Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Few Derby Thoughts 

No one roots against Steinbrenner more than a Yankee fan. Thank you, racing Gods.

I bet against Giacomo because of the colors. Aqua and purple? I don't think so. On the other hand, $102 for a deuce. Maybe I should rethink my spring colors.

That whole chick on horseback interview thing is so lame. "How do you feel about winning, Mike?" So local news.

But that's a hell of a microphone she had, wasn't it?

I did a show in Lexington, once. I don't remember the name of it; it was one of those made-for-dinner-theatre comedies. I was the funny guy. The get-the-girl guy was named Dickie. He had been a defensive back for Harvard and a collegiate wrestler. The one time we wrestled he dislocated my shoulder. He talked me into going horseback riding and he talked the stable manager into giving us thoroughbreds by telling him what great riders we were. I'd never been on a horse before and only a few times since. If you've never done that you don't know that much about acceleration. Lamborghinis and thoroughbreds; same feeling. I'm here, my GI tract is back there. I stayed on, that's about the best I can say. Dickie and I went to Keeneland, a few times, but we never went to Churchill Downs. I had a crush on his sister. He could talk pretty much anybody into pretty much anything. But he couldn't act for shit.

But it's a great day for bourbon. Mine is Wild Turkey. For the sole reason that it has a cork top. I like the sound when you open it.

Thank you and good night.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Faking the Irony 

I had a pal in high school named Steve. Steve, Bill, Kenny, Roger and I were what passed for the underground in Brick, New Jersey in the early sixties. The avant garde. Which is to say Bill got us physically ill trying to smoke banana skins and I won a prize for painting a picture of "The Agony of An Ingrown Toenail." Like I said, Brick, New Jersey. Just up the road in Freehold Springsteen was finding his groove. We were doofs.

Bill was a total brain, Steve was smart enough and I added whatever confusion and lack of impulse control that was missing from the others.

I thought Steve was cool because there was not, even at age fifteen, an unironic bone in his body. Everything that came out of his mouth sounded like a homily on conventional values, but everything that came out of his mouth was a goof. He was incapable of so much as a casual observation that was not fundamentally anarchic. You can see how appealing that would be to a suburban adolescent.

We graduated in 1966, spilling into our respective seats of higher learning, doing what kids do when they get out of the house, which is breaking our lives into small pieces and throwing them into every dark corner we could find as if they would never run out. This left us vulnerable for the national wave of disassociation that crested over our heads in 1967 and 1968. Bill was flung into a commune somewhere, Roger and Ken were among the earliest freakonauts in Haight-Ashberry, but Steve kind of disappeared for a few years.

When I saw him again it was a year or two after college. He was exactly the same guy in a completely different way. The irony that was so characteristic of him had been cooked into conviction. He said the same things in the same way about the same things, but now he meant them. When he went into a riff about his career path it wasn't a Jon Stewart routine, it had an undercurrent of fear.

He had looked me up to offer me a job. In the many intervening years I've forgotten whether he was working as a PI, working for a PI or trying to become a PI. Or something else. He wanted me to tail a guy to find out if he was cheating on his wife. He gave me an address for the wife just a few blocks from my house and told me it would be a couple days work at $20 an hour. I decided to do it for two reasons. First, I have always loved detective stories and wanted to write them. A little on-the-job-training sounded like a good idea. Secondly, the new Steve confused me. Maybe his humor was just getting more subtle and complicated. Or maybe he had been been faking the irony before and what I was seeing was the real Steve.

I went to see the wife. It was the middle of the afternoon and she was quite attractive, but coming apart. She gave me pictures of the guy, the suspected inamorata and his cars along with a few addresses. She kept squeezing her hands like she was milking a cow. I remember that very well.

I followed him for two days. He was bigger, older, rougher and angrier than me. I sat outside his office in my '62 Rambler wondering what I would do if he came out and asked me what the hell I was doing. I didn't come up with anything. I followed him to the other woman's house for what I presumed was a nooner and back to the office. I followed him to a tavern that evening and sat across the circular bar from him. No one met him and he talked to no one. His face was hollow and set all the time like a guy who just heard the worst news of his life. You wouldn't want to come up behind and tap him on the shoulder. I followed him home.

