Monday, August 17, 2009

Mad Men Premiere at Noir, Harvard Square

Complete insanity! The house was packed with people in period dress, some of whom admitted they didn't have cable at home. There were many more attendees than seats, and those seated kept whining that they couldn't see.

Downing Old Fashioneds and watching this show with dozens of fans who laugh at even the driest jokes is a great way to spend Sunday night.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009


In February of 2009, a halal food cart appeared on a certain corner in Jackson Heights. It never closed. In fact, it never left. Not even for a minute.

Where else in the city can you get a plate of cooked-to-order lamb with yellow basmati rice, salad, and fresh, sliced tomato...for $5? The "street meat" phenomenon is sweeping the city. Formerly the carts were scary, salmonella laden. Now they are intriguing, cool, hip. In Midtown the same meal would be $10, maybe more.

In Jackson Heights, the price is $5. At midnight, there are local drunks drinking locally, transient drunks arriving in yellow and livery cabs, and the cab drivers themselves, all queuing to purchase food off the griddle. Some are having the lamb over rice; some are having the chicken over rice. Those short on cash are having the halal hot dog: just "$0.99" as advertised on the cart's sides.

"Where else can you get a hot dog for a dollar?!" shouts the cart's owner emphatically. He's standing outside the cart, wearing a 99-cent short-sleeved plaid shirt and barking commands to the younger guy inside the cart in Hindi or Urdu or whatever the fuck. He's drinking a Schwepps Ginger Ale from a can and sweating profusely.

"We've been here six months," says the guy. "People complain. Fucking white people. Fucking fags. They complain that we are here! We are serving people twenty-four hours! What is the problem? The symbol of New York is twenty-four hours!"

We agree with this assertion and surrender our five-dollar bill. Then, with THANK YOU COME AGAIN bag in tow, we head down to the magazine shop that the guy also owns. We take a six-pack of Miller Lite out of the fridge, then realize that there are two deeply hidden six-packs of Sam Adams in another fridge. We atempt to put the Miller Lite back. "WHY ARE YOU PUTTING THAT BACK?!" shouts a voice. "We're trading up." "Okay."

In these exchanges, a primordial, undisputable truth of New York makes itself completely clear: the city is a pay to play place, no matter where you're from and as long as someone is taking your money.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

I. Go back to Vermont and die II. Cardiac Nurse

I. At the conclusion of the workweek

after contemplating the THREE drivers who ran solid reds at powderhouse sq in an attempt to run me over
i try to cross mass ave at porter sq
white Nissan approaches at 'high rate of speed'
vermont plates
i am crossing from center in crosswalk; tools in jackets are crossing form other side
car does not slow
i stop in crosswalk, make WHAT THE FUCK gesture
car immediately and purposefully veers directly at me, then swerves away at last second, missing me by inches
rules of engagement for car punching
immediately met
car punched; bitchslapped with open palm
fat orca fuck behind the wheel starts cursing me out over his fat c*nt of a passenger
"they're from vermont..." say passers-by
learn how to fucking drive while you're at it
fat fuck omits phrases about me being a faggot and how he'll kill me
fat c*nt sits there terrified
i catch up to car on foot....around here that's a crime, i say

hours pass. then i am smoking with julia the cardiac nurse in front of christopher's
who turns out to be my neighbor
who works in a a cardiac ward with ablation patients
I was an ablation patient when I was 13!!!
when ablations were experimental
things are going great
then her friends exit christopher's and see her talking to a boy
they immediately attempt to sabotage
she says thanks but no thanks; i'll walk
she tries to get rid of them
she looks at me but they do not
they hail a cab and put her in it and send her home
then they stand there and look like c*nts

and that is that

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Monday, February 23, 2009

A Marquette of the Mind

Every roadtrip* hits its peak. You don't know when or where it's going to come or what's going to happen, but worry and care vanish, inhibitions cease to inhibit, and a clearer path appears. It's the point where vacating and creating truly synthesize, where obstacles are overcome. After a long night of catharsis, life starts anew.

