30 November 2007

it's easy...

so it turns out i wasn't at my desk bringing you the cheese and the skinny this morning. nor did i bring you any news at all, let alone all that was fit to print.

there is a very good reason for this-- me and the wife took a long walk down to the social security office, kind of where the tenderloin meets union square, in the first of a three- pronged offensive* to change her name officially to mine. also we had some returns to do at bloomingdale's.

i have been thinking about yesterday's column and thought i would try to say something nice about religion, people's religions, etc., and i came up with this: i was very honored to give the second reading at one of my best friend's wedding's church service a couple of weeks back [i've mentioned this wedding several times now] and i wanted to share with you the beautiful reading i was asked to give.

a reading from the first letter of saint paul to the corinthians

brothers and sisters:
strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

but i shall show you a still more excellent way.

if i speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
i am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
and if i have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if i have faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, i am nothing.
if i give everything that i own,
and if i hand over my body so that i may boast
but do not have love, i gain nothing.

love is patient, love is kind.
it is not jealous, is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick- tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
it bears all things, believes all things
hopes all things, endures all things.

love never fails.

the word of the lord.

now that's not so bad, right? and john lennon reiterated it well, i think, a little later on when he summarized and said, "all you need is love". and that's all i'm saying, people. there's nothing you can do that can't be done. nothing you can sing that can't be sung.


ps. i am off to go see i'm not there with the wife in a minute and i couldn't be more excited. hope you all are staying warm out there.

*the other two prongs? her driver's license, and then all her credit cards. after that she's mine!

29 November 2007

jesus fuckin' christ...


between this ridiculous lil' tidbit and the poor british teacher who's going to jail, i was most of the way through a rather hostile polemic regarding organized religion, referencing john lennon and benjamin franklin and christopher hitchens and amerigo bonasera with the whole "i believe in america" thing*, and how i'm going to rename all of my cockrings muhammed and that jesus as an idea i guess i don't mind but i don't want to hear another fucking word because seven times outta ten anybody actually referencing jesus is just going to wind up saying something hilariously antithetical to what they say jesus said...

...turns out i was just hungry. i took a dinner break and now i'm cool.

i've missed you badly, however [talking to you, d--], and will be at my desk first thing tomorrow morning to bring you the cheese, the skinny, and all the news that's fit to print. until then: word is born, and keep your unit on you.


*plagiarizing sarah vowell. yes, i know.

25 November 2007

l.l's.d.p. vol. III...

at this point, i will be so happy when this debaucherous weekend is over... i just can't do it anymore. i have eaten and eaten and drank and drank. i feel like i look like a late- period orson welles and have achieved a girth somewhere close to that of the state of missouri. there is a non- profit called heifer international that my wife is currently reading about aloud, sitting across from me at the table, and i'm thinking seriously of changing my name to heifer interntional as well.

anyway, i hope that you have all been well. this morning finds me at my in- law's house [we drove in yesterday morning for a big reunion- type thing] and as such i have little time to share with you*. i'd like to accomplish something here today, however, and so, without further adieu, i present to you a special thanksgiving weekend- hangover installment of l.l's.d.p., specially dedicated today to my in- laws: thank you for letting me crash last night and also for letting me marry your daughter.

1] we are trying to have a baby, by the way.

2] my vegetarian alter- ego.

3] aquarium drunkard and athens.

4] in anticipation of xmas shopping.

5] you gotta have a sense of humor about these things.

i will be back on the horse tomorrow, folks. until then, i'll be thinking of you. and fat.


*i'm going to skip the cliched minutiae of how pejorative i find the word 'blog', by the way, but suffice it to say that i do and that furthermore i'd simply like to refer to my sharing with you here as 'an independent online column'. okay then.

24 November 2007

bad news...

sadly, i want to let people know that ted, the owner of the grit in athens, has died. you can read more about it here.

i didn't know ted at all-- met him a few times-- nevertheless my heart goes out to his family and friends back in athens. what a shame.


23 November 2007

turkey bunnies, con't...

Word of the Day for Friday, November 23, 2007

postprandial \post-PRAN-dee-uhl\, adjective:

Happening or done after a meal.

A gourmand who zealously avoids all exercise as "seriously damaging to one's health," he had caviar for breakfast and was now having oysters for lunch, whetted with wine, as he fueled himself for a postprandial reading at the Montauk Club in Brooklyn.
-- Mel Gussow, "The Man Who Put Horace Rumpole on the Case", New York Times, April 12, 1995

When I wake up in the morning, I can have my usual breakfast -- a slightly bizarre concoction of three kinds of cold cereal topped with grapes and a cup of decaf -- and then stagger back to bed for a postprandial snooze.
-- Sylvan Fox, "It's Less Hectic Staying Put In One Place", Newsday, April 3, 1994

Postprandial is from post- + prandial, from Latin prandium, "a late breakfast or lunch."


i ate and drank way too much yesterday and as such the neurons in my brain simply aren't firing as quickly as i'd like. i give you the venerable woody allen in my place.



(After reading Dostoevsky and the "Weight Watchers" magazine on the same trip)

I am fat. I am disgustingly fat. I am the fattest human I know. I have nothing but excess poundage all over my body. My fingers are fat. My wrists are fat. My eyes are at. (Can you imagine fat eyes?) I am hundreds of pounds overweight. Flesh drips from me like hot fudge off a sundae. My girth has been an object of disbelief to everyone who's seen me. There is no question about it, I'm a regular fatty. Now, the reader may ask, are there advantages or disadvantages to being built like a planet? I do not mean to be facetious or speak in paradoxes, but I must answer that fat in itself is above bourgeois mentality. It is simply fat. That fat could have a value of its own, that fat could be, say, evil or pitying, is, of course, a joke. Absurd. For what is fat after all but an accumulation of pounds? And what are pounds? Simply aggregate composite of cells. Can a cell be moral? Is a cell beyond good and evil? Who knows-- they're so small. No, my friend, we must never attempt to distinguish between good fat and bad fat. We must train ourselves to confront the obese without judging, without thinking this man's fat is first- rate and this poor wretch's is grubby fat.

