Monthly Archives: September 2008

Bob White, Punk Rock Artist

My friend Bob looked despondent after work last night, so I offered him a ride home. Little did I know that he would briefly invite me into his home for an opportunity to snap photos of some of his and his cousin’s artwork. Bob agreed to share his artwork with all you folks, on the internet, through me, despite not having an internet connection himself. Maybe Washington isn’t the only place that needs more oversight, but hey, its a rare treat.

In this first photo, I am standing in front of part of a mural on Starr Lane, in Jamaica Plain. The other night I was up late, tinkering on my computer, when a paranoid sensation washed over me. Bending low into a crouching position, I crept towards my bedroom in the front of my garden apartment, training my eyes out the window to see if someone or something was lingering in the backyard. As I approached the window, a tiny yelp of surprise escaped my throat. A neighbor’s white cat was peering in to my basement abode… !

On Starr Lane in Jamaica Plain in front of a youth mural

“This mural was the first ever completed by the Jamaica Plain Youth Mural Program. It is at the corner of Starr Lane and Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. It was designed as a tool to teach the students to paint depth, shading, and contrast.” I had my picture taken with the cat, while I directed Bob to be photographed from a more dramatic angle.

Bob on Starr Lane in JP messianic in fron tof of a youth mural

This first piece of art grabbed me as soon as I walked into Bob’s apartment. Its a painting of a black skull over a yellow canvas, done by Bob’s cousin Isaac White…

Black and yellow skull painting by Isaac White

Isaac White is also the artist behind the drawing Bob hangs next to his bed. Its a sleeping beauty, female, whose placement comforts Bob when its time to hit the pillow for his own sleep. The title of this drawing is, “Candy Colored Clown,” which comes from the lyrics of “In Dreams,” by Roy Orbison… “A candy-colored clown they call the sandman/ Tiptoes to my room every night/ Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper/ Go to sleep. everything is all right.”

Candy Colored Clown by Isaac White

As for his own artwork, Bob’s favorite style is collage. I was telling him that I used to do cut and paste collages myself, but once I found the internet, it all went digital. Here is Bob with a draft of a collage that he plans to turn into a new medium (painting or drawing) soon…

Bob White and the rough draft of a collage

Here are four really neat pictures by Bob White. He had a lot of drawings of angels, but only one came out well (no. 3). The first and last are my favorites… the dog faced motorcycle rider, and the abstract, slightly suggestive, “Monument of Impotence.” The third drawing is Bob experimenting with ink pens.

Dog faced motorcycle boy by Bob White The face of an angel by Bob White An experiment with ink pen drawing by Bob White The Monument of Impotence by Bob White

I want to thank Bob White again for allowing me to share some of his art with the public. Bob is a wicked smart and satirical punk rocker, and a loyal friend. It makes me feel good to have a website as a forum to do this kind of sharing, and I hope it cheers him up that hundreds of people get to be exposed to some of what he does. I must admit, I was also motivated to do this because when I told Bob he needed to write down his funny stories, he told me that once he wrote an entire novel of his life, but that he threw it out when he finished because it was “no good,” and he realized he had to “change the whole fucking thing from 1st to 3rd person.”

I was outraged! Bob White has some fantastic stories to tell, and the level of detail he reaches in his storytelling really has the power to completely engross me. In the future, I hope to use my blog as a means to recover some of his stories from the garbage, where they do not belong, in order to put them up on the internet, where they have never been. That is where they belong. In the last picture today, Bob is holding a picture of a woman he says is his muse. Here is the artist at his most melancholy, holding not just a cut-out from a magazine, but a piece of his own heart. Thank you Bob for sharing.

Bob White and his inspiration

As a footnote, I’ll mention that Bob has the best tee-shirts of anybody I’ve met in life. The day we took these pictures, his tee-shirt seems to sum up the McCain campaigns most compelling line of argument… “United My Ass.”

Autumn Begins with a Splash

Monday September 22 is the vernal equinox and the beginning of autumn 2008

Anytime I am successful at crapping between the free food I get to order as a host Saturday night and my 9AM arrival as Floor Captain of the brunch the next morning, it makes my day. Physically, I feel lighter, a new found spring in my step, with the one crap under my belt. Well, this past Sunday, after switching up my fiber cereal from clusters to flakes, I crapped twice! It was soul-satisfying, period.

