Search This Blog

Monday, May 30, 2011

Two Words On This Memorial Day: Thanks, Dad.

Okay, so maybe it's because of the ongoing wars in which we find ourselves still entangled, or maybe it's my ever-increasing age, or maybe it's just the oppressive heat, whatever, but I find myself feeling very sentimental, a little melancholy and missing my father this Memorial Day.

This photo sits front and center atop our living room mantle. I love this image of my Dad as a young buck, clearly full of proverbial piss and vinegar, standing in his you-got-a-problem-with-that David Caruso hands-on-hips stance. I'm particularly fond of the taped nose. My Dad was a pacifist, but could throw down with the best of them when need be... hence the taped nose. The only thing that would make this photo more perfect, more my father would be if there was a hand-rolled cigarette burning between his two fingers.

He went through a lot of shit over there during World War II so we all could maintain our freedoms over here. A lot of shit. And for that I will be forever grateful. I didn't get it way back then when he was still alive, but I get it now.

So, thank you Dad. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for being strong. Thank you for being a hero.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"It's The End Of The World As We Know It" 
or prepping for the Zombie Apocalypse

Okay, so according to some crazy interpretation of some passage in the Bible somewhere, tomorrow, May 21, 2011 marks the day of the Rapture, or Zombie Apocalypse as it is known in some circles. Reportedly this is the day where all the good and just "saved" people will be lifted up while the rest of us fun-loving heretics are left behind to fend for ourselves amongst the living dead as they clamor for our brains while we sit on our fat asses eating the rest of the ice cream and watching a Jerry Springer marathon.

Or something like that. I don't know.

What I do know is if tomorrow is the last day of world, I'm using the Rapture as my "get out of jail free" card to cover any suspect behavior I exhibit today. BooYah!!

Although I'm pretty sure I'll be counted among the unworthies left behind, just in case there's been some divine fuzzy math calculation and I am lifted up, I'd like my last blog to go out with a laugh.

I'm convinced non-Western cultures hate us because of our collective 10 year-old boy sense of humor. Case in point, The New York Post front page from Saturday. Even though I was completely appalled at my countrymen's reaction to the news of Osama Bin Laden's death, this is outrageously funny mainly because they printed what everybody else was thinking.

You stay classy, NY Post

To quote my friend, it's weird to think of Bin Laden being a horny guy. Just a little bit of Ewwwwwwwww.

In keeping with the spirit of apocalyptic death, destruction, murder and mayhem, the CDC has put out a Zombie preparedness guide. Yep. Better keep that photo ID handy. You don't want to be empty handed, so to speak, when that undead dude cards you at the door. Hey, even morbidly decaying throngs are particular as to who's brains they're chomping. You can't be too careful, you know. The Birther Zombies would never let one of their own live it down if their dinner didn't have a valid American birth certificate.

Pricky in life. Pricky in (un)death.

Oh, and in case you're wondering if you'll make the cut, here's a handy flowchart found by my bud, Steph.

I am soooo being left behind
Anywho, one of the funniest things known to modern man is the folly of autocorrect. As a hip, 21st century society, we think we're all uber clever and shit with our fancy schmancy electronic gadgets that give us the answers to the Universe right in the palm of our sweaty, butter-fused hands. Enter Autocorrect...

Out of man's hubris, comes his humbling.

This marvel of a tiny function bests the, of us. It quietly puts us in our place by filling in our badly spelled blanks issuing from our pork sausage fingers. I've been victim to this evil genius any number of times. Here's the latest.

Damn you, AUTOCORRECT!!!

Speaking of that, there's this great site called that keeps a running stream of submitted fails. I'm certain this gizmo is really a 13 year-old boy run amok. It always goes right for the gutter. It is my electronic soul mate. Here're some classic examples.

A hard-on can be a temporary fix of sorts

Mom needs some glasses

foreigners do love to douche

and pay for dinner

well, Paula does love her meat

Santa's special present

little bit, yeah

Grandma just needs a little tuck

is it on a stick?
(i love the last line. ha!)

Autocorrect... Love it. Loathe it.

I kinda love it.

So, anywho, me and my card club gal pals are heading to Mrytle Beach tomorrow. I figure if most pilots' behavior is anything like Quagmire from Family Guy, they'll be no chance he'll make the cut and we'll land safely. Screw this Zombie Apocalyse. If I'm going to be left behind, I'm going to spend it at the beach with a zillion bikers.

No offense to my hairdresser/groomer/yeti tamer, but I hope she's left behind too, because, oh MAN, I'd hate to hanging around waiting for the world to explode sporting a full beard.

Now THAT would be Hell.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Which We Spend The Evening With The Original Hipster

Okay, so we are having a great run musically.