Take the case of K. This fellow was porcine to such a degree that he could not fit through the average door frame without the aid of a crowbar. Indeed, K. would not think to pass from room to room in a conventional dwelling without first stripping completely and then buttering himself. I am no stranger to the insults K. must have borne from the passing gangs of young rowdies. How frequently he must have been stung by cries of "Tubby!" and "Blimp!" How it must have hurt when the governor of the province turned to him on the Eve of Michelmas and said, before many dignitaries, " You hulking pot of kasha!"

Then one day, When K. could stand it no longer, he dieted. Yes, dieted! First sweets went. Then bread, alcohol, starches, sauces. In short, K. gave up the very stuff that makes a man unable to tie his shoelaces without help from the Santini Brothers. Gradually he began to slim down. Rolls of flesh fell from his arms and legs. Where once he looked roly- poly, he suddenly appeared in public with a normal build. Yes, even an attractive build. He seemed the happiest of men. I say "seemed," for eighteen years later, when he was near death and fever raged throughout his slender frame, he was heard to cry out, "My fat! Bring me my fat! Oh, please! I must have my fat! Oh, somebody lay some aoirdupois on me! What a fool I've been. To part with one's fat! I must have been in league with the Devil!" I think that the point of the story is obvious.

Now the reader is probably thinking, Why, then, if you are Lard City, have you not joined a circus? Because-- and I confess this with no small embarrassment-- I cannot leave the house. I cannot go out because I cannot get my pants on. My legs are too thick to dress. They are the living result of more corned beef than there is on Second Avenue-- I would say about twelve thousand sandwiches per leg. And not all lean, even though I specified. One thing is certain: If my fat could speak, it would probably speak of a man's intense loneliness-- with, oh perhaps a few additional pointers on how to make a sailboat out of paper. Every pound on my body wants to be heard from, as do Chins Four through Twelve inclusive. My fat is strange fat. It has seen much. My calves alone have lived a lifetime. Mine is not happy fat, but it is real fat. It is not fake fat. Fake fat is the worst fat you can have, although I don't know if the stores still carry it.

But let me tell you how it was that I became fat. For I was not always fat. It is the Church that has made me thus. At one time I was thin-- quite thin. SO thin, in fact, that to call me fat would have been an error in perception. I remained thin until it was my twentieth birthday-- when I was having tea and cracknels with my uncle at a fine restaurant. Suddenly my uncle put a question to me. "Do you believe in God?" he asked. "And if so, what do you think he weighs? So saying, he took a long and luxurious draw on his cigar and, in that confident, assured manner he has cultivated, lapsed into a coughing fit so violent I thought he would hemorrhage.

"I do not believe in God," I told him. "For if there is a God, then tell me, Uncle, why is there poverty and baldness? Why do some men go through life immune to a thousand mortal enemies of race, while others get a migraine that lasts for weeks? Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered? Answer me, Uncle. Or have I shocked you?"

I knew I was safe in saying this, because nothing ever shocked the man. Indeed, he had seen his chess tutor's mother raped by Turks and would have found the whole incident amusing had it not taken so much time.

"Good nephew," he said, "there is a God, despite what you think, and He is everywhere. Yes! Everywhere!"

"Everywhere, Uncle? How can you say that when you don't even know for sure if we exist? True, I am touching your wart at this moment, but could that not be an illusion? Could not all life be an illusion? Indeed, are there not certain sects of holy men in the East who are convinced that nothing exists outside their minds except for the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station? Could it not be simply that we are alone and aimless, doomed to wander in an indifferent universe, with no hope of salvation, nor any prospect except misery, death, and the empty reality of eternal nothing?"

I could see that I made a deep impression on my uncle with this, for he said to me, "You wonder why you're not invited to more parties! Jesus, you're morbid!" He accused me of being nihilistic and then said, in that cryptic way the senile have, "God is not always where one seeks Him, but I assure you, dear nephew, He is everywhere. In these cracknels, for instance." With that, he departed, leaving me his blessing and a check that read like the tab for an aircraft carrier.

I returned home wondering what it was he meant by that one simple statement "He is everywhere. In these cracknels, for instance." Drowsy by then, and out of sorts, I lay down on my bed and took a brief nap. In that time, I had a dream that was to change my life forever. IN the dream, I am strolling in the country, when suddenly I notice I am hungry. Starved, if you will. I come upon a restaurant and I enter. I order the open- hot- roast- beef sandwich and a side of French. he waitress, who resembles my landlady (a thoroughly insipid woman who reminds one instantly of some of the hairier lichens), tries to tempt me into ordering the chicken salad, which doesn't look fresh. As I am conversing with this woman, she turns into a twenty- four- piece starter set of silverware. I become hysterical with laughter, which suddenly turns to tears and then into a serious ear infection. The room is suffused with a radiant glow, and I see a shimmering figure approach on a white steed. It is my podiatrist, and I fall to the ground with guilt.

Such was my dream. I awoke with a tremendous sense of well- being. Suddenly I was optimistic. Everything was clear. My uncle's statement reverberated to the core of my very existence. I went to the kitchen and started to eat. I ate everything in sight. Cakes, breads, cereals, meat, fruits. Succulent chocolates, vegetables in sauce, wines, fish, creams and noodles, eclairs, and wursts totalling in excess of sixty thousand dollars. If God is everywhere, I had concluded, the He is in food. Therefore, the more I ate the godlier I would become. Impelled by this new religious fervor, I glutted myself like a fanatic. In six months, I was the holiest of holies, with a heart entirely devoted to prayers and a stomach that crossed the state line by itself. I last saw my feet one Thursday morning in Vitbsk, although for all I know they are still down there. I ate and ate and grew and grew. To reduce would have been the greatest folly. Even a sin! For when we lose twenty pounds, dear reader (and I am assuming you are not as large as I), we may be losing the twenty best pounds that we have! We may be losing the pounds that contain our genius, our humanity, our love and honesty or, in the case of one inspector general I knew, just some unsightly flab around the hips.

