Archive: September 2004

(5 entries)

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Kisses for my president

While we wait to see if Howard Dean can win Wisconsin, the Republicans made their bid for the future this week in New York. As a member of the loyal opposition, I held my own convention in my apartment with a Texas-sized bottle of vodka and a rental of Passionate Conservatives Volume 6: Meatpacking Misfits. I was sort of bummed about the convention, because they asked Zell Miller to speak and not me, and we are both Democrats, plus I don’t have some hick accent. Anyway, his speech was pretty good, and I basically agreed with it if you took out all the stuff about the Democrats. Really, I think the DNC is playing a dangerous game allowing him to pretend to cozy up to the enemy while really acting as a Trojan Horse to destroy them from within. It may well end up backfiring.

Tonight, the guy who is filling in as president until the next scheduled election (tentatively slated for November 2, 2004, but the likelihood of terror attacks in urban areas may require those locations to vote sometime after January 20) took to the podium to give his speech, which was something about how he wanted to remove all barriers to the success of poor people except in cases where doing so would cost money. He also offered all poor people with millions of dollars some great ways to be just like rich people through innovative tax savings plans. Maybe having an MBA for president is a bad idea. All they want to talk about is tax savings. Where are the blow jobs?

With that grave thought in mind, I turned off the video, in which “twin” “blondes” were grinding up against each other and saying how Molly Ivins was a total bitch, and hailed an M14 bus. “Meatpacking District, and make it snappy,” I said to the driver, offering my Gold MetroCard. “Yes, sir,” he said, and we were off. Forty-five minutes later, we rolled up in style at the velvet-rope club Velvet Rope. I got off through the rear door as a courtesy to other passengers, along with an old lady with a shopping cart and two hiphop youths with their girlfriend. We all waited on line to see if we were on The List. The queue advanced slowly. Velvet Rope was known for its lack of the usual door snap judgments; they went over each of us with a fine-toothed comb, and most were found lacking. They didn’t want to let both hiphop youths in with one girl, so the other guy grabbed the old lady, whose outfit was considered pre-ironic retrofabulous. That got him in, but it had been my same idea, so now I was in trouble. As I stepped to the head of the line, I had to think fast.

“Name?” the sub-bouncer asked me.

“I’m here,” I said, “with the Twins.”

Twins?” she said, taking a step back in terror.

“Yeah. Aren’t they here already?”

“Yes, they…they are. Go in the back.” The rope was parted, and I entered the abyss.

Around the darkened room, those who were not celebrities but were dissipated enough to qualify lounged in Calvin Klein beanbags. Waitresses in platform heels bent in half to take and distribute orders. Six guys in black t-shirts ran up and down the bar keeping the machinery of the evening going. I dawdled for a moment to take it in. A sub-sub-bouncer touched my elbow.

“Sir, if you’re looking for the Twins, you’ll have to keep moving.”

“Well, I thought I would get a drink here at the —”

“Sir, please, the Twins are in the back. We are not allowed to have any friends of the Twins out here with the regular customers. Please keep moving.”

Now I was in trouble. Having played my only card, I was now compelled to take the trick. I was shoved down a hallway marked “No Admittance” under which someone had scrawled in Urban Decay lipliner, “(except awesome peeps!!!!)” As the door behind me slammed and was deadbolted, I took a breath and stepped inside.

“Omigod! Look, party boys!” someone cried as I peered into the gloom. Then, “Oh, wait. Who’s that? Omigod, who is that, go talk to him, no, seriously, you go.”

“Hi!” said a cheerful young woman, bounding up to me. “Did, like, you get a call?”

“A call?”

“Did someone call you? Are you like, you know, are you the delivery guy? I thought I knew all the delivery guys. Are you new? I put in a call a while ago, you know, just for enough for tonight.

“Sorry,” I said, “I just wanted to get a vodka and soda. They said there was a bartender here.” I looked back to see a sad young man in a black t-shirt. It was inside out and appeared to normally read “BUCK FUSH.”

