Tuesday, September 22


Faux Noise getting to you? Are you sick of the lies, distortion and cheering for the Right Wing while pretending to be "fair and balanced"?
Take out your frustrations here. Play a hilarious and rousing session of Whack-A-Wingnut!

Monday, September 21


My dream of many years came true the other night. At long, long last I was on my way to hear Michael McDonald sing in person. On the crosstown bus, my friend Lynne and I could not believe the woman a few rows ahead on her cellphone in a loud, obnoxious conversation. We rolled our eyes and exhaled when she finally exited. Lynne remarked on how the energy instantly changed for the better.
Outside the Beacon Theater we got some passersby to take our photo under the marquee. They, too, were headed inside, both Boz Scaggs fans. (I ran into a few of them, one who traveled in from Pennsylvania and had just seen Boz two weeks ago. That's a fan!)
As Lynne and I handed in our tickets I remarked “Baby Boomer City!” Was there anyone in the audience under 40? I don't think so. (Check out my photo of the crowd!) Michael McDonald jokes about AARP, too, and the audience erupted in laughter.
Having splurged on my dream, we had great seats in the orchestra of the really beautiful Beacon which has quite a few bars, by the way. And unlike Broadway theaters, the audience can bring their drinks to their seats.
Suddenly Michael and his band casually strolled onstage and launched into “I Keep Forgetting.” This amazing moment was interrupted by two latecomers, cocktails in hand, who made us get up so they could park their kiesters in the two seats to my right. Immediately Mrs. Kiester began a loud commentary which continued through “Real Love,” “Sweet Freedom,” “Yah Mo B There” as well as the Motown covers, “Minute by Minute” and “What a Fool Believes” and “It Keeps You Running” and even the very rousing “Takin’ It to the Streets.”
The only thing worse than sitting next to this couple would have been to have been behind them. So when the intermission ticked down I suggested hopefully to Lynne that perhaps they had left. “No way!” scoffed Lynne. “They’re Bats!”
Bats? “Bridge and Tunnel people. This is a big night for them and they’ll be back and they’ll have fresh drinks.”
And damn if she wasn’t right. And they were again late, again making us get up for them after Boz Scaggs had taken the stage and launched into “Jojo.” Her loud talking continued. Exasperated, I snapped “Would you please be quiet!” She laughed. My annoyance was amusing to this bitch.
And then sometime during “Look What You’ve Done To Me” these two middle-aged bats began to make out!
I nudged Lynne who commented, “One more drink and she’ll fuck him right here.”
“Now we know who the woman on the phone was calling,” I said.
Not a moment too soon they were climbing over us to leave early. Arrive late, twice, leave early. Charming. They missed three excellent encores which Michael and Boz shared. Perhaps they didn’t want to miss the train to Syosset where they have, one presumes, a CD player, bottles of liquor and a bed. And where they could have done everything they did in the Beacon. Except they wouldn’t have annoyed me.
The concert was great despite the bats. The audience enthusiastically lept to its feet for favorite numbers like “What a Fool” and we all sang “whoa-oh-oh-oh!” after every time Boz sang “Lido….” Another high point was the nearly unadorned voice of Michael McDonald on “You Don’t Know Me” the Eddie Arnold song accompanied only by keyboards. It was stunning. If I’d had the choice, I’d have had him sing more of his pre-Motown songs like “I Gotta Try” and “Love Lies” and “If That’s What It Takes” and “On My Own” or “Let Me Go, Love.” But that’s niggling. I was happy, no, thrilled, after all these years just to breathe the same air as Michael McDonald. It was awesome.

Tuesday, September 15


This morning’s email was it. I just had to blog about Ichabod, a man I knew when he was a boy in my class. I’m calling him Ichabod only because there were no Ichabods in my high school.

I hadn’t been in touch with Ichabod since graduation. And not much even before that. We traveled in different cliques. He was a popular jock who dated cheerleaders. I would have loved to have been a cheerleader. Only I didn’t make the squad. Instead I settled for writing a feature column in the weekly school paper, among other fun extra-curricular activities which paled in my teenaged brain to wearing a short skirt and jumping around in front of crowds.

Ichabod, to my surprise, left a nice note to me on Classmates.com. So I wrote back and a flurry of email ensued. At first they were fun and interesting. He, like me, is single although living on the other side of the country. And I induced him to become active on Facebook and post his photo. I tried to talk him into playing Lexulous, Facebook’s version of Scrabble, long distance with me.

