Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bodies and Fonts

It was an action-packed holiday at our household. And by action-packed, I mean chaotic in a somewhat good way.

We've had bunches of people in from out of town, as well as us leaving and coming back to town; all sorts of Christmas mayhem, capped off by the fact that mice have found some way to gain access to our house. I know this because our lovely Ms. Mina has been presenting them to me as Christmas gifts.

Although I do love giving the cat something to do during the day, I do not enjoy cleaning up carcasses every time I enter the house, so I will be picking up some supplies on the way home today.

OK, getting away from that macabre topic, I did manage to get out to see Helvet1ca on Thursday night. You may remember Helvet1ca as the band I saw a few months ago at a place with a crappy sound system while I had a raging cold. This time, I was able to see them as they were meant to be seen, and let me say that if you're a fan of Radiohead (I like Radiohead's sound, just not Thom Yorke's voice, so this was a nice switch) or Sonic Youth (on some songs, Eric Livingston sounds like a dead-on Thurston Moore), check these guys out.

This time, I didn't have a camera with me, but Agent Paprika was kind enough to send me some photos from her phone. She's got an eye for art, even with a camera phone.

Listen to Helvet1ca here or here. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

There go my dreams of opening a cala mari steakhouse...

The preserved body of a giant squid has been put on display at the Melbourne Aquarium.

The squid is seven metres long and weighs 250 kilograms (which is something like 800 feet long and 26 million pounds, I think. I don't do metric.) and is displayed frozen in a giant block of ice.

Some disturbing revelations have arisen concerning this squid. From the article:
And while he said the squid was a wonderful specimen, there was a good reason why it won't end up at one of Melbourne's seafood restaurants. Giant squids have urea running through their bloodstream, which smells strongly of ammonia. "It is lighter than water so it helps keep them buoyant at those very low depths," Mr. Kirby said. "But I wouldn't touch one. It would be like eating a bowl of bleach."

I feel like I've been lied to. Why are we devoting all this time to learning more about giant squids if we can't eat them?

Link to story

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Children Were Nestled...

All snug in their bed.

Shane and Mina sleeping in on a lazy winter morning.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I gotta Whole Lotta Love for this time of year.

I am really getting into the Christmas Spirit this year! From watching Olive, the Other Reindeer (my favorite) while wrapping gifts, to cranking Led Zeppelin while making cookies, it's turning into an awesome holiday this year!

I think the Led Zeppelin thing will be a new tradition. Yesterday at a local used record store, we found a stack of old Zeppelin records for $2 each. I've always liked Zeppelin, but never owned any. I once refused to own any because, in my punk rock days, I was too busy not liking the people who were in to them to own any of the music. This has now been addressed and we made Russian teacakes while jamming out to When the Levee Breaks.

Now, here's a few photos of Christmas at my house:

The Tree is much wider in the house than it looked on the lot...

But Halloween Cat likes to look at it.

So do Jack and Sally.

They are also fans of the stockings. We don't have a fireplace, so they're hung by the TV with care instead.

This is our Santa. My Grandma made him. Note there are also elements of Noah or St. Francis, too. And his robe kicks some serious ass!

Friday, December 16, 2005

I've joined forces in the name of expansion! Soon, the whole Internet will be mine.

I think we all got into blogging for the same reasons - to meet people, get our writing read, and to work our way toward world domination by way of the Interwebs. Am I right?

With total world domination in mind, I am establishing my prescence elsewhere on the Internets.

I have joined forces with Mike over at This are Music. This is where I will be writing all my music-related posts (news, record and concert reviews, etc.).

Stop by and check it out. You won't be sorry, especially once I control the Western world and get to decide who gets a cushy position shucking oysters in my kitchen, and who has to go work in my underground salt mines.

A piece of fine art for my very own!

I got my Secret Santa gift the other day!

Sorry it took so long to post it, I needed a chance to take a picture.

Thank you FineArtist!

I got a box of smelly goodness! There was piece of art, along with the model! Seriously, how often do you get both?

This theme first appeared in this post by FineArtist.

And here it is now:

This is on my living room floor. I am going to hang it in my office, but my office is in such chaos that I don't want to post a photo of that! Plus, for now, it needs to sit by the tree with the rest of the presents.

There is also a personal note on the drawing. I had a close-up of it, but it also clearly had FineArtist's name, so I opted not to post it. It says "Nag Champa make me feel pretty. I know it's not just me, my brother-in-law says they make him feel pretty too."

