Archive for September, 2003

one life, furnished in early cardboard

Hi. My name is Nathan, and I am a packrat.

boxes and boxes
Please note: this is the truck after it was halfway emptied. (Click for more.)

A full description of my move will come…later. For now, suffice it to say that it was, perhaps predictably, a fiasco of nigh-legendary proportions. The movers showed up 3 hours late, resulting in them having to try to negotiate the West Side Highway at rush hour in a 16-foot truck. Then one of the four men on the crew walked off the job halfway through. We finished up sometime around midnight, and that only because Miranda and I jumped in and started hauling boxes, and we paid the building superintendent’s son to help us.

Suffice it to say that I would not recommend Apollo Van Lines to anyone considering an in-city move in New York. (Phil, the crew foreman, was brilliant, and damn near literally carried the whole thing off on his own, but there was only so much one man could do.)

Moving remains my least favorite activity in the entire universe. I don’t think I shall be doing this again anytime soon.

the white-hot hate of a thousand burning suns (of hate)

I’m going to type out a longer version of this when I am no longer so angry that I can barely see straight. For now, a small announcement before I disappear down the rabbit-hole of packing again:

Verizon sucks.
Yes, I realize that this is not exactly what you would call earth-shattering news, but after several years of basically managing to live my life in a manner which involved as little contact as humanly possible with the pigfuckers, I am once again locked in a deadly embrace with the bastards, and each passing second only serves to remind me more and more why I was incredibly happy to spend the better part of five years not being their victimcustomer.

If you happen to be one of the many people who use my server ( for web hosting, email, or other services, and have noticed recently that it is, how to put this delicately, sucking shit through a straw, all I can say is: I know. Oh god do I know. I know exactly what the problem is. I know exactly what Verizon needs to do to fix it. I know exactly how long it will take them to perform this action once they actually bestir themselves to do so. (Fifteen seconds, including coffee breaks and travel time.) What I do not know is when they are going to do it. Because in order for me to know that, they would have to return any of the phone calls that I am now making on an hourly basis, and have been making for the last two days.

But they’re not going to do that. Not until they’re good and ready. After all, they’re the only DSL provider in all of 10034. And Congress happily rewrote the laws for them last year so that they will always be the only DSL provider in 10034. And they already have my money. So why on earth should they care? I guess I can’t think of a reason either.

The true agony here is that I had to call XO to cancel my Brooklyn DSL line today. The poor woman on the line asked me why I was doing this, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown at her.

one from the archives

I can’t believe I didn’t dig this out last week when John Kerry officially announced his candidacy. Silly me.

happy birthday, mister senator

Yeah, that’s me, in 1996, pestering John Kerry at the Boston Pride Parade. To his credit, he did not flinch when I shook his hand and made eye contact. Despite his occasionally wishy-washy politics, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the guy because of it.

For scale calibration in that photo, I am six feet and one inches tall. (185.5cm for you euros.) Kerry towered over me. If he ever quits politics, he has a hell of a career as a scarecrow in front of him.

forever after


Michaela and Karen’s UnWedding

I cannot believe that I took two hundred and twenty-one pictures. I am even more shocked that I managed to get them transferred, cropped and edited in under 48 hours. Oh, my achin’ fingers.

The ceremony was the social highlight of my year, easily. Old friends, new friends, beautiful people, beautiful outfits, excellent food, good music, good company. I couldn’t have wished for more. God only knows when I’ll get a chance to wear the shoes again, but I’ll figure something out, I’m sure.

Many, many thanks to and for an amazing evening, and of course my continuing best wishes to the happy couple.



parallel lines meet at infinity
Parallel lines meet at infinity.

the visual presentation of quantitative data: a small example

a billion here, a billion there...


copyright violation du jour

Thanks to for turning me on to the incredible Aesop Rock. I’m just in awe.


Yo…put one up shackle me, not clean logic procreation
I did not invent the wheel I was the crooked spoke adjacent
While the triple sixers lassos keep angels roped in the basement
I walk the block with a halo and a stick poking your patience
Ya’ll catch a 30 second flash visual
Dirty cooperative Neptune blue head hurt splits
Ridiculous fathom the splicing of first generation
fuck up or trickle down anti hero smack (Cracking!)
I paste the game to zero all completion green (Splash!)
Took an early retirement pick a dream
American nightmare hogging the screen
I’ll hold the door open so you can stumble in
if you would stop following me around the jungle gym
Now it’s an honor and I spell it with the ‘H’ I stole from heritage
Marry crutch stolen wretched refuge refuse my teaming resonance
I promise temperance storm breed with a leaning conscious
In a credence relax responsive with my sports outsource the wattage
And I’m sleeping now (Wow!) And the settlers laugh
You won’t be laughing when your covered wagons crash
You won’t be laughing when the buzzards drag your brother’s flags into rags
You won’t be laughing when your front lawn is spangled with epitaphs
You won’t be laughing
And I hang my boots to rest when I’m impressed
So I triple knot them then I forgot them
This origami dream is beautiful
but man those wings will never leave the ground
Without a feather and a lottery ticket, now settle down

All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.