Ichabod sent me a photo of himself standing before an array of paintings, two of which seemed possibly to be of Christ and the others were more along the lines of Elvis on velvet. That he was no longer the tall skinny boy with the luxuriant head of hair wasn’t surprising, although he’s still tall. And while his looks didn’t put me off, the little gallery behind him gave me pause.

And then things became really weird. He wrote that I should see the condo he was in (without explanation of being a different place). And in all caps he screamed “I have a custom coffee grinder & and ice cream scooper!!”

But that wasn’t the end of the strangeness. He attached a photo entitled “Bavarian” to download. Up came an out-of-focus image of Ichabod and some woman. They seemed happy and nowhere near Bavaria. Unless Bavaria is now near the Equator. Who was she? I wouldn’t have been surprised if it were his mother rather than the girlfriend it turned out to be.

He had asked about a photo in my Facebook album. (I repeat, in my Facebook album, not a photo I sent him.) Who, he inquired, was the gentleman in the beard? “An ex-boyfriend with whom I’ve remained friendly.” Ichabod’s reaction was that we made a handsome couple. “I’m sure his wife would be ever so pleased” was my sardonic reply. Except mails don’t convey tone very well. And I’m not big on emoticons.

Then Facebook upset him. Help! he emailed. People were contacting him! So I explained how to control what would pop up on one's page. But it was all too much for him, I guess and he became my first and only Facebook friend to quit. I didn’t even get a game of Lexulous out of it! So he’s gone from Facebook and I doubt that he tweets. But the good news is that he’s not apt to find out about this.

My responses to his unusual missives became short and apparently didn’t encourage correspondence which mercifully slowed to a trickle. So I hadn’t heard from him in a while until this morning. Prompted by the death of Patrick Swayze, Ichabod was moved to write this: “Just so sad….I am so sad.”

I wouldn’t have taken Ichabod to be a big fan of Dirty Dancing or Ghost. Weren’t those chick flicks?

I don’t know. He seemed so normal in school. I never would have imagined that Ichabod would turn out to be so weird.

Well, I have to go now. I have to figure out some sort of reply to Ichabod. Consoling words, I guess. It might take the rest of the morning to come up with something.

Saturday, September 12


I’ve been watching the TODAY show broadcast of the events as they took place eight years ago. A day as blue and clear as this one is dank and rainy. I’ve actually not seen this broadcast before. I wasn’t home to see it, which I typically would have been.

But that day was Primary Day and I had signed up to be a poll-watcher for the Board of Elections. I reported to a location in a church hall in SoHo about twenty blocks (approximately one mile) north of the World Trade Center. Around 7am when I went out for coffee, I looked up at the twin towers glinting in the bright morning sun. They never were favorite buildings the way the Chrysler and Seagram Buildings are, but they were beautiful that morning I remember thinking.

Sitting around, drinking coffee, reading the paper, I waited to my name to be called and sent to a polling place in Manhattan. Instead someone said that planes had crashed into the WTC. I stood in Sullivan Street and watched in shock and horror. The towers were on fire and billowing smoke. Incredible! I didn’t know what else to do, so I went back inside to wait. Stupid, as I think now. Next someone said that a tower had fallen. I went back out and the north tower, stood still burning, an enormous cloud behind it.

“The south tower must be in that cloud,” I thought. It was so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that that was all that was left of the tower. I went back inside again somewhat robotically. An announcement told us that the Primary was postponed, a priest prayed briefly before we were dismissed with the news that the subway system was shut down. One woman grumbled that the priest’s prayer was Christian and not ecumenical. I wanted to slap her but refrained.

Instead I took my things, felt grateful that I was wearing sneakers and set out north for a very long walk home. As I went up West Broadway past many, many people out on the street. One man was painting the scene. Others had cameras. It was surreal. I keep turning around and looking at the smoking tower. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Sudden screams. I turned again in time to see the north tower’s collapse. I just went back to walking north in the streets which were either full of people not cars or else there was gridlock. In the whole six mile route which I covered in a remarkable 90 minutes, stopped only twice for lights. I just kept walking.

At home I turned on the tv and called my sisters. Both were shocked to learn I was anywhere near downtown. My Arizona grandnieces were in tears, hysterically watching the news, worried about me.

How quiet the city was in the days following. No planes in the sky. Little traffic on the streets, the entrances to the island blocked. Dump trucks full of sand were parked on East End Avenue to protect Gracie Mansion, the official Mayoral residence. And on one night, I was walking my dog when suddenly a long caravan of plows and dump trucks appeared all headed to Ground Zero. I watched them go by, seemingly endlessly, sadly thinking about their task of digging out the rubble.

