I was taking my 3-year old, H, to a Cape Cod League baseball game last month. I love that league. I can go on and on about how great it is, but I won't. (You can "read more about it" starting here, if you wish.) I wrote "taking," because we never actually made it to the game. We never found a parking space. This is small town baseball, where folks get to the parks mid-afternoon, put out chairs and blankets, and have picnic meals while waiting for the first pitch.
I drove all around looking for a spot, while H sat in his car seat and named all the sea creatures he spotted at the beach that day. "Shark... hammerhead shark... octopus... whale... bull shark... sea turtle... pufferfish...." He's a good boy, but he lies like a rug. We were playing in the shin-high shallows and tide pools of Skaket Beach; my personal ledger listed only hermit crabs, minnows, and algae.
I pulled into the parking lot of the local middle school, which is situated on a hill overlooking the ball field. I circled the oval driveway and found no available spaces. In fact, cars were up on grass and squeezed between trees. Just as I was about to drive out of the oval, a car pulled up and blocked my exit. (Well, I don't know if it's officially a car. It was one of these things.) I was confused.
The Element driver gestured to me that I was going the wrong way in the parking lot, and vigorously motioned that I should hit reverse and back all the way around the lot. I looked in my mirror. I saw at least two cars lined up behind me, and H in his car seat communicating intently with his Buzz Lightyear toy. Facing forward again, I kind of shrugged -- I couldn't go anywhere, the other driver could -- so motioned for him to back up the approximately 36 inches necessary for me to get past. Out of the parking lot and out of his way.
No, he gesticulated. I must go back. But I had nowhere to go. I checked the rear view again and threw up my hands.
He said something to his buddy in the passenger seat, and I saw a young boy lean forward from the back seat. Then Mr. Element got out of his car and approached my window. In a mind-bending display of overreaction, he actually leaned into my personal space and yelled at me.
"You're going the wrong way! Turn around right now and go back! Get your car out of my way!!" Arrrgh grrr raaaaahhhr!
Snuck a peek at H in the rear view. Oblivious. Good. In a forceful whisper, I said, "Come on, what are you doing? There are cars behind me. Get back in your fucking car and back the fuck up."
He took a few steps away from my car door and screamed, "You're a fucking piece of shit, do you know that?! A fucking piece of shit!" He grumbled his way back to his driver's seat and I thought our little duel was finally over. Behind me, drivers were attempting broken U-turns to escape the logjam.
Just then, the sky got brighter; a chorus of angels rang out; and the air was suddenly saturated with the divine scents of buttered popcorn, clean laundry, and your first puppy. Time stopped. I felt light as air. The absolute most soul-satisfying moment in my life was unfolding as I sat at the wheel.
Mr. Element had come back. Only this time, he was waving his car keys in his hand and clanking them against my (now shut) driver's side window. But that's not the good part. His very next move was to elbow his way up the hood of my car and -- CLINK! -- drop the keys there.
As he turned back to his vehicle, my eyeballs widened to devour this beautiful scene in its entirety. Other driver: in his car. Other driver's keys: on my hood, not four feet from my reach. There is a distinct possibility that I ejaculated, just a little bit, in my pants. I wouldn't have noticed because my brain was too busy choosing the best of many options.
Here's what the scorecard allowed:
a) Grab the keys. Throw them as deep into the nearby woods as I could manage. Ask Mr. Element, "How do you feel now? Like a dick?"
b) Grab the keys. Throw my car in reverse (by now no one was behind me). Drive away, screaming "How ya like me now!?"
c) Grab the keys. Pop over a curb. Drive past Mr. Element while smugly rattling keys out my window. Wiseass retort unnecessary.
Those are the primary three. Any variations derive from these fundamental choices.
I know what you're thinking right now.
"Boy, it's a damn good thing he didn't go 'on and on' about that baseball league."
Picking up where we left off, I am about 25-30 feet closer to his keys than he is. I checked H, reached for my door handle...
And my cell phone rang.
