Eliot Spitzer is an idiot
He came in with a giant landslide, and a population eager for change, and he turned it into a year of failure. This failure came because he tried to steamroller the state legislature the way he might a defendant in one of his A.G. cases, but that isn’t something the legislature is excited about.
He squandered his first year. And now he has capped it by being discovered to use hookers.
Absinthe and Motherfuckerless Brooklyn
Due to the time-dilation effects of continuously crossing south on Houston and north on Fourteenth in the same day, I have only aged four years since beginning this blog in September 2003, but New York City itself has aged an entire generation.
New York is a city of constant change, and inevitably some change is for the worse. If you take a values-neutral stance, that is. If you are somehow biased against middle-class suburbanites who believe they’re pretty cool, then you will find more of the change to be negative.
One thing I’d like to make clear: if you have moved to Brooklyn, that’s fine. But it is not a heroic achievement.
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by Jack, Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Link | Comments (3)
Not content just to fester within my blog, I’ve been out in the world, fighting to make it more like Trouble Sells. A lot has happened in the intervening time; to me, and to the world. Some things I had nothing to do with: O.J. Simpson’s book, the first hypothetical tell-all, a fascinating premise, which itself became hypothetical. This is an important lesson for somebody. Things I had more to do with: the upcoming feature film about the life of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, starring Gael García Bernal.
Mostly, I have sat amongst my generation as they drank coffee and read Recognizable Tropes Magazine; a generation which asserts, quite obviously, that “fur is dead” when a more mysterious generation once considered that “Paul is dead”. Have we lost something?
Well, excuse the fuck out of me!
I’ve just had my flatmate’s cock out of my mouth for long enough to check on my little pet project to see if Jack is back (from having his cock in someone’s mouth, let’s hope) to read this nonsense. Could it be true that I have a doppelganger? Moi, pitilessly misunderstood and misrepresented, misty and metaphysical me? No, I smell a pretender. Perhaps Jack has another friend named Jane that is perhaps rather cheekily and/or self-aggrandizingly confusing herself with myself? In any case, she speaks of stories to be told without bothering to tell them. Granted, I’m a bit of a lazy bitch and my stories are not particularly riveting…I’m thinking more travelogue than lad-lit…but they are articulated nonetheless which is more than we can say for this soul who attempts to hijack the hijacker with the promise of atmospheric description of the interior of a Los Angeles apartment. By all means tell your tales, child, but do not do it in my name.
That having been said, let’s get back to me, Jane, and my life "tumbling around with some overzealous subculture."
Jack is on vacation. In his absence, we present posts from Jane. Or do we?
alright already. as a trouble sells follower i have to ask what in h.g. wells’ name is going on. my immediate inquiries are “who is this jane character, why is she using my name, and, consequently, what on earth is she trying to do with my reputation?”
i know i don’t have the best reputation around here (california) or on the east coast, my former breeding ground (so to speak), but i’m not sure i like this slander either. fire island? dykes? dashing brits? come on now, dearie. more exciting things are afoot than tumbling around with some overzealous subculture.
i suppose i’m being malicious, & i do apologize. just imagine what it’s like to check into a friend’s blog & see my name all over, describing events past & places traveled. but i did not travel these places, did not participate in these occurrences. i’ve got my own stories, for sure, but mainly i’ve been sitting in a downtown flat smoking cigarettes & listening to dogs barking at the falling leaves.
response, “ms. jane?” or shall i just take it from here?
Driven by hardship and a vision
As the poet said, reports of my death have been great. I know it is a dark day indeed when someone has more pressing needs than posting to his blog. That isn’t what America wanted. So, here I am.
I was on a date last night. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it a date. As Bill Clinton might say, it all depends on your definition of the word “jizz”. I’ve been on a lot of dates. I keep my spirits up. I don’t let them make me stop. I never dated before I got out of college. I just hung around with people and slept with them. The concept of dating is much more structured. It is event-oriented. It has rituals. I never had to do this stuff until somehow there was a kind of shift in the landscape of women I knew. I think this had something to do with the stock market’s crest in 1999-2000. “Take something off the table,” some warned. I tried dating.
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by Jack, Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | Link | Comments (0)
A dirty shame
Let’s continue with June’s theme of filthy girls because it’s summer in New York and everyone is dressed like a slut.
