Monthly Archives: April 2008

Clouded Thoughts in the Vestibule

Now that I am living alone in a basement in Harvard Square, I have a lot more time on my hands to sit in front of my computer. Sometimes I am just sitting on my hands, reading my daily websites, gathering information. Other times, I have been using the new freedom to grind out some content. Here is the combination of two photos that someone in my family (my aunt? mom? sister? me?) took on Cape Cod in 1998:

Ring of clouds over Cape Cod

“Artfully done,” you might rightly say, in the literal sense that I, Art, did it. The reason the colors and contrasts on the beach are way off is because I spent about an hour screwing around with the two pictures, trying to get them to nicely mesh. It never happened, but I thought the hell with it, let’s throw it up on the web anyway. Its not like the internet cares whats good or not. I think its pretty.

The picture of me is from two days ago, Sunday. That is the TJ Maxx vestibule at the Fresh Pond mall, where the men wait for their wives. Dead tired from a baby-riddled Saturday night followed by a busy brunch, I am taking a load off while my friend Jess shops for jeans. The beach is where my mind was at, by that point. Its not supposed to be artistic… in the end I just pasted the beach photos together with the TJ Maxx. Salsa!

#1 Stunner

Liz is the sexiest lady in all of boston cambridge somerville

Who’s that girl? The Number One stunner in all of Inman Square / the tri-state area, that’s who. Happy birthday to you Liz, you smart sexy woman.

Haulers!

This is my MAIN moving partner, Lady C, in all her glory. Look at those muscles! Christa and I boom-banged with that U-Haul truck right thar. I want to use the internet as a public platform to voice my gratitude for her help. Lady, you are the one friend that was there for me not just this once, but every time I have asked… anything you want from me, you got it. Anything you need… bay-bee! You got it.

Lady C is the strongest woman in the world

Lady C may be the strongest woman in the world but I am still one of the stronger ladies… Haulers!

I am the whitest of the white if only my teeth matched my skin

Sanctuary

I have moved to my new apartment in Harvard Square and I love it. This is the first time I have ever lived by myself, and I really feel freed up. Don’t get me wrong, the past two days have been intense and hard. Both main days of the move I awoke at seven in the morning and worked for eight to ten hours straight, then chilled throughout the afternoon and evening. I was under so much stress that my face broke out with nasty pimples; either that or it was the vinyl dust clogging all my pores.

Moving is a never-ending nightmare of little jobs, and I shouldn’t technically call myself free and clear. Monday I have to take my registration and two pieces of mail to the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Office to get my Cambridge resident permit. That day, I have to phone several companies that auto-bill me and change my address with them as well. Also, I have to call to get some DSL going. Not to imply that I’m updating on stolen internet… On Thursday my L sectional IKEA sleeper sofa arrives, and that should really do it.

Awhile back, when I was living with my webmaster, he and I discussed what it would be like if I annotated a picture of my room, to describe what each object means to me and where its from. This picture is of my new kitchen and table… The vinyl is by the stove cause that’s the only type of cooking I know how to do. If you click on the picture you will see that I have done exactly what Els and I talked about a couple years back. Almost everything I own has a special, spiritual connection to the story of my life (probably true for most people.)

Everything has a purpose in my kitchen

The Van and the Spruce Moose

Finally, I can say that this blog is a more complete representation of me and my life… I have found pictures of both the van (my first car!) and the bicycle-built-for-two (which I named the “Spruce Moose”) from my childhood. These are two forms of transportation that both loom large in my memory as being integral to my growing up. On the tandem bike I learned how to captain other people’s energy. In the van I learned how to break laws like a hot knife slices butter.

When my father bought this tandem bicycle it was in a state of disrepair. I remember him telling me once that it was intention to ride it with my mom, so that they could exercise together. But as soon as I saw it with its new blue paint job, the thing was mine. I would ride it around the neighborhood all the time, often by myself, but just as often with a passenger powering the rear crank. Going down hills with another person was particularly insane. Two of my friends got bruised purple crashing down a suicidally steep hill.

In this picture I am wearing a Harley Davidson teeshirt that says on it, “Good Guys Wear Black.” That was my de facto uniform for the middle school years, like a second skin. On that particular day I also happened to be wearing a pair of Blublocker Viper sunglasses. You’re goddamn right I still wear Blublocker Viper sunglasses to this day. Whether barreling down the I-95 corridor in the earliest hours before morning, or captaining a double person bicycle down the sheer face of an asphalt mountain, the Vipers will help you get the most out of your eyeballs. Everything is really bright orange.

