Monthly Archives: August 2002

What Exit?

Long Beach Island calls like a siren ready to crack us on her shores.

Miscommunication has this trip off to a funny start. Or it will hopefully be funny tomorrow. Ruby calls and says she’s here to pick me up — downstairs, double-parked and I’m looking down my empty street. Poor thing drove all the way downtown to get me at work and I’m chillin on my front porch in Somerville.

It’s raining on the beginning of our journey. This is my perfect day. Cooly drippy rain — hoodie rain, as we all know — and the wet street sounds soothe me. I would be perfectly happy if it rained the whole time we’re at the beach, sitting in the wet sand, swimming in the ocean in the rain, 360 degrees wet. . . curled on the dry porch watching the sky fall.

I get motion sickness. Violent motion sickness. This is a problem and has been my whole life. Fifteen minutes into any drive, and I don’t care if you’re Mother Theresa behind the wheel, I’m looking for the nearest plastic bag. There is nothing I can do about it, and I’ve been dealing with this since birth. Dramamine is the only out, and this motion sickness pill renders me mentally handicapped. More so than usual. My speech slurs, I forget what I’m talking about. Worse case scenario: I attempt an impassioned discussion on a sensitive topic. Best case scenario: I pass out for three hours.

Since I’m determined to be a good passenger on this six hour journey south, I have decided to try the holistic approach. Everybody has some recommendation for motion sickness, and it’s usually people who have never had it. “Oh my best friend’s sister used to have those arm bands…” “Have you tried ginger?” And my reaction is this: after 2.5 miles in an automobile, my vision is swimming, my head is pounding, and my stomach feels like the frat house floor the morning after. Ginger ain’t doin shit.

But. I go to Harnett’s in the Squizz, a fantastic little holistic establishment, convincing myself that a natural approach to my spastic inner ear balance upset can be fixed by a bead on my wrist. The girl behind the counter sets me up with several things. I get a wrist band with a pressure point that goes on some nerve in your arm. Stabilizes your chi. And homeopathic tablets. And crystallized ginger. And then she tells me that when she was little, her mom swore by cutting up raw ginger root into little tablets and swallowing them whole. So I buy ginger root. And chop them up. And swallow a handful.

Ruby pulls up. I’ve got my armband on securely. I’m breathing deep. This is going to be fine.

1:05 PM
Somerville, MA
Estimated Time of Arrival in Long Beach Island: 7:00 PM
I struggle up into The Duke — the enormous black Cadillac Escalade. Ruby’s socks match the floor mats in her car — red and black animal print. This is purely coincidence; the mats are tiger and the socks are leopard.

1:35 PM
That’s not motion sickness. It’s not. I am free of medications. I am naturally balanced and unsick. I will not vomit on the red and black tiger floor mats. One does not need drugs to overcome obstacles to health.

1:55 PM
The ginger is burning a hole in my head and my left hand is asleep, pressed into nonfunction by the chi bead. My throat waters. But I am not getting sick.

2:14 PM
I surrender. Just one pill. Give me 20 minutes.

2:56 PM Hartford, CT
(post-McDonald’s drive through)Hartford sucks.
The god of Dramamine has seized me by the throat. Things are looking dire and I’m not sure how much longer I can write.

Do you remember zinc oxide? Zinka, I believe was the brand name. Thick pastel stripes down the nose and across the cheeks, mark of surfers and shore teens. That was hip in 1985. “People used to wear that,” I muse.”I wore that,” Ruby says.

I got a new hat from work. It is the perfect dotcom tchochke: a black baseball cap emblazoned with the Symantec logo. Have I name-dropped here before? I think I usually preach separation of church and state but hell . . . with the drugs talking and all, you may as well go read my most recent article. Symantec, powerful creator of Norton AntiVirus, has given me this new black hat to keep the strands of hair out of my face while I’m in the car. Though I think the hat would be cooler if I was a hacker and I were wearing it in irony.

4:22 PM
“If someone’s going to eat a part of my body, I want them to enjoy it.” Ruby, on people vomiting up cow brains on Fear Factor.