(Just as, as an alcoholic, I have no truck with the amateur drunkenness rampant on St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve, it bothers me, as a lecher, when for several months everywhere you look there are tits and ass hanging out. Where is the sportsmanship? This is not how the game is played. We are meant to have to contort ourselves around lampposts for one glimpse of slender ankle.)
A dirty job
In my last post, I wrote about how women were special. This let loose a torrent of pent-up agreement, in email and in the comments. I’m always mistrustful of anything that is admired by the majority, even if it’s something I say. I feel there can’t be anything in it. I thrive on adversity. Let’s revisit this issue: how women can — should — be filthy and how we love them for it.
What women got
This is not an analysis of what women want, even though I know.* It is about, conversely, what they got. Why all the trouble? What do we need from them? What can women add to our lives? We already have cable television and sport-utility vehicles, but we seek out women nonetheless. What can they do for us? What are they for?
Modern life is about forgetting modern life, and there are many ways to be entertained and many ways to be distracted, and in many of these ways, cable television and sport-utility vehicles can figure prominently. However, there is one category in which women, or at least certain remarkable women, can alone suffice. In our world of abundance, we have not found a way to replace the one thing women alone can do. They can be dirty, dirty, dirty.
I coughed and said, “Yeah.”
“Water under the bridge, Jack.”
I said, “Yeah.”
“I thought it would be more fun. I mean, I wouldn’t call that ‘fun’.”
“It scared me, Amanda, really.”
She nodded slowly. “Did you ever think of me, all these years?”
The sex genius meets the intimacy junkie
Probably just from the shock of how it felt the same after an entire lifetime, we stopped kissing almost immediately. Amanda opened her eyes wide and they looked the same as I could now remember them. It was not an experience I had ever thought about in advance: to be holding someone you had lusted after, that you selfishly had sex with before any other human had the chance to, when you were only an unformed lump, a child, and now you were a formed lump, an idiot, who lived somewhere he chose to instead of where his parents did. She had always been a sort of personal hero to me, because she had had sex with me. Which she seemed to be willing, expecting, to do again. It was almost too much to take. It was like standing on a street corner and having Ray Charles ask you to help him cross. Who could resist taking the arm of a genius?
“You’re shaking,” she said. She was shaking, too, but I didn’t say so. I thought about a lot of things to say, but I said, “You are incredible.” She was grinning like a crazy person.
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by Jack, Monday, March 7, 2005 | Link | Comments (1)
Amanda shifted on the sofa, pulling her legs up so I could see they weren’t fat, except I couldn’t, with the sweatpants. The ankles were thin. She had the arms rolled up as well, and the arms looked okay. “Let me think. Remember Sharon Houseman?”
“Yeah. Dancer. Acrobatic. H. O. T. T.”
“Right. She’s big now.”
“She was a dancer. She was athletic!”
“At sixteen she was athletic,” she said. “Now she sits behind a desk. Um, who else. Penny Trainer.”
“Oh my god. Penny?”
“She got heavy.”
“Oh my god.”
“You didn’t—was there something between you?”
“I think there was,,” I said thoughtfully. “Oh my god, she had this little upturned nose. It would look bad on a fat person.”
“Yeah, now it’s got burst blood vessels.”
“Wow, wow, wow. I can’t even believe I remember these people, and now you’re saying they’ve gone.”
“Asshole. They’re fat, not dead. Maybe they’re happier this way?”
Amanda met me at the door wearing a smirk which I instantly recognized. The rest of her was exactly the same also. It is amazing how people grow up, through agonizing circumstances, to become the same people they were before.
“Holy shit,” she announced. “It’s the ghost of Jack Task.”
“Clank, clank,” I said, rattling my chains.
The brains I got will stuff your bust out
(Apologies to Mr. Robert Johnson.)
The question, as always, is what are other people for? Or, just as perplexingly, what good am I to them?
The answer, as always, is that we are each other’s fictions. We admire each other only as long as we can make it all up. The onset of reality into any relationship is its death knell.
I have kept the news from you, dear diary, but for the past six weeks I have been in a “dating relationship”, which I had not done since before I knew better. This is my first post-knowing-better dating relationship. I am “dating”.
I am dating Erica.