“Oh, sure, Buck will help you! Buck is the coolest bartender!” The cheerful young woman bounded back to the bar, plopping down next to her companion and mirror image. “Get the delivery guy a drink, Buck,” the mirror image said.

“Hi ladies, I’m Jack,” I said to them.

“Hi Jack!” they chorused.

“Do you party?” asked the other one.

“Rarely,” I said, “I’m pretty old.”

“Yeah, totally,” the other other one said.

“So, you’re in town with your parents for the week?”

“I know, totally, they are so on us all the time, it sucks sucks sucks. What is the point, anyway?”

“I know!” the other one said. Then we all took a draw on our drinks.

“I mean, like, why does he have to do all this talking anyway, it’s not like somebody else is going to be president, whatever,” the first one continued.

“Who’s going to vote for that Mister Sour-Pants? And he’s a big liar anyways. He’s always saying how Dad made too much war in Iraq, but he thinks we should invade Vietnam. There’s no way Osama is there!”

“Ewww, Osama, terrorism, groooosssss,” the first one said, sticking out her tongue.

“But he could totally be in Iraq. We don’t know yet. Sometimes if you want something good to happen, like killing Osama, you have to do some things you don’t like, like killing everybody in the Middle East. It’s never easy, duh! That’s why we have other people to be president! Why can’t people just let Dad do his job and leave him alone? Let him worry about it!”

“So we can party!” the first one said, and they high-fived. Then the other one said, hastily, “And work in schools as teachers in Harlem with the disadvantageous.”

“And party,” the first one said, and they giggled.

“This convention is so much more awesome than that other one. Did you see that dress that the Edwards bitch had on? Where is her Fashion Emergency Management Agency? This is not the junior prom, 1975!” They high-fived.

“You got served, Edwards bitch!” the first one said.

“She is not hot at all,” the other one said, turning to me. “Right? Like, hot or not, right?”

NOT!” the other other one said.

“You know that game?” the other one asked me. “Marry, Fuck, Kill?” They giggled.

“Okay, like, the three of us, Bitch and us, what do you think,” and they giggled.

“Omigod, Buck, she is so fucking funny, I need a drink!” She slammed her chocotini glass on the bar. “Sis, you’re hysterical. Isn’t she fucking crazy?”

“Did you see us on TV?” the other one asked me. “It was awesome, we gave like a whole speech.”

“I wrote the part about Outkast,” the other other one said.

“Yeah, that’s like all you did.”

“Come on! It’s not like you wrote anything. You didn’t even read it until we were —”

“Whatever! I came up with the line about peanut butter. Dad was always making us fucking peanut butter sandwiches, it was hysterical!”

As the vodka glass slipped from my numbed grasp, I felt myself falling, falling, falling. Then I sat up with a wheeze and realized I was on the floor of my local bar. Patrons were milling around woozily. I got up, dusted myself off, and realized it had all been a dream. I sat down on the barstool from which I had fallen, and called for another drink to calm my nerves. I rested my head in my hands and tried to catch my breath. There had been no trip to the west side, no Velvet Rope, and above all no Twins…it was all a bad dream. This was still the world I knew.

But at that moment, my attention shifted to the bar television set, where two girls were applauding as some guy and a lady came onto a stage. Fear hit me like a ton of corporate corruption. It was not a dream. George Bush…was the president!

by Jack, 11:49 PM | Link | Comments (3) | More from Drinking & Women | More from Election 2004 | More from The Damned Human Race

Friday, September 3, 2004

One of our horndogs is missing

Former president and future first gentleman Bill Clinton, or the Big Dawg as he is popularly known, had a heart attack today, which still leaves him three up on Dick Cheney, who has heart attacks like some people have cheeseburgers. The bad news for the Boys in the Blue States is that Clinton is now presumably sidelined for the rest of the campaign.