These events--grand and unplanned--happen only in places where we have no business being, places we know nothing about. The entire mind-clearing event must be shared by all roadtrip participants and must be a series of perfectly aligned happenstances. Everything is left to chance, and chance delivers. You have to have enough buildup, the right number of drinks, and you have to be in the right place. It also helps if you don't have to be anywhere the next morning.

On the Upper Peninsula trip, catharsis came in Marquette. At almost 20,000 people, Marquette is the largest city up there. All Dan and I knew going in was that it had an ore dock (saw a postcard photo of it in Ishpeming), an electronics store (told by a 35mm news photographer in Houghton), and a regional university. We spent an entire dark and cold June day working our way east from Houghton--where our legendary stripper encounter the night before could almost have been the highlight of the trip.

We arrived in Marquette just before the weak presummer sun set on the trail of shit towns destroyed during the long wane of Michigan's copper empire. The city's outskirts, seen from a state highway dotted by regional chains that faintly resembled their national competitors, looked like a sprawling nowhere, a perfectly Lynchian Lumberton. Both the people and the landscape communicated a delicate balance of hospitality and terror.

Downtown, Marquette looked and felt like a Canadian Maritime city, like a half-sized version of Saint John, a place where honoring expensive architectural traditions once symbolized the industrial importance of the region.

We drove right through downtown to Lake Superior. The giant ore dock, where trains had once dumped millions of tons of iron ore pellets into waiting ships, turned out to be abandoned. This was heartbreaking. Worse, the immense trestle over downtown, which had carried the trains over city streets, had been completely removed. Even in America's smaller cities, industry and functionality are now hidden from everyday view.

Dan and I decided to work with the fading light and try to get some decent shots, even though we knew that every tourist who arrives in Marquette probably does the same thing. Dan disappeared on the other side of the dock. I walked out on an adjoining pier where the locals had their boats tied up. As I shot, a dude approached me from behind and stopped to talk to me.

"What boat are you on? I've never seen you down here before." The dude looked like a younger version of my Uncle Lenny, mid 40s, white and gray polo, curly Italian hair.

I didn't understand his question, so I asked him to repeat it. He meant: which boat did I own? In as few words as possible, I tried to explain that no, sir, we don't have a boat and we don't belong on this dock, we are two guys from New York who as continuously as possible roam the continent with cameras in hand, attempting to find meaning in America as well as in our own lives.

"You guys have a tent?" he asked.

Yes, I told him. We bought it in suburban Milwaukee but we hadn't used it yet.

"Don't stay in a motel. Head on up to Tourist Park. You can get a camping permit for fifteen bucks and take a cab right downtown from your tent."

This sounded great. I told him how disappointed we were to find the ore dock abandoned. No problem, he said, there's a working one about four miles up the shore. Up there they were "dropping pellets pretty regular."

Before we left, he asked where we planned to eat dinner. The North Woods Supper Club, I told him. A good friend recommended it. He made a wincing gesture and shook his head.

"No, you want to eat at the Vierling, great microbrewery. V-i-e-r-l-i-n-g. Right there on Front Street. You can park anywhere on the street...or you can take a cab from your tent."

Intrigued by this notion of taxi-camping, I reconvened with Dan and we headed up the shore of Lake Superior to the massive, working ore dock, which we found easily. There were no ships there, but we photographed it anyway, shooting the many mineral red ore chutes illuminated by the setting sun.

We found Tourist Park in the woods north of downtown, and we were checked into a riverside, "rustic campsite" by two shaggy, teenage dudes who occupied a little office. A few cars were already on-site, scattered among the trees, and a pitched tent accompanied each car. Dan and I opened the package that our tent came in and neurotically read the assembly directions.

The park workers, and the sun, were gone by the time we were set up. I 411'd a cab. The operator asked me if I wanted Checker Cab or Apple Cab. Checker, I said. I heard a faint click and the sound of ringing.

"GUY FAULKENAGEN CHECKER CAB HOW MAY I HELP YOU?" said the phone. I explained my situation, which took some effort, hung up, and cracked a Red Bull. I wanted to drink drastically. We had seen and shot a lot. We were as far from work and the East Coast as we were going to get. Now was the time for drinking.