Slacker bounded imitated tabloid headlined with the post
Shimmy cross the centerfold, and a dead time engulfed
Giving crumbs for the better souls with seven deadly sins
To hear the plane to crystal conscious
To results a low life counting on one hand what he’s accomplished
Ok, lift me to activism chain activate street sweep
Plug in deteriorating zenith pen dragging
I hack swords wars for the morbid spreading of mad men
Now he’s got soul
Sitting there licking log cabin in Charlie Chaplin waddle
I could zig zag and zig ‘em again for the bad dreams
Sparking my brick wall windows another thicket storm
And if one night in Gotham without the wretched
Houston we have a problem
Dispatch a task of infested patch of city goblins
Who split how many freaks with box cuts of a high road bellow
Heads ripped! Watch red bricks turn yellow
Sort of similar to most backbones at camp Icarus
Raw feelings start congregating at pamper for bickering
Life’s not a bitch life is a beautiful woman
Your only call her a bitch because she won’t let you get that pussy
Maybe she didn’t feel y’all shared any similar interests
Or maybe you’re just an asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess
Kiss the speaker wire or either pass it for some pagan thresh hold
Stomach full of halo kibbles
Wings span cast black of porn visuals hear the duck hunt ticker tape
Vision and pick apart the pixels
I got a friend of polar nature and it’s all peace
When I seek similar stars but can’t sit at the same feast
Metal Captain!
This cat is asking if I’ve seen his little lost passion
I told him: “Yeah, but only when I pedaled past him”

All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way.

(Can’t play ogg vorbis files? Try here.)

duty now for the future

As I’ve previously noted, one of the occupational hazards of working at a media company is that there are televisions in the office, and their strange noise emissions occasionally penetrate my carefully maintained wall of obliviousness.

Today, it was a commercial. For a dustmop/paper towel hybrid thing called a “Swiffer.” In and of itself, an innocuous invention — I even own one. The problem was that the commercial, and the new tagline to the product, were set to music. A tune that was once kinda popular, by a band that one or two people remember. Which tune, which band? I want to emphasize that I am not making this up:

when you’ve got a dirty floor
you need swiffer!
under table, stove and door
you need swiffer!
it never is a chore
with the swiffer!

the swiffer!
place looks great!
it’s not too late!
to swiff-it!
and swiff it good!
Yes, you read that right: household goods ubercompany Proctor and Gamble is using DEVO as their new advertising jingle. And the truly insane part? It’s not a studio band doing the singing: It actually is DEVO.

I guess we can expect the AAMR‘s next Public Service Announcement spot to use “Mongoloid” as the soundtrack. Are we not men?

I can’t make this stuff up.

A while back, tired of endlessly scribbling down my name and number for people or doing the palm pilot fumble-dance, I took advantage of an offer from a company called VistaPrint to send me a pack of “free” business cards. Well, okay, they cost $10 for “shipping and handling”, but they were reasonably thick, had a cute color pattern on them, and — most importantly — I could design them and order them from the web, without having to talk to a single salesperson. Win.

I was about halfway through my first pack of 250 cards when self-inflicted catastrophe struck: I completely forgot that I needed to renew my P.O. Box in november, and the kind souls at the Bowling Green Station quickly and efficiently gave the box to someone else. I should note for the record that this was the only quick or efficient thing they had ever done in 4 years of holding a PO Box there.

Since the whole reason I’d forgotten was that I was no longer working anywhere near Bowling Green and thus was only checking the box once every few months or so, I took this as a perfect opportunity to get a box a bit closer to my current office, at the Canal Street post office. (Where they may or may not be any more efficient, but where at least when they are slacking off and exchanging office gossip right behind the window that I am waiting at, I am blissfully ignorant of the slacking, for they are gossiping in Mandarin.)

That sorted, the obvious next step was to order a new box of cards, which I dutifully did. A week after the order was made, I got a friendly email notice that they’d dispatched the cards to me. Today, the cards arrived. Unfortunatly, they are not my cards. They are, in fact, well:

this is not the card you are looking for

The best part of this is the certain knowledge that somewhere in Nigeria, one very confused doctor is holding a box of bright purple cards that say “Doctor Memory — My Minions are Everywhere!” I guess I’ve done my part to advance the cause of international surrealism today.

all analogies are useless…

…but some are more useless than others.