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by Jack, Saturday, January 29, 2005 | Link | Comments (4)
Civilization and its diss
Welcome to Trouble Sells, 2005 edition. I recognize that mid-January is not a very ambitious point from which to start the new year. However, when we last left our story, my bar was closing on New Year’s Eve. I really can’t face that all over again. The wounds are too recent. I will get back to it in due time. I will chronicle the heartbreak, the angry girls I used to sleep with, the complacent girls I used to sleep with, the fear of running out of liquor, and the deep bathos of our situation. That it happened on the turn of the year is all the more chilling. Imagine if it was this way for all Americans. “Well, the ball has dropped, honey. Help the kids pack up their things before the wrecking crew destroys our home.”
I know that in Trouble Sells, 2004 edition, I rarely talked about my actual life, concentrating mostly on high-minded analyses of our doomed race. Now that George Plimpton, always our champion, is dead, I resolve to get back to more drunk girls etc. But before I can do that, an important foundational step is to explain the origin of civilization itself. I am also going to straight-up diss it.
The lost episodes
Long ago, in, let’s say, A.D. 1999, a much-loved segment of the Twentieth Century, it was widely noted that anything involving the Internet happened a lot faster, in Einsteinian perceived time, than those things which had the misfortune not to involve the golden touch of the Internet and its World-Wide Web. What this was supposed to mean I don’t really know; I assume it was a shot fired across the bow of rival venture capital firms to suggest that their money-bleeding delivery services were not as hip and with-it as ours.
Flash forward, gently, to A.D. 2004, when the premier form of delivery offered by the Web (World-Wide Edition) is culture-shaking commentary from those iconoclastic pits of self-indulgence: the worldly, word-wise blogs. And what blog could be worldlier and wider than the one you now hold in your metaphoric mandibles?
But the fact is, I’m pretty damn slow, whether in a relativistic or absolute time sense. I lost an entire two months while you were all growing as people. Let me try to explain why, lest you judge me too harshly.
The beautiful confusion
It wasn’t that Cheryl’s kiss was completely unexpected. She had been pretty darn friendly up to that point, and the whole “you’ve got something on your lip” line was also heinously transparent. The question was why she had bothered at all.
But the answer to this question lay years before, in high school, while I was out on the football field cleaning up this storage shed the janitor had there. It was one of my afterschool odd jobs for condom-and-beer money. I was about sixteen, and thought I was pretty smart. While I was tossing things around in the shed, excited rhythmic yelps from the field suggested that the cheerleading squad was in practice. I took a not-very-well-deserved break to lean on the doorway and check out the action. They were high school cheerleaders, and therefore of my highest recommendation, at least at the time.
The gift-giving season
I’m willing to admit it if you are: neither of us are particularly interested in my sordid dairyland past, or my complaining about a lousy childhood that everybody else had too. It’s a good thing that Jack History Month is almost over, even though it’s an extra-long leap year edition.
But studies show that, failing Paul Tsongas references, my most popular posts are the ones in which somebody has sex with me, for inscrutable reasons of their own. Let’s then set the Wayback Machine for an important milestone in my growth as a confused, but sexual person. Not my first sexual experience, of course, because that would be too maudlin. But the first related event that taught me A Great Lesson.
The last time I saw Helmut
If you’re a photographer, like I am, and you like naked women, like I used to, then you have to like Helmut Newton, even if it makes you a little nervous. Even if you don’t want to admit to the public at large that naked girls in full-body braces were kind of intriguing. This was a man who pushed the limits of “le shock” so far that he got sick of it altogether. For the last few years he was enraptured by the idea of fully-clothed women who were not tied up or standing on anyone in stilettos. An artist must always explore new areas, and he had never tried that before.
But Helmet Newton is dead, like James Dean before him the owner of a broken head. Clearly a car crash scene involving Mr. Newton is a difficulty for the police, as he usually drives with several pre-mangled mannequins in his back seat. But as I stepped out of a deli on Third Avenue and saw the New York Post headline “NO SAFETY, HELMUT” I knew it was the end of an era. First Herb Ritts, now Saint Newton. Truly, I might get some work if this keeps up.
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.
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.