Not only did I get two craps under my belt, but I also got about six hours of sleep. This is noteworthy, because my role as Saturday night hostess with the mostess (saying hello and goodbye to three and a half hundred people) winds me up to the point where 4AM is my earliest bedtime… Yes it was a hectic Saturday, and I crashed and burned at my table timing for a traumatizing two hour stretch, but for some reason I was able to fall asleep at 1AM.

Perhaps the truth is that the week I had just spent one on one with my grandma paid this dividend. I adapted to her schedule, which meant that for the five consecutive days previous to Saturday I was out of bed before 8AM. The thinking goes that this fundamentally altered my sleep schedule in such a way that six hours of sleep was suddenly possible between Saturday and Sunday. Thanking my grandma for a restful Sunday will be a priority the next time we talk.

Let us not discount the crapping in all of this. For my special hostess meal Saturday night I ordered what I always order… “brisket surprise.” The brisket part refers to a kind of smoked meat we serve, and the surprise is just that. Ordering as such means that the cooks in the kitchen craft whatever it is they feel like with said smoked brisket. This week they made me three baked brisket enchiladas with jack cheese and banana guava ketchup. A trilogy of plump, heavy gut bombs that cleared up my intestinal cloggage like guards of security expediting the exit of fans from the tunnels of Fenway.

At the pharmacy the other day I bought a box of Fiber 1 cereal that looked to me like it was composed of a mix of clusters and flakes. I am a clusters guy myself, but that doesn’t mean I am exclusive. Well, it turned out that this cereal was much more flaky than not, with only a couple clusters here and there to speak of. No worries, I ate two bowls of the delicious laxative after midnight Saturday without turning into a gremlin. In fact, those bowls helped me expel a brown gremlin from my innards the following morn.

I noticed that my average gratuity was a great deal higher thanks to my inner-peace… Every brunch I try to think up a couple great one-liners and deliver them to customers at choice moments in the service. This Sunday I reminded folks to enjoy the last full day of summer, and that Monday, September 22 was the vernal equinox, therefore the beginning of a new season, autumn. Yes, dear readers, what goes around comes around. Sometimes, a physical reminder of that truth can be truly liberating.

Omega Wolf

“A Man Among Wolves,” a documentary currently airing on the National Geographic Channel is eerily similar to the Herzog documentary, “Grizzly Man,” about hapless Timothy Treadwell’s adventures amongst the burly bears and prince-like foxes of Alaska. I only hope Shaun Ellis doesn’t get eaten, too. He is a good man who teaches wolf pups to howl, and knows wolf packs inside and out, from the alpha to the omega: “The omega wolf is responsible for defusing tension within the pack. The omega’s howl is the most tuneful in the pack, reaching both high and low notes. By adding vocal harmony, it can help calm the pack when the pack is on the defensive.”

The role of the omega wolf is the role that Brisket played within the wolf pack of the East Coast Grill; a role I am determined to learn (like a little pup learning to howl.) I could not have asked for a better teacher and friend than I got in you, Mike. The following photos were taken at Brisket and Rebecca’s going away party graciously hosted by Brian and Jim… They are moving to New Orleans next week, to plant a small seed of hope in the ground of a city almost robbed of its future by the sea. There is danger when man and woman leave the shelter of their known worlds and travel to live at the edge. Brisket and Rebecca take to New Orleans the love and respect of all in the family at the ECG.

Brisket and 3rdarm with the Taj Mahal

Brisket and his girlfriend Rebecca

Doctor Brisket and Street Attorney 3rdarm

One half of the room at Brisket and Rebeccas going away party

The other half of the room at Brisket and Rebeccas going away party

Brisket and Mariposa

Jess arrives at the party Superstar

Ace aka The Future and my Food For Animals teeshirt

Bob White and his sweetheart yours truly

Johnny O is hands down the best bartender this side of the Mississippi

Fidel grabs the cat and gets the party started

Brian whips out his pinga and Don Kiko gets a stiffy

Touch the Hand that’s Touching Sin

What a long day Sunday was! It all began at 7AM with a missed phone call from work. I assumed that whoever had called me from the main kitchen number couldn’t possibly be telling me I was late, so I ignored it and started my coffee machine, jumped in the shower. Only after I cleaned up and caffeinated out and saw that the phone was still ringing did I pick it up… there had been a fire in the basement of the restaurant.

