Tuesday, November 30, 2004


He walked up the stairs from the subway. He was a bit buzzed from the bottle of wine he had just finished with a friend, which he was pleased with. He always thought that sharing a bottle with a friend is one of the truer pleasures still available to him in this world. That and smelling the wood burning in a fireplace.
It was raining out. Not a heavy rain but a mere drizzle not even worthy of an opened umbrella. It felt okay as the little drops of water gently hit his face. He felt like he was having 'a moment' like he's seen actors have in movies when they felt liberated or cleansed. Pela's song 'Latitudes' was playing in his ears and he thought no song could be more appropriate for right now. Perhaps Coldplay's 'Clocks' would have worked, he thought, but that is so cliché' I'm almost embarrassed for thinking it.

As he made his way down the block to his apartment, he closed his eyes. He wasn't sure why. It just seemed like a good idea. Every thing happening right now was to experience a moment...or rather, more appropriately, to assist the moment in happening correctly. As he walked into the slight refreshing drizzle, with his head tilted upwards, as the music played in his ears, he went elsewhere. He couldn't help but think of her. He sighed. Although, he didn't want to think of her, he did. As disappointed as he was in himself, he didn't think it worthy to fight his thoughts. We are like a photo album, he considered, and with every person we love, we meet, every friend we befriend...they become the pictures that fill us. Without them, we are just an empty album. And to continue in this metaphor, because he so loved metaphors, he wouldn't want to lose any the pictures forever. While he was still not ready to look at some of them, nevertheless, he wouldn't want to take them out of the album to tear them up or burn them or to leave them out in the street so someone could find them lying on the sidewalk near the garbage and wonder who those people are and do they miss this lost picture. Gosh, he would think, they sure do look happy.

This made him laugh. Sometimes photos can be so deceiving. They are literally moments caught in time and they have nothing to do with the present. Sometimes, he continued, they can almost contradict the present. Look at four months ago. Ha, he laughed again. Four months ago had nothing to do with now and now has nothing, absolutely nothing, zero, to do with four months ago. It frustrated him how the past only existed in the past. How he could not look into the pictures and wish that moment's return. It's my moment, he argued. Shouldn't I have the flexibility to re-experience it whenever I please?

He continued down the street with his eyes still closed. In his tipsy condition, the unknowing made him both slightly nervous and excited but he would not open his eyes just yet because the moment must continue. Yes, he thought. For the moment! Then he began to think of others and wonder about them, as well. He regretted the unnecessary friction he experienced with some. He even regretted the tensions that existed for significant reason but reality dictated that those tensions were still necessary so he would let them be. Sometimes he had to wait for hours, months, days, or years for those conflicts to subside. He wished he didn't miss people. He once had a friend that would always say I don't miss anyone. He never believed the friend because, really, how was that possible? You had to miss someone at some point?
But then he spent a few weeks overseas with that friend and never did he hear Friend express any longing. Maybe it was possible. Maybe he truly didn't miss anyone. And could I be like that?

He finally opened his eyes, standing right before his apartment building. He walked towards the door and his doorman opened it for him.
'How's it going," the doorman asked.
"Everything is great,' he said back.

And with this, his moment was over.

Monday, November 29, 2004


(Mute Records)

In the seven years its taken Erasure to release a new album, we’ve seen its inconsistent offspring, Electroclash come and go. And while it was an admirable goal to recreate the world as the soundtrack for a John Hughes film, the synthesized and synthetic scene that originated in Brooklyn felt too ironic and self-aware. Look at us, the music said, we are so hilariously retro. Now, do you like our legwarmers?

With their remarkable comeback, Nightbird, Erasure’s original and only two members, Andy Bell and Vince Clarke show us what a group is truly capable of if they were to wear their heart out on their sequined sleeve. The assured confidence and sophistication of songs like “Here I Go Impossible Again” and “Don’t Say You Love Me” bring us back to the sugary-sweet time when their hit song “Chains Of Love” asked us ‘do you remember once there was a time?” Brimming with a youthful optimism (Bell and Chase are both respectively in their 40’s) the first single, “Breathe” shimmers with Bell’s distinct falsetto and Clarke’s three-dimensional production. The song is, dare I say it, rather moving.

The lyrical inspirations on Nightbird, like most of Erasure’s catalogue, still focuses on obsessive love; how to win it back, how to let it go, or how to celebrate while being in it (if that’s even possible). But most of all, the duo’s eleventh record is such a welcome return because it’s comfortable embracing its roots, as opposed to electro-clashing with them.

Joseph Arthur
Our Shadows Will Remain
(Vector Recordings)

Joseph Arthur is not the person you call when you’re looking for someone to cheer you up. As incredibly talented as the severely underrated New York singer-songwriter is, he is by no means a pick-me-upper. After four sonically and lyrically strong albums exploring the vulnerability of man and the pain that comes along with it, Arthur presents us with his strongest release yet, Our Shadows Will Remain. An album this consistent and evocative should bring Arthur out of the dreaded lurches of Critical Acclaim and into the homes of fans of Jeff Buckley, Leonard Bernstein, and Peter Gabriel. Successfully alternating between multiple genres, like the subtle and heavenly beauty of “Echo Park” (a relative to the Shins’ “New Slang”) to the New Order-like pulse of “Puppets,” Our Shadows is a triumph overcast, not with shadows, but with the sentiments of an eclectic and sensitive soul.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


Dear Audrey,

Wow. Ahem. So I'm...umm, sorry to bother you. I hope it's cool that I'm writing. I realize that you must get mail like this all the time. I mean, you are a most inspiring face, attached to a most glorious head, sitting on top of a long, porcelain neck. That face could melt precious metals with a mere glance. Those chocolate pupils gaze longingly like brown pearls plucked from the mouths of oysters. Let us celebrate your hair in all its simplicity! Yes. Let us! It is brown and fallen like the leaves of autumn. There is nothing special about your hair, which in turn makes it even more special. The fingers that have run through the silken strands on your head are envious fingers. In fact, fingers everywhere wish to be those fingers, to have found their way through your flaxen follicles. And the skin you possess; like the milky smoothness of the sweetest creams imported from countries that are too difficult to pronounce. How do you say that again, I would ask? And the merchant would laugh. Ha, he would say. It's pronounced 'France.'