My dad was calling. He and my mother were planning to join us at the baseball game, so I knew they were somewhere nearby. I had to get it. "Hi, buddy, listen. We can't find any parking, I think we're just gonna pass for tonight."
I spoke in quick, fractured sentences, trying to rush off the phone, but unfortunately Mr. Element realized he almost made the mistake of his life and had already collected his keys from my hood. Oh well. But seeing me on the cell phone changed his mind about things, because he started his car up and rolled back to let me past. Maybe he thought I had the cops on the line. Whatever. I pulled out of the lot, finally.
At first, I was seething. I missed a great chance sprinkle some crap onto that a-hole's week (or month). I started imagining all the fun stuff, like what if I had gotten out of the car calmly, quietly; pulled the aluminum bat out of my cargo bin and took that douchewad out at the knees? Ha! Or just silently battered his Element into bent tin. Ha ha! Or... or....
But as H and I drove back to the house, my mood changed entirely. My awesome son sang "Beyond the Sea," which he knows from the Nemo DVD. He told me about Derek Jeter, Rocket Clemens, and A-Rod. I got happier.
I became totally soothed by the realization that, after decades of hard-won lessons, I'd finally learned something. I stayed in the car. Stayed safe. First order of business FOREVER is keeping my children out of harm's way. Second order of business is teaching them that power is not force.
I didn't get out of the car. I'm all growed up. Absolutely goddamn right.
Today's Friday 10 knows you don't fuck with a dead man.
01 Why'd You Want Me - Jesus and Mary Chain: I'm a big fan. I have all their albums, EPs, and comps and I saw them a few times. They didn't disappoint, not even when their New York City debut show at the Ritz lasted only 25 minutes. They walked off stage, and I said my pal Lisa, "That was fucking awesome" while everyone around us gave the empty stage the middle finger. I've heard that JMC is releasing a 4-disk box of B-sides and rarities through Rhino later this year. I've got to have that. "Why'd You Want Me" is from the Sound of Speed singles/B-sides comp from 1993. A lot of times a band pops up on a Friday 10 that prompts me to listen to them all weekend. I'll be feasting on some Jesus and Mary Chain for a few days.
02 Plug Tunin' - De La Soul: In the summer of 1989, I was on a road trip with my brother from another mother, NXB. We were tooling around the country in a late-70s Cadillac Fleetwood V8 with leather seats, electric windows, and sassy fender skirts, but no cassette player. For several weeks and a few thousand miles, our "entertainment center" was a battery-operated boombox cassette deck laying face-up between driver and passenger. (And it wasn't even stereo -- it had a single 6" speaker.) That wasn't a problem. The 3 Feet High and Rising record had been out for a few months and N was a fan. I wasn't. We didn't have many tapes with us, because the "entertainment center" wasn't even "obtained" until around Maryland way. But we did have this De La Soul. It drove me crazy. Three good songs and about 40 tracks of nonsense. To break the monotony we bought a box of TDK-D60s (those are blanks, kids) and on those occasions when someone was kind enough to put us up for the night somewhere, we'd make one mixed tape each from our host's record collection. Sometimes we really scraped the bottom of the barrel from their crappy, haphazard collections. We'd end up with 60-minute doses of sub-ironic eclectica. (i.e. Huntsville, AL: Cougar-Mellencamp, Chili Peppers, Hall & Oates, James Brown, The Nazz, Creedence, Tone Loc, and more!)
I heard the 12" version of "Plug Tunin'" today. I have a couple De La songs on the iPod, but I still don't much like them. I've never really got what they were aiming for.
...And Then Some Dept.: That Caddie did alright. Apart from a couple shredded belts (Houston, Council Bluffs) and the time the rear-view mirror melted off the windshield and burned N's thigh (Coral Springs), it served us well. On the day we arrived back in New York, we stopped for pizza then went to the Wiz for new music. When we came out of the store, the Caddie wouldn't start. We waited for a tow. The car handled thousands of miles, then died in our neighborhood. I took a bus the last nine miles to my apartment.