Say what you will about the vaunted electability of John Forbes Kerry, but all the charisma in his family seems to have gone to…hmmm. I guess I’ll have to get back to you on that one, unless the selection of Senator Johnny Edwards as vice-candidate involved legal adoption. Senator Kerry is about as exciting as the ketchup which bears his name. William Clinton, on the other hand, keeps you on the edge of your seat: what crazy scrapes is that character going to get into next? This time, the answer turned out to be severe heart disease, which is not among his most crowd-pleasing work. At least he did not round out his heart attack by pulling a Nelson Rockefeller, although my friends in Vegas remind me it’s still early in the game. One encouraging thought, Mr. Clinton, for your stay in the hospital: naughty nurses.

As much as I resent Clinton for writing a book on “My Life” without asking me first, I wanted him in this game to rally the troops and pound the pavement. He is good at kissing babies. But babies are frozen in fear as the grey maw of Kerry approaches the tops of their little heads; it is not good television. Already in Wisconsin and several other swing states, ads from the conservative 527 “Mothers United For Truth” capitalize on the growing national fear that John Kerry might try to shake your hand, ruffle your child’s carefully-positioned hair, or engage you momentarily in an awkward, halting parody of small talk. While no one doubts John Kerry’s preparedness and fitness to be the commander of our armed forces and voice for liberty and justice around the world, few are convinced he should be allowed to campaign openly on their street, where someone might see him and be turned instantly to stone.

So as the shambling Golem known as John Kerry soldiers joylessly into November and possibly beyond, Bill Clinton will be sitting at home becoming acquainted with the television schedule and Googling himself. (Hi Bill!) This seems like a real stroke of luck for the Other Guys. Or is it luck? What could be the rest of the story?

Scenario #1: “It’s better than kissing him goodbye”

Bill was set to join his wife and senator Hillary for a two-day junket around the state, when he mysteriously collapsed from sudden illness. Perhaps this was a desperate measure to get out of two days in the car with HILLPAC.

Scenario #2: “Would anybody come to my funeral?”

Clinton gets pissed off at all the fawning over Reagan after his untimely demise at age 734. Clinton figures he was the better actor anyway. Stages illness to gauge public response; is prepared to go all the way to the funeral if necessary, at which he will deliver a stirring eulogy disguised as Vernon Jordan.

Scenario #3: “C’mon, honey, for old times’ sake”

Hillary, concerned that, should Kerry win the White House, she will be forever blocked from achieving that prize, does not want her persuasive husband aiding in the 2004 election. She knowingly causes the illness in an attempt to detain/murder him. This is possible by either of two methods, which fit the known facts:

a) While Clinton has famously been on the South Beach Diet, spies at the Democratic Convention reported that the Clinton hotel suite ordered up cheeseburgers, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, and other traditional White House-era Clinton favorites. Perhaps Hillary talked him into indulging, knowing he would be unable to stop. Weeks later, his cholesterol-clogged body drags itself to Columbia Presbyterian.

b) Hillary makes a pass at Bill; he has a heart attack.

Scenario #4: “Somebody up there likes me”

I didn’t really watch the Bush speech at his convention. Is it possible he called upon God to strike Clinton down? If this is the case, I may have to change my vote because they are clearly getting shit done.

Any way you slice it, our campaign is a little greyer without the fun-loving, heart-attacking Bill Clinton. Get well soon!

by Jack, 3:19 PM | Link | Comments (3) | More from Election 2004 | More from The Damned Human Race

Thursday, September 9, 2004

You've got a friend

As loyal readers know, lately I’ve only been posting to the “Damned Human Race” category on this site — which is to say discussing politics. As you also know, political blog postings are the last refuge of scoundrels, but as you also also know, I am one of those. On another hand, what are we to make of those with a “Drinking & Women” category?

I wanted to report here on some twentieth-century memories of my “best friend” (by default) Meg, because lately she’s been bugging me a lot and I thought this might put her in her place. I will let you know if it works.