Am I being too dramatic here? My apologies, dear Audrey. But you bring out the drama in me. While watching you, I feel a four-act play stir inside of me complete with soliloquies, poetic dialogue, and perhaps a murder or two. Of course, a relative eventually revenges the murder. We know all good plays have a death avenged. If you think about it, I'm right.

But I must restrain myself. It's not healthy to gush as I am. Truthfully, I have admired you since I first saw you. You are that captivating. I am a prisoner of war and you are my ever-watchful guard, holding me in your cell. I cannot escape, no matter how hard I try. I should add that I don't mind this cell, though, because its actually quite comfortable with good taste. Thanks for making this cell so easy to be a prisoner in. Perhaps you should consider decorating alongside acting because I love what you've done with the place. Lovely. Just lovely.

Moroever, I very much appreicate the concept of you. It makes me feel good inside. And so far everything I know about you is consistent with my preconceived image of you. It gives me great hope. Do you hear it? There's a sound outside and it is the sound of hope. It echoes like birds and xylophones and babies laughing and smirking smiles and brewing lattes. It is glorious. Hearken!
Despite the fact that our distance will always remain the way it is now, I thank you nevertheless for being. Yes. Just 'being.'

And that's what this letter is about. It's not a fan letter per se. It's not a boost to your ego (oh, but you need it. Is it possible to believe that someone with your grace and sublimity is still so incredibly modest? Yes it is, I say. Well done, I say).

Audrey, this letter is an appreciation. While we sometimes feel that it's all so uncertain (what is, you ask? well, all of it is), we can look at your face and say 'this person exists. We're ok. Now, let's go get some ice cream.' We are clapping for you. A standing ovation is hard to come by but you earn it with an enviable aplomb. I can only hope to see you more in the future because you have this uncanny ability to inspire with a glance. With that angular and arrow-shaped smirk, you could liight up eighteen cities all in desperate need of light. You are classical music. You are wonderous weather. You are floating air. You defy words...and I am, once again, being dramatic.

Thank you and please, just continue to be.

Best wishes,

Thursday, November 25, 2004


My nephews and niece
The doorman that says after every conversation we have 'a pleasure to talk to you again.'
Those amazing muffins from Crumbs
My own bathroom
Tea; any flavor
Instant messenger; text messages
Hugs and/or high-fives
Cheap domestic beer
Random out-of-the-blue emails from people thought long lost
This website and its readers
Little House On The Praire now out on DVD
Movie matinees
Sesame Chicken
Kelly Clarkeson's new song
My imagination
Free CDs
Incredible friends
Laughter; providing and participating
An inspiring and emotionally rich year
A difficult and challenging year
A newfound appreciation of tofu
This Ulrich Schnauss CD that I listen to when I write
The serene effect of rain
Canadians and their quaintness
Life in all its perplexing glory
Ellen DeGeneres
A good book
Secrets and the people you can trust them with
This computer I'm using
The thesaurus
Clean laundry
When someone makes dinner for me
Memories; good and/or bad
Jamba Juice; Popcorn, Indiana
Patience, kindness, understanding, warmth
Hot dogs; turkey, chicken, or beef
Peanut butter and jelly
You...yes, you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


My father would have turned sixty today had he still been alive.
It's quite a surreal thought to consider that time stops for the deceased. My father is forever etched into my memories as fifty-eight. He does not grow older. He does not develop bad knees. He does not start forgetting things. He is as he was; personable, funny, charming, warm and loving.

I remember year after year we had a very hard time buying a present for him. Dad would always say that he had already gotten everything he wanted; a loving wife, two doting and accomplished daughters and a precocious son that inherited his personality. He found it very hard to discipline me because he would have acted out in the same way had he been my age (and as my grandmother always told me, he was a handful himself when he was younger).

My father was constantly supportive of my unconventional path. While he would have been happier seeing me devote myself to a more stable and practical lifestyle, he was proud of my creative side and encouraged it. I will never forget the day when Dad picked me up from school and had Bruce Springsteen's newest CDs ('Lucky Town' and 'Human Touch') waiting for me in the car. I remember when he bought me an Elton John boxed set for Chanukah and a Yes boxed set a couple of years later. I will never forget the day when he brought me to a small, independently-owned record store near my school so I could buy U2's 'Achtung Baby' the day it came out. The store hadn't even opened yet but we waited outside until the lethargic clerk unlocked the door. Perhaps this is the reason why this album is still my favorite record of all time. While it is inherently a brilliant masterpiece, the emotional value makes it even more significant to me and the story of my life.

Today I have been thinking a great deal about the present I would have bought him had he still been alive. And truthfully, as aforementioned, I would still have a difficult time. I wouldn't get him a tie, not a pair of socks or even the wool sweater vests he loved so much. But then again, I don't think I would buy him anything at all. Considering Dad made me what I am today, I would have to show him my gratitude by making him a mix CD. Sounds odd, perhaps. But I would want to give him some insight into what I care so much about. I would want to introduce him to the things I love so much thanks to his support. Because he encouraged this path, he brought me to the wonderful (albeit nearly-broke) place that I am right now. Granted he would probably not listen to mix all that often (he loved listening to the news) but it's the only thing I could think of. An 80-minute sampling of the gift that he will never stop giving to me despite his not being physically here.

