Thursday, April 29, 2010

Groping The Intangibles

So, I owe like eight people I'm already friends with an explanation/apology for a week generally absent of any blogging at all. Or... even that is maybe grandiose? It is, isn't it. The Joe McEwing picture is suddenly even feeling grandiose. Perspective check!

Okay, apparently I'm still more relevant than Super Joe, which is good. Anyway, what had happened was that I was coming up with all these things I wanted to write -- in no particular order, the weird rightness of a couple pieces at Gawker that finally barfed on The Hills and the weird wrongness of one that destroyed some asshole lady's life, most recently, and also some other stuff about this incredibly terrible MIA video (you can read most of what I would've written down in the comments, although I'd add that it's hilarious that Costa-Gavras' kid is also hyphenating his semi-name) and a ridiculously ill-conceived thinky thing that I promise will never write that was going to be called "The Tears in Philip Glass's Eyes" -- and then writing other stuff that I will hopefully be paid for eventually. And I did some invoicing. And there was the day gig, which is an apocalypse of ridiculousness in a dozen different ways, but which I am not going to get into here because that would just be a stupid way to lose a gig. But all of that is now more or less wrapped -- I mean, the day job is forever and eternity, but the fun stuff is wrapped -- and I've got a Slate piece coming up I'm very happy with and a honeymoon I'm looking forward to and I should probably go to bed. But so yes: this is going to get quiet after probably another post or two this weekend, for like two weeks. Just rest assured that I'll be somewhere in Italy, drinking wine and eating things with, like, stomach or duck or whatever those guys serve me in them, and spending some time with my wife. Whom you probably know from her ace fetching abilities, and who I actually used to hang out with quite a bit before she had to do this big gala thing and other stuff.

But yeah. I'll be away for a bit. Not starting now, but starting soon. So be prepared for, like, a post about what I'm going to read while I'm in Italy -- this and this and hopefully a novel or so -- and maybe another INSTANT CLASSIC about ramps or something, and then for some silence. It's cool. There's plenty of other stuff on the Internet. If you're having trouble getting up the willpower to commit suicide, I recommend The Drudge Report.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Department of Miracles, American Juggalo Edition

Well, this just about settles it, I guess, as regards the whole "Miracles" thing. Professor Violent J puts it all in perspective, sort of. I'm about to link to an Insane Clown Posse official website called "The Hatchet Herald," by the way. This is that link. I know, I know:

I mean, yeah, we get it. It’s funny to people on the outside lookin’ in, seeing two clowns rapping about space and shit, while floatin’ around in an orgy of screen savers. And SNL’s parody was off the hook hilarious. But when you step back and really look at all the genuine hate it got from everyday people, it’s hard to believe that so few got it.

Yes, most of the miracles we mention can easily be explained away by science, that’s why we say the line “fuck scientists.” Their factual findings sometimes explain away the Earth’s cool mysteries...Part of me doesn't want to know how they really make crop circles.

Not included: the last word on fucking magnets. Or the controversy surrounding fucking magnets. Incidentally, this is how magnets work.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Real Rampy Up In Here

It is frankly pretty late for a mundane bit of THIS blogging, but seeing Endless Boogie (in space, as ever) and Dead Meadow (terrifyingly amazing; I may want to write more about this later) has left my ears ringing and my brain a lot less tired than it should be. And anyway, this isn't the usual this-bloggy link out to some Dahlia Lithwick column or long New York Review of Books disquisition. It's a link to a recipe. And a link to a recipe so easy that even I was able to nail it pretty well tonight, before a bunch of really high dudes blew my mind. You could do this, too. The thing you need to know: you will need oniony weeds in order to make this work.

The oniony weeds in question are known, for the few weeks a year that they go from being a rural nuisance to being a bafflingly expensive luxury greenmarket food, as ramps. I am not afraid to jump on a greenmarket trend and jam the fuck on it, as any number of breath-destroyingly crappy garlic scape adventures can attest, but ramps have always been a bit more rewarding in my experience, even before I figured out how to cook them. They look a lot like especially robust versions of what I knew as "onion grass" when I was a kid -- like to the point where I wonder if I was actually and idly pulling up delicious North Jersey ramps out of my parents' lawn during Reagan's first term, without even knowing how tasty they could be if sauteed/blanched properly -- and do not, by any reasonable standard, look like something that should be going for $3 a bunch. Or, just to hazard an extrapolation out from that, probably something like $15 a pound. If you live out of New York City and are lucky, these wide-leafed wild leeks might well be growing somewhere in your yard, for free. Like a million other waste products turned gourmet products -- from lobster on up -- they're kind of objectively fucked in an aesthetic sense, but also potentially very awesome when administered orally. Ramps are in season for maybe another couple of weeks, and after having cooked them tonight I've got half a mind to go to the Union Square Greenmarket tomorrow and do it again.

The recipe I linked to above is the best I've yet seen on this topic, edging all the fraudulent and too-oniony pestos I've attempted with ramps in the past. Done wrong, as I ordinarily do things, ramps are basically tiny medicinal onions with a strong big-bite-of-dirt downside. Done right -- sauteed in good olive oil until almost toasty, then blessed with some garlic and red pepper flakes and kosher salt and, eventually, tossed with the chopped up fibrous greens and pasta -- they're ridiculous in the best possible way. Your apartment/home will smell like The Good Lord's oniony breath for 24 hours and there is nothing you'll be able to do about that and still you'll be all "oh great, it smells like awesome in here." Let Babbo get its traffic -- anything to help Mario Batali get some real grown-up shoes -- but cook this if you can. Then mouthwash/floss/brush/fluoride rinse. Then cook it again the next day.

If I were the sort of person who photographed his food -- and I am, luckily, not that kind of person -- I would've taken a picture of the way it all turned out. As it is, my 15-minute dinner would easily have qualified as the most transcendent experience of my Sunday, had three dudes on acid not rocked my brain with maximum kaleidoscopic guitar activities. Which is probably not going to happen on Monday, unless this ear-ringing thing becomes a lot more distinct and transforms into Dead Meadow's extra-drummy set-closer. Which I guess would be okay, too. I am wondering now if ramps have hallucinogenic properties? Hold on, this unicorn is telling me to go to bed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Because Jeru Wasn't Going To Do It...

...I decided to write what wound up being a 1600-word tribute to the late, and lately lamented Guru. You know, from Gang Starr, the guy responsible for that demotivational poster I keep using (see, um, directly below). I'm pretty happy with the piece, which was once again humored and generously/gently edited by the very good people at The Awl. It's here, and it's long enough -- and every other post on this monster of a blog, which was not intended as such, is also so long -- that I'm not even going to excerpt it.

