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December 18, 2007

Friends and family, fear not. In roughly two days of power shopping I have conquered gift buying for all but two or three people. I shall prevail.


Not that anyone cares, but when I used to be a music journalist
I would to get to have my Top 10 albums of the year put into print. It meant absolutely nothing as music tastes are wholly subjective. Nonetheless, seeing how I have a forum to do so on this site, I'm going to list my favorite albums of 2007, and there ain't nothing you can do about it:

1.The National, Boxer
2. Les Savy Fav, Let's Stay Friends
3. New Pornographers, Challengers
4. Beirut, The Flying Cup Club
5. Kings of Leon, Because of the Times

6. The Twilight Sad
, The Twilight Sad (EP)*
7. The Veils, Nux Vomica
8. Grinderman, Grinderman
9. Modest Mouse, We Were Dead...**
10. St. Vincent, Marry Me

OK, so obviously, I like the indie rock. I do not like the hip-hop (not even the indie hip-hop). I do not like the electronica (not even the huge current crashing wave of indie electronica). I do not apologize for this. I also probably would've very much liked the album that Frightened Rabbit put out, but I haven't heard the whole thing. It is on my list of things to do.

*Sure this was a late 2006 release, but the EP was better in my opinion than the full-length that came out in 2007--not to mention that more than half of the tracks on it are also on the LP. Still don't believe it's better? Listen to Three Seconds of Dead Air from the EP and then explain why three out of five songs made it ontot the full-length and that wasn't one of them.

**OK, this is my major label release. Sue me. I liked them before you did.

***Yeah, that's right, for the first time in what must be a decade a record by a woman made it onto my list. At least that woman wasn't Feist, right? And really, this record would be higher up if it had been just an EP--I mean, I love the fuck out of tracks 1-5, but I kinda lose interest as she gets more and more jazztastic, but the strength of the first five tracks still made it a better listen overall than let's say Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, which sports an opening
song that irritates me.

Now, just for the hell of it, here are the music acts that seem to have appeal with the same crowd I run with but for the life of me, I cannot justify listening to any of them. And yes, I have at least given all of these bands a shot to impress me (in a good way):

Dan Deacon
Antony and the Johnsons
Devendra Banhart
Panda Bear
Amy Winehouse
Deerhoof (my perennial entry on this list)



The National, Boxer



Les Savy Fav, Let's Stay Friends



The New Pornographers, Challengers



Beirut, The Flying Cup Club



December 17, 2007

New pieces have been added to the Art page. The links are a little wonky from the individual art pages, but I'm trying to sort that out.


I have no desire to buy holiday gifts for people. Sad but true. The whole spirit of the season of giving has passed me by. I will do it, of course, but I can't say that what I end up buying will be especially inspired.

This past week was a whirlwind of holiday festivities, too, so you'd think I'd have caught a little bit of the fever by now. But I haven't. I fear I won't.

Tuesday and Thursday of last week I had company-based events to attend, and they went off without me embarrassing myself in front of any colleagues, so that's good. Saturday afternoon was a brunch with friends at an apartment in Alphabet City. There was much sparkling wine and fine talk. And yesterday evening there was a soiree in Williamsburg. Again, sparkling wine flowed, and in an effort to get merry with it, I even brought some miniature quiches that I made myself.

Still, I felt distanced. I felt not quite in the moment. Though attempting to remain chipper, I felt myself growing irritated. Some woman I had just met kept droning on about her afternoon spent auditioning for "Don't Forget the Lyrics". How she thought the audition went well because she was "cute," even though she said that she didn't really nail the lyrics for either
ne of the two songs she sang (both of which were her choice).

Meanwhile, an on-again, off-again friend who surprised me by tipping an especially cavalier attitude. He's always been misanthropic, but there was something different last night. Maybe he had more confidence than he'd had in the past, and it wasn't my cup of tea. I tend to like people who are more vulnerable. When I hung out with him one-on-one in October, he was, in his way, more genuine.

Anyway, the point is, nothing I do is working to get me in the mood this year. I'm just stressed about shopping, and disappointed in my incapacity to enjoy parties.

You Said It, Scrooge

10 December, 2007

Today the family cat died. The cat that my parents got when I was a teenager and which somehow managed to live 20 years. That’s a long time for a cat.

I remember going to the shelter and getting him. We had little choice in the matter because the shelter had paired up most of the other kittens and demanded they be adopted in twos. He was one of the few that was available as a single. He was a little fuzzball, like most kittens, wearing his tuxedo comfortably.

