Thursday, July 21, 2011


Over on the long-neglected Secret Beach Jukebox, I look back on the three days of peace, music and drug-sweat that comprised last weekend's incomprable Bitchpork festival. So hot! So loud! Relive the mindfuckery!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bonne fête à moi

I'd like to take a moment to publicly thank my Friends for fêting me with style yesterday, as the hour of my 31st birthday approached--they know how to put a smile on an old man's face. It was, I think, the first proper Birthday Party of my adult life. Usually I throw together something dinky at the last hour; last year's mini-party in the Victoria Park waterfall, for instance, was picturesque, high on charm but low on birthday-related boisterousness. There was definitely something to be said for this year's more debaucherous cut--five gallons of heavy hooch, three kinds of cole slaw, a DJ playing booty jams and a kiddie pool with inflatable throne upon which I drunkenly reclined, receiving gifts and feeling like a Pharaoh, or at least an LA playboy. Even better, the fifteen minutes of pure love bestowed on me by merry alchemists Shree Shrine, whose performance was an embarassment of riches featuring prayer bowls, freshly-popped popcorn, a five-minute volley of party poppers, half of which landed in my lap, confetti everywhere and an incredibly sincere version of this song, which I wrote and recorded in an hour way back in 2006. The whole thing was just off-the-charts sweet. Followed by full-blooded rock-n-roll testifying from Bret Koontz and John Wheatley--couple-a guitar-wielding hotheads with whom Secret Beach readers might be familiar--including a rousing, reach-for-the-stars rendition of Queen's Don't Stop Me Now from John that gave me a crucial second wind, several cups deep into the hooch as I was. That and the fine weather, bounty of delectable foodtuffs, plentiful inebriants and all-around excellent company made for a special evening that tickled me in all the right places. Thanks, y'all!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hot Dogs, Get'cher Hot Dogs

So, I've been hanging out a lot with my mom, who's been pretty sick, and is recovering from some major surgery, and today my visiting aunt Julie took her and I and my kid sister out to Costco--to stock up on garbage bags and other household basics, but also just as a sort of field trip for my mom, who hasn't been able to get out a whole lot this summer. It was my first-ever visit to the behemoth that is Costco, and my mom, who was wearing a hot pink peasant dress and in high spirits, suggested that there might be an "article" in it for me. I'll admit that I couldn't think of anything especially newsworthy about my first visit to Costco, but I think she thought that on this Independence Eve I might be able to mine the Costco Experience for, y'know, insight into the American character or something.

Which is a tall order; Costco, of course, is just a really big store, where they sell really big portions of everything under the sun, and, well, duh, that's pretty American--no Pulitzer for investigative journalism there. But as I've sat by the window with my pipe this evening and reflected on the day's events, I do find the vistas of Costco coming back to haunt me, and concede that the subject could merit a few words. The most memorable image, for me, was the spectacle of a dozen or so cow-eyed suburbanites, wrestling (as my sister put it) over half-portions of hot dogs that were on free sample--I'd say that in itself summed up the national mood pretty well, if it didn't seem so obvious. Apparently tasting stations are a major aspect of shopping at Costco--with everything from turkey burgers to gelato being offered, in gratis li'l demi-portions, one can (and does!) make a whole meal of the free samples. The other thing I found striking was the bizarre dimensions that products seemed to take on when sold in such massive quantities; looking at 24-packs of jumbo body lotion bottles, for instance, I couldn't help but imagine some overfed giantess sitting on a chaise lounge somewhere and moisturizing yards and yards of undulating flesh--I mean, who else is ever going to get through five gallons of skin product?

People like my mom and aunt and sister (and I) seem to wear a protective layer of irony when doing something like shopping at Costco--we're at least a little bit enlightened in that we can recognize the total obscenity of it. But this intellectual sense of remove didn't stop up from shopping enthusiastically--filling our (oversized) cart to capacity and topping it all off with gargantuan frozen yogurt sundaes. The deals are just overpowering. And, people like my mom (and aunt), who are post-operative and simple can't get around all that well have pretty legitimate reasons for wanting to stock up on toilet paper and dish soap. The place even struck a consumerist chord or two in me, at moments--I, who do half my shopping at the dollar store and generally only buy things when I have to. It sure would be nice, I found myself thinking, to have twenty pounds of coffee in my freezer, and be done with those shitty mornings when I've run out of the stuff and have to leave the house for my waking fix. Unfortunately, the one thing I really wanted to buy today--a portable li'l crackbox to play tapes on while I bike across town--Costco didn't carry. They may sell 'most anything else you can imagine (including, my mom joked, coffins), but I guess cassette players are just beyond the pale of obsolescence.

Anyway, my mom claims to read my 'blog on occasion--so here ya go, mom--not only did I complete your assignment but I turned in my copy the same day. Next time, though, can we go to the park or something?