I laugh when I recall how my father once called me to tell me that Sting was on TV. He excitingly told me that "Sting's on the TV now. Turn it on. Don't you like them?" I didn't have the heart to correct him because I was so touched. My father didn't even know if Sting was a man or a group. Nevertheless, he recognized the name probably from a time when he was in a record store with me. Dad thought of calling me right away--he was selfless like that.
And in my mind, in my memories, whenever I listen to music, he will always be that thoughtful dad. He will always remain caring, encouraging, and warm.

Moreover, he will always be fifty-eight.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Tonight I am returning to stand-up comedy for the first time in two years. The big event will take place at Caroline's located on Broadway between 50th and 51st at 7PM. Wish me luck

Friday, November 19, 2004


Last night, I watched my first complete episode of The OC. And well, truthfully, I kinda enjoyed it.
Besides the indie-rock-centric plot revolving around the Walkmen, one of my favorite local New York bands, the forced and obviously scripted banter was quite fun to follow. I didn't mind that with every word spoken I could see a room full of disheveled twenty-somethings typing it out. The characters, while beautiful, were approachable. I almost found myself hoping that I had or would have friends like them.

Granted I've come late to the series but I think last night's episode was a particular relevant one for me to begin my viewing experience. First off, the focal point of the episode was Adam Brody's character otherwise known as "Seth Cohen." I am beyond a shadow of a doubt certain that his character was based on me. I am certain that the Fox people are watching me with hidden cameras and have bugged my room with little useable microphones. Since we are both geeky (the act of self-proclaiming is never attractive. I know that) and we both obsess over things perhaps too much. Basically, we are both the products of watching too many Woody Allen movies.

But I find a great comfort in Cohen because he is not instantly likeable. The comic-reading, music obsessed character is not someone you take notice of when he walks into a room. But oddly enough, he has surfaced as the sex symbol of the show. It took us two seasons to familiarize ourselves with him but when we got there (to Know), we were happy to be there. I can only hope that that too is a similarity that we share.

On a recent Saturday night, I went to a party at a club of some sorts. The music was quite loud and the interactions between men and woman were not of a conversational nature. Needless to say, I felt out of my element because, like Cohen, my strength lies in talking, not grinding.

I couldn't help but think that we find such value in taking the time to get to know a television character but yet we ignore our need to get to know the people around us. As I looked around the party, I saw many attractive people. I wondered if they were having a good time. I wondered which one of them would be interesting to talk to. But that night, I wouldn't find out because on this Saturday night, no one was interested in having a conversation.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


David: I don't think I need to do anything any more. Like, ever.

Catherine: Michael, I'm not desperate. Then remind me again why I'm doing cell phone commercials?

Jane: God. I just hate smiling.

Johnny: Whatev.

Monday, November 15, 2004


The following is the original intro I wrote for the Beastie Boy story which is now featured in Heeb Magazine Issue 7 (the cover story). Due to space constraints, the text had to be significantly re-worked and edited so here it is as it was originally written in all it's length and wonder. [When you do pick up the new issue, look on page 5 for a good chuckle]

As children, our grandfathers had a saying in Yiddish that they would repeat quite often: shver tzu zein a yid. And while we knew that indeed “it was hard to be a Jew”--after all, we were never allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons— we still felt it was even harder to be a cool Jew. Faced with the prospect of being either an accountant, a doctor or a lawyer (flexibility allowed the option of also being a real estate developer), we noticed a great disconnect from our Hebrew schoolteachers to the Crockets and the Tubbs, the Mike Seavers, and the Duran Durans of the world.
But then in 1986, that all changed when we walked into our local record store, stood in the “rap” section, which was nowhere near the Elton John tapes, and picked out a cassette copy of The Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill.
After repeated listens, we walked differently. We dressed differently. We rebelliously wore sunglasses to school and lifted our collars up. We bought fake I.D.’s or just tried to get the adults to buy forties for us. No longer would we restrict ourselves to being accountants, lawyers, and doctors. After all, thanks to Ad Rock, MCA, and Mike D, not only could we grow up to be cool but we could even become rappers.

Years later, I am walking to the Beastie Boys headquarters located on an exclusive and private street on the Lower West Side. It’s a surreal moment and I’m not quite sure what to expect. I turn up the block to find that MCA is also making his way towards the building. We are both almost a half-hour early for the interview. Perhaps even icons get tired of showing up late for interviews and making a grand entrance. With a lethargic shuffle, lazily sipping an iced coffee, Adam strolls down the block, as if his feet were cemented to the sidewalk. His grayish hair and a three-day salt & pepper stubble growing on his face adds to his humble presence which confuses me; as a child, The Beastie Boys were cultural role models, living proof that even Jewish adults could possess a reverential cool. They wore orange jumpsuits, manically pounced around a circumferential stage, shouted their pop culture-heavy rhymes to the point of vocal exhaustion, But now, MCA, who taught me how to fight for my right to party, looked like he wanted nothing to do with either fighting or partying.
I nod. He nods back, then looks down, and takes another sip of his large iced coffee.


It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Three wisecracking Jewish teenagers from Brooklyn, NY with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and an almost exclusive hardcore punk background come along with their after-school pranks in 1986 and dominate the hip-hop community. In fact, to further illustrate the joke, their first song, “Cookie Puss” sampled a crank call and the titular Carvel Ice Cream mascot. But still, everyone from Run DMC to Russell Simmons touted The Beastie Boys as the next generation of rap. The B-Boys, on the other hand, were still laughing all the way to the bank. Their innovative approach gave birth to a new kind of Jewish sensibility, bringing the shtick without ever using the word “shtick.” They were the summer camp pranksters we could all relate to. They could crank call punk icon, Ian Mackaye, and twenty years later, still be proud of it.

Adam Horovitz, known as Ad Rock (sixteen years old at the time), MCA, and the third member, Michael Diamond, going by the name of Mike D, were hardly veterans when, months later, they were opening Madonna’s Like A Virgin Tour but nevertheless, they stole the ray of limelight from the Material Girl. In retrospect, it’s difficult to imagine a towering twenty foot phallus standing firm on the stages of sold-out arenas across the country which, later that night, would be hosting one of America’s most adored sex symbols…but it happened. Add to that, that the three under-aged frat boys were dancing around the large member (yes, circumcised) praising the value of girls and their dish-washing skills and promising to the bewildered crowd that they’d continue their self imposed insomnia until they reached Brooklyn.