Now, I know what you are saying. You are saying this is in direct contradiction to everything-- yes, everything-- I put forth before. Suddenly I am attributing to neuter flesh, values! Yes, and what of it? Because isn't life that very same kind of contradiction? One's opinion of fat can change in the same manner that the seasons change, that our hair changes, that life itself changes. For life is change and fat is life, and fat is also death. Don't you see? Fat is everything! Unless, of course, you're overweight.


[excerpted from the book Getting Even. a very special thanks to all involved in making the san francisco henderson's inaugural thanksgiving day celebration such a memorable one. also to mr. allen's attorneys...]


22 November 2007

turkey bunnies...

very quickly, i wanted to say first that i apologize for not being in touch these last couple of days. i'm sure you understand.

additionally i'd just like to wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday. i have alot to be thankful for this year [as always], one of the most fundamental being that i am able to sit comfortably in my chair, listen to jeff buckley swoon about kingdoms and the "sweetness of her laughter", and communicate with you. have a great day.

Word of the Day for Thursday, November 22, 2007

deipnosophist \dyp-NOS-uh-fist\, noun:

Someone who is skilled in table talk.


19 November 2007

14 july 2007...

what a terrific morning i'm having.

i've spent it [after getting up especially early and hitting the treadmill] looking through one of my best friend's wedding photographs, reliving not just her wedding*, but, in the process, our own as well.

i am especially proud of our wedding. i consider it one of the crowning achievements of my life so far, in fact. the trick my wife and i were able to pull off, what i'm most proud of, was that never did we compromise the vision of how we wanted to present ourselves to the world and that, in the end, all of those decisions [so minutely detailed in some cases, and agonized over-- planning a wedding is hard work] worked out so well.

it was a real coup, one i've come to think of almost allegorically... don't be afraid. trust your instincts. don't acquiesce. shakespeare said it best when he said, "this above all: to thine own self be true".

all this as i was pulling off the most incredible trick of all, getting my wife to marry me in the first place.

what a terrific morning i 'm having.


*i know a thing or two about stunning brides, and if there ever was one [besides mine], she was it.

18 November 2007

l.l's.d.p. vol II...

i'm going to have to make this quick, but i'd just like to say for the record that i am a man of my word. this installment of l.l's.d.p. is, as always, dedicated to messrs. smith, katzin, and thornton and to media gems. hope everyone had a great weekend.

1] my friend scott is a smart guy.

2] don delillo on september 11th.

3] at least it's not a fucking banana republic.

4] me and the wife just started composting at our house.

5] sidney blumenthal is still a god.

let's do this again soon.


real quick...

hello there everybody. i want you to know that i fully intend on keeping my promise to deliver another l.l's.d.p., but i need to get out of my house and get some errands done. in the meantime, please check out this post from glenn greenwald in salon today.

keep in mind that i like both thomas friedman and maureen dowd, but he's got a helluva point here. hope you enjoy.


17 November 2007

woolgathering abides...

the wife and i went and saw the coen brother's new movie, 'no country for old men', last night. to a large degree, we both loved it. but i'll get to that.

i've seen many, but not all, of the coen brother's films. my first, as i'm sure many of yours, was 'raising arizona'... what a great movie [i'm going to skip the plot exposition and just assume you've all seen it]. all at once zany, whimsical, and just downright otherwordly, yet it's the underlying sadness of a childless woman and the consequent gravitas of the actions that such a situation can force one to take that really, for me, give the movie its individuality. or my name ain't nathan arizona.

which brings me to a point: is there another modern- day screenwriter/ screenwriting team, besides maybe quentin tarantino's first couple of scripts, that display the kind of pinpoint command of dialogue that the coen brothers do?* i mean, it must be so fun being an actor in one of their movies due to the countless fuckin' great lines that those guys provide.

take 'miller's crossing' for instance. "what's the rumpus?"... "givin' me the high hat!"... "take your flunky and dangle"... are some of my favorites, but the entire script is punctuated with great, great lines-- i mean the way 'casablanca' was. 'miller's' takes place in 1920's chicago, and if you haven't seen it, and you like gangster movies, do yourself a favor and track it down. but don't put it on in the background-- you gotta really be present to fully enjoy it [a warning: it is on the violent side]. it might, in fact, be my favorite coen brother's film.

i hesitate, only for 'the hudsucker proxy'. first of all, let's just say kudos to the fact that this film is both pg- rated and so highly enjoyable. i don't get that much for movies that i've seen for the first time as an adult. but this movie would be spoiled by foul language or scatalogical humor; it's a throwback, like 'miller's', to a different age and time. the cast is great: tim robbins, paul newman, and jennifer jason leigh [who still scares my wife, fifteen years later, from her role in 'single white female'] all play their oversized parts with the correct mixture of oxygen, and, overall, the acting throughout is superb.

the movie deals with many binary themes: naivete vs. cynical greed , trust vs. betrayal, the little guy vs. the corporate behemoth. in fact, two of the characters, who literally symbolize good and evil [though, cleverly, the traditional and cliched color assignments are inverted: the 'good' man is black, and the 'evil' man is white] eventually duel it out at the top of a clock tower, on new year's eve, with all the gears and such whirring about them, in a fight to basically save everyone's soul. i mean, that's fuckin' epic for a rated- pg movie, right? and it's about the birth of the hula hoop!

such is 'the hudsucker proxy'. it is a brilliant movie: highly stylized, witty, and just really really entertaining. it, again, alongside 'miller's crossing', is my favorite coen brother's movie.