4:25 PM
Welcome to New York, the Empire State. Now if you had a business, and the only thing you did was manufacture and sell “wiping rags,” does that mean you would shun blotting, dabbing and swiping rags?

Tappan Zee, muddy river…traffic. Make that TRAFFIC. New ETA: 7:30 PM.
The Dramamine seeps into my cells, robbing me of consciousness. I cannot feel my body.

We’re listening to Vertigo by Jump, Little Children. Jump recorded a live show in South Carolina a few months ago to release on DVD. I used to be part of their promotions team and I postered the area and harassed random radio stations. They offer prizes for the best promos. As a prize for this promotion, the winner hosts the band members in their living room to watch the DVD with them.

But what if it sucked? Or better yet, what if your roommate came home and was like, “what is this shit you’re watching?” Or even worse, “oh hey — aren’t you Matt Bivins — the guy Kristin has dedicated her life to serving in disgusting idol worship?”

I’m not entering that contest.

6:43 PM
Hello more traffic. Hello end of Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee and resultant anxiety stomach ache. Last night I was in the kitchen and there were four pots of coffee between Peter and me. I was determined to stay up all night creating and twitching. Unfortunately I was unable to induce mania and ended up going to sleep at 2:00 to the beat of horrible dreams that left me unrested. Got to knock it off with the roasted beans.

7:03 PM Asbury Park Toll — designated Home of the Boss.
“You put the Ho in Hohocus.”

7:51 PM LBI, baby!
Our entrance theme song is, appropriately, “Atlantis.”.

We pass the Sunglass Menagerie, Surf Nails, Dairy King (the estranged husband of Dairy Queen), water towers like giant aliens, sandy sidewalks, Beach Theatre, Surf City, and then Beach Haven…here we come.

Chihuahuas Take the Cake

If you want orderly direction, this is not the place to be today.

Someday Café is playing Camper Van Beethoven this morning. Violins with breakfast. Interesting morning vibe.

First off, a reminder before I forget. My favorite of all the Daniels — whose subway serenade this morning drove me to sacrifice a production meeting — is playing at the Lizard Lounge Thursday night (8/22). The Lizard is a sultry den of rock with flattering lighting. It’s a full band show, which is kickass and a rare occasion lately. Daniel Barrett Group goes on at 10:00. The lovely and talented Kristin Cifelli plays at 9:00. Bring a friend. I’ll see you there.

Howie Day is also playing tomorrow (8/22) at 5:30 in Copley Sq. I will be kidnapping him post-show, and dragging him to my house where he will sing “Madrigals” repeatedly at my whim.

Further plans for tomorrow — having a hard time staying in today — include my Company Picnic at the beach, which I am unthrilled and anxious about. I am allergic to sunlight, plus there will be bugs, high school politics, and. . . I could go on and on but some of my coworkers read this site so I love you all.

Desperately in need of two hours of pure distraction, we went to see The Good Girl last night, which was interesting. Jennifer Anniston was actually good, as was the acting in general. I was surprised. The story was great, but I left feeling unresolved, mainly because the story was great. It was uncomfortable in that way where you want to scream out loud, “NO! Not that door!” Because you know what is obviously the right choice for that character and damned if they’ll make that decision on their own.

It conjured up some weird feelings for me on several levels; one being the romantic idea of tossing everything to the wind and moving on an impulse, scrapping your life and starting brand new. I used to pine for that sort of situation, and I found it strange that there’s little I would change about my life right now. For the first time ever I feel settled, like I don’t have to scrap anything or run from anything. That’s of course a satisfying place to be. But a little scary, nonetheless, being that my whole life I’ve identified myself as someone on the edge, ready to say fuck everything and explode and leave in a dramatic sweep of dark wings.

Last night after a day strangled with emotion and crying at my desk, I had an enormous amount of expendable energy and so I went for a run when I got home from the movie. I got the idea that if I kept going, the tension in my head would work itself out. I kept running and running. I broke some of my records. Dozens of cats, three different colored Minis, midnight gardens, front yard barbecues, domestic brawls, frat boys on the porch drinking Corona to Bob Marley, garbage night, four dogs that didn’t know how to properly walk on a leash, cracked sidewalks, overgrown river path, all this running and still my head and heart burned — burned worse than my lungs. I ran and ran and nothing moved.