Last night, I got home before sunrise and played the answering machine, that ritual of bachelor homelife. My alleged friend Meg, lost in the wilds of America, had left this message in three-foot words of fire that sprang from the tinny speaker:

“Jack, pick up the phone, it’s Meg. I know you’re there. Answer me, dammit. Jack, are you ignoring me? Are you there listening and ignoring me?” A short pause. “Are you fucking somebody? Goddamn it, you’re there fucking some slut. I can’t believe you’re there ignoring my call and fucking some tramp. Go to hell. I hope you get AIDS. Call me.” You have no more messages.

Meg and I had met in another lifetime. According to legend, I attended, hesitantly but with a great sense of purpose, an off-campus party during freshman orientation week where it was a fair bet there would be beer available for free.

I was a small-town hustler of cheerleaders and honor students, who increasingly had the suspicion that there were bigger games to play. She was a frowning, sloppy drunk girl in an untucked flannel shirt, planted on the sofa right by the door.

“Hey, asshole,” she slurred at me, beginning our relationship. “Hey, dickhead.”

I chose not to respond to this address. I preferred to consider us all gentlemen and ladies. I headed to the next room, to beer.

“Bring me back a drink,” she called after me, “I’m out.”

I worked the crowd a while. I introduced myself to all the best-looking girls and the boys who probably knew them. I was attempting to smooth my entry into college society, such as it was. I was going to have to live with, eat with, drink with, and sleep with these people for four years, and maybe forever. It was a grim notion, and I wanted to get things right.

A charming little brunette, her easily-sidelined boyfriend, and I had just sat down on the living room furnishings with our beers when a slurry voice from behind me on the couch said, “Thanks,” and a confident hand reached around and took my bottle from me. I turned around to see the same girl. “I wanted a drink drink,” she said, “but beer is okay for now.”

“That’s mine,” I told her.

She tilted her head back and took a long swig. “I can drink a forty in two swallows,” she winked. I looked around to the brunette-and-boyfriend for assistance. They were already looking for another group to escape to. “That’s why boys like me,” the drunk girl explained, half-heartedly. I turned to b-and-b to apologize and continue our getting-to-know-you, but they had got up and left. Meanwhile, my shoulder was being tapped. “Stop being so rude,” the girl said.

I turned around again. “Why don’t you leave me alone?” I wondered.

She made a face of mock shame. “Oh, sorry, I guess you’d rather talk to someone else. Someone who takes hours to drink a forty, she’s so wonderful. I didn’t mean to ruin the party for you.”

I stared at her for a minute. Then I took a deep breath. “Look. It’s all right. You’re pretty drunk. Do you have a friend to take you home?”

She looked enraged. “I am not drunk. And I am home. And my friends are none of your business.” She poured the rest of the beer into my lap.

I bit my lip, looked at my pants, and looked around the room again. I turned back to her. “You’re being a real jerk,” I informed her.

“I’m Meg,” she chirped. “Let’s go to my room.”

“I don’t want to go to your room,” I said.

“Isn’t this orientation week?”

I said it was.

“So let me orient you,” she said. She rolled to her feet and start pulling on my hand. “C’mon, I’m bored. Let’s go make out.”

I was young and foolish enough to still be of the opinion that the sexy girls were the ones who said “no” all the time. I didn’t know what to do with our Meg. She looked at me disapprovingly. I was a kid; I went up to her room.

She turned on the stereo and began white-girl dancing in place. “I’m dancing,” she announced, her shirttails bobbling. I stood by the door, among the strewn-about laundry. I saw something fuzzy on the floor, and picked it up. It was an Angora sweater, the cheapest sentiment. I smelled it; it could be reused.

“Are you wearing a bra?” I asked her.

She kept dancing, her face cast down and her fists pumping the air haltingly. “Yes,” she said after a moment, to the floor.

“Good, so change into this.” I handed her the sweater.

“I’m dancing,” she said.

“You can’t dance in button-down.”

“Turn around.” I covered my face with my hands. She repeated, “Turn around.” I turned around. I sensed the rending of garments. “Can I look now?” I asked after a while. “Not yet,” she said, right into my ear, from right behind me. Her hands went around my waist as I turned around to see her in her fuzzy. The door opened and an aghast college boy said, “Meg, what the fuck are you doing?”

