Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Goodbye George!

My favorite part is the "preemptive strike" bit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Haven't I Written in My Blog For Quite Some Time?

These are basically all the reasons I've used not to write:

1. I was under the delusion that one could travel and forget things that used to matter to them. Like, I thought I'd end up in Berlin and suddenly not care about writing anymore. How easy and simple that would make life, right?

2. My unhealthy obsession with the internet furor directed toward Emily Gould.

3. My unhealthy obsession with the internet furor directed toward Tao Lin.

4. Reading Anne Lamott, with all of her boundary issues, and feeling a pang of recognition.

5. Someone's offhanded remark that writers were antisocial, and feeling a pang of recognition.

6. Facebook.

7. Thinking about sex I wasn't having.

8. Envisioning my mother reading my blog. (Not in that order)

9. Watching 30 Rock instead.

10. Feeling like the personal insight and fearless introspection necessary for a successful blog entry ruined a reader's trust with a writer who was supposed to just "deliver the facts" or some vague thing like that.

11. Trying to convince myself that observational writing was safer and thus would create less suffering in my life. Then realizing that I hate erasing myself from stories. Then realizing I was a hypocrite for announcing that I hated memoirs for this same reason.

13. General anxiety about "the media" and "being a hypocrite" and "using quotes in the style of Tao Lin."

14. Probably some weird thing I'll have to go to therapy about some day but not today.

15. Envisioning my mother's face while reading my blog (Just did it again!)

16. Envisioning someone, somewhere writing, saying, or thinking the word "derivative."

17. Becoming temporarily obsessed with the word-counting self-editing difficulty of twittering.

18. Remembering someone, somewhere, at some point telling me my dream of getting stoned every day and writing was "hopelessly bourgeois."

19. Reading the comments thread anywhere in the Stranger (this is a sure-fire way to put to rest any desire for writing ever).

20. The fact that I still feel like no one reads this thing (no pity comments or I'll murder you).

The Graffiti in Berlin

The Graffiti, oh my god, the graffiti in Berlin. First of all, it's everywhere. I'm surprised my backpack hasn't been tagged walking down the streets. There's this attitude that nothing's sacred; no building, no streetsign, no storefront, no window, no fire escape, no bathroom wall (well, okay), no nothing. TAGGED! And the graffiti isn't bo-ring, it's actually rather telling. Take this image for example.

We can see here a grandmother holding a vial with a fetus, a bearded woman holding a dove and wearing a sailor hat, giant fern trees (which, by the way, are completely impossible to find in Berlin). And what's that? A horsey, saying hi? Adorable!

There are layers of meaning here. Like what do those birds mean? And why are they flying toward the grandmother's head? Is there some sort of latent anti-stem-cell message here with the fetus in the vial? Is this grandmother actually an evil woman who wants to steal your fetuses to perform research on them? Which came first? The beard or the lady? (I'm thinking the lady) The balloon or the origami hat? (I'm thinking both. At the same time).

Like this wall, Berlin is a city that is alive and constantly being re-thought, added to, torn down, parodied, fucked with. Berlin trusts its residents in a way American cities don't. It trusts its citizens to fuck where they want to fuck, paint where they want to paint. There are no subway turnstiles here; although cops occasionally patrol the cars in plainclothes, it is generally trusted you'll pay to go on your way.


Old and new.

I took that photo at a playground in Mitte. Children were playing there while I took the picture, even though they're outside the frame. There isn't this idea that graffiti symbolizes where you can and cannot go, where you can and cannot take your children. It's not associated with poverty, or with crime, it's associated with the natural ebb and flow of a living and breathing city. (That slide's angle looks pretty severe no? I wonder about the ending on that ride.)

The graffiti on the Berlin wall was well-documented. Here's a picture of Soviet leader Brezhnev passionately kissing East German leader Erick Honecker. The caption in both German and Russian reads: "God! Help me survive this deadly love!"