Peter Ray and I in the old neighborhood on the tandem bike

Then there is the van, a vehicle my grandma Happy labeled, “A bin of sin.” I bought it outright from a man going blind in East Hartford. He had his mother drive over to help him transfer the title, count the money and so forth. It broke down on the short drive home, blew a tire. I had it towed to Home Depot and they let me know that it had had four different size tires at the time of purchase. What can I say other than the previous owner must have overlooked those details. Or underlooked.

As I mentioned, the van and I broke a lot of laws. I can say I probably broke the seat belt law when I drove nineteen kids home from high school in the rain. I probably disturbed the peace with the public announcement system my dad installed… And I don’t even want to know what law I broke when I switched on the faux siren at the loudest level and drove past stopped traffic in the breakdown lane. I was young and stupid, a white young man in the suburbs of America, and I never got pulled over. It felt like the 1970s.

In the back of the van I had shag carpeting, van speakers, a couch. On the inside anyone could graffiti anything they liked on the metal walls with the various Sharpies rolling about. There were a lot of cheesy yearbook-style shoutouts and disses, plus some truly disturbing drawings of gigantic penises, breasts, animals. All the juvenile high school filth friends and strangers could conjure. Sometimes people I didn’t even know used the van to smoke joints in the student parking lot. I had to explain to the assistant principal that I couldn’t lock any of the doors even if I wanted to.

As long as I live, I will remember what it felt like when I was seventeen years old and behind the wheel of my smoky van, with some friends on a sunny afternoon, drifting lazily down a forested hill into fragrant fields of shade tobacco. I will always remember that moment. This picture was taken up at Lake George in New York. On the way back home from there the muffler and exhaust pipes etcetera fell off; this photo was taken right before the vans final journey, in the beginning of the last summer I spent living at home with my mom… Not to be a sap, but the van looks particularly lovely in this light.

Remember me this way said the van

Bull Camel Spanish Fly

Bull is my number one phone call from jail, hands down. That makes him attorney to my street attorney, at least in my book. He also does my taxes and boom-bangs those who embezzle my monies in “ROTH-IRAs.” But sometimes he just communes with nature. Once when I was very young, I saw him emerge from a tiki hut on Duval St. in Key West, having just had his entire body worked over by a small but fierce Asian masseuse. He was totally nude during the massage, but when he emerged fully clothed in the staggering humidity, with limp hair, droopy eyelids and a curl to his lip, well…

That was the only time I have ever witnessed the Bull being kind of calm. Immediately after that he tried to talk a bouncer into letting Ray and I, both sixteen years old, enter a strip club… which didn’t go over so well. So I got a tattoo instead. Anyway, these pictures are special because they are bonafide Big E camel pictures. For you international readers, the Big E is the shortened name for the Eastern States Exposition, just the biggest fair and livestock show in the Northeast silly! Its kind of a big deal, and if any of you European scientist friends of my sister ever make it to the Big E, take a little advice from one who’s been; get a picture of yourself on a camel. You’ll thank me later.

Bulls got black power on the bull camel at the Big E

Nothing is sexier at a fairgrounds than a large man excited like a child to be on a camel. Chicks dig it. A large man on a camel is like catnip to them.

Rocking out camel style

Both Bull and the camel have looks on their faces that say, “I am totally psyched that you are watching me.” Its sexy.

Take your pick of two fine behinds

Right Place, Wrong Time

Sunday was a classic case of it simply not being the right time. Multiple things in my life and beyond went off the rails after seeming like a sure thing. Let me break it down from the beginning. I woke up Saturday morning at around 10AM and immediately sat up straight in bed and stared at the clock. My heart was thumping out of my chest… I thought it was Sunday and that I was an hour late for brunch already. But it wasn’t the right day.

The next morning I woke up before seven, at the first “ding” of the first of seven alarms that I set. I would not go back to sleep after the trauma I’d experienced the day before. For a brunch captain, the sudden realization that you are late for brunch is the worst waking sensation possible. Quite often, it leads to a massive captain heart attack, and is fatal. I wasn’t taking any chances… I showered, dressed, and quickly drove to Dunkin Donuts to inhale my coffee and bagel. Plain bagel with plain cream cheese; that’s good enough for me.

At the Dunkin Donuts every Sunday is a high school age chap who sells the Sunday papers; just the Globe and Herald. He never talks to me, except when I am really tired or hungover. Only when I am weak does he speak to me, and he does so brusquely, stepping in my path and demanding that I buy a paper. Today I was strong, and he ignored me, but not I him. After forcing the plain bagel down my maw, I strode over to him and said, “Young man, if you carry the Sunday New York Times I will buy it from you each and every Sunday, plus one dollar gratuity, guarenteed.” It was a good deal, but the paperboy balked. It wasn’t the day.

