Everything Bad Feels So Good  

Tuesday, April 29 : 7:09 PM : 0 comments :

I hardly smoke anymore. Sure, I want to, but it's such a production. Most importantly, I'm plumb out of smoking gloves. Along with that, I usually require a smoking change of clothes. I don't like to smoke and then go inside and sit on the furniture because my mom's pristine house will probably collapse or groan in agony or something. I really barely even enjoy the taste of cigarettes anymore. It's really just a mental thing at this point. I still smoke when we're out, or when a conversation dictates a smoke break, but that's about it.
"A few weeks ago in Tribeca, in a Magritte-like twilight, I saw a woman in a lighted window on a high floor of a loft apartment building. She was standing on a chair and lowering the window's upper sash. She tossed her hair and did something complicated with her arms which I recognized as the lighting of a cigarette. Then she leaned her elbow and her chin on the sash and blew smoke into the humid air outside. I fell in love at first sight as she stood there, both inside and outside, inhaling contradiction and breathing out ambivalence."
-Jonathan Franzen, Sifting the Ashes-
Upon some reflection, I doubt I'll ever truly quit. I mean, go cold turkey for life. The simple pleasure of it outweighs almost everything else. Plus, it's really a race to see if my teeth rot from candy or my lungs from cancer first so I'd like to give both an equal chance.

The real addiction I suffer from is Haribo gummies. I love the tough chewiness of the brand even if many people prefer the gooey-er textured gummies. Since the local Ralphs has discontinued carrying my penguin gummies, I've resorted to running through the Haribo product line. I don't think my teeth stand a chance... Forget this vita-gummies stuff, if somebody could make protein gummies I'd be all set.

Anne forwarded me the following New Yorker piece:
"It's popular to believe that every smoker was brainwashed, sucked in by product placement and subliminal print ads. This argument comes in handy when you want to assign blame, but it discounts the fact that smoking is often wonderful. For people like me, people who twitched and jerked and cried out in tiny voices, cigarettes were a godsend. Not only that; they tasted good, especially the first one in the morning and the seven or eight that came immediately after it."
-David Sedaris, Letting Go-

Say Anything  

Monday, April 28 : 3:36 AM : 0 comments :

Hey you know all those personal questionnaires often sent around by email or on MySpace? We can thank French writer Marcel Proust for popularizing them. He was introduced to one while a young man and since then always answered them "with enthusiasm." Apparently he believed that these questions would shed insight on a person. Fast forward a hundred years or so and now it's a race to see who can come up with the most amusing answers. Ah, evolution.
If someone doesn't like you, it's usually because ______ ?
Their boy/girlfriends are not that into them.
Since July 1993, Vanity Fair has dedicated its backpage to having a famous person answer a Proust Questionnaire. Did you know that Quincy Jones' greatest fear is "of ever becoming a grown-up, please." Or that Umberto Eco's is "to lose my sense of humor at the moment of my death." Most recently, David Mamet said that his idea of perfect happiness is "a healthy family, peace between nations, and all the critics die." Revelatory stuff right?

I used to always carry this book of questions around and try to get people to participate. This misguided attempt to insert depth and openness into a hang out period usually failed. Why teenagers didn't like sitting around answering: "Would you like to know the precise date of your death" is beyond me but it sure sounded like an excellent jumping off point for a raucous night.

"Hold the alchohol, Jon is here with The Book of Questions! He's the life of the party, yah!" I think I was just ahead of my time.

To tell the truth, I hate these questionnaires and rarely answer them. It's hard to come up with "what's your greatest regret" or "my most embarassing moment." I mean, are these really getting to know you questions or are they just bullshit? I feel like I should really like this kind of stuff because I'm a huge advocate of handing out informational cards when meeting new people (cuts down on the small talk), various top five lists, asking random questions and the like but at a certain point, who cares?

For example: Corn, eggs, and peanut butter fall into my top five food items. Now you know. Whoopee. I've revealed my inner nature and now we're totally close. On a related note, is anything more boring than watching James Lipton ask actors and actresses about their favorite sound? And then a five second dramatic pause before they inevitably answer "silence." Ooooh, super deep.

Falling Up  

Monday, April 21 : 5:00 PM : 0 comments :

"...in a song like Gravity, you know, some people can't catch a break, and I can't seem to catch a struggle. I think it's a worse position for a guy that can't catch a struggle, because you know when that struggle comes, its gonna be all the struggles all at once. And Gravity is about being smart enough to stave it off."
-John Mayer-
Apparently, some people can't catch a break and some people can't catch a struggle. A friend has been saying for awhile that out of the two, he'd prefer to be the one to not catch a break because the theory goes that once something tough does come along, you'd crumble. As a person not accustomed to struggle or hardship, I'd say that it'd be horrible to not catch a break. Imagine never having anything work out as you'd hoped. I mean, half the time I just close my eyes and poof, things magically turn out great. What if everything was reversed?

