Thursday, December 11, 2008

The last American poet

is a three-year-old named Max.

Overheard today in the lobby: the greatest holiday song I've ever heard, delivered in crystal-clear boy-alto. It goes a little like a-this:

I had a little dreidl
I made it out of snow
I hammered it together
And stuck it in the oven

Bravo, Max. Bravissimo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last Meal

Whenever the newspaper reports that somebody has been executed in prison, we as readers are divided into three factions, based on our philosophical persuasions.

One group, consisting of about twelve percent of the population, become enraged at and ashamed of a penal system that embraces capital punishmen and, condones "cruel and unusual" methods of execution (apparently, if we do have to kill someone, we should arrange a car accident, that being "usual").

The second group, probably a saddening twenty percent of the demographic, get righteous and bravo and a little chubbed up at the thought of evil-doers being whisked from the streets and into Hell.

What happens to the other sixty-eight percent of us? How do we react to the news that Whoever Wayne Badman, Jr. was denied a stay of execution and expired last evening, in front of twenty-two witnesses, seventeen minutes after being injected with a lethal dose of potassium chloride? We skim down to the bottom and find out what he had to eat.

Of all the survey questions and conversation starters and pickup lines I've heard in my life, one of the most fascinating and disquietingly common specimens is as follows:

"If you were on Death Row, and you got to choose your last meal, what would it be?"

What kind of sickos are we? Why did I have elementary school teachers who found this an appropriate question for group discussion?

Here's what I think.

We as Americans are so obsessed with the prospect of getting something for free that we can separate the wish fulfillment dream-come-true magic of making the gummint buy us Whatever-We-Want for dinner from the whole "in a minute they're gonna kill ya" caveat. Just under "What would you do if you won the lottery?" in the daydream hierarchy is the "last meal" thing, shining up at us and inviting us into flights of gustatory fancy. We project ourselves into the paper shoes of the monster just long enough to entertain visions of porterhouses and strawberry shortcake, and then we detach, and move on. We can only relate so far, after all. If he wasn't the murderer the court says he was, we muse, he was at least guilty of a fatally limited imagination: KFC, Budweiser and peach crisp? Come on, man! You're our avatar here! Do you know how many people out there you're letting down with your lack of horizon?

Anyway, lets play a game.

Imagine that you either:
a. Brutally raped and murdered at least one person, most likely a child. -or-
b. Were wrongfully convicted of such, probably because of your complexion, social or financial status.

It doesn't matter which--the end is the same!

We--America, that is--have a question we've just been burning to ask: what's for dinner? Isn't this FUN?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I refuse to neglect this blog

Yeah, I need a new post.

No, I'm not going to blog about the elephant in the room...or the donkey as it were. I will write the only blog on the world wide web today that doesn't mention, you know.

But, Adam, can you do that? Can people just avoid such momentous and historical rigmarole?

Yes we can.

Instead, I'm gonna say Happy November 5th to Tara, because "happy belated birthday" is a confession of failure and I'll never be your stoolpigeon, you rats. Happy November 5th!

Check out my facebook profile
and you can see our Militant Language trailer. It's pretty great, but I sure am fat.

Oh, alright. I'll talk about the...damn it...election. Here goes. Fuck you, California. You elected the Terminator because you thought it was funny, you voted to buy weed at the corner store because your collective glaucoma is just so distressing, and now you voted for a Constitutional amendment to formalize your disgusting neanderthal prejudice against my friends? You people don't deserve democracy. Fuck you.

Happy hump day.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Allusions of Grandeur

Today's post is a cop-out. I'm just reposting a poem I wrote years ago on another blog. It hasn't changed much since then.

The significance of the poem is that it shares a title with this blog. This is probably not a coincidence.

When I was a kid I would lie in the grass
And look up at the sky and the sky
And the sky would start spinning and I’d swear that I
Was about to get pulled off the world
I'd shove in my fingers grip the soil
All the personal gravity I could muster
Head pound heart spin
Fingernails painfully packed with black
Back beat the backyard
A just-woke-up-butterfly
Curiously crucified with straight-pins
Lord of the cardboard display
Til I forgot to breathe
Sky stopped spinning as it darkened
I’d wake wrist-deep in the world
Why did I triumph? Never fell up
Never gave in let go let it
Suck pull extract extradite me

Anymore I’m too something
The sky doesn’t want me
Won’t answer my scream-dream prayer
To pull me away.

