Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Got A Bad Idea Again...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm In The Mood For... NIRVANA!!!111!!!! (From 2007)

This video is bound to drive certain devotees of the original up the wall. Why, that's enough to get me to like it right there.

Paul Anka wrote the Tonight Show theme. Paul Anka doesn't have to work. I imagine he does it because he likes it, and the seats are full every night. He could spend an additional four hours daily in his Pan-Galactic tanning bed. And for all his multi-decadal-highwater-Haband-pants-early-bird-special vibe, I'm sure he's been presented with the opportunity to get an intimate look at more young ladies than a workaholic gynecologist on speed in an all night clinic.

Paul Anka has always been immensely square, if you ask me. But he seems perfectly comfortable in his irradiated skin, doesn't he? And when you consider how subversive his rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit is, you see he's hipper than Curt Cobain could ever be.

Fight the power, Paulie. Stick it to The Man.

(In the comments, Deb from Madison casts an approving eye back to another version of this same song we enjoyed here: Googlewhack is Amused )

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lip-Synching This Song Is Like Buying Flowers For Your Sex Doll

Maybe not. Maybe buying premium gas for a rental car. No, that's not it. Anyway, why is the Enzyte guy yelling at us with an orchestra? I dunno.

The video got truncated in editing. In the original, at the very end, the guy unhinges his jaw and eats a live capybara whole.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Crow


The crow sat down and thought a bit

Who is to say what laws permit

I take a thing that draws my eye

My interest is my alibi

I travel through the wicked world

My Jolly Roger is unfurled

I have the knack of nicking stuff

It makes it mine oddly enough

The owners have no fixed ideas

Their compost piles my gallerias

They value things that I don't want

I pick their trash like a savant

I drag bits out and hawk the wares

To former owners unawares

Who ooh and aah at my concision

They're unaware of their misprision

The stuff you want is all around

I find it laying on the ground

But when you see me overhead

You wish you had my stuff instead

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The wife and ma don't get it. Yer always alone.

The corner men yellin' all that stuff and I don't hear a word of it. No crowd, nothin' all the time. I hear the other guy chuffin' and the bell and that's it.

The fight doctor never says nothin' but I hear him all right. Watching like an audience that's allowed to climb in the ring and beat you. The swells sit with their broads in the front row and I shower them with a man's sweat and baptise 'em. I could beat them all one after another or all at once but they're not there. The fight doctor is there over your shoulder, like death.

It's a wonder I ain't killed ten refs 'cause they're not there, neither. They can say what they like and stand between me and the beezer I'm pounding and I jes go around 'em like a fireplug. You don't listen to fireplugs, do ya? I don't listen to none of them 'cause they're not sayin' anything I need to hear. I'll kill that man if they let me and he can cheat all he wants so it's all nothin' to me and I roll with it.

Oh, the new ones come and try every gambetto and the refs give 'em a little talking to. I swear they do it to get a minute away from me with a little man that smells of aftershave instead of a big man that smells of sweat and death. I'm your dentist and they're all coming out, pal. Hit me low and he talks to you and saves you for a minute. I don't care.

The ref backs away and we're alone again. You can't win. I like it here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Young Man Don't Know Nothin' (from 2008)

Ya see, the young man comes in and he don't know nothin'. That's a given.

Well, not precisely nothin'. He knows all sorts of things. It's just that everything he knows isn't so, or ain't worth a fart in a whirlwind to know. Useless.

But a young man ain't born useless. You got to make him so. A young man is born to be a boon to his fellow man and a credit to his parents, if his parents don't pay too much attention to him and ruin him. Let him be.

They come all in here, extravagant of hair but miserly with manners. They want to start right in being something. Son, you're an unthrowed pot. Stand up straight and listen.

You see, you ain't born knowing, and you can't learn it in a book. How you gonna know to put fabric softener in the steam box to make the oak come out of there real withy and limber? Your grammar school teacher don't tell you that out there in the real world you gotta use the ceiling for a brace for the inner stem while you make down the bolt.

Oh the smart ones come in, though, not as often as you'd like but often enough, and just remind you how dumb you were when you were their age. They're young and handsome and clever and the whole world stretches out to their horizon. You're already on the horizon and you know it. And you think to yourself how wise that boy is to come in here and stand up straight there with the wrong clothes and a box of the wrong tools, and not enough of them, and his hands like his momma's --smart enough to say "I don't know nothin' but I'm willing to learn if you'll show me."

That boy knows everything.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So What

I wouldn't put my finger in that change return slot if there was fifty bucks in it. The greasy handset, battered by a numberless army of salesmen and lovers, hangs like a murderer on a gibbet over the thing. Let the bums get it. She said she'd come. I'm not calling her any more.