“Impossible,” he sniveled. “My distributor won’t distribute the Sunday Times to me.” These distributors, I muttered under my breath, and left in a huff. It wasn’t the day. Later, at the restaurant, my section was prime real estate. It should have been mucho dinero, all large parties. Yet wasn’t able to capitalize on it financially because of campers. Campers are customers who camp out at a table, preventing it from turning over. They stifled my mojo, trampled my real estate. What should have been a dynamite brunch fizzled. It wasn’t the day.

At the end of the shift, on the way out the door, I made a $20. bet with chef Jason on the day’s biggest NBA game. He took the Dallas Mavericks, and I took the Phoenix Suns, and all the statistics on the game were in my favor. The first three quarters were pretty much a blowout. The Suns with Shaq and Nash and Stoudemire were sick nasty, easily maintaining a double digits lead over the weak Mavs. At the end of the third quarter I left my house and drove back to work, just to give Jason some shit and collect my twenty dollars. Out on the street I saw him and yelled, “Gimme my money!”

Chef Jason was crazy-eyed and jolly… and he started to get out his wallet but I knew it was a trick. “What’s happened in the game since I left my house?!” I exclaimed. What happened was the Suns went ICE COLD and only scored 5 points in the 4th quarter. The Mavs went on a 16-0 run for much of the quarter and won the game. I lost the bet, and my treasured Suns lost to my least favorite team in the West. (The only thing I like about the Mavericks is the owner Mark Cuban’s dedication and style. Sometimes I grudgingly respect Nowitzki, like when playing on a gimp German ankle Sunday he stumbled for like eighteen steps yet was able to swish a crucial shot.)

It wasn’t my day, wasn’t the day. Later Sunday night, my favorites women’s team, the Uconn Huskies, were routed by Stanford in the women’s Final Four. Their rivals, coached by the vinyl pants-suit clad Pat Summitt, won their Final Four game in the last second and advanced to the National Championship. I try to be a positive person. The Huskies are a team of superstar freshmen. Maya Moore is the first freshman to ever receive all around MVP as a FRESHMAN. The Final Four is a huge accomplishment for a group of FRESHMEN. The future is golden… but I still wish they could have won this year for seniors Mel Thomas and Charde Houston…

I ate a grand dinner of fried catfish with black eyed peas and collard greens at the B-Side, electrically jumped my friend Brian’s car, then went home to nurse my psychic wounds and read the news… Filed this under “NOT THE DAY”; in France protesters continuously attacked the Olympic torch bearer, extinguishing the flame over and over again. They were protesting China’s actions against the monks in Tibet. The French government, in a scene out of Rollerball, ended up with rollerblade police escorting the flame out of Paris…

“In the not-too-distant future, wars will no longer exist… But there will be Rollerball.”

The next war will not be fought it will be played

I’m Not A Shucker, I Just Shuck Alot

“WHY DON’T YOU JUST MAN-UP!” is what red-eyed chef Jason hollered at me when I asked for the keys to the walk-in. The time was after closing, and I had shucked about two hundred oysters, almost all for customers. The customer interest in oysters was high, like coon-cats to Fancy Feast. I had to put aside my plan to shuck a couple dozen oysters into a glass for myself to drink like a sweet muscle milkshake, in order to provide for the shellfish thirsty public. I had no idea what Jason meant by man-up, so I came back with the first reasonable response that popped into my head; “YOU MEAN RIP THE LID OFF THE SUCKA?”

After I put everything away I had to sweep and mop. The entire breakdown process took me over two and a half hours. Unacceptable! Anyway, being in a situation where you have an order for one table for two dozens oysters, a dozen clams and eight crab legs, and then also have the customers in front of you ordering dozens, and have additional tickets coming from other tables, and shuck your way out of it, its an awesome feeling. After tonight, I know why Sylvester Stallone HAD to make a new Rocky AND Rambo movie. I have to wake up on time and captain brunch tomorrow, otherwise I would expound on why Sylvester had to do that. I think instead I will get some sleep and wrap this up with Wrestling Quote #83 from “Steveswrestling.com:”

83.) “Jimmy Snuka stood up, 25 feet in the air, drove his knee through my ribs, but did I allow them to carry me out on a stretcher? NO! I got right up and walked out!” — Don Muraco after Backlund announced he wouldn’t wrestle the Iron Sheik due to injuries.