20 minutes later, a yellow minivan pulled up. Inside was an utter giant of a man, who barely regarded us as we entered the vehicle. As Dan and I got in, his cellphone rang. "GUY FAULKENAGEN CHECKER CAB HOW MAY I HELP YOU?" said the dude. Dan and I looked at each other. The one-man taxi operation--suddenly reminiscent of Lawrence**! Ghost of expurgation past! Dan pulled a Red Bull from his coat and cracked it. At the PSSST! of the can opening, Guy Faulkenagen turned his tremendous head towards us and hit us both at the same time with a look of utter contempt. It's just Red Bull! I said. His face relaxed a bit, and his throbbing neck muscles rotated the massive head back to face the direction the cab was going.

Guy was a character. Dan wrote a song about him. He had played for Baltimore, back when Baltimore was Baltimore. He had some interesting fares lately, including a lady photographer who was shooting Special Olympics stuff for ESPN. He dropped us off downtown and told us to call him when we wanted to go back to the tent.

The Vierling was okay. I had prime rib with horseradish--why not? The high point of my meal was the giant shit I took between the salad and the main course, Peter Griffin style. I don't remember what kind of beer we had, but it was alright, too.


Then we are walking around. It's chilly outside, and there are no people in the streets. We get money from a drive-through ATM on foot. We hear live music around the block. There are not that many blocks, but we have to walk down some alleys to figure out that the sound is coming from above us. Suddenly we are walking up lots of stairs. The buzz has set in. We are at a townie bar, on the third floor of a loft building. The cover band is timid, seemingly unaware that anyone and everyone downtown can hear them. They have a songsheet going around, almost all 90s and classic rock. CRACKERMAN!!!, Dan and I start shouting when songs end. We drink cheap beer upon cheap beer, bottles of stuff like Miller Lite. The place is mostly dudes, and no one looks at us except when they are taking our money. We talk about what we'll one day do with the thousands of images we're creating on these trips. The band plays the requested STP tune, and Dan and I love it. We leave. We are wasted.

Out in the street, we hear more music. This time, the music is coming from below us. Close to the abandoned ore dock, there is a cavernous brick club. We decide to enter. The bouncers tell us $2. What the fuck, I say, let's get out of here. Where I'm from, $2 doesn't even buy a slice of pizza, but the thought of paying that much to walk into this show deeply offends me.

We stand on the sidewalk. We are about to call Guy Faulkenagen, but for the first time we hear the music. It's heavy, heavy soul, with crazy harmonica and saxophone overlays. Marquette is delivering--delivering the last thing we'd expect to hear in the land of the pasty. We go back through the door and pay our two dollars each.

What happens next is what Dan tells me happens next. The band continues to lay on extremely thick and not-fake soul. I apparently dance with or hit on every woman at the estabilshment, from the patrons to the female band members. My notes indicate that I speak to the common-seeming "girl with camera" but also to more flavorful characters like the "MILF nurse from Escanaba" and "decent-looking human systems major" wearing a retro Pistons shirt. I sit down with the band at the bar, between sets, and find out that they are up from Atlanta, booked for a two-night stint in Marquette. The backing players are all white soul nerds like myself, and we talk about gear and how bands form and the gas mileage that their van gets. Thousands of thoughts about music and songwriting and equipment rush through my head.

I don't see Dan for this much of this episode. I think he may have his Vivitar on him...I certainly carry no camera.

Toward the end of the show Dan reappears and starts screaming at me to do bad things with the girl in the Pistons shirt, but I suddenly want to sleep and walk out. We pass the Pistons girl as we leave, and she looks confused. One of us uses the business card we got off of GUY FAULKENAGEN to summon him back to a downtown intersection. He's much more jovial with us this time, but he keeps getting in cellphone arguments with NMU students trying to get a ride home from a party ("HOW CAN I PICK YOU UP IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?").