Instead of going back to the still-warm sheets of my bed, I lit up a non-filtered Pall Mall and headed up the exit from my basement apartment with my digital camera. At the restaurant, there was a strong smell of burnt plastic and lots of smoky particles in the air. The first floor had not been affected at all by the underground fire, but the air had and all the cooks were wearing surgical masks. My coworkers looked like the U.S. Olympic Cycling Team traversing the new concourses of the Beijing Airport, minus the rolling luggage.

Putting aside my brunch captain hat for the day, I donned my own surgical mask, powered up the camera, and descended the stairs into the restaurant basement. A clothes drier had burst into flames (be sure to clean your lint traps now) at approximately 4AM in the morning, and the fire department had arrived with five ladder trucks within 10 minutes thus preventing the flames from spreading to the ceiling or the liquor room or the gas lines or any of the other instant detonators within a fifteen foot radius of the burning clothes drier. Fire had damaged all the plastic goods stored nearby, ruined an ice machine and covered anything down there in thick black ash.

After snapping over a hundred pictures for the insurance record, I returned to the ground floor and smoked another cigarette. The first time a non-filtered Pall Mall was actually a break for my lungs and respiratory system, ha! Disaster management companies that had followed news of the blaze on CB radios and the local morning news were still parked in front of the restaurant. Our managers and chefs told us that cleaning professionals were on the way, and that although our offers of help were appreciated, we were free to go. Diamond Dave and Hot Dumpling Tom, both cooks, and my friend Brian, a bartender, and me formed a group to go eat brunch at our sister restaurant, Highland Kitchen.

Everything we had for brunch at Highland was terrific, but something truly strange happened right before we were to abandon our bar stools and all finally return to the no-longer-warm bed sheets of our respective homes. As we paid the check, an Asian-American woman squeezed next to us and began crying out for the bartender’s, Claudia’s, attention. At the same time her pleas commenced, a long story about how I have been feeling ignored by a couple coworkers climaxed with me shouting, “Its my own problem… I’m an attention whore! I’m a whore for attention!” The woman’s cries competed with and amplified my own self-referential cries of “Attention whore!”

In “Curb Your Enthusiasm” style (which is how so much of my life plays out) the woman went home and wrote a scathing review on, which you all just have to read here. Let me quote what she wrote, turning the incident into a horrific misunderstanding: “Finally sat in the bar facing the window. We were ignored for another 20 mins, even after I got the bartenders attention. After being so aggravated I shouted “hello” college boys (who were clearly underage) called me an attention whore. Yes wanting to eat after 40 mins is being an attention whore. The bartender was slow and we noticed from the entire experience that unless you know the people there it is not worth going.”

I have not yet had the time or heart to write to this lady to apologize for my buffoonery and correct her mis-characterization of myself and friends as “underage college boys…” a stereotype that stings because I am 25, don’t drink, and did not graduate college. The worst feeling in the world is being ignored and I understand my fellow diner’s sensitivity. The lesson here may simply be that its impolite and inappropriate to shout the word “Whore!” in a public place under any circumstances. Thus did I, and by extension of the internet, Highland Kitchen, become the victims of my own loud mouth. Later that night my manager Mark and I went out to the Mars Volta concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston. I was transfixed by the insane noise of these guys, and their skintight black rock and roll outfits, and their songs about nearly escaping the curse of a Ouiji board bought while on tour in Jerusalem. From their lyrics comes the title for this post… “the Hand that’s touching Sin” is connected not to right or left, but the third arm.

The clothes drier that burst into flames causing the basement fire

Wrecked stacks of melted plastic To Go containers strangely beautiful

Turquoise pickup truck matched my hat Sunday morning


Diamond Dave and Hot Dumpling Tom at Highland Kitchen brunch

The accused bartender Claudia got touched by my curse

College boys clearly underaged called me an Attention Whore

None of us are college graduates or underaged or hipsters or called her Attention Whore

The Mighty Sea Captain

I caught this monster with my bare hands

Man: I’m telling you the light would work better if it pointed out to sea.
Sea Captain: Arr, shut up. I know what I’m doin’.
(a boat crashes in the distance)
Sea Captain: Arr, I hate the sea and everything in it.