Obviously, when you write something of 1600 words, there's not much left on the cutting room floor. And so it is here, except for one really excellent point that my friend Jay Marietta raised over on Facebook, and which I think I kind of maybe blew a little bit in the piece. Namely that while Guru, as I wrote, always "rapped old," he actually was kind of old for hip-hop. He was 23 when Step In The Arena came out in 1989, which is pretty young for a human being, or a guy breaking into Major League Baseball, but actually is kind of old by hip-hop rookie status. Jay's point was that Guru -- whom I lionize for his blue-collar, max-effort approach, among other things -- was really more a contemporary of Stetsasonic than he was of, say, a more contemporary-sounding MC like Q-Tip, who also made his on-wax bow a year later. The idea of Guru as a man out of musical time -- crafting workmanlike battle rhymes and digging jazz samples and doing mucho-gusto smackdowns of new jacks -- is so compelling, and so basically correct, that I can't believe I didn't think of it. There's a whole other essay to be written on this, apparently. I just wouldn't advise doing it at 1600 words. No one will finish it. Believe me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mostly But Not Entirely The Voice

I'll have more to write about this once I get done doing some of the work I actually have to do, but news of Guru's death was sad indeed. He represented and embodied a lot of what does and doesn't work about hip-hop. It means something, although I'm not totally sure what, that basically everyone I know who cares about hip-hop (including me, still, kind of) both loved him and was under no illusions whatsoever about him being a particularly gifted MC. For all his lyrical shortcomings, the guy absolutely realized his potential, and there are not many rappers working who seemed quite as honest and un-grandiose. On the other hand, he kept trying to foist Big Shug on the world. But that's easy enough to forgive.

The Lower Depths, Or The Limits of My Financial Understanding

(I actually watched almost all of Leviathan on HBO a couple weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon. Spoiler alert: it ends with Peter Weller punching a woman right in the face. Triumphantly.)

So, I'm more or less willing to admit defeat when it comes to writing about the banking and securities reform we either will or will not get. When I read good horse-race pieces on the subject, I feel only half-educated by dint of all that horse-racery. Boldface the names and it's basically a long gossip column about ugly people, without the Page Six-y product placement: "The bill Senator Chris Dodd moved through his Banking Committee in March was significantly tougher than the bill the House passed in December. Then, last week, Senator Blanche Lincoln shocked Wall Street by producing an even tougher bill than that. “This thing is not a battle they’d anticipated,” says one administration official. The industry had widely expected Lincoln to soften Dodd’s derivatives measure as part of a compromise with her Republican counterpart, Saxby Chambliss. Senator Jim DeMint was spotted canoodling with Peaches Geldof at Avenue and drinking Ciroc vodka."

There's information there, but it's the sort of thing you get in the "Around The League" bit at the end of a baseball column; who's up, who's down, how Senator Maria Cantwell's arm is feeling after a rough outing against the Twins last week, etc. And I'm on the record with a bunch of indistinct outrage at the fatuity of the macro-scale press and politicians on this, too.

But the more I've read about all this in the last few days, the more I've developed... well, not a sympathy for the people either getting this wrong (the media, willing to discuss only minutia and political optics) or not even trying to get it right (Republicans in the Senate, unwilling to do any fucking thing). But something like a sympathy, if only because of how devilishly complicated this whole thing is. The amount of deceit and creativity and calculated disinformation that goes into a mega-scam like the Magnetar -- This American Life segment on it here, very concise summary from The Economist here -- is almost impossible to summarize in a couple of sentences, and an attempt to go deeper is so winding and bottomless a rabbit hole that it is admittedly a lot simpler to weigh how everything's polling and what political effect it all might have. The problem with that, of course, is that the polls and politics reflect the result of the media's hands-in-the-air abdication of its duty to even attempt to cover this stuff. It's complicated, but it can be summarized. I tried it myself, and I think this is more or less correct:

Because there are essentially no legal rules governing the trading of real and synthetic securities -- and because the SEC can't and doesn't enforce anything and -- all kinds of crazy financial shit got created and traded. Because there are essentially no legal regulations regarding hedge funds, regulators have no idea what they're doing and thus no way to stop them from constructing scams in which they game the market. Goldman did something like this, and they're now getting in some temporary trouble for it. But the bigger problems, in no particular order, is the absence of any responsibility on the part of the dealers, the lack of laws explicitly forbidding the worst behavior, and the compromised, cash-strapped, overwhelmed SEC's inability to enforce what laws do exist. And because no one but the ethically deficient scam-architects knows anything about any of this, slower and less-sophisticated institutional investors got rolled and the actual human-scale economy got a robust dick-kick

And I'm terrible at summarizing things. I write 500-word emails to people to see how their weekends went and 1100-word blog posts about Gary Matthews Jr. Surely a professional could do it better.

Still, I don't really want the job of writing about finance. This is because I still don't get much of anything about it, as that supposed-to-be-nifty summary actually bears out. Luckily, there are others who are 1) better at holding all these different narratives in their minds without having to lie down, 2) more interested in the topic in general, and 3) more comfortable with accepting the idea of the unknowable and opaque. Moe Tkacik writes about this stuff really, really well and does so in breaking down Goldman and Magnetar (and the opacity of each) here; I got to her post via another accessible and intelligent post on the subject by Choire Sicha today; Andrew Leonard at Salon is always good for a patient and coherent explanation. I, for my part... will stick to sports and Dino-Riders videos going forward, because those are my core competencies. But:

But, I am hoping that maybe, at last, we are going to get some sort of conversation on this. The collapse these guys created is now nearly two years in the past, and if it's slightly better understood in certain ways it's also still mostly un-discussed. I guess it's easier to dress up like the old New England Patriots logo and yell about how Obama is as socialist as The Joker or whatever. I know that it is. But even if it's more or less impossible to explain how things got this bad -- how these scams even work, were concocted, were essentially legal -- it's seeming possible to me that an ignorant-ish, over-emotional national conversation on this could possibly still lead to public pressure for real regulation and maybe (this is iffier) actual regulations, provided the bad guys in that ignorant conversation are the actual (and actually very bad) bad guys. Which is maybe kind of cynical/Straussian of me or something, but I'm trying to find a place where necessarily bleak realism and stubborn hope overlap.

