Friday, September 29, 2006


I’ve been having a hard time trying to figure out what stickers to put on my laptop. I know, life is a trial, right? But here’s the thing; There are only three places where a person should seriously consider their choice of ornamental adornment before casually slapping something on: (1) Their Body. (2) Their Vehicle. (3) Their Laptop Computer.

Unlike say, a notebook or a backpack, those three canvases are (or should be) considered declarations of who you ARE and not just an advocation of a passing fancy. There’s nothing more risible than someone walking into a tattoo parlor with no idea of what design they want. Tattoos for their own sake really are stupid. You’re permanently marking your body, if you just want something “cool” as simple adornment, then go get a henna job or just stick to T-shirts of whatever lame contemporary punk band you like.

A tattoo should be a statement about yourself, a visual personality résumé (at least the bullet points). And if you’re getting one, it should show. Business tattoos (ones that can remain hidden at the bearer’s corporate day job) can make you look like nothing more than a weekend warrior. Neck tattoos, however, remain a bad idea. And ladies, keep the needles away from the toes… it just looks white trash.

While certainly not as indelible as a tattoo, the statement made by a car bumper sticker is something the driver cannot deny, much like exiting a public restroom that the person before you stunk up (as any Democrat who’s ever borrowed a car from a Born Again Christian Republican NRA member knows [unlikely as that scenario may be]). If you take a stand on an issue via the permanent bumper sticker, you probably stand firm (removable, faddish magnetic ribbons are another, completely stupid matter). Proclaiming one’s beliefs on a vehicle is a ballsy move, though. You run the risk of vandalism from the opposing side. No doubt many Pro-Choice Hondas have been keyed by those pillars of hypocrisy known as the Right to Lifers. My car is currently (aside from a few glow in the dark stars) sticker-free, but if I come across one of those “mean people suck” stickers, I might just buy one and put it on there… after cutting off the word “mean,” of course.

So, my laptop. I’ve had it for almost two months now, and until last week, the only decoration it held were those ubiquitous GID stars and similarly glowing letters spelling out the name of one of the pages on this website. I went through my envelope of stickers (every adult should have one) at least a dozen times, repeatedly considering a handful, but never fully committing to them.

Like the political bumper sticker on a car, the sticker of a band on your laptop is a sign that you REALLY love this band. I have a lovely sparkly Southern Culture on the Skids sticker from their album Plastic Seat Sweat, but am I THAT much of a SCOTS fan in 2006? There’s that cool Ed Fotheringham sticker from The Muffs’ best album, Blonder and Blonder, and that one may still make the cut. The Matt Pond PA sticker would be on there if it weren’t so damn ugly. The Liz Phair sticker from Whitechocolatespaceegg? Sure, that record was great, but she is so unredeemably awful in her current sellout incarnation that I don’t wanna be guilty by association.

As for my own self-designed TOUGH GUY stickers (of which there are two), at first I just felt… too narcissistic putting them on. Besides, they’re like three years old now, I’m just sick of looking at ‘em. But, perhaps out of resignation, last week I gave up and applied the TG Blinky sticker on the left side of the front of my MacBook. And then I added a small, Bruce Timm-drawn Superman next to the glowing Apple icon. Then I tossed on a few more glow-stars. Then, exhausted, I took a break.

Glow in the dark stars. My own artwork. And Superman. That’s about right. For now, anyway. I've got more space.

In other, less Earth-shaking news, the Fall Tee Vee season is under way and my DVR queue is chockablock… AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL (Caridee is my prediction), NIP/TUCK (which qualifies as a guilty pleasure), GILMORE GIRLS (Amy is already missed… Chachi? Seriously? That’s the best you can do?). REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER (Go, Atheist, Go!). SMALLVILLE (Green Arrow? Without the facial hair?). HEROES (for now, anyway). THE VENTURE BROS. (Sheer brilliance). MY NAME IS EARL (my favorite new show in years). THE OFFICE (Get over it, Anglophiles). And, of course, the ever more essential THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT REPORT (which I consider one show divided into two parts, really). Ah, glorious television… warm, comforting, brain-cell-fucking Tee-Vee… my love for YOU will never die.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Last Wednesday, Gary and I made one of our semi-regular trips to visit Kri-Bro at the Spotted Pig, and as usual, a splendid time was had. Carlos and Rob joined us late in the game and took over our stools for the second “Keep Kristin Sane” shift. Gary and I left about an hour later and began the trek back from Manhattan to the dirty Jerz. We were both quite intoxicated.

The walk from the PATH station to my apartment takes about twenty minutes. When your bladder is loaded to the gills with both booze and water (in a wise attempt to remain hydrated), that can be an eternity. By the time I was a few blocks from my place, I really had to go to the bathroom. With a mere hundred yards or so to go, my bladder was screaming at me to hurry up, so I started running. I got into the building, which unlocked the safety in my brain, and it quickly turned to Go-Time. Halfway up the steps to my second floor apartment, I thrust a hand into my pants for the squeeze-off. Reaching my door, I fumbled for my keys, RACING AGAINST TIME, COME ON, HURRY! HURRY!....

Ah, fuck.

Yes. I peed my pants. Just a wee bit (little pun there), but enough.