Good morning, America! And how are we on this fine, clear, beautiful… what’s that you say? Quiet down? You’re not feeling well? Uh oh. Sorry, here, I’ll dim the lights a bit. So what happened then? Get a little rowdy last night, did we? Eyes bigger than your liver? Woke up next to some country you didn’t recognize or even find particularly attractive, wondering where that ring on your finger came from? Tsk tsk, you’d think you’d’ve learned to drink in moderation by now.

Ladies and gentlemen: the imperialism hangover.

I’ve been avoiding saying much about Big Trouble in Little Persia for a while now, because, well, fuck, it’s not like I had much left to say. The anti-war coalition was the usual horrible assemblege of the earnest and the deranged, and it got worked over like an 86-ed patron at a mafia nightclub who got too lippy with the bouncers: wham, bam, here’s your teeth, don’t come back. After the Marines rolled into Baghdad, turning away and concentrating on trying to have a life again only made sense. The US press showed no interest in looking closely at the coterie of carpetbaggers that the DoD had lined up to be Iraq’s new government, and even that became a moot point pretty quickly when it became obvious that no government of any sort was going to be taking root in Iraq for at least six months if not more. We broke it, we bought it: nothing to do but sit tight and pray the MPs could learn on their feet, `cause the problems facing post-war Iraq were and are the sort that respond not at all to state-side protesting or editorializing, much less blogging.

So having cleverly disclaimed any notions of relevance or usefuless, I’m going to natter away on a few small points that have been bugging me recently.

First off: Niger? Uranium? State of the union address? Someone page the Forestry Service and see if we can borrow one of their seach and rescue teams, because this story seems to have vanished without a trace. Okay, it’s not like this was particularly surprising: with the GOP in charge of both houses of Congress, the odds of any substantial inquiry into this were exactly zero, but as a card-carrying member of the Liberal Media™ (or at least its support organization), it’s still depressing: the President gets caught red-handed lying to the entire country about Iraq having an active nuclear weapons program (you know, putatively the exact reason we went to war), and the best we can summon up is 2 weeks of moderate outrage and then it’s on to 24-hour Kobe Bryant coverage.

What I want to know is: just how badly do you have to fuck up to get fired from the Bush administration? Seriously here. Let’s just ignore for a minute that the Niger story was actually completely unexceptional in that it was merely one slightly bigger-than-average lie among an entire herd of lies all being driven in service of a policy that was formulated, devised and implemented in a spirit of prevarication. Let’s take the administration’s excuses at face value: some flunky at the NSC got overly happy about the Niger story, Condi Rice signed off on it, and poor, hapless W recited it on prime time. Why was said flunky not summarily dismissed? Why does Dr. Rice still have a job? Can’t they even pretend to take this shit seriously for a minute?

Point the second: In my lofty position as a person of no particular influence whatsoever, I’d like to take this moment to call for a universal and permanent moratorium on comparing the situation in Iraq to Vietnam. Yes, it’s a quagmire, yes we’re overextended and underbefriended. Yes, we’re well into the “mission creep” phase. But it’s the wrong analogy. Really. Vietnam was a civil war cum superpower proxy battle, which we actually joined late in the game, and in which it can honestly be said that we did have plenty of allies on the ground, we just happened to pick the side that couldn’t win under the rules the war were fought under.

Iraq does look suspiciously like a past conflict, but Vietnam isn’t it.

About twenty years ago, an advanced western-style army swept into an unstable but still holding-together middle eastern country, ostensibly to protect themselves from an imminent threat, but really because the people orchestrating the attack believed that it was the first step in completely and positively reordering the politics of the entire region. The loud and repeated objections of the rest of the world were blithely ignored. They did this with confidence partly because of promises from a group of rebels on the inside who’s strength and support turned out to be largely illusory once they arrived. They romped to an easy formal military victory, but shortly thereafter found themselves unable to actually control the country they’d conquered, and became sitting-duck targets in the middle of a multi-way civil war where the only thing the various factions could agree on was dislike of the invaders. A few of the native leaders who were interested in cooperating with the occupiers were quickly assassinated by other factions, and the remaining ones lost interest as a result.

Sound familiar yet? To my eyes and ears, Iraq in 2003 is starting to look painfully similar to Lebanon in 1982. And surprise surprise, there’s good ol’ reliable Ariel Sharon stuck right in the middle of both of them.

The second time, not as farce, just a bigger, messier tragedy. Are we having fun yet?