At the time I was smitten with U2. My sister and I pitched “The Edge” as a name for the kitten, but my mother shot that down. We countered with Larry. She didn’t like that either. I recall Rambo being one of the names in the running, but my mother eventually dubbed him Hobbes. Undeterred, my sister and I ignored that edict and called him Larry. He was forever after a cat with two names, and he pretty much recognized them both.

When we brought him into the house for the first time, he was quickly terrified by his new playmate, the family’s large, half-Irish wolfhound. Upon seeing Tiger, Larry bolted up a drape and spent a few hours hissing and arching his back while perched on a curtain rod. He eventually came down, and he took to Tiger quite well. Larry would groom Tiger’s oversized ears. They would sleep side by side – Larry adopting the dog-like ritual of circling in a spot before lying down.

A couple of summers ago, Larry stayed at my apartment while my parents went up to Lake George for two weeks. The poor thing was thrust into a foreign land populated by three younger, grossly larger cats, but he valiantly held his own. And if things went awry, he had the lungs of a trumpeter, and could let out the most mournful howl ever heard. It’s a cliché of the cat set to be deemed regal, but he was. He was regal, stately, and gentle—unless you picked him up. He did not enjoy being picked up.

Larry was a ninja cat, not often frightened and precise in his every movement. His natural gait was slow and on the mark, something akin to that of a tai chi practitioner. So when my mother told me this past week that he had become quite clumsy in recent days, we all took it to mean the end was near.

Then this morning I got the call that Larry’s back legs were not quite functioning anymore, and my parents had made the difficult decision to put him down. They called the vet and scheduled a house call for the afternoon. However, Larry in all his feline grace and wisdom would not let man have the last word on his final breath. Fifteen minutes before the vet arrived, Larry expired on his own accord, curled in a basket, surrounded by love.

Twenty years of being an exemplary cat had come to a close. Larry was doted on by father. I am sure, now that he is gone, my father will miss him like the day misses the sun. I mean, I miss him to the point of tears already, and at this point I really only had been seeing him three or four times a year.

One more thing about Larry: He was a skinny little number that had always been plagued with intestinal problems. Larry never put on weight. He was the thinnest cat I had ever seen in person. And yet, he ate and ate. The trouble was he couldn’t keep much down.

In college, when I myself was the thinnest person I had ever been, I used to participate in spoken word shows at cafés. Then, I was particularly angry and engaged in a violent battle with myself. I was snide and full of all sorts of snot, and that sort of thing did really well among the punks and neo-beatnicks for whom I would perform. Larrycat inspired, if only partly, a piece I used to recite called Therapy. I found it today and reread it. It’s a moment in time. Plot-wise it jumps all over the place in a jarring manner (to challenge the audience, of course!) and, for some reason that confounds me now, I decided to go with unnecessarily short lines. Even with all the things about it that make me cringe today, I think it suitable to print here, in makeshift memoriam. Bye-bye Larry, you were faithful and well-loved.

My cat’s a eunuch.
I had him fixed,
And from the way
He swaggers around
I’d say
He doesn’t really mind
Or know for that matter.

I just stare
At the pill bottles.
I say potions;
She says cures.

My best friend,
It’s strange,
But she’s never been
I’m not sure why.
She thinks
It has something
To do
With the fact
That she’s

My psychiatrist
Prescribed them to me
On the day
When I confessed
To being an abortion
Of an unwanted pregnancy
In its third month.
On THAT day,
When I ‘fessed up
To having died
In utero.

My cat,
He’s bulimic, too.
He can’t keep
Anything down.

I say,
More likely,
It’s got something
To do
With the fact
That she’s not
A Jew.

That’s what I say.
My psychiatrist says

My best friend,
She thinks
I’m so pretty
And so damn witty.
She thinks it’s
“Too bad”
About my lunacy.

Every day
I feed my cat,
And then I watch
The neuter bastard
Puke it up again.

I say
That if death
Wasn’t such
An asshole
I could probably
Live forever,
Or at least
Til twenty-five,
Which would be
Long enough.

What happens to
The little fuzzy
Cat balls
After the castration?

Now that I think
About it,
My psychaitrist says
A lot.

And I thought
I was clearing up,
Like herpes.

My psychiatrist
Is always like,
“No, I am NOT
Pushing drugs on you.”
And I say,
“Well, y’know,
I wish you would.
I hear heroin’s
Kinda good.”

On the days
When I feel
Most lucid,
I see nothing at all.

