Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Ok, in my ongoing quest to have a venue to bitch about what irks me in every corner of webspace, I just turned in my first post for Creative Loafing's Culture Surfing blog.

And it's about Dan Brown.

Also, I penned my bimonthly entry for A Good Blog Is Hard To Find. Like all the best things, that piece is entirely about me.

One of my favorite albums this year so far is Telepathe's Dance Mother, a jerky, jilted electronic storm, and I wrote a little on it for Resonator Mag.

Last but not least, I most recently talked about sex, bodily functions and a new literary hottie over at BabyGotBooks.

It is my goal to translate net-ubiquitousness to money. Stay tuned for how that happens (it won't).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And when it was good, it was really really good. And when it was bad...

...So, I had this experience, making a Babycakes run before the REStart show last Saturday, which apparently is commonly shared schema for New York amongst most people who've lived here for any extended period of time:

In the cold, blustery, where-the-fuck-is-the-wicked-fucking-witch torrential downpour of rain that is, apparently, the ONLY setting New York has for liquid precipitation (like, what, there's no gentle summer rain here, is there? Oh, right, that's called a "southern rain" for a reason...), as I (kinda grossly, considering the weather) happily jaunted along my way in the nasty, nasty weather, anxious for my Babycakes fix and to be the vessel which provided it for others, my umbrella, apparently deciding that it did not, in fact, want to do the one fucking function it was created for, flipped inside out.

At that moment, I knew not only how Joan of Arc felt but also what it must have been like to find out and actually care that Milli Vanilli were fake-everything true and dear about the way the world operates, good and bad, right and wrong, soycheese and all, had been, literally, turned inside out.

Oh god, bad pun. Ready for another?


Blame it on the rain.

Told you. Anyway, so...

So after talking to Suzan and Choyce, my Resonator Mag co-conspirators and, more importantly, people who do this New York shit every day and have been doing so for a while, I discovered that this whole "umbrella making itself stupid and useless" thing happens pretty regularly, and is, in fact, a major deterrent from spending, say, $55 on a Madonna 2008 Tour Umbrella (not that I would, mind you, but I know a guy).

This, to me, was just one more unexpected twist in a script that I'm sure is being shopped around, tagged "southern boy who isn't really all that southern, or doesn't think he is, moved to the big city and says stuff like 'this sure is pretty' and 'all the flashy lights' and 'do y'all have Firefly Sweet Tea vodka' and 'what do you mean the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show is sold out?', and everyone laughs". Maybe I'm old-fashioned, maybe I'm just a good ol' boy at heart who on a daily basis misses cornbread and laughs at Larry The Cable Guy jokes (I am particularly fond of the one where he objectifies women and insinuates that all blue-collar southern workers are beer-swilling wife-beating belching trailer trash,that one's really hilarious), but where I come from umbrellas do one damn thing and they do it well.

Umbrellas as disposable product, like toilet paper, tampons or books (oh, sorry, too soon? Too soon)? That's not something I can fully support. Also, it kinda freaks me out to think that something that I only used once or twice in my life in Atlanta (seriously, I'm not a fan of sunglasses or umbrellas, though god that Rihanna song kinda haunts this entire post so far, hm?) is now constantly on my mind in New York:

"Should I take my umbrella? Will I leave my umbrella? Did I lose my umbrella? Is that bar playing 'Umbrella?'"

(ok, there's your one reference to it. Sorry, had to.)

Finally, though, Suzan made a comment that resonated (get it, Resonator Mag, resonated, ha ha it's funny ok I give up):

"Living in New York is so awesome", she said, "that God has to punish the people who live here daily." I think she then compared umbrellas turning inside-out to the MTA.

Despite the layer of snarkcasm frosting the comment, it really, really struck me how damn lucky I am to be living in New York. It's something that just, I guess, kind of gets glossed over when I complain about stuff like cafes not having wi-fi. Like, I wrote about that as opposed to writing about how, say, I got to meet Maud effing Newton.

And I guess...I guess I wanted to put something down about the positives. It all kind of hit me last night, when I made my first trek to Bergen St Comics, a place I plan on frequenting often. It's been far too long since I've had a real comic shop or the impetus to actually completely geek out inside one, and Bergen St kinda unleashed that, to the point where I actually got down on my hands and knees to flip through the collected set of Alan Moore's run on Wildcats.

I'll shut up with the geekdom, sorry.

The point, though, is when I was introduced to one of the owners (courtesy of Bookavore, who happens to be manager at what's quickly become another favorite place of mine, Greenpoint bookstore Word)as a new NYC transplant, she casually brought up the New York Magazine "Arrivals" article that I (to a middling extent) was a part of. When I mentioned that, the conversation reached the inevitable point of the question "so, how's New York treating you so far?"