The incense will be enjoyed for a while to come, and then I will need to figure out where I can buy own Nag Champa. FineArtist is right, it's an addictive smell; earthy, but not heavy like patchouli. It's very cleansing, and yes, it does make me feel a bit pretty.

Thank you, and Happy Holidays!

I still need to get my Secret Santa gift. I haven't been slacking, I've been looking for something particular...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I respond to the Christmas Challenge!

Chepner posted a challenge on her Blog, daring anyone to outdo the Straub beer cap on her Christmas tree as an odd ornament. I promised I could outdo it and here it is.

What outdoes a beer cap ornament? Try a beer cap garland!
Shown with a bottle of "The Champagne of Beers" for better effect.

Ok, the story behind it: I was just out of college, Nicole was in her Senior year. We had no money for Christmas. We had no money period. We were living in a 2-room flat, and it was the first time we had our own place, just the two of us. In prior years, we had been in giant houses with tons of roommates.

Like I said, we really didn't have enough money for gifts, but we still wanted a special Christmas. We bought a $10 fake tree from Target (it was the most pathetic fake tree EVER!) and made our ornaments. This included some tinfoil stars and the pictured beercap garland. All of the caps actually came from the bar I worked at; there are some premium caps on there for beers that were not in my price range at the time!

We put the string of caps on the tree every year still, kind of as a nod to the povery days. It reminds us that we're lucky to be where we are, and also reminds us that even though we were young and poor, we had a lot of fun. I want my kids to see those garlands and know that things aren't always gonna be great, but as long as you remember what's important, you'll be alright.

Old people need to stop trying to ruin my Christmas!

So I am starting to get into the swing of things, Christmaswise, even if it's not altogether in a traditional sense.

I took yesterday off to get my Christmas shopping done, and got a large portion of it finished,and I even had time to get lunch and a beer with Mike, as well as going up to the 44th district court to address a bench warrant on my wife. Good news! She won't be going to jail!

Seriously, I find it interesting that they can drop that kind of threat on you over a parking ticket from an expired meter, but they do claim that they have that right.

Last night, I chased away the winter blues by going out for some summer food - raw oysters and hurricanes at Howe's Bayou. Today the blues are back; we are getting buried in snow, and all I can think about is what a bitch getting home will be.


When it comes to Christmas shopping, there are pros and cons to spending a day on it.

On the pro side, there are fewer people out there, lines tend to be shorter, parking lots less crowded.

On the con side, the people that are out there tend to be senior citizens who can't do anything quickly.

I don't mind the elderly, except when I'm driving behind them, or standing behind them at a checkout. As if the slow driving weren't bad enough, I really can't figure out how a person in front of me at a checkout can have one or two items and manage to take 10 minutes paying for them. Especially when I get up there and it's wham, scan, thank you ma'am.

And don't get me started on the U-scans at the grocery store. Those are designed to give me an expedited shopping experience. I can buy som cat food and a soda and be out the store four minutes after I've entered. Unless they are occupied by elderly people who have to press their faces two inches from the screen to read what it says - and then they get in their cars and drive away! I don't care how slow they're driving, if you can't see the screen, odds are you're a danger on the road.

There are also the social shoppers out during the day. These are the people (also usually elderly) who are apparently so starved for attention that they try to make a meaningful moment with the cashier as they're checking out, and while I'm waiting behind them. Look, I don't care about your life story or who you're shopping for, and neither does the cashier. That cashier is a college student who gets paid $6/hour to ring you up, and that's not nearly enough for them to have to listen to your life as well. This is what bartenders are for, so make your purchase and go get a margarita at T.G.I.Friday's if you need to talk to someone. Just remember to tip well.

I realize that I'm preaching to the choir here, but this was more a need to vent some venom. People need to figure out that shopping is a process with a beginning, middle and end; it's fine to complete that process in any way you like, just don't do it in a way that impedes me on my day off.

That just makes me cranky.

And the snow shall be red with the blood of the unbelievers... ummmm I mean Merry Christmas!

A lot of people go way overboard with their Christmas decorations. Sometimes it's an obnoxious light display that slows traffic. Sometimes people put up massive Nativity Scenes to display their religious convictions, or Santa and some reindeer to express their love of the holiday.

But what does it mean when their display includes Santa on a bloody killing spree?

One couple in New York put up a display in front of their mansion displaying just that. Amidst a scene of carnage, Santa is holding a knife and a bloody severed head.