This is only a drill. If this had been an actual trepanation, the drivel you just read would be followed by machine sounds, a hiss like a basketball between garage door and garden rake, a cup of sweet milky tea, and a brand-new ancient smile.

I'm reexamining some things I wrote on Succinct and Shiny and I kind of wonder if migrating some of that old brilliance over here might be just the trick to fill this page with content without me actually having to think or type. We shall see.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Did you mean 'bloodsport?'

Thursdays are only good for snippets.

I don't have an angle, or a topic, or a real unity of purpose today. My buddy Tony has like a weekend roundup, and I respect that format. I've innovated it to my purposes.

--Is it an organized effort or just a viral fad that is making so many people on Facebook change their middle names to Hussein?

--I was looking at the office supply website and found that for just over a hundred and sixty bucks, I can buy a fifteen gallon, fire-safe garbage can. It's actually a top seller. The trouble is the inherent Sophie's Choice: if my place of business is going to burn to the ground, how do we choose which fifteen gallons of filth and detritus are protected?

--Trepanation Drill has a follower! w00t. It's even better that it's an astute, discerning, and attractive young woman. It's good for marketing. Now that we have a respectable poster-child, all you buck-toothed yokels I asked to hold off can go ahead and sign up.

--Militant Language opens tomorrow. <--That link means I don't want to be redundant and type all the info again. Get me? What the page doesn't say: there's nudity, and my head is shaved.

--My Doctor Dictionary word of the day is "misprize." Blogspot's spell-check doesn't think "misprize" is a word (did you mean 'moisturize'?) I'm not surprised. Blogspot doesn't think "trepanation" is a word...nor "doesn't"...nor "Blogspot", for that matter.

Have a good weekend, y'all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

He would have wanted us to keep the banks open.

October 11, 1492

"As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us."


"It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language."

October 13, 1492

"They came loaded with balls of cotton, parrots, javelins, and other things too numerous to mention; these they exchanged for whatever we chose to give them. I was very attentive to them, and strove to learn if they had any gold."

October 14, 1492

"I do not, however, see the necessity of fortifying the place, as the people here are simple in war-like matters, as your Highnesses will see by those seven which I have ordered to be taken and carried to Spain in order to learn our language and return, unless your Highnesses should choose to have them all transported to Castile, or held captive in the island. I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased."

--From the journal Of Christopher Columbus, First Voyage, excerpted here.

And from a bloke who never got a Holiday (except from the Lutherans):

"And never have the Indians in all the Indies committed any act against the Spanish Christians, until those Christians have first and many times committed countless cruel aggressions against them or against neighboring nations."


"The pattern established at the outset has remained to this day, and the Spaniards still do nothing save tear the natives to shreds, murder them and inflict upon them untold misery, suffering and distress, tormenting, harrying and persecuting them mercilessly."


"They took infants from their mothers' breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, "Boil there, you offspring of the devil!"


"Their reason for killing and destroying such an infinite number of souls is that the Christians have an ultimate aim, which is to acquire gold, and to swell themselves with riches in a very brief time and thus rise to a high estate disproportionate to their merits."


"Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it."

--from A short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, Bartolomé de las Casas, Spanish Dominican Priest, 1552.

Happy Columbus Day, y'all.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Leave Only Footprints, Take Only Photographs

I went camping this weekend! The lady and I packed up and headed north to Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin. Scheduling and financial concerns have weighed heavily on my mind recently, but the thought of topography and stars and some time away with a person I like overrode all that. When she said "I want to go camping!" I didn't hesitate. There was a thirty-two-hour hole in my schedule and we took it.

Bought a new cheap tent (old cheap tent is nowhere to be found!) and sealer. It's a cute little orange and grey thing--the big scientific advancement over the tents we used in Scouts ten years ago is the electrical cord inlet built into the front panel. Her air mattress took up almost the entirety of the floor, leaving some very convenient triangular recesses for clothes and stuff to sleep. We packed up a surprisingly spartan array of stuff, gassed up old Adam Corolla, and hit the road.