But after the wall was torn down, I bet a lot of people thought that was it. The city would build itself up again, and graffiti would go away as prices for buildings went up. I don't think we're really seeing that in Berlin. I think people are comfortable with the fact that others are going to deface their property in artful ways. Even in "nicer" areas like around Auguststrasse, where all the galleries are, graffiti is in plain view. It's not being painted over.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seriously, I Can't Get Over This Website


Our country is shiny and well-laid out. Our country can express complex ideas in layman's terms. Our country has good taste in font, and finally figured out how to use macromedia. Our country's agenda is finally the same as my own. This is just too much to take in all at once.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

'Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job'

Is still, probably, the most pointedly accurate headline leading up to Obama's innauguration.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's Going to Monster Jam?

Tickets are just (insert low voice here):TEN BUCKS.


What is Twitter Trying to Tell Us?

Anyone else notice mollydotcom's status update? Here, let's blow it up:

Mollydotcom: call your friends. That's too big for a twitter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Speaking of Amazon and Weirdness

Weird things you can buy on Amazon.com:

A children's pimp costume.

A fresh, whole rabbit.

A book on how to knit dog hair.


A canister of wolf urine.

Chicken poop lip balm.

An auto parts store.

A bib for men.

A large bag of bones.

A nipple extractor.

A guide to composting human manure.

9000 lady bugs

...just go there!.

"3,776 of 3,821 People Found the Following Review Helpful"

A satarist takes over "The Secret" Amazon.com reviews thread. At first, the writer poses as just another one of the millions of people affected by the self-help book, and you think you're reading another glowing recommendation. Then he talks about being in prison, and how the book saved him from being raped by his fellow inmate. Then he mentions the real "secret" to the book (hint: it's not the actual words).

Starting with chapter six there was a cavity carved into the book and in that cavity was a prison shiv. This particular shiv was a toothbrush with a handle that had been repeatedly melted and ground into a razor sharp point.

The next day in the exercise yard I carried "The Secret" with me and when Marcus approached me I opened the book and stabbed him in the neck. The next eight weeks in solitary confinement provided ample time to practice positive visualization and the 16 hours per day of absolute darkness made visualization about the only thing that I actually could do. I'm not sure that everybody's life will be changed in such a dramatic way by this book but I'm very thankful to have found it and will continue to recommend it heartily.

Whole magilla here, along with 20 odd pages of "shiv" joke comments.

I've been waiting for the rest of Amazon.com to catch up to the densely ironic product reviews of anything by Tao Lin.

Hat tip: Max Berde.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hating on Seth MacFarlane

Seth's plan to take over the internet results in Gawker fury. Choice quote:

McFarlane is one step closer to his ultimate creative vision, a steady torrent of 5 second animated pop-culture non-sequiters free from the shackles of charchters, plot, theme, mood, or nuance.

Bravo "Judge Fudge"!

Speaking of Showers, and Blogging (and Poop and Batman)

This is amazing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Horror of Certain Shower Faucets

So I go to twist the shower faucet, as we are wont to do when, after a bit of sniffing, things aren't up to snuff. The water streams out, hotter than Prince Harry sucking a popcicle. To the left, icier than Christine Gregoire's robot children. To the right again: hotter than a steambath with Australians.

I do this again and again, naked, in the shower, trying to get the right temperature. I'm looking for the happy medium; the central bus station of temperatures, the Israeli Palestinian cease-fire of temperatures. My hair is caked: I put wax in it to smooth out the curls (without wax, I am a walking, talking Pantene Pro-V 'before picture') and I need to get this wax out of my hair so I can go to a gay club and celebrate my last night in london. I need to use my clear goop and my thick goop and rub 'em in my hands and massage 'em into my hair and go aaahhhh like they do in commercials and think about eating lindt truffles slowly and Berlin. But i'm being pummeled by a hail storm, then shoved into a pizza oven, with every slight move of the faucet handle.

15 minutes pass. I stand at the corner of the shower, staring at the volatile waterfall. With enough gall, I can stick my head under the dry ice factory for three minutes- enough time to grab the shampoo, rub it quickly against my hands and massage vigorously. I do this, massaging very vigorously, like a family of newborn ticks and fleas just discovered my head.