i know what you're thinking: what about 'the big lebowski'? the simple answer is that i don't even count it. 'lebowski' is in another category entirely, the one with 'star wars' and 'goodfellas' and 'dr. strangelove' and even, yes, 'the godfather'. movies so high up in the pantheon of greats that they only deserve to be spoken of within that same company. i mean no disrespect to francis ford coppola here [or the coens, for that matter], but it's not like you talk about 'apocalypse now' and 'the rainmaker' in the same context. basically it's the same thing. there are all the coen brother's movies, and then there is 'the big lebowski'. i can't tell you how different a trajectory my life might've taken had it not been for this film. i've developed friendships centered entirely around this film. i've saved myself from boring as hell conversations and perked up parties with this film. i've had really special moments with roommates and assorted friends staying up way too late with this film. this, i'm sure, is universal among all champions of 'the big lebowski'. i would stake my living room rug on it.

unfortunately, i do not feel the same about the coen's 'o brother, where art thou?'. while it is a movie that is a part of my collection, i'd like to say that i never really got it [full disclosure: i never read 'the oddysey']. i basically love anything george clooney is a part of ['good night, and good luck' and 'michael clayton' are both excellent films] and john tuturro especially is one of my favorite character actors ["look into your heart!"] and still 'o brother' left me kinda cold, especially hot off the heels of 'the big lebowski'.

this hot and cold brings me to 'fargo' and 'no country for old men'. released eleven years apart, both movies are very similar in feel and subject matter. [again i'm going to skip plot points, but] 'fargo', obviously, takes place in the tundra of north dakota, where the locals talk funny and are simple people. 'no country' takes place in the desert of west texas, where, well, where the locals talk funny and are simple people. but to leave it there misses the point: the coens don't aim to mock these localities and the populations that inhabit them. instead these destinations and indigenous peoples are, in fact, held in the highest regard, as they offer a fantastic, benevolent, and stark counterpoint to the horrible main characters trespassing on what's left of a still- innocent american dream.

both movies are tense, gripping, and violent, eschewing ambiguity and pretense. neither movie leaves you with an exactly pleasant feeling when the credits start to roll, which is not to say that you leave unsatisfied. but the coen brothers pay their respect to the vanquished and dead by not wrapping everything up in a nice little bow for you, which i respect immensely.

go see 'no country for old men'. and see 'fargo', as well, if you haven't already. and while i'm at it, i'd like to simply thank the coen brothers for their contribution, for their integrity, and ultimately for their intelligence, and for trusting ours.


ps. i know that i had promised a l.l's.d.p. today. i hope that you can wait until tomorrow.

*although the more that i think about this, i'm not even sure that tarantino comes close. for the coens see that their dialogue fits whatever temporal patois is appropriate and at the same time they make sure that it is steeped in the necessary local color. like method dialogue, in a sense: they, for me, take it a step further. you can intuit that these words are thoroughly researched and painstakingly chosen. to me, great contemporary writers like tarantino, wes anderson, david mamet, and aaron sorkin all have their own styles and signatures and let their characters speak from that. the coens do the opposite. they figure out who the characters are, and where and when they live, first, and then choose their words accordingly, which i think is infinitely more assiduous and difficult.

16 November 2007

"reality has a well- known liberal bias"...

feeling good today. excited about the weekend.

i have a basic morning routine: i'm up by about 8:30 every day, and my wife usually has already made coffee. i grab it and a bowl of honey bunny cereal [yes, there actually is such a thing... and it's delicious] and head to my office. and then comes my favorite moment of the morning: the online information onslaught. i fire up the ol' macbook, put on kqed, and in one fell swoop up comes the ny times page, google news, salon, slate, and the huffington post*, like old friends dropping in for a chat.

i'm a current events fucking junkie. i need it, it's like a drug. i gotta know what's going on with the 2008 campaign. i gotta know what's going on with the bushies. i gotta know what's going on [or, more often, what's not going on-- talking to you, speaker pelosi] in congress. i gotta know what's going on in iraq. i gotta know what's going on with movies about iraq. i gotta know what the fuckin' crazies on fox are saying about the movies about iraq. it goes on and on.

i'm sure i'm nowhere near alone in this, and probably don't even have it half as bad as some people [maureen dowd, for instance, has said she reads about ten newspapers a day and three news magazines a week]. people i know-- my wife included-- think i'm ridiculous, but i don't care. their argument is always something between, "what's the point" and "it just depresses me". and that's fine, it's just not the way i was raised. the henderson's were a news family. 60 minutes on sunday night. christ, my dad worked for cnn for something like ten years [albeit in sales]! and since the advent of fox news, forget about it. my parents' television hasn't left the fox news channel since the elian gonzalez debacle. dick cheney watches less fucking fox news than my parents**.

it's important, i think, to be kept abreast of what's going on in the world***. i think, for instance, that if the general populace were better- informed day- to- day, it wouldn't take something as terrible as hurricane katrina to wake them up to the fact that the bush administration has really been the worst thing to happen to this storied republic since the civil war****.

"reality," stephen colbert reminds us, "has a well- known liberal bias."

have a fantastic weekend and stay tuned for l.l's.d.p. tomorrow!


*salon and the huffington post are definitely my two in- depth favorites. it's a better and more palatable mixture of entertainment/ pop culture and hard news for me, rather than the mostly stuffy grey lady or the droll, math-y rss feed of google news. slate is an afterthought for me most days, the stepchild that isn't as good at sports, isn't as funny, and doesn't get the kind of grades that my real kids get. still, they're at the table every night for suppertime, and you have to feed them.

**god bless 'em.

***the fear and loathing of fox news does not count as anything but opinon- based pablum, always aimed below the belt at people's most baseline psychological ticks. it's yellow journalism at its worst, and watching it gets you no closer to being an informed member of society than watching animal planet. but you probably knew that.