Sunday Geo and I ventured to our favorite South Side haunt, Club Cafe (I know...again with the Club Cafe. What can I say. We love it there.) to take in the early show of one, Mike Doughty. He used to be the singer of the 90s soul/punk band Soul Coughing, but we never got on board with him until his solo work blew us away. Thank you WYEP.

And man, is he cool. Like Hipster Doofus cool with his bald head, black rimmed glasses, long sideburns, copious tattoos and deep, resonant voice effortlessly spouting those complex scatty grooves. He's an original.

Doughty's had a demon or two with which he has battled, namely drug addiction and depression, but he has channeled all that into some truly memorable music. He creates these great rhythms that get in your head and set up shop for awhile. I find myself unconsciously humming his songs over and over.

Anywho, he shared the stage with his usual sidekick, a cellist named Scrap. It was just the two of them, but Holy Crap you would swear there were a couple more players up their from the fullness of their sound. They played Geo's favorite, I Hear The Bells, first:

One of the things I loveloveLOVE about Mike Doughty is he totally calls out the loud talkers in the crowd.  You know the ones. They think they're the most impressive thing in the room and everyone around them should be riveted by their conversation. As Geo always says, "don't you hate it when the band you payed money to see is so loud you have to scream to talk?" Yeah, that guy. That guy is why Geo doesn't like to venture out much.

Anyhaways, "talking guy" was in the house and Mike stopped mid song to challenge him, in a nice way, but challenge him none the less.


I love him for that. Sadly, he has to do this at every show because there's always "that guy" in the crowd. Me, I'd probably just tell him to SHUT THE F*CK UP because that's how you get and keep fans, yo, by being all aggro and bitch-slappy.

Or not. His way is probably best.

Later on some wise ass called out for Freebird (you knew someone would) to which MD stated, "the only other thing I hate as much as talking guy is Freebird guy." Adding his desire to start an "It's Raining Men" request campaign.

So next time you have the unique pleasure to see Mike Doughty perform, leave that trite "Freebird" request at home and bellow for "It's Raining Men".  Hallelujah.

Tremendous Brunettes

Bottom of a Well

And of course, perhaps the most peculiar cover to date...Casper, the Friendly Ghost

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting All Gustered Up
or another terrific night of music with a quintessential pop band

Adam and Ryan

Okay, so there's a new music venue on the North Shore of town nestled between the home of the Steelers and the summer residence of the Pirates. It's called Stage AE (AE standing for American Eagle) and they are packing in some amazing acts. So far I've lined up the Avett Brothers with Nicole Atkins, Michael Franti, Death Cab For Cutie with one of our favorites Frightened Rabbits as openers and My Morning Jacket with Neko Case starting the night off.

Wow, right?

This place is one of those convertible venues. In the winter months, bands perform inside to several hundred patrons, but once summer hits, the garage door at the back of the stage opens up and we all get to party on the patio, Dude! The Avett's concert will be my first outdoor experience there. It looks like it'll be very festive. Listening to live music and shaking my groove thang under the stars with a full bar of cheap drinks...SIGN ME UP!! The perfect place for my musical loves, Old 97's to bust loose. Hint Hint  management who hasn't booked the band here yet.

I don't think anyone's listening :-(

Moving on...

The best part is they aren't playing in a cavernous pit that's impossible to drive out of at the end of the night. In fact you can park for free at the Casino and walk the short distance to the club. Win and Win, especially if you hit on the slots on your way out which I need to start doing because these TicketBastard prices are making a major dent.

This brings me back to Guster.

Geo and I saw them for free last summer at the Arts Festival. We waited out a huge storm and stood for 90 minutes to be immersed in their pure pop joyfulness. Geo passed this time, but my friend Sue tagged along for the ride despite having never heard of them. God love her. She trusts my judgement. She also became a fan that night. WooHoo!

The thing I love about Guster is they all seem to be having as much fun on stage as their adoring audience on the floor. Leads Ryan and Adam have a wonderful rapport which spills out into the banter with each other as well as their fan faithful. Their catalog is buoyant, bubbly and busting out with happy vibes, inciting the crowd to sing along over and over again. If you can't have a good time at their shows, then you're fucking hopeless and should crawl into a cave because no one needs to be around your miserable ass.

Seriously. How could you not be caught up in the wave of positive energy? This COULD all be yours one day...

Even when they're singing about a broken heart it's light...and glittery.

It's so enjoyable when the crowd takes over.

Besides all the peace, love and good vibrations, the members of Guster are very eco-friendly. They sell (and use on stage) reusable water bottles, encourage car pooling to their shows and walk or bike around each of the towns in which they perform. Apparently Ryan also has a penchant for catching ping pong balls in his mouth during one particular song. Of course, the lights were down for the actual catch, but he did it. I pinkie swear.