The next thing I remember is waking up midmorning to the sound of the river rushing by the tent, and the sound of an empty ore train rolling downgrade back to the mines.

Is this really all about a night of drinking in Northern Michigan? Of course not. It's about how you become your own person. It's about how you work to end up unspeakably different from the way you were raised, and once in a while have a chance to check on your own progress. It's about how you live in America--all of America. The more trips you do, the more you get out of them. You have to do them for yourself, not your job, not to satisfy grant or scholarship requirements, not for a one-time thrill. The road teaches you not to conform, not to accept the security of a thrill-free life. The road is out there, but you have to work hard for the opportunity to experience it on your own terms.

Racing eastward out of Marquette toward the 1 p.m. departure of the Munising shipwreck tour, we passed by the working ore dock and saw that a ship had come in that morning. We studied it and photographed it, gorgeous in the almost-summer sun. Thousands of tons of ore pellets made a whooshing sound as they fell into the ship, soon to be headed east to what was left of the Rust Belt. The night before felt like nothing but a bad hangover, but we soon realized that a lot more had happened then and there. The two neurotic, ex-Catholic boys from Queens had once again escaped their backgrounds and experienced a night of total freedom.

*By roadtrip, I mean an exploratory pilgrimage to a selected region--not driving through somewhere in order to get somewhere else, and not going somewhere as a business traveler.
**Lawrence, Kansas was the Marquette of the KC Siege, Summer 2007. I still haven't processed, written about, or posted any photos from Lawrence.
And, with that, the UP photos will be starting back up...100 to go!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

CPC Flashback No. 2

After my friends abandoned me with the MILF cougarlawyer, things became even more interesting. The old people began quizzing me about the songs they were playing on the juke (lots of Meat Loaf, unknown to me). They also bought me two or three gin and tonics. A stocky but athletic, white-haired, 50-something man showed up and kissed the MILF cougarlawyer repeatedly. She kept telling me that she had a 6-bedroom house and that her kids worked for her. He introduced himself as Joe Walsh. He immediately began to make fun of my hat. The fat guy to my left bought me another drink, which tasted like cough syrup, red bull, and rum. I drank it fast.

Get Woldo another drink, cried Joe Walsh. The people laughed.

Why the fuck are you calling me Waldo, I asked.

C'meah. Lemme tell ya somethin, said Joe Walsh. He came over to my side. He was about my height. He said come ova heah. I followed him away from the bar to the back of the room. I did not know what was about to happen.

At the back of the room, at the end of the Sports Garden, I found a hip-height mirror next to the bathrooms. It ran all the way up to the ceiling. Joe Walsh told me to look into the mirror and tell him what I thought I looked like. I said nothing.

Woldo. You look like Woldo, he said.

Thank you, Joe Walsh, I said. In your infinite wisdom and years of experience beyond my own, you have explained this all to me. Thank you.

No problem, said Joe Walsh, smiling proudly and drunkenly. He reached out his hand, which I may or may not have shook. He said: Joe Walsh ain't afraid to tell you the truth.

It was then that I resolved to kill Joe Walsh.

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Meeting People in Somerville

or Cambridge or impossible. They are afraid of you. They protect their drinks by placing napkins over them when they leave the bar to smoke or go to the bathroom. In the event that they are drinking their beer through a straw, like a fucking retard, they force the straw through the napkin over their pint glass to make clear the point that they will be back and that you are not to talk to them. If you do talk to them, you won't get anywhere. They may be pretty and educated and drinking, but they don't want to talk to you...or anyone. Everyone tries their hardest to be an island, their own island, separate from their friends and anyone they may not know. Boston is the greatest collection of ambitious, capable, and useless people I have seen to date. (New New Yorkers, by comparison, are mostly useless.)

Meanwhile, if you need anything else to do, there are fresh work emails available 24 hours a day from a not-24-hours-a-day business, so that if you ever need a distraction from your surroundings or yourself, there is always a task to be completed, someone else's need to be fulfilled, something to do.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dan Meade and Rob Bellinger with Fat F---, Chinese-Mexican Restaurant,Briarwood, Queens, New York City

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Strippers on Adderall

"Excuse me, are you from this area?" she shouted somewhere between Harvard and Porter. "Is this Somerville?"