Then a few years later, after they had already been dismissed as one-hit, ok, a few-hit wonder, The Beastie Boys returned with Paul’s Boutique, a masterpiece that broke barriers, stole samples, and cited Patty Duke, Fred Flintstone, and Alice and Sam from The Brady Bunch all in the first song. If you thought that they had nerve in 1986, then consider how many bands today would use samples of The Beatles, James Brown and Led Zeppelin on their album without permission. We watched The Beastie Boys graduate from being instinctual party boys to actual musicians. The influence and impact on the Jewish youth was becoming clear. For example, MTA, an all boys Yeshiva in Washington Heights, took credit for the Brooklyn three’s chutzpadic development claiming that they had all attended the Jewish day school and were even kicked out for eating in a White Castle. In a Paul Is Dead rumor fashion, the urban myth was perpetuated by the fact that there were “intentional” hints in song lyrics and on album covers. And even before our interview took place, ex-students and current teaching staff called me and asked that I get to the bottom of this average-height tale (do you know of any Jewish tales that are tall?).

Moreover, the oddest discovery for the trio was that Paul’s Boutique was garnering critical acclaim. Music critics went so far as to grant the album classic status with five star reviews and adulation. In old band interviews, amidst the gags and “clever” retorts, after being rebels for so long, The Beasties admit to their surprise with this newfound acceptance. Even now, when we talk, MCA, Mike D and Ad Rock belittle their cultural relevance, claming that throughout their career, they were just being themselves, not trying to be the purveyors of ever-evolving trends. They are at ease with being themselves. Yauch doesn’t die his hair. Horovitz embraces his inner “funky-ass Jew” and Diamond talks about his children most of the time.

But we should confess; we know that The Beastie Boys have graced just about every magazine cover in the past few months. Well, hasn’t it been six long years since we all spent time together? Like family we haven’t seen since the last Bar Mitzvah, the fans wanted to catch up and take advantage of their return (and also find out why two of them aren’t married yet). And a notable return it is. Embracing their Judaism on the record for the first time with call-outs to kugel and matzah, The Beasties have suddenly become eager to pronounce their heritage and of course, an affinity for falafel. In fact, when I tell them about the best falafel stand in New York on 46th and 6th, Yauch writes it down and swears to go there. It’s a curious thing to me; while we only discuss their Jewish lyrics peripherally, I can’t help but consider this overlooked notion as an embracing of their roots. As the years pass, perhaps the Beastie Boys realize why they are so important. Not because they were successful white rappers—there were some before them and they will always continue to emerge and exist. Not because they were politically active—after all, didn’t we already have a Public Enemy, a Tribe Called Quest, a KRS-One? Adam, Adam and Mike were so relevant because they broke a cultural barrier and helped to define and shape a majority of us. We would be naïve if we didn’t admit to that. They produced a commercial and mass-appealed defiance that felt more entertaining, more celebratory than the angst and the non-conformity of the Joey Ramones or the Lou Reeds. A Lenny Bruce-like insurgence that you could also “shake your rump” to.
But moreover, the 5 Boroughs is also a place where Adam, Adam and Mike skewer the President and demand that we, the listeners, instigate a force of change, all the while, still incorporating phrases like “doo-doo” and “hairy ass.” Like a Shul rabbi who reprimands his congregation, the Beasties provided the serious rebuke while inserting jokes to balance it out.
But, sadly, up to now, every interview and article we’ve read, approached the Beasties as products, as political spokesmen, or as hip-stars. Personally, we’ve yet to read nary a word about the men behind the Boys, about their families’ lineage, about their true opinions on the Licensed to Ill era, or for that matter, where they all went (or didn’t go) to high school.

I sit with Adam Yauch and Adam Horovitz (Mike, who just had a baby, spoke with me on the phone from LA) in their cramped dining room, outside the recording studio. There is nothing fancy or ostentatious about their headquarters with the exception of a noisy ice machine. Horovitz, wearing a Le Tigre T-shirt (lead singer, Kathleen Hanna, is his girlfriend) and an uncharacteristic gold chain bracelet with an emergency response tag, fidgets a great deal. He has the younger brother complex of the three, easily distracted and perhaps less inclined to take himself (or my questions) seriously. Yauch, with his weathered Tom Waits-like rasp, answers me with a subtle hesitance, almost suggesting a fragile self-awareness.
Overall, our conversation, which almost fools me into thinking that we are indeed old friends, is relaxed, honest and completely…conversational. Most strikingly, the Adam two, the interviewees, even ask me, the interviewer, a few questions--a Haley’s comet-like occurrence (once in every seventy-two interviews).

I ask the Beasties about the questions they’ve been asked repeatedly, in order to avoid them and also to get straight to the more Jewy stuff. One of the queries that comes up constantly, Ad Rock tells me, is where have they been all these years. Another one which they find particularly asinine is do they regret taking the name “The Beastie Boys.” The answer, of course, is no. And while they don’t elaborate on the rationale behind that succinct response, our conversations helps me come up with a logic of my own. See, the three middle age-men that make up The Beastie Boys haven’t changed in their near-twenty years together. They are still having fun, doing something that makes them genuinely happy. It’s not complex. It’s not political. It’s not intentionally seeking out trends or new styles. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being a rapper. Sometimes, it’s as simple as not being an accountant.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Dear Coward,

Uhh...yeah, you.
Well, Ward...mind if I call you 'Ward' for short? I feel bad for you. Honest. Not in a condescending way, just in a man-are-you-in-for-a-rough-life-way. You are so out of touch with yourself and your emotions. You build these walls and won't allow yourself to be alone, to be introspective and self-aware. Instead of resolving your issues, you exacerbate them by offering yourself to any random person and finding comfort in the fleeting combination of convenience and false intimacy. Like Hall & Oates so eloquently said, you're out of touch (clap, clap).