I loved the feeling of the neon glowing on the side of my face in there. Don't tell me it's just light. I feel it like the sun. It's the only sun I'll ever acknowledge. The one in the morning rises alone. Mine rises when the manager flips the switch. It never sets on me, that sun.

Man, that scirocco of sweat and booze and cigs and breath like a welder's tank. I feel like I'm born again, from a mummy's womb. Straight on in, just like the music.

The stage is exactly three inches and a galaxy away from the dance floor. Dance? Please. Stumble around with a woman that ain't your wife floor, I think. I like the old dude that looks like Batman's butler or a fruity sort of baron or something that conducts or sways or whatever it is he's doing. He's possessed with it, same as me. He's usually possessed of plenty of cake, a desire to buy a man a drink, and an aversion to arithmetic, too. The waitresses adore that.

The curtain is dirty from wiping your hands on it. Me included. It's dirty like life is. Up high, it's dirty with cobwebs and dust and corruption because you can't reach up there. Down low it's dirty with the grubby hands of all of us trying to wipe off the sweat and grease of what you're doing.

I listen for the cornshucks of the brushes on the snare. He hits it, but I don't care about that. In between -- the faint circular sketching he does without thinking -- that's what I'm after. He's lathering the dry face of the song so I can shave it with the sharp edge of the brass. The bass rumbles like thunder in the distance.

I can taste metal and blood and booze in my mouth. Tastes like life.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Building A House With Found Materials

I can't recall who sent me this link. Self-identify in the comments if you like.

It's a testament to the extant groupthink that these are called "recycled" materials. Doesn't look it to me.

Recycling generally picks up raw materials in finished but discarded forms and turns it back into new finished materials. It's a colossal waste of time and energy in almost all its forms. I've done more recycling than forty-five Ed Begleys, so I'll clue you in on a little secret: after you sort through your trash like a raccoon and put it on the curb to try to resurrect Bambi's mom through clean living, it all gets thrown in a landfill when you're not looking. It's a kabuki theater, not a real process.

Lots of stuff is worth recycling. It's very simple: if someone will pay you to take it, or at the very least defray the cost of disposal with the value of the material, it's worth recycling. Almost all metals fall into this category, for instance. No fair cheating with government funds.

The house here is not recycled. It is made from found materials. That's different. To take that which others are not interested in and make it useful is an interesting and challenging thing. But others only think many things are useless because they have no imagination. They conversely value worthless things because of a kind of groupthink -- the kind of groupthink that unironicly touts $28 per square foot backsplash tile as: "Green." The general public will go along with any scheme to require uneconomic recycling, while simultaneously passing five hundred laws that make building a house like the one in the pictures illegal. It's a form of intellectual delirium tremens.

Useful things should not be discarded. Everyone focuses on the discarding part. Maybe we should concentrate on the useful part, instead.

Every home and garden show pretty much proselytizes 24/7 that everything they're doing is "green," whatever the hell that means. But I guarantee every thing they are installing today will be ripped out inside of a decade, usually much faster, because it's faddish. They go to great lengths to trumpet their use of recycled glass backsplashes, for instance, as if we're going to run out of sand to make glass anytime soon. In two years, they'll be wandering into people's kitchens with a camera and looking horrified to find all the stuff they recommended to homeowners, and telling them to rip it out. They call it "updating." It's all waste.

Try to build a house that others would hesitate to demolish or "update." Now try doing it cheaply. I've repaired many, many houses that are pushing three hundred years old, and they were all made with found materials, more or less. No matter how crazy the "We're running out of everything" crowd gets, a tree is, and always will be, a found material -- even if you mill it into a rectangular shape and sell it as a 2 x4. There will never be a three hundred year old house that was built with vinyl siding and bamboo laminate flooring, never mind recycled vinyl siding and bamboo laminate flooring. And the only rare commodity in this world is useful imagination.

(Update: I've answered some questions about this essay here: Sippican The Rag Man

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Advice To You: Find Out Wherever Van Dyke Parks Is Working And Go There

Ry Cooder & The Moula Banda Rhythm Aces
Ry Cooder-guitar
Jim Keltner- drums
Van Dyke Parks- keys
Jorge Calderon-bass
Flaco Jimenez- accordion
Miguel Cruiz-percussion
Steve Douglas- sax
George Bohannon- trombone
Singers: Bobby King, Terry Evans, Arnold McCuller, Willie Green Jr

Man, that's a lotta firepower.

From Killer Chops

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Just Want To Say One Word To You - Just One Word.