I'd work at something really hard, give it my all, and then the final product would resemble mush. I think there's way too much romanticizing of "the road less traveled." Sure, there's something to be said for putting in your time, learning from your mistakes, and really earning something, but given a choice, who would willingly choose a life of constant disappointment?

I know people whose lives seem like a series of unfortunate events. I wish I could give them some magic beans and a golden goose egg to reverse their fortunes but it's hardly that easy. Just when things are on an upswing for them, something disastrous always seems to happen. Tell me, where's the fun in that?

Perhaps there's something I'm not appreciating about the idea of struggle as a pressurizing force for creating something great and good. After all, there's hardly much romance or intrigue in living a life where the biggest obstacles are minor molehills relative to the rest of the world. Is not struggling, or perhaps avoiding struggle, playing it way too safe?

She Knowz What She Wants  

Wednesday, April 16 : 11:50 PM : 0 comments :

Today is my friend's birthday. She's turning thirty-one, I think. I can't really wish her a happy birthday because despite all my Internet tracking powers, I've been unable to find her. It's sad, in a way. We met while working together the summer after my junior year. I had just broken up with my girlfriend and was looking for nothing more than a summer of awesome times and she was such a big part of that that the memories linger on. What was so cool about our friendship? Well, lots. But one thing really stood out.

Neither of us had to deal with that question, the "do you like me or do you like me" question. We seriously hung out and were just really good friends from day one and that romance thing never reared its ugly head.

That's really rare. Especially back then because when a guy and a girl get put in close proximity together, and there's some attraction, there's usually issues. But she was in her place and I was in mine. We didn't spend much time outside of work together and that was perfectly fine. Well, if you could call what we did "work." For eight hours a day, we drove around San Diego eating lunch in Mission Valley, napping in Balboa Park, getting Thai iced tea, and eating Vietnamese sandwiches. We were supposed to be pounding the pavement selling websites to small businesses. Needless to say, we never made a sale but the few weeks we hung out together were a total blast.

All the driving we did was accompanied by music. Lots and lots of music. She appreciated Tribe and Gangstarr for the same reasons I did. She was a poetess and a writer. I want to tell her that I'm like a writer now, and to talk about where our lives have gone since then. I was in sporadic contact with her for a year or two after that summer but then we disappeared off of each other's radars.

I think what I miss about it now is having a sidekick. Or maybe I was hers, I dunno. Either way, "Happy Birthday."

His New Clothes  

Monday, April 14 : 3:22 AM : 0 comments :

As if there weren't enough sins in the world, I read in an article about Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming U.S. visit that under his reign, pollution and social and economic injustice have been listed as sins. It's not merely expensive and disgusting to own a gas guzzler, it might be a sin every time you start that bad boy up.

I wonder if failing to recycle is a sin. "Dear God, my carbon footprint was very large this week, please forgive me."

And I'm not even sure what social and economic injustice really means so I have a hard time making fun of it. I wish the Pope would declare not having free wireless as a sin (especially in airports located near Silicon Valley of all places). I don't need miracles or faith to convert, I need broadband.


Saturday, April 12 : 2:36 AM : 0 comments :

We got a glimpse of the real San Francisco. It's located on the corner of Eleventh and Harrison Street and it stinks outside. Inside however, the venue is great. Large dance floor surrounded by a balcony, with an upstairs lounge and additional dancing area, and a little Mexican food station way in the back.

We came here a few years ago for a Crown City Rockers / Digable Planets concert (which was oddly disappointing), but this time around we went to the DNA Lounge for a mash up party. The party flyer featured Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse's mugs mashed together. How could it get any better?

I suspected things weren't quite up to snuff though, as we worked our way into the club, past the burly bikers, the weird odor, and the sounds of a live band. Bands usually are the death knell for any dancing excursion. The first few minutes inside didn't exactly quell our fears as on-stage was a dude who looked like a lady, but sang like a dude, and a bunch of band members dressed like characters in Guitar Hero.

While this certainly wasn't our usual scene, it was an interesting change of pace, even if the music and crowd was weirding us out. I'm just going to come right out and say it. Gays, trannies, one furry (a rabbit costume), and PDA inclined couples tucked into every dark corner. This was the SF we'd heard about and lusted after! We found it! We actually almost left but twelve dollars cover meant we had no choice but to stick it out.

Thank goodness we did because by song three, a pop and goth mashup of Rihanna's "Umbrella," the music got crazy good. After the band stepped off-stage, we were treated to the most delicious mix of singing and dancing songs ever. Guns N Roses, Queen, The Doors, Michael, Prince, and a whole bunch of hip hop. Pseudo-karaoke plus danceable beats? Fabulous.