It feels right.

Shucking oysters at the East Coast Grill in camo with a sweatrag and a headband

There’s a new color for the monkey toy at work, the Golden Monkey. Can you find the Golden Monkey? This ain’t Big Trouble in Little China, just click on the image and enjoy!

Look for the Golden Monkey

Return of the Super Ape

Return of the Super Ape by Lee Scratch Perry and the UpsettersI haven’t been keeping my blog or my lemur website updated for the past month, and I wanted to apologize to all seven of you who check me regularly. In the near future, beginning today, I promise a return to form. March and the first half of April are a stepping stone for me this year. I will be moving out of my shared house in Somerville to a one bedroom in Harvard Square on the 15th, which I can afford because of the graciousness of my landlady and with the accumulated monies saved since I stopped drinking on January 1st.

This is the first time I have mentioned it on my blog, but I have not had a sip of alcohol so far this year. Except, that is, for one incident when I blindly sipped my friend’s Budweiser can that I mistook for a Diet Coke. Anyone who believes that alcohol is a good thing or a necessary social lubricant is probably right, for themselves, but its no good for me. And thats a fact. These genes that I carry around crave the juice like it was catnip. Its a waste on my body, mind, and pocketbook. Thats right. I’m copping to a pocketbook.

No I don’t really carry around a pocketbook, but I probably should. I have been shouldering my twenty pound men’s big and tall winter jacket because of the utility of its many pockets. Perhaps a man-purse would be more orthopedic, or at least Bob-o-pedic, which is cheaper but the same quality as the name brand. Maybe if this interminably long winter would shrivel up and die I could cast off my mech-suit and wear out a sleeveless tee with a man-purse swinging gaily on my arm, and ringlets in my hair.

That would never happen because a) I don’t wear sleeveless tees because of an over-abundance of sweat in my pits (yes, in this case the normally redundant term “over-abundance” DOES fit, like a glove, and if you reach up into my pits in weather warmer than 65 degrees fahrenheit you WILL want to be wearing gloves), b) my hair is thick but not curly which is probably why most of the boys I am attracted to have either lighter, thin hair, or curly q’s (thats called self-loathing) and finally c) I don’t need a man-purse to replace my winter jacket because I have many lighter spring and summer jackets which I will soon unveil and they have the requisite zippered pockets I require to maintain self-order out on the street.

Now that I have debunked the idea of a man-purse for me, let me tell you something else. This spring and summer I will be chilling hard, and its not because a new deodorant is out that completely blocks Polish-Irish-Lithuanian-American pit sweat. Its because I’m moving to Harvard Square dummy! There in Harvard yard I will relax with no shoes under a sun umbrella with the new issue of Cosmopolitan taking in the smells, sounds and sites of clean-cut Matt Damon look-a-likes from behind the disguise of tinted Blublocker Viper sunglasses. In the pinnacle moment of the college boys’ ultimate frisbee game I will leap up from my beach chair, intercept the pass, and run with the frisbee clenched in my teeth back to my one bedroom with all the boys chasing after me like bulldogs after a meat-wagon.

That will be a fantasy of mine until I actually try it and then have to live the rest of my life under the stigma that I’ve been beaten up and bloodied by Harvard students. Seriously, I am going towards this new moment in my life with purpose and positivity. Having my own castle will provide me sanctuary from the drunken lifestyles of the college crowd, the partying of the restaurant industry… Sanctuary from the world, if I choose (and I do,) and its problems. I will be able to set my own agenda and really grind out some quality content for you folks here on the internet. Not drinking alone has helped me lose over twenty pounds already, and as the weather warms I plan to take up running again, along the Charles River, and really getting to a healthy place.

My positivity anthem for this green season of growth and the new morning in my life has been Ape-Ology by the legendary dub producer Lee “Scratch” Perry. Ape-Ology is a compilation of three of his fine albums… Super Ape, Return of the Super Ape and Roast Fish, Collie Weed and Cornbread. Reggae music helps me get focused and working to improve my life and others’. THis spring you will see the blossoms, and by summer, the fruits of my labor.

“Return of the Super Ape,” is a fitting title for this first blog post of April. When I started blogging here three years ago, I named one of my posts, “Super Super Apes,” (you can find it in the archives for April 2005), and this is how it began… “Back to the question of “What is real?”, or how to believe in the human experience… I note that asserting myself is essential and that there is no such thing as passive learning…” Thats just some real wisdom that I’ve worked hard to get back.

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