One of the benefits of 'working from home' in a small apartment is that you have to go out every night to preserve your sanity. And most nights end with a story.

Last night, on my way back from JP, I was accosted by a messed-up, heavily made-up girl of 25 who claimed she was on her way to an interview to be a bartender. "Do I look like a stripper?" she kept asking. One of her beauty school classmates had told her she looked like a stripper after class.

"No, but you could be," I said. She found me charming. She wasn't just a cosmetology student. She was actually a model and actress, who had worked in Las Vegas. She followed me out of train and through the station.

"Are there any bars I could apply to tonight?" she asked. It was clear that she had never been to Davis, Porter, or Harvard before. She had never heard of Central.

"It's easier to make money in a dive," she told me. "Less competition and you don't have to suck or snort."

When she got to Davis, she couldn't find the guy she was supposed to meet. "This guy is a stalker...I'm afraid he can see me but I can't see him." I tried to get away.

"Do you know what Adderall is?" she asked. "I just snorted one on the train...I would totally share with you but I'm all out." She unzipped her coat to reveal tremendous breasts filling out a tiny, black tank top. "Now I look like a stripper," she said. I nodded.

The guy called and told her to meet him by the big Christmas tree in the square.

"Come with me. I'll tell him I know you. You're my classmate, okay?"

I told her I had to go meet someone at Johnny D's.

"Okay, I'll come see you in there later. Let's have a drink, Rob. Where do I know you from?"

I got the hell out of there.

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Tuesday Night

After the average 10-hour day I walked around the frigid Fenway until I found the skinny Berklee dropout who was selling the Blues Junior. I got it for $300 and carried it to Chris M.'s because cars are for p*ssies. We then drank and played video games where you shoot things. The amp is still there. At Wally's, as I told the tale of the one time I drank a forty of Ballantine's while coding ESL quiz questions for CUNY, some yuppie fuck at the bar says to his counterpart, "I wonder what Ballan-teen Ale tastes like." The Tuesday night band plays the greatest soul-funk you will ever see, and there is no cover, just overpriced drinks. The white keyboardist, who will only talk to you if you're black, is still one of the finest musicians I've ever seen. The crowd lacks the usual quotient of MILF escapism tonight. We leave and get garbage stoner pizza on Mass Ave, made by a skinny international male in a tight designer t-shirt and his stoner counterpart with a considerable gut, white t-shirt, black bandana, and long dreads. There is no reason for these two people to be making pizza together other than that the task somehow involves weed The crust reveals this: it is like a pastry with sauce on it and not good. It is worse even than Greek pizza. So far I have only seen this in Boston and Greenville, NC. Somehow I get to Davis via Central, unsuspected home of the cleanest restroom on the T, where ghetto youth are jumping on and off the train tracks. Snow covers my coat as I walk home. I am glad to have ditched the unwieldy amp. When I get home, the heat is fucked up and the air pockets in the pipes will be wreaking loud havoc all night but I don't care.

This happens one year to the day that Gordon and I closed out Wally's. I don't think I ever heard from him again. I am surprised that I am still alive.


Friday, December 05, 2008

CPC Flashback No. 1

"AHM SOMEONE....THATCHA. NEVVA MET BEFAW!" the townie cougarlawyer kept stuttering over the guttural screams of Meat Loaf. "AHM SOMEONE. THATCHA NEVVA MET BEFAW. IN YA WHOALE LIFE!"

I could tell by the sincerity in her eyes that this was supposed to mean something incredible to me, but I just kept saying, "yes, that's true."

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to Cross the Street in Dorchester

We were in Dorchester. We didn't know that we were going to Dorchester, but that's where we had to go, so that's where we went. We grudgingly got off the train at JFK/UMass and started walking through the dimly lit, unsafe passage under I-93.

