Friday, November 8, 2013

Lower East Side

My comedy of errors, as I've been referring to my first year in Manhattan, is ending on a good note, some happy news. I am headed south. And east.

Harlem has a great history & I love its particular caché, but it ain't home. It could be, if it weren't so far north of (almost) all the fun stuff as to feel apart from it; alas, 'tis. I want to be able to walk or zip around in minutes on the train. I don't want to commute from where I sleep to where I live my life. That is part & parcel of the whole point of living in the city. And certainly, of living in The City.

Mayda, a super nice lady & crazy-in-a-good-way friend from work, offered to sublet a room to me for such cut rate rent I'd be an idiot and a half to pass it up. Never mind that I'm in no position to pass it up :P. So as of next Friday, I live on FDR Drive just north of Houston. If someone wanted to toss me in the river, it would now be the East River rather than the Hudson. I can now walk to Prosperity Dumpling (this is a big deal) and the rest of Chinatown, and Little Italy. And Gramercy, the Flatiron District, Lower Manhattan, NoHo, The Village, Midtown, etc., etc. If I don't want to pay for a MetroCard, I can walk the eight long east-west blocks + twenty short north-south blocks to work (Times Square). That's a hike, but it's realistic. I've walked from Gramercy to Harlem (twice, once in a fucking snowstorm wearing a light hoodie & Chucks), but let's just say that was...not realistic.

My birthday meal at Prosperity Dumpling:

omfg so so so delish.

I move in next Friday, & I'm rather excited about the whole thing. I still have yet to bust out on my own (meaning rent my own damned apartment of some description, featuring my own key & my signature on the agreement), but I'll get there. This is a good half-step up.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I have been without a laptop since the beginning of summer; the nine slavering heads of poverty all drew back and struck at once, and I ran out of things to throw at them. Today I (finally, FINALLY) got another machine, a $100 used Dell Latitude D410 (cash flow still low :P). Within moments of getting home, I had like 86 tabs open. Very grateful for OneTab right about now. And special thanks to MVP +Marty Mankins for helping me with a download glitch. Onward!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Due Process: youth & its attendant susceptibility should be heavily mitigating for Tsarnaev

From the comments section of Washington post article (I'm in blue):

Let's not get squeamish about executing such a person. The US kills lots of other people who have committed far lesser crimes than he has.
8:30 AM EDT
Are you saying we should not bother stopping to consider all things? Should we dispense with due process? (I mean, because what a pain, really. And so costly!) And are previous executions themselves valid impetus for continuing the practice? Justification? Once we begin a practice, let's just keep on keepin' on regardless of pros, cons mitigating factors in each case or anything else for that matter. Why? Because what the heck, we've done it before! Is that what you're saying?
9:03 AM EDT
I agree that we cannot justify present action on the basis of past actions.
However, let's be consistent in our views about killing people.
If it is currently ok to kill people with drones, bombs, guns, etc. why get squeamish about killing this person?
9:28 AM EDT
Mitigating factors such as his youth - barely out of minor child range, nowhere near full-grown mentally, not even fully physically matured - and that he was under the powerful influence of his very much full-grown brother. We can even reasonably speculate, given at least anecdotal evidence of an easy-going natural temper and no prior inclination to misbehave, that absent the brother's influence he'd have done nothing but continue his studies, get a job, date, get married, etc. etc.. or some far more run-of-the-mill path.
9:32 AM EDT
Two more things, one: thank you for your very sound reply & question. Two - I'm NOT offering the above as an excuse or to remove any responsibility that should be/remain on the younger brother's head, but as mitigating factors. Things that must be considered; part and parcel of due process.

And I wish I had added, for clarity, that I believe that these mitigating factors, including the susceptibility inherent in such youth, especially to the influence of a full-grown close older relative, should spare him the death penalty.  I should also probably have acknowledged Down-Under's 'reasoning' in his reply to me, but I feel that collateral damage during war is not only not "ok" but that it's a different discussion.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Asking for Questions

My mind was blank. (Blank and a half, on a stick, is how I believe I put it on Twitter.) So I cast a net for questions. Get me to chew on something. I got two questions right away; here they are with their answers.

+Laura Kramarsky asked: What makes a number lucky?

Humans, who are charming and emotional pattern-seekers, are prone to cross-reference the items in their memories, creating associations and ascribing special meaning, like luck, to certain details included, such as a number. A serendipitous event that could have only happened because you turned right on 9th, defying a long standing habit of using another route, for example, may result in a sense that the number nine is lucky.