Regardless of your initial reaction, the couple claims its a form of protest with religious meaning:
Krupnik told the New York Post it was a statement about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas. "Christmas has religious origins,'' he said. "It's in the Bible. Santa is not in the Bible. He's not a religious symbol.''

Not the track I would have taken. If I had a display like this and a reported asked why I did it, my reply would simply be, "because it's really freaking cool."

Link to news story
Link to site with more pics

Turning the tables on Santa

If that wasn't hilarious enough for you, a Florida man decided to lynch Santa. He's not talking about why he did it, but I bet it has something to do with not getting a toy train when he was seven.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Taking the day off. Going Christmas shopping. Wish me luck, and may God have mercy on my soul.

Happy Monkey Day Everybody!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


One thing about advertising is the schwag. Vendors and suppliers give gifts to their clients and potential clients.

I am just a lowly writer; schwag rarely makes it to me, although I get the occasional piece of trickle-down stuff that's been castaway from higher-ups. But 'tis the season - Nicole and I both got Christmas schwag from clients this year.

She got this lovely box of imported chocolates and truffles from the fine folks at Yahoo.

I got this box of gift wrap and supplies from one of our vendors (Unlike the Yahoo chocolates, when you don't slap your name on it, people forget who it's from... oh well)...

I got it because it came to my boss. She's Jewish.

Nicole's present is tastier; mine is more practical. While we agree on that, we're unsure whose gift is better. I think we're leaning toward the candy, though.

Don't Forget! Monkey Day is tomorrow!

Tomorrow is Monkey Day! Are you ready to party?

Monkey Day Web Site

Katrina's Mysterious 21

Yahoo News has an interesting article about Hurrican Katrina's "Mysterious 21", the bodies of people who apparently died of other than natural causes.

First off, while gruesome, 21 is a surprisingly low number of suspicious deaths, based on the reports of chaos we were getting. It's a very small portion of the death toll. The death toll currently stands at 1,090 for New Orleans and the surrounding areas, although at this point over 6,000 people are simply unaccounted for (that's not a typo - over 6,000 people, simply missing).

Also, the article hints at the morbidly interesting details of the investigative process with this tidbit:

"You can take a rib and cook it down," he said. "You can deflesh it, and we do that in a Crock-Pot, and find a nick that would indicate a stab wound. There are all kinds of things you can find — scratches and nicks that don't belong there."

However, Cataldie stressed, what may look like stab wounds may very well be the marks of animals preying on the dead. "There's definitely carnavoric activity on many of the bones we're seeing," he said.

I would love to work at the ad agency that handled Crock-Pots. I would design a whole campaign around it. "I made a pot of chili last night, and today I'm defleshing a corpse... Crock-Pot - it's so much more than a cooker..."

I'm sorry if it's gruesome, but I love forensic science. I watch all of the autopsy shows on HBO, and get routinely drawn into CSI and Crossing Jordan. Call it a sick fascination, but I think the only thing that prevented me from some sort of biological science was my poor math abilities.

Link to story

Choosing a Christmas Tree...

No, that's a Christmas Bush...

And this one is just too small. Sorry little guy, maybe next year...

How about this one?


Or maybe not... but what's this over here?


Now get to work...

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Touch of Light in Downtown Ferndale

This weekend marked what is the official start of Christmas celebrations for us. Every year, we head up north with a couple of our friends and bring back our Christmas trees. I have photos from the day, and I will post them tomorrow.

Today, I want to plug a local artist. His name is John Fitzpatrick. He lives a half block away from me, but his studio is in downtown Ferndale.

John is the owner/resident artist at Touch of Light. He is amazingly talented (that's his work on this post), and an all-around nice guy.

We stopped into his shop yesterday to buy some Christmas gifts for some family members, and ended up being invited into the studio for a cup of coffee and to watch John work. It was fun, fascinating and very relaxed, and if we didn't need to get shopping done, I could have sat there all day. As it was, we sat there for almost two hours.

So if you're in the area and you need a unique gift, stop into Touch of Light. Support a local artist and give someone a work of art. If you're there, be sure to tell him Ryan and Nicole sent you!

23426 Woodward Avenue
Ferndale, MI 48220
(1/2 Mile south of 696 on Woodward Ave.)
(248) 543-1868
Web site (with a gallery)

I think we all knew the robot invasion would come someday...

We, as Americans, have known for a long time that we can't trust Europe. It now seems like they are up to something again, this time involving giant robots.