And of course, as has become tradition with every band we see, the inevitable cover. This time a mash up of Billy Joel vs Guster.

After 20 years together, they're going strong. Their latest album is perhaps their best effort to date. We bought it directly from the band's website and it was delivered with this message.

Just another reason to love on the boys of Guster.

You can buy their latest here.
Sign up for emails and get some future fun Christmas freebies here. "Christmas freebies? Aren't they Jewish?" Yes. I told you they were fun.
Watch their episode on Live at Daryl's (Hall) House here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In Which We Find A New Hang

Yesterday, my buds Howard and Mary Ann-ski (AKA Barney and Betty from SXSW) and I made our annual pilgrimage to the South Side for a house tour. It's inspiring and torturous all at the same time. Inspiring because these people on the tour have transformed rundown dwellings into incredibly beautiful remodels. Torturous because, you know, my house is a piece of shit by comparison, leaving me with the urge to go home and throw out EVERYTHING, blow out the walls and start from scratch.


Alas, Geo and I don't have a big ole Sugar Daddy to fund such an endeavor, so we do the next best thing to assuage our feelings of inadequacy... hang out at a bar and drink.

We usually head to Folino's for a kick-ass Cosmo and beers, but this year we hit up this little bunker-like, non-descript, furthest thing from trendy hole-in-the-wall, Nadine's.

I had three wicked good Vodka and Tonics, a ginormous pulled pork hoagie and a plate of exquisite pomme frites that only a divey diner can concoct for $12.50?!?


Dude! This is soooo going to be our hang.

the lovely, let's call her Nadine
and the delightful My Name is Earl

Here's the best part, not only does it have cheap hootch and delicious grub (that pork was beyond scrumptious), the couple behind the bar were big-time fun in a completely Pittsburgh way. As soon as we sat down, we were greeted with good-natured ribbing befitting a regular. Everyone who walked in the door was treated to a joke, story and an ear-to-ear welcoming smile. My Name Is Earl and the lovely woman slinging the food and drink kept harassing each other to the delight of the diners.

Again, I don't know if it's a Burgh thing, my age or perhaps the vodka, but we ended up having the greatest conversation with My Name Is Earl about our collective collegiate club escapades, including the one about us drinking the cocktails people set down on our table while they danced at the legendary, not to mention cramped, Decade. Honestly, I don't know how we didn't get punched. Seriously.

In the end, we exchanged names and were invited to sign their guest book before calling it a day. Yep. We're in, BABY!! Nadine's ROCKS!!

I don't know if this kind of camaraderie happens in other cities. All I know is this is why I love our little hamlet by the river.

Long live the Burgh, n'at!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Video Funny
or dogs are da bomb, yo!

Okay, so I'm late to the party with this, but there's a YouTube channel called Talking Animals that takes video of critters and creates dialog like this one entitled "Ultimate Dog Tease".

This video reminds me of my friend's dog, Coco. He's a Collie/Shepard mix who's a licensed therapy dog. Coco is super sweet and very well behaved. He's learned several tricks which he does willingly, save for one... Rolling.

He seems to HATE it. With ever fiber of his being.

Every time Heidi commands him to roll, Coco will stare at her, bark his ass off while reluctantly rolling. Every time he does this. So naturally, we make him do it every week. His anguish is our amusement.

We're dicky like that.

We imagine his barks translated into grousing like, "Why do you ask me to do this? You know I hate this. Dammit, I am not your trained monkey. Okay, I am but I hate this. I'll jump, sit, even weave through your damn legs, but why WHY must you mock me with this rolling thing? It's humiliating. There better be a bloody biscuit in it for me."

Oh, Coco. You crazy dog. Give it up.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In Which I Realize How Quickly Three Weeks' Time Can Pass

Okay, so my darlin' Regi returned to America for a much-needed respite from her life in Japan. She arrived the night before Easter, and held up quite well during the festivities in spite of her massive jet lag.
Regi and her incredible Dork of an aunt
And Dude, it was soooooo good to see her!!!

So much so, I think I hugged her for an hour straight. Okay, I exaggerate, but I held her in my meaty arms long enough for her to think "Holy Crap! Is this freak ever going to let me go?!"

The great thing is she was just as excited to see all of us. Whoddathunkit. She actually missed her country of origin and the people residing within it. No shit.

I had the added bonus of getting to spend an entire day with her doing whatever she wanted. First we headed to the North Side to take in the Burgh's premier contemporary museum, The Mattress Factory to frolic amongst the Awt.

acting like dorks in the black light infinity room

"I think you got a little spot right there...
and there... and Oh forget it."

