12-19-04, 6:01 PM -

It's the Sunday before Christmas in Borough Park. Which is to say that it's Hanukkah. Has been all week, as evidenced by the menorahs on display in every window on my block. I must say, for all the things I don't like about religion, holiday decoration is something I enjoy quite a bit. Menorahs particularly. They're very elegant, in a way that Christmas decorations are not, although crass cheesiness in home decoration is in fact one of the chief pleasures of an American Christmas.

My Christmas will be rather more subdued this year, as I mentioned last time. No visits home to Texas, no time off of work, just something else to call a Saturday. We've put up a $1.00 christmas tree on top of the cable box, and per our household's non-denominational nature, we removed the angel on the top and replaced it with a dollar bill bow tie (deanpence's idea). Truly Christmas in America.

Outside, an old Lincoln Continental has been cruising the streets for the last few hours, blaring some sort of Hebrew message over a loudspeaker. Who knows, it could be a follow-up to the anti-internet posters I've seen plastered on telephone poles around here lately. On these screeds, an indescribably old rebbe warns us that the internet may seem very useful (much like the printing press), but is in fact the path to oblivion. I'll buy that. I haven't yet come up with a use for this.



In the alley outside my studio window, the world's tiniest and cutest black & white kitten focuses her giant round kitten eyes on me. Jehosafat is asleep in her old shredded cloth office chair, or she'd be giving the interloper the Alger Hiss treatment. The Wifely's on the internet in our bedroom, compliments of our newfangled broadband and wireless network jive. Makes me feel like goddamn George Jetson & all. Actually, more like Stallone in Demolition Man.

Tomorrow's the first 20-degree-high-temperature day of the season, and as always, I'm totally unprepared. I've been working on a new hairdo which doesn't take kindly to toboggan hats, so I gots to get me some earmuffs. There are really few things that look as preposterous as earmuffs, but I now understand their utility, and they're common enough around here that I may not feel like Napoleon Poindexter wearing them around.

It's hard to grow a new hairdo, particularly when it involves any substantial length. After subsisting on simple side-parts and modified Caesars for the past few years, I've decided to grow it semi-long again. No halfway-down-the-back business like I had in college, but something a little flowy. Time will tell if it's more of an asshat than a coif, but it's worth trying.

After last weekend's haircut on the Upper West Side, I took the advice of a subway billboard and visited the New York Historical Society's Alexander Hamilton exhibit. Helluva place they've got there, and quite informative. They had to run me out at closing time after three hours, which is longer than my usual museum threshold. The foyer kinda scared me, though, when I inadvertantly found myself between two pistol-wielding bronzes of Hamilton and Aaron Burr, commemorating their duel at Weehawken.

Periodically, I'll hear some sweaty fucknut proclaim that they wish dueling was still legal. Invariably, these are fat, wheezing blowhards who would be challenged and shot dead within days of such a practice being reinstituted under law. I say let's go for it. Make it a reality show hosted by Ted Nugent. The winner gets shot by one of Ted's arrows, then cooked and served with a side of reindeer sausage. It's low-fat that way.



Part of the Society's collection was a batch of drawings, paintings, and woodcuts of New York through the ages. These are always very interesting to me, because they remind me of an important function that an artist serves: Capturing moments. As an artist who receives rather less than a truckload of fiduciary compensation for my work, I do have to remember that the vast majority of art throughout history has been created without monetary reward of any kind. And yet it is valuable, for in its absence, we would have a much cloudier view of our own history and culture, not to mention the histories and views of other cultures. While it is important that art transcend its time, it should not be completely devoid of elements that created that time. It's something to shoot for, and I'm glad to be reminded of it.

Speaking of capturing moments, I've decided to unearth a nice little relic of my final days living in Texas back in 2002. This month's Acoustic Surprise is a nice little cover of Pink Floyd's Fat Old Sun, recorded in my old bedroom at my parents' house in Weatherford right before I left. I think it captured that sense of separation anxiety and cautious hope that characterized that time, and besides, it's a hell of a tune. On the track, I'm vocally aided by my pal Nancy Giammarco, who graciously drove in from Grand Prairie to take this and her vocal parts on Bring Me Safely Down and Symbiotic Angel in the same session.

Remember, each Acoustic Surprise is only up for two months, so download while ye may. Also, I do still have some copies of the JournalCon '04 Sampler, featuring my cover of Warren Zevon's Mohammed's Radio and also the instrumental The Wandering Jew, Part I. Send me an address and it's yours.

(offer has passed now - ed.)

For those of you in the New York area, I'm providing my services as a bass player for two acts during a big fundraiser for the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls this Tuesday, December 21st. It's at the Bitter End, and features my friend and Naive Music labelmate Dorian, for whom I'm playing bass. Kimberly Perry, Dorian's drummer, is the organizer for the event, and I'm also playing bass with her other band, the quite personable Klunk United. Klunk goes on at 1AM, and Dorian at 1:30, though the show starts at 7:00, and there are a big shitload of great bands on the roster, so come early and donate all you can. The gig info is here.

And information on the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls is here.

Come out and help those girls rock. Whatever your reasons. No, scratch that...



7:04 PM -

Kind of a short letter this time around, being that I've got a headache and I have to wrap gifts to send to Tejas and elsewhere. This picture up on my shelf of a sleepy-eyed Serbian Orthodox saint of uncertain identity isn't helping. My Serbian debating friend Maja was so kind as to donate that to us last Christmas, and this year she took me on a shopping spree at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I'm not much of a spree man, but I did get this scented candle that the cat thinks is rather tasty, so it's burning out of her reach on the CD shelf which I also picked up at the BB&B. Hooray, Maja. Way to keep busy while your husband farts around in San Francisco. Her husband who should send me a letter very soon for my readers' enjoyment, nudge, nudge.

In completely unrelated news: For the past week, I've had this overwhelming urge to buy the Lord of the Rings trilogy and watch it for nine hours straight. What a fucking dork.

That's it, I'm officially out of information. Talk soon, and Merry Christmahanukwanzakuh. Or as we're calling it, Saturday Before Payday. Shalom.



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the matthew show