My best friend
Runs marathons
And always
Finishes sixteenth.
I wonder what that means.
Maybe it’s
All because
Her parents
Kept her in diapers
Past age four.
Parents will do that,
Oh, yes they will,
For sure.

Some people
Are just so adverse
To defeat.

I’ll get in a
Foetal roll
And let loose
A primal scream
Just to make
My psychiatrist
She’s making
With me.

My best friend thinks
She needs
To train more.
I say she should
Buy a cat
And have it fixed.

My best friend,
I say
That if she
Really loves me
She would
Take my pills for me,
Or get circumcised,
Or do something.
She thinks that
Working on her career,
Marrying her lover,
And training to run
All year

My psychiatrist
Only wants me to
Love my self,
Her 200 bucks per hour.

My cat,
He threw up
For the last time
If you know
What I mean.

And my best friend,
She rigged a race
To finally take
First place.

And my psychiatrist,
Raised her fees,
Then told me
To take
Two green ones
And three of these.

I still say
Is an asshole,
But life makes me gag.

My psychiatrist

Larry, on oriental carpet
Larry on an Oriental Rug.
(Yes, He's a Little Blurry, But This is My Favorite Ever Shot of Him.)

Larry, ready for his closeup
Larry: Thin as a Wafer with
Eyes as Big as the Moon.



Larry, right where he shouldn't have been
Larry on the Dining Room Table.
Exactly Where He Shouldn't
Have Been,
But He Didn't Care.

04 December, 2007

Sunday was a beautiful day. First, I woke up to discover that the skies had given New York City a light coating of snow. Just enough: Not so much that the uppers of shoes got wet, but enough to cover the concrete ugliness and add a superficial peace to things.

The plan for the day had already been set, too. No mopey battles with boredom this day. Shea and I were going to see an opening at the Vanina Holasek Gallery in Chelsea of an unauthorized show of prints by Banksy. Anyone who knows my own art can understand why I enjoy Banksy: guerilla sensibilities, stenciling, and snarky written commentary in art.

The opening began at 1pm and we arrived at the gallery—an odd brick house on a pretty run down West side street just beyond some projects—at 2. There was a line of would-be viewers stretched across the snow just waiting to enter the building. Not too long a line, just enough. Enough to make it feel like an event, and worth the effort to go all the way to the West side for. So we stood in the cold for fifteen minutes.

Now once we got in, Banksy’s art was certainly impressive to see, but 95% of the images were things that I had seen either in his book or on his Web site. As a stencil artist, it’s really easy to reproduce things, so you never get the feeling that what you’re seeing is one-of-a-kind. Invigorating though Banksy’s art is, it seems a little less so when it’s cooped up in a gallery with prices as high as $190,000 scrawled in lead pencil on the wall next to them. It was like looking at a tiger in a zoo. You can feel the power, but you just know that that power would be 1000 times more knee-knocking if the tiger was wild in a jungle.

Happily, I think Banksy knows that too. As of today his site's home page included this note:
"There are two Banksy shows in December:
--A print show in New York that is completely unauthorised and unlikely to be worth visiting.
--A painting show in a Bethlehem chicken shop that is completely authorised (but still unlikely to be worth visiting)."

Elsewhere on the Banksy site it also states:
"Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti or mount exhibitions of screen prints in commercial galleries, so please don't complain here if you found them disappointing."

So don’t get me wrong, I still fiercely like me some Banksy. However, it’s tough to actually experience his work on the street so sometimes you have to settle on taking a gander at some prints in unauthorized gallery shows.

Of course, the gallery where the Banksy show was held was itself a piece of art. Extremely tight and shallow in depth, the place was like a funhouse. Art was displayed on three floors, and the only way to move from floor to floor was by precariously narrow staircases upon which no more than one flow of traffic could move. So there were traffic jams at every corner as people backed up on landings waiting to either go up or down the stairs while twenty people made their way in one direction or the other.

All in all, the whole experience--the snow, the waiting in line, the art show, and the acrobatic dance that it took to move through the gallery--was pretty dreamy in my book. It was, if nothing else, terribly New York, and that made me smile.

Banksy Queen Victoria
Print of a Stencil That
Was Actually Sprayed Around
London as Graffiti


Banksy Pissing Guard
Stencil Graffiti in London
of a Palace Guard Urinating

Banksy rat

Drawing of Graffiti Rat

02 December, 2007

OK. I suck. I know that. My blogging for November was woeful. It's not like there weren't things in November to discuss--I mean there was Thanksgiving, my brother's wedding, and a host of nights in the underbelly--but I wasn't in the mindset to share. Appy polly loggies, as Little Alex would say, dear reader. But now I'm back.

