Monday, October 31, 2005

Imaginary Stand up Comedy Monologue

Who the heck are you people? You know, you come out to a comedy club like Laughy’s, you pay good money, and you expect to see at least one comedian you recognize on the bill. One name you know.

You know what I’m talking about. What’s your name? Never heard of you. Who am I? Who are you? Didn’t you use to write for Mr. Show? No? Never mind. Yeah, I’m going to stick around after my set to see if that dirty hypnotist shows up. I don’t mean that guy with the schmutz on his face, but the guy who makes you take off your pants. And forget about it. Man, there are times I wish I could forget taking off my pants. Pants check! Thank you, god.

Speaking of hypnotists, is this a college? No? A university? No? Sheesh, I’ve been on the road a lot – you know, making the rounds – and after awhile, everything’s a blur. You see one college -- you see one beer-sticky, blackened, rat’s nest of a comedy club -- and you’ve seen them all. No kidding.

OK: Some questions. This is the audience participation part of the show where I like to get a sense of who’s not laughing at me. Ready? OK. What follows are some hypothetical questions. Actually, they’re totally thetical because I want you to answer them. Hold your hand up if your answer is yes, and put it down when it becomes no. OK? That was a test. No one held their hands up. OK? Much better. You can take them down now. Pop quiz, begin!

  • How many of you are going or have gone to college?
  • How many of you are going or have gone to community college? That’s cool: Horatio Alger went to community college. (I’m just going to use one tense now, answer as though I were asking about the past or the present, OK? Hey. Put your hands back down.)
  • How many of you are going to beauty school?
  • How many of you can draw Skippy the Turtle? (Good!)
  • How many of you are graduates of the School of Hard Knocks?
  • How many of you are so sick and tired of the fascists who run this place, with their hall passes and their closed campus, that you’re going to drop out, get a job at the cannery until you make enough to move out of your mom’s house and get a place of your own, and the GED can just work itself out? Because that’s all GED means, man: Got Everything Done.

Alright, you can put your hands down now. That helps me out a lot. We’ve got a lot of college graduates in the house. That’s cool: I is one, too. And you know what? When I was in college, I was in a lot of student groups. I’ve always had a lot of trouble with my self-identity and self-esteem unless I’m part of a group. When I was a teenager, I was in that group of people who liked to hang out with their friends and go to the movies. That was sure cool. Man, were there a lot of us!

Now that I’m older, things are harder. I’m a registered Democrat, but that’s sure not helping. When I was in college, everything was clear. There was even a hierarchy of student groups. A food chain. And sitting blissfully on the rung just above the bottom of the ladder were the Objectivists.

I have nothing against the Objectivists. After all, my favorite band is Rush. But really. If you’re going to name a philosophy, why name it something that people will be against? I object! And it wasn’t just the philosophy that had to have a funny name. No! Its founder had to, too. Ayn Rand. Not Ann, Ayn. What’s up with that? Why couldn’t you name your group something like the Campus Crusade for Christ? I mean, who doesn’t like dressing up like a knight and going to jousts? And that Jesus fella: He had a whole book written about him!

The only student group below the Objectivists where I went to school was the group of grubby Leftists who sold the People’s Weekly World outside the student center. Have you seen this paper? It’s great. The editors even admit that they’re not objective. They take sides: for truth and justice! That said, they’re decidedly Marxist. And at first I thought, “I’m down with that. Horse Feathers is hilarious! But it’s not that Marx.

No, their Marx is some Russian fella who believed that religion is the opiate of the masses. That the materialistic conception of history is flawed. And that true freedom would only occur if the working class revolted. Now there’s a happy camp.

I don’t have a problem with Marxism per se – after all, the working class is revolting; have you gone to McDonald’s lately? – but I do have a problem with just one thing:

They wanted me to buy their newspaper.

I like to think that Marx would hold that I should earn a number of papers in direct proportion to my productivity in society. But no, I had to buy it. If that’s not capitalism, I don’t know what is. I’d rather give my dollar to a homeless person.

In fact, here.

Go home.

Thank you. You’ve been a wonderful audience. Good night!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Pinball Tour of Brooklyn

Last night before the Smithfits show, Craig and I went to the Art Bar on Grand Street in Brooklyn, where they had an old-school Bally's Theatre of Magic pinball machine. For 50 cents a credit, Craig and I played a handful of two-player games in which Craig topped 350 million points, enjoying the mechanical workings, automated voices, and gameplay elements of the game. We largely utilized the Magic Trunk, and given the poor light in the venue, many of the elements of the game were obscured, but it appeared that there were Spirit Cards you could collect, as well as Illusions you could perform. I'll be back to play this game!