“Aw, c’mon, Darren, we’re just dancing,” Meg said, clutching me.

“Get the fuck out of here,” the boy said to me. “Let go of him,” he said to her. He didn’t come in the room.

“Maybe if you had some time for me at the party in my own house—” Meg was beginning. I got away from her and went back downstairs. I scanned the room one more time. Everyone was fine without me. I went home.

Four months later I answered the phone to hear a nose being blown and tissues scratching the mouthpiece. “Hello?” I said a few times, and then began to hang up.

“Is this Jack?” a teary voice asked.

“Yeah, who is this?”

“It’s Meg.”

I was about to say, “Who is Meg?” when a wave of revulsion showed me I already knew. “Fuck you,” I said instead.

She was crying. “I wanted to apologize,” she said through sobs.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Are you crying about this?”

She choked back another jag. “I’m very sad tonight,” she said.

“Are you crying about me?” I asked again. “That just surprises me.”

“I’m crying about me,” she said simply. Of course. A pause. “I’m sorry. I was kind of a jerk to you.”

“No, you were a big jerk. I have no idea what you were trying to do, but I hated it. It was fucked up.”

“I know, I know,” she said. “I was really out of control. I shouldn’t have gotten you involved. I’m sorry.”

I listened to her wiping her nose for a while. “All right,” I said, “thanks for the call.”

“Hold on a minute. Is that it?”

“What do you mean? You called me, you said what you wanted—”

“So, what, you’re hanging up?”

I thought for a moment. “Well, yes,” I said.

She said, “Do you want to come over?”

I said, “No. I can’t.”

“Why can’t you?”

“I don’t want to.”

She paused. The tissues swished the mouthpiece. “You’re being a jerk now.”

“No, I am not. I don’t care. I can’t do this.” I hung up the phone. I lay on my bed uncomfortably. This is what I learned in college. From that day to this, I never saw Meg again. But she calls me about once a week. I tell her everything. She is my best friend!

by Jack, 1:13 PM | Link | Comments (2) | More from Drinking & Women

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Furthur trouble

While all the real estate agents are worried if a building is “pre-war” or “post-war”, war still rages in my building. Most of the denizens are meek college girls who seem embarrassed not to live in the dorms, and who flatten themselves against the wall, eyes wide, fingers spread, when I say “Excuse me”. There is a whole floor which always smells like pot. I’m not sure if they all smoke, or if one guy just smokes a lot. There is never any sound on that floor. You’d think you’d hear Phish or somebody eating chips. Elsewhere, there are a few struggling actors and models. One girl told me she was a “supermodel”, although on closer questioning she turned out to be a “superwaitress”.

We all lived in harmony and ignorance of one another until somebody parked a bus out front.

The bus has been there for months. It is not a new bus, but it is very large, from back when to manufacture a bus meant something, and a man could be proud of a day’s toil controlling one through city streets. Apparently this relic is now an adjunct to someone’s apartment. It’s a pretty clever idea, in my opinion. If your apartment is too small, augment it with a nearby bus. True, the spaces are noncontiguous, but it’s rent-free Manhattan real estate, as long as you obey the holy writ of alternate side parking, which these savvy bus-dwellers apparently do.

But this otherwise wholesome bus has caused a rift among the normally conflict-averse population of our squalor. The anti-bus coalition feels that a permanently parked bus is, at best, gauche. They also believe that they play their bus music too loud. However, the pro-bus faction is allowed to hang out on the bus. I myself was ignorant of this war until, coming home from whiskey-shopping, I found a crowd outside the building. The crowd was confronting the proprietor of the bus, who stood in its doorway.

“Why don’t you take a road trip?” someone suggested to her.

“We’re out of gas,” she said.

“It’s a bus,” someone said, “it is meant to be driven. It doesn’t want to just sit here.”

“It’s retired,” she said,.

“Get your bus out of here,” someone else clarified.

