17 May 2007

My new alarm clock

I spent about 20 minutes this morning trying to get a still picture of this little guy, but my digital camera takes about half a second to snap after the button is pressed, and as you can see at around 9 seconds, that's not fast enough.

So yeah, there are birds living in the exhaust tubing that goes from our clothes dryer to the outside world. For the longest time we thought it was just one, but the other day I saw two of them in there at once. It might be kinda neat if the nest they're building wasn't rendering the dryer completely useless. Think about how shitty a dryer works when the lint trap hasn't been cleaned in a long time. Turns out a bird's nest has a very similar effect.

Anyway, in retrospect I'm glad I wasn't able to get a still photo, because the video provides a pretty accurate aural reproduction of what wakes me up every morning.

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07 May 2007

What You Crave.

White Castle, 8th Ave between 36th and 37th. Around 10 PM.

When you have a friend in from out of town, you find yourself doing things you might not otherwise do. And so, after a 6:30 showing of Spiderman 3 at 54th and 6th (which I mention only because if you've seen it, that's the intersection the police scanner squawks as the location of the crane scene) I find myself hoofing it some 20 blocks to White Castle. No trip to NYC is complete without it.

It's on a completely unremarkable block (for Manhattan): a few blocks north of Madison Square Garden and a few more southwest of Times Square. Nestled between an unremarkable sushi place and a Subway restaurant. There is a McDonald's across the street. If you want to use the bathroom, you need the person at the counter to buzz you in. A sign above the counter informs you that 20 minutes after you've ordered your food, you will be asked to leave.

"You got exactly 80 cents?" a guy decked out in a Superbowl-sized ring and flashy jacket asks me. "No, sorry," I say as I make my way to the counter, avoiding eye contact, past a girl asking to borrow her friend's phone: "Mine's dead and I need to call my bank and see if I can buy something."

I order my food. Andy orders his. And then the little man behind Andy orders, his voice tiny and thick with accent. The girl who borrowed the phone takes a seat and waits for her friends to order, apparently lacking the funds to partake. She starts singing to herself in honest-to-God the most amazing voice I have ever heard in person.

As we take our seat and begin to make our way through a sack of fries, dipping into a large-sized drink lid full of ketchup since dipping cups are nowhere to be found, a homeless guy approaches the counter. "I'm going to make a deal with you. Either you do me a favor and give me a few burgers, or I'm going to beg every person who comes in here for change until I can afford them." It works.

The little man who ordered after Andy sits down a few tables behind me with his chicken breasts. And the girl with the voice continues to sing. Andy and I chew.

The door to the street opens and a small group of high school aged kids walk in. The man with the accent and the small voice looks up from his food to greet them.

"Welcome to Hell," he says.

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17 January 2007

new york is cold but i like where i'm living

it feels like it's been forever since my last bizarre subway experience, so i guess i've been due for one. today at pacific street a guy got on with a crumpled yellow piece of paper in his hand, all smiles and handshakes, and introduced himself in the brokenest of englishes to me, despite my headphones.

i was understanding maybe one word out of every twenty, and a lot of those were the same few words over and over. he wanted my help translating a ticket he had just been written by transit cops (did you even know they really do that?!) for "reclining" on a crowded n-train. according to him, he just had his feet up, and the cops came over and asked his name and address and handed him a ticket. for fifty dollars.

he laughed it off though. told me how many hours of work at the restaurant it would be to erase it, and proceeded then to talk my ear off for the duration of my ride.

he said i had a nice face, that i would be popular in shanghai, where he was from. but that shanghai would make me miss new york. at this point in my smiling and nodding i think i might have agreed to visit him there.

he also went into a very detailed explanation of why it's important not to get married and at what age it becomes okay and mostly (i think) it came down to money but he kept saying "downstairs" and i don't know what he meant by that but i kinda doubt it's what you're thinking he meant. i really wish i could've understood more.

anyway, it was kinda cool. when i got up to leave he said "see you in shanghai" and i said "see you there" and then that was it.

oh yeah and he was wearing a bike helmet the whole time. no bike though.

my friend laura salierno has some photos up for the next month or so at a bar called punch and judy. i went to a reception there tonight and caught up with some people that i really should call more often. if you're around clinton street (there's music there all through the evening) you should stop by. one of the photos has me in it, which is kinda neat, if you're me. but all of them are really very wonderful.