When I settled up with the wife she gave me a couple hundred dollars and wanted me out of her sight instantly. Okay with me. I had absorbed more misery and rage in the in the last two days than, up to that day, I knew existed. It was exhausting.

I have no idea what happened to these poor people, but I did go through a divorce about ten years later so I eventually lost the bruisable membrane I had at the time.

I did learn that this was no line of work for me. I just didn't have the hide. I'm still wondering if you can fake irony.

Mandate This 

The Prop, at Coffeegrounds, deserves a wide readership. I don't know if he has one, but he oughtta. Jersey bloggers are aware that he is a public official and his wry accounts of what happens when a sense of humor is confronted with local Jersey politics are illuminating.

His post today, Blood From A Turnip, is about why he wouldn't be on the school board if you put a gun to his head. And unfunded state mandates.

Recommended for the strong of stomach.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Science News 

Fausta, at Bad Hair Blog lifted the following from Samizdata. It's too good not to steal.
Samizdatistas are posting on the discovery of the heaviest
element yet known to science, governmentium.

Governmentium has one neutron, 12 assistant
neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy
neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312
particles are held together by forces called morons,
which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like
particles called peons.

The scientists must have been working in New Jersey. I
found (via SmadaNek) this article from The Last Angry
Men, The Trenton Circus: Government Unrestrained
from last March, which will give you an idea of why the
"atomic mass" of Jersian governmentium continues to increase.
Here in Jersey Governmentium bonds with Korruptonite. You know, the green stuff.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

You Want Nan With That? 

Garth, at America's Outback, muses on a proposed hike in New Mexico's minimum wage that would jump labor costs for some businesses as much as 40%.

Here's what caught my eye, though:

Did you know that at an increasing number of fast food
joints, when you drive up to the microphone to place your
order, it has become cheaper to send your voice elsewhere
and then send the order back, than to have someone
actually take the order there on the spot? They already
send some from some parts of the country to Colorado:
How long before we send them to India? Wouldn’t it be
a hoot if this bill sent our Sonic orders over to, say, Texas
for processing?
It's true.

Which sort of poses the question, are there nooks and cranies of the service industry which are, for cultural reasons, so inaccessible to your average Indian as to render outsourcing impossible? The information hot-line for the Brahma Bull Riding Association might be one. I'd say suicide hot lines, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone's tried it. They tried outsourcing the word processing department at my law firm to India and, I'm pleased to say, it was a complete disaster.

Read the whole thing, though. It's an intelligent and, to my mind, even-handed discussion of the minimum wage issue.

The Boss 

Dan O'Byrne posts about once every three or four months. But it's always worth reading.

I'm a Jersey guy who couldn't care less about Bruce Springsteen. Dan cares about him, though, and writes about it.

Probably Not Very 

Via 2Blowards:

How Normal Are You?

You Are 55% Normal
(Somewhat Normal)

While some of your behavior is quite normal...
Other things you do are downright strange
You've got a little of your freak going on
But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

55%? Below my expectations.

Here's Michael Blowhard on the freakishness of normalcy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Melissa Holloway 

Tris McCall is providing an huge public service to Jersey City voters by running a series of interviews with the candidates for mayor.

Today I read his interview with Melissa Holloway, former Ward F councilwoman. She comes off as intelligent and plenty rough enough for Jersey City politics.

What interested me the most was her take on the business curfew.

TM: The recent curfews have hit Ward F harder than any
other part of Jersey City. Have business owners complained
to you about the effect of the lockdown on their bottom lines?

MH: No, no businessman has come up directly to me and
said that the curfew is hurting them, but I can see that
consumers are irritated. Consider: we are now forcing
people to leave town at night to get goods and services that
they used to find right on their street corners. We now have
to tell a mother who has run out of Pampers or milk at
eleven o’ clock at night that she must go to another city to
get what she needs. But my bigger problem with the
curfew is its philosophical implications. Imposing a curfew
means that we, as a city, are surrendering to crime. Instead
of taking the fight to the criminals, we are shutting down
our city blocks and giving up. It’s up to the police to be out
here on the streets, making our neighborhoods safe.