The previous exchange is from the Simpsons’ make-believe sea captain; today I got to meet the real deal. The restaurant contracted me to drive an unmarked white jeep down to rendezvous with Captain Ned in Buzzard’s Bay. He had hauled in an ass-load of striped bass and bluefish the day before, and it was my charge to exchange the white jeep for Mr. S.’s pickup truck loaded up with fish and drive it back to Cambridge in time for the dinner service.

My teeshirt says, “Cod Squad” and I wore it specially for the mission. Specifically, I wanted pictures of me wearing the teeshirt posing with a monster bass so that I could say I caught it. Unfortunately, the perfect shot of me holding a striped bass proved impossible because I was reluctant (read: afraid) to touch them. Ned is graciously bearing the entire weight of the fish in the first photo by holding onto the inside of its bloody mouth. He told me to just put my hands on it and pretend I was holding it. When I asked if I could go wash my hands after (read: scrub), he nodded to a bucket of cloudy sea water.

Captain Ned and 3rdarm posing with trophy fish

The striped bass would be used that very night in the restaurant, as Saturday’s “catch of the day.” Out of the ocean and into the fire, as we say (out of the bloody ice and into a clean bath, first and foremost):

A bloody bass sitting atop a gigantuan mountain of ice

Mr. S. gave the thumbs up for some super-fresh bluefish, as well:

Thumbs up for superfresh bluefish

Captain Ned uses his yard as a parking lot for his fleet of sea-faring vessels. Here I am fixing the engine of the Watch Out. Except that, like the fish, I was afraid to actually touch it.

3rdarm fixing the engine of a yacht called the Watch Out

At the Captain’s house there were plenty of must-have accessories for a Master of the High Seas, such as these duck decoys. These are floated next to the boat so that birds feel comfortable coming over and cozying up next to it. At which point the Captain pops out the galley with a shotgun and blasts the birds to smithereens. Once I found out what these were I was afraid to touch them.

Duck decoys for when one feels the urge to boat blast birds to smithereens

Saturday night, many of the customers sang the praises of our striped bass special. Though I did not catch it or cook it but merely drove the fish up the interstate, I happily took all the credit.

It was the most flavorful freshest tasting bird I have ever encountered, hell it was the best bird I’ve ever eaten period

My sister is insisting on using sentence structure in the title of her doctoral thesis, and I am Chief No in the camp of disapprovement. Sentence structure, as in the title of this post, means that the only capitalization is the first letter. Proper titles contain capitalization for all the main words; so that the reader knows its an important word, that its so important a word that many other words were needed to describe it in a very important collection of works called a doctoral thesis. With sentence structure, only the first word appears important, and although that may work here on my blog, because for example in this case the capitalized word is the most important word. In my case that word is “it.” By the way, right now, you are not reading a doctoral thesis. This will not be about chicken.

When I think of a doctoral thesis, what comes to mind is the culmination of a lifetime of learning. There is a doctoral thesis in all of us, and just like our names, it needs to be capitalized. My doctoral thesis would be titled, “, Not Good Enough,” and I would constantly update and revise mine. Its possible, right here right now, that you are reading my doctoral thesis. If so, I better change the title of this post, because the sentence structure just doesn’t properly convey my words’ great inertia that I whisk like flour to the eggs of my verbs. Yes, that makes sense, and that’s the reason my sister should consider re-capitalizing the title of her doctoral thesis, that is actually a doctoral thesis. My doctoral thesis, depending on which metaphor you want to go with, is either a blog or a brownie.

Either way, I finished the cover artwork that my sister commissioned from me. She wanted to use a lithograph by the Dutch painter M.C. Escher, The Three Worlds. Its a picture of a body of water on which leaves float. A fish can be seen under the water and the surface is a reflection of trees on the opposite shore. Those are the three perspectives that the title refers to. The holders of the Escher work’s copyright wanted to charge her one hundred fifty euro for the right to use the lithograph on her thesis’ cover. She knows I am proficient with the open source imaging suite called The Gimp, and decided to allow me create something inspired by that print instead of paying the money. Brother bear hates money, loves burritos, and did a good job for free. Here is what I came up with, titled, “The Four Worlds.”