Outside my house I saw a falling star flash across the sky. Haven’t seen one of those since the meteor shower last November, lying on the side of the highway with Nathin in the frozen grass staring up at the heavens, purple and orange trailers zigzagging the sky.

Airy bright cool day. Not an office-with-no-windows-sensory-deprivation day. But here I go. Gotta pay the man for all the toys I’ve loved and lost. My newest ambition is to quit my job and work in a coffee shop and live like the starving artist I was meant to be. Enough of this comfortable salary and beefy benefits nonsense. Enough of this subsidized beverage and subway pass bullshit. Forget this “working from home” freedom. Pool table. Paid vacation. T-1 Internet access. Blogging on the clock.

Shine On Sidewalk

Oh perfect day. I woke up to the wet street sounds and the ping of raindrops on my sleeping air conditioner. I love the rain. And today is a gentle rain, umbrella optional, hoodie required.

I have always approached Boston rain in the same fashion: hoodie up, walkman on. Today I’m listening to Wheat’s Hope and Adams, which I’ve been listening to a lot, even though the third track makes me cry. It’s a perfect rainyday soundtrack.

I’ve been going to the Someday Café every day before work for an hour or so to sit and write. In the past I rarely afforded myself the luxury of cafe mornings — maybe not since high school. I love the enormous windows and the view of all the people who are shoving each other to get into the subway. At night the little white lights in the trees in Davis Square go on and complete the view.

But this morning it’s dark and dripping, and they’re playing Radiohead, and the slamming of the espresso maker is comforting.

The past few days have been slow motion, living in each second, not sure of the next. I flip between skim and plod, sometimes hacking my way through the day and sometimes slowly gliding. I feel underwater.

I finally got an office at work and I sit at my desk with the lights off, playing CDs in the dark and sinking into the words on my computer screen. When I leave that warm little womb and pass into the rest of the fluorescent-lit office I blink and shirk, stunned.

I’m finding comfort in warm darkness. A little sensory deprivation. Walking down Billingham this morning, a tree had dropped most of its leaves on the sidewalk, and I shuffled through them, smiling. I could smell their dampness — it’s almost fall. Fair Isle sweaters and cemeteries and sleeping with the windows open. Running along the bike path in the early morning chill with the crunch of leaves under footfalls. Sky blue cotton scarves and rustcolored hair. Apple bread.

I’m greasing up the pumpkin carvers.

Enjoy the rain, my friends. It’s a flawless August gift.

True Love Waits.

“Into a dream I took a turn and promised to return
The way we were, the way we met, the way I lit your cigarette
The way it trailed into a stream, and lay down in between
You had to chose a side to lose and divide yourself in two
The way you were long before you were a walking civil war
But you forget where the road goes, and tonight it shows.”
~ Mercury Rev

It’s four thousand degrees in my kitchen but here I am, listening to a rickety boombox and sweating over a bowl of hardboiled eggs. No yolks. My bedroom is frigid and zero percent humidity, but there is something nostalgic about doing time at this formica hexagon table that’s older than me.

I’m listening to Mercury Rev’s Deserters Songs, which is a gorgeous album I recently purchased as a tribute to the bleeding passion it was the soundtrack to three years ago. But when I settle down to listen to it again, it sounds different.

I spent that whole summer on my back porch in Winter Hill so drunk I could barely see, listening to this album endlessly. Now it sounds like false passion, fear, and trying to cram things into places where they don’t fit. It sounds like aching to belong to someone, anyone, and grabbing the nearest warm body, trying to convince yourself that you’re in love with it. Just add theatrical music, cheap wine, bad poetry, war torn bleeding heart nights — oh the drama! — spinning under the August stars… so wanting to be part of something powerful that you’re willing to tell yourself the biggest lie of all and drink yourself into a coma to make sure you keep believing it.