Ms. Holloway ran on Bret Schundler's ticket in his last victory. She's not a philosophical ally of Schundler to say the least, but she worked well with him. For Healy to get my vote he'll have to demonstrate a marked independence from the Hudson County Democratic Organization. Otherwise, I have an alternative.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Be True To Your School - But Not This Year 

Good Lord. I leave town for a couple of days and Shabe over at The Jersey Side is thinking of going over to the dark side and voting Republican in the election for New Jersey Governor. I would congratulate him for his evolution, er, I mean, intelligent design, but I'm guessing he woke up the next morning and shook it off. Shabe is a nice man so I offer my experience as encouragement.

In 1992 I was so honked off at Bush 41 that I voted for Clinton in a fit of pique. In 1998 I would have traded that vote for a digit. Now, I'd still like the stain off my record, but I wouldn't go higher than a nice meal.

All I'm saying is that crossing-over doesn't alter your DNA. Sooner or later, probably sooner, the beneficiaries of your apostasy will remind you why you belong in a different tribe. Meanwhile, stay a bit, have a drink, enjoy. We have much better parties.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Some People on My Side of My Gums 

You get to a certain age and, man, things start giving way like you were a $1000 car. In the past six months my teeth have been blowing up like the warrenty gave out six months and one day ago. They're like firecrackers with damp fuses going off in my mouth. Pop, pop, fizzle, fizzle, pop. Three root canals and two in the last month, right next door to each other like they're discouraging each other from holding their crap together. Oh, the hell with it. Pop.

I got bad teeth from my mother. That and poor hearing. Otherwise we get along great.

Dentists have always been a problem for me. I once got a front tooth knocked out rehearsing a scene for Mr. Roberts. The tooth sheared away but the whole nerve was still there, dangling. The guy who knocked it out took me in his car to the nearest dentist, which I thought was nice since I was covered in blood down to my waist. We went in, the receptionist looked at me and goes "Do you have an appointment?" The son of a bitch wouldn't take me.

A few years later the same crown fell out while I was doing a show in Little Rock. There was a dentist across the street and I had to get it fixed by 7:30. I get in the chair, the doc seems okay, but as soon as he gets his hand into my mouth he says "Any nigras in that show of yours?" I was in that chair for most of an hour and that cracker-assed moron didn't let up for a second. Jews this, homos that. I never ran into anything like that in the south before or since and it has to be a guy with a high-speed drill halfway down my throat.

Another time I walked into a dentists office in Bayonne for a root canal. I don't know why I picked the guy. I'm pretty sure it was for no reason in particular. I knew the second I walked in it was all wrong. Shabby office, incredibly hostile receptionist, no assistant. He would stop in the middle of working on me, go to the shelf, pull out a book, consult it for ten minutes before returning to me. "Just want to make sure" he'd say with a grin. You're probably a lot smarter than me, but sometimes I find I cling to my bad decisions with a tenacity lacking in defending my best interests. It's why I'm not such a good poker player. Come to think of it that one turned out pretty well as this guy did a good job. Or not so well if you concider it reinforcement for my bad decision management.

My daughter's dentist is a babe and a doll, naturally. Wouldn't happen to me in a million years. I brought Grace in a week ago Saturday and she saw I was suffering from one of my firecrackers and wrote me an Rx for Tylenol 3. Didn't help, but in this case, I did appreciate the thought. The dentists I've had have been typically lacking in that sort of compassion.

I like the guy I have now. He's good, but the main reason is his office handles all the insurance business with no fuss and he lets me pay him off as slowly as I want. And at $1600 a root canal that makes for a very loyal customer.

Here's the Country Road Lodge where we stayed. Posted by Hello

Lane and Grace With a Soccer Ball and the Mighty Hudson in the Background Posted by Hello

With Sandi, One of Our Hosts Posted by Hello

The Eponymous Road Posted by Hello
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