****i've told myself that i want to be more or less apolitical here on woolgathering, dear readers, but i just think that needed to be said. and it's true.

15 November 2007

this land is your land, this land is my land...

i was two paragraphs into an eco- friendly xmas gifts post this morning when i started getting a bad taste in my mouth, and here is why: i think that i am experiencing full- on green backlash.

i've always considered myself a pretty green person. as far back as michael stipe's public service announcements on mtv [remember those?] go-- and i was like ten when those started-- i'd like to think that i was at least parenthetically aware and in support of the environmental movement. even through my severely misguided and narcissistic teen years i was the kind of person who would rather put his stubbed- out cigarette butt in his pocket and wait for a trash can than throw it on the ground.

by my early twenties i was a full- blown hippie radical-- christ, does everybody go through that?-- adamantly anti- shoes/ showering and vehementally pro- frisbee/ the wailers. i was a fucking puppy*. and, as night follows day, this was also probably, regrettably, my most agressively didactic green period.

thank god for ok computer. i was about 23 and that album showed me the light and really got me out of the whole hippie thing for good [although i still to this day think the grateful dead were amazing]. my indie rock chapter was in its nascency and it was around this time that i started getting into politics: i set up a table in front of earthfare [a grocery store not unlike whole foods, but smaller] and fruitlessly collected signatures trying to get ralph nader on the georgia ballot. i spearheaded a recycling effort at the five points jittery joe's [me and one other person took turns daily taking all the empty milk jugs, creamer containers, coke bottles etc. in a grocery cart to earthfare's big recycling bin]. i wrote pete mccommons, the editor of the flagpole, a letter describing my efforts and why was earthfare the only business in five points that recycled? i was a green god. i was going to save the planet.

okay, so i was still a bit of a puppy. but hey i'm thirty years old now and i'm still a bit of a puppy. i'd like to think that my sunny optimism and naivete constitute some of my best and most defining characteristics, and that on most days they trump the hell out of snarky cynicism**, or worse, apathy, thank you very much.

sadly, my late- twenties were more or less defined by my single- minded, self- destructive wish to be keith richards, even through the early stages of my relationship with my future wife***. still my commitment to environmentalism ["the force is strong in this one"] never waivered. and i didn't really care about anything during this time.

fast- forward to today and the modern environmental movement is bigger and more prevalent than ever before. i mean it's fucking everywhere. and, of course, i realize that at the end of the day that's a great thing. but to me, it's almost like that band that you really liked that nobody knew about puts out a catchy single and suddenly you're hearing the muzak version of it in the waiting room of your dentist's office [talking to you, modest mouse's 'float on'. the new album is awesome, though, guys. way to get me back].

basically my fatigue has a color... and that color is green. such is my distaste for the mainstream. that being said, i am tickled pink that vice president gore won a nobel prize and that the mass consciousness surrounding global warming is at least as pervasive [i hope] in our culture as, say, perez hilton and the biggest loser.

i guess the moral of the story is be careful what you wish for. because the environmental sea change needed in this country needs to be on an oprah winfrey/ american idol- type scale, and by then i'll really be fucking sick of it.

have a great day, and thanks, as always, for sharing your time with me.


*coincidentally, it was during this period of time that i actually got a puppy. i still consider it one of my biggest regrets, as i'd never had a dog growing up and consequently had no idea what to do with him upon bringing him home from the vet. the myopic and haphazard manner with which he was raised produced pretty nervous and undisciplined results that just got more and more difficult to deal with over time. that being said, he was a great dog. hodges, wherever you are, you were the best. i wish i would have done better by you, boy.

**jon stewart, the most genius satirist of our time [alongside stephen colbert], does that just fine.

***i love you, honey.

14 November 2007

drinking in the afternoon/ l.l's.d.p. vol I...

good morning, dear readers. sorry to have missed you yesterday.

yesterday's no- show [no- blog?] was due to that two friends and i went to the anchor brewery and did the tour, and i just have to say that if you live in sf and have not gone, or are going to be in town and have the two hours, i highly recommend that you do so. reservations are needed, as they keep the tour parties small, but it's all totally gratis and they even serve you after it's done and let you hang out. special thanks to our tour guide, lindsay, who seemed like just the kind of person you wanted to spend an afternoon drinking beer with.
-- drinking in the afternoon.

shifting gears [especially since i do not have a lot of time this morning], i'm going to introduce our first installment of leveraging lee's del.icio.us page [l.l's.d.p.], where i pick out a couple five things that i've found interesting or edifying and repost them for you all to enjoy. and, as always, i'd like to dedicate l.l's.d.p. to cory, brick, and edward-- the fellas behind media gems-- for letting me in and teaching me so much about web 2.0... for without them, none of us would be here right now.

on to it, then, shall we?

1] an interview with alice waters

2] portland/ indie rock

3] hilarious/ indie rock

4] sidney blumenthal is a god

5] also hilarious

hope you all enjoy. tune in tomorrow-- same bat time, same bat channel.


12 November 2007

every day should be veteran's day...

good morning, everyone. it is a beautiful day here in sf.

today is veteran's day. the united states is in the middle of two wars. chances are if you are reading this, you are safe and sound somewhere, in your home or at your office or at a luxury coffeeshop drinking overpriced tea. i'd just like you to think about that for a second.

here are three easy things you can do to celebrate veteran's today:

1] make a donation...



2] write a thank- you card...

A Recovering American Soldier/ Marine*
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

3] make sure you're
registered to vote.

i didn't mean to sound so harsh in my opening paragraph [and i'm as guilty as anybody of drinking overpriced tea, metaphorically- speaking]. i guess my hope is, if nothing else, that everyone today really takes a minute and thinks about the direction we've taken as a country. for our servicemen and women, whatever your feelings on the wars, are the core of this nation-- the embodiment of our strength. what kind of a country are they even fighting for anymore? what kind of a country did those who fought and died do so to protect?

what does the word 'honor' mean to you?