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14 July 2006

all dressed up no place to go

there are statistics about how many hours of your lifetime you'll spend sleeping but i can't tell you the numbers because i do my very best to forget things like that. i think probably when all is said and done i'll have slept less than the average joe. maybe they can put that on my tombstone.

what i'd like to know is how many hours of my lifetime i'll have spent waiting. it seems all i ever do is wait these days. wait for a phone call. wait on the subway. wait for another phone call. wait at the bar. wait for something to happen. wait for something to happen. does anything ever happen?

the other day a guy on the subway asked my brother if he and i were in a band together. sean said "yeah" so i guess it's official. we're gonna make this back into a band soon. funny thing is that we were on the way to poker night which, for some ungodly reason, was theme poker night. everyone dressed up like a video game character. we went as billy and jimmy lee, from double dragon. sean won like $90. don't tell the irs.

anyhow, i'll try and find a picture for you. it was mortifying.

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07 May 2006

a lightswitch on my brain

one of the amazing things about living in new york but not living inside new york is that by nature of the fact that you spend so much time on the subway, you develop the ability to shut your brain down and then fire it right back up again at a moment's notice.

i can't sleep at night. i feel like i've spent a fair amount of time writing about this on here. i have nightmares (still the same shit) and the people who live below me never stop screaming at each other and slamming doors. but for some reason i can fall asleep like a baby on a 45 minute train ride full of crazy people and crying babies and (almost) always wake up just in time to get off at my stop. in fact, i think if i didn't take all these little naps on the subway i might have a real sleep deprivation problem. or maybe i'm being overdramatic.

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31 March 2006

ready set go

hey. i'm writing from the studio that record in. i'll be hopefully finishing "a viking's funeral" tonight (at least the recording part of it). assuming my voice holds up. this song promises to be more demanding than most others and i'm still recovering from something. but i'm going to give it my all. we'll see how it goes.

last night on the subway i saw an old couple sleeping on each other in knit hats and full winter garb. it was like 60 (fahrenheit) in new york last night. they looked so tired. so instead of just practicing looking tough at my reflection in the window like i usually do, i spent the ride trying to imagine their story. came here in search of the american dream from somewhere much warmer, and while they've managed to survive, it certainly hasn't been rags to riches. they don't speak english and their grandkids can barely speak their own native tongue. etc etc. very poetic.

that came out shitty because i'm distracted. i'm going to get to singing now, i guess. i set up the microphone upside down but i'm leaving it that way.

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02 February 2006

odds/ends

  • my friend rich plays in a band and he says he sees james iha out around town almost every week. then when i was incredulous he backed off of every week but still said he'd seen him at least 10 times in the past year. which is still a lot. where am i all these times? i would love to say something awkward to james iha. like "hey. did you play on siamese dream?" wtf.
  • a very nice lady named marilyn who i have lived across the hall from for probably a year and a half but never met until tonight asked me if i have a wife. because she never sees anyone come in or out of my place. uh...not really so much. nice to meet you though.
  • i was supposed to play poker tonight but then only three of us showed up so instead of playing poker we just drank a lot of beer and listened to tragedy rocks by the crimea about 4 times in a row while we talked about guy things that i dare not repeat here under penalty of death or worse.
  • fucking gross: a cockroach just crawled across my desk but i missed him. he was pretty big. i hate new york so much.
  • no i love it.
  • but cockroaches. god damn.
  • i rode the subway home and listened to stay what you are by saves the day so loud that now that i am in my silent apartment my ears are ringing but it was worth it. that record is such a winner. and now i'm going to sleep.