Crowdsourcing the Tears for Fears Covers

Perhaps because they came at the expense of some of the writing I really should be doing instead, I was wondering somewhat about the wisdom of my dual music-related maunderings over the weekend -- James Murphy here, Ted Leo here. And I guess I sort of still am, given that I don't really want to be a music critic and am under no illusions in re: my qualifications for that gig -- it was not always thus, but at some point certain things have to fall away/be dropped -- and yet spent some time kind of wandering the edges of that territory. The question was how to get back on track.

You'd think the answer would involve actually doing some of the writing I'm supposed to do. This post should serve as proof that I've rejected that shortsighted course of action, and instead opted to do my best to listen to various Ted Leo albums again (while doing other things, because I'm not that serious about this sort of thing). It's just easier than finishing a novel, you know? Like, a lot easier? Because you're feeling a faintly meh-type feeling instead of excruciating anxiety and self-doubt? So easier in that regard. But also illuminating, in the sense that it confirmed the ambivalence I described in my previous post. It is suddenly occurring to me that I'm not sure ambivalence is the sort of thing that can be confirmed. Let's just get on to the next paragraph.

An email from the very intelligent and much more musically accomplished Jeff Ciprioni helped put this in perspective -- where I would have said that the records just didn't sound that good and were kind of monochromatic and dullish, Jeff heard not-that-great production. Which is actually a very good call. "They have the sound of being recorded cheaply and quickly, without any of the inventiveness of randomly pleasing 'mistakes' of the lo-fi records we know and love," Jeff writes, and I think that's right-on enough for me to risk the gray ethics of quoting from a personal email. Jeff's suggestion that Ted (or Matador) pay up for a record with Steve Albini is also just a really excellent idea: the band is so good (thus the excellent live experiences and the fucking awesome Tears for Fears cover above) that it's really ridiculous how many albums -- three, that I listened to -- they've managed to sound flat and unremarkable on. As someone who knows very little about how music gets made -- I think of it as delicious sausage for my ears! -- it's not surprising that I'd overlook the production thing.

See, situations like this are why Wired keeps telling me that crowdsourcing is going to cure the nation's economic woes, climate change and sleep apnea -- all these minds out there, just thinking and doing things. How couldn't it lead to a solution for global warming, when it so easily and swiftly identified why Ted Leo's studio albums are dull? Harness the power of the Internet, America. Harness the power!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bad Reporting, Good Analysis, Vampire Squids

At The Awl, Choire Sicha coolly dissects the opaque and unsatisfying and overblown coverage of The Great Goldman-Sachs Lawsuit of 2010. Which is really looking more and more like a pretty minor deal despite coverage insisting -- to people like my dad, who is keen as hell to hear as much -- that this is finally a chance to "get the bastards" or whatever. But yeah, perspective is awesome:

And this piece of financial analysis is entirely coverage of perception. It is similar to the current role of the Times in covering actual politics; the paper reports on policies and initiatives by political leaders but renders their decisions in terms of quests for "political capital," that terrible meaningless and misused phrase so beloved of the Bushes, or in terms of the reaction of the "political audience." This is a very mistaken position regarding the importance of the public—and a cynical one, too, as it chalks up all actions by politicians or bankers to a wish to court the public, instead of, you know, a wish to actually do something.

Again, it's shocking sometimes how difficult/impossible it is to talk about this stuff coherently. I want very badly to be informed about this -- at least to the extent that I can before my brain overloads or math is required -- and I'm finding it very difficult. One thing that keeps jumping out at me about the many bad news stories on this bit of bad-acting, though, goes back to Thomas Frank's point about the essential fallacy of the market-populist idea of the Little Guy Investor struggling against Big Bad Banks. As Choire points out, "investors" are the guys the NYT (among others) have routinely and erroneously identified as the victims of this sort of malfeasance, as if the shameful, scammy re-tranched mortgage-backed securities at issue in this story could somehow have been a part of your 401k. This is much bigger than that, and the old "Perfect Market Ruined For All Us Investors By Imperfect People" narrative, popular though it may be, doesn't work here. This is, effectively, its own market, and deserves its own built-from-scratch framework when it comes to understanding it.

What ruined the system were huge inter-bank deals and unconscionable levels of leverage -- unregulated (still!) and untoward, to be sure, but possessed of an impact in re: your 401k or savings rate only insofar as they cause damage to the broader banking and financial system in which some of us are (laughably) minor participants. This is the same broader system, by the way, that all 41 Senate Republicans have sworn NOT to reform, because it would lead to "bailout after bailout." Which I'm sorry but just doesn't make any fucking sense at all, Senator Mitch McConnell. But which is also sort of telling.

Because no one has adequately explained this admittedly very complicated thing that happened -- and because our money-sodden politics is so dependent on the largesse of the offenders as to disincentivize any political action (hearings?) that might allow the public to better understand all this -- our national discourse on it is essentially nonsense. We're left with a few ugly and unpopular words -- subprime, bailout, credit-default swap -- that can be used however and however cynically one wants. The more meaningless the (mis)use, the more meaningless the words become. It's TV Commercial Talking-Jerkweed-Investor-A-Hole-Babytalk. Thus the absurd-on-its-face idea that regulating dark and mostly lawless trillion-dollar markets is somehow bailout-bait gets floated -- presumably because some Frank Luntz poll told McConnell et al that linking financial reform with "bailouts" was a winner. It kind of worked, after all, when expanding health care reform was somehow linked to denying health care/killing elderlies, etc.

I don't doubt that Mitch McConnell -- let alone, like, Jims DeMint or Bunning -- understands this complicated issue exactly as poorly as I do, and he's clearly not terribly troubled by that. But obviously we need to understand this if we're going to fix it -- "we" being the nation and "we" also being voters who theoretically will exert intelligent pressure on elected officials -- and that's not happening. It would be bracing if politicians would stop mis-labeling the collapse as something caused by an excess of government, and if the media that's trying to bring it down to earth for Us would at least stop pretending that you can buy a CDO with your E*Trade account. What we're facing is a big and abstract problem based in a too-big and too-abstract system's very big and very not-abstract failings, and the plain fact is that not one of those failings can or will be remedied unless the practices that created them are either defined and regulated by law or (if they already are) the markets are brought into the light for all (who actually care to watch) to see. Let's start talking about it from there, please.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This Continues To Happen

I'm trying not to do anything off-topic this weekend, besides spending money I don't have on drinks I don't need, but I'm wondering, after maximum listens to the new LCD Soundsystem record, why James Murphy doesn't get mentioned among the Monster Songwriters of this generation. I know his lows are glib and silly and low; and I know, too, that the comedy songs have an expiration date that's sooner than you'd expect, but when the guy turns it on -- which is to say "All My Friends," or "Home" or a couple of other songs on This Is Happening -- he's way closer to the emotional experience of being someone-like-me/me/people-I'm-friends-with than just about anyone I can think of. I know the music is all synths and keyboards and drum machines and whatever, and presumably that still offends some (notional) critical sensibilities when it comes to things like this. I know, too, that that writing my own mindset is no great accomplishment (even I can do it) and that no one really talks about songwriters anymore. But man is he ever great when he's great.