The European Union is on the forefront of robotics research right now, apparently because of the fact that the countries there are able to play nice with one another.

Among their robotic constructions hellbent on taking over the world is HYDRA. HYDRA is a robotics project based out of Denmark and is purported to be an Honest-To-God Freakin Transformer! From the article:
It is made up of modules, each containing its own processors, batteries, sensors and actuators, which can attach and detach from each other so the robot can change its physical form. Such a robot could be used, for example, in relief efforts after an earthquake, said Henrik Hautop Lund, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark and HYDRA's coordinator. Having driven to a site, the robot could transform into a crawler to climb over debris, a snake to get through a hole, or columns to hold up a collapsed building and protect a survivor.

Give me a call when he figures out how to change from a sweet robot to a wicked Trans Am.


Friday, December 09, 2005

And now for something unbelievable...

I was at a karaoke bar with some friends last week, and while people were suggesting songs for each other to sing, Unbelievable by EMF was suggested.

I was in high school when that song came out; I got the cassette for my birthday (incidentally, the rest of the album blew, and EMF readily earned the title of One-Hit Wonder). It had heavy rotation both on the MSU’s radio station and at the club we went to every weekend. It was a decent song that quickly faded to being a minor sports anthem.

This particular night at the karaoke bar, when it was suggested, one of the girls at the table greeted the suggestion with a blank look. When I told her the age of the song, she replied, “Oh, I was five when that came out. No wonder I don’t know it.”

As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel old, I heard the song on a commercial this morning. But it gets worse.

One thing that’s good at making one feel old is when a song you’ve known, loved, and grown with is in a commercial for something that you feel is targeted toward an older demographic. When Psychic TV was featured on a Volkswagen commercial, I didn’t flinch; they were trying to sell me a Volkswagen by using my music, and that put me in a young hip demographic.

When Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life appeared in Carnival Cruise line commercials with the “liquor and Drugs” cleaned out, it hurt a bit, as did the appearance of the Clash's London Calling in a Jaguar commercial. Still, these songs were out for a while before I discovered them.

Now, EMF’s Unbelievable made an appearance on a commercial; not just any commercial, it's a commercial for Kraft cheese. Not only that, they either got the band or a sound alike to recut the vocals, and now the commercial for Kraft Cheese Crumbles boasts that this particular cheese is “Crumbelievable.”

Now, the cheese product in question may indeed be Crumbelievable; I’ve not tried it. I do know that this commercial makes me feel a bit on the ancient side, though.

Link to Kraft’s site, where they are lauding the merits of this Crumbelievable cheese.

Things that make you go "Blak"

In an attempt to appear hip and edgy while maintaining a stranglehold on the world soft drink market, Coke will be launching a coffee/cola concoction next year.

The drink, called Coca-Cola Blak, will be a low-calorie, coffee-infused version of Coca-Cola Classic. Intended to compete with Red Bull and Starbucks at the same time, the drink will launch in France in early 2006, and go worldwide later in the year.

Here's the "buzz" from Coca-Cola's corporate site:
Coca-Cola Blāk is not just a flavor extension. It is a blend of unique Coke refreshment with the true essence of coffee and has a rich smooth texture and has a coffee-like froth when poured. We believe we have created a new category of soft drink – an adult product in a carbonated beverage – and a whole new drinking experience.

Coffee and Coca-Cola; two great tastes that taste "Blak" together.
Link to news story.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Day 5 - Just a lazy day in Paris

Welcome to Day 5! Sit back and relax.

Unlike our prior days in Paris, we had reached the point where we wanted to have a lazy day; we wanted to enjoy Paris at the rate it was supposed to be enjoyed. With no place to be, we headed off to Montmartre.

Sacre Coeur and Montmartre

Situated further away from the city center, The Basilica of the Sacre Coeur is a cathedral high atop the the hill of Montmartre. Aside from being a beautiful site surrounded by a neighborhood that feels like authentic “old world” Paris, the neighborhood surrounding Sacre Coeur was and still is a haven for artists.

As you exit the Metro station you realize that you are at the bottom of a very steep hill. Although we were pretty sick of climbing at this point in our trip, at least we were ascending an incline rather than stairs. It didn’t hurt so much.

After a steep climb through a block or two of shops, you reach the base of the hill actually leading up to Sacre Coeur.

Sacre Coeur is a bit of an anomaly. Despite the appearance of its architecture, construction only began on it in 1875, with it being completed in 1914. There are also all sorts of controversial reasons for its construction; some even suggest it was built to atone for the behavior of the artists in the surrounding area, and that their loose living may have even lead to France’s loss in the Franco-Prussian war.