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29 January 2006

my candyland melted down to syrup

so i woke up kinda early today for a sunday. i'm probably going back to bed, in fact, now that i've done what i woke up to do. which was write.

wow. i guess it's good that i did it when i did, because now i'm sitting here trying to tell you about it and the words aren't really coming. welcome back writer's block, old friend. will you be staying long? the loveseat folds out into a bed.

it was a rollercoaster of a week. seriously. but i don't want to talk about it. you'll hear about it in songs in about 8 months. maybe longer. i've still got this record to finish. but you'll hear about it then. because i got up early today and wrote.

not very much of it rhymes. actually, if there's a rhyme in there it's an accident. when i sit down to set it to music i'm sure i'll have my work cut out for me. but i wrote and wrote and wrote and i think i got something down that came from the right place. and now i'm writing about having written and am i the only one that thinks that's a little weird?

i live in constant fear that i'm going to wake up one day and have nothing left to say.

today is not that day.

...

there're a couple stories worth telling from this weekend, but one is a bit fuzzy. i'm going to do my best.

i was meeting friends last night on the lower east side in the bar that we always meet at when we're meeting there because it's right outside the subway station. but since it was the weekend some trains weren't running right and one was theirs, so i ended up waiting in this bar for a pretty long time. these old irish guys from boston came and sat next to me at the bar and started asking me where they could find girls with loose morals aged 24-27. i said everywhere. so they bought me a drink and gave me their business card (they own a bar in boston, go figure). and then they spent about 20 minutes obsessing over my surname, and insisting that it's not really irish, but in fact from the scottish highlands. then when my friend showed up and confessed to having british blood they called him a motherfucker. i kept my mouth shut about the rest of my blood.

the other thing was much weirder. i'm waiting on the subway platform at 4am on friday night (or saturday morning, for accuracy's sake) to go home and you can infer my condition from the setting. there's a really cute girl next to me on the bench with one empty seat between us. she seems to be alone. so then this other guy stumbles over and sits down next to her and fixes his eyes on her for like 45 seconds. and she puts up her hood and looks really uncomfortable, and i'm thinking that chivalry is dead but i probably should do something anyway. so he gets up angrily after a while like drunk people do when they feel slighted, and stands a little bit away, stewing.

another kid sits down next to her and starts chatting me up. he's fresh out of college, says he went to school in boston, to which i reply i went to school in providence and then after a little dancing we both admit where we went to school which was kinda funny. he went to harvard. and he was planning on running in the idiotarod the next day, which my friends had been trying to talk me into spectating at, and he had just secured his shopping cart so we had something to talk about. around this time the drunk guy comes back and stands in front of this girl (who had been peripherally participating in our conversation), stoops down, and stares her right in the face again, maybe 4 inches between their noses. the train comes.

so when she sits down on the end of a row i sit right next to her, so the other guy can't. and she and i and the kid from harvard continue our conversation, which at this point has shifted to music. i had just come from seeing sam champion (they were good) and blah blah blah. our shady friend interrupts to tell the harvard kid that he really likes his shoes. really likes them. i turn to the girl and incredulously whisper "what is going on?"

now here's where it gets weird. it turns out this girl and some other guy who has kept his mouth shut the whole time and the aforementioned scary drunk were all friends, and they were actors. suddenly the guy wasn't drunk anymore, and he's palling around with us. and 2 stops later they all leave together. i feel like i got punk'd. who are these people? was this some sort of weird experiment to see if strangers would come to the aid of a damsel in distress? do i need to sign a waiver?

the harvard kid got off a stop later, and i'm pretty sure he wasn't in on it, but he certainly didn't seem to think it was as weird as i did. i think i gave him my business card.

so much for writer's block, eh?