This is either me being embarrassing or music being embarrassing, but I don't even know who's supposed to be a good songwriter anymore. It's The Justin Bieber, right? The Bieber kid? I'm reading Don DeLillo's Great Jones Street right now, after the weird-but-vexing-but-not-totally-unsatisfying experience of reading Point Omega, and the most interesting thing about it -- besides the fact that DeLillo was once funny and wrote dialogue -- is the idea of the world in which a rock star mattered to a lot of people and played (rock and roll) shows to surging, manic stadium crowds. What the hell do kids even go to see today, when they want to see a good rock band? Not the same shows I'm occasionally going to, right? That would be a bummer, because I'm 100,000 years old and it would suck for them to be there with me. Let's think of the children, please.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

But Mid-List Authors Don't Have Groupies, Right?

You know something about Bloomfield, New Jersey that I unambiguously and unambivalently think is the shit? The (apparently now-closed) Short Stop Diner. I like the extra definite article in "Eggs in the Skillet" and I liked the actual eggs in the actual (tiny) skillets and... yeah, it was good and important to me, that frankly crappy diner. It gets a shout-out in my (actually being worked-on, again) novel, which I'm sure will help it turn back the clock like 30 or so years and become a viable concern again. But the skillets... I liked the little skillets. Related: I apparently hate my body's digestive system? It surprised me, too, but the evidence is right there.

You know what I do not unambiguously or unambivalently like about Bloomfield, New Jersey? Ted Leo, with or without Pharmacists. This has always been tough for me, because I feel like I would actually really like Ted Leo were I to meet or talk to the dude. And not just because he's from Bloomfield, or named a pretty song after New Jersey's state bird, or anything like that. I like some of his songs a lot, and have always enjoyed seeing him live -- two or three times, but that's a goodly number of times to be fun to watch, given that I'm not a super-fan -- but his records just do not get listened to. For awhile, I dutifully bought them anyway: there was some great political power-pop in there! Songs I could believe in and conceivably rock out to! Might well be true, still, although I honestly couldn't tell you, since I do not listen to those records. This is true, too, of the recent "The Brutalist Bricks," which I (ugh) didn't even pay for and still haven't made it all the way through. There's either something wrong with me or there isn't. It's not like I don't agree with Ted that George W. Bush was one of history's all-time Godfather Nightmare Dickweeds, but I'm not sure I can really listen to a whole album (or two) reiterating that. Power chords be damned, and I don't damn power chords lightly.

But what's missing in his songs -- or missing in them for me, at least -- is very much there in Leo's interviews. Via this characteristically strong Village Voice piece from Maura Johnston -- about the ultra-uninformative way in which the pop charts are written about and (not) understood -- comes this very interesting, very smart interview Garden State Ted did with the Voice about the life of the mid-list indie musician.

This is especially interesting to me because I basically aspire to the life of the mid-list author of literary fiction as a best-case scenario, and yet have always looked at musicians -- who do something like what I do, kind of, but do it in front of actual people and get to look cooler for doing it and presumably enjoy more Sex Opportunities for all that -- as existing in a different realm. All that cash money from live shows and the Seeing The Country/World and all those -- appetizing? are they still supposed to be appetizing when you're in your 30s? -- make-out seshes back at the La Quinta Inn... what could there be that's lame about that? Except for being basically as broke as I am while displacing a much larger carbon footprint while "making it" to a much greater degree than I? Ted, what up?

How close were you to calling it quits?

I've never been close to calling it quits. I think that the point was maybe a little bit overstated on my part. The point I was trying to make was that the reality of the financial situation, being a musician full time as I've been, is really that touch and go. No pun intended. I've been doing this over 20 years and I'm unable to tour in the kind of comfort that I think allows rock stars to do, like, year-long world wide tours, you know, and it's a grind. It's a great thing to do, there's no question that in one sense it's the best job you can possibly have. But in another sense, it's gotta have a time-stamp on it. I'm already about to enter the first tour on this new record just dead. I'm exhausted from all the work I've been doing, it's just not healthy. And it's not sustainable at that level. And when things are going well, financially, it's more standable than not.

But it's really like a razor's edge that we walk, everyday. This is not meant disparagingly in any way--it's the nature of the beast--but you know the public can be fickle, and we already don't sell that many records. If that took even a minor dip, it would have to be a hobby band for us again, instead of a life...

Do things even really flop anymore, because it's hard to tell with the way sales are. Nothing sells very much. What would a flop be--bad reviews or something?

No, a flop would be... at the level that I'm at, it's like this weird middle-class of musicians. So when you're selling, say, a relatively small number--less than 5,000 or something--you're not living your life around your music at that point. And I can say that from experience, because I spent the first 15 years of my music-playing life doing much less than that. But it starts to become this potentially self-sustainable thing when you get into the next bracket, which is a sales bracket in which you're not like putting money in the bank, you're not buying new cars or houses or anything, but you're covering the expenses of doing what you do. So it becomes a non-losing proposition at that point, which opens up the door for the possibility of it becoming an actual viable job and life. And then just like with the other actual wage earners in other areas of America, it's not until you really leapfrog into the 99th percentile that you actually start earning serious money. For the rest of the lower-middle class of people who are where I'm at, record sales actually still matter quite a bit, because again it's the difference between it being a self-sustaining thing or not.

Read it. It's illuminating and amusing and he comes off really interesting and well. Maybe I just like this dude better in print.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tony Toni Tone (Judt) Has Done It Again

As the internet says, THIS:

Poverty is an abstraction, even for the poor. But the symptoms of collective impoverishment are all about us. Broken highways, bankrupt cities, collapsing bridges, failed schools, the unemployed, the underpaid, and the uninsured: all suggest a collective failure of will. These shortcomings are so endemic that we no longer know how to talk about what is wrong, much less set about repairing it. And yet something is seriously amiss. Even as the US budgets tens of billions of dollars on a futile military campaign in Afghanistan, we fret nervously at the implications of any increase in public spending on social services or infrastructure.