Regardless of the reason for its construction, it was a beautiful place and a great place to spend a day.

At the front of the church, which is a shrine to Joan of Arc, we encountered a blend of the sacred and the profane; a Japanese model in hot pants was posing for a photo shoot by doing the splits on the stone steps in front of the church. I was taken aback a bit, and I apologize for not having a photo of this, but I was using my video camera at the time.

Inside the church, I once again encountered the thing that had most perturbed me at Notre Dame – the lack of respect for a holy place. Bear in mind that Advent had just started, and not only were people carrying on with the usual things I had complained about at Notre Dame, they were doing so oblivious to the fact that Mass was going on! Next Sunday, go down to the local Catholic church during Mass, and wander about, inspecting the art. Talk loudly as you do so. See how much of an ass you feel like, and wonder how others can be so oblivious.

Walking through Montmartre

As we left Sacre Coeur, we wandered through the streets of Montmartre. At this point, I must deliver the highest amount of praise for Rick Steves’ Paris 2005 book. Its walking tour of Montmartre was exemplary in that it not only called out the traditional sights that every book called out, it also pointed out the sights that we wanted to see, and yet books fail to mention because they are private residences, not tourist attractions.

So, not only did we see the Place du Tertre, the courtyard where artists sit outside selling their paintings, we also were able to find Le Bateau-Lavoir, the laundry boat, a block of houses that used to be an artist compound. It was here that many people who would become famous artists lived and played, and it was within these walls that Pablo Picasso invented cubism.

In addition to Le Bateau-Lavoir, we saw the house where Vincent Van Gogh lived with his brother Theo, and our favorite – a non-descript little house where Toulouse-Lautrec lived…

where every night he would dress up and wander down the hill to what is still, within a few blocks of the Cathedral, Paris’ red light district. As we reached the bottom of the hill, we stumbled upon the Moulin Rouge. There is very little glamor to it. It sits on a strip of seedy strip bars and sex shops. That being said, we of course wandered down the street scoping out the sights, spying a French prostitute here and a dirty old man there, then we boarded the train at Pigalle (pronounced “pig alley”, and a more appropo name does not exist), to do a little shopping over by Sacre Coeur, then it was back into the city proper.

After a bit more last-minute shopping by the Louvre, where I got into a scuffle with a Japanese tourist. Yes, that’s true; although it was actually more of a shoving match than a scuffle… not proud of it, but it happened…. Then it was time for a drink.

Harry’s New York Bar

One sight we had promised Nicole’s dad we would take in was Harry's New York Bar. When he was in Paris, it was one of his favorite places, and a stop for a drink fit well with the pace of the day.

Harry’s New York Bar was opened by an American in 1911. it was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hangouts, and rumor has it that the Bloody Mary was invented here. With this in mind, this is what we ordered.

First off, that was probably the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had! The bartenders are masters of their craft. No only were the Bloody Marys made from scratch, while we sat at the bar we watched the bartenders, in white lab coats, make an array of drinks from scratch, including a mojito where the bartender first ground up the mint leaves with a mortar and pestle.

The walls were adorned with pennants from every American university you could think of, and the placed just oozed with class, albeit an American brand of class. You could really feel why American expats have made this their watering hole through the years. Even the price (the Bloody Marys were $12.50 a pop, but well worth it) didn’t turn me off of the place.

Now it was back to the hotel for one last drop off, one last freshen up, and a glass of wine before our last meal in Paris.

We wanted our last meal in Paris to be extra-special, so I consulted Rick Steve for another suggestion, and found a restaurant he raved about for its “traditional French dishes”, which is what we had been eating all week. I would never go so far as to say that Rick Steve steered us wrong at this point; I just wasn’t expecting what we’d find. A glance at the menu on the door outside revealed that the place specialized in tripe dishes, as well as a few other items made from organ meat. While it was traditional, it wasn’t what we were looking for, so we moseyed on.

Our second choice looked very nice and we walked in and sat down. When the menu came, we realized that, although it was a nice restaurant, it was a nice Italian restaurant, and we really wanted French food. It was now nearing 11, and in a bit of a panic, we simply chose the next restaurant we saw.

Le Bistrot du 7

Le Bistrot du 7 looked like a nice enough place, and they did offer a price-fixe menu. This is the way we ate almost every night. Price-fixe simply means you choose an appetizer, entrée and dessert from a set list, and there is a set price for the trio.