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23 January 2006

i want to walk behind somebody's brilliant mind

i have given up on saying how just when i thought i'd seen everything... because living in new york is nothing if not affirming of the fact that in your whole life you don't have time to see even close to everything.

last night i was on the subway and a group of 10-15 kids got on and stood in a circle in the corner of the train and for the next 30 minutes or so that i shared a car with them they ceaselessly sang and danced and cheered. it was annoying for about 2 minutes, but then i (and everyone else in the car) got over our training not to ever look at anything happening on the subway and we all began to watch. and then we began to clap. and then a pretty old white guy got in the middle of the circle and took a turn dancing. and the subway operator kept coming out of his booth to watch between stops. and the old lady next to me slapped me on the thigh because it was so much fun.

i don't know how to describe the sound to you other than if you've heard the go! team (listen to "the power is on"), it was kinda like that if you take out all the music and just leave the vocal tracks in. really bizarre, cool subway ride.

in other news, i was just checking up on one of the bands i used to love back in the providence metro area, and they've really come into their own. i used to love seeing rooftop suicide club whenever they played in providence and i could get out to a show, and now they've gotten a lot better. they put up a few new demos on their myspace page and i really encourage you to go listen to "boston" and "captivated." if i could plug skills into myself like in the matrix, the first one i would do would be the ability to play pretty guitar leads like in "captivated." god damn.

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17 January 2006

rising sign

i'm not usually a "now playing on my mp3 player" kinda guy but i'm listening to mike doughty's skittish right now (the real one that he autographed for me and i gave him an awkward handshake and sputtered out some bogus shit at the met cafe in providence (r.i.p.) not the one you can buy in the store now but whatever they're the same). this fucking guy, man. i know you can hear his songs on gray's anatomy or whatever now and those songs are ok but seriously. listen to skittish. because he doesn't even come close on his current record.
"i've seen
the dangers of
your rising sign
but i swear
i'd like
to drink the fuel straight from your lighter
it's all inside the wrist, it's
all inside the way you time it
i resent the way you make me like myself"
if i ever write something that good please hire a ninja(turtle) to put me out of my bliss before it wears off on its own.

i saw an old guy on the subway tonight reading a schedule for queens library's english classes for speakers of other languages. he was underlining times he could make it, from what i could tell. for some reason it put a big fat grin on my face. i guess i just like people that do things.

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01 January 2006

off to a good start

i don't even know how many people live in new york city but it sure is a heck of a lot and on a night like new year's eve there's way more people even. so when you bump into people you weren't expecting to see on the subway it's kinda crazy. and it happened twice last night.

first some familiar faces without names from high school who i didn't talk to but did exchange puzzled glances with and then a few minutes later an old friend who used to live in nyc but lives in cleveland now and whose fiance apparently hates cleveland which is like the first thing i ever heard her say since i had never met her before. i've been there once and thought it was a nice little city for whatever it's worth.

add to that a totally awesome chicken parm roll from ben's pizza in soho, seeing a bunch of old and new friends at the kind of party people will be talking about for some time to come, and a renewed ability to talk to strangers, and you've got yourself a great new year's eve. the kind of night that just might turn me into a guy who gets excited about new year's eves in the future.

there was this one bogus thing where a guy who looked like he was on every drug ever wouldn't leave a few of us alone on the street and spoke complete gibberish but eventually he got pissed at us (thankfully didn't kill us) and ran off into traffic and a car almost hit him. but i guess all's well that ends well.

so far 2006 has a bit of serendipity and mystique surrounding it. which is nice. and i know really it's just another day but we think in terms of months and years and hours so that we can compartmentalize all the crazy shit in our lives and 2005 wasn't bad but if 2006 is better that'll be super and it feels really nice to be holding a pen and looking at an empty page.