Oh, yeah, you've used words like "love" and "happy" before but you have no idea what they mean. You think they're expressions or conditions that come and go with the seasons. Update, Cronkite; its so much more significant than that. It's true and potent, it's something so complex and essential that it requires effort and honesty, both of which you know nothing about. It's unfortunate that you won't allow yourself to see the riches you have to offer and that your self-image is so poor that the only way you can feel confident is by being in a relationship. Pretty tough talk, isn't this? Yeah, I know. Look, I'm not pulling punches here because you've never faced reality. And not that I should be the one to provide it...but if not now, when? Whoa, dude, look at your watch--it's reality o' clock. You're late.
I mean, do you realize that life will never get better the way it's being lived? It's just going to get harder and progressively more torturous if you perpetuate this behavior. It's a cycle, you see. If it's so easy for you to not feel right now then how can you expect to feel in the future? How can you expect to have a loving family when you don't even love yourself?

You ask how people don't get over each other within a month or two of their relationship's end...I think the fact that you're wondering that presents a major problem here, dontcha think? I've found that in life we are confronted with heavy and serious issues over and over again and the best way to deal with them is, appropriately enough, by dealing with them. Not by sweeping them under the carpet along with the collected dust from previous disasters. Coward, take comfort in your sweeping abilities. You are a great sweeper. If there were a sweeping event, you would win gold. Well, actually, maybe the silver because I know this other person who's a better sweeper than you. Bummer, ain't it? To think that, gosh, I'm so good at something and there's someone that can do it better. Sucks. I know.
And by the way, rebound ain't just a river in Egypt. Do you think any one considers what you have now to be sincere and real? Poor guy. He doesn't see what's coming in two months, in two years, whenever. Oh, it's coming. Trust me. Like a crazy self-proclaimed prophet, honey, I'm on the street corner with a sign that reads: the end is nigh.

Truthfully, you cowards really frustrate me because I can't relate to you. Unlike your kind, I try to handle problems head on. Work through them like those thousand piece puzzles. God, those are so challenging...but when they're done...I see this pretty picture of a horsey near a barn with flowers and stuff.

Here's my advice: grow up. You're not in high school anymore so act like it. I remember being in high school because it was so traumatic. How was I supposed to know that Champion sweatshirts weren't cool? But I spent those four years learning about myself through others. It took me some time but I finally realized that that's a mistake. Throughout the past few years, I have been learning about myself from myself. You have learned nothing. After all, you're a coward. And cowards are afraid of being alone, of finding out the harsh reality, of confronting themselves and the truth that comes along with all of that.

I've got a big heart. I care and I love... and if I can be so bold, I think that that’s what makes me special. I don't get over people easily and I'm proud of that. You know, I'm finding that being brave is so very hard. Frankly, I'm nervous and scared and unsure of the future. But I commence on this journey...not alone, with friends. Henceforth, the rules and the game all changes. I won't be afraid because I'm not coward.
That's your role.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


The end.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


"Are you gonna live your life wonderin’/Standing in the back lookin’ around?
Are you gonna waste your time thinkin' how you’ve grown up or how you missed out?
Things are never gonna be the way you want/Even at 25, you gotta start somewhere."
- A Praise Chorus

The cherubic teenage girl stood in the rear of Webster Hall, in the safety of distance. It seemed that was her usual spot. She had probably found comfort in the background for most of her adolescent life. I couldn't help but think that she, like most of the people in this room tonight, had at one point felt the crippling effect of alienation in some capacity.

Wearing a baby-T and a scarf still wrapped around her neck, the young lady sang along with every word as if they were spontaneously emerging from her innermost thoughts. As if this moment, every moment was urgent and necessary. This was about the boy she had a crush on that ignored her. Or about her parents that loved her dearly but couldn't understand her. She was unhappy with how she looked, her personality, her life. Something had to change. But right now, she was in a room full of people who understood many of those thoughts.

The ambiguously effective lyrics of Jimmy Eat World could be samplings from a suburban diary. They are not deep or near poetic. They are understandable and hard-hitting. Jim Adtkins, lead singer of the Arizona band, is empathic like an emotional sponge absorbing the fears of his audience and then squeezing them back like the water of articulation. Despite my age--older than a majority of the audience--I felt just as comforted as they did. I reveled in my bittersweet experience and let my pretensions go. I wanted to be healed through the music.

"Hey, don't write yourself off yet/It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can/Everything will be just fine...
You know you're doing better on your own, so don't buy in.
Live right now/Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else.
It just takes some time"
- The Middle

The boy standing next me, pogo-ing up and down throughout the night, sang along, as well. With his fist almost permanently pumped in the air, this was therapy. A cathartic experience not unlike a session of release. All the times he felt uncertain about his life and his future...for the next hour, he forgot it all. Most of the time, amongst his friends, he felt awkward. He also gave himself a hard time, thinking that most girls would never be interested in him. That he would never find someone that shared all his unique interests. Perhaps he would be lonely for a very long time. But tonight there was hope. Tonight, he felt comforted. Like he belonged.

You could say I'm placing too much significance on Jimmy Eat World but I actually think that they are that important. With the disappearance of rap-metal and the disproportionate dismissing of emo, feelings and expressions are looked down upon. Rock stars with apathetic attitudes are the most credible. Everything else (that is not under the category of singer/songwriter) is either laughed at or mocked. Granted Jimmy Eat World has an awful band name, but they can be saviors for many.

For the girl in the back. For the boy standing next to me. For the alone, the confused, the bewildered.
Even for me.