The Four Worlds by 3rdarm inspired by The Three Worlds by MC Escher

The fourth world in my picture is time. I used a stock picture of a dead, submerged tree trunk and branches for the underwater perspective, which is the future for the tree. The tree reflected is alive and the leaves floating on the surface are the past. The mystery is why even with four perspectives we still don’t actually see the tree. Yes, that makes sense, and now I get a byline in my sister’s doctoral thesis, which means that for the first time we are getting published together. I hope the press doesn’t ask me any questions about the content of my sister’s thesis. I have no idea what its all about, but I know this. Don’t let the sentence structure of the title fool you! The thing is important and it makes my sister a genius doctor of whom I’m very proud. That its cover artwork was created by yours truly is like WRITING THE TITLE IN ALL CAPS.

After Dark, All Cats Run Wild

For my friend Cat’s birthday, her boyfriend Jim, Jess and I took her out to dinner at Banq in the South End, where we dined on shrimps and scallops, mung crepes and striped bass, even mousse and chocolate torte. The inside of the restaurant was gorgeous, seemingly combining the wood paneling of basements with the many-ribbed wooden models of fossils sold in museums, taken to the scale of an actual T-Rex.

Jimmy Cat and Jess at Banq in the South End

After eating, we returned to Cambridge and took the party to Noir at the Charles Hotel. Alice served delicious strawberry champagne cocktails to everyone (except me) and even came to hang out and tell jokes while it was slow. I drank about a million ginger beers.

Alice serving Cat a delicious strawberry champagne cocktail at Noir bar

Jimmy and Cat cuddling in the corner U booth at Noir bar

By the time 1AM rolled around and the college kids started streaming in from all the other Cantabrigian bars (Noir is the only bar in Cambridge open until 2AM every night of the week…) for last drinks, we had already finished ours. The witching hour did touch our party, however. Before we scrambled to leave Jess and I made out in faux life. I was wearing a brand new white Converse One Star Western shirt with silver buttons.

Jess and 3rdarm make out in faux life at Noir bar

Oops Jess must have dropped something so she went down to get it

Cat and those cats continued to hang out after I dropped them off. Myself, I stopped off at 7-11 for a quick Rice Krispy treat refueling so that I could motor through the night and produce cover artwork for my sister’s thesis. All those fun times and running about must have brought back my appetite, so I went for the XL! Only in America…

Im going to build me a house with Rice Krispy Bricks

30 Days in the Hole

Mark Hamill gets seriously snazzed up for his prostitute girlfriend in Corvette Summer

If I was in Corvette Summer this would be my character

In the past week I have paid five dollars twice to watch the 1978 popcorn flick “Corvette Summer” starring a young Mark Hamill, the actor most remember as Luke Skywalker. The first time it was by myself at my aunt’s house in the middle of the night; a victimless crime. More recently, in fact just this past Friday night, I rented it at my former place of residence, Aristotle’s house, and this expanded audience wasn’t quite as taken with the nostalgic 1970s cinematography as I was.

At one point I remember yelling to everyone in the room, “See how the chandeliers are so much brighter than the rest of the frame?! That’s because 1970s analog cameras are much more limited in their range of light exposure!!” The line got a stony reception, and the whites of my friends’ eyeballs yellowed a little bit more with simple boredom. For some reason, I just can’t get enough of this movie. Its not just because Mark Hamill is so attractive as a strong, young Jedi Californian. By the way, he acts the shit out of this movie.

He delivers a performance that is all class. Plus the film is a whole lotta bubblegum in times when all other media seems to trigger avalanches of lurching emotion (read: election coverage.) Even though I was never alive in the 1970s ( wasn’t online yet, man…) I still feel a great deal of nostalgia for the period. Perhaps evidence that I missed my mark in life by a couple decades. All I know is that Corvette Summer comforts me, at a time when the sun rays are getting weaker and autumn is a-creepin’, but still a couple weeks off.