I think that was night when the wind shifted and for the first and only time, that Thursday, the smell assaulted my nose. It came in through my open living area window. I had never smelled anything so acrid and horrible. I knew instantly it was from the WTC and it was horrendous even six miles away.

In the first day the neighborhood became papered with MISSING flyers. They were posted on street corners and bus shelters and store windows. Missing, missing, missing. So many missing. Flowers and candles appeared in tree wells in honor of the lost. So many neighbors never coming home again.

My fire station lost NINE firefighters. Nine! In one day! Their photos are posted in frames and every year neighbors leave flowers and candles. My neighborhood is dotted with plaques and engraved stones naming individuals lost that day. They are everywhere.

I read that an Afghani restaurant down in the 20s was suffering misplaced blame and I deliberately went to have lunch there in support of yet more innocent victims. It happened to be nearby the armory serving as a place for the relatives of the missing.

There even more missing flyers were plastered on walls. Just one after the other. The grief was palpable.

And uptown any encounter always began with a query—did you lose someone? Do you know someone who is lost? Where were you on Tuesday morning?

Friday night was the candlelight vigil. New Yorkers were encouraged to sit on their stoops or outside their highrise with candles to honor the thousands who perished. Sobering to look up and down the block and see so many people in hushed conversation, little lights flickering.

And all over the city flags bloomed. On buildings, from windows, decals on buses. The American flag was everywhere.

And for days after the attacks I think I must have been in shock because I didn’t cry. Not until the moment, Saturday I think it was, when on television I heard the Queen’s band strike up the Star Spangled Banner. Very touching.

I watch the footage of the burning tower, the plane's collision and fireball, the first collapse and then the second, all of it still seems unreal to me now as it did then. I've heard others say that the events appeared as if it were a movie. And that's how it felt to me then. A horror film. Even with my own eyes seeing it, feeling it at the time. Still so unreal. Oh, how I wish it were.

Friday, September 11


09.09.09 The penultimate time this century that the month, day and year will line up again like that. After 10.10.10, that’ll be it. If you failed to notice that factoid, it’s now too late.
So here are some other little factoids which might have escaped your consciousness.

An elderly Amish widower slept with a prostitute. That pro and her BF then told the widower that they had installed a camera in his bedroom and that photos of the tryst would be put up on the internet unless he paid them $67,000.

First question: where in a spartan Amish bedroom would one supposedly hide a camera?

Second question: while such photos on the internet would be humiliating for anyone, why would it embarrass this Amish man? His family, his friends, his congregation are all on Facebook? That’s crazy. Amish don't have toasters let alone computers.

Third question: why $67,000? Why would the blackmailers choose such a specific, odd amount? This is reminiscent of the “ransom letter” left for JonBenet Ramsay’s parents (which I still believe was written by Patsy) and which demanded the exact amount of John Ramsay’s bonus.

I’m not suggesting this extortion was an inside job 'though. That would make no sense at all. But then neither does this caper. (Maybe they got a bunch of payments and that's what they added up to.)

A Chinese woman paid $582,135 for a Tibetan mastiff. She wanted this male dog to mate with her own female Tibetan mastiff. The dog arrived by train and was picked up in a limo.
Well, I should think so! (Note that the woman pictured in the news item is wearing a Michael Jordan ball cap. I’ll bet it was made in China.)
So now people in this Communist country are now dedicating themselves to conspicuous and ridiculous consumption? (See next item.)

What does the Commie label mean now? Or even “Socialist” for that matter. Is it just an insult like ugly? It seems to be thrown around a lot lately by people who don't even know the meaning.
By the way, that woman could have saved herself $582,105 by just adopting a stray from the pound. Much better idea.

Reportedly (well, all right, it's the National Enquirer) a $82,000 gerbil habitat was custom-designed and purchased for Maddox and Pax (see later item) the children of Brad Pitt.
(Insert joke here: you should see the one designed by Richard Gere. Rimshot!)

Latoya Jackson said that her brother Michael looked “absolutely fabulous” at his funeral last week. This despite his having died two months ago. He wore pearls and a huge gold belt like the kind a boxer wins. Tasteful to the end.

One hopes the allusion to the hysterically funny and also late British comedy by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French was unintended. But come to think of it, there are similarities between fashion slag Patsy and Michael Jackson. (Both are anorexic, looks-obsessed, sunglass-wearing addicts who couldn’t resist good-looking boys.)
Maybe Latoya’s comment was more knowing than originally thought.