*a Marine is different from and is never called a soldier. i don't think lots of people know that.

10 November 2007

five from the vault...

good morning, dear readers. this morning finds me listening to a jeff tweedy bootleg* and looking through old song lyrics of mine. and since the main impetus for my writings here [besides, of course, self- indulgence and misguided attempts at humor] are to keep creativity in motion [slow motion: 'thelogians'] and exorcise my stage fright, i thought i might take this weekend opportunity to share some of my older writings with you. these are in no particular order.

fat man & little boy.**

[...like the moon now, nothing but minerals.
the stones were hot. everybody else
in the neighborhood was...]

fat man & little boy walked through the garden,
the flowers all avoiding their gaze.
fat man & little boy walked through the garden,
leaving oiled footprints in their wake.

fat man & little boy sat on the hilltop,
their bloodshot eyes like little stars.
fat man & little boy sat on the hilltop,
drunk with with flagrant disregard.

[...like the moon now, nothing but minerals.
the stones were hot. everybody else
in the neighborhood was...]

fat man & little boy made their way on home,
proud of their day in the sun.
fat man & little boy made their way on home,
pleased.. so pleased with what they'd done.

but there was no one left to go home to,
everyone else had gone away.
all the trees in the forest and the children in the chorus
had been neutralized by the flames.

[with both a bang and a whimper we were all shocked and awed.]

living now.

"there's no telling time," he said.
"just an empty road and my saxophone...
burned my home.
all my pictures and telephones."

"the whores in their sunday best are
following me out the door.
but they can't come.
i'll go alone.
i deserve this now."

"i'm on my cloud.
world's behind, and my music loud.
see you around...
all this time and i'm finally living now."

"little fears have now all left me
secrets and shame i leave behind.
i might write, still i'll try but for me
there's no more telling time."

"i'm on my cloud.
world's behind, and my music loud.
see you around...
all this time and i'm finally living now."


sister love and the princess twins were walking proudly down the street
just like beautiful bridesmaids blowing kisses at the priest
taking delight in the sailor's eyes as they slowly make their rounds
always drinking for free and laughing as they melt all the snow in town

well the man in the moon and his mistress have been parading around rome
making love and drinking champagne while his faithful wife she waits at home
and even though all her cookbooks tell her that everything is going to be fine
the day's gonna have to go down in divorce when from the truth comes out the lies

karma comes to those who wait and don't honor their end of the deal
chesspawns in a game of chance that they really believe ain't real
see the main and the moon and his mistress certainly got their's in the end
and the same can be said for sister love and the beloved princess twins

song in november.****

she left the room in a fit of rage... he stood there motionless, not knowing what to say.
he never knew she felt that way, he said he would've changed.
he knew she was the world to him and that that world had to remain.

for weeks he couldn't sleep... days without a bite to eat.
there was nothing anyone could do to keep him standing on his feet.
everywhere he looked he saw her, knowing he'd never see her again...
all the stones he'd thrown and now all alone and all the letters he never sent...

all the letters he never sent...
all the things he never said...
foolish pride now given way to regret.

all that's left now's november, that ragged bitch of wind and cold...
an empty bed... a broken head... making rainmen out of snow.

digging through the trash

there's no spending money on our salvation...
there's little left of the foundation.
there's no blame, only shame, dressed- up and drove us away from the things
we used to be.

it's a certain kind of sadness attached.
the only things now that i have left...
a broken promise,
an empty home.

[altogether]... all alone.

we used to be the songs i'd sing...
a lucky guy had everything.

now i'm sleeping on sand,
and digging through the trash.

i'm not proud of what i've done...
and i'm not proud of what i've become, either.
i just get up in the morning now.

we used to be the songs i'd sing...
all that time meant not a thing.

now i'm sleeping on sand,
digging through the trash.

we used to be the songs i'd write...
blanket warmth and candlelight.

now i'm left blind on the sidewalk,
pencils in my cup.

we used to talk like human beings...
you used to love the songs i'd sing.

now i don't sing anymore.

we used to laugh like little ducks...
we used to love each other once.

we used to love each other.


hope you enjoyed those. looking forward to the next time we meet.



**special thanks to kurt vonnegut.

***this is my oldest set of still- active lyrics. i wrote them over ten years ago and they have been through so many different permutations and whatnot that by now they gotta feel like nicole kidman's face. i've never been able to decide on a suitable chorus.

****my second oldest set of still- active lyrics... i remember writing them in a friend's apartment in athens in probably the winter of 1998. they still evoke a little bit of sadness to me, which is something i'm really proud of. special thanks to ee cummings.

*****i've been rewriting this one since i first posted it, but am stuck on that line. sorry.

09 November 2007

my aim is true...

wow i was a part of the coolest thing last night.

undoubtedly the two main non- family/friend reasons i love sf so so much are the weather and the live music. that it is an epicurean wonderland, populated by truffles and unicorns, is a close third, and that i feel like lots of people here byob to the grocery store* also sincerely pleases me and helps me believe that all is not lost.

but last night i got to see elvis costello perform his debut record, 'my aim is true', in it's entirety [favorite quote of the night: after 'sneaky feelings', elvis quipped that it was "time to flip the record over" before going into 'red shoes']. the performance was held at the great american music hall, a wonderful venue where i've seen maria taylor, midlake, thurston moore, and of montreal. many of you will most likely remember it from the tweedy solo show segment of 'i am trying to break your heart'.

backing him was none other than clover-- the band that played with him on the original recording-- adding to the significance of the evening. i went with an out of town friend [in town fortuitously and available when the wife bailed on me] and when we got there at 9:15 [doors were at 9:30] there already were two huge lines, broken up by last names a-l and m-z. it was all will call [why on earth do they call it that?], which i'll always tolerate and accept because i know it's an anti- scalper thing** but a pain in the ass nonetheless, but by 9:50 or so we were in the line for the bar and all was well. after a short set that started promptly at 10:00 by two older gentlemen whose names i never caught, the man himself hit the stage.

