Archive: January 2004

(6 entries)

Monday, January 5, 2004

Oops I fucked Jack

There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I was once married to Britney Spears. I hardly even know her. There, that gets our topical-reference-being-beaten-to-death-in-everyone-else’s-blog out of the way. I’m sort of the Jay Leno of self-loathing, and this, friends, is my monologue.

Welcome to Trouble Sells…2004. Days before the actual event, I was worried about how to begin the new year with you, my public. I walked the streets of New York City — for those of you joining us in our new season, that is the backdrop for my suffering — trying to determine what I would tell you and how much it would hurt. And waiting for something to happen to me worth reporting. I felt we had ended the year on a positive, if lonesome, note. I got These Explosions in under the wire to be considered at the 2003 Oscars (we are hoping for wins in both Best Exploding and Best Supporting Exploding). I had sex with people who didn’t like me. And I was prepared to do all that and more in the new year. And that’s just what I’ve done.

Hear me, now.

One thing I always liked about Alcoholics Anonymous was the fact that the name made no allusion to the fact that they are trying to stop drinking. It just sounds like a bunch of drunks who don’t want anyone to know they’re there. Which is exactly what a bar is. Anyway, New Year’s Eve was not the night I wanted to be seen at my bar, or any bar. It’s amateur night, and as the young Turk the New York Times called “drinking’s rising star,”* that wasn’t the face I wanted to show to the world. Also, I heard some “chatter” on the terrorism end of the CB band about wanting to blow up Lower East Side watering holes because they hate our free drink specials.

But there I was, sitting in my hermitage, goblet in hand — and suddenly unprepared to face a second December holiday without assistance. It was nine o’clock on the last day of the year when I hit the streets. I wasn’t necessarily looking for companionship, I just felt like being around people. I wanted proof that people existed. It’s not much to ask, but New York streets can provide it. It was windy but not cold. Every now and then I’d hit a knot of revelers in silly hats. I smiled at them indulgently. It’s their once-a-year day. Myself, I don’t wear paper hats when drinking. Unless I’m working at the Burger King. But I was doing my best to be loving of my fellow man, at least for the rest of 2003.

On a lark, I entered the New York City Subway System at Broadway and Eighth Street, making sure beforehand to salute my second-favorite building, the former headquarters of the Woolworth Corporation, all that way downtown. Happily chugging along the Broadway line, I soon found myself in a rush of people getting off at Times Square. I wasn’t sure what they all planned to do there, so I followed them. But I never made it to Times Square, although apparently Mike Bloomberg was able to fill in for me at the last minute. My celebration played out…underground.

TO BE CONTINUED in the next iconoclastic installment of TROUBLE SELLS

* “The world is neither a glass half full nor half empty to Jack Task. He is only satisfied when it is fully empty, and with that goal in mind he emptied twenty or thirty glasses during our interview….Drink on! Mr. Task and others like him have changed the way modern society views drinking, not only in frat houses, but around the world. It is because of these pioneers, dedicated to the art of consumption of alcoholic beverages, that it has become a conduct of great merit.” — Adam Nagourney, “Towards a New Alcoholism,” The New York Times, February 3, 1997 (starred review). Yes, I was in a frat. That’s another story.

by Jack, 8:31 PM | Link | Comments (1) | More from Drinking | More from The Blue Girl

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Subterranean home, sick blues

The New York Subway turns 100 this year, just like your mama. I was at its heart, below Times Square as the year drew to a close. Above my head, a bunch of people from New Jersey were freezing their asses off and not drinking. I played my favorite subterranean game: making words and phrases out of the train line symbols at a particular stop. At Times Square, you can make WANCER. This is probably why there’s no K line. However, any student of the formative days of our nation remembers the epistle in which Benjamin Franklin refers to Alexander Hamilton as “that Ass of Celebrity, and noted Wancer of this City.”

I bought a grape soda and ducked in and out of a subway car for a while, avoiding that Gene Hackman. I held a whole train hostage while on the phone with Walter Matthau. Then I got bored and wandered over to where some kids were banging on buckets to general acclaim. Too 1987. A guy who got a new supply of hair gel for Christmas and couldn’t wait to try it out was dancing with a dummy. Story of my life. There were the Dueling Casios, about which I will say no more. Then there was a nebbishy little German tourist, who wanted me to see his movie Until the End of the World, starring William Hurt and his own wife, which depicts a future dystopia where David Byrne is considered appropriate to play at parties. I told him to get stuffed. Then I saw her.