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30 December 2005

new year's revolution

you've come a long way since last year but you have a long way to go. you've done things you can be proud of. you've perfected talking the talk. but you still can't walk the walk. and you've made some big mistakes and you've paid for them dearly. you're pretty smart, but far from wise. will this be the year you finally start to get it?

you've got friends shipping off to iraq and all you do is whine about dumb shit. nobody wants to hear it and all this hand-wringing is getting you fucking nowhere. it's only reaffirming in everyone's minds that you're a big crybaby which is how you landed where you did in the first place.

your hindsight is better than 20/20. try to develop your foresight, and maybe this year you'll make more good decisions than bad. try to see your mistakes before you make them instead of months after.

don't second guess yourself. it's counterproductive. think with your gut when you should think with your gut and think with your head when you should think with your head and tell all your other body parts to mind their own business.

it doesn't matter how you justify it to yourself on a case-by-case basis. you lie because it's easy. stop doing that. man up and take your lumps if you deserve them.

your dad taught you how to shake someone's hand the right way. now learn to look people in the eye and please for god's sake try to remember their names.

when a pretty girl smiles at you in the subway, just open up your big dumb mouth and say hi.

only say you're sorry when you mean it. people can always tell when it's bullshit. don't talk so much. listen. tell people who matter that they matter. stop chasing your tail you'll never catch it. it's not over until it's over but even then sometimes it isn't over.

you're 24 years old. grow up.

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11 December 2005

if you're gonna spew...spew in this.

i just wrote a pretty long post about how i barfed into a cup on the subway this morning but then i read it over and it was totally gross so i axed it. sorry.

life is about learning lessons, right? today i learned not to get onto a crowded train for a long ride if your stomach feels like a timebomb and whatever you're planning to do could be easily rescheduled.

i am going to spend the rest of the day in bed. i planned on recording, but that was then and this is now and now i'm sick.

the whistles go wooooo.

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03 December 2005

it's cold

raise your hand if you fell asleep and missed your subway stop tonight and then decided to walk home through a pretty shifty neighborhood up a really steep hill in the blistering-tits cold rather than wait for another train going back your way.

oh! me! oh oh oh! pick me pick me!

f.

glass half empty glass half full glass shatters.

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13 November 2005

i ain't no hollaback girl

i am too old for this shit. this is the 2nd night in a row i'm getting home at 4:30 am and i've perfected the art of the subway-pass-out-but-wake-up-before-your-stop.

honestly. what is wrong with me?

also, lest i forget my inadequacy: today's example of a song that is better than anything i can write is brought to you by say anything..."wow, i can be sexual too." should start playing automatically when you click that link.

max bemis might be completely f'd in the head, but he's still a genius.

goodnight.

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21 September 2005

don't be a hero, kid

thank you all for the comments you've had about the new song. i really appreciate the feedback (which has been mostly positive thusfar) and you should keep them coming. according to the surgeon general (and i'm fuzzy on the details here) commenting on lame blogs that emo kids write about their music may prevent aging. common side-effects include erect nipples in public.

so do please keep listening to that song and telling people that you know. i know nobody's heard of watched pots, but tell them to just give a listen.

[break]

tonight on the subway i almost saw a stabbing. i had headphones on so i'm not exactly sure how it started, but once it escalated to screaming i could hear it well enough and see it just fine (since i literally could've reached out to touch it).

the aggressor just pulled his shirt up to reveal a sheathed hunting knife on his belt and screamed "you see this? i'll fucking stab you. get out of this train." and he kinda chased the other guy (who looked scared shitless) into the next car. then he just sat right back down right next to me. and stayed there for about 4 more stops. nobody else in the car said anything. or moved.

the social psychology of the event is what really stuck with me. the fact that nobody moved, or even really looked worried. hell, i kept my fucking headphones on and was enjoying the music again within a minute of it being over. we're talking about a packed train here. and plenty of dudes that were bigger and badder looking than this punk kid with the knife (who wasn't any bigger than me, and if you know me, i'm not very big).

i mean, i'd like to think someone would've done something if the knife actually came off the belt. but shit. i know i sure as hell wouldn't have. it was just a sort of reality check reminder that i'm a big wimp and so is everybody else.

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