A map of how she talked
I attended a reception at Lincoln Center for the Jeff Bridges photography show. Oliver was there, as he is with most notable cultural events we can get into for free, and he had indulgingly brought a date. I went alone because women are heartless bitches, etc. We all camped out near the hors d’oeuvres, drinking the vino gratis with sour faces.
I'm the prize
Let’s work under the assumption that women feel more comfortable, more right, more in control, when they are the prize for some man. They want to be individuals, as we all do, but they want to be special, as we all do.
They want some man, or all of them, to seek them out like a prize.
I decided to tell these women, “I am the prize now.”
The bitches: are they getting it right?
Like the Warren Report before it, Trouble Sells is a carefully-considered analysis of grave events, but that doesn’t mean it makes any sense. Garbage in, garbage out, folks. My data are poorly-collected and always have been. Short of an Open Society grant to investigate why people are such idiots, I’m the only one on staff, as chief scientist, accountant, writer, and bottle-washer here at TSHQ. My idea of data-mining is going to the bar, my exclusive social laboratory. Thank god I just did that, so I have some fresh insights for you.
I’ve been considering the oft-repeated meme that “women mature sooner than men.” When I was seven years old, people used this to describe seven-year-old men and women. I didn’t have much of an insight into it. Now I am a decrepit, used-up, you-really-don’t-want-to-talk-to-me twenty-seven, and it seems that women are still more advanced, according to these women. I had originally thought “women mature sooner” meant that they were able to survive puberty with perhaps less scarring, and in less time. Apparently, though, this same truism can be reapplied at any phase of human life. Are they going to hold this over my head forever? How many times do they want to win the same contest?
But then it hit me.
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by Jack, Tuesday, November 11, 2003 | Link | Comments (8)
Nicky by noonlight
I’m taking a second last stand. I decide to invite Nicky on our “first date,” by which I mean a planned rendezvous, not at five in the morning, where we’re both sober for most of it. Since we are interested in photography, it’s off to Chelsea to see some photo shows. Sounds reasonable, right?
Light-up devil girl
The amazing-looking receptionist is forever upping the ante with her choice of garments, and one can only wonder why. Must the Bras be so full of Wonder? Why do I know the color, shape, model year, and serial number of her belly ring? What is the purpose of this? Who is this for? Does she really want me to commit ritual suicide at her desk? Because I can’t, I’ve got a client coming.
Failure to thrive
Anyone who’s seen the Charlie Chaplin vehicle in which he is much beloved by a portly, wealthy gentleman, but only when that gentleman is drunk, understands much more about my sex life than they’d probably admit.
Diary of a train pervert
I realize that even though I am traveling, I am not reporting on my traveling. I am, however, reporting on the things that I am thinking about while traveling. Is that okay?
Stupid things that women have done that made me like them even more
Not to suggest only women do stupid things. But they are the only ones who do stupid things that make me like them even more.
Kerry You’ll perhaps recall that every couple of years Kerry and I have dinner. On one of these occasions, we arrive at the restaurant to find it is full and we have no reservation. The maitre d’ helpfully suggests that if we’d like to give him a name, we can retire to the bar and he will let us know when a table is ready. Sounds good.
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by Jack, Wednesday, October 1, 2003 | Link | Comments (0)
Tip for the ladies
I was talking to my Auntie Mame recently. She has some advice which I report here verbatim. It is entitled, “How to tell if your man is a gay.”
Light, sweet, crude
Every two years or so I run into Kerry. She’s someone I hardly know — and have for years. We met in high school, if you can believe it. Neither of us paid much attention. We met again during college. We went on a date that made us both miserable. Every few years we go on another date that’s worse than the last one. Here’s update 2003.
Don't feed the amazing-looking receptionist
There was a package at the front desk for my assistant; it was a lightbox for her office. She asks, “Is it cookies?” I’m reminded that she keeps asking me why I don’t bring in cookies for the studio, which is a non sequitur no matter what we’re discussing. So when I go out for lunch, I tell the receptionist, who is unfortunately an amazing-looking woman that my partner hired, “I’m getting cookies. What kind?”
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by Jack, Sunday, September 21, 2003 | Link | Comments (1)
Attack of the 5-Foot Woman
When I first met Adrienne, who had been talked up to me by Our Supposed Mutual Friend, I was relieved to know that such a sexy name was being used by an actual sexy girl, rather than an impostor.