This morning, at Enid's we spotted a Champion Pub machine that appeared to be unplugged. I'll return some evening to see if it's playable.

If you know of any quality venues that offer pinball machines for play, be sure to let me know. This Pinball Tour of Brooklyn will continue!

Comics and Collecting

The new location of what might be Northside Junk on Driggs Avenue in the block sporting the second-story Woodley and Bunny hair salon and third-floor gym now sells comic books. Multiple bins of bagged and non-bagged back issues -- with "Not For Sale" long boxes stocked below -- offer 49-cent comics, largely known Marvel, DC, Image, and Malibu, panties-and-capes books. But there are some surprises. Along with about a foot's worth of Cerebus and Cerebus Bi-Weekly, I found -- and bought -- the following:

  • Andromeda #2, 4
  • Dalgoda #2-4, 7 (Fantagraphics)
  • Death Rattle #8 (Kitchen Sink)
  • Mister X #5 (Vortex)
  • Mr. Monster #3 (Dark Horse)
  • Savage Henry Vol. 2 #1 (Iconografix)
  • Savage Henry: Headstrong #1-2 (Iconografix)
  • Six from Sirius #4 (Epic)
  • Stig's Inferno #2-3 (Vortex)
  • Those Annoying Post Bros. #13-14, 16-18 (Vortex)
  • Those Annoying Post Bros. #19, 31 (Rip Off)
  • Those Annoying Post Bros. #50-51, 54, 61-62 (Aeon)
  • Weird Fall #1-3 (Antarctic)

What I left behind: Many Eclipse, Epic, and First comics, including a bunch of first-generation American Flagg books. Collector scum, mobilize!

Update: Since when is there a Subway on Bedford?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On the Value of Back Issues

Which is worth more: 80 years of the New Yorker or 40 years of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Honestly, I'm having trouble choosing. (I have both, but it's an interesting intellectual exercise.)

Event-O-Dex XX

Friday, Oct. 28: Nick Bertozzi and the Smithfits will perform Smiths songs in the style of the Misfits (natch!) at the Orphanage (formerly Good/Bad Art Collective), 383 S. 1st St. at Hooper St. (near Grand), in Williamsburg. 10 p.m.

Update: The Von Erich Suicide Mission's set list included Regions, Tranq, Tap Out, Sunshine, Blood, Angelina, Nacho, El Dorado, N.O.T. Living Dead, and Sportatorium. They also covered the Doobie Brothers's China Road. (Congratulations to the guitarist on the birth of his daughter!) The Smithfits's set list included Panic, Axe Me, Reel around the Fountain, Stab Me If You... (Astro Zombies intro), These Things Take Time (skipped), Child Molestors of the World..., I Want the One I Can't Have, Cemetary Gates, There Is a Light, Hybrid Moments, Girlfriend in a Coma (N.O.T.L.D. intro), and Big Mouth. Spotted in the crowd were Dean Haspiel, Charles Brownstein, and Craig Bostick. Mad happies to the Sad Clown!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Novel Ideas

As you can see by the icon added to the left-hand sidebar of Media Diet, I plan -- hope -- to participate in Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, next month. Working title: The Alarmist -- no relation to the 1998 David Arquette movie. I encourage Media Dieticians everywhere to do the same. That means not writing a novel related to the 1998 David Arquette movie.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Survey Says

I'm a panel member for the market research service Ipsos, and I just took an online survey about shaving preference. Basically, the survey gauges my likelihood to use an electric razor -- nil, I use a blade razor -- and whether I prefer Norelco over Remington.

Now, I don't know if I'm overly impressionable, or what, but I think I might want to buy an electric razor now that I've taken the survey! The survey offered no new information about shaving or electric razors to persuade me, but here's what I'm thinking.

I dislike to shave. I don't shave if I don't have to. I don't shave if I'm running late. When I do shave it's because I have time, I want to shave really well, and I enjoy the ritual -- I shave with a badger-hair brush and soap mug. Shaving is a leisure, luxury experience for me. One saved for weekends and special days.

If I had an electric razor, would I be more apt to shave daily, for just a quick touchup? I'm not sure.