When I gave my honest answer of "well, other than trying to find a full-time job, it's gorgeous and glorious and hard and frustrating and I love every second of it", I realized, right then, that the truth that I'm living doesn't always necessarily come out in this blog. That, like, yeah, I'm cobbling myself together on freelance work and staying with friends. That, yes, I'm seeking a full-time job like whoever it was in that Madonna movie was seeking Susan (I dunno, never seen it).

But by the same token, I've made friends and have seen things and have done things and am in the process of doing things, living things, that I never, ever, ever thought possible. And maybe it's the fact that it's the third consecutive gorgeous day in a row in New York. Maybe it's the fact that my coffee this morning was really good. Maybe it's the fact that I just listened to that one Coldplay song. You know, that one. YES, that one. But, right now, right at this very moment, yeah-New York is cruel and heartless and mean and absolutely lovely and I know I will at some point call this statement right now premature but I will then go back later and say no it wasn't and I'll probably vacillate on it for the rest of my life but at my center will know I mean this, this right now:

I am kinda falling in love with New York. Little by little. And sometimes, the fact that I've had a job of some sort pretty much since I was 15, constantly basing my worth and my sense of purpose, happiness and well-being around that and nothing else but that, clouds my ability to seriously sit down and say things like "this, right now, is fucking amazing" or "last night, just being out with people I can talk to about how the way to save publishing is through _____ (it changes nightly)" or "oh my hellish damn god that is Lemony Snicket". The flurry, the exchange of ideas and the pace and the constant motion and and and and I think this is what, when I was in high school, I'd always hoped college would be (it wasn't). And yes, it's harsh and cruel but damn it if I don't think it is, and shall continue to be, worth it. And it's funny how one revelatory moment in an awesome comic shop made me realize that yes, indeed, I am falling for New York. Hard.

I mean, I see that sign pretty much every day. How could I not be falling for NY? Panini time? Yes PLS.

When I lost my job at Wordsmiths and people heard I was moving to New York to find work, I bristled at the number of times the word "congratulations" came up-as though everyone was seemingly unaware that, in what was my ideal world, I wouldn't, in fact, be moving. That there was absolutely nothing to congratulate me on. I saw myself as an unemployed loser sleeping on a couch and hoping to make something of himself in a city that eats people daily.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm starting to get it now.

Henceforth, when I lose my shit, when I become emotionally unhinged at the seams and begin taking serious hacks into my own self-worth, be it over looking for or having or not having or wanting or needing whatever, I will make my new mantra "panini time", and hope it reminds me of this, right here and right now.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Y So Wifiless

I realize that, in terms of recent entries on here, I'm jumping in chronology a bit by talking about something that just happened, like a topic that I'm still in the process of relieving the resulting back tension from. But I feel it is vital, and urgent, and vitally urgent, that I allow the universal governing force, GodBuddhaStalinBono,to use me as its mouthpiece and speak out on the single biggest plague facing New York right now...


Not to turn into Jerry Seinfeld (but, I mean, really, fuck is the deal with airline food, for real?) here, but this is the third consecutive time I've had to claw, kick, bite and spit in Manhattan to sit down in a cafe, open my laptop and get any sort of work done. I genuinely don't understand what the hell New York freelancers do with their days, but I guarantee you one thing: my ventures into the coffee wilderness here have yielded nothing but shoulders rubbed raw from my laptop back, fractured emotional nerves and weird debit card charges from my assuming a cafe has wi-fi, buying a latte and then tossing it only to find out that I have to trudge on to another coffeeshop because the one I'm at has no public internet. I then, at the next stop on my "tour of indie coffee places", buy ANOTHER latte (since I wouldn't DARE enter one indie with another's beverage), sit at a table and find the exact same problem-no wifi.

Eventually, I just end up at Starbucks. I've actually upped my T-Mobile/Blackberry plan to include a monthly T-Mobile HotSpot plan since this eventual Evil Coffee Empire endpoint seems unavoidable, and, frankly, I've lost too many potentially productive days to inept New York coffee shops.

Yup, inept. Sorry. In this economy (oh my god he said the phrase!), any independent of any breed whatsoever needs support. I'll agree with that. But they also need to, regardless of what type of store it is-sporting goods, books, coffee, cream cheese sculpture-foster a sense of community. This is something my initial read on New York had me praising. The neighborhood bar that my friend with whom I'm currently staying took me to in Astoria had wifi.

A bar! With wifi! Where I come from (Y'allsville Cornbreadnation, I mean, erm, Atlanta), that's unheard of. "What community", I thought. "What a fostering of brand loyalty in what's truly the global economy that's contained within New York."

Yeah, calling bullshit on myself for that one. I think I spoke too soon.