She was standing alone, on a plastic box. She wore a metallic blue toga that shimmered in the fluorescence. Her long metallic blue hair swept over her metallic blue shoulders. Her metallic blue arms were poised in the air, elegantly defining a frozen gesture. Her wise, Athenian face, cocked to one side and also metallic blue, gazed out unblinkingly at the crowd encircling her at a polite distance. She did not speak. She did not move. She was merely blue.

I watched the blue girl with some awe. She didn’t move. She didn’t speak. She was blue. People drifted in and out of her circle. A hurried businessman with a bundle of roses (I inevitably thought of The Glass Menagerie — blue roses) swept through her circle, but she was not disturbed, she was blue. A six-year-old child rushed forward suddenly and put a dollar in her basket. The blue girl suddenly glided down to bow to him, smiling as she went. The boy yelped with joy and ran back to his parent. The blue girl glided back to an erect posture, forming a new fingered pose, a new angle for her head, a new direction for her gaze, but was just as still and expressionless, and bluer, if possible, than ever.

I decided that the blue girl was going to be my new friend. As the group of admirers thinned out from the promise of New Year’s Eve going on overhead and everywhere, I changed positions to get closer to her. I couldn’t decide if I should give her money or not. Women like it if you give them money, but they don’t respect you for it. However, those were rules for regular women, and I didn’t know how they’d apply to someone who was completely blue. I wanted to see her eyes. Were they blue? Did she drink Blue Nun? Or Johnny Walker Blue? Did she sing the blues? Or just “Blue Bayou”? Was she a member of the Blue Party? I had so many questions for this blue person. Feeling kind of blue on New Year’s Eve, I met a woman who made Miles Davis look positively pink.

“Excuse me,” I suddenly found myself saying to her.

No reply. Not even a twitch.

I laughed nervously. “Yeah, I know you don’t talk, sorry. Or move. I was just wondering what time you got off.”

Silence from the blue girl. Some chuckles from the crowd.

“It’s just that it’s New Year’s Eve, and I was looking to do something different, and I thought, well, if you were willing, perhaps we could have a drink.”

Silence. (Except a man saying, “You wish, asshole.”)

“It could be a blue Hawaiian or a blue blazer if that’s important to you. Or even Pepsi Blue, even though I’m not really sure what that is.”


“I understand if you’ve made other plans. But I think a beautiful, blue woman like yourself ought to be doing something special on New Year’s Eve. Not that I don’t like what you’re doing, obviously I do, or I wouldn’t be here. I just thought you shouldn’t have to work all through the holiday, you know….”

I trailed off. From the blue girl: silence.

“Well, I’m making a fool of myself in front of all these people, so I had better stop bothering you. I just want to say it’s been a pleasure watching you be blue. I hope that your blue is all on the outside, and that you have a lovely new year. Goodnight.” I turned and walked away from the blue lady on a box.

“Wait,” a voice said from behind me. “You’re leaving?”

I turned and saw a single blue tear running down her face, leaving a trail of non-blue. She stepped off the box and wobbled toward me. The crowd cheered, and threw money into her basket. We had updated her act.

TUNE IN TOMORROW for the inevitable conclusion of JACK FUCKS THE BLUE GIRL

by Jack, 11:31 AM | Link | Comments (2) | More from The Blue Girl | More from Women

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm blue

I took the blue hand of the blue girl, after she had collected her box and basket, and led her through the tunnel to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. She drew close to me, and as we moved we did not speak. I brought her out into the land of air, onto Eighth Avenue, and we walked toward the Hudson, a river.

AND NOW the answer to the age-old question: WHAT’S IT LIKE TO FUCK A BLUE PERSON?

We stood at the corner of Ninth Avenue and infinity. “What do you want to do?” I asked the blue girl. “It’s New Year’s Eve.”

She looked at me gravely. “I thought you had something in mind,” she said.

“Well, let’s get a drink downtown,” I suggested, “at the multi-star hot spot, the Maritime Hotel. Any objections?”

“No, that sounds good,” she said, “just don’t forcefeed me curaçao or something. My drink’s The Macallen.”

With the majestic River Spey in mind, and the hailing of a cab meant for others, we were off to our final destination of 2003, a floundering in-spot on Sixteenth Street, once reserved for sailors, and then for pedophiles, but now a hotel. In all three cases, buggery was possible. Amazing how genius loci can transcend real estate trends.

I walked in with the blue girl on my arm, pressing blue against me. “Hey,” I said to the bouncer, “how are my friends Eric Goode (of Area/Club MK/Bowery Bar fame) and Sean MacPherson (Swingers/Jones/El Carmen in L.A.), your Maritime Hotel employers? Are they having a Happy New Year? Are you?”