"Youll sit alone forever/If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?/I'm here and now I'm ready
Holding on tight/Dont give away the end
The one thing that stays mine"

I can't help it. The past few months I have accessed my emotions in an unprecedented manner and there are times when the simplest sentiment can affect me. Incredibly, I have finally come to the realization that I am a man and sometimes being a man can be discovering potency and poignancy in the cliche and simplistic or finding love and meaning in the most unlikely of places. And moroever, being okay with all of that. I am tired of decoding and interpreting. An expression taken from the lyrics of "23" hit me sharply in the heart. Halfway through the show, I found myself singing--no, shouting--along. In fact, by the end of the night, my voice was nearly shot. While looking around the crowd at girls named Tracey and boys named Brad, I finally understood the allure of a primal scream. I let myself go. I joined in on the chorus. I danced and embarrassed the people I was with. The words became my words. They became my thoughts, my pain, my story.

I felt like I was fourteen again. But only on the inside. On the outside, I was still a man. And as mentioned before, despite the confusion that comes along with said realizations, I was more than okay with that.

Monday, November 08, 2004


New York City ain’t exactly Bush country. And I think we made that obvious on November 2nd when our good ole’ state turned a glorious shade of blue on the map of Electoral Votes. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a Republican in most Manhattan neighborhoods and if by chance, you did find one, I’m told that there’s some ritual that you’re supposed to do involving spitting or asking for money—one of those two things. I get mixed up.

I roll with a pretty liberal crowd. Most of my writer friends urged others to vote for Senator John Kerry through their articles, emails, and blogs. I went to a fair share of concerts in which the lead singer would belittle the current President’s intelligence and plead for a change in our descending political direction. Iraq was a horrible mess, they said. Our country is in a state—or rather a bunch of states—of economic dysfunction, they continued. The gay community feared another four years of “intolerance” and oppression. The anxiety in New York’s atmosphere was palpable. Clipboards with people attached to them urged randoms on the street “to help defeat Bush.” Most responded that that was already on their things-to-do list, along with picking up more toilet paper.

And while I was not thrilled about Senator John Kerry as the alternative, I wanted the next four years to be all new episodes of our reality show, not repeats. So, I felt encouraged by the conversations I was having with others. It looked possible that Kerry could win. After all, everyone I knew was all for change (insert fist-pumped-in-the-air here).
Well…actually not everyone. Little did I know that I was living with the enemy.

On a random night in October, in a roomy four bedroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I did the one thing I will most probably always regret; I discussed politics with my roommates (and had the worst General Tso’s Chicken ever). It turned out that only one-fourth of our apartment was voting for Kerry. Like a political Incredible Hulk, I found myself in the face of opposition, which in turn flexed my political muscles into huge, monstrous guns. Suddenly, I become passionate about politics, which sounds almost as cool as getting stoked about broccoli but truthfully, it felt exhilarating. Little nodules in my brains jumped for joy that I finally cared about my future, about my country’s future. But I grew increasingly aware that I was also splitting my rent with three people that threatened it, as well.

I decided to discuss our differentials (also known as ‘why they were mistaken and I was not’) and commenced with phrasing my questions very carefully. Avoiding any condescension, I was certain not to ask antagonistic questions like how they could vote for Bush. Surely, they knew they were doing something blatantly wrong like kicking little puppies for fun. Which, incidentally, is very, very wrong.

Their answers alternated between Bush’s strengths like foreign policy--which I had assumed was ‘let’s bomb lotsa’ stuff’—to Kerry’s weaknesses like his lack of articulated vision or for that matter, a personality. As much as I wanted to convince them of their wrongness, I felt unprepared. Ultimately, my platform consisted of the aforementioned ‘let’s defeat Bush.” And at the end of the day—specifically November 2nd—Not Bush was not running for President. John Kerry was.

Election Day was slightly tense in our apartment. Eventually one of the three insurgents switched over from the dark side and voted Kerry (when asked why, he said ‘it was pretty spontaneous’) so it truly became a house…err, an apartment divided. As the votes were tallied, I tasted defeat, which had the pungent flavor of two-week-old leftovers. One roommate in particular took great pride in Bush’s success and reminded me that four more years was not just a threat but soon to be a promise. As the hour grew late, I went to bed. It’s hard to be disappointed when you’re sleeping.

When I woke the next morning to find that George W. Bush was our President again, I felt disillusioned but not surprised. As I went to the kitchen to make my cup of coffee, one of the Republicans amongst us greeted me with a ‘better luck in 2008.’ I forced myself to smile and did the only thing I could think of doing that would give me any semblance of satisfaction: I asked him to take out the garbage. After all, he’s just one of the people who got us back into this mess.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Then I am a bowl of yogurt with granola and fruit, an omellet with Nova Scotia lox and onions, a miso soup, a Heath bar cupcake, and a couple cups of coffee. But really, you can just call me "Heath" for short.

Friday, November 05, 2004


He walked into the empty bar shaking. He wasn't usually a shaker so this bothered him. Get a hold of yourself, he said, not entirely sure how one went about getting a hold of oneself.

Although, it comforted him to see that there was a lot of available seating. He always liked an environment that felt like his own, the sort of surroundings that gave him the opportunity and freedom to speak his mind without the self-conscious concern of sounding foolish to others. It was so rare that he was able to express himself without restraint in New York. He was always sure that someone at the table next to him was picking up random statements. After all, he was guilty of eavesdropping on occasion. Why should they be different?

The emptiness of the bar made sense to him--this was also the night that America was discovering who their next President would be. It felt slightly surreal continuing with life as if it was a regular Tuesday. It was anything but a regular Tuesday. He ordered a vodka soda--not the drink he usually had but he felt that this night called for something a little stronger than a light beer.

In the corner of the room, he spotted the perfect location for them to talk. He sat down, made himself comfortable and drank quickly. The vodka soda was finished before she even got there so he ordered another drink. A beer this time. He focused in his head on what he wanted to say. Which was hard considering he really had no idea. He felt like a victim, unable to control his feelings or emotions. He hated feeling weak and it was the first time he had felt so helpless.

