Saturday, June 25, 2016

Peerless Life in Allston Rock City

[Allston Rock City: Corner of Harvard & Brighton, circa 2005]
Allston is a thickly settled multi-generational, multi-cultural Boston neighborhood off the Mass Pike. It's a student ghetto, situated on the 57 and 66 bus routes, and the B train from Boston College to Boston University to Kenmore (Red Sox territory), and onward into Park Street, where you can change trains and get pretty much anywhere you want to go.

Upper Allston is the busy ramshackle Mah Jong board of brownstones and walk-ups and restaurants and coffee shops and tattoo boutiques and thrift stores and churches and a thousand other urban services and delicacies. Stand in the middle of Upper Allston any time of day and you're in the perfect spot to take the pulse of Rock City. It's a hopping hive of students and rockers and immigrants from everywhere, and when you stand on the corner at night, you think, "Excellent city."

Lower Allston, or "LA" so dubbed by its genial citizenry, is a comparatively quiet residential sprawl of vintage double and triple deckers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ode To Star Market (2002)

This was a poem that I wrote in 2002 about the insanity that is the Porter Square shopping center parking lot. It's chaos all the time. The poem, such as it is (I'm no poet) had an original title of Ode to Star Market (How I Did Not Get Sushi Last Night And Made This Up In The Car On The Way Home).

Ode To Porter Square Star Market

Star sells sushi a la carte, that's why I'm bound to go there
Otherwise I stay away from Supermarket Nightmare 
Homeward bound this dusk from
A big enormous yen for sushi hit me like a bomb

"Do I dare?" I asked myself, approaching Porter Square
This time of night, without a doubt, a monster lurks in there
Writhing, ugly, slow and crass, a teeming steel and rubber clot
Evil, angry...what, you ask? The friggin' Porter parking lot!

Dreams of maki and wasabi danced around my hungry head
I steeled my nerve and gripped the wheel and gunned it straight ahead
"I am going to park this car," with all the grit that I could muster
(Note to self: Never heed your inner Colonel Custer)

I took a breath; I'm all alone and no one had my back
Angry lady almost rammed me with her giant Cadillac
I should have bailed then and there, but damn! I wanted sticky rice!
If not for that I'd not have risked my sanity to sacrifice

I chanced another round in hopes a space would open up
Saw Soccer Mom in Minivan flip off Dude in Pick-up Truck
Chick in Audi terror-stricken, Man in Beemer idled
Warning signals from myself, "You're getting homicidal"

Abort! Abandon Porter Square! Forget about the snapper!"
Oaf in Camry! Taurus Loser! Subaru Brake-Tapper!
I finally made it out and home, to contemplate my foolishness
How much did I want that fish, and how much did I need that stress?

You may also like: Boston. Because F**k You.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Straddling the Great Digital Divide

What I love most about being a true blue Gen X'er is our passage from analog to digital. There's something comforting in the shared experience of taking a flying leap together across a great technological chasm. From Etch-A-Sketch to iPad, from wall-tethered telephones to iPhones. Technology moved fast during our lifetime. We climbed the mountain, we surfed the wave, we sped along the information superhighway with all the windows open. We optimized for mobile like champs. Ours was a triumphant, graceful grand jete across the great digital divide.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Any Other Sunday (re-dux)

  Saturday, June 16, 2012
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Father's Day. My day to reflect upon the fact that I've never turned any man into a father. Certainly not a daddy.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Music Makers and Dreamers of Dreams

I retract my earlier published theory about musicians, and offer a new one.

Aliens. Pretty sure it's aliens. I've done a little more research and I've decided that musicians are descendants of an enlightened race that landed an unknowable number of millennia ago and set up camp with early mankind. Lots of them are still here, just walking around, saying stuff, acting like everything is normal -- granted the reviews have been mixed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Trigger Warning: Fucking Guns

In the wake of yet another senseless mass shooting, social media has erupted in the expected din, self-righteous advocates on both sides of a hot button issue feverishly posting their little hearts out. It's a futile loudness war fought online with Tweets and memes and platitudes flying high, nobody winning and nobody backing down. Candlelight vigils, thoughts and prayers.

Fuck the candles. Ban the guns.

On one side of the war, logical human beings who would prefer to go to the movies, concerts, and class without getting shot at, who wish their children to attend a gun-free school, and who understand that "the right to bear arms" as originally written is egregiously outdated. This is a concept from another era, one during which the deadly power of today's automatic assault weapons couldn't possibly have been foreseen. If you can't understand that, you need your head examined. Put simply: you're fucking nuts.

There Is No 2nd Amendment Issue

Don't you understand how old your guns would have to be in order to be covered under the 2nd amendment? You are referring to a document from 1792. The year 1792 is before alarm clocks. Before refrigerators. In 1792 there was no such thing as ice cubes, man. Ice cubes.  Electricity in your home wasn't a given, neither was a flushing toilet. Outhouse city, pal.

So the 2nd Amendment, first of all, doesn't even say what you think it says, and secondly, even if it did, that was written down 225 years ago.

These semi-automatic rifles are not the "arms" written about, and you know it, and not only that, nowhere in the history of time did God have anything to do with it.