03 One Track Mind - The Heartbreakers: From Live at Max's Kansas City '79. The recording history of this record is pretty convoluted. There were many attempts to capture the reunited Heartbreakers at MKC. The bottom line is that Walter Lure and Billy Rath remixed the original recordings (with Ty Stix on drums) as well as tracks recorded later (with Jerry Nolan back on drums). The 1995 CD release on Beggar's Banquet sounds better than the ROIR versions. What is at the Max's Kansas City site today? A deli/sushi place.
04 Little Boy - Honey Brothers: This is not a bad song, all things considered. Sounds a little like late 60s British folk pop, or the kind of song that would be sandwiched between Nico and the Kinks on the soundtrack of a Wes Anderson film. The only thing at all that I know about the Honey Brothers is that one of the members is the guy who plays "Vince" on Entourage.
I Have To Ask Dept.: Does anyone buy into the Vince guy being the stud leading man the show would like us to believe he is? He seems pretty lightweight to me, but in the show's version of Hollywood, he's been cast as Aquaman and has some measure of deal-making power. Nah. The producers are trying to portray him as a Vince Vaughn-type, but I see more of a Jon Cryer-ishness.
05 I Am Damo Suzuki - The Fall: In interviews, Fall singer Mark E. Smith has said that Can is his favorite (or rather favourite) band. Damo Suzuki is the Can vocalist. And so, we get this, from the exceptional This Nation's Saving Grace disk. Every Fall record gouges big chunks out of what once passed for great music.
06 I'm The One - Black Flag: "Walking through a world of lies / With a heart made out of stone / I looked deep into my eyes / And I knew I was alone." One of the many great things about the mighty Black Flag is this: they had so many lineup changes and such an ever-evolving sound that it's not impossible to call several of their albums your favorite. Damaged (Greg, Rollins, Dez, Chuck, Robo; 1981) is my favorite. And the one that this song comes from, Loose Nut (Greg, Rollins, Kira, Bill; 1985) is my favorite, too. It is track after track of unrelenting musical PSYOPs. Some of Ginn's best guitar work is featured on Loose Nut; I listen to it every week.
07 Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth - Dead Boys: From the 1977 Young, Loud and Snotty record. I've always kept the Dead Boys at arms length. Can't say why. The songs (especially this one) are good, if a little too polished. I liked Stiv Bators a lot. Maybe I could never got past my dislike for that album title.
08 This Gun Says - U.K. Subs: This band released many great singles. Here's one. It was a U.K.-only single, released in 1985 on Fall Out Records. The double b-sides are "Speak For Myself" and "Wanted." My picture sleeve is blue and white, but I've read that it was also issued with a red and white sleeve. You can find the song pretty easily on Subs CD comps and the great Punk Archives collection.
09 All Your Way - Morphine: I was writing reviews for a music magazine in 1995 when Morphine's Yes got assigned to me. All I knew about the band at the time was the singer/bassist was from Treat Her Right. I knew I was a Morphine fan on my first listen. This is great stuff: saxophone and rhythm section, and that amazing baritone voice of Mark Sandman, delivering the lyrics somewhere in the space between talking blues and a beat poetry reading. These guys land on it like a ton of bricks, and they're another band I'm sure to revisit this weekend.
Sandman shares the same date of death as Brian Jones, Jim Morrison and, now, Boots Randolph.
I tracked down the exact words of one of my favorite Sandman quotes: "As a child, people told me they thought I'd grow up to be a poet. You have to wonder what kind of kid someone would say that to."
10 Song of Joy - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Since this comes from the masterpiece Murder Ballads album, when you hear Nick sing "Ten years ago I met a girl named Joy / She was a sweet and happy thing / Her eyes were bright blue jewels / And we were married in the spring," you know it's all going to a bad place. And you're right. This one plays out like a twisted Dateline NBC storyline. Murder Ballads is a special record, done very well. It's a treat you deserve to own. (Also: I dig how "Song of Joy" references lyrics from two other Cave songs, "Red Right Hand" and "God is in the House.") I can sit through the entire Cave and the Bad Seeds catalog from beginning to end and never get bored.