The last time I experienced this little incident, I was in the first grade. It was close to Thanksgiving and Mrs. Murphy (my first real life hottie crush) had us making Pilgrim hats and Indian headdresses out of construction paper and Elmer’s glue. Everyone was having trouble, and Mrs.  Murphy was getting impatient, so she told us we couldn’t raise our hands until Art was over. Only problem was, I had to go to the bathroom, but took her admonition seriously. So I squeezed and suffered and soon there was a puddle under my little wooden chair. And to this day, I can remember the whispered exchange I had with Abby Dochat.

“Abby! I had an accident!”
“But Mrs. Murphy said we can’t ask for help!” (thinking I was talking about my project)
“No…” (I pointed down) “… I had AN ACCIDENT”

Soon, Mrs. Murphy became aware of the predicament, and before long, my Mom was there to pick me up and take me home early. And the kicker was, because I got to cut school, nobody made fun of me. In fact, I was the ENVY of everyone else in my class. They waved goodbye jealously as I put on my jacket and headed out. I have to imagine that at least a few other youngsters were squeezing their bladders trying to emulate my actions.

Anyway. Back to last Wednesday.

Post-pee, the first thing I did (after washing my hands, but before taking a shower) was text message everyone I had just been hanging with to tell them of my pants-staining tale. And then, the next day at work, I must’ve related the story a dozen times. And now, here I am, writing about it for all the world (okay, a hundred or so people) to see.

More than one of my friends wondered aloud why I would ever want to share such an embarrassing anecdote. There are a number of reasons. Part of it is that I think it’s a funny story. Part of it is self-deprecation. And yes, part of it is self-absorption (Hey! Listen to a story about ME!). But I think the main reason is, I’m not embarrassed by it. I just don’t care. I’m just a stupid, gross animal like the rest of us, sometimes my body doesn’t do what I want it to (boy, doesn’t it). I do smart things, I do dumb things, sometimes I’m a good person, sometimes I’m not. In the grand scheme of things… oh, wait. There is no grand scheme. I forgot. So why not laugh about it?

Whoops, sorry. My nihilism is showing.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Plus Five

Sometimes I feel guilty about the fact that this website is rarely political. True, it started out as my online portfolio and catalogue back when Tough Guy was created as something else (if you missed that rather self-flagellating post, it’s long deleted, sorry). As writing has replaced art as my main focus, TG has changed to reflect that. And yet, you’re far more likely to read an impassioned rant about the animated adventures of the DC Universe than a dissertation on Darfur. I’m a pop culture pundit, not a political one. It’s not that I’m not involved or don’t care about more serious matters. I just don’t feel overly qualified to talk about them, unlike my pal Dave. But I get so frustrated and angry at how damn stupid this administration both IS and thinks WE are to buy into its myriad lies and reprehensible scare tactics. But then again, that is how W got re-elected two years ago, so maybe they’re not so stupid after all.

Last night a group of us convened at In Vino, a spectacular wine bar in the east village to celebrate Gretchen’s birthday. Four hours and $500 later, we left, buzzed on both incredible food and wine and the even headier intoxicants of camaraderie and friendship.

It was just before midnight when we separated and I put in my iPod earbuds, continuing the Matt Pond PA marathon that I’d started when I left my apartment that afternoon. It was a beautiful evening in Manhattan, crisp and cool with a purple, cloudy sky lit up by the moon. And suddenly, it was September 11th, five years later.

I continued walking to the PATH train at 9th and Sixth Avenue, drunkenly taking in the feel of night in Manhattan. When I got back to Hoboken, I walked along the river, gazing at the breathtaking view of this city that I love so much. Gentrified, corporatized, yes, but still New York, still a city of people from all over the world who realize the importance of culture and community. A city of extremes, beautiful / ugly, rich / poor, pious / godless, sophisticated / trashy, nearly every kind of person there is, all rubbing shoulders with each other, interacting with and affecting each other in a microcosm unlike any other place.

I constantly hear hipsters lamenting the decline of New York, that it isn’t what it used to be, that the real artists have left and the real scenes are long dead. Boo Hoo, poor aging hipsters. So CBGB is moving to Vegas, what a beautiful metaphor for the state of Punk. I got news for you, Spike, things change. Maybe there are fewer venues for good live music in New York, but there are also fewer young people who give a shit, so there you go. I dare you to name a more vibrant place on Earth.

9/11 hurt and hurts more than almost anything I’ve experienced (and I was lucky enough to not lose anyone I knew directly). For those of us who saw it first hand, without the numbing filter of TV and the calming drone of pontificating talking heads, it was surreal and unifying in a way we can’t even describe. If this comes across as hubris on the part of New Yorkers (and those of us in northeastern New Jersey who border the Hudson River), then so be it. I’m not trying to say that the events of that day didn’t affect everyone in the country and the world… they did. I’m not trying to imply that our suffering makes us somehow better. It’s just… different.

But what hurts more now is how the very real tragedy seems to have taught us nothing, that we were unified for a mere heartbeat, that so many people either forgave or forgot that our fearless leader failed in his promise to get “the folks” who perpetrated the attack, that he used it as an excuse to go to a wholly unconnected war in Iraq and that he and his party have abused 9/11 as fear-mongering political fodder. "Patriot Day," my ass. I despise this truly evil administration as much as I adore this city. That’s a lot.

Next up: My thoughts on Heath Ledger as the Joker!! Sigh.