Inspired by this film, and also the Humble Pie album “Smokin'” from 1972, I have created a late-Saturday-night mixtape. I plan on making many copies of this to be distributed to the lucky recipients of serendipity. Here is the track listing:

1 – 30 Days in the Hole by Humble Pie
2 – Killing Floor by The Electric Flag
3 – Sally Go Round the Roses by Grace Slick and the Great Society
4 – Autumn Stone by The Small Faces
5 – You’re Still A Young Man by Tower of Power
6 – City of New Orleans (live) by Arlo Guthrie
7 – I’d Love You to Want Me by Lobo
8 – Go All the Way (live) by The Raspberries
9 – Never Been Any Reason by Head East
10 – Popcorn by Hot Butter
11 – Somebody to Love by Grace Slick and the Great Society
12 – All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople
13 – Everybody Plays the Fool by The Main Ingredient

Anal Clenching? Birds Suck Fish and Radio Arte

Does anybody know if you can tell when a dog is gonna poop by watching its anus for clenching? This is a photo essay about me spying a bird with a fish in its mouth. First you see me staring out to sea. The next photo is the sea, and then in the third photo its clear that I have spied a bird with a fish in its mouth. I think the subtext speaks for itself.

There 3rdarm was on the rocks by the shore when he spied a gull with a fish

Not that bird the other one he has a fish in his mouth

A gull sucking on a fish

Every Wednesday night my friend in Chicago, Luis “Logan Lou” Twobutts, is on the internet with his countpart Dj Acre talking jive and spinning deep cuts on Chicago’s Radio Arte. The program is called The Beat Gallery and I listened live tonight for the first time, but now that I have Wednesdays off I will be tuning in every week. Great job fellas! To hear my friend Logan Lou and Dj Acre do their thing, and to see pictures, everyone should visit The Beat Gallery blogspot page and The Beat Gallery on Myspace.

This is Called Multi-Tasking in the Power Bitch World

My aunt and I took the dog to the beach for the first time today… First some pictures:

Roxie and 3rdarm at the sea shore

Aunty dunked her into the ocean. She baptized the young pup so that she’ll grow to be a true salty dog.

Aunty Judy dunking Roxie in the salt water

Roxie’s a sweet dog… She woke me up this morning by licking all the sweat off my head!

This dog is puppylicious

I’d like to move on now to my ongoing fascination with the train-wreck that is Sarah Palin’s nomination to be McCain’s Vice President. I was one of the first to hear the rumours that Trig, the Palin baby born with Down Syndrome earlier this year, is actually Bristol’s baby (Bridget Bristol whatever), not Sarah Palin’s daughter. I’ve seen the pictures and I really don’t think Sarah Palin was ever pregnant with that baby. It was all I could talk about with customers at brunch on Sunday. I told them that if it turned out to be false, they didn’t hear it from me, but if it turned out to be true, they heard it here first.

Well the answer to that question has not yet been answered, but is has been revealed that Bristol is currently pregnant. Her “baby-father” is going to be at the Twin Cities’ Republican Convention tomorrow night. I have some empathy for the Palins; surely they did not want this part of their daughter’s life to be in the public square. The best way to protect her would have been to pass on the V.P. nomination. Its too late now to pull a curtain over the stage. Especially when its the Republicans in the spotlight, the party whose signature issue has been family values.

One line that stuck with me, fair or not, is you’d expect a great gardener to have a beautiful yard. How can Sarah Palin speak for the Religious Right and their abstinence only education when it clearly hasn’t worked out well for her own family? This pregnancy could be a very good thing for the future of condom use in the United States. Its a little offensive to me that the spokeswoman for the political party that says responsible, loving gays can’t be good parents, or get married, has a family thats such a mess. Perhaps Sarah Palin should focus on supporting her own family instead of supporting wedge issues like homophobia.

The best part about this Republican Convention so far (and Sarah Palin has yet to give her speech… or indeed ANY interviews with the media yet), is that as a citizen of Connecticut I have heard the death knell of Joe Lieberman’s political career. Joe addressed the assembly of mostly old white people and cemented his reputation as a hypocrite and a rat. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bet some moolah on Sarah Palin withdrawing her V.P. nomination.