Tech Moves Faster Than God

Apparently American brains are wired to marvel over the vast changes since the 1980s than the changes since 1792. Maybe the span of time is too big, it's like trying to imagine what a hundred billion dollars in cash looks like, or the distance from earth to the Mars. While you're laughing at websites that let you nostalgically play Pong, you shake your head at how quaint 1980s tech seems by today's standards, and then you go back to playing *Doom on your Xbox. Pokemon Go on your phone Call of Duty Fortnite.

*Update September 2016, not Doom: Pokemon Go
*Update January 2017, Call of Duty
*Update March 2018, Fortnite

Take The Stairs.

1792 is a hundred and fifty years before the first mechanized elevator, in the 1930s. The elevator, or lift, was originally a rickety rattling car on pulleys in which you'd find an Elevator Operator. Ask your grandma, because surely in your lifetime you've never seen an Elevator Operator. Society advances, rolling ever forward churning out countless devices and ideas and standards, undergoing sweeping changes to the point where today's version of any random thing barely resembles its forebears. Because science and technology.

You've never met an Elevator Operator. You've also never seen a gas lamp lighter walking down your street at dusk, a milkman, or a guy knocking on your window to wake you up for work. These used to be people's jobs. The guys who penned the bill of rights, if Bill and Ted were to bring some of them back in a phone booth, would be shocked and appalled to find women voting, working, leading corporations and...wait, they didn't even know what a "corporation" was yet. They'd only gotten as far as "trading company," but you wouldn't find a woman leading one of those, either. Or even wearing pants. Women weren't counted as citizens and wouldn't be voting for another 130 years yet. Those men owned black people, as property you could buy and sell.

So how can you sit there and crow about your perceived "God given" right to stockpile deadly AK-15s, AK-47s, rapid-fire, magazine-fed weapons? Clips that hold 30 rounds and fire sixty times a minute?

These are not the "arms" intended as your "right" to bear. It's not the same thing at all. If you're so sure that it is, then live your entire life by 1792 standards. Stop driving. Stop icing your drinks. Stop using electricity. Because clearly you're all about living in 1792 forever and ever. Don't use the elevator. Take the stairs if everything should remain exactly the same for hundreds of years.

The Single Dumbest Thing I Saw Today

It was all I could do to stay my fingers from drawing my only weapon (words) to smite this Facebook stranger. But I try to avoid causing trouble on friends' Facebook pages anymore, however idiotic the person posting might be.

This woman replied to an anti-gun post and said, and I paraphrase...

"My husband and I own AK-15s. We take the kids to the firing range for fun. It's a good gun because it is lightweight and fires easily. We enjoy it and don't think anyone has any say in our choice."

Okay. I mean...take a beat here. Think of some things that have been banned or made illegal, either for health and safety reasons or simply because we have evolved as a civilization and have updated the terms of our social contract. Now substitute any of those things for what this person claims in her Facebook comment.

"My husband and I enjoy..."

 ...smoking cigarettes everywhere! In restaurants, in the car with the kids, and at our desks at work. Everywhere! We don't think anyone has any say in our choice.

...keeping our children out of school! So they can work in our fields. We don't care if they remain illiterate. Workers, that's why we had kids in the first place. We don't think anyone has any say in our choice.

...getting good and wasted! And the driving around whooping it up on joyrides in our un-insured, un-inspected car. We don't think anyone has any say in our choice.

...buying and selling people of color! Who else will do all the chores? We don't think anyone has any say in our choice.

Fuck this lady and her idiot husband. Oh, and also? They take the kids? To shoot guns? I know some Quaker families who don't even let their kids read Curious George because the Man With The Yellow Hat carries a gun. Yours are shooting semi-automatic rifles as recreation? You don't have kids, you have Statistics.

Fuck the NRA, Too

We have agreed as a whole people that slavery, drunk driving, smoking and lots of other things are too dangerous to public safety. Lawn darts. Lack of seatbelts. In no other circumstance is there a national-association-of -anything that is fighting to fund keeping these things around when it's clearly the wrong choice to do so.

The rest of us are trying to have a society here.

If you can look at an assault rifle, whose very name describes its intent, and lay claim to wield it "for fun" because you "enjoy it" and appreciate how "lightweight" and "easy to fire" it is, and for those reasons you're opposed to banning them, you're just not thinking clearly. Your priorities are all asunder. Furthermore, I don't even buy it. I think you know deep in your heart that the entire country should mobilize to confiscate every last one of them, melt them down and build a steel monument to peace in every town square.

Fuck the candles. Ban the guns. ∎

Monday, June 6, 2016

Taco Monday

Making the guacamole and salsa while my tortilla dough rests.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

This time it's Joey who's got jury duty

Joey was already gone when I woke up. Jury duty -- that shit starts early. He brought a book. It's Mel Torme's tell-all, The Other Side of the Rainbow: Behind the Scenes on the Judy Garland Television Series. Because of course it is. I got him that book from someone online. It's actually an old library book, so at first he thought we had to return it to the library.

"You mean I get to keep this?"

I love him so much.