His cell phone rang. It was she. She couldn't find the place so he told her where it was and that he would wait outside. And so he did. The fall weather was cool enough to induce some chills but still warm enough for him not to bother putting on a coat. He spotted her across the street. This moment was so much larger than the words he could use to express it. Different parts of his body sent different messages to his brain; the stomach, the back, his arms and legs, his heart. Oh, his heart wanted respite most of all. He was happy to be there but simultaneously wishing he was someone else. Like the deliveryman riding by on his bike. Or the sharply dressed middle-aged man walking briskly with his sense of confidence and security.

They hugged one another. To him, it felt just like coming home after a long trip only to find that all the furniture had been rearranged. The loveseat, in particular, was gone.
Their embrace was comforting yet jarring. They walked into the dimly lit bar and sat down. They started talking and all he could do was stare into her eyes as if this would give him some understanding into what she was thinking. He wished that he could read minds. He wished she would allow him to do so. Conflicting sentiments raged through him. He felt pathetic and strong. He felt communicative and shy. Bold and reserved. He remembered all the hundreds of things he wanted to tell her in weeks previous. There was a list of little notes of interest like things he had seen in the newspaper, movies that were coming out, books he wanted to recommend to her. All the times he had been in a health food store and found items she would have loved to try (she loved to experiment with food). They were all toppling in his head like books dropping from a burdened, overwhelmed shelf that collapsed in the hall closet.
Finally, he realized, he had known her so well and he loved that he finally knew her well...but sometimes, like this time, patience and love do not go hand-in-hand.

He wanted this night to last forever but he knew that days like that were long gone. He would have to be satisfied with this night lasting just another couple of hours.
And he would have to be okay with that.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


This morning, a dear friend of mine sent me a picture she took with her digital camera. While, as the old saying goes, a picture says a thousand words, this one rather expressed a thousand emotions, zigzagging, conflicting, crashing, embracing.

On the side of a New York City street stood a towering pile of black plastic garbage bags full of the all the things we no longer find worthy of keeping. All the objects we discard like empty Chinese take-out containers, receipts we should probably file away for our accountant (but don't), magazines we've read all the way through (even the horoscopes). But on the side of this pile sat a stuffed pink heart with two arms attached to its side (presumably so the heart could hug you). I looked at the picture for a few seconds and wondered how it wound up there. How could someone just throw a cute little pink heart away, a thoughtful Valentine's Day present, for the garbage men to pick up and throw into the back of a truck with dirty diapers and broken Ikea furniture.

Then I imagined the girl who it probably once belonged to and the way she must have been feeling. The anger and pain she was harboring--so intense and so profound that she couldn't even keep the fuzzy, pillow-like heart. Nostalgia forces us to hold onto things, hide them in our closet for another time when we're feeling secure enough to fondle them and smile. But apparently, not all of us have the potential for such an experience. Some are hurt beyond repair or forgiveness. Ms. Pink Heart Throwaway must have been one of them.

In risk of ruining the poetic metaphor by explicitly spelling out the obvious, heart abandonment seems to be the trend nowadays. I am overwhelmed by the sentiments and expressions of loneliness by my friends, peers, and acquaintances. I've been thinking about them a great deal. And if I could, I would think of one word, one saying, a look, a gesture that would make everything better. And I can tell them that 'it will get better' until I am periwinkle blue in the face but sometimes words fall just as empty as the way some of you are feeling.

Well, truthfully, it's a matter of semantics. Ah...good ole semantics. Yeah, yeah, I know. But here's where semantics have become my best friend. Don't see it as loneliness, people. See it as independence. Ask yourself, why do you feel like you need to be in a relationship right now? No...really. Ask yourself.
OK, did you?
Well, what answer did you come up with? Is there something you're lacking right now that someone else could give you? Or is the notion of being with someone else just a self-defeating way of avoiding your need for self-introspection? Why must we take care of others, when we cannot take care of ourselves? The more we are forced to seek the fleeting sensations of intimacy, the less likely we are to be emotionally in-touch. People run to far off places to "find themselves" but if you look closely, you're right there. Do you see you? Yeah. There you are.

Another friend said to me the other day that she felt too awkward talking about herself and her problems. It's unfortunate that many of us don't think we're worthy of each other's time. In a city of rushed schedules, constant dinner plans, hearts thrown around (this time, literal) we look for a false sense of comfort in the physical fix--that does nothing but numb the pain, not resolve it.

What about the substance? Personally, this past year has been a tremendous growth period for me: I have worked on my listening skills. Ahhh, remember listening? You thought it went out with the French cuffing your pants (or is that still in?). I've found that there are so many people who care about you and want to listen to how you're feeling. Don't take on this heavy world on your own.

And whatever you do, don't throw away your heart. Because one day, you'll wish it were still in your closet so it could hug you with its linty, flimsy arms.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Yesterday I received a phone call from Elizabeth Edwards asking me to vote.
I thanked her for calling but then realized you're not supposed to talk to recordings. They're generally pretty unresponsive.
But before this, I couldn't remember her calling me before. Lizzie must have a lot invested in this one.

Then upon waking this morning, I noticed that the anxiety in the atmosphere is palpable.
I can't remember a day like this, one that has so much universal significance. The United States is going through its very own Choose Your Own Adventure book and it fears picking the wrong page. Don't pick the wrong page, USA, or you may wind up getting eaten by a brain-eating zombie!

Frankly, I'm happy that Election Day is finally here. All the build-up to it (is it really November 2nd already?), deep breathe after deep breathe. Speculations abound. Political roundabouts. The sadness found in the realization that these two candidates were the best our country could offer. It worries me. A few weeks back, I wrote that I would consider not voting because...well, I didn't want to be responsible for giving my future, our future, to either Kerry or Bush. Bush will most likely screw it up while Kerry won't know what to do with it. Many friends reacted to my "complacency" with disappointment and anger, as if I had told them I was thinking of killing a puppy or two. Which I would not rule out doing if I had a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do and one puppy too many. But...