@popqueenie asked: How do you feel about cyborgs?

I have always had a certain spot in my heart for monsters and bad guys, wanting so much to believe they were not really bad all the way through. And/or I thought they were so fucking cool. When I saw Star Wars at age 9, after standing in line for 3 hours+, I was riveted by Darth Vader, a cyborg, monster and bad guy, who was colossally fucking cool. But he was also a bad guy whom I saw tremble somehow during contact with the wretched soul to whom he was answerable. So there was humanity in there somewhere. All that to say that my feelings about our standard novel/movie/tv etc. cyborgs involve that cautious, dark slice of sympathy and hope we sometimes develop for the flawed and the damaged who fall to a terrible place.

So how about that? I am so very grateful for the stimuli!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hats Off to The Old New Queensryche

You really remember how much you love a band when you learn they've become somehow broken in two.  You become wild of hair and eye, railing vehemently about it to your hapless roommate. You are deeply, personally sad and angry. You take sides and, nowadays, put in your two cents. Because: internet.

Yesterday, before all this, I was talking about bass with the aforementioned roommate, a former music industry insider of the publisher/marketer variety. (Cred sidebar: he earned a platinum album for marketing Janet Jackson's Janet LP.)  I gave Queensryche's Della Brown as an example of a prominent bass line that I really love. It was played by the incredible & sinfully underrated Eddie Jackson (speaking of assorted Jacksons). Now in a QR mood, I Googled 'em to see what was new.

This is the studio version of Della Brown:

Once you've marked out that bass for yourself, watch this haunting MTV Unplugged version just for the hell of it. This is the old Queensryche at their dark & intelligent best, or close to it. Guitars featured beautifully here:

Google's results just slayed me. "Old" Queensryche? Yup. Is there a new Queensryche? Um.... as far as I am concerned, there remains the original Queensryche, who now have a new lead singer. But then there is also this absurd new parade of guest musicians "Starring Geoff Tate..."  also calling itself Queensryche (WRONGFULLY, Judge Carol A. Schapira, according to the contract they all signed at the beginning of their career, which I read this morning, and according to what is morally correct in this case. You are a blithe, careless numbskull. And those are not words I throw around lightly).

I've been a fan of this band since before they were fully formed, bought the EP within weeks of its release and played it until I killed it and had to buy a fresh one. That was 30 years ago, when I was an 8th - 9th grader and attempting to survive an increasingly toxic set of circumstances. Music I loved was saving my life, sometimes from day to day, and I loved this music. My favorite guy in the band was Michael Wilton, because his guitar had a sensibility I recognized as bluesier, more raw, subtler and darker than the golden, soaring lead guitar. Don't get me wrong, please: I adore Chris DeGarmo's guitar, but grittier stuff was cathartic somehow for me; I took Michael Wilton personally. I identified better with him. He also seemed like a really bright, happy, decent human being (I hung on every word of every interview). And I had connected the smoking hot guy I had seen play in a battle-of-the-bands band in Bellevue called The Mob as this smoking hot Michael Wilton playing with Queensryche. I loved that.

All that to say that I bothered learning these guys. All of them. I read every word on every album sleeve multiple times; I knew what the contribution of each to the whole consisted of, at least according to the listed credits. I knew the very early history of the band. Hell, I was a party to the very early history of the band. Sorta. And I've loved them ever since.

More or less. Ahem.

Anyway, so when I tell you that my loyalty, which is fucking fierce and equally sticky, is with the 'old' Queensryche, go ahead and assume I've done my research. Know that I didn't just flip a coin. Know that I know better than to equate a single band member's signature contribution with the band as a whole (I'm looking at you, commenters who cry "But Geoff Tate IS Queensryche!". Fuck that. Seriously).

This made me gasp and it hurt me, reading the claims lies (unless he is genuinely delusional) Tate forged here:

Rolling Stone: Geoff Tate on Queensryche's Ugly Split, Backstage Brawl in Brazil

It was early morning, but the rest of the day was shot after I read that: I spent the bulk of it online, sorting all this out. I drew my conclusions and found myself wanting to demonstrate which side I was on. I never sign up at artists' websites, and I never 'like' artists on Facebook (one afternoon on that slippery slope and I swore it off). So I made exceptions to those rules today: I signed up at the website, and I added them as an Interest Group on Facebook (still couldn't bring myself to 'like' [UPDATE: Queensryche posted this humble blog entry to their Facebook page. They have been officially, properly 'liked' - I now regret that I could only do that once, and without any exclamation points or ecstatic smiley faces]). It's solidarity with Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield - and Chris DeGarmo, by the way - but it's also a Disapproving Rabbit face to GT & his *crumbling assortment of tossed-together strangers he blasphemously calls QR.