I'm a big fan of lesser-known, regional soft drinks, and in recent months, I've become a semi-regular customer of Beverages Direct. To date, I've ordered 12 and 24 packs of Boylan's Bottleworks sugar cane cola, orange Nehi Soda, New Orleans Nectar Soda, and arriving today, Green River and Red Rock Cola. What are your favorite small sodas?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Event-O-Dex XIX

Wednesday, Oct. 26: Tim Hall, Dean Haspiel, Ken Wohlrob, and Mike Faloon offer a night of storytelling and other mayhem at the Needle Exchange Hour, Junno's, 64 Downing St., New York City. 7:30 p.m., no cover.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Walking Tour of Radical New York: The Cutting of Lafayette Street

As was this one.

Lafayette Street between Bond and Great Jones streets

From the 1840s, Lafayette Place was a street of fine residences. The La Grange Terrace (Colonnade Row) built by A.J. Davis in 1836 was one of the distinguished buildings on the street. The Astors and the Schermerhorns also had mansions there. Originally Lafayette Place ran only as far south as Great Jones Street. Between Broadway and the Bowery was no street carrying traffic to the north and south.

By the 1870s Lafayette Place had changed its character from residential to commercial. The romanesque DeVinne Press building was one of the new commercial structures. It was built in 1885.

The photograph below [omitted] shows the 1900 construction work that opened Lafayette Place (now Lafayette Street) as a north-south artery. In the far distance on the left in the photograph can be seen the La Grange Terrace.

Source: Edmund T. Delaney, New York's Greenwich Village (Barre Publishers, 1968, pp. 76-78, 91).

A Walking Tour of Radical New York: The Bayard Building

This flier was also distributed.

65 Bleecker St., Louis H. Sullivan (1898)

According to the AIA Guide to New York City, this building "was a radical building in its time, a direct confrontation with the architectural establishment that had embraced American Renaissance architecture after the Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair of 1893)."

Louis Sullivan's only New York City building, the Bayard Building displays the exuberance and originality of the truly organic and indigenous American approach to building design. Guided by the dictum "Let Form Follow Function" and armed with a rapidly advancing construction technology, Sullivan put aside all historic models and references at a time when the barons of Wall Street had decreed that architecture should express the similarity between their times and ambitions and those of imperial Rome.

This masterful piece of work by the man whom Frank Lloyd Wright called Master has all of the technical and aesthetic ingredients of the modern skyscraper. It has a skeletal steel-frame structure clas in non-structural lightweight "curtain wall" of window and non-supporting masonry. It has an elevator for vertical movement.

But Sullivan's main achievement here was an aesthetic one: the development of a vocabulary of forms and surfaces uniquely compatible with skyscraper technology. Though clad in masonry for its own protection, the toweing steel frame is expressed by the soaring piers of the building's shaft, culminating in angels as if to suggest yet further loftiness. The thin protective veneer is a skin of terra cotta ("baked earth") which takes the delicate form of leafy vines searching to cover ever last square inch of the building's exterior, but only skin deep.

A Walking Tour of Radical New York

Earlier this year, I went on a walking tour of radical sites throughout history in New York, mostly downtown. The tour guides distributed a map and list of site descriptions, which I've kept on hand at home. In the interest of being able to recycle the flier, I'm keying its content into Media Diet for my -- and your -- future reference. At some point, I'll annotate the entry with a map and corollary links. This may be one for LazyWeb, but I'd really like an online app that lets me key in a list of street addresses in a given city -- and then generates a walking tour map from point to point. Surely, that's doable.

Given on the first Sunday of every month from April to October by Bob Palmer and Bob Erler. Starts at 2:30 p.m. at the Peace Building, 339 Lafayette St. (at Bleecker Street). Take the IRT #6 to Bleecker or the IND B, D, of F train to Broadway-Lafayette. For further info, write to: Walking Tour of Radical New York, Room 202, 339 Lafayette St., New York City, NY 10012.

A Radical Look at Architecture, or Have You Talked to a Building Today?

What is a radical critique of architecture? Architectural asthetics, after all, is generally scorned by "radicals" as a superfluous concern for effete intellectuals. Is it really just part of that decadent display known as "conspicuous consumption"?

Conspicuous or otherwise, buildings do comprise the most substantial and enduring physical investment that a community creates. What we build expresses a great deal about us:

  • Who we are and want to be
  • How we are organized
  • What kinds of experiences are important to us
  • And much, much more

Buildings on this radical walking tour include a wide variety of expressions of what different people considered important at different times. Some demonstrate by their very purpose of construction the economic and political conditions of society.