I am voting. So, rest easy.

But if last night is any indication of the future, well, I anticipate it. Because it was the first time in ages that I had a significant conversation that didn't revolve around politics. It finally felt good to not focus on the weighty and pressing. Sue me if I like to relax on my couch and watch something light-hearted and apolitical like The West Wing...ok, maybe not such a good example. You know what I mean.

After I got home, after my night out sans political talk, feeling that the anxious and tense time was soon over, I got a text message on my cell phone that read "Vote Kerry!"
You know this must be an important election if my cellphone even has an opinion.

Monday, November 01, 2004


BBS: I have to say, God, it's an honor to have you on the show. I mean, we've had guests before but You are the Guest with a capital "G."
G: Ha ha. Why, thank you.
BBS: That being said, your publicist is not an easy person to deal with.
G: Well, with my schedule...you can understand she's very protective of my time. If I responded to every request, I would be a very busy deity.
BBS: I hear ya. I have a hard enough time with just watering my plants.
G: Which reminds me...Dang. I forgot the rainfall in Costa Rica this morning. I hate making weathermen look wrong.
BBS: So, I guess the first question I have to ask is, why are we here?
G: Because. That was easy. Next question.
BBS: That's the big answer we've been waiting for?
G: Well, here's the thing, Sincerity. All you mortals ask me the most asinine questions as if you're supposed to have all the answers. As if you have the right to the answers. What fun would life be if you knew everything? What enjoyment would you get out of day-to-day living, if every experience you had was understood and simplistic? I keep things hidden for your benefit.
BBS: There seems to be a lot of suffering nowadays. On small scales and larger ones. I have friends that are healing emotionally. What kind of insight would you give to them?
G: I only put people through difficulties that they can handle.
BBS: With all due respect, God, that sounds a bit cliche, like a sound bite. We've heard that one before.
G: Yeah, not My most original line but it rings true. I've noticed that as the years go by, mortals get more and more dramatic. I blame the WB. Specifically, "Everwood." Now, Treat Williams...there's a man that won't go away. No matter how hard I try...
BBS: Who is going to win in tomorrow's election?
G: Bush....hahah. Just kidding. I don't know. This one is so close even I can't call it. Although, personally, I'm not into all this Jesus talk. When did I get overlooked?
BBS: How can we find happiness?
G: By waking up every morning. Facing the day with excitement that today is the opportunity you'll get to change the world. See, people consider "changing the world" as a grand accomplishment like world peace, or resolving world hunger...stuff like that. It's not. I see the little things, the little gestures. Saying 'hello' to a neighbor, getting up for an elderly lady on the subway, being friendly to a doorman or a waiter...that's just as important to me. When you're nice to one person, it sets off a chain-reaction. Then that person is nice to another and then to another and so on. It's like rings in the water, the ripple effect. There's an old passage that says "saving one person is like saving the whole world." That's how important one person is. Did you think that that passage was literal?
BBS: Wow, heavy, God.
G: Indeed. I wasn't messing around when I made Earth.
BBS: Why is love so hard to understand? Why not make it easier so we can get to the repopulating part quicker?
G: Love. Hmm...you know, love sometimes is even complex for me. I mean, I did create the idea of it but much like Satan, it has almost become it's own uncontrollable beast. I truly wish I could give you the answer to that because if there's one thing I have noticed is that people throw love around with reckless abandon. It's quite precious like fine china except you can't find it at Nordstrom.
BBS: Ha ha.
G: I will give you one insight though: the harder you work at things, the stronger and more rewarding they will eventually be. For example, I don't like models. Never did. And that is why I invented heroin and cocaine. Every thing just comes too easy for them. There's no work or effort. So I give them drugs to mix it up a bit. I truly get so much appreciation when I see two people work through obstacles and emotional hurdles. To me, there is nothing more rewarding. Too many games, Sincerity! Too many games, I tell ya. Take the first couple--Adam and Eve--do you think I had to convince him to call her again? Do you think I had to tell Adam to dump Eve because he had this gut feeling...although, his rib--that's a different story.
BBS: Ha. I had no idea God had such a great sense of humor.
G: I invented humor.
BBS: True that. Now onto the next subject: Iraq.
G: Not my fault. Honest. I provide you mortals with options. Sometimes you pick the wrong one. Such a time is now.
BBS: What do you say to the non-believers?
G: You know what? I'll be the mature one. I'll take the high road. Just because you don't believe in Me, I'll still believe in you. I'm cool like that. Legit.
BBS: Why has Lenny Kravitz had such a long career?
G: I owe his dad some favors. Trust me here. I am not a fan. Especially with his new James Brown hair. Hello, Lenny, Halloween was yesterday.
BBS: Vincent Gallo?
G: I will say this now because I am tired of his shenanigans already. Gallo is Satan.
BBS: Really?
G: Yes. And he's really so good at it. You will not find evil like that anywhere outside the advertising industry.
BBS: Tell me your thoughts on the Atkins diet.
G: Always with the extremes. Eat brown rice. Have some whole wheat bread. But no. All of a sudden it's no bread?!?! No rice?!?! Insanity. There's no need for that kind of restrictive behavior. For My sake, have a piece of cake or two. You're too skinny.
[Phone rings]
G: Can you hold for a sec? I'm so sorry. [Picks up phone] Hello? Gabriel? What's up....? Ah ha. I see....ok, I'll be right there.
Look, I'm sorry but I need to run. I've got a conference call with these Kabbalah freak shows and if I'm late, I will never hear the end of it. Especially from Paris Hilton.
BBS: Well, God, thanks so much for joining us. We are honored that you have spent this time with us.
God: My pleasure.
BBS: This has been Bring Back Sincerity with God. Tune in next time when we have Lynda Carter, the woman who played Wonder Woman.