Shortly thereafter, Chris realized that we were being followed. Chris and I had each just drank a pitcher of Spaten at Jacob Wirth, so we had a little buzz going. The two of us were walking out front, our three lady friends were trailing a good distance behind, and a dark-skinned young guy in a hooded gray outfit had appeared just a little behind them. He was wearing the same outfit that the bad guys on The Wire wear when they go out on foot to execute their rivals.

Suddenly all six of us were walking closer together. Someone said, "Damn, you two guys have all three of these fine ladies to yourselves!" I didn't say it, and I know Chris didn't say it either. The guy was now walking in the middle of our group.

"Don't mind me; I'm just trying to make friends," the dude said. The ladies clammed up and walked faster. I hung back to talk to the guy. I always do that.

"Where's the party?" he asked.

"Straight ahead."

"I just got off work. I been workin' hard for my Pomeranian. I'm a security guard, long-ass hours. It's like union shit. I got a pit bull, too, and my pit bull is the Pomeranian's bodyguard! Hey, what's your name? Mine's Junior."

When we got to the corner of Dorchester Ave, and the bar where my brother was playing came into sight, Junior got all serious.

"So, you just drink?" I told him, no, I have a job.

"No, you don't do any other drugs? Nothing?" Seeing increasing humor potential, I asked in some convincing tone what his crew was "slingin.'"

"Oh, we got e, coke, weed, everything. Not here, though. In Quincy. You gotta come down to Quincy with me."

"Where in Quincy?"

Suddenly we noticed that we were across the street from our destination and we had to cross Dorchester Ave. I caught up to the others, who were waiting for an opening in the traffic. But Junior walked out in front of us and shouted:


And then he broke from the group and walked right into the rear side panel of a speeding, green, 2-door Civic. His knee made a grotesque pop! as it struck the car. It sounded like a two-liter bottle of soda hitting the pavement after a long fall.

The car screeched to a stop about thirty yards away. And then, the inevitable. The backup lights turned on, and the car rolled slowly back to us. The driver, a stout black male of about double Junior's mass, emerged. He stood in the middle of the roadway and his eyes hit Junior's with an executioner's stare.

"I'm straight," Junior said, hoping to walk away.

"Let me tell you something," the driver began, walking aggressively toward us. I wondered if he might mistake my group for Junior's posse and shoot us all, but one quick glance at the group reminded me that his making this connection was a sheer impossibility.

The driver went on: "When you're crossing the street, n*gger, you better watch to see if there's any cars coming." Junior tried to say something. "Next time, I'll run your ass over."

Suddenly, there was no traffic, just the stopped Civic and the confrontation in the street. I looked up. Directly across the street was my brother, playing bass in his cover band, That's What She Said. They were right in the front window of Tom English's bar (the Tom English in Dorchester, NOT the Tom English in Southie). I waved to my brother as we crossed the street, knowing I had just acquired another story.

Back in the street, the two guys were really having words now, telling each other not to front but stepping gradually toward each other. We passed a large crowd of middle-aged white townies smoking on the steps to the bar. One woman shook her head as I walked by her, saying to no one in particular, "He's gawna get his ayss kicked."

Afterword: This morning I recounted this tale for my friend, Rachel, who claims she also met a Pomeranian-owning, drug-dealing Junior at the Quincy Center T stop when she was living there.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Warren the Bartender

is probably the biggest cocksucker I've ever met. The doorman says he's an "asshole." The waitress says he's an "asshole." Funny, that. It pays to have acquaintances who can sum up the situation and get things done. Gut protruding and eyes beady. He ignores an outstretched $10 bill because he claims he hasn't seen me before. He's been behind the counter for "thirteen years" but doesn't seem to have enjoyed a second of his tenure. He says don't say you're a regular unless you're a regular, but he won't even pour you a pint. It's bad enough that all the hipster chicks brought their boyfriends, again, and that the male overage is angry and jutting shoulders into shoulders. The band rocks on, but Warren still sucks. He's a real downer.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Most Fucked Up Night of My Life

It is 4:42 a.m. I am here at SOLOPAD with Dan M. and Jason W. We spent 2 hours at some random girls' house, making pasta. It didn't go so well.