On one such night I was drawn to the next door neighbors’ back yard because I heard a drum circle, and headed over with my head swimming, fancying myself a summer poet full of dreams and enamored with life, and I sat across from some gyspyboy who took a quick look at me and asked me why I was in so much pain. I forced a smile but my frightened eyes connected with his and he asked me the question again.

I said I did not know.

This album takes me there because the music sounds so much smaller now, not so dramatically sweeping and pulsing with pain. It is good in a different way. Good in the real way.

I’ve been opening my eyes in a million different directions lately. Things that once confounded me are becoming clearer. I’m beginning to see that true love waits.

I recently wrote about going to Club Passim, hearing Michael Troy by accident and being moved. His music hit me then because it was true. It was real. He was all honesty, no irony. He sang love songs, so carefully rendered and delicately shared. And I imagined him singing them to his wife of forty years — still amazed by her, still inspired by her inherent beauty and wisdom, gray hair, mother of his children, his muse, best friend and lover.

These performers are not of the cheekbones and cute-dog-tricks variety. No bravado, no sideburns, no clever facades, no hip shoes. Just true love. They are the “I want to grow old with you in my bad t-shirt” confessions. It made me ache in recognition.

So I have a bone to pick with Romeo and Juliet. I was for a long time very into Shakespeare’s version of true romance. Oh, heart — how breathtaking to fall in love at first sight… to know just by meeting someone’s eyes that you were meant to be forever. At 15, horny, beautiful — of course it’s love at first sight. They died before they had to walk through their first argument, before spending hours on the phone, before they realized whether they shared common views on life, on values essential to co-existing. They didn’t even know each other’s names.

I can’t picture Juliet in the laundry room, yelling at Romeo to call his mother for Christ’s sake — to put the seat down, to not talk over her when she is trying to explain something but taking too long to get the words out, to stop playing Diablo on the damn computer. She wouldn’t bring up his resistance to participating in social gatherings. That he never wanted to go out and run around the city. That he wasn’t living up to his end of the agreement in the sack.

It’s hard to separate that loinful lusting and intoxication of new fingers from love. You want it to be love. You were meant to be, because you can stay up all night having sex like it’s nobody’s business. Because you giggle at all the right times, because he opens doors and pays for breakfast.

I don’t know.

True Romance — now that’s a love story. I watched it a few days ago and it absolutely kills me every time. I remember another night in Winter Hill, during the square pegs/round-hole-cramming session, when I was courting someone who claimed that True Romance was one of his favorite movies. So in the middle of a crowded party, I slyly took out my lipstick and wrote on a cocktail napkin, “You’re so cool.” I slid it across the table to him with big eyes and a coy smile. He didn’t get it. I waste my energy endlessly.

True love is not looking into the starving blue eyes of a sixteen-year-old Romeo who wants to rip your clothes off. True love is not talking psuedo-philosophy in a crowded bar, trying to get your words to stop slurring. True love is braving your wife’s pimp to get her clothes back, smashing an assailant over the head with the back of a toilet tank because you need to get to your lover that bad.

Which brings us to the pop songs that feed my diatribe — “I’d climb the mountains for you… I’d cross the sea for you… ” Okay, thanks, but would you please pick up your socks from the living room floor when you’re done? Would you kindly introduce me by first name to your friends? Will you listen when I’m reading to you?

I’ve grown more practical in my old age.

All of these things are on my churning mind tonight. I’m realizing it’s more about mutual respect, shared priorities, adoration and compromise than I ever believed. Because I don’t think true love begins with the physical. I think it’s buried somewhere between the heart and the brain. Or the lungs. The lungs seem like a good place to start.

One breathy word at a time.

You’ve Got the Moon

joshI lost the post-it note. It was stuck to a banana peel I cast on my desk when hastily emptying my bag on the way out the door earlier in the day. Had I relied on the Note to Self, my evening wouldn’t have included the bonus of an impromptu Club Passim attendance. So I’m grateful for the fruit.