Last Sunday I realised that I was having almost a constant tingling in my hands--particularly my right hand. By Wednesday it was driving me crazy, and worrying the people around me so I made a doctor’s appointment. Mind you, I hadn't been to an internist for about two years (and the last time I went was because I had a tendonitis in my knees, not for a serious checkup).

So on Friday I went to see this doctor in Williamsburg whom I had never been to before, but Shea had. He found him to be "brusque" but competent. And he's fluent in Polish, and how could that possibly be a bad thing? He was in his mid 40s and quite tall, and he was indeed brusque.

When he asked me why I came in, I told him that my hands were tingling with pins and needles nearly constantly and that I wanted to get a new prescription for my migraine medication (what the hell, I might as well get my money's worth). After a few cursory background questions (i.e.: Are your parents alive? Yes. Do you drink? Yes. Do you smoke? No. Are you under a lot of stress? Yeah, you could say that.), he decided that my tingly hands were nothing to worry about and probably caused by stress. He never so much as touched my hands.

He was much more interested in my migraines, which, thanks to my following the advice of a neurologist to take feverfew daily, I have mostly under control. He took out a stethoscope and asked me to cough and breathe deeply while he listened to my lungs from behind. Apparently, I am the world's worst breather. He actually stopped to scold me by saying, "Make an effort!" I tried, but to no avail. He immediately diagnosed me with asthma. He also suggested that the asthma was related to my migraines.

Asthma! I have never once, in all my days, had a doctor even suggest I had any breathing/lungs issues.

I run seven miles a day four or five days a week, every week. I have never felt short of breath. I have never wheezed in my life. I am around animals every day without issue. I have never had an attack of any sort related to catching my breath. This is what I argued to him. He looked me in the eye and said, "Your body is under constant attack! It has just been compensating and you’re young and thin, so it’s gotten used to it." He also blamed New York's pollution for my issues.

Then he made me breathe into a machine. A spirometer. The nurse looked at the results and said they weren't so bad, and then said, "Because you smoke, right?" Too which I sputtered, "No, never." At which point her eyes bugged out and she let out a low and surprised,"Ohhhhhh." Which means that I have the lung capacity of a smoker. Great.

According to the results, I was taking in 7 liters of air, but exhaling about 3 liters of air. Apparently that is crap. Who knew?

Then they brought out a nebulizer and made me inhale vaporized medicine for fifteen minutes. After that treatment, the doctor asked me if I didn't feel significantly better. Actually, I did feel charged and super jittery. I know that a lot of asthma medications are on the speedier side of the drug world so that wasn't too surprising. But frankly, breathing-wise, I felt no different.

I said so. I also reminded him that I my breathing didn't feel impeded to begin with. Upon which he whipped out that stethoscope again and listened to my lungs. He said, "It's like night and day."

He made me blow into the spirometer again. The test showed a slight improvement. It was not dramatic. It did not show evidence that the change made by the medication was "night and day." I was smiling inside.

Then he gave me a prescription for a preventative inhaler. This is an inhaler that he wants me to use twice a day for the rest of my life. He claims that after using the inhaler for about a week that I wil have more energy and just feel better in general. He also gave me a generous prescription for my migraine medicine. Just to be sure, before I left, I asked again about my tingly hands. He again wrote it off as stress.

I have not yet filled the prescription for the inhaler. A big part of me thinks I saw a quack. Plus, I don't particularly want to be asthmatic. That is not an adjective I am comfortable having applied to me. I feel fine. If I had even an inkling of a breathing complaint, I might be okay with it, but I don't and I'm not.

I think I need a second opinion.

Asthma inhaler
I Refuse to be This Person

Asthma lung

C'mon, These Are Not My Bronchials

10 November, 2007

I got word today that I will have some art featured in a group gallery show in Chelsea. This is great news. The show will be called "Waste Not" and will run from January 3-26. Here are the details for the gallery: Phoenix Gallery located at 210 11th Avenue (btwn. W. 24th and 26th). The gallery's Web site is at phoenix-gallery.com

I have to thank my friend Christa Toole for this. She's a gallery member and invited me to participate. The theme is art that implements recycled materials. I will be showing one of the discarded, wood-framed glass windows that I've scavenged off of street corners and painted on. It should be interesting for me to hang, as the pieces are all heavy and super awkward and clunky. I usually hang them from the ceiling or simply leave them on the floor and lean them up against walls.