When you get to the rural Southeastern corner of Wisconsin, you become aware of three preponderances. The first is of hills (not big ones, but nice ones, like the topography of volleyball players without the mannish walk). The second is of cornfields (which quite honestly didn't strike me one way or another except to keep me on the alert for, and disappointed by the lack of, wildlife.) The third is of McCain/Palin posters staked into almost everybody's front yard. I'm not afraid of spiders or bears or coyotes or cougars, friends, but those blue-and-white signs gave me the willies. I guess here in the political insulation of the relatively reasonable modern American city, we can pretend that those loopy bastards are a fringe cult and not a valid electoral force.

At least one of those loopy bastards turned out to be alright. The firewood guy just off Rte 12 on County H was selling 3 bundles of split fuel logs for ten bucks. You just put your money in the can at the end of the driveway and carted your wood away. It had a very Norman Rockwell or maybe Waltons feel to it. I kept looking around Eagle, WI for two old spinsters handing out "Recipe" to benighted travelers.

So we got to out to campsite 760 and I was pleasantly surprised to find it at once convenient and nicely secluded by heavy foliage and just the right amount of distance between plots. It would be morning before I know that all the nearby sites were occupied, mostly with college students by the fours and families with kids.

When we'd reserved the site, she had been very firm that she wanted a no-frills site. Looking at our options, of which there were tons, she'd decided it would be "Class D" camping for us. Pit toilets a walk away, a fire ring, a concrete strip to keep our car from backing into the tent area and everything else was just woods. At the time, I was (with some admitted prejudice) nervous that she'd regret being so gung-ho from the comfort of her computer chair.

It turns out our rustic little site was just perfect. I felt a little butch after we pitched the tent and called dibs on fire-building privileges. I felt positively exhilarated building my little scout fire. We'd brought a ton of stuff to cook and cook with, and when it came right down to it we kind of ate like barbarians. First we made Jiffy Pop. Henceforth, we used the little Jiffy Pop pan to cook everything else. The beans we left in the cans, and after we washed the cans from the beans and orange wedges, we boiled our carrots, potatoes, and hot chocolate water in them. Marshmallows fell off their sticks and still tasted good. The stars came out on the bluest, clearest night I've known since I moved away from Howard, Pennsylvania eleven years ago.

The night was cold, and I under-dressed for bed, which meant a lot of tossing and turning for me and, for her, probably a lot less sleep than she deserved, having put on layered flannels and a hooded sweatshirt like a prudent person. At six thirty I was up and building a breakfast fire and then she was up with me and it warmed up fast and good snuggles and delicious sausages were to be had and I was in absolutely no hurry to leave.

We cleaned up the site and then plopped back down in the tent on what had turned out to be a very indulgent air mattress and by the time we decided to get up and do our actual outdoor activities (the hiking and exploring and taking pictures bit) we had just enough time to roll up the tent before the rain came. It became a great day for a lazy drive and she fell asleep and I sang along with the radio all the way home.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tonight we're gonna party like it's 5769

It's a New Year (for some people) and it's a new blog for me.

Some people reading this know that I started a new job a few weeks ago at a Reform Jewish Temple, and it's opened my eyes to a lot of things. For one thing, I never knew it would be considered polite to ask a person you just met "Are you Jewish?" This still isn't something your Gentile narrator is going to be asking, but I think it's cool that people just get it out there, with all the neighbourly informality with which folks in New Orleans used to ask me "Where y'at? How ya mama an 'em?"

On Tuesday afternoon (Rosh HaShanah), I was walking north up Broadway at Berwyn (I think 5 lanes across at that point) and a handful of teenage Orthodox boys in their fedoras, etc. hollered at me across the expanse from the opposite sidewalk "Are you Jewish?"

I don't know if it was the suit or the beard I'm sporting (which might actually look like a beard from across the street even if it looks like a preschool macaroni picture up close) or just the fact that I wasn't at work at three in the afternoon. I was flattered. I hollered back, across the traffic. "Me? No."

They kept smiling and waved with no less enthusiasm. "OK!"

Then I realized what I should have said earlier. "L'Shanah Tovah!" I yelled as the bus went by.

They shouted back "What?"

"L'Shanah Tovah!"

They responded in kind like I'd made their day. That was cool. They'd kind of made mine.

I wanted to walk around all day wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I forebore because of my relative ignorance of custom and my fear of accidentally offending someone. Still, in light of recent developments in my personal, professional, and metaphysical (albeit gleefully atheistic) lives, I was feeling Happy New Year. I'm still feeling it. I hope yours and mine are outstanding.

Check back wheneverly: I'll try to keep this page up.