On the way back from Porter to Teele, saw this accident scene, guarded by State Police, which probably means that people died. Will update in the morning with fatality tally.

As we approached Teele, at 4:37 a.m., I made a comment to my people that the mythical and mysterious 89/93 bus would be coming at any moment. Sure enough, it did. Recall that this is a bizarre bus that is not on the MBTA schedule and purports to run from Clarendon Hill to Sullivan to Downtown Boston. We flagged down the driver and interrogated him.

This was, in fact, my first time seeing the 89/93 *not* from my apartment, but on foot. "Where are you guys trying to go," asked the driver, a full hour before the actual MBTA schedule would start. "We can take you anywhere you want to go." I pointed out that the 89/93 does not exist on any schedule, but seems to run every night. "They only have me doing this on Saturdays," said the driver, and piloted his empty and unknown bus into the night.

Dan snapped this photo of us talking to the 89/93 driver on his cell phone...

And that is that.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

he felt quite sure that he would never die [UP #90]

motel neon sign houghton michigan

drunk as fuck 2:03 EST

Originally posted "live" on 6/17/08 at 2:03 a.m. EST. Reposted (in sequence) 10/30/08.

I don't know why this Hemingway phrase sprung into my head just after last call, though he also visited and wrote about the UP. Dan and I had been downing pitcher after pitcher of Oberon, a local wheat beer, at the Downtowner Lounge, a big lakefront bar just next to our motel. The bar was brimming with locals on a Monday night, many of them having just finished a softball game.

As we did during most of the KC Siege, Dan and I talked to no one. The next night, at the same bar, we would learn once again why that's usually the smart thing to do.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

3: Rob Bellinger

would rather be a realist than a total phony.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Drinking Advice from Long-Lost BFF

"Bob, as my best fuckin' friend of 25 years, I have to tell you: get fuckin' Crystal Light and vodka. You go to the store and get fuckin' Crystal Light--anyone sees you getting it, says something, punch them right in the fuckin' mouth. Get Crystal Light Lemonade and vodka. It's like five fuckin' calories and you get fuckin' hammered."

--CK, via telephone, August 27, 2008. Almost exact quote.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

"He's not my boyfriend, in case you were wondering."

From late night at Sligo with former Russian professor and various uninvited guests.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

More of the Same

It happened again, this time at Underbones. While attempting to order a first round, I found myself standing next to a sloshed crew of nondescript 20something men. I asked if they were waiting for the barkeep. The one nearest me said something unintelligible. I asked him to repeat himself. He then said something unintelligible to the barkeep, a young, Asian lady. She looked at me with order-hungry eyes. I said do you have Julius Echter bottles, good, one of those, a Cascazilla Red, and an order of corn fritters. She turned to the unintelligbile dude and said, are you sure you want to get him all that?

I asked what was going on, and he said KARMA. I asked what I could do for him, and he said NOTHING.

I put my wallet away, but left a 20-dollar bill on the bar. The bartender poured my drinks and took the bill to the register. The bearded dude stood next to me and said nothing. I pointed out, only somewhat innocently, that the bartender had taken my money. I jokingly offered to pay for half or all of my round.

The bartender came back with my change. The dude handed me a 20 from his wallet and pocketed my change.

How much should we leave her, he asked. We have to leave a big tip. Give her the 5, I said. He counted 5 singles from the change, dropped them on the counter, and walked away.

Back at the table, Ian could not believe the story. When the same bartender appeared to retrieve our empty glasses, I asked her what was up with the guy giving away free beer.

Who's giving away free beer?!, she asked.

That dude who bought my corn fritters!

You mean you don't know him?!

Never fucking seen him before.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Train Full of Men

Nothing beats sitting in the cafe on the Acela, snug at the center of the 8-car phallus, cruising at half of cruising speed through deathly suburban Connecticut, two beers in and staring at a dozen ugly fat men wearing almost the same blue shirt.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Balls Dropping

The scene is the legendary Broken Spoke in Austin (featured prominently in this Dale Watson video). I'm in my new Stetson hat, trying to learn how to two-step, when someone in another dancing pair accidentally punches my Shiner out of my hand. The bottle explodes on the concrete floor. A fat man seated nearby gives me a dirty look. I remember that I've left another Shiner waiting at my table and head back to reclaim it.