You be the judge of what you see as you consider what these buildings have to say about our past and present social order. It's buildings that define the street, and the street is the most basic of political institutions.

1. Peace Building (339 Lafayette). Home of the War Resisters League. Site of Freespace Alternate U (1972-1979).
2. Condict/Bayard Building. Only NYC building by Louis Sullivan (1898).
3. Puck Building at Lafayette and Houston streets (1886-1899).
4. Old federal-style building at Bleecker and Crosby streets (about 1815).
5. 640 Broadway (the first Empire State Building).
6. Site of the Club at 555 Broadway in the 1850s (anarchists, bloomerites, Modern Times people). Now Scholastic Press.
7. Cable Building (northeast corner of Broadway and Houston; 1894).
8. "The vault at Pfaff's where the drinkers and laughers meet to eat and carouse, while on the walk immediately overhead pass the myriad feet of Broadway." -- Walt Whitman, who met there with Ada Claire, Adah Mencken, and others.
9. An orange-brick tower (661 Broadway) by Brunner & Tryon (1891).
10. Brooks Brothers store from 1874 to 1884 (670 Broadway). Architect: George E. Harney (1874).
11. Facade of the former W&J Sloane store (649-55). Built 1867.
12. Spot on Broadway where draft rioters and police clashed on July 13, 1863.
13. Site of Grand Central Hotel (1871). It collapsed on Aug. 3, 1973.
14. Audubon House. Originally a department store, 1890.
15. "Skyscraper Row" (704-716 Broadway).
16. Courant Institute, NYU. (The computer was held for ransom in 1970.)
17. Former Asch Building, where the Triangle fire raged on March 25, 1911.
18. Kimball Hall, NYU. (Red and black flags flew in the May Days of 1970.)
19. Washington Square North. Henry James and the Ashcan School.
20. Right-to-sing protest (1961); Newbold Morris defeated a cappella.
21. Washington Arch, from the top of which Joan Sloan, Marcel Duchamp, and others proclaimed the secession of Greenwich Village from the US. (1917)
22. Site of Mabel Dodge's radical soirees (with Reed, Haywood, Brill, etc.)
23. Site of the Weatherman house. It blew up on March 6, 1970.
24. Where Carlo Tresca, the anarchist, was gunned down Jan. 11, 1943, by godfather-to-be Carmine Galante.
25. Site of the Living Theatre (1959-63); of original Alternate U (1968-70).
26. Union Square. Scene of great socialist, Communist, anarchist rallies.
27. Unitary Household (106 E. 14th St.). 1859-60 Fourieristic experiment.
28. 1-5 Bond St. (originally Robbins & Appleton Building). A progressive 1880 cast-iron building.
29. 378-380 Layfayette St. Romanesque Revival building with dwarf columns by Henry J. Hardenbergh (1888). Time Café is there now.
30. Beinecke & Co. stables. The townhouse people kept their horses here.
31. Engine Company 33 firehouse. Beaux Arts building with a cartouche.
32. The Catholic Worker's Maryhouse (55 E. 3rd St.).
33. NY headquarters of the Hell's Angels.
34. The First Houses (1935). Human-scale public housing courtesy of Mayor La Guardia and the WPA.
35. Old Merchant's House (1832). Occupied by the same family to 1933.
36. DeVinne Press Building (1885). A beautiful, utilitarian building.
37. Colonnade Row (La Grange Terrace, 1833). Four of original nine houses remain.
38. Astor Library (1853, 1859, 1881). Later HIAS building; now Joseph Papp Theatre.
39. Site of Astor Place riot (1849) courtesy of Tammany Hall. The present building, originally the Mercantile Library Building, is by Harney (1890).
40. The Alamo Cube (1966) by Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal. It pivots.
41. The Cooper Union Foundation Building. Lincoln and Goldman held them spellbound.
42. 6 St. Mark's Pl. Site of Modern School (Ferrer Center) from 1911. In 1834 James Fennimore Cooper lived there.
43. Deutsch-Amerikanische Schuetzen Gesellschaft Building (1885).
44. 77 St. Mark's Pl. W.H. Auden's house. Trotsky's press was also here.
45. St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwerie Church (1799). Peter Stuyvesant is buried here.
46. Site of Squatter's Park (1970). Real-estate magnates defeated by hippies and Ukrainians. Now NYU undergraduate dorm.
47. Brevoort's farm. He wouldn't let them through.
48. Webster Hall, where radical meetings have been held since the 1890s.
49. Emma Goldman's home, 210 (now 208) E. 13th St.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Street Art XII

Starting Oct. 20, Solange Fabiao's video installation Transitio_NYC will debut at the corner of Canal and Center Street. The second part of a 10-city, global public art series created by the New York-based Brazilian artist, the video projection will conjoin and contrast two contemporary Chinese cities. I love the idea of projecting city scenes on city scapes. Any Media Dieticians know about examples of similar projects?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

This School Is Too Cool

Here's some good news about The Big Moo, which comes out next Thursday, Oct. 20.