He ushered us into the bar, a hot and loud circus of the last-ditch efforts of many. The blue girl sat on a stool provided for that purpose and I hovered near her ominously. I called out for a bottle of The Macallen and two of The Glasses. I poured a little Scotch into her glass but then I stopped.

“Look,” I said to her, “I want to thank you for coming with me tonight. I was feeling lonely, and I left my apartment, but when I saw you I didn’t feel lonely any more. Not because you made me feel less lonely. Because, seeing you, I forgot about my usual thoughts. I started thinking about your performance, your still, still, soundless performance, and what it must mean. I transferred my focus to you, with awe, with breathless — “

I started pouring her drink again, and then poured mine. I lifted my glass, and she lifted hers. I continued, ” — appreciation. Thought. Concern. Focus. I want to thank you for being here. I think you’re very interesting.”

“Thank you,” she said, “and Happy New Year.”

We clinked and drank. The Macallen is The Suck. “But not yet,” I reminded her. “It’s only ten-forty-five.”

I poured more Scotch into our glasses. “Also, I’d like to point out,” I continued, “that while I find you different and fascinating, different from other women, I still hope to sleep with you, like any other woman.”

She drank her drink. “Well, sure,” she said after a moment, “you’re only human, sort of.”

I grabbed the bottle, filled her glass, and capped it. “Let’s get a New Year’s room.”

After a moment with Kevin at the front desk, Task and his plus-one were cleared for entry. She took my arm in the elevator and drank her Scotch quietly, head against my shoulder. “Did you ever see that movie,” I asked her, “with Glenda Jackson and Michael Caine, where he thinks she’s been unfaithful in an elevator, or lift?”

The blue girl drank her Scotch. “Don’t be vulgar,” she said. “Can we at least get to the room first?”

“It’s just a cinematic reference,” I apologized, as she exited on our floor, and I followed her blue footsteps down the hallway. “It’s just a visual aide.”

Leaning against the doorway, she held her hand out for the key. “I’m a visual person,” I told her.

“I know,” she said. “And I had the visuals for you.” I gave her the keycard, I kissed her, I kissed her blue in the hallway. She put her arms around my neck, scratching me rhythmically with the keycard in her hand. In a moment, we were inside and bouncing off all that décor that someone selected, all that Oscar Niemeyer without the Pritzker and without the talent. I lifted the blue girl up, slightly, momentarily, and then down onto a beige divan, feet squishing down in the from-Soho softness. She looked down at me as I took off her belt, took off her shoes. I put the Scotch on the table by the window, I opened the window the bit it’d go, I poured two full glasses, she was unzipping her toga in the back, she leapt down and kissed me, I went into the bathroom feeling a little overwhelmed.

I washed my face and removed my clothes, the clothes of yesteryear. I looked at the dazed face in the mirror — “yester-me” in the Stevie Wonder parlance — a face trying to look stern and unconcerned, but dazed anyhow. I found some more clothes on me, which I removed, and toweling my face I entered the room again.

Standing in the middle of the floor was the blue girl, naked all over and blue everywhere. She faced away from me, blue, and I came behind her to place a bite on her neck and grab her waist. “Were you born blue?” I murmured into her shoulder. “You’ve certainly come a long way, if not.” My hand and the rest of me came around her to the front. She stared straight ahead, and when I took her hand, I found it, and the other, splayed out in a dramatic hold. I buried my dazed face in her blue hair and put every finger to use from a shoulderblade to a rib. She looked straight ahead and I stood back to get my glass.

I watched her as I drank the last of this glass, and she was naked, and blue, and gorgeous, but nothing was happening. She was a statue again, like when I met her. That suddenly made a lot of sense to me, and putting my empty glass safely on the shag rug, I crouched to grab her legs. I threw her back on the bed, but except for Newtonian forces, she still wasn’t moving. Her arms remained posed like Barbie doing Hamlet, and her legs on the bed were still stretched for a firm place on the ground. A gentle blue halo around her breathing chest was the only mark that her shell was alive. I put a knee on the bed to one side, another knee to the other, and slid down on her with all the weight of 2003.