I go to shows by myself when no one will come play with me. I actually prefer it sometimes. Though I do love company, there’s something liberating in going just for the music. Not worrying about someone else being tired or bored or not GETTING IT — or even worse, itching to leave because they have work in the morning and don’t understand the necessity of sacrificing sleep in the wake of an indulgent encore. I also don’t have to try and make conversation over the chaos of the joint, so I can slip into my predatory role as People Watcher.

So last night I’m especially glad I took to the streets alone, since I lost the post-it note, and I didn’t have to drag anyone else into my brainfart. I left work gaily in search of Josh Ritter at Club Passim in Harvard Square, and settled myself comfortably stage left. I quickly realized through the on-stage banter that Passim had no intention of hosting Josh Ritter last night, and an epiphany dawned, and I trotted over to the calendar on the wall and saw that Josh was actually playing later in the month. I simultaneously realized that the show was actually at T.T. the Bear’s. I called to confirm, and since Josh wasn’t going on until 11:30, I figured I’d stick around Passim and see what transpired.

Club Passim is the Cadillac of listening rooms. Impeccable sound, gentle lighting, smoke and alcohol-free, not a bad seat in the house, and the whole place smells like pesto. The aroma alone is worth the $12 cover. The first performer was a singer/songwriter named Michael Troy. At first I was put off by his vocal style which I found slightly unnerving, but then I realized it was comfortingly familiar. When I drew the line between him and Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate, I was filled with sudden fondness. This guy was obviously unlike Jeremy in every other way except this distinct phrasing and attack that no one else but me probably would have related; he’s a 60-year-old folk singer. But his trembling and passionate voice won me over after two songs.

There are no distractions at Passim (if you so much as sneeze, everyone turns to glare), and I was able to just let go and listen. He grew on me with each song. By the time I got really into his set, it was over, and then I realized I liked him enough to want more so I bought a CD. The second performer was nothing to write home about; although he had miraculous guitar skills, his voice was grating and I get irritated when I can complete the lyrics based on the first three words. So I evacuated Passim and headed to T.T. the Bear’s Place, nestled in the crack den of Cambridge that is Central Square.

I won’t bitch about T.T.’s because I bitch enough about venues. It’s fucking hot. It’s filthy. It’s loud. The sound sucks. But come on, Josh Ritter was there.

So, Josh. *Sigh.*

Josh always looks like he’s got the world’s biggest secret, and he’s about to tell you. I never know what to do with myself. He comes out on stage, looking at the audience like a kid on Christmas. “Gee, thanks all of you for coming.” He seems genuinely surprised to see us standing there, packed house, beer bottles raised in salute. Everyone in the audience adores him. He’s almost blushing with gratitude. He plays his beat-up six string and sings the country songs I never thought I’d be caught dead listening to.

As a matter of fact, I thought my dad would have a heart attack when I gave him Josh’s new CD for Father’s Day, and told him that he was one of my favorite local musicians. All my dad remembered was me at age 15, angry-goth and sulking over his musical selection in the pickup truck, fuming to the Cure under my headphones. I’m grateful my taste has expanded and that I can approach music open-mindedly because I’m liking a lot of sounds I never would have thought I’d enjoy. Particularly the ones that remind me of waitressing at the 76 Truck Stop in Branford when I was seventeen.

Josh was playing with a full band, which is an occasional treat because I’ve seen him playing solo a lot. The last show at Lilli’s was a real tease since he was opening up for a big name singer, and only got 45 minutes, and no one there knew who he was or that they should shut up during Chelsea Hotel #2. I lose it every time he plays that song. I stand helplessly enthralled, arms limp at my sides, weeping like a child. I am wary of musicians who cover Radiohead or Leonard Cohen, because there are just some songs that should be left reverently alone. But Josh cradles Chelsea Hotel like he’s holding some brilliant and delicate bird, off in his head, eyes closed and smiling with respect like he’s singing to Leonard himself.

I was trying to pay attention while the boys were setting up on stage because I watched incredulously as an organ was folded out of a suitcase, but I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. It was opened from a box, and the box folded under, and keys and a little wind hatch, and the distinct sound that I’d heard on his recent album. I’m definitely going to have to do some research on the topic because I’d be psyched if I could get my hands on an organ that fits in the overhead compartment.