I am sorry to be negative, but I am currently still rather mad. It'll have dissipated by the time I wake up tomorrow. I'm following the example of the gracious guys in the old new QR, who are handling this beautifully and as healthfully as can possibly be expected. They are moving on. They are taking performing vocalist Todd LaTorre and performing guitarist Parker Lundgren and playing dates & making a new QR album. Bully for them. They sound great so far, and I'm really looking forward to that album.

Which is more than I've been able to say about a QR album in quite some time. :P

The final decision about who gets the name will take place in court in November at the latest. There is a possibility the matter can be settled before then, but that would entail GT coming to his senses and doing the right thing. I will hope for that.

UPDATE - I love this answer from Michael Wilton in an interview at Music Enthusiast with William Clark, so I'm throwing that in here:

William: What is it like, working with Todd as compared to working with Geoff?
Michael: Well, obviously you have a renewed energy. The chemistry within the band is renewed, and it’s got a different dynamic now. Basically we want to rock, we like the hard rock element, we like a bit of the progressive element, we want to collaborate with our fanbase and really make this a situation where we listen to the audience and hear what they want, and we build upon that. Queensryche has always been a touring act, that’s what we did in the early days. We were a guitar duo band and toured the world, and worked our asses off to get the respect of the audience. And I think that we’ve come full circle and we’re at that point again. For the following years we’re going to work our asses off and get the respect of the audiences again, and just really show this new energy and this new chemistry with Todd La Torre as our new frontman. And you know what, it’s just a lot of fun again. In the past, it was just becoming “This is a job. This is just a business, this is a job”, and there was no fun in it. It’s come back to how we started out in the beginning, a bunch of guys having fun, working hard and doing what they love.

Rock on.

*Crumbling, because as soon as his recruits recognize what they're getting themselves into, they bail.

UPDATE May4, 2014:

The Battle is Over.

"The agreement stipulates that original Queensryche members Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield, as well as newer members Todd LaTorre and Parker Lundgren, will now be the sole band recording and touring as Queensryche, performing songs from a musical catalog that spans more than 30 years [emphasis mine]."

Yay, and Amen!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Burning Through My Fingers

Three hundred and forty-five American dollars. At this moment, that feels like a pile the size of Mount Everest. My savings fled like a terrified animal from my pocketbook once I arrived in New York. I didn't waste it, no 'extras'. Money on true treats & (arguably much needed) pleasures, such as my first slice of NY cheesecake to celebrate getting a job, still rings in at under $25. And that includes trips to Carlow East & the train fair to get there & back.

I need to switch my Washington State ID (it happens to be a driver's license) in for a New York one, that's $40. More urgently, I need to pay for the Guard Certificate I've already earned (my ticket to a better immediate life): $85. I need to pay for my mailbox (late): $45 (plus a late fee: $?). I need to pay my phone bill: $100. I owe my sweet & generous friend Julie $45. I owe my gracious roommate $30. That's the $345.  I got a single day of work last week. Sigh upon sigh upon exasperated, despairing eye-roll.

I have a part time job qualifying people for studies, and helping conduct the studies. It pays a pittance, but I was so thankful that at least it would be a steady pittance I could count on. Until it wasn't: "The shift was cancelled today, sorry." Or, "We don't have work for everyone today, sorry". Again with sighs. This teeny job was gotten specifically to finance the above expenses & keep me from going hungry until I could get a 'real', full-time job using the Guard Certificate. I have already interviewed with two companies and an agency ready & willing to take me on, if only I was in possession of that piece of paper. But all I have made so far is enough for the train fare back & forth to work and paltry, miserable fucking groceries.

The two instances when I had $85 dollars in my hands, I had to look at it and ask, do I get that Guard Certificate and spend the time between hire and first paycheck going hungry? Or do I eat? I've ended up hungry while underemployed before, but for days, not weeks. And I know food banks are only available during select, daytime hours, the ones during which I'd probably be working. Except maybe sometimes, and I'd be banking on those sometimes to get calories and nutrients.

Really in despair, I chose to eat, figuring I'd have enough within a reasonable amount of time to pay for that certificate. But this has not turned out to be a reasonable amount of time.