i have to stop for just one second-- and i don't want to turn into a jerry seinfeld/ dennis miller thing here-- but last night i was stuck behind some asshole in a porkpie hat, blocking my view. okay i get that these hats are supposed to be timeless, and i may even have a something similar that i wear from time to time, but, once indoors, formalities require gentlemen to remove them, don't they? it's what would've been done in sinatra's day, and isn't that supposed to be the fuckin' point?

sorry about that. so like i said, elvis & co. hit the stage around 10:40 or so and they did their thing. he [and they] sounded great, and even from behind the walking anachronism i could tell that he wasn't having to rely too much on the music stand in front of him, something i always kind of wince at [talking to you, lou reed]. he was funny and nostalgic, for obvious reasons, telling great stories from before he was elvis costello***: about how spoiled and luxuriant he felt staying at the howard johnson's [he called it a 'hojo', which in and of itself was pretty rad] in mill valley on his first tour, having come from the traveler's hell that was london, england at the time, and of battling the better- than- average- sized rats in the recording studio where they all did the very album we were there to celebrate.

in short, he was affable, gregarious, and he played a great set. he did a few acoustic numbers solo as an encore but nothing i recognized, as he basically said he wasn't doing anything from before 1977.

and the whole thing was a benefit for the richard de lone special housing project, a new non- profit "with the mission of working toward providing a state- of- the- art residential group home setting in marin county, california, capable of serving both children and adults with prader- willi syndrome and utilizing best practice techniques to serve the prader- willi population. by extension, we hope to be able to benefit all people who need to live in special care facilities".

"prader- willi syndrome [pws] is a rare and random complex genetic disorder affecting appetite, growth, metabolism, cognitive function and behavior... our goals are twofold: to raise public awareness... and to raise funds... to give these kids, who have such a tough prospect in life, a chance to enjoy themselves".

so there you go, dear readers. elvis costello did his job last night and i hope i've done mine just now. please go to www.pwsusa.org or www.rdshp.org to make a donation. have a great weekend.



**also i have no choice.

***his given name was declan mcmanis. and i knew that off the top of my head. also i know the given names of sting [gordon sumner], slash [saul hudson], alice cooper [vincent furnier], and elton john [reginald dwight]... i have no idea why.

08 November 2007

brought the fog with me i guess...

good morning, dear readers. i slept later than i had intended to today.

since my first few posts have centered on athens, georgia [as i'm sure many future ones will], i'd like to shift gears and talk a little bit about how much i love san francisco, the place where i hang my hat. or i guess you could say that san francisco is where my wife lives, and that home to me is wherever she is [awww...]. last week we were back on the east coast in both atlanta* and north carolina** and this trip solidified, just as sure as that jerry fallwell is in hell and that pat robertson is next, how felicitous our living in san francisco is.

i mentioned a second ago that my wife let me sleep in a little bit this morning [she gets up everyday around seven, i don't]. i'm a heavy sleeper, like the bush administration in the middle of a national disaster. sometimes i even sleepwalk and do funny things: if we're ever in a bar together, ask me about to regale you with some of my funnier somnolent adventures.

subsequently it turns out that, as anyone who has ever lived with me will now attest, my internal body clock has always been set to pacific standard time. i can not tell you the peace this simple fact-- and a fact it is-- brought to me. that for twenty- eight years, living in the southeast as i did, i'd been fighting forces beyond my control, things like circadian rythms and sleep inertia and confused arousal. no wonder i'd been so fucked- up for so long, you know?

so again, the wife and i were back east last week and i was just not myself. not the person i am when i'm at home in sf. i was irritable as hell in the daytime, especially as it pertained to the overabundance of stupid fucking traffic, and drunk as hell in the evening, especially as it pertained to it no longer being daytime. this went on for days and never exactly seemed to relent. i was making my wife crazy. i longed for the fog and fucked- up beauty of sf.

by the time the weekend rolled around the beauty and excitement of the wedding festivities was enough to temporarily ward off any bad mojo brought on by the problems with my body clock. it was a beautiful weekend all around, from the bride to the autumnal leaves to having all those wonderful people [re: my crazy fucking friends] within arms reach.

that being said, it was such a relief getting home. home to sf, where my body breathes easy and is at peace. home to sf, where i wish all the people i was with last weekend lived. home to sf, where i am the luckiest guy in the world.


*i was born there, twice: once at northside hospital in september of 1977 and then again at a bar in midtown in july of 2004 when i met my wife.

**seeing one of my best friends marry an absolutely awesome gentleman. i only wonder if they'll have physically fit, freakishly- attractive blonde babies.

07 November 2007

the jacket @ the watt on the 'tunes...

good morning, dear readers. i hope that you slept well.

let me begin this morning by telling you about this incredible free podcast i found on itunes last night: my morning jacket live at the team clermont pabst blue ribbon ball at the 40 watt in athens, ga. incredible, right? for those of you that don't fully get it, let me explain some the moving parts to you:

most importantly, my morning jacket is an incredible, incredible band. they are great practitioners of what i like to call the rawk, which can be defined as simple unabashed sonic joy played out of one's guitar, bass, and drums. and lack of a throaty singer is a rawk deal- breaker. we're talking led zeppelin here, people. we're talking the who. we're talking jane's addiction. we're talking the ramones and we're talking sleater- kinney.

it pains me deeply that the jacket did a run of new year's shows here at the fillmore-- by far the greatest musical venue in the western hemisphere, including the aforementioned watt-- just before i moved back from athens. and that just as soon as i did move back to my beloved san francisco, this show was announced. it's almost like i'd spent every sunday morning in church for absolutely nothing. then i remembered i hadn't been to church on a sunday morning since before i started masturbating [and feeling guilty about it automatically afterward]. in any case, thanks a whole helluva lot, jesus.

