7-9-03, 8:08 PM -

Laundromat again. I would complain about having to come here, except that it's one of the only extended periods of writing time I have these days.

That, & Wifely's at home doing our taxes. Yeah, we wimped out in April and chose the futility of procrastination. And then I wimped out and chose laundry over math. Fucking math. Bluggha.

On my way here, I passed this pigeon I've been seeing for a few weeks. He's about the saddest looking animal I've ever laid eyes on, short of that deer I ran over once. This bird was either savaged by a subway rat or just got a bad molting gene, because the feathers on his head & neck are all wacky & sticking out at odd angles. He looks like an unkempt shrub, with weird little branches poking out in all directions. He's always the only bird on the block, so I figure the other pigeons are shunning him. Who knew I lived on the Boulevard of Unwanted Birds?

That may explain why our new bird feeder isn't getting any action. I put it out on the fire escape so the cat would have something to watch when we're out. Of course, maybe an evil cat grin in the window would keep 'em away more than Izzy the Nerd Bird. That & the bears.

Did you know that New Jersey has just authorized a big bear hunt this summer? Apparently the big critters are popping up in backyards & garages all over the place, though I doubt any could slip into Manhattan undetected. The cops'll shut the bridges down the minute any wino makes his way near a support structure, so I suspect a clawed furpiece the size of a Volkswagen would at least raise an alarm.

Although they did have some rogue roosters loose in the Bronx a few months ago. Probably cockfight refugees, too, so they could put the hurt on you. But they mostly just woke everyone up at ungodly hours, which is a trait they share with our beloved Jehosafat.

In my year of catlessness, I'd forgotten about the 5:30 wake-up call. And this time I can't just let her out, something which continues to frustrate the whole family. She just needs something to do.

Thus it is that this weekend, I begin work on the matthew show's Damned Cool Cat Track. I've already plotted out this network of carpeted shelves, I just have to measure for them & find a decent lumber supplier. There's one not too far from us, but he closes at 6:00 PM.

You know, people get all worked up about how Mom & Pop are being run out of town by the big retail juggernauts. Well, having lived in Mom & Pop Central for over a year now, I've decided I'm not going to feel sorry for them until they start making an effort to be open at hours when people can actually SHOP THERE.

I would guess that two-thirds of the people in this city get off work between 5:00 & 6:00, and are unlikely to be able to get home fast enough to patronize these crampy little overpriced linoleum shoeboxes before the owner closes up and heads off to stand on the corner. Oy.

I remember the big stink in Fort Worth years ago was that we Bigass Books people were killing off the locals with volume discounts & such. In actuality, we found that people were simply grateful for a place where an employee would actually HELP the customer instead of sitting on their tuckus and pointing.

Sometimes the Antichrist isn't the Antichrist, he's just smarter than everyone else.

(Wifely has a lovely rant on this subject here...)

Which brings us back to me. The fated moment is upon us: I'm sending my completed CD to the duplicator this week. The process will take a couple of weeks, but it feels good to set it in motion.

In the meantime, still waiting on the disc (which is available now, have a look - ed.). The official release date is pretty much whenever they put me up on Amazon.com, which is part of the deal I'm getting.

Wifely and I finished up the artwork last night, & it looks right spiffy. Cover art & credits are damn near the best part about albums, which is the only reason I lament the passage of the LP format. Big ol' canvases for artwork, those were, but time marches on, & I don't want to think about a dashboard player that size.

Sadly, I believe that album art and albums in general will soon go the way of Buddy Ebsen, so I'm glad I can still get in an anachronistic parting shot.

7-11-03, 5:47 PM -

On the 3 train. Still ain't the same as the ol' R, but I'm getting used to it. Had an interesting conversation with Tarim just before I left. I realize that I went all verbal apeshit last time about me & Tarim's unspoken hatred, but over the last few weeks, proximity has forced us to figure each other out a little bit. We're still not to butt-lovin' level, but that's mostly because he's too short (ba-boom-CHING!!).

What I discovered is that Tarim is a master at fronting. He's got the asshole jock thing down so well, you don't doubt for a moment that he would much rather be screwin' painted-up bitches and cranking Limp Bizkit than discussing anything approaching a real subject.

But what happened is what happens to a lot of younger people who work with me: He started trying to figure me out.

I'm not the job-devoted adult, nor am I the slacking kid, & it bugs the hell out of the 18-to-21's not to know what the deal is with this weirdo. And of course, his questions to me reveal a bit about him.

Firstly, the guy's got a lot of cultural baggage. He's an Arab, but he's also a Jew. He was born in Syria, writes & speaks Arabic, but went to a Jewish school. His mom works upstairs, one of the famed Babushka Squad (shows you how good I am at telling Eastern European accents from Arabic ones), and comes down to check on him at least once a day.

Those three things alone should be enough to fuck you up good, so I'm starting to give him a little slack. That & he hates One-Joke Louie (who, by the way, still hasn't tired of the "Meester Onderson" bit, for the love of Pete).

Strangely, it was my resistance to Bosslady Essie's continued prodding to stay past 5:30 that broke the ice block. I'd been telling her that I've got a second job, which is more or less true. But I'm never eager to have the "Oh, what kind of music do you play?" discussion with old ladies, so I just told her I was working on a book. Suddenly Tarim pipes up.

"A book? About what?"