The Group of 33 is donating the proceeds from the book to several noteworthy organizations. And we've already built a school in Nepal with money from sales of the book.

If you haven't snagged yourself a copy yet, please do so soon -- already, more than 275 families have been affected positively. That's pretty remarkable.

Vacation Nation

Neill Kramer has an interesting offer for bloggers: Enter his grassroots contest, submitting your blog's URL and reasons why you want a one week's winter vacation at his house in Stinson Beach, California, and you could win just that.

Judging will be based on the quality of your blog (a mix of writing, web design, photography/digital imaging, point of view, humor, insight, and a good grasp of "place."). If you win you will be expected to guest blog on our blog.

Has the coming of fall, and then, therefore, winter, got you thinking about warmer climes? Enter Kramer's contest.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Movie I Watched Last Night XCIII

Quote from On the Waterfront: "You come from Greenpoint. Go back to Greenpoint. You don't work here no more."

Music to My Ears LXXII

Wednesday night, I had dinner at Mary's Fish Camp with a group of Danish journalists, media consultants, and technologists -- including Henrik Fohns. (Danish alert!) In 1987, Henrik played guitar with the band Boghandle, which went on to become one of the first Danish grunge bands. Five years earlier, in 1982, Henrik recorded some audio art that his wife hates. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Henrik!

Take This Job and Love It

For the last couple of months, I've been working on a new Web project with several amazing people, including one Seth Godin -- editor of The Big Moo.

We're about to go into beta, and we just released the first ebook that describes some of the ideas behind what we're building.

For a long time, the web has been about more. More links, more traffic, more hits, more choices. In the face of all that more, many sites (and most surfers) are not getting what they want. This free ebook proposes a different way of achieving your goals: less.

If you'd like to learn more, make with the clicky!

Televisionary III

What TV shows have been set in Wisconsin? Plenty.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Clothes Whore XII

I've decided that I need to dress more colorfully. I tend to wear a lot of khakis and a lot of T-shirts -- mostly blue. To this end, I just bought a pair of orange cords on Ebay. A friend indicates that she would not do this. Would you? Have you? Take the Media Diet poll.

From the In Box: Books Worth a Look XXIII

I just discovered your mention of my novel, Half Empty, on your medianet
site (from way back in February). Thank you for the kind words, it made my
day. -- Tim Hall

Thanks for touching base, Tim. I'm glad you found -- and appreciated -- the review!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nervous Politics

If you've never served as a judge, you shouldn't be able to serve as a Supreme Court justice, I don't think.

Conferences and Community XI

Going to Web 2.0 this week? Wish you could, but can't afford the almost $3000? Regardless, if you're in the Bay Area this Friday, be sure to check out Web 2.1 -- a gathering planned in response to Web 2.0, as well as as an alternative to its more formal cousin. I won't be there, but I'll be there in spirit.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Dollars to DVDs

Copyright expiring is a good, good thing. For the consumer. And holiday seasons like Halloween are all the better for identifying why -- and how. Case in point: Halloween. With the coming of the scary season, there's a slew of spooky cinema DVDs available on the cheap.

Why, just this weekend, while in California, I went to Target and, in the One Spot, the store's section for $1 specials, I found a bunch of horror movie double features issued by the software OEM PC Treasures, which has released a handful of scary-movie two-fers. All for $1.

That find -- the most easily tracked -- led me to a local Dollar Tree, which yielded a goldmine of DVDs released by Television Classics -- and other imprimaturs which appear to have the same Solana Beach, Calif., P.O. Box -- Treasure Box Collections, Diamond Entertainment, and other distributors.

Their only mistake? Selling wholesale, but not retail. Were there a list of all these $1 DVDs available for mail order -- or online sale -- I'd plunk down many a greenback.

Next up? Christmas. And the DVDs are already out there. Get them before they get you.