I’m not colored blue, and I make a nice contrast against those who are. I used whatever limbs I could to make an impression on this frozen girl, and also tongue. She heroically withstood it all — alas, poor Yorick! — and even though non-statues don’t always seem to enjoy sex with me either, I was oddly intrigued that I could act without any kind of response. It was the opposite of what you wanted, and that became an alternate want. I lay across her belly, one elbow in her armpit, drumming on her breast, muttering plenty of aphorisms related to what I was going to do to her. And then, after a step back to have a dram of Scotch, I did all those things, many of them at one time, immediately. And as I dragged her to the edge of the bed, her legs prophetically already the proper distance apart, to find the way inside my blue heaven, I think I saw her eyes shut for a moment, but they were open and glassy in a moment more. I devoted all steam to the fucking of her, the thorough and deserved fucking, and as her Hamlet hands clutched at the ceiling, I coughed out a small sob, almost not there, a cry covered by the cough, almost entirely normal. I felt her compress from the inside, and the blue girl said, “Mmmph.” I smiled a little and didn’t stop, but said, “Happy New Year,” with a glance at her watch on the table. She said “Mmmph” again and a tiny, almost entirely nonexistent tear ran a jagged path down her blue cheek. I had seen her last and first tears of their respective years, and as I leaned down to kiss her very face, her arms crossed around me. She pressed her face in my neck and laid out a measure of blue notes. I pulled back to look at her, and she said quickly, “I love you,” even as her own deep grey eyes grew wide at what she heard. She bit her lip and closed her eyes — which were blue when closed — and said, as a revision, “Thank you.”

The blue girl and I subsided on the rented bed as 2004 crept into everything. I held her, pushing her far into the mattress, and she wrapped everything around me. We both let out crazy sobs, dispelling what we could, and of course then I loved her too.

by Jack, 9:10 PM | Link | Comments (0) | More from Drinking & Women | More from The Blue Girl

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Am I blue?

I awoke into the comforting embrace of the first hangover of the new year. Without opening an eye or otherwise moving at all, I basked in the recollection of the events of the previous evening, which seemed pretty darn nice. Drinking Scotch with a stranger in an overpriced, empty trend-hotel would be amusing enough on its own, even without the added adventure that is New Year’s Eve. Plus there was the decidedly above-par sex. Plus, if I could recall correctly, we actually liked each other.

I slowly opened one eye to look at the woman who, for some reason of her own, had held me all night. I was not afraid she would look worse than I remembered — I mean, as the poet said, “I’ve been to coyote ugly, and I don’t mean the bar” — but the opposite. I was afraid that I was still going to like her. I looked down at the vision in blue spread out against my chest, totally cacked out in what appeared to be deep, untroubled sleep. I bit my lip and looked at the blue girl who had sobbed and whispered and kissed softly all night long. Once she was broken out of her statue, the blue girl had been a shy, vulnerable, sweet, blue girl. Are those the right adjectives? I feel that I’m trotting out ones I don’t know how to use.

I reached out to pet the hair of the blue rose, but as soon as I touched her, she shook awake and yelped. Facedown in my chest, the girl shot out her arms and steadied herself on the mattress. She raised herself up more calmly, or with trepidation, going through the same fact-checking process I had. Through a tousle of blue hair she smiled a blue smile. “Hello,” she said.

“Hi,” I said, and stroked her cheek. She pressed her lips against my fingers and started to get out of bed. I sat up, held her arm. She stopped, looked up at me. We looked at each other for a moment. “Somebody ought to kiss you, Laura,” I said, and kissed her. It made me realize I didn’t know her name.

We kissed, and she resumed leaving the bed. She gathered up some blue clothes and hurried into the bathroom. I lay back in the bed and stared at the ceiling, listening to the city. In only a minute she was back, fully dressed for work in her shining blue toga, leaning over the bed to give me a quick peck. With her hand on my chest she said, “Thank you for last night. I didn’t know it was what I needed.”

“I’m really glad I met you,” I said.

“Goodbye,” she said, “and Happy New Year.”

Her hand pressed against my chest. “You don’t want to see me again,” I realized vocally.

“It’s not a question of want, don’t want. Let’s just say it was special, and it’ll stay special.”

“Well, hold on,” I said.

“I’ll remember you,” she said, and smiled and backed out the door.

I watched that ceiling for a while longer, took a shower, and with clothes on my body I headed for that Seventh Avenue line to Times Square, the scene of the crime. The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime, but which of us was the criminal? It’d depend, I guess, on whether I found her there. It could either be both of us, or just me.

I walked the tunnels below Times Square, where entire trash-collection trains were running full of discarded confetti, until I found a small copse of art lovers surrounding a plastic box where my blue girl did her bit. Unlike the night before, she was seated — perhaps she was tired — and was doing an impression of The Thinker (originally intended by Rodin to be part of a larger work, The Gates of Hell, in which it would symbolize Dante himself) if bronze ever turned blue.

I stepped in front of the crowd and said, “Look, we need to talk.”

Silence. No discernible movement.

“I’m sorry to chase you down here. I just thought it’d be worthwhile to talk things out before we make any mistakes.”

She kept thinking.

I tried: “I’m not saying that we should be together or we shouldn’t, I just don’t think we should make that decision yet.”