Readers are doin' it for themselves: Set your mp3 player, digital jukebox, or acetyl-butane flamethrower to "shuffle all songs." Hear 10 songs randomly selected for you by the machinery. Share them with us in the comments section below.
The headline (on YouTube) says "The Might Fall Sell Out," but I just don't see it that way. I thought it was sort of cool to hear a Fall song ("Clasp Hands" from the great, no superbFall Heads Roll) on a commercial. Plus, it's funny that a car commercial ends with Mark E. Smith voicing "I was walking down the street..." As in, walking down the street is a nice alternative to driving this gas guzzling SUV!
We got our approved I-600 form in the mail this weekend, disproving my long-held belief that "nothing good ever comes on Saturday." This means that the only remaining steps in the adoption of baby W are for the Korean government to send a fax to our adoption agency here in NY giving us travel clearance, our agency to tell us the fax has arrived, and for us to go to Seoul.
This all could happen any day now. Any day. Depending on when we get the clearance, we may be ready to fly within 1-3 days. Good thing we went to IKEA and Buy Buy Baby this past weekend.
S called some airlines this morning, to check prices. She let her mom know the latest travel guesstimate. (We've asked my M.I.L. to travel with us. We'll need her eyes and hands and insights as we bring one child halfway around the world and come back with two.)
Now, my A.D.D.-addled brain (ADDled?) is jumping through every detail of secondary and tertiary importance. (Because the big stuff I leave to the professional: my wife.) Who will move our car on alternate-side parking days while we are away? Which side of the back seat is the baby's car seat going in on? That luggage catalog that's been dog-eared and shuffled around on the end table for three months? It's time to place our order. I hope the new laptop battery arrives soon. Do I own anything with gel in it?
I went to the government's Department of Homeland Security site to pull all the latest info on what we can and cannot bring on the planes, and -- typically -- found it to be no help. The best source for this info is the TSA, which has a very detailed list of what may be carried-on ("toy transformer robots"), what may be checked (flare guns), and what must be left at home ("flares in any form"). This list has more shocking surprises than a Paris Hilton pap smear. It flat-out doesn't make sense.
Knitting needles? Sure, bring them on board! But leave your mouthwash at home, Stinky, fresh breath is too dangerous up in the friendly skies. Here's some of what you can or cannot have your backpack when you stuff it under the seat in front of you:
Bubble bath ballsNOT ALLOWED Cigar CuttersENJOY YOUR FLIGHT! CorkscrewsENJOY YOUR FLIGHT! Right Guard Spring Fresh Gel deodorantNOT ALLOWED Eyeglass repair tools (including those small screwdrivers) ENJOY YOUR FLIGHT! NeosporinNOT ALLOWED KnivesNOT ALLOWED Purell Anti-Bacterial Hand SanitizerNOT ALLOWED Nail ClippersENJOY YOUR FLIGHT! (Great. Can I have back the clippers EWR security took from me in 2002?)
Nail FilesENJOY YOUR FLIGHT! (Never mind the fact that, with a little sharpening, they're every bit as dangerous as the box cutters used on 9/11)
Box CuttersNOT ALLOWED Personal LubricantsENJOY YOUR FLIGHT! (The Mile High Club obviously has a powerful lobby.)
Scissors (with pointed blades up to four inches) ENJOY YOUR FLIGHT! ToothpasteNOT ALLOWED
Corkscrews are OK? Holy shit. I hope I have my knitting needles on me when a terrorist makes for the cockpit door brandishing his corkscrew. A lot of this doesn't make sense to me. I wonder what would happen if I filled a bag with many allowable items from the list -- three cigar cutters, ten scissors, five nail files, five corkscrews, a dozen knitting needles, six eyeglass repair kits, and my tube of Scandinavian personal lube jelly. Would I get on? (Would I get off?)