Abandoned glass container factory in California. Many things have been abandoned in my lifetime. I don't miss the rotary phone. I will refuse to eat from a dog dish to my dying day, however.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Happy Birthday George Ade

February 9, 1866 – May 16, 1944. American humorist, often overlooked. Been dead sixty-five years and I still can't pronounce his name. Gave Aesop a run for his shekels with his fables.

A man is tempted by ambition as a child. We join him in his later years:

"The Exercises up to this Time have been Preliminary," said Ambition.
"What is the good of a Bank Roll if you cannot garnish it with the
delectable Parsley of Social Eminence? Get a Wiggle on you. Send for
the Boys with the Frock Coats and the Soft Hats and let them dig in to
their Elbows. Tell the Press Agent to organize a typewriting Phalanx.
Assume a few Mortgages on fluttering Newspapers. Lay a Corner-Stone
ever and anon. Be Interviewed."

"What are you leading up to?" asked the Financial Giant, a sickly Fear
creeping into the Region formerly occupied by his Heart.

"The Logical Finish," replied Ambition, with a reassuring Pat on the
Shoulder. "You must go to the Senate. The White Palace, suitable for
entertaining purposes, now awaits you in Washington. The Bulb Lights
glow dimly above the Porte Cochere. A red Carpet invites you to climb
the Marble Stairway and spread yourself all over the Throne. On a
Receiving Night, when the perfumed Aliens in their Masquerade Suits
rally around the Punch Bowl, your Place will resemble the Last Act of
something by Klaw & Erlanger. You will play Stud with the Makers of
History and be seen leaving the Executive Mansion."

This Line of Talk landed him. He Fell for it. That year the Christmas
Tree drooped with valuable Gifts for the Boys who stood after they
were hitched.

He went up to Washington with an eviscerated Check-Book in his Pocket,
and a faint Odor of Scandal in his Wake, but he was a certified Servant
of the People. His Cut Flowers were the Talk in Official Circles. The
most Exclusive consented to flirt with his Wine Cellar.

To a mere Outsider it looked as if Ambition had certainly boosted his
Nobs to the final Himalayan Peak of Human Happiness. He had a House as
big as a Hospital. The Hallways were cluttered with whispering
Servants of the most immaculate and grovelling Description. His Wife
and the Daughter and the Cigarette-Holder she had picked up in Europe
figured in the Gay Life of the Nation's Capital every Night and went
to see a Nerve Specialist every Day. The whole Bunch rode gaily on the
Top Wave of the Social Swim, with a Terrapin as an Escort and a squad
of Canvas-Back Ducks as Body-Guard.

Notwithstanding all which, Father was the sorest Hard-Shell that
motored along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Dime Denouncers printed his Picture, saying that he was owned by
the Interests and hated the sight of a Poor Working Girl. When the
High Class continuous Show in the Senate Chamber showed signs of
flopping and the Press Gallery became impatient, some Alkali Statesman
of the New School would arise in his Place and give our Hero a Turning-
Over, concluding with a faithful Pen-Picture of the Dishonored Grave
marked by a single Headstone, chiseled as follows: "Here lies a

Ade's Fables

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What It Was, (And Should Be) Was Football

(Originally offered in 2006. The school banned the fluffernutters and the football and everything past a pulse not long after. Geaux Saints)

When we went out to vote on November 7th, my wife and I had to drive by our son's elementary school. We were mildly amused to spy him, out for recess, playing football in the schoolyard with his classmates.

We parked across the street and watched for a few precious minutes. Since we were not a butterfly, or a jet contrail, or a candy wrapper, or a penny, he didn't notice us there, so we got to see him in that rarest of settings: "somewhere else," without his parents or guardians present.

The football activity was hilarious. It alternatingly resembled an algae bloom and an ayatollah's funeral-- first a kind of milling around in an amorphous blob, then a kind of wild melee over a leathery old totem. We watched them drift back and forth for a pleasant minute, with the odd missile launch of the forward pass rocketing rudderless out of the scrum and landing any old place but that most rarified of targets: a teammate.

It was wry to consider that playing tag is verboten at his school. I'm not joking.

The school is getting comical in this regard. They were terrified of the food the little ones were eating, so they tinkered endlessly with the school lunch menu to make it so healthy that no one purchased it anymore. Now everybody eats fluffernutters they bring themselves.

They built an elaborate and very expensive handicapped playground. That's a kind and thoughtful gesture. But it is merely a gesture, as there are no handicapped children to enjoy it. There just aren't that many children of any kind in a little town like ours.

And no tag. Someone could get hurt. Someone could be left out. Someone could sue is the real reason, and the powers that be always point that out right up front.