Yeah, about what? "The Six Day War." Geez, don't choose a LOADED SUBJECT or anything.

"Really? Wow."


"So, like...what happened?"

What happened where? "In the Six Day War?"


"Well, you're the one who went to Hebrew school."

"Yeah, but I don't remember anything about that. I guess Israel won, huh?"


"Like, by a lot, right?"

"Yeah, it was pretty brutal."



And off we go on a whirlwind tour of Middle Eastern history. He actually seemed interested, and a bit surprised to find out that there are still Palestinian refugee camps left over not only from 1967, but from the 1948 War of Independence. Makes me wonder what they teach 'em in there. But then I probably don't need to wonder much.

Particularly because Kate, the poor girl whose father is presently arranging a husband for her (don't fucking get me started), ambled in at that point. Tarim tells her I'm writing a book about the Six Day War, and she freaks out.

"Oh, that's so wonderful! Such a miracle!"

A miracle? Well, it wasn't a fucking miracle for the Palestinians, I guarantee you that. Must...keep...composure... "Yeah, it was...pretty brutal."

"Such a miracle..."

"So when's lunch?"

See, I have this problem. I've spent the last six months researching Middle Eastern history, and as a result, have learned a lot of things which have given me an certain dislike for anyone whose sense of identity is a little too closely tied to a certain Abraham, about whom certain books were written, over which more people have died than cancer has ever dreamed of taking.

And yet every day, I find myself in an environment where cake must be cut with a certain knife, certain curly-tailed critters are feared, and people have honest-to-Jehovah ARRANGED MARRIAGES.

Now, I'm not cultureless. I realize that there are plenty of Judeo-Christian-Muslim people in the world who actually trust their children to pick their own mates. But I appear to have stumbled right onto the set of Fiddler on the Roof without quite realizing it. And I'm sorry, but it is becoming harder and harder not to stand up, snatch some yarmulkes, and shout, "WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU FUCKING PEOPLE?"

(for a clarification of my uneasy-but-non-genocidal stance regarding Judaism and other religions, please go here)

So the actual problem is that I can't say ANYTHING without saying EVERYTHING.

For instance...

Tarim & I are sitting by ourselves in the gulag, while Sam & Essie are out at lunch. Tarim decides to unburden himself a bit, which takes me a bit off guard.

"You know...I don't think I can be happy here."

Whoa. Man. Where the hell to start on THAT one? "Really?"

"Yeah, man, I mean...I hate this banking crap."

That's because you apparently have sense. "Well, what do you want to do?"

"I can't do it."

"Can't do what?"

"Well...I wanna do sports."

Hmm. Tough one. "So...why don't you?"

"I'm too short. I don't weigh enough. Everything."

"Surely there's a sport that doesn't require you to be tall & heavy."

A pause. "Yeah, maybe."

"And even if not, at least you could do something within the industry. It'd be better than this crap."

"Yeah. Yeah, you're right." Light! Light pours through the grating and begins to shine on the poor whitewashed brain of...

"I am back from the lunch." Damn. Essie.

But Tarim continues. "See, I just think people should do what they want to do with their lives." Holy mother of crap! He's a fucking individualist!

Though not for long, if Essie has anything to do with it. "You can't always do what you want. Ask your mother."

Ooooooh, that is IT. "Well, you know, there are far too many people walking around making their spouses and children miserable because they didn't do what they wanted, and I'd much rather have some happy people in the world for a change."

"You can't always be happy."

I hate you. I hate you and your stupid, stupid mind. "But you should always try."

By this time, Tarim has gone back to the stoneface. And why shouldn't he? No one in this workplace/gene pool will approve of him unless he locks himself in his hereditary office for 60 hours a week, sends his kids to school in Tel Aviv, and sets his many daughters up with the sons of his banking buddies, all the while pretending that it was his idea to live such a nightmare.

It gives me great pleasure to hear Essie complain about her daughters' insistence on finding her own husband. It reminds me how very rare these perverse lives are becoming these days, and keeps me from marching in with a fucking machine gun. Thought and freedom are the enemies of organized religion, and I guess if George W. is to be believed, the world will soon be a swirling dustcloud of democracy...

Must...close...can of...worms...

7-15-03, 8:50 PM -

Ah. So what was I talking about? Oh, yes. Our new bird feeder. It seems our fire escape is not nearly as unfashionable as I had thought. The cat & I just got finished watching some fisticuffs between a bigass pigeon and a legion of sparrows, all bent on owning the feeder's four seed-eatin' holes. Inasmuch as birds participate in fisticuffs.

Not to jinx the hell out of things, but this summer has been really mild. Just saw a report on the big honking hurricane what's tearing the shit out of the Texas coast, & felt rather glad to just have occasional spitting rain to contend with. After the Blizzard of Aught-Three, we deserve a bit of comfort.

How long is this damn letter now? Dang, I need to wrap up. I'm no good at one-shot writing anymore, I get distracted too easily.

Like now. I just spotted a pocket pack of Kleenex, and noticed that the tab has the words "Soulever Lift" on it. I don't know what a "Soulever" is, nor what would happen if one were to lift it, but it's a clear sign to me that I'm rather sleepy. "Soul Lever," perhaps?

You'll get an update on the disc as soon as I know anything. Which I don't. Not right now, anyhow. Except that Aimee Mann's Invisible Ink is not an upper. G'night.



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the matthew show