You can't really blame the airlines for all this nonsense. They're taking their cues on security from the federal government. Besides, the airlines are too busy delaying flights, making sure there's so little Sprite on-board that I can't get a full can, and editing the next boring issue of the in-flight magazine to be certain that the puff piece on Ray Romano doesn't actually cross the line into the informative.
But that's not what I wanted to write about.
I just wanted to tell you all that the Baby W Threat Level has gone from "Any Week Now" to "Any Day Now." Lots to do. Like, if the Department of Homeland Security has figured out how to Google, try to get my name off the Watch List.
I’m bummed. Bummed. Not only had I been making great progress at the gym for these last three weeks; not only have I been looking forward to each workout more than the previous one... but now I'm set back.
At the very end of last Friday’s workout, on my very last rep of my last exercise (triceps pulldowns), I felt something strain or tug in my lower abdomen. I could feel it down to my "business." (In particular, my right piece of business.) I skipped crunches, skipped stretching, and just walked right out of the gym.
The next day, I felt the same soreness on-and-off, but Sunday, I woke up and it was full on. I immediately began thinking it’s a hernia and of course went right to the internet to find out what could be wrong. I found no definitive or reliable diagnosis out there, but traded Sunday's workout for a hot bath and a handful of Tylenol. It’s one of the methods of treatment for abdominal/"business" pain that I found online.
I wanted to shoot for a workout today, but it's a no-go. I'll just have to cool my heels until at least Friday, which is the smart thing to do, but pisses me off nonetheless. (As does using the word "nonetheless.") For now, I'm having some dull pain, or rather – extreme discomfort. I'm walking around gingerly, like Little Old Man Himself; with my fingers pressed firmly into my abdomen for support.
Far less icky (hopefully) than all that info above: I'm looking into turning the Friday 10 into a semi-regular podcast. I'd share all the music, but to pay for that privilege you'd have to listen to me ranting and raving about all of it between songs. Sound like a deal?
Yesterday in the Barnes & Noble magazine section, some guy shushed H. My son shouted his new sound, “Gaaaagg-elll!” a few times, and I noticed the guy giving us dirty looks. I was waiting -- just eagerly fucking awaiting -- for him to say something. Then he shushed. Not joking, not even smiling. He was pissed. I said, “You didn't just shush my son, did you? Where the fuck* do you think you are -- a library?! If you can't take a little noise, get the hell out of the store.”
So there. I know I'm a little bit late on this rant, because plenty have opined about it before me, but... these bookstore patrons are getting out of hand. It's getting harder just to navigate the aisles, because each is crowded with 5-7 nomadic freeloaders, squatting, sitting, and laying all over the rug. Who are these people?
* I whispered this word, both for violent effect and to protect my son's tender sensibilities.
- - - - -
Can a 21-and-a-half-month-old with a mouthful of teeth start teething again? Just asking.
- - - - -
Interestingly coincidental shuffle of songs this morning during H's breakfast. The playlist was “3+ Stars,” which has six hours of music contained therein. In succession, we heard “Just Get a Grip on Yourself” (The Stranglers), “Orgasm Addict” (Buzzcocks), “Rather Be With Me” (Viletones), and “Get Off” (Dandy Warhols). Is our iTunes sending a not-so-subtle message?
Last night, I dreamed that I kissed Kim Gordon. (She didn't look like Kim Gordon, though. She looked like this.) We were on a staircase and I asked her to sing a song for me. It sounded beautiful. I was moved. I told her I loved her. Then I kissed her.
Then I saw Thurston Moore, who told me which Sonic Youth albums were his favorites, and the meanings behind all the songs.
Later, I saw Ian MacKaye, and I was afraid to talk to him, but hoped he'd ask me what kind of music I like.
If I were awake, I could have bored myself back to sleep.
All web site text, as well as the selection and arrangement thereof, and adjunct performances ("Pointcasts") are copyright 2003-2010 by Tommy Himself and The Sticking Point. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any use of materials on this web site, including reproduction, modification, distribution or republication, without the prior written consent of TSP and Tommy Himself, is strictly prohibited.