Tony Judt is very smart, and that is part of why I plan to buy this book, but man does that strike a chord with me. The failings of the political discourse and (relatedly) the state are obviously pretty palpable and urgent at the moment -- and will be more so tomorrow, when a bunch of people in American Flag-themed button downs and hats go out to protest things that do not actually exist -- but honestly it's the broken, stupid discourse that worries me more at the moment. Fix that, and we might be able to fix the way politics works. Keep it dumb-n-shouty and we don't have much of a chance.

Last Night At The Byrne

I am super proud to be in very awesome The Awl, and pretty pleased with the (longish, profane-ish) essay I wrote for them about attending the last Nets game at what will always, to me, be the Brendan Byrne Arena:

I'll begin with the Great Man Theory of how things come to suck. All those cartoonish "Tales of Jersey" villains—Jersey City's Frank Hague and his 30 years of graft-intensive mayoralty; clowns like Hague's successor, "The Little Guy" John V. Kenny; venal flyweights like Joseph Vas and a dozen others like him—turned out to be nothing compared to Nets' owner Bruce Ratner and his marketing guru, Brett Yormark. Those slick motherfuckers came across the river to Jersey, bought the Nets from the gaggle of hapless millionaires that had mismanaged the team for decades, and showed a state that knows from ruins how ruination is done. On Monday, in a swamp-bound, half-empty arena dwarfed by the nearby hulk of a failed "destination mall" called Xanadu, an embarrassingly outsized chapter in my life closed with a half-assed Nets loss to the mediocre Charlotte Bobcats. I was too worn out, both by the experience of the game and Ratner's tenure as Nets owner, to even feel bad about it.

Several hundred thousand more words of that, if you're interested. Thanks to Choire et al. Here are some pictures from the evening. Fig. 1: Abandoned Xanadu ski slope, with Stephen Del Percio for scale; Fig. 2: My Love For Dark Photos, Cont'd; Fig. 3: The guy who enjoyed the game most, getting wild in the Loud Zone.

Dawg Blawging: Fetch Lives

More excellence from The Lady Miss Cleo, here, and her radically transgressive understanding of how "Fetch" is played.

Really, Kate is kind of the star of this one, just in terms of hustle and scrappiness and max-effort persistence. She's like David Eckstein, but all foxy:

Yes, I have noticed that my father is wearing an apron in basically every photograph I have of him. But thanks for pointing that out.

Great Moments In On-Camera Anxiety

Given the choice, I would rather keep my distinctive brand of nervous pallor on my side of the monitor, so as to be a less disquieting presence for my notional readers and etc. But I do have one on-camera credit to my name that -- while I've dumped it in the right hand column with my other clips -- I am excited to be able to plug into this post. I'm excited both because I love this particular clip and had forgotten all about it, but also because this is the first time -- and hold your applause, please -- that I've been able to figure out how to embed it in a blog post.

Most people are familiar with "embed codes" for videos, but since I'm apparently 57 years old this is the first time I've been able to find the magical code for this brief Slate Vvideo I made a couple years ago. The video is about a company, now revealed as something of a scam, named Spot Runner, which produced build-to-suit political ads for $499 a pop. I wrote this piece, and thanks to some photographs taken by my wife Kate and Spot Runner's largesse, got them to put together an ad for me. The whole video is here:

I know! Right here in the post! The 1990s are going to be mind-blowing. Johnny Mnemonic was more prescient than we knew.

UPDATE: More flubby heroism from me: the full-size version of the vid was too wide for this space (maybe this is why people have Tumblrs?), so I had to shrink it down in the embed code. Thus the fact that it's very small. If you want to experience the Spot Runner ads and my own clammy terror in glorious full(er) screen, click here. If you have any idea on how I could make it look a little better, please email me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Have To Get Up Pretty Early to Pull One Over on CSKA Sofia. But Not That Early, Really.

I've got a bigger thing I should be working on today, but I wanted to link to a recent post I did for Can't Stop the Bleeding on Greg Akcelrod, a French event promoter/lite con man (redundant?) who overcame his tragic lack of being-really-good-at-soccer to become a soccer prospect in Europe, simply by doing a bunch of sketchy web marketing for himself. Jonathan Clegg's original Wall Street Journal story is here, my (admittedly not the best thing I've ever written) gloss/musing at CSTB is here.

While Akcelrod's story is pretty interesting, the truly interesting element, for me, was how decentralized and structure-less the world of soccer scouting appears to be. There's more about this in the CSTB post, but the broke-ass, hope-powered human lives of pro sports vagabonds, weird international minor leagues and itinerant athletes is one of my dream writing topics. (The Journal generally does a very good job covering this; I blogged about another great WSJ story on Weird Soccer at CSTB last year) It will likely remain just that, sadly: I don't sense the market for this sort of thing matches my depth of interest, and I'm also not sure there's an advance out there big enough to justify reporting trips to Manila or Baku or Rangoon or wherever the story might take me.

It also might well be that people who don't give a shit about God Shammgod -- or even know who he is -- might not find it so pathos-rich and fascinating to find him plying his playground-legend trade in China's equivalent of Flint, Michigan. I do know that I always find it interesting. Thomas Friedman's mustache of understanding notwithstanding, it seems to me that we don't quite seem to have this globalization thing figured out yet. Which, okay, attribution:

"It seems to me that we don't quite seem to have this globalization thing figured out yet." -- Joseph Stiglitz

So obviously I don't know too terribly much about globalization, although I suspect that there are a few supposed experts who could join me in that club if they were to put down the pom-poms and be honest with themselves. And anyway, I know enough about the shape it's taking not to like globalization very much, and that cheap certainty is just about good enough for me. But the weirdnesses of globalized sports and the human foibles and goofinesses that define that weirdness -- and, less abstract and more to the point, the human beings stuck riding those odd waves -- are pretty fascinating to me. Greg Akcelrod's too-easy soccer impostor-y and Stephen Constantine's one-man-soccer-NGO life seem to hint at something deeper than "funny old world," although it's an awfully big thing to try to understand the shape of. Fascinating and odd as their stories are, though -- to quote myself from the CSTB post, because cheapness is different than plagiarism -- the (human) haystack is more interesting to me than the (human) needles in it. Also, to point out the obvious, this is one fucking huge haystack. Made of people. To be clear. Okay, I should get to work.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dawg Blawging For The True (Tennis Ball String) Heads