Needless to say, the show was great. The whole atmosphere was priceless and in stark contrast to the aloof Lilli’s show — and even the cool respect of his last two Passim shows; everyone was drunk and dancing and singing and proclaiming their undying devotion to the cherub-faced blond boy singing songs about trains. He played all my favorites and then some, and then everything else too. It was a long set. At the encore, he returned to the stage, amazed and thoroughly entertained by the audience. Sometimes it seems like he only comes to the shows to see us. “Hey you guys. Jeez. Thanks so much. This is so much fun.” I just want to make him breakfast, you know?

Josh Ritter is playing out again soon, but I won’t plug his upcoming show because it creates a conflict of interest with one of my other favorite local bands who is playing a long-awaited show the same night. So instead I will recommend that you pick up a copy of The Golden Age of Radio, have a seat on the porch swing, take off your cowboy hat, and watch the fireflies remember to do exactly what they’re supposed to do.


Friday the Thirteenth

The moon and sun have aligned with Mercury in an attempt to undermine my music-seeking pursuits on this unluckiest of days. Disappointment strikes from all angles like so much lightning from the hand of Antirocus, the God of Keeping Kristin From Shows.

My horoscope says:

You will face many disappointments today in the world of concerts, including unavailable tickets, exorbitant fees, and being stranded on the edge of Boston Harbor forever because you haven’t figured out how to drive and read a map simultaneously.

It seems Antirocus is fucking with me this week, and I’m left stamping my feet, squealing defiantly, and shaking little fists at the sky for three valid reasons.

  • 1. Ani DiFranco sold out. In 30 seconds. Before I could get tickets.

  • 2. Bright Eyes did not sell out, probably because the “convenience” charge doubled the price of the ticket. Come on, people — seriously now. What seemed like a twelve-dollar treat turned into pure BOHICA* once Tickemaster pulled out. Who lets them get away with this rape? Really?

Bitch, bitch, bitch.

Wait — I got one more.

  • 3. My favorite band in the world**— Jump, Little Children — is playing in November in New York City and I can’t go. Despite bribes, begging, black magic, offers to pay for crack and whores, and subconscious hypnosis, I have been unable to convince anyone else that they need to go to this show as much as I do. Judging by my bad luck, poor sight, and inability to drive from Boston to Cambridge without getting lost, I should not attempt the journey alone.

The whole concert world sucks today. I’m feeling pouty, bratty, and let down.

I’m going to spend the night in my darkroom snorting chemicals and maybe emerge with some decent negatives. Or maybe I’ll spend the night in the dark snorting chemicals and develop my film tomorrow.


* I’m not sure if this is an acronym recognized anywhere outside the world of Mighty Purple. It may be something drummer Wil Mix made up: “Bend Over — Here It Comes Again.” Appropriate for those who continually get screwed by the same thing. It was also the name of their second album. A handy phrase — especially when you’re trying to go see a band you like and can’t get tickets.

** The Catherine Wheel notwithstanding. Obviously.

Inflatable Furniture & Strategic Randomness

Urban Outfitters bothers me.

This supersclick, ultracool Mecca of young adult consumerism is the car crash that I cannot look away from. It is the dark alley of the city shopping experience; there’s something quick, cheap and easy about it. I think it was the inflatable furniture in dorm rooms that slammed the door on any removed affection I may have nurtured towards this retail establishment. The space age chairs were in every dorm room, always chartreuse, always uncomfortable. But it goes beyond that.

The thing is, Urban Outfitters has co-opted the land of the ingeniously ironic. The perfect gem once found in salvation armies is now mass-produced in Taiwan and distributed to every incoming freshman. It is strategic randomness and ready-made wit.

What happened to the thrill of the hunt? At Urban Outfitters, you can buy “vintage” wine glasses cleverly etched with fake high school prom insignia. Get together with a few new friends and you’ll discover you all went to the same high school. The rack of identical Hello Kitty back packs could never be as wonderful as the original you unearthed in your parents’ attic with I love Joey scrawled in purple marker on the front.