Phew. Okay- now the conditioner. Same bit. I've now been in the shower for, oh, around 45 minutes. My relationship with the faucet is like an abusive lover. Sadly, I can't leave him. I need him.

I must wash the lavender goop over me now. I stick one foot under the flame bath: almost unbearable pain. I must do it, though. I must smell like a flower. I hop under the flames and scrub vigorously until all the suds have been washed away.

The horror is over. I am still here. I'm bruised and beaten, but I'm alive. I'm going out.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Princeton Students Create Their Own Version of Proposition 8

By banning freshman from walking on sidewalks. Freshman are still more than welcome to walk on the "separate but equal grassy areas"...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Yes, Well, I Left

I'm, of course, concerned about the safety of all the Israeli soldiers I met on my trip. At the same time, I'm pretty upset by the small, ultra-militaristic branch of the Israeli government for not just targeting Hamas radio and television stations, bunkers, and weapon storage facilities but also a police academy, mosque and an international school where innocent people were killed. When I tried to talk to Israelis about this, they said "if Hamas put down their arms, there would be no war. If the Israelis put down their arms, there'd be no Israel." But Hamas wasn't the only faction targeted...and this move is only intensifying anti-Israeli feelings across the world, thus furthering the likelihood of more attacks against Israel...

Andrew Sullivan
summed up my feelings quite nicely when he wrote today..

The inability on both sides to see Jews and Arabs as equally and indistinguishably human before they are Jews and Arabs is at the heart of the problem.

Neither side, right now, is able to recognize the other's right to exist. It's a moral dance many of the Israelis I met were willing to take: to say that, because one faction of an oppressed minority group hates Israelis and wants to see Israelis dead, it is okay to demagogue them and say that they, in return, have no right to exist.

And, it's like, you can't even argue with the Israelis once they bring up the Holocaust...the Holocaust effectively ends all arguments...it's hard to even type about it (I had to get drunk first..)

As Megan McCardle writes...

I don't ever blog about it because one is not allowed to have an opinion on the matter--no matter what I say, I'll be excusing terrorism or, irrelevantly, the holocaust, or shilling for western imperialism.

And, to paraphrase Tim F., the idea that violence should be the answer to violence "puts any small group of radicals in charge of Israel’s foreign policy," which isn't a good thing at all.

Ultimately, this is political posturing that's good for politicians in elections, and bad for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. As Ezra Klein writes..

Hamas is healthiest when it is a symbol of guerrilla resistance against a brutal and murderous Jewish state. Kadima is likeliest to win the February elections if it is demonstrating sufficient toughness to neuter Likud's appeal. And so here we are. The Israeli and Palestinian politicians are both well-served by the strikes in Gaza. The Israeli and Palestinian people less so.

And one thing is unbelievably clear: more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis. Almost 10 times more.

To think that this kind of violence will get the Palestinians to blame Hamas for shooting rockets into Israeli territory is naive. Palestinians will blame Israel, not their failed "leadership," for the rocket fire. Who would blame the same organization that provides social services to those in need?

These attacks only strengthen the sentiment that Israel has no desire to protect the Palestinian people, or recognize their right to a sound state.

Here's Ezra Again..

It is true that Hamas does not believe in Israel's right to exist. But it is also true that Palestinians don't believe that Israel means to ever offer them a dignified and autonomous existence, and thus far, the evidence has supported their position.

What kind of position does this war put the average Palestinian in? How much hope can they invest in a two state solution now?

Today in Undeniable Hilarity

London at Night

London looks incredible at night- all the monuments are aglow, the Westminster Abbey looks like it emerges out of nothingness, the Big Ben's intricate ironwork fully visible against the pitch black sky. The tower of London is less like a bridge and more like two ancient buildings connected via latticework. Incredible. I stood on the top of the bus in the bitter cold and felt like I'd been living under some kind of delusion these past twenty two years - the past was more complicated than my history books had led on. I had to see it to believe it.