This isn't a recap so I'll forgo the actual events of the night but suffice to say, it was entertaining as hell. Just when you think you've explored enough, there's always something new that sets your world on fire. Mash up parties! Oh did I mention that the parties are all webcast? For example, this was our music at two in the morning (check the Beyonce mix at the 2:00 mark).

Extra: After more research, I must thank the lead singer and promoter of these mash ups, Adrian, for his amazing idea. He also maintains a blog where incredible goodies like free MP3s are available. Including "Best Of Bootie" by year. Love it.

Here's a sample track: Tender Umbrella (Rihanna vs General Public), and while we're at it, a Mechanical Bride cover of Umbrella too (courtesy of Aurgasm) because why the heck not?

Open and Closed  

Thursday, April 10 : 11:02 AM : 0 comments :

You know those little biospheres that were popular once upon a time? Glass bubbles filled with the perfect amount of water, algae, and mini-shrimp to become a self-sustaining ecosystem if provided with a source of natural light? Amazing and kind of crazy right? That's how people gaze upon successful relationships I think.

We marvel at something that can work so perfectly and then try to figure out exactly what parts are needed to create our own successful relationship-sphere. What components do they put into their little glass house so that everything integrates neatly into an indestructible whole? Odds are, you look into your own muckish little bowl and wonder what's going wrong. Which leads me to my next point.

Recently, with the spate of breakups in my social world, it's been even more fascinating to observe how exes interact -- if they do so at all. Usually, exes don't even talk to each other because it's too painful, it's too soon, or it's just too over. But when you see an ex-couple that's capable of not only preserving their friendship but also enhancing it post-relationship, it's like seeing a giant whale-sized biosphere. How is this possible you think? Break-ups aren't supposed to be like this! Where's the animosity? The "issues," the normal tragic turn of events when things are "never the same?"

When two people who were engaged in a serious relationship are able to talk openly and candidly about their new separate lives, isn't that super weird? It's almost too healthy isn't it? Maybe we're just too accustomed to the dysfunction of breaking up so when confronted with the beauty of a non-horrific break up, our reaction has to be one of disbelief and doubt, and maybe only later, appreciation.

And then more disbelief.

Shake It  

Wednesday, April 9 : 11:40 PM : 0 comments :

As brought to my attention by Des, Polaroid will soon be shutting down its instant film production. I understand from a business standpoint that instant film is hardly a booming industry but the nostalgia factor is huge. If we can live in a world where fax machines are still an essential business device, I think Polaroids should stick around too. Luckily, many people feel the same way and there's a website set up to save Polaroid.

When the Polaroid i-Zone cameras first came out, I was in love and took one around with me everywhere. Few things are/were as exciting as waiting for that instant picture to develop. For a year or so, the bulky red piece of plastic served as my main camera and my prototype moblog. I even bought a little mini-scanner specifically for the pictures. I recently found a little case with all the pictures I'd compiled and I'm hoping to arrange them in a big mural on my wall.

Of course, after a year of using the i-Zone, I moved on once I got a digital camera. So okay, maybe Polaroid has a point here. But still. Maybe I should be buying some film to hoard and re-sell in twenty years...

Anyway, thanks for the memories: i-Zone pictures, circa 2001-2002.

Show Me the Money  

Wednesday, April 2 : 4:11 AM : 0 comments :

So in 2007 I felt like I was super rich. I travelled a little bit, I dropped a few hundred on tattoos, I bought new jeans, I purchased an iPhone, I had a ridiculous shopping spree in Pacific Beach one afternoon, I paid my bills on time, and I ate whatever I wanted regardless of price. Well, today I did my taxes and guess how much I made the whole year? Just around thirty thousand. That's like at once embarassing and amazing. How did such a small amount feel like so much?

To keep things in perspective, this is probably the most I've ever made in one year but still, it's not very much at all. You could be a freshly minted college graduate and make more than that at your first job pretty easily. Heck, that amounts to only fifteen dollars an hour. I remember coming out of school thinking that the bare minimum salary I would accept was thirty thousand. Anything below that would be an absolute insult.

Now, nearly eight years out of school and having finally achieved my first financial landmark, I feel absolutely satisfied. Wait, is the world supposed to work this way? Shouldn't my dollars have met my cents by now and exponentially multiplied? Nearly everyone else I know is creeping steadily toward six figures. My cousins, who are way behind me in age, made easily twice what I did in my banner year. If I'm not careful, the next generation of cousins, who are still in college, might outpace me too.

I guess not really paying rent has really helped. I was mostly rent free for half the year. And technically speaking, I pretty much only worked seven months out of the twelve. And since I don't have any real bills to speak of, everything I make is immediately slush money. In a way, if I can maintain a steady thirty grand or so (and then luck into a surprise showing on Deal or No Deal in the next five years) I'll be crazy rich. Bitch.

In related news, my tax return is huge.

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