What was she thinking about? Not her reply.

“I’m sorry if you think I’m coming on too strong or something. I just felt we made a connection. I mean, you cried, you held me —”

I stood there for a while with the blue girl staring straight at the floor, chin on her wrist. The crowd, not more than a few onlookers who only tarried for a moment each — I guess sitting was not her most popular number — made no comment.

I watched her contemplate concrete intently for a few moments, then I walked to catch another subway train. You can’t argue with a statue about what a statue ought to feel.

by Jack, 11:50 AM | Link | Comments (3) | More from The Blue Girl | More from Women

Monday, January 19, 2004

MADD crazy yo

Speaking of terrible things, am I the only person who has thought this was an ill-named program for all of its years? I’m referring to “Tie One On For Safety”. I mean, if I said something like that, it’d be a bad joke, but this is a nationally-recognized program. But people, people, people. Don’t call your drunk-driving awareness project that involves attaching ribbons to your antennae “tying one on.” That’s like “The Slut Was Just Asking for Rape Prevention.”

Do they think this is cute?

by Jack, 1:33 PM | Link | Comments (0) | More from Drinking | More from The Damned Human Race

Thursday, January 29, 2004

I'm a ward boss

Now that Trouble Sells has become one of the top-rated sites for information about Paul Tsongas — and even made a grown man weep by imparting that information — I feel it is time to return to my beloved role as trusted family advisor on that important contest, the 2004 presidential election.

The 2004 is a strange election. I don’t pretend to understand the Twenty-First Century any more than I understood the Twentieth or any of the others. In fact, I pretend to understand the Twentieth the best. But I would like to point out that in 2000, the last contest of that century, many Americans were unable to distinguish effectively between the futures offered by Gore and Bush — a view exploited and encouraged by Ralph Nader, who until that point in his career had been against the glib ignorance of facts in matters of corporate corruption and political process. And when a few polls showed a Bradley/Bush matchup would result in a Democratic win but a Gore/Bush competition was too close to call, Democratic voters were unconcerned and stayed the course.

Now, poll-obsessed Democrats flip-flop their support on a weekly basis among some truly uninspiring candidates. An “air of inevitability” surrounds whoever is unfortunate enough to be in first place, until the other guys pull him back into the mire. Then someone else pops up, a little more coated in offal than he was before.

The problem, as I see it, is not just voter ignorance — it’s the “greater fool” theory that worked so disastrously (no doubt for these same people) in the market downturn of recent memory. The strategy seems to be that I’m picking a candidate not because I like or support him, but because I’m betting some other voter, in a later primary, will like and support him. In fact, I might personally prefer a different candidate, but since I’m smarter than the average person, I won’t vote for my candidate, because I can’t expect other people to be as enlightened.

This kind of second-guessing is not any more likely to result in a strong candidate than actually voting for who you like, but it is more likely to result in a candidate you don’t like. In fact, it’s my suggestion that winning primaries — and especially caucuses — requires different skills than winning the election. This is especially true when there are so many players in the primaries but not in the election. Good district organizing, preventing the other guy’s turnout, and finding ways to undermine his positions will win primaries. But that isn’t the same as connecting with voters, or persuading them you can help them. And when you run against an incumbent, which Bush is by the way, you can’t rely solely on organizing and dirty tricks. The incumbent has more — and not only that, but he can look busy in his office while others use them.

Before Iowa, few people in America said Kerry was their top choice. He ran a good organization there while Gephardt and Dean were busy killing each other. I’m unconvinced this means he is prepared to be the bearer of our standard. (I think it’s also significant that Edwards was pretty close to Kerry in Iowa, but suffered a rather significant defeat in New Hampshire. It seems to me that, after Iowa, if you liked Edwards you knew your guy had as much of a chance as Kerry. But the truth, I think, is that no one really liked either of them, so our colleagues in New Hampshire proceeded to vote for the one who was “ahead.”)

As you know, I have not made a prediction for a winner of either the Democratic nomination or the general election. However, in my flippant way I did make three predictions of Obvious Losers. My scorecard so far:

  1. Gephardt. Right about that one.
  2. Lieberman. Will you be surprised when I’m right here too?
  3. Kerry. Yes, I picked him as an Obvious Loser. Unfortunately, I said he would never be president, not that he would necessarily lose the nomination. So you people are in trouble if you keep voting for him and I’m right.

People are overthinking “electable.” It isn’t supposed to mean “the candidate I assume other people support.” Backing the one you like is going to be okay. Don’t worry, if it turns out not to be, I’ll tell you.

by Jack, 2:33 AM | Link | Comments (0) | More from Election 2004 | More from The Damned Human Race

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