At first, we thought we were getting bad service here, but after observing a bit, we realized the waiter was simply brisk and formal with everyone, and he was actually quite nice.

The food was the best we had in Paris! We started with a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad, and the tomatoes were the freshest I’ve had since August. Once again, I had duck; this particular duck was a leg and thigh that had been soaked and then cooked in duck fat. It sounds odd, but it’s very rich and very tender. Nicole had veal in a mushroom cream sauce, served with pommes frites, of course, and we finished the meal with crème brulee of course. Add a bottle of excellent wine, and it was a great meal to finish our trip.

Hustling back to a Metro stop in order to get on before the trains stopped running, something wasn’t right. According to my map, we should have been by a stop, but we just weren’t seeing one. I asked a passing pedestrian for help:

Me: Pardon, s’il vous plait. Ou est la metro? (Excuse me, please. Where is the metro?)
Woman: La metro? (The metro?)
Me: Oui. (Yes)
Woman: Ici! (Here!)

She then pointed at a point 10 feet behind where we were standing, where, sure enough, the stairs of the metro went down below the street. I gave her a laughing shrug which is the universal symbol for “I am a drunken idiot!” and we laughed and went on our way.

Not too bad for the final conversation of the trip completed entirely in French.

That concludes our trip journal. The next day consisted of checking out, taking a cab to the airport, and flying for nine hours. A liberal amount of bourban facilitated this flight quite nicely, and we slept through most of it.

Thanks for playing along at home during this special miniseries, and we take you now to your regularly scheduled blog.

La vie Boheme

December 24th, Nine PM
Eastern Standard Time
From here on in I shoot
without a script
See if anything comes of it
Instead of my old shit…

I saw Rent last night. The film this time. I’ve been to the play twice now, so this is the third time I’ve seen it in some form. I can’t hear the music from Rent without feeling reborn, re-inspired and sad at the same time. Rent is the Hair of my generation. It’s the story of a bunch of close friends who are living life at the close of the 90’s.

How do you document real life
When real life is getting more like fiction each day?

Rent reminds me of a house in Kalamazoo 10 years ago. There were about eight of us living there. We were broke and starving, and the house wouldn’t get warmer than 40 or 50 degrees all winter. But we were really happy.

Dearly beloved we gather here to say our goodbyes
Here she lies
No one knew her worth
The late great daughter of mother earth
On this night when we celebrate the birth
In that little town of Bethlehem
We raise our glass - you bet your ass to
-La vie Boheme

As long as there was money for beans, rice, and a case of Huber Bock (seven dollars for a case of bottles back then), we all had a great time. It didn’t matter that at least once a day our cat would give us a mouse or a bat she’d found in the basement, or that we moved our mattresses to that same basement to sleep next to the furnace where it was warmest. I have really fond memories of that time.

To days of inspiration
Playing hookie, making something out of nothing
The need to express, to communicate
To going against the grain
Going insane, going mad

I was going to film school, and I was going to make documentaries. Hell, I was going to be a frickin’ artist and I was going to write the great American novel, and die poor but loved forever by other poor Bohemian artists. I worked the door at a bar, and at 2 am there were always a bunch of us back at one of these old houses, drinking, smoking and figuring out where to go next.

To loving tension, no pension
To more than one dimension
To starving for attention
Hating convention, hating pretension
Not to mention of course, hating dear old mom and dad

We were the biggest bunch of freaks, and everyone knew it. Years later, we still meet people who remember being at our house for some gathering or another, and yet I never met. I like to think I was THIS close to being a legend, even if it was only in my own mind. There was not much further to go… some of you guys who read this were part of those days. Remember Julie’s birthday party when the Mad Butchers played in that basement with its six-foot ceiling? Remember Nicole’s birthday where everyone had to dress up as an associate of the Kennedy family or part of the assassination conspiracy? It was all high weirdness, but fun.

To riding your bike, midday
Past the three- piece suits
To fruits, to no absolutes
To Absolut, to choice
To the Village Voice
To any passing fad
To being an us-for once-, instead of a them –
La vie Boheme

What happened? I never planned on ending up in automotive advertising. Hell, advertising was a tool of the man. It was never something to trust; marketing was mind control. I was meant for bigger writing pursuits. The music from Rent turns me back toward these pursuits for a while.

