Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Trails to Me

Today is my last day at Vault. It's been a good run; I had fun.

As of Monday, July 9th, I'll be a Senior Associate Editor at Meetings & Conventions magazine. I'm psyched.

So ... to anyone out there in TV Land who might be so inclined, no more sending stuff to my Vault email account, nor the physical Vault address.

Also, I'll be on Martha's Vineyard from tomorrow, June 29th, through Saturday, July 7th, without access to email—so if you wanna get in touch, give a ring on the ol' cell phone.



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Overheard in New York

"I can make you talk like an Indian."
"I went in that Internet cafe the other day and it was really sketchy."
"How many are you? You? You? C'mon."
"You're still a soldier in your mind ..."
"But nothing's on the line."
"Excuse me. I just want to look at the menu. Excuse me."
"I think what it is is it's a way of detachment."
"I'm trying to finish before I leave. I shouldn't care, but I care."
"Well, apropos of your sister's trip to Cairo."
"It smells like updog in here."
"What's updog?"
"Not much, man, what's up with you?"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yes, Virginia, there is a mustache

It was August 2002, the hot ass-end of summer, and I had just moved from the East Village to Williamsburg. I had barely moved into the place when I took off on a cross-country bus trip on the Green Tortoise.

I had a goatee at the time. The trip was two weeks—down the Eastern Seaboard, through the South and Texas, and into the Southwest, where we hiked the Valley of the Gods, Zion National Park, and more. I smoked up in the desert among the prickly pears with one of the bus’s drivers (named "Razz") and wandered real high through Carlsbad Caverns.

The last stop on the trip before dropping folks off in Bakersfield and continuing on up to San Francisco, where Green Tortoise is based, was Vegas. I had never been to Vegas before. Like I said, I had a goatee at the time, and had not shaved for the whole two weeks—so I was looking pretty scruffy. I thought it’d be good for a joke to shave my shit off and have only a mustache in Vegas, so at a gas station outside of town I bought some Bic razors and shaving cream. Put it in a brown paper bag and, when we got to the Strip, went with my brown paper bag into a very nice, plush bathroom in the Bellagio, right off the casino floor.

Now, I’d been on a bus for two weeks, so I was pretty rough-looking. So I’m in the bathroom of the Bellagio, people coming in and out, and I lather up my face and get to cuttin’. And cutting, my friends, it was. I dunno if you’ve ever tried to shave off a full beard with a Bic razor, but it don’t work so good. But anyway, I get about halfway done—I’m bleeding all over the place—and suddenly I realize how sketchy this looks: like I’d just fucked over some people at the poker table and was now trying to change my appearance.

They didn’t call security on me, though, so I finished “shaving”—more like hacking through jungle underbrush with a dull No. 2 pencil—and emerged, fully mustachioed, into the cool Bellagio. I took up with the curly-headed girl in black that I was hollerin’ at and we went to play blackjack. The mustache stayed for the rest of the trip and has stayed since (save for one drunk night on a dare).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Every once in awhile, a rumor would make its way around town—town being McMurdo Station, on Antarctica’s Ross Island—that a penguin or two had wandered into our rough-hewn hamlet. Not being accustomed to seeing much besides humans locomote in these environs, our ears would prick at these reports and we’d rush out on break from the galley to see the little Adelies in their self-important huff and waddle.

The short, fat little black and white birds looked like nattily attired, curious tourists as they poked their beaks around town and we humans watched, rapt, but kept our distance. The best way, though, to see an Adelie was when out on the white, flat, endless expanse of sea ice when you’d see one rushing, Alice and Wonderland White Rabbit-style, headlong toward some very important date for which the bird was, invariably, late.

Other than the Adelie (our immediate corner of the continent lacked the Emperor and Chinook penguins found elsewhere on the Ice), our only other oft-seen cohabitants were the seals and the skua birds.

The seals—fat, grey, impassive yet, in a way, graceful creatures—you’d see sunning and lazing in groups of three or four out on the sea ice. Sometimes pups—from their happy, near dog-like faces you’d understand why they were called that—would be with the adults, who would raise up from their flop and look at you purposefully if you got too close. But we rarely got too close, out of respect for the wild environment and the Antarctic Treaty.

Lastly, the skua birds, or just skuas, were scavengers that looked a bit like dirty gulls and had no natural predators, and so were utterly unafraid of humans. They would walk right up to you, entirely unruffled—or, more likely, if you were carrying food, divebomb you, Ride of the Valkyries-style, when walking between buildings. They were ornery neighbors, but we took it all in stride and enjoyed the chance to see these charming, sometimes cantankerous beasties in their natural habitat—after all, we were the visitors; they, unlike we humans, could survive and indeed thrive on that harsh continent.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


... if you haven't yet seen the final episode of The Sopranos.

OK, I warned you.

I posted this just a minute ago under this thread on

Amazing episode, and entirely true to life: most of the time in life, not all that much happens—not even to trigger-happy mobsters. My roommate, brother and I were on the edge of our seats for the final seven minutes in the restaurant, as every little look from someone looked like a hit coming: but it never came. That's the hell that Tony has devised for himself—not a hell handed down by the universe, but one of his own making, wherein neither he nor his family will ever be truly safe.

But, he lived; and things were going pretty well for him and his immediate family there at the end. And that's life, that's what David Chase & Co. have been trying to tell us (among other things) all along: the universe does not punish bad deeds or reward good ones; it is what it is, and there's no old man up in the sky throwing lightning bolts or sending bread from heaven, however much we may want to believe that.

I think that what Tony "got" during his peyote trip out in the desert was that, yes, there is another plane of existence, another something out there, but—like the sun that flashed at him, it is indifferent to what we do on this earth. We may come from somewhere, but whatever that somewhere is doesn't have any feelings one way or the other about what we do here. This was the only true way The Sopranos, given its entire preceding run, could have ended—no matter how many red herrings David Chase threw us along the way.

Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in this incredible show—which, if I may be so bold, deserves to be mentioned alongside such great and timeless works of art as Ulysses, Guernica, Citizen Kane, et al. Job well—and, most importantly, honestly—done to the very end.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My dad's thoughts

on high school reunions, the attending of:
At some point everyone should attend at least one just to experience the experience. Kinda like eating Jello—perhaps fun while being slurped but not too satisfying afterwards—but, hell, it ain’t natural to live in America and not experience Jello.
Well said, Dad.