Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Same as it ever was.

Who can obstruct, these days, better than Americans? In saying that, I mean the prevention of basic, everyday access to the right of way or the prevention of progress on a sidewalk. “Get outta the way!” you may think (or bellow). Let’s take a look at 10 frequent violations of the kind, in hopes that just one violator will recognize the error of his or her obstructions.

10. You Saw Me Jogging. I know this because our eyes met. Unless you suffer from Oppositional Jogging Perception Disorder, you could’ve concluded that I might like to keep running without breaking stride. Yet you saw fit, at the last moment, to obstruct my path. Not only that, but you unleashed Bitchy-Face. Other than its normal swerve, the earth—didn’t move. It’s called side-walk for a reason. Your side and my side. Eh?

9. The Couple Who Can’t Be Parted. You’re so in love that, to walk single file for three to five seconds, to unglue your hands, would be a violation of everything that Republican Art has taught you. But hey: I’ve got news. Temporary separation will help you prepare for the trauma—should your love crumble. Oh, I don’t mean to suggest that you’ll split up. You might stay together—you, your partner, and your Crumbled Love.

8. Escalator, Part 1: Stopping at Top. Every American should be taught a course in Basic Physics of Everyday Conveyances. The escalator is a Continuous People Delivery Machine. It will continue, that is, to deliver people. So, if you pause at the top (“Gee, where am I, America?”) the escalator will, by the sheer genius of its automated mission, continue to mash people into your dorsum. Can you just take, like, three steps forward?

7. Escalator, Part 2: Standing to the Left. The course in Basic Physics of Everyday Conveyances will also contain a module entitled, Some People Like to Walk Up. These people will pass you, on the left. Unless, of course, you establish yourself on the left, and cannot be budged. What are you doing over there, anyway? Thinking about beef? Beef and cheese? Beef and cheese and bun? You could do that thinking—to the right!

6. Tipping the Scales (Plus). No, really, if people don’t start to demonstrate a little more restraint at the buffet, the economy will slow, and slow, until there is little (if any) commerce. How so? Will anyone be able to get anywhere on time? Will there not be substantial—human—obstacles to ordinary ambulation? “It was not automobile traffic or poor weather or Act of God that made me late for work but Third Party Obesity, again.”

5. Baby Carriages Seating Two Toddlers Abreast. You could’ve chosen double decker bus perambulator, you could’ve chosen stretch limousine perambulator, you could’ve chosen Winnebago perambulator with trailer hitch, you could’ve chosen motorcycle with sidecar perambulator, you could’ve chosen two perambulators and enlisted crony to push one but no, you’ve pinned me between hydrant and tree and dookie of dubious origins!

4. Dog Walker Allowing Loose Leash on Multiple Pooches. Adding yet another canine to the ruckus of canines you already cannot manage just seems like the next logical step in the Choose Your Own Adventure version of your life. In one possible ending, the dogs run circles about you, until you’re bound by yards and yards of gentle leader. In another ending, you must survive, huddled in the gutter, by feeding on a peanut butter Kong.

3. Texting While Walking. Your phone says R U there? It asks Where R U? R, it goes, U 2 biz E? But you’re trying to go three hours, okay, one hour, without texting. Your phone vibrates again, a text, in your pocket. U H8 me, it says. A moment later, you’re not only reading, but twiddling a reassuring answer, when you step into the global warming doggie water bowl set in front of the gelato store. ‘Victim of attack!’ you text the texter.

2. Driver Halfway through Intersection Metered by Stop Sign. Why stop at all? I mean, I get it—you want to act like a thug, at the helm of a 5,000 lb hunk of machinery versus a pedestrian (me) who offers 168 lbs of opposition, even as I have chosen to let you motor on through. The sign shouldn’t say Stop. No, it should read “Go Halfway Then Crawl But Not Before You Project Wimp Menace To People You Have Never Met.” 