No, not the bird. An actual baby boy which she and hubby named Sparrow. Seriously.
Let’s put it on the long list of inappropriate baby names that celebrities foist on their innocent and unsuspecting children. Apparently being the child of one or even two celebrities isn’t distinction enough. Add to that being saddled for life* with a bizarre name. It’s child abuse. And I’m not alone in this opinion. The creator of the Institute of Naming Children Humanely agrees.

Let’s make a list!
Fuchsia (imagine what mean schoolkids will do with that)
Rumer (tricky spelling!**)
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily
Jazz Domino
Blue Angel
Poppy Honey
Daisy Boo
Saffron Sahara (Edina named her daughter that for God’s sake!)
Denim Cole and Diezel Ky (tricky! Double bad!)
Hopper (although perfect for a pet frog)
Bluebell Madonna
Seven Sirius (stolen apparently from George Costanza)
Heaven (and spelling it backward is even worse)
Audio Science
Rocket, Racer, Rebel & Rogue Rodriquez
(That reminds me: Roger Clemens started all his children’s names with a K, the symbol of the strikeout. Hey, Rog! Why not start their names with an * the symbol of the asshole?)
Moxie CrimeFighter
Blanket (yes, just a nickname but for “Prince Michael II.” So this poor purchased and dangled child was given a name already occupied by a sibling and then a nic which might as well have been Binky.)
Oriole Nebula (another bird, perhaps where Nicole got the idea. Sure, sure, was Robin once weird, you ask. Well, I say: what’s next? Cardinal? I think the Catholic church has that sewn up.)
Pilot Inspektor (ah, the dreaded double whammy. Weird and trickily spelled. Super abusive.)
Kyd (Why not “Generic Child”?)
Tu (child—unknown gender—of Rob Morrow. Right. It’s Tu Morrow, in the spirit of Ima and Ura Hogg and Crystal Shanda Lear. Totally offensive to name a child a joke.)
Memphis Eve (They seem to give some of them normal middle names in possible recognition that Memphis might prefer to be called a normal girl’s name like Eve once she’s in kindergarten.)
Similarly, Luna Coco Patricia comes to mind.
Princess Tiaamii (invented and pronounced tee-ah-mee. This poor child is not only saddled with a title for name which creates all kinds of expectations and neuroses and invitations to abuse, her middle name is has a diabolical tricky spelling. As does the next one.)
Aanisah (Now how is that pronounced? And was it designed to come early in the alphabet like AAAA Locksmiths?)
Tahmel (Aanisah’s poor sibling of unknown sex)
Kal-El (not just a name from frickin’ Krypton, it’s hard to say, an added burden)
Jermajesty (the creation of Blanket’s Uncle Jermaine and incredibly egocentric.)

And in case you’re thinking that celebrities abuse their children only with weird names, I submit that ordinary names can be abusive in the hands of a celebrity. Frank Sinatra Jr., for example, never could live up to his name. (But then I'm not high on namesakes. People can't be Xeroxed.)

And then there’s the ultimate in celebrity egocentrism: George Foreman who has ten children (that’s a whole other subject in itself), half of them boys and all of them named George: George Jr., George III (which makes me think of the American Revolution), George IV, George V, and George VI. Wikipedia says that the first three are called “Monk,” “Big Wheel” and “Little George.” No mention of what 5 and 6 are called.

On the other hand, Foreman himself, appearing on the Early Show on CBS to promote his children's book, said that his wife tried to give them nicknames but then they became hard to remember.

His book, Let George Do It!, is the story of a dad called “Big George” with five sons named George, George, George, George and George, who band together to celebrate dad’s birthday. What’s egocentric about that? In fact, he says he wrote this book, ironically, to make kids named George “feel special.”

And then there are real names that should just not be pulled out of mothballs because of their associations:
Gulliver(If they have a girl next will they call her Lily Putian?)
Romeo (although Juliet has escaped that trap)
Aurelius Cy
And apologies to Latin America, Jesus.
Here I have to include Caesar, Napolean and Adolf. These are not only bad names for children, they're horrible for your dogs and are apt to produce untrainable curs. And that reminds me of one of the worst names ever for a dog-- Noah. Every time the owner said "No!" he'd wag his tail.

*For life or until said child grows up and changes it. See David Carradine’s son born Free and now “Tom.”

**And a further note on spelling. Tricky spelling is just a suck on time. The creator of INCH estimates that Amie's having to point out that it's A-M-I-E and not A-M-Y will waste 58 days of her lifetime. And that's not even to mention how annoying and boring that would be.