Tag isn't allowed, so one of the kids brings a football, and they play that. Football isn't banned, only because no one thought of it yet. The absurdity of allowing mobs of pre-teens to chase one another if one is holding a ball, but not if their hands are empty, seems to be lost on the school administration. At least for now. And I, for one, am glad of it.

I'm not as worried about my son being injured playing football as I am in contemplating the little straitjacket world he's being fitted for. Those children decided on the rules, supplied their equipment --a ball-- and played their game without any adult supervision; and I saw a lot less kvetching among them than at any organized sporting event they participate in. I'm leery of them being told that someone will always tell them exactly what to do, and simultaneously unerringly protect them not only from harm, but hurt feelings. One aspect of that tandem of supervision is repugnant, and the other unlikely.

I'm living in a strange world where people for whom I have no regard draw finely calculated and ultimately meaningless distinctions about everything down to the scope of activities allowed for pedophiles to roam the earth, at the same time they ban children playing tag in the schoolyard. Such distinctions are meaningless because anyone who is prepared to commit a great offense is not concerned about the rules governing small ones.

I dread the day, which is on the horizon now, not over it, when I'm forced to tell my children that the only sensible course of action is to ignore the rules, as there are so many of them that they become gibberish. And what the hell, the rules only seem to apply to those who wish to live worthwhile lives anyway --who never needed them in the first place.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Such Treasures Mean Nothing Now That I'm Rich With Sweet Hope!

(Originally offered in 2007)

The joke on Seinfeld that everything you know about opera you learned from Looney Toons is both funny and accurate for a lot of us. But what's wrong with having your interest in something profound being piqued by something frivolous or mundane? A map doesn't come full size, because it sure would be hard to fold. And I've noticed that all of Rhode Island isn't really flat and light blue. We accept approximations all the time to give us the general idea.

I like me some opera. I like it as much straight up as when Elmer Fudd does it. And YouTube is good for opera.

YouTube strikes me as a sort of abandoned library. There's all sorts of great stuff in among the debris, but I fear the whole thing will get torn down for condos soon. I pick around in the dusty piles while it lasts.

I found Caruso.

Someone's restored it fairly well. You can hear the compression that comes with being recorded on machinery that greatly restricts the tonal range. But even though it doesn't have all the oomph that you would have heard in the original, you can discern it in there, like a beautiful woman draped in satin.

Opera was for everybody then. Caruso was Sinatra and Elvis and the Beatles first. I think of my own grandfather, Caruso's fellow Neapolitan, hearing these familiar notes in his Cambridge Massachusetts walk-up flat. Life is in those notes. It must have seemed like seeing Jackie Robinson rounding second base to an African-American for my grandparents to hear Caruso sing in the United States. Like a hero; a champion; a god. San Francisco shook itself to the ground with its earthquake, then burned. The paper only wondered: Is Caruso OK?

It is considered trite, a little, that aria from La Boheme; but that's just a measure of its universality and accessibility. Why, Bugs Bunny might even sing that one.

The sentiment is lovely. Que Gelida Manina -How cold your little hand is.

Rodolfo meets Mimi for the first time, and falls in love.

How cold your little hand is!
Will you let me warm it for you?
Why bother looking?
It's dark, and we won't find it.
It's our good luck though,
This night's filled with moonlight,
Up here the moonlight could rest on our shoulders.
Please wait, my dear young lady,
And I will quickly tell you who stands before you, and
What I do, how I make my living.
May I?

Who am I? What am I? I am a poet.
What keeps me busy? Writing!
And what do I live on? Nothing!
In poverty I'm cheerful,
I am a prince who squanders
Arias and couplets of longing.
And as for hopes and dreams of love
And castles-in-the-air, Miss-
I am a millionaire!
My fortress could be broken in,
Robbed clean of the fine jewels I store-
If the thieves were eyes like yours.
And now that I have seen you,
All of my lovely dreaming,
All of the sweetest dreams I've dreamt,
Quickly have slipped away.
This theft does not upset me,
Because such treasures mean nothing
ow that I'm rich with sweet hope!
And now that you have met me,
I ask you please,
Tell me, lady, who you are, I ask you please!

YouTube tempted me with another version: Giuseppe DiStefano.

It's newer,as Giuseppe is my father's, not my greatgrandfather's, contemporary. But the recording is at least as old as I am. I think it might be the best version of it I ever heard.

And I've heard Caruso.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Noble Man Of The Cross

-If one considered life as a simple loan, one would perhaps be less exacting. We possess actually nothing; everything goes through us.

-We work not only to produce but to give value to time.

-Do all the work you can; that is the whole philosophy of the good way of life.

-What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.

-I live in company with a body, a silent companion, exacting and eternal.

-Talent does whatever it wants to do. Genius does only what it can.

Monday, February 01, 2010