1. Unnecessary Bicyclist Passing Language. The bicyclist said, “On your left.” Then he said, “No, no, on your right!” Then he said [Expletive] as his bicycle crashed into deep foliage or rocky stream. He was not obstructed. He just couldn’t bike and say “On your left” at the same time, so he created a hindrance, a hindrance of the mind. It’s vaguely amusing that his little dinky bell went “ding ding” as his Schwinn punctured the hedge.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


1. Karate Class
My instructor had chosen me, the scrawny teenage equivalent of an Everlast bag, to stand in the middle of the circle. All around me stood my classmates, fifteen men, each the keeper of his secret number. I hopped around, my fists in gloves, the left at my waist, the right thumbing my nose. I hopped and snorted. “Cut it out!” one guy said. “This?” I suggested, thumbing my nose. “Shhh!” my instructor whistled. “He’s making me laugh!” said the guy. “Shhh!” my instructor whistled. “But in a real situation,” I reasoned, “I could do this kind of crap to disorient—like, uh—fifteen guys dressed in karate outfits who’d happened to pick a fight with me.” I caught my instructor; he had dropped his forehead into his palm. A pause ensued that grew ominous. The cloudy day radiated dry dirty light. “Eight!” shouted my instructor. Nobody moved on my periphery. A set of eyes square in front of me betrayed the impending motions of an assailant, number eight, charging toward my back, and as I wheeled to deflect a sure midriff kick, a fist puffy with the foam padding of a red glove divided my face into districts of grief. In time, both eyes would blue-blacken and a piece of my nose would harden into a chipped edge, but at the moment, a classmate (last name S——) had intended to batter the back of my skull, a lunge that had sinister implications. He didn’t high five, didn’t apologize. He’d been a combat veteran in a forgotten war, not a shameful war, but he’d been a veteran of dim, desperate battles which nobody could name. I hadn’t heard this; I’d overheard this. A few weeks later, he broke wind so violently in the lavatory he blew many squares of toilet paper outward from the stall in which he’d been seated—an impossible fart. After tapping out the last of a whiz, and reorienting my protective cup, I asked him whether he’d done a lot of that kind of thing in the army. A few beats expired, he in the stall, me at the sink. “I mean,” I clarified, “delivering a cheap shot during practice.” Two low blows don’t a fair fight make—I know, I know.

2. Florida Ave.
After bidding my chums goodbye, after trouncing down the staircase from the railroad-style jazz flat, high on the free horns of Vandermark and Rempis, I turned toward home on a foggy Sunday night just shy of mild, in February ‘07. The corner of 14th and U glowed with varying levels of intensity: fast food chicken, sneaker emporium, city services shuttered, walkup hookah, gush of white streetlamp, traffic lamp flashing caution, uneven code of bus hydraulics. A block later, the islands at the gas station did modest business and the articulated convenience store did modest business, cab drivers and maybe a single thumping sports utility vehicle. The firehouse slept. The police precinct house slept, ringed by a circle of vacant cop cars. A block later, I cruised beyond one set of basement steps too many, when a large figure—“robust flab”, I want to specify, but a head taller and impossible girth of arms, too—bounded toward me, punching me on the outcropping of bone (or what is that?) behind my right ear. A second night overtook the first night, like a wash of garbled language, darker, but lit, the borders unfocused, but constellated, a level of blackness that implied, perhaps, just one more level of blackness—before dire repose. In this second night, I continued to walk, if staggered. Hands searched inside my bomber jacket, the outer pockets of my bomber jacket, and endlessly, the two back pockets of my dungarees. I instructed my body several times to twist free before I did, delivering a few severe impersonations of competent self-defense which nevertheless broke the fellow’s posture against a brick sidewalk corrupted by decades of anxious tree roots. I bounded into a convenience store, but that wasn’t home. I bounded into a coffee shop, but that wasn’t home. The second darkness dissipated, returning me to a comprehensible position at a cross street near my apartment. Inside, on my couch, I discovered what the mugger could not: my wallet, pocketed in front, the location of which bought precious, revitalizing moments.

3. KIX Concert
I attended a KIX concert years ago in a shopping mall, maybe in a hotel ballroom. At some point, a few hundred colorful balloons fell upon the band, thus the venue had to feature balloon dropping capabilities, even as the rainbow of these festive items choked the lyrics of the power ballad—“…when I go out in the evening / to the night clubs / and I get my head just right…”—that the hair metal singer had been warbling. Yes, I wore a mullet haircut. No, I did not own a Camaro. (I drove a pre-owned red Honda, thank you.) A few weeks earlier, I had performed a valorous act but had injured my good paw, a valorousness which required surgery, and the surgery required a clunky club-like cast that involved most of my arm below the elbow. Then, I’m standing at the bar, drinking from a flagon of flat beer with my off-hand, when a meathead comes up to me, like a meathead outta hell, the hell of the concert. Everything in the world had rejected this dude except the fifty pound Weiders at the gym. “Nobody’s signed your cast,” he said. “I’m waiting for the right person,” I admitted. “Your arm’s not broken,” he alleged, jabbing a finger into my sternum. “In fact,” I added, “it’s under repair.” A