you see the pbr ball is a weekend- long, annual event put on by my old friends at team clermont. team clermont [full disclosure: i interned in their office one winter] is a company that basically gets indie rock and, occasionally, bigger- name acts [think r.e.m.] played on college radio. they have great contacts with dj's all over the country and they leverage those relationships basically, kind of like a corporate lobbiest would, except without all the soul- selling, exclusive country clubs, and dead hookers. some records i remember working on back in the day were grandaddy's 'the sophtware slump,' 'the mermaid avenue volume II' record, and one by the apples in stereo. and eminem was on the cover of rolling stone. and i was sent to the post office a lot.

anyway they've been, by all standards, phenomenally successful*, and the ball is a celebration of that. i think my first one was in 199-8? 9? i remember i took my girlfriend at the time, brittany, that trans am played, and that i borrowed a bow tie from lucas and never returned it. i still have that bow tie, in fact, i think.

and every year it's held at the 40 watt, the world- famous rock club where [albeit in a different time and place] r.e.m. got their start. some of my favorite live music moments of all time happened on its stage: sonic youth on the 'murray street' tour, the flaming lips** on the 'yoshimi' tour, 3/4 of r.e.m. playing 'so happy together' by the turtles with the entire crowd singing along during a doug haines benefit. i think i did a shot with gwen o'looney*** that night.

i guess the point is that listening to these shows this morning has jogged all sorts of sense memories for me. athens, ga was a great place to live. and i guess part of me wishes i'd held on for just two more months so i could've seen this show. knowing my wife is going to read this, i should stipulate that i'd rather be nowhere with her than anywhere else. and that the show gods have been incredibly generous [despite whatever that jesus guy has said about me behind my back]. but goddamn, man. that would've been some awesome- tasting cake. check it out on itunes.


*deservedly so. i wish the best to those guys.

**funny story about that flaming lips show. i knew this exotic dancer named 'kahlua' around this time [2001?] from bartending and whatnot. and when the lips came through town, maxim magazine gave them $500 to do whatever they wanted to with, and maxim was going to write an article about the results. so, brilliantly, they [the lips] got some baby pools, filled them with pepto bismol, and had my friend and some other chick go to town in them on stage during the show amidst the confetti and bear suits and all the other weird shit they had going on. it was a hilarious sight. almost as fun was seeing it in maxim a couple of months later [i read it for the articles].

***gwen o'looney is fucking rad.

06 November 2007


greetings and salutations to all you fine people out there, and welcome to the inaugural post of woolgathering!

very quickly, let me just say that this blog was borne out of two stimuli: commenting* about late- period r.e.m. records last night on the aquarium drunkard site, which is a hell of a music blog by the way [and there's a funny story about him that i'm sure to get to at a certain point**], and a dictionary.com email that i got the other day:

Word of the Day for Monday, November 5, 2007

woolgathering \WOOL-gath-(uh)-ring\, noun:

Indulgence in idle daydreaming.

[also i have a friend named jimmy who has a blog, and he's a great guy and everything, but if he can do it, i can certainly do it. i mean let's face it the guy's basically functionally retarded].

but back to what i was saying, i hope that you enjoy this intelligent whimsy, dear readers, and that in the years to come we can become great friends. because i feel like i have a lot to say, a lot of wisdom to share... and you people should fucking listen to it.

until next time...


*the aforementioned comments [unabridged]:

i am really looking forward to the new record. and i think that ‘new adventures’ is the best record that r.e.m. ever did, especially lyrically. that being said, you are really missing out on ‘up’– i mean the record’s a little more than left of center [’daysleeper’ and ‘my most beautiful’ notwithstanding] but it is not the cryptic mess everyone would have you believe. ‘apologist’ is nice for me to compare to ’so. central rain’ as far as the band’s progression goes. ’sad professor,’ ‘diminished,’ and ‘walk unafraid’ are really great tunes and the best tune on the record for me is ’suspicion’.

‘reveal’ i have fond memories of, living in athens the summer before september 11th. i remember bartending at the globe and missing that secret show across the street at the georgia theatre. i remember i was seeing this girl kelly and the video for ‘all the way to reno’ always seemed to be on at her house on mtv2. in fact, the more i think about it, ‘reveal’ to me is kind of cosmically, thematically, like the scenes described in the song ‘nightswimming’. drinking heavily at the manhattan and the go bar [once or twice actually with michael, though we’re not friends]. afterhours hot tub parties. meaningless-ish sex. i was about to turn 24. i, and also the world, was never innocent again after that summer.

‘around the sun’ to me is probably the least strong record r.e.m. has ever done. i don’t hate the record and have listened to it many times. that being said, i wish i liked it more than i do and it’s never really had that much of an impact on me.

so there you go, man. keep up the good day to day.

your faithful reader…

3 | lee henderson [the guy who used to have your old id] November 6th, 2007 at 12:23 am


**here's that funny story about the guy from aquarium drunkard: i'm a pretty avid reader of his blog but never really paid any attention to him personally, right? until one day i catch his name-- justin gage-- and an absolute powderkeg of memory exploded off of my computer screen. we know that i lived in athens, georgia from 1996 until 2003 and then again briefly in 2006. but way back in 1996- 1997 i was underage and could not drink in bars [athens, georgia, incidentally, is nothing but one big awesome collection of bars. any report of there being a university there is a gross exaggeration]. this problem, however, was easily circumvented by showing the doorman someone else's valid id, given that that someone else was of age and shared your hair color. well that person, for me, was justin gage, whom i've since contacted to tell this funny story to. neither of us have any idea how i actually wound up with his license, but i'd like to thank him here publicly for all the miller high lifes and maker's mark shots i imbibed while under his guise. keep up the good work, justin.