Every indie coffeeshop in New York that doesn't have WiFi is begging for the steamroller of Starbucks to come through and crush it. For everyone one B Cup Cafe that I've found, where I'm invited in, given a slip of paper with the WiFi password and thusly positioned myself to stay a few hours (spending money as I do so), there are a billion others-every other one, really, that I've encountered-where this simple acknowledgement of what the cafe/coffeeshop/whateveryoucall it is at this moment in time-less a venue for the "perfect cup of coffee" and more a thirdspace. Not work, not home, but a location away from either and made to feel reminiscent of both and oh, shit, I just regurgitated Starbucks' marketing material, didn't I?

Hm. Food for thought, innit?

All I know is this: when Wordsmiths, which never in its time actually achieved the cafe that it wanted (and perhaps that could have changed things, perhaps not), was in the initial planning stages, there was never even a question that part of its commitment to community-building and relationship-fostering would necessitate wifi and comfortable seating. This "get the hell in and get the hell out" attitude that seems pervasive of so many independent coffee shops, restaurants and, sadly, bookstores (I can name one book store specifically, in Atlanta, that is the single least-friendly establishment ever created, ever, like the Roman Coliseum was more hospitable) right now signals to me that this idea of community is falling by the indie wayside into the gutter, to be picked up and capitalized on by those who pay attention. Unfortunately, most of those who are paying attention in my field of vision are the Starbucks, the McDonalds (they all have free wifi), the Popeyes Chicken (ditto). In the words of the great 12th Century metallurgist and poet James Hetfield, "it's sad but true".

So, c'mon, indie coffee joints, step your game up. You can justify, as one of my favorite indie coffee places in New York that actually doesn't have wifi but that does have cupcakes provided by the comedienne who is unaware that I've adopted her as my mother does, that to invoke the beckoning call of "free wireless internet" would only encourage customers to camp out all day (some not actually ever even engaging in the act of commerce with the establishment, thus not really counting as a "customer" at all). I can understand that logic, I can. For the record, every venue I plop myself to pilfer the wireless net-tubes gets some of my hard-earned government-provided unemployment check, because, well, I've been on the side of the indies. I cried at the loss of an indie that put my blood, sweat and tears into. I root for the underdog. And, well, I'm a socialist.

But Jesus H Christonacross, do you really think that "oh, people might come and stay" is a valid point for not providing a service? Also, do I have to illustrate what seems painfully obvious to capitalist me-the longer people stay, the more they will either need more of or may possibly need for the first time the goods you purvey. Isn't making a first-time customer of someone who's taken up nothing but ass-space and oxygen in your establishment (and the potential of repeat business and brand loyalty from said ass-space-taker) better than never having that person come in?

I don't know. I can't answer that question. I do know this, though: until a bunch indie coffee places wise up like that Aimee Mann song, I'm going to be seeing this a lot more:

Starbucks. Third Place. Wifi. Loyalty. There's a lesson in business to be learned there.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

REStart photo recap

In the long list of things that I have yet to recap, Saturday's Resonator Magazine party is one of them. And now, the photo recap from the party is up. And there are some great, great photos.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New York The First

Oh, hello, I didn't see you there.

So, it would appear (in case you haven't heard) that I'm in New York. The Big Apple. The center of the universe. The place, really, where they make the salsa. But not that you'd know, dear reader (he arrived), because I haven't been blogging.

To quote Ani Difranco's banter on the Living In Clip album (a record I used to listen to obsessively before she cost me a week of my life and like 10 lbs), I walked around NY with my mouth hanging open for about three days. Though, honestly, that's a gross underestimation, because my mouth is, in fact, still hanging open.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself...

That's the one-way ticket.

(The first one-way ticket that I've ever purchased. There's something weirdly emotive and poetic in that, and I just chose to ignore it.)

To briefly recap the story of our protagonist thus far, for those who either are unfamiliar with it or (more likely) just really don't pay attention:

Moved from Atlanta to NYC to "pursue opportunities", which is polished and spit-shined verbiage for "job hunting". Staying with a dear friend in Astoria who, once I actually acquire enough funds for my own abode, will be repaid in spades. Not WITH spades, though, because really what kind of appreciative gift is a fucking garden tool?

Anyway-in the couple of weeks I've been here thus far, everything's happened in a bit of whirlwind rush, to the point where, having this massively-delayed blog being as, um, massively delayed, as it is, has only resulted in everything smearing and smudging in my brain and in my (poorly kept) notes, like so much fingerpaint on butcher paper. Rather than attempt to string this out and back together, I'm going to resort to getting this birthed through poorly-captioned cameraphone photos and brief anecdotes. So, basically, like my life.