It used to be a badge of honor to find perfectly random, ironic things, flawlessly juxtaposed. It was a challenge I accepted with enthusiasm.

I have this little t-shirt from when I was 12 that features a big picture of a hotdog bun. You can unzip the bun, and inside is the hotdog, complete with mustard and relish. I used to wear it in college, when I had the body to be wearing shirts that fit me when I was 12. I loved this shirt, but it would be rendered embarrassingly prefabricated had I run into someone else also wearing it.

Inappropriately placed signage warms my heart: Fragile, Live Animals on the refrigerator door; a Keep off Grass sign swiped from the Commons and hung in the living room; a triangular Caution Trolley sign nabbed at the site of a collision on Comm Ave. A medical biohazard bin filled with ice and frosty beverages. An atrociously ugly kitsch lamp covered with pastel shells (sorry, Mom). Books from the 50’s on How to be a Proper Lady, like buried treasure from the bins of a garage sale; Christian literature on How to Please your Husband. Candles from Brazilian dollar stores shaped like garish dancing girls. Best friends Forever necklaces rediscovered in your grade school jewelry box and worn on hardware-store chain link. Poorly-translated food packaging from the Japanese grocery. A set of coasters from London, each with a picture of a landmark there, supertackytourist style. An ad from the Village Voice: Think Globally, Masturbate Locally. A framed collection of polaroids from the Boston Phoenix in 1994, providing coverage of rock club toilets under the headline In the Can, which hangs in my bathroom. A planter made out of a mannequin’s head, stuffed with cacti.

Priceless clothing discoveries allow you to showcase your finds to the world. I had a boyfriend in college whose quest for the unbearably original led him to the mall where he scoured make-your-own photo t-shirt carts in search of rejects. My favorite was an airbrushed photograph of an infant in fatigues declaring him Daddy’s Little Wolverine. My own favorite t-shirt is from a hardware store in New Haven with a drawing of a big fat guy wearing a tool belt that says, I Got It at Goody’s! Former food service jobs can provide a wellspring of fantastic fashion; a polo shirt from a past waitress job demands that you Come Get Your Pork Pulled at Austin Kitchen.

We search for these items, cherishing them like treasure. Urban Outfitters has made these rare finds cheap, uniform, and mass-produced, negating the origin of their charm.

The first to arrive on the scene was strategically random t-shirts in bad fonts with fake logos on them; an auto shop or a non-existent bar. Then the faux sports team jerseys akin to those we wore at 13 on the little league, iron-on letters already pre-peeled for our enjoyment. It progressed to gas station attendant jackets; school planners made out of license plates; and 100 plastic wallets on the shelf, all orange, all with the same obscure Hawaiian hotel logo on them.

The books followed. Reruns of the originals: How to Kiss and The Joy of Sex, arranged on every steamer trunk in Shelton Hall; bought under the guise of a joke, squealed over during late night confessionals, and examined when alone. These are the books that would have looked fantastic in their first edition lying singly on a coffee table. But Urban Outfitters wrapped them in their shiny new — yet suspiciously vintage — covers, and stacked them up three dozen high.

In rebellion tomorrow morning I’m running to McIntyre and Moore’s and swiping up every trashy 50’s romance novel I can find so I can burn them in protest at the front steps of the Harvard Sq. store. Feel free to meet me there at 7.

8 Days a Week

Thursdays are my favorite day of the week. The new Boston Phoenix comes out on Thursday, and The Globe‘s less-exciting (though still worth stealing from the lobby) Weekend Guide is inserted in the daily paper. If I read the Phoenix with my morning coffee, I can avoid missing the good shows during the weekend and kicking myself over it for days.

For example, without this morning’s Phoenix I would never have known that L.L. Cool J is playing tonight at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel.

It looks like my weekly ritual of penciling in the calendar is going to take some time today. And Phoenix Thursday is one of the rare occasions I allow myself to openly squeal like a grade school cheerleader.

