to your music or chain maille-making or whatever else you want to do on the subway, in Los Angeles I'm concerned that I've invaded someone's privacy by glancing at the other cars around me and that the next guy I look at will level a pistol in my face. There is certainly a lot of car-to-car shouting of epithets.

There is also, however, a great deal of natural beauty and good weather, which makes it hard to do anything at all. I was perfectly content today to have hours of lazy conversation about vulvar pigmentation and ICE detention on the beach and at a cafe with Navneet, Sonia, and Jean, and couldn't be bothered at any point in the day to decide whether one thing or another was more preferable to do. Why decide when the weather is so nice and we have a parking spot? Sonia and I bobbed in the Santa Monica sewage for half an hour getting sunburnt and probably could have done it for hours, or days, or possibly months more. Last night, Sonia, Reena and I parked behind a Mervyn's in Burbank and had Hawaiian barbecue and sampled seven beers and then returned to Reena's sublet to watch Aishwarya Rai shake her ginomous bazooms in Bunty aur Babli. I grabbed all the prime sleeping real estate and got a long, comfy couch (albeit in the room with the gas leaking, which was alarming but not enough for me to not sleep in) and a fleece blanket while Sonia slept on the ground, on a gathering of oddly-shaped pillows and underneath a towel. But this is Sonia's summer of youthful recklessness, so I justified my greed by thinking of all the oceanic feelings of self-confidence that she would develop by surviving an uncomfortable night of floor-sleeping, which were put into good use hours later when we boldly set forth upon the carnicerias of Santa Monica Boulevard to find conchas and stale rolls for the breakfast spread. We spent the day eating and cruising, and my mermaid friend Bubba joined us with Soda in the afternoon.

If not for the feeling that something here is deeply, violently, unforgiveably awry - like that we've built over a potter's field and the ground is unsettled - it's been paradisical. I might just be too angry at the world to make my sense of disquiet go away. We talked at some length today about our most charming friends and I proposed that it would be great to flirt effortlessly, not libidinously but affably, to make people like you; i.e., I don't mean the "nice shoes, wannafuck?" kind of flirtation, but more like winky-smiley, at everyone, not just the people you already like. The very prospect of smiling at a stranger makes me unhappy. Watching an improv comedy troupe at the Upright Citizens' Brigade Theater tonight made me revise my earlier desire to be a flirt - I realized that it wasn't the charm skills that I wanted, but a less highly developed sense of justice, so that I wouldn't feel offended by 90% of things said to me and would feel more okay with suffering a few fools to win the war of persuasion - like I can't change hearts and minds unless I'm willing to talk to people, and I'm not willing to talk to people because their hearts and minds need to be changed first. It was just that the improv comedy troupe was so, so incredibly unfunny. Stern warned me that it would be offensive and cringe-inducing, and I knew better, but regardless I sat with my warm pale ale through jokes like "How long does a rape take to happen anyway? Five minutes? Forty-five minutes? Twenty!" and jokes about how funny it was to call people "faggots." I kid you not! Halfway through the faggot skit, which lasted a good long while, I was considering either storming out or booing or heckling loudly, but I was stupidly, womanly concerned with the mirth of other people, and sat on my hands while my slow brain balanced the harm done by the interruption of everyone else's good times and the harm done by the sexist, homophobic, mainstream-values-in-the-guise-of-curse-words set, and ended up doing nothing but fuming while everyone's wild applause signaled the end of the show.

Hence I came to the realization that what I want is not to flirt better with people, but that I wish that I was carefree enough to think that all these stupid, offensive, entitled, empowered, oppressive people might somehow connect with me as long as I smile and act nice. I don't wish that I was less easily offended, since I think I'm offended by the right things, but I wish that people would clean their acts up and stop giving me so much shit to be offended by. Which is really to say, fewer rape and faggot jokes, SVP.

Okay, I've gotten myself into yet another huff and now I'm exhausted and its eight a.m. and fully bright out in this stretch of Wilshire. I miss my cynical and brilliant and sensitive and phenotypically perfect girlfriend and am reading New York Times articles on couples counseling in order that our union be more conflict-free, so we can find better shelter in each other from all this oppression. I'm gonna have a shower and learn to stop worrying again, at least until the next lengthy entry on this blog.

Friday, August 10, 2007

la traviata

I bought this Rubik's Cube ("the conbinelion of gix gides") in Vietnam and finally solved it today, with the heavy lifting done by a website that taught me the five little algorithms you need to memorize in order to impress your friends. I got acupunture done on me a few days ago at a place in Sunnyvale - if you let an intern practice on you, it only costs $25 per session, so I paid a clam per needle to look like Hellraiser. (But psychosomatic or not, it feels like it's working. I'm doing it again today.) I went up the hot east peak of Mt. Tamalpais with Boo and my pal Handle yesterday, tonight I'm going to Santa Cruz to eat food other people will cook for me, and tomorrow I'm getting on a plane to take me to friends in Burbank and downtown L.A. In five days I'm going backpacking in Desolation Wilderness with high school friends, and then four days after that I'm going back to Brooklyn. I'm still debating whether or not I can squeeze in a solo hike of the Skyline-to-Sea trail.