I'm shouting in my sleep
I need a muzzle
All this misery pays no salary, so
Let's open up a restaurant in Santa Fe
Oh sunny Santa Fe would be nice
Let's open up a restaurant in Santa Fe
And leave this to the roaches and mice
I sometimes wonder where it changed. I wonder if there was a point, one single point where this was all determined, and I missed it. I sometimes wonder if it’s not time to call it quits, to make that film, to write that book, to open that bar, and then I wonder when I’ll have the time…

We'll pack up all our junk and fly so far away
Devote ourselves to projects that sell
We'll open up a restaurant in Santa Fe
Forget this cold bohemian hell
And then sometimes, when I think about it, it hasn’t changed at all. I have a new circle of friends, and we have day jobs, but they are still the most amazing crazy bunch of dumbasses to be around. We talk about music and art, and we create music and art. We read, write and drink. The artist community is still there; we just grew up a little bit, and we can afford to drink better stuff. I would do anything for these guys.

The opposite of war isn’t peace.
It’s creation.

I think this post is getting really cliché, so I’ll end it with this: Go see Rent. It’s that good.

Also, if you think this post was pretty artsy fartsy, humor me and keep your frickin' mouth shut.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Today I am a fireman...

I'm putting out some fires today, so Day 5 will be up tomorrow morning. So sorry to keep you waiting for the last installment of the trip. Thanks for your patience!

Detroit's Homeless Animals Need Help!

UPDATE: Apparently the animals will not be euthanized, but I don't think this is the end of this. The current statement is that Animal Control will be locking its doors for two weeks, and no animals will go in or out during that time, but existing residents will be fed and watered. There has been no official statement as to what will happen when the doors reopen, or if they will accept any more animals. As it stands, city services are in dire straits, and we'll see what happens.

This latest clarification came from Detroit Health Department Deputy Director Dr.Vincent Nathan, in a conversation with Joe Sowerby, who is chairperson of the Detroit Animal Care and Control Advisory Board.

We'll just wait and see.

This is Josie. She's a young Shepard mix currently residing at the Detroit Animal Shelter, but unfortunately not for long.

The City of Detroit is bankrupt, and has been for a while. As a result, they have decided to cut all "non-essential" services. According to the City of Detroit, Animal Control is not essential. They are closing on December 17, and all of the animals are slated for euthanasia.

It's really not fair that the animals are being forced to face the consequences of a city that has been poorly managed for so long, and with no end in sight. So I am asking all of my local readers to do what they can. If you can't adopt (we can't; we have a dog and a cat taking up too much space as it is), at least spread the word to everyone you know.

I received this message today from the people at the Michigan Animal Adoption Network:

All of the Detroit Animal Control (DAC) animals are slated for euthanasia on Dec. 17, unless area rescue groups can pull them. The devastating news came today from DAC employee Patrice Reed. As you may have heard in recent media reports, in an attempt to save money, the city is cutting "non-essential" city services for certain blocks of time. Guess what folks? Animal control in the city is considered a "non-essential" city service. Detroit Animal Control will completely close down for the last two weeks of December, starting Dec. 17. DAC has beautiful cats, dogs, kittens and puppies. If you or anyone you know is in a position to pull animals from the facility, please do so. This is beyond an urgent situation. If you have any questions, please contact me at (248) 545-5055.

Thank you,
Amy Wettlaufer
Network Manager
Michigan Animal Adoption Network
PO Box 20523
Ferndale, MI 48220
Off: 248.545.5055
Primary Web site:

Animal Control is non-essential? I wonder what they're going to do with the packs of wild dogs in the neighborhoods now.

Only the Lonely...

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Roy Orbison. While I was never a Roy Orbison fan, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to bust out these photos of Mark and I with the Roy Orbison car we found in Kalamazoo this fall.
Shorts and sandals... those were the days...
Rock on Roy, wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Wanxing!

This Wanxing. Today he is one year old. He is apparantly disinterested by fire. Link

Paris Recap, Day 4- In which we hit both the low point and the high point of the trip...

Due to the previous night’s adventures, we slept late this morning; not too late, though, and we were out the door and on the Metro by noon. Our first destination for the day was the Paris catacombs.

The Catacombs

Paris sits on a rather soft foundation of limestone that was quarried for rock since Roman times. After hundreds of years of mining for rock deep below the city, tunnels started collapsing, and people started to realize that perhaps digging under their houses was not the wisest way to procure building supplies. Mining for rock below the city ceased.