  • OMIGOD! Like, Evan Dando is TOTALLY playing at T.T. the Bear’s on September 6th! I have fully written love poems for Evan Dando. He is playing with Blake Hazard, a great now-local girl who I have seen team up with Jack Drag, another great local act, on a few splendid occasions. Perhaps they will be partners in crime once again at T.T.’s

  • Bright Eyes is playing the Roxy on September 12, which I’m both excited and wary about. The Somerville Theatre show was fantastic, but I’m not sure how I feel about the Roxy. Last time I was there — well, the last two times I was — no, it was three. During my last three shows at the Roxy I had a fucked up experience.

    The first was Peter Murphy, when I turned and saw the bartender crouching behind the bar giving head to one of the cocktail waitresses while she leaned back with her tray of drinks. Then I had a panic attack at Eliott Smith and had to flee from the Hipper Than Thous who were intimidating me to the point of hysteria, missing half the show. And the last time I was there to see Sebadoh, some chick ripped off her shirt and attacked the painfully shy Lou Barlow on stage, smothering him in her ample breasts. I don’t think the poor boy ever recovered. However, I may brave this psycho sexual Bermuda Triangle and go see Conor Obherst do his thing. I mean, how sexy can one get at a Bright Eyes show?

  • And of course I won’t sleep for a week now that my gut instincts have been confirmed and there will be a fall tour of my favorite band on the planet, Jump, Little Children. They have booked Met Café in Providence November 6, and Village Underground November 8, which means the Paradise Boston show will eventually be listed, wedged between the two customarily. There will be parades and dancing in the streets and I will gush at all of you for weeks before and afterward.

  • The Daniel Barrett Group is playing with a full band, including the soon-departing violinist and hustler K., at the Lizard Lounge August 22. I will come clean and let you all know that I did not learn about this show in the Phoenix today; I have friends in high places. But my sources tell me it will be a fantastic show, and I will list it here among all the other shows I am squealing about now and will be writing about later.

  • The Damn Personals always put up a good fight, sideburns and all. Perhaps August 24th at T.T. the Bear’s Place will be no different.

On a semi-related but overwhelmingly strange note, there was a 12-piece band playing in the Someday Cafe the other night. It was really crazy. I’m not sure if this is something they are planning on doing regularly or what, but it is a note of interest. Especially if you are expecting to sit down for coffee. Cause you can’t.

Okay I have to go sell a kidney now to fund this fall’s Shameless Orgy of Music. And if I recover quickly, I can make it to the L.L. Cool J show tonight.

Just a Teaser

It’s been good.

I was yanked adeptly from creative starvation a few days ago and have been on like a 500 watt fluorescent bulb since Wednesday. Sleep in strange hours, kitchen table covered in rubber cement and newspaper headlines, livingroom furniture on the front porch, and art-sharing with people I love.

Since Thursday I have been dancing through the streets with my head on fire, rolling around in the goodness of friends and local music — Josh Ritter at the sauna formerly known as TT the Bear’s, Daniel Barrett Group at Fanueil Hall, Michael Troy at Club Passim, plus nineteen old issues of Time magazine, a new fake fur blanket covered in yellow stars (yay sicko consumerism at new Target), and Eve.

Eve is my new snake. She is the most beautiful new snake ever. I will have to take some photographs of her and post them soon. You will love her. She was hatched this spring, and is now a 20″ long Columbian Red Tail Boa Constrictor. She will be nine feet long someday. The baby mice in the freezer (her dinner) are stashed next to the Ben & Jerry’s. Like my last snake Izzi, Eve will come to many shows with me, where she will dig on the vibration of the music, wishing she had ears.

And she makes a killer piece of jewelry.

I’ve been working on a few pieces of writing, which I have been digging into erratically and fervently, only to be distracted by some other thing such as the Djembe on my front porch or a fantastic new CD (still trying to get my hands on the latest Bright Eyes release to no avail), or a schizophrenic charcoal and stock photo collage, or one of the million other projects taking over all available surfaces in my apartment.

I can’t wait to share.

Happy August, by the way. And everything after.