"hmmm... why does this smell like ass?"

assaulting the awt

Reg in a cage
(we kinda broke some of the gumbands. shhhh)

Rubix chapeau

The museum has clearly inspired others on that particular street to express themselves artistically.


me want
This has to be one of the most colorful buildings I have ever seen, lending welcomed whimsy to a not-so-great area. How could your spirits not be lifted by this display of eclectic excess?

We noshed on some pretty fine Italian grub at a local haunt before taking in another North Side attraction, the Warhol Museum. They were having a special exhibit of all of Andy's (in)famous cinema verite rolling simultaneous on numerous screens in one room while all of Andy's television escapades played out on 13" TVs neatly lined up like a classroom in an adjacent room.

His stuff is what it is. Whatev. The most enjoyable part of that museum remains the room of floating Mylar pillows. Always smiles and giggles emanating from that room.
stealthily snapped whilst the guard was blissfully unawares

Oh and then there's the gift shop with such high-brow stuff as this
it says c**k. heehee
I know what a certain KJo is getting for Christmas...
Good times...

Geo joined the Regi time at dinner that night for sushi and green curry, then again two nights ago for more outstanding Italian food consumed al fresco on a gorgeous summer-like eve.
hanging on the patio
noshing, drinking, talking n'at

we love you, man
We shared our food, wine and thoughts about life. Regi's matured quite a bit in the short time she's been working in Japan. She's all grown up with very sound, adult opinions and astute observations, yet she still maintains her youthful playfulness. She's very responsible, but fortunately the responsibilities haven't crushed her delightfully light soul. She's open and accepting of all peoples and cultures. She remains an absolute joy to be around.

I LOVE her at this age!!

With her we can now speak freely, swear freely, drink freely. We can basically be ourselves, warts and all. We're friends as well as relatives. The best part is she seems to enjoy our company, too. We had such a wonderful time with her over these past fleeting weeks.

Last night Geo and I went over to my sister's house to spend a final few hours with Regi on her last day in America. At one point I looked over at her sitting in the corner of the couch, her leg extended, rubbing her faithful dog's belly for perhaps the last time, when suddenly she was sixteen again.

And my heart felt full.

Like a solar panel, I wanted desperately to store up the warmth and essence of that moment to draw upon during the cold void of her absence.

And now she's gone...

But this time we know she won't be in Japan forever. :-)

I'm so proud of her. It takes a lot of courage to fly halfway around the world to follow your dream. Going to Japan is something she needed to do, otherwise she would have spent her entire life second-guessing her decision, regretting her choice and romanticizing how much happier she'd be if only...

No, she needed to go. She needed the distance to realize her heart belongs to America.

And that makes us all happy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In Which I Weigh In On The Bin Laden Affair 

"I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

Monday morning I woke to news I never expected to hear in my lifetime.

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

The Situation Room as the mission took place
President Obama's and Hilary Clinton's faces say it all

I had gone to bed around 10pm, oblivious to what was about to be announced by President Obama. When I read the news on Twitter, I was stunned, then conflicted. The elusive mastermind behind the attacks on September 11, 2001, the symbolic face of world terror, the soulless puppeteer of countless suicide bombers was dead at the hands of US Navy Seals.

I didn't know how to feel.

What I felt was hollow.

I saw video after video of American citizens celebrating in the streets treating this like a sporting event. And it sickened me. Watching the crowds reveling, chanting and burning images of Bin Laden, I realized we have become the mirror image of the radical religious fanatics with whom we have been battling for ten years.

It felt so wrong. So... unAmerican.

America is America because of our compassion, our tolerance and our nobility. We don't cheer for the death of an enemy as if we've just won a Super Bowl. We just don't. And yet, we did. We exhibited a bloodlust usually attributed to our extremist enemies in non-Christian countries.

We have somehow lost our soul, and that saddens me to my core.

I'm not naive. I know the world and our view of it will never be the same as it was on September 10, 2001. It can't be. Our Ozzie and Harriet World is irreparably broken, but that doesn't mean we have to give up our humanity.

Bin Laden needed to be found, yes. And I'm proud of and thankful for the extraordinary soldiers who skillfully completed the mission. But still, I cannot wrap my head around the revelry.

I'm fortunate not to have lost friends or family in the horrifying events of September 11, 2001. That doesn't mean that day didn't touch me deeply, leaving an indelible scar. Perhaps I would feel differently if I had lost a loved one. Perhaps I, too, would take to the streets, fueling the hatred. Or perhaps I would feel even stronger for a need to heal, to be a source of light instead of darkness, to offer peace instead of war, to steer toward hope instead of hatred, to celebrate life instead of death.

I've grappled with my feelings for the last few days. Today on both the Book of Face and Twitter, people posted the passage at the top of this blog attributing it to Martin Luther King, Jr. His authorship of this quote was refuted, but honestly, I don't give a shit who did or did not pen this. All I know is it eloquently states what I have been struggling to express for two days.

"I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."