In 1786, certain neighborhoods in Paris were being plagued with disease, caused partly by contamination from cemeteries where bodies had been buried in shallow mass graves. It was decided that the bodies could be thrown in the now vacant tunnels. Under the cover of darkness, members of the church spent over two years digging up 3 million bodies and dumping them in the tunnels.

Over the years, bodies of those killed in the riots would be dumped in the tunnels, as well as casualties from various battles. Over time, the body count in the tunnels would rise to six million. Eventually, in the 19th century, city officials made order of the bones, creating the ossuary that can be visited today.

In a non-touristy neighborhood, the catacombs can be entered through an unassuming door. You pay an attendant €5 and enter a narrow spiral staircase. Like Notre Dame in reverse, you descend a few hundred feet below the street, and end up in an old mine passage.

The passage winds for several thousand feet before you enter an atrium bearing the inscription Arrete, c'este ici l'Empire de la Mort (Stop! You are entering the Empire of Death). This is the entrance to the ossuary.

Simply put, the skeletons have been piled several meters high and several meters deep along the tunnel walls, arranged by the era in which they were placed in the tunnel. It’s deathly silent (no pun intended), the only sound being the rock crunching beneath your feet and the sound of water dripping from the low ceiling.

It was an eerie experience, although very cool. One couldn’t help but wonder who all these people were, what they did, what they were like. It was really an amazing look at… something. Grasping mortality? Realizing that we’re all going to end up in a bone yard somewhere? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it was just a cool chance to look at some bones.

As you make your way out of the catacombs, you ascend the same number of stairs and are spit out in an alley a few blocks from where you started. The business of the city goes on around you, oblivious to what is right below.

This is the only section of the tunnels open to the public, but unofficially people have been exploring the tunnels for years, even living down there. There are tunnels that were used by both the Nazis and the French Resistance during WWII, and there are all sorts of organizations that have been illegally documenting these tunnels. Here's one.

After leaving one of the least-know tourist attractions in Paris, it seemed right that our next destination was one of the best known…

Eiffel Tower

Built to be the entrance at the 1889 Exposition Universelle, the tower is both an eyesore and an amazing architectural feat. It’s an exercise in symmetry; everywhere you look there is a beautiful intersection of angles, and of course the view from on the tower itself is amazing.

You could definitely get a nice view of football practice from up there...

There’s really not much to say about the tower – it is what it is.

Centre Pompidou

After a quick snack it was time to visit the Centre Pompidou. Centre Pompidou is the modern art museum, picking up where D’Orsay left off.

Another place that may or may not be an eysore, the Centre Pompidou looks like a Habitrail on the outside.While we were there at night, I swiped this photo for reference.

Those hamster tubes on the outside are the tubes which take you to the top, where the collections are housed. We were also treated to a views of the spastic Eiffel Tower lights, and a lit-up Sacre Coeur (which is on tomorrow's itinerary) on the way up.

Currently the art is displayed by theme, rather than chronologically. It’s a really cool way to view the art.

While I won’t pretend to understand a lot of modern art, some of it was powerful. Some of it was funny. Some of it was just damn cool. And, yes, there were some where I said “what the hell?”

I did yank a few of my favorites to show you, though.
Probably one of my favorite pieces there was Slave Auction, by Jean-Michel Basquiat. My interest in him stems largely from the movie Basquiat, in which David Bowie played Andy Warhol, but Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work is very amazing.

Speaking of Warhol…
Electric Chair

Another crazy cool piece was Grafted Garden, by Tetsumi Kudo. It’s an installation where body parts are being grown in a garden setting. I don’t know if it’s about man’s inhumanity to man or if it’s a statement of personal and political activism, but I do know it’s wicked cool.

I also wanted to point out one more; this is La Toilette, by Frau vor dem Spiegel. I like it because it looks to me like a similar study to the Toulouse Lautrec piece with the same title we saw a few days prior.

There is a virtual walkthrough of the exhibition here, should you be so interested.

At this point, it was pushing 10, and we were dragging. So we stopped in a brasserie (most restaurants are closed on Sunday evening so our choices were limited; even though Frommer’s said restaurants were closed on Monday and open on Sunday, we found the opposite to be true. Then again, Frommer’s sucks.) for some lamb chops. Nicole also had l’hericot verts, or green beans. Leave it to the French to perfect green beans! They were tasty, buttery, garlicky and quickly consumed.

Then it was back to the hotel for a glass of wine and some well-earned sleep.

Thus concludes Day 4… See you on Day 5!