To begin with, immediately upon landing in LaGuardia I splurged and took a cab (omg, a cab) from the airport to my friend's apartment in Astoria. Lest you raise an eyebrow at this extravagant indulgence for someone living on government cheese (what I call my unemployment benefits), realize: I was traveling with the single most obnoxious suitcase ever, as a result of me, stupidly, replacing a worn and battered carry-on suitcase with a suitcase even smaller than the original. In addition to that, I had my full-to-the-point-of-exploding laptop case. So a cab was beyond a luxury-it was a necessity for my own sanity.

Speaking of sanity, and the keeping/losing of it: I arrive at the apartment building in Astoria. I make it inside the first door. My mind turns off at the excitement of finally being able to put my heavy bags down. Also, lest you need reminding, at the excitement of being in New Fucking York, which is what the entire state is henceforth retitled.

I walk to the apartment door. I attempt to open it with the keys my friend had passed to me on my last New York trip. The door, my friends, the door-it does not open.

I can assure you, good folks, that that was the loudest not-opening door I've ever heard. My brain was screaming. I tried scratching at the locks, I tried running my debit card (credit card? What's that? Oh those things that mean you don't have to actually have money to buy things? Yeah, those are bad) through the side of the door, I stopped for a minute and checked my phone to see if I had the cellular number of either Jack Bauer or MacFuckingGyver (who gets a similar re-titling to the state of New Fucking York).

I called my friend whose apartment I was trying to get into. Who was at work. She, politely and calmly, apologized to me, explaining that, not being 100% sure she'd checked both keys before she gave them to me, my inability to open the apartment door was entirely her fault. I shushed her, we hung up, I spent another two hours clawing, crying and fighting the damn door to try to get in. I sliced the top of my right hand open from trying to force a key that didn't fit into a lock that didn't want it.

All together now-story of my life.

Finally, after having given up, restarted my assault on the apartment door, given up again, begun trying to read a book, and then repeated the entire scenario several times, I made a frantic phone call to a different NYC friend. After she calmed me (for the record, it took like every person I encountered that Friday to calm me, including, like, various homeless people), she told me that I was, in fact, in a safe area, and that I should leave my awfully-full suitcase, take what I needed, and go to Brooklyn, where I had plans that night. After confirming with my friend whose apartment I couldn't get into that she'd bring my suitcase and such inside later that evening, I left my suitcase outside the apartment door and took off, bloody hand and all, to go to Brooklyn.

(Does anyone else think "To Brooklyn With A Bloody Hand" would make a great album name?)

The next morning, I awoke to the most amazing revelation. A voicemail from my friend informing me that, amusingly, she'd found my suitcase, but that it was outside the wrong apartment. She gave me the benefit of the doubt-that I was obviously super-intelligent and knew which apartment I should've been trying to get into.

Obviously NOT, folks. OBVIOUSLY. NOT.

My very first night in New York, and I had spent two solid hours trying to get into the wrong apartment. Break into, actually. If whomever actually lives in that apartment had come home, they'd have had every single legal right to call the cops and have me arrested for attempted break-in.

Me, to New York: Let's be friends.

New York: Fuck. OFFfffffffffff.

The rest of the past couple of weeks has been a weird juxtaposition of insane, theme park ride-ish heights (running into Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler in a Starbucks) and equally insane, bipolar freakouts as a result of my inability to find a full-time job.

There was also last Friday's very, very strange and unexpected New York magazine "Arrivals" photo shoot (for new/recent arrivals to NYC), which I participated in and is sort-of online here. Excuse the fact that the quote they pulled from my written interview basically makes me look as though I'm a serious loser by trade and by choice, and also excuse the fact that the photo is basically the promotional still for my forthcoming film, "Russ Goes To Prison".

For a photo representative of that day, I much prefer this:

Yeah. New York Magazine couldn't afford real name tags that weren't mailing labels. Whatever. And whatever to the awful quote and the atrocious Nick Nolte-worthy mugshot. I haven't found a full-time job yet, I'm still imposing on the good graces of wonderful folks for a living situation, but, fact of the matter is, I am, to some extent, in an issue of New York Magazine. And, unless you're one of the two famous people who read my blog, you're not.

And, for having barely put my bag down yet? That's not too damn bad.

In terms of my recap? We'll stop there for today. There's more to come, involving fucked-up flipped-and-destroyed umbrellas, a potential mugging, and drunken DJing. But that can wait til next missive.

Now, um, about that job...


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Once more into the shameless self-promotion

You have a week to plan:

Further info is here. Yes, that does mean I'll be DJing.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I am, indeed, in New York. And alive-ish. Not as "so alive" as that Love and Rockets song, nor am I as alive as Frampton was (and I don't have that cool talkboxy thing that turns your guitar and voice into a robot anthem). 

And I am getting sick. Apparently everything in New York is a functioning disease buffet for my southern immune system. Smallpox subways, indeed.

Don't bother clicking the "continued" link below, this is it. There's an update coming. Until then, go read this