Your money burns through your fingers here in New York, to quote my sister Valerie. I've known that in theory forever, yet I still managed to be shocked when I went to pay for that damned certificate and found that I didn't have enough to cover it. That was weeks ago now, and I've been scrambling like a (smiling!) motherfucker  to find jobs and earn cash ever since. Today I just feel discouraged and tired and dumb as a sack of hammers.

*tears hair out* Sigh.

Did you read through this? You are a true friend, and I thank you. And apologize. :P I'll be sprightlier next time, I just had to get this out of my head.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

How To Operate A Television Set

I just read the inimitable @dboshea's post "You aren't a 'pirate', you're a thief. asshole", which I applauded most wildly. You will see, in doing so yourself (reading the post, not applauding), why I was reminded of this bit in my project *"Mercury":

I learned, along with millions of other kids born in the throes of Generation X, to wake up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings.  I skated down the stairs to the main floor, whirled around to the next flight and scampered to the basement.  I turned on the television.  Back in those days, you had to physically walk up to the television in order to perform this operation.  So far as I can recall, a “knob” was involved. This was a thing not entirely unlike a button in that it protruded from the set, but – and stay with me, here – you would have to grasp it, with your index finger and thumb, and twist it slightly until you felt a snap.  A glowing white dot would then appear at the center of the screen, and after a few moments, the techy, ghostly thing would expand miraculously into an already moving image.  You did not break contact with the knob at this point, no; you would then continue twisting it slowly to the right until you heard sound emit from the speaker of the television.  Continue twisting, and when the desired volume was reached, you were finished.  Unless of course the image was of some dumb balding guy in a maroon polyester blazer, an unnatural void at his back, brow knit, voice weighted just so, head cocked professionally to one side and hands sloughing a sheaf of papers perhaps a bit too ceremoniously onto a particle board desk or tabletop.  In that case, you would turn your focus to a second, larger knob, this one marked out with numbers, 2 through 13. You grasped the dial and snapped a little arrow from one number to the next, until you found Looney Tunes.  Then, you were finished.

I feel grateful, Dan: This is a project that I've been having hard time facing, like a past due bill or an awkward acquaintance. Your words had me unearthing the file, opening it up and looking it square in the i's (dotted, the lot of them) and t's (crossed). I'm now drawn entirely back in. Thank you for that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

So Knish to Meet You, NYC

I'm a New Yorker now, not only because I have bought a knish off the street & marveled my way down 5th Ave at Christmastime, but because I can see my own experience here as a microcosm of The New York Experience. I think the earliest second that could possibly happen, it did (this morning. I thought, okay, how long have I been here, exactly? Answer: 40 days & 40 nights. The classic epic blink of an eye). Maybe I'll talk about all that heady shyte sometime.

Now? The humble knish. buying the knish off the street was a hallmark thing for me. Such a simple bit of behavior: asking for the food, giving my money to the man in the cart, walking away along Central Park South with my package. I pulled over, unwrapped it a bit and stood along the wall, and watched the people continue in their hasty Christmas blur all around me. Just then I began to recognize the moment for what it was. The meaning began to seep in just as the steam & savory smells escaped the package.

It had been 15 or 16 hours since disembarking at Penn Station to a long evening of talking with an old friend, a good night's sleep & my first morning waking in my new surroundings. But it hadn't hit that I was here yet. It hadn't hit, even though I had been treated to a taste of NYC magic during my arrival. Even though my friend's west-facing view is of the Hudson. Even though I could say "Harlem: I am in you", had taken the subway, had met and been assisted by an Irish cop (true story), had twirled around looking upward and seen nothing but skyscrapers. It hit when I bit into my knish. If I'd had worded thoughts, they'd have been something like, "I'm here, I am in New York City." Instead, the taste and fluff of potato in its crepey wrapping simply became Manhattan history in me somehow. It was a sort of transubstantiation. The prologue had ended and my story had begun. Delicious little pockets of sour cream were involved.

For my next trick, I'll tell you things like the magic during my arrival, the non-magic job hunt, the one-story-as-a-microcosm-of-the-greater-story moment I had this morning, and other stuff of my first month-plus in Manhattan. Spoiler One: Despite troubles, It has been the best discovery of my life, in key part because I know that as long as I'm here it will never end. I know New York can always find ways to be new for you. Spoiler Two: I've kept falling in love with New York at every turn, even though (even AS) it was trying to murder me (true story; next post, I promise). That & more to come, now that I've finally GOT A JOB & have allowed myself to exhale & think about things such as posting to my blog.

P.S. Searching for images, I've just discovered that 2013 is a Year of the Knish ;)

So how about that!