But I've already drank from a fishbowl full of rum and had several margaritas and several more beers. I take a left turn too early, and walk up to what I think is my table. I point at a bottle and announce, "That's my beer."

Up look four absolutely grizzled cow-women in plaid and flannel. The most wrinkled says, "Are you old enough to even be drinking that? Have your balls dropped yet?"

Somehow not missing a beat, I say, "The left one's down, but the right could use a little work."

"Let's have a look," says the worn-faced cow-woman, gesturing at my crotch.

As I begin to undo my belt in the middle of the seating area, I notice that the other three folks sitting at the table are now staring at me in horror. I start working open the button on my jeans anyway.

"I bet we could get that right ball down by midnight," my interrogator remarks. It is at that point that I decide to pick up one of the beers on the table and walk away. A few seconds pass before I realize that I just stole someone's beer and that my belt is wide open.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

When it didn't make sense anymore.

Piles of kids in the street in front of the Cambie? Gin-fueled fury? Replacing one's soul with bourbon warmth? All those extra calories? F it all.

I'm only happy when I'm making stuff.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

College Point Pub Crawl II Sign Up Sheet--UPDATED

Details here.
Now aiming for an 8pm (TENTATIVE!) start at the Pour House, Friday after Thanksgiving.

Please sign up by commenting.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007


holding your own with people who don't understand a damn thing you say (think up, think down)
inexorable solitude
externally enforced denial of humanity
unwittingly creating an audio/visual record of the above

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three cheers for

constantly underestimating yourself
weight loss
subjugation of self to "company"
bourgeois scum not sure why this group would be cheered. --ed.
being better than you ever thought possible, years past
lack of confidence
defiant output
moralistic capitulation to enslavement that favors the collective good
the unelected working class
people being themselves
finding a way out
taking care of your people
getting what you need
meritocratic permanence

Post edited for accuracy. --ed.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

I have republished all my drunk posts from Montreal below.

I feel better about the aesthetic balance of photos and words now. Now I'm going to watch Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, which I've had out from Netflix for nearly two months. I was supposed to see it with my brother at the Film Forum in Manhattan about three years ago, right when it seemed that our paths were converging and that our backgrounds and educations hand melded us into something similar and productive and we ignored it and didn't make it to the Film Forum and only now do we continue together. After the film, I will try to do and mail my expense reports, then sleep five hours, then go to the airport at 6:15, then fly to Los Angeles. On the plane I will work for about 5 hours. Off the plane, I will rent a car, meet a colleague, and work for several hours before retiring to my hotel. I will be very tired tomorrow night. This post powered by one Zombie and one other rum drink from the Emperor's Garden in Boston's Chinatown. Oh, wait--before the movie I'm going to get a little paper carton of milk and have some more of the milk chocolate I got in the Montreal airport.


Monday, September 24, 2007


So Altman did a better job of this. So the $2.50 Paulaner Oktoberfests, Paulaner Dopplebock, two-for-one Yazoo Pales, and Jager bombs were all bad ideas, each in their own right.

Some of post removed for quality control purposes.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Drinking in San Francisco

Also hiking, beaching, and photoing. Soon baseballing. Saw the Holmes Brothers last night. Here we see me being shocked and amazed by Wendell Holmes, 69-year-old bassist for the Holmes Brothers. His sick thumb-pluckin,' slide techniques, and ability to rule the fretboard while singing harmony with brother Sherman (amazingly dextrous strat player) and drummer Popsy Dixon (master of the snare solo and a voice like Smokey Robinson's). Laura Maestrelli, who created this cameraphone image of my head, said I had to put it here, if I'm remembering correctly.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Drinking in the Desert

I have slept 16 hours since Monday, no joke.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Until I can't see. If this concerns you, it's probably your fault.


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