“No,” she said, stepped back, and pulled the lever to close the door.

The crowd stood around murmuring as I tried to get by to return to my room and arrange bottles on the shelf. “It’s a crime,” someone said to me.

“What is?”

“This….” Words failed him. “This bus.”

“Is it a stolen bus?”

“Not that we know of.”

“Well,” I said, “what is the crime?”

“This is New York,” someone said, “there has to be a traffic violation in here somewhere.”

“What’s the big deal?” I asked them. There was a quiet moment.

“The street isn’t for bus parking,” someone said. “What if everyone parked their bus in front of our building?”

“This bus has taken the spot, saving us from that problem,” I pointed out.

“It’s ugly colors,” someone else said.

“So is his shirt,” I said, pointing to a member of the crowd.

“We’re building people. We’re not bus people.”

Everyone nodded, and trooped back in the building. The door to the bus accordioned open. The woman addressed me. “Pardon me, neighbor. We’ve run out…do you have any whiskey?”

So I got on the bus.

by Jack, 6:49 PM | Link | Comments (2) | More from Drinking

Thursday, September 16, 2004

But don't touch

I wanted to relaunch Look magazine. Originally the name had signified the heavy dominance of photography within its covers — stuff to “look” at. In the ’90s some forgotten genius had discussed bringing it back as a “home & lifestyle” magazine, telling you how to shape up your house, wardrobe, and pantry. In other words, how to update the “look” of your stuff.

I felt it was time to consider a third meaning of the title. I wanted Look magazine to be the first word in a tirade, as in, “Look, pal, I’ve had it up to here with you.”

I shopped this idea around to the major magazine-publishing firms. I started with the ones that did not own the rights to the name, figuring they wouldn’t be able to steal it from me as easily. I described my Look as like “Interview with no art bullshit and more jokes.” Later I changed the pitch to, “Like Smithsonian with Page 3 girls.” In short, I wanted it to be the world’s first pornosophical monthly.

There was some interest shown to this reformulated concept. It was called “edgy” by several people who had heard that word. Editors searching for something to make them look good at the board meeting would go to bat for me as a means to that end. But while some may have embraced the lucrative demographic we were targeting — pre-post-ironic metrosexual intrapreneurs who can’t get laid — no one really understood the idea as I did. To them, it was another way to pay for yachts. To me, it was a mission.

I was tired of photographing people smiling at me while thinking of someone else. I was tired of well-lit product shots. I was tired of moody fashion shots. I was tired of all the kinds of shots that went in all the kinds of magazines. And, yes, I had even had my flirtation with good old porn. That bored me too, after about twenty minutes of thinking, “I am totally a pornographer.” Plus, every time I found a good subject, Richard Kern would turn her on to smack. There were no markets for the photos I wanted to make, so I wanted to make a market.

The closest this idea ever came to happening was this summer. I had enticed a young millionaire into putting up half the money I said I needed — a ridiculous sum I will not insult you with by repeating — and we took our song-and-dance routine to a heavyweight publisher whose name you would instantly recognize if I could remember it. I told him the concept, a few of the pitch lines (“It’s like Giant Robot for white people”), and pointed out that we had half the seed money taken care of. Then the guy said, “So what sort of material do you envision?”

I told him about the evocative photography to be provided by up-and-coming hotshots (me). I told him about the satirical views on city life from the country’s best satirical city viewers. I told him we’d have great, minimalist design layouts. He said, “Who have you got lined up?”

“For the design?”

“For the writing, the design, the photography…what team have you got?”

I pointed out that I would do some of the photographs. But the rest was really in development. He sort of frowned. I gave him another pitch line (“It’s like The Whole Earth Review for cokeheads”) and shifted around in my chair. I had the idea! Weren’t they supposed to work out the details?

Apparently not. To this day, my magazine remains but a dream. Anyone who has any free ideas on what might actually go in it, besides cool shit I like, please let me know. I will send you a free copy when it comes out.

by Jack, 8:21 PM | Link | Comments (2) | More from The Damned Human Race

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