With Diarmuid O'Scannlain laying dolefully untouched in my giant book of things to put off, I sort of feel like the grasshopper in that Aesop's fable about the lazy grasshopper and the industrious ant - but what a wonderful summer that grasshopper had! I'm fatter and tanner and there are a stack of informative news and culture magazines gathering dust in Brooklyn, where I declined to forward those magazines from. I spent an hour in the sun brushing Boo and massaging bag balm into his paw pads today. It's been approximately three months since I've been asked by anyone to do anything.

That is why, your honor, I am qualified to work in your chambers. Also this:

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Hello fracquaintances, back from Vietnam now. Took me 31 hours to get home because of a delay at LAX and a broken Caltrain* and still I couldn't really sleep last night, so this blog entry will be short and besotted. I also just put up pictures on Picasa, so take a look if you're interested. I am going back to sleep now so I'll only say a few things.

First, I loved traveling with Bernadine Bernie Bunny B Grenadine Bunnadine and her indomitable good cheer. We sang duets and made fun of sleeping Germans to make the bus rides go by faster, swapped deep tissue massages, ate seven meals (and then some ice cream bars) per day, endured monsoon saturation, hid from/braved flying cockroaches, patiently explained to curious people how we might be phenotypically familiar but dressed like aliens (because are families are in East Asia but we were raised in America - aha!), avoided teamed nab and morning logry, and chatted with the chatty together. We were pathologically parsimonious - Bunnadine spent the last day in Saigon literally pinching, I mean with thumb and forefinger, her pennies - and both really happy when mistaken for Vietnamese. I couldn't have asked for a better, more sympatico traveling partner and can't wait for the next time we travel together! But I must wait, because she has flown off to Maharashtra to spend the next year curing the ill. Don't worry, Dr. Hand, I won't tell anyone what you said about chimpanzees and our masseuses!

Second, it presumptuous to say that I'm not surprised by Asia? Moped traffic, litter, cheap labor, markets, monsoons, long histories of war and displacement, tiled sidewalks, throwing toilet paper away instead of flushing it, etc. I appreciated what I saw but feel no pressing urge to write about it. Vietnam is a very easy and cheap place to travel, but as always when I go somewhere where I don't have family/friends or a job I don't trust that I can know the place from the vistas and UNESCO sites I've seen. So this time around, the fact of travel is more important to me than the details of the place I'm in - I know this is problematic and my roommate David, a Korean national whose citizenship status will not allow him to leave America to travel, would have a lot to say about how young westerners travel like it's some special privileged rite of passage and would allude, deservedly, to my being a banana.

And finally, related to the fact of travel, I don't think I can pull off the backpacker thing for much longer, for lots of reasons, not least of which is that it is incredibly inconvenient to travel with a backpack. It's antithetical because backpackers think they're survivalist but actually that 5000 cubic inch carapace just takes up room and knocks people over on buses and immediately profiles the owner as an 18-30 year old American, Israeli, European, or Australian, probably some college-educated, probably uses Lonely Planet, probably white, probably wears some "ethnic" item or some patch back in home country to signify traveling adventures, probably likes to Get Off The Beaten TrackTM, probably likes to be just uncomfortable enough to have good stories to tell at home. I'm guilty, of course, and in fact spent months working as a budget travel guide writer so in fact I enabled some of these unwashed souls that I am now deriding, but self-righteousness, not -reflection, is the raison d'etre of this blog. I traveled with just my school backpack this time and felt that even that was too much. Just a purse next time, to get both the advantages of light travel and gender conformity. Also, other reasons to stop backpackering is that backpackers live in the shittiest hovels in each town and so you leave Delhi thinking everything is like Paharganj, and also that when you travel with young westerners they can't resist the urge to talk talk talk talk at you. Two pale girls in Dalat with matching stringy dreadlocks - we called them the Matrix twins - complaining about the cold weather...did I ask to be complained to? Shut up!

Okay, I don't even know what I'm writing about I'm so tired. If this blog is disappointing low on details, like the smooth beards of ceramic garden gnomes fresh from the plaster mold, then check out the Picasa page linked to above for more of a sense of what I did/saw (and also for an explanation of the garden gnome thing). Naptime!

*Emphasis mine. I couldn't believe my luck - the engine broke on my train and we were stalled outside the San Mateo station until another train came by and pushed mine slowly the rest of the way to Palo Alto. Always mature, I cried and banged my head against the window because I was so uncomfortably sleep deprived, hungry, thirsty, and needing to have explosive diarrhea everywhere.