I know these videos are annoyingly small, but that's how it's going to have to be, since I'm not going to be putting them on YouTube. This is because I don't want the monsters that live in YouTube's comments sections to call my dad (or my dad's dog?) a "fag" or whatever. Not that Cleo couldn't handle her biz on some Ginger Kid response-vid shit, but... yeah, let's just keep the giggling dad and the frantic puppy away from the subhumans for now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I'm not sure, honestly. I enjoyed the first episode, in its way, but I think I'm still probably working past how annoyed and betrayed I felt by season five of The Wire and its abrupt right turn from being just the best and most bracing bit of television I've ever seen to becoming a parodic and unconvincing axe-grinding session. I should probably chill the fuck out, about that and in general, but it colored my response to the oddly flat and over-written Generation Kill, and the grandiosity-displacing-grandeur thing that defined Season Five was definitely lurking in my mind during the Treme premiere.

I always felt like the "authenticity" of The Wire was maybe over-vaunted -- not because it wasn't true-to-life in a dozen different ways, but because the authenticity that mattered (given that it was a dramatic TV show, and not a documentary) was more about storytelling craft than reportage. The most inauthentic moments of The Wire -- Bad Jimmy McNulty and everything to do with the Sun in Season Five -- were inauthentic despite the fact that Simon et al presumably know cops who drink too much and got the layout and look of the Sun's newsroom exactly correct. As admirably serious as David Simon is about his work as a writer and TV-maker, David Simon is also clearly serious about indulging his own literary vices when it suits him, which means that we get 1) hard-drinking white dudes delivering unconvincing monologues in the florid/profane contrasto-voice that Simon clearly finds most amusing and 2) the occasional bazooka-versus-fly settling of scores against people who pissed him off 15 years ago along with all the good stuff. The good stuff is not notably less good for all the bad stuff that veins through it, though. Nobody's perfect, and I wouldn't trade Season Two or Season Four of The Wire for anything I've ever seen on TV.

At any rate, here's Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker:

One night, [Clarke Peters] dresses up in costume and goes looking for one of his old cohorts, and we see him dancing in the dark, in an enormous costume of red and gold feathers. I’d never seen anything like it in a TV show. And yet it didn’t strike me as exotic, since that’s a word I would use to describe something I felt distanced from. But here I felt a strong connection. I think this is what Simon wanted to have happen to viewers, though so far it hasn’t happened to me very often. The characters in the show are ambivalent about outsiders, and if you’re at all sensitive to that you feel intrusive, rude—almost a colonialist—for appreciating what you see and hear in “Treme.” The series virtually prohibits you from loving it, while asking you to value it.

And David Simon in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, on authenticity. You can see a little bit of the overwritten-white-dude in the faux-magisterial reveals and winks in his prose, but also some insight. He's an interesting dude and very good at his job, and I feel kind of silly even carping about any of his foibles. It is, at some point, the equivalent of criticizing LeBron James for not having a strong enough left hand. But Simon's last few attempts haven't been total winners, to me, because he has decided -- perhaps because of all those scoring titles he won with his right -- that he's going to spend a lot of time playing left-handed.

My friend who grew up in and now lives in New Orleans says Treme's right on, and I'm in no position to argue. I also should mention that the show is fucking gorgeous -- just exponentially more cinematic and visual than The Wire (which is good, because of all the writing stuff I was beating on about above), and really evocative without ever making a big deal about it. (And also very evocative when making a big deal about it, as in the bit Franklin described above, which is stunning to look at) But I worry -- and again, this is colored by interviews, inarguably -- that David Simon is going to be doing proportionally more excess-indulging here than he did in the great seasons of the Wire (two through four, in my opinion). I am so ready, and so eager, to be proven wrong on that count. I'd offer some sort "it's easy to be frank, but hard to tell the truth"-style homily here, but this dude created The Wire and I'm a guy who blogs about sports and took like 15 months to commit to finishing my novel, so... right. Good luck.

Waiting for Papa John

There's always something kind of touching about not especially charming CEOs making themselves the center of advertising campaigns. I don't know all that much about advertising or marketing, although I imagine my years of watching television accord me the same layman-expert status on this topic that most people my age have. But I have a hard time believing that even companies with bad products can't come up with some better way to advertise said bad products than putting their uncomfortable-looking white dude front and center. As painful as the ads featuring Sprint's pinchy CEO agonized attempts to extrude some folksiness are -- and they're pretty painful -- my personal most/least favorite is the new line of Papa John's commercials starring "Papa" John Schnatter. I understand that Papa John's was sort of up against it, here, given that they can't really base the advertising on the actual pizza made by Papa John's, which from my experience tastes like something you'd get at an airport. But as a pitchman, Schnatter certainly can't hold a candle to former Domino's CEO Jeff Noidson (pictured).

Which isn't Schnatter's fault, honestly. He's a CEO, which means that his job is to 1) take Republican congressmen on golf junkets intended to get the FDA to loosen the legal definition of what constitutes "cheese" and 2) give interviews to Pizza Marketplace magazine:

PM: What was happening — or not happening — internally that caused problems?

Schnatter: Our system was asleep. We were on our boats, on our yachts on our golf club memberships, but we weren't paying attention to the fundamentals of the business. That's how we got our tit in the ringer.

Great answer, very instructive. Anyway, the CEO's is obviously a very particular sort of charm -- one that exists at a frequency I can't detect, as it turns out -- and one that Schnatter presumably has. But showing him in commercials impatiently delivering pizzas to hyped-up suburban caucasians -- and capping it by showing him either throwing a tight spiral to a kid or nailing a half-court shot at a Louisville home game -- just doesn't strike me as good marketing. And there's a voice-over guy saying, "Papa's in the HOUSE," as if that were a good thing, and not the sort of thing that would inevitably involve Schnatter steering the conversation around to his issues with the income tax.

Obviously Papa John's story -- sold his car, bought a pizza oven, sold pizzas out of the back of his dad's stabby-looking tavern that were so good as to impress Indianans -- is a big part of the Papa John's brand or whatever, but whose idea was that? The same guy whose idea it was to mention Schnatter's Outstanding Young American Award from the Jaycees on the company website? Before he started founding private ultra-Catholic towns where everyone has to speak Latin all the time, the Domino's guy had a pretty inspiring personal story, too. But they never let that get in the way of other terrible marketing ideas.

Again, I get that you can't advertise Papa John's pizza on its own nonexistent strengths, but given that the CEO -- admirable though his success undoubtedly is -- offers just as much personal warmth as his pizza-that-tastes-like-airport-pizza offers delightful and surprising flavor, you'd think they could find some other way to get this done. I'm not looking forward to the inevitable commercial in which Schnatter hits bombs during BP before a Cincinnati Reds game and Bronson Arroyo passionately groans out Schnatter's "Go Big Papa" theme song to the tune of Pearl Jam's "Black."

Also, if you were wondering, this is not the most inconsequential and over-reported thing ever written about Papa John Schnatter. The winner would be this hilariously comprehensive/inconsequential piece from the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which calls Schnatter on the gaffe (?) of advising radio listeners not to eat a whole pizza in every sitting. I don't know if the same people responsible for that nation's ongoing breaking-glasses-on-each-others-heads epidemic (87,000 per annum!) are going to read an 850-word unbylined article about this amazing non-story, but I'd love to think they would. And I find it almost touching that the Daily Mail gave them just that 850-word piece, the nation's descent into boozy and entropic semi-anarchy be damned.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Out of the Official Professional Narrative Showcase: True Secrets of Obamacare

Man, writing about yourself: easy as hell. I didn't know this was even possible, but I think I now have less respect for the Eat Pray Love lady. While I know this website exists largely for the purpose of delivering the majesty of my prose to those who want more of it -- that and the dog videos and maybe eventually me linking to other things I like -- the ease with which I'm able to slip into self-biographizing Actors Studio mode is enough to make me kind of uncomfortable. If it's this easy, it can't possibly be valuable, right?

Right. I know. But also, if I might desperately justify my literary/dudular narcissism for just a moment, a lot of the writing that I've done and some of the writing that I am most proud of took place outside of the master professional narrative that this site is supposed to advance. I have my ambivalences about the freelance lifestyle -- which I'll doubtless explore in a later post/journey deeper into my own navel -- but while this is the (totally faulty) model through which I've pursued a living over the last couple of years, writing is also the thing I enjoy most and am best at. And I do occasionally do it for reasons other than Getting That Money. So during the long intervals between advising of actual in-the-narrative publishing credits, I'll try to add some depth to this professional self-portrait by highlighting some of the off-topic writing I've done for reasons other than rent-paying. Probably the most egregiously non-professional of these was True Secrets of Obamacare, a short-lived satirical blog thing that's about just what it sounds like, and which I wrote under the name "Publius."

I did all this in the month or so before I got married, back in August and early September of 2009. Since the discourse has now totally returned to its normal civil, information-based self, it's tough to remember that it was just eight or so months ago when seemingly every ill-informed, terrified human being in the United States was showing up at Q&A sessions with their congressperson and just spittling out a bunch of ridiculous rageful bullshit about Hitler's individual mandate and state-sponsored euthenasia and why-do-you-support-a-bill-that-will-force-me-to-get-my-appendix-removed-by-illegal-immigrant-lesbian-moms-when-that-is-not-in-the-constitution-at-all. Thankfully, what looked then to be a rising tide of heroically misinformed, nightmarishly aggrieved, potentially violent caucasian dudes has receded, and the nation has come together in acknowledgment that -- in health care at least -- the status quo is untenable enough that even the feeble-ish compromise bill we actually got will almost certainly represent a massive improvement. So in that sense, looking back at my attempts at comic mimicry of last summer's sad, crazed discourse is almost like reading science fiction.

Excellent, glad that's over.

I stopped writing True Secrets of Obamacare for two reasons. One of them was that, as I mentioned earlier, I was getting married -- the anxiety over that was probably part of why I started doing it in the first place, but the commitment of emotional energy and time required (totally reasonably) distracted me from continuing to write goofy, in-character point-missing screeds about imaginary elements of the health care bill. This is not the only bit of perspective that marriage has given me, but it counts.

The other reason I stopped is that it was a masochistic sort of fun, and thus sort of both masochistic and not-fun. I think it's obvious that I'm enjoying myself in the better posts -- I like this one and this one and this one -- and did write some funny enough stuff in the persona of the blog's super-paranoid proto-tea party author. Looking back at it (again with the meta-narcissism), I was even apparently having fun after stopped finding the whole debate amusing anymore, but the nastier and dumber things got, the harder it became for me to make jokes about it. What started out as a way to exorcise my nausea and sadness at the idiotic rancor of the national conversation became more and more like simply soaking in all that stuff and then spraying it, inna drying-off-sheepdog stylee, all over whoever was reading.

There's a gene that certain writers have -- Bob Somerby and screechy Glenn Greenwald at Salon and all the perfervid Daily Kos commenter folk -- that enables them to exist in a perpetual ecstasy of exasperated enragement, and there are times when I want to join them there... as a reader. As a citizen who (check this out) loves America, of course, I've got my concerns about just how dumb, dishonest and irresponsible our discourse can get before our democracy will become unworkable; before the culture eats itself diabetic and bedridden on a diet of fervent, irrational, narcissism-flattering intellectual junk food. I still worry about that.

But at some point I just ran out of ways to make jokes about the national trend of ignorant populism-without-the-populism still being peddled without conscience by actual existing monsters and consumed without insight by people eager to have ugly urges indulged. It hasn't stopped striking me as worrying, and alternately frightening and sad. I just am not sure I want to write jokes about it every day. Or at least I don't want to do it for free. If the Daily Show wants me, my email address is up there on the right, I guess. I can only hope antidepressants are covered by their health plan. Or scotch, I guess. I'd take scotch instead.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Pwn Collector, or My Uncollectible Works

The idea behind this little sitelet is, in the abstract, practical. You see the other writers out there, and what have they got that I don't have? For the most part, the answer is a Tumblr, although often "good clothes," "health insurance," and "better professional stories than my 'Turns out Hilton Armstrong is a total gentleman'" offerings. But for the most part -- because some of my shirts are okay, and my sister is a doctor and can usually consult on should-I-get-this-lanced questions, and because there will thankfully always be a market for Hilton Armstrong anecdotes -- the answer is a Tumblr with their name on it.

And it's a good thing to have. You can plug your work and link to things you like (and presumably host videos of your parents' dog) and it's all very current. It just always seemed to me like Tumblrs weren't for writing, and I am about using lots of words. I'll leave the x-treme short form prose to the experts. There may be a time when I get a Tumblr, and then I'll post links to Jeff the Brotherhood songs (because they're excellent) and three hyperlinked sentences from an article somewhere, but considering how 2006 Blogspot is, I wouldn't expect that for at least another few years. Anyway I just wanted to say that those are the reasons why I do not have a Tumblr and that argument is what this website is here to communicate and so I thank you for your time. No, wait.

Actually, salient as all that was, the purpose of this post was to kind of flesh out the purpose of this website, and what kind of feels like the impossibility of it actually fulfilling that. All those Other Writers have Tumblrs because it's good to have something on the internet with your name on it. The idea of the site being to have someplace where people can go to check out your work, and the internet of course being a A Terrifying Mall Of Screaming And Pornography That Is Inside Your Computer.

And so while I'm aware that all this is a good idea, it's strange -- in putting it together and trying to go back and put my best writing stuff together -- to note how much of that work is either not for sale in The Terrifying Mall or was dated seemingly the moment it went up. Over the last couple of years alone, to take one saddening instance, I've had my name on probably a couple hundred thousand words of prose in various venues, and yet you wouldn't necessarily know that to look at the feature links on the right. And yet most of those 200,000-odd words -- fucking ouch, there, by the way, because it's not like I have crappy shirts because I can afford better shirts and choose not to buy them -- are not exactly the sort of thing one can link to on one's personal living-resume internet website.

The not-available stuff isn't any great loss, necessarily; I wish there were links to some of the articles I wrote for the now defunct Fly Magazine (which was run by this excellent lady and could've been pretty cool if it hadn't run out of money), but I suppose I could scan some stuff. The 3,000 word pieces I wrote for a trade magazine called Dermatology Business Management -- on topics like picking the right aesthetician for your (dermatology) practice -- paid well and were surprisingly enjoyable but also feel like a dream, were never available on the internet, and would almost certainly be so dull as to induce vertigo in anyone who didn't 1) write them or 2) need advice on hiring an aesthetician for his/her dermatology practice. So those are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry. But they're a very small part of my uncollected and seemingly uncollectible work.

I sort of don't know where to start with this stuff. I write the Wall Street Journal's Daily Fix sports blog/column three or so days a week, every week, and have for over a year. There's even an unflattering WSJ-style stipple portrait of me on the site:

Which on the one hand "Good Evening Ladies And Please Check Out My Stipple Portrait" and on the other hand Jesus Christ look at the size of my jaw in that thing. But that image aside, this is a huge part of my typing life (if an oddly small part of my financial earnings) and it's essentially dated a day after I put it all together. Like, I think I did a good job rounding up the coverage on those non-allegation allegations of steroid use by Raul Ibanez last year, but at the same time, the non-what what of what by whom? And the Daily Fix I wrote about those creepy peephole pictures of Erin Andrews is apparently the most-read Daily Fix in history ever by a factor of a million, but that's because people on the internet are just living nightmares (the comments section had to be shut down less than an hour after the post went up). And I am doing these a hundred-plus times a year. I really like some of them a lot, and may someday put together a greatest-hits thing -- again, for professional purposes, not because I think anyone needs to read about The Crisis of Officiating in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Semifinals -- but they're not evergreen.

The same can be said of my writing at the sports blog Can't Stop The Bleeding, which is really just an awesomely wonderful site run by the insanely smart and impressive and gracious Gerard Cosloy, but which I increasingly use for writing that's both more passionate and personal and more hilariously dated than anything else I've written. It's good if you want to see how pissed I was about Jorge Sosa blowing a late-season Mets game during their 2007 flame-out, but... yeah, that sentence kind of concludes itself.

Even leaving out all the baseball and basketball cards I've written -- the most literally collectible and literarily transient writing I've ever done -- a great deal of what I write is explicitly built not to last. I worked until 3am or later for last year, typing furiously about things happening in baseball games that were notionally of significance to fantasy baseball owners, and almost drove myself insane doing it, and now every single one of those (unbylined) words is gone forever: Juan Pierre's 2-for-4, two run, two steal game of May 15, 2009 is the very definition of old, and the very definition of not-news. But, again, a great many hours were spent on all that.

Sic transit everything, I guess. The whole post could've been those last few words and some hyperlinks, but then I wouldn't have had a chance to address The Tumblr Issue and put up that Everything Is Terrible link. Actual professional stuff -- that is, stuff that actually aids in this site's ostensible purpose, rather than turning it into a Livejournal called "l i v i n g i n w o r d s" -- is coming soon, I promise.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh, Hello

Relax, everyone.

I am listening. I have heard the people of the Internet -- the entire Internet, even YouTube commenters, who are not actually people, strictly speaking -- crying out for a one-stop venue for all things related to words that I type about stuff. These words are currently scattered all over the Internet, a blanket of self-indulgent parentheticals and mildly unexpected adjectives coating the information superhighway like so many cast-off, mushed-up cigarette butts. There are blog posts and features and blog posts the length of longish features. There's a lot.

There are anguished musings about Gary Matthews Jr. (at Can't Stop The Bleeding) and there are less-anguished musings about, like, Friendster (at Slate). And there's also me on New Hampshire Public Radio talking about Friendster. No one has ever asked me how I feel about Gary Matthews Jr., blessedly, but you're getting the idea: there are several years of my professional life that are just out there, diffuse and dispersed and lurking down in The Google Search beneath results about Diamond Dave and David Roth the Coin Magician Who Compulsively Says 'Thank You' After Everything and David Roth the Folk Singer and so on. It's a lot of ground to cover, what with all the anguish and the musings and the aforementioned parentheticals and adjectives and such.

I'm going to try to do some of that covering, here. I'm under no illusions about there being a legion of Roth Completists demanding access to the blog I set up for my old Athlon football previews -- although -- or the scab-picking but sadly prescient fake Obamacare satire blog I briefly attempted. But that stuff does exist, and it's silly if I don't do my best to put it all together. Over coming days I'm going to try to round up most of my clips and get them all in line. At which point I will have a sort of living, breathing resume for all to read! Or something.

Also, I'll finally have a place to host videos of my father playing with his new puppy. You basically can't be barefoot in my parents' kitchen anymore because it's so full of things the dog likes. Whenever I go home to visit I'm constantly stepping on giant dinosaurian pork-roast bones and sticks the dog brought in from outside. As if the dog remembers that stick, and would be upset if that stick wasn't right there on the floor, causing me to turn my ankle.

In future posts, I will perhaps go into my jealousy of the dog, because it is cuter than me and allowed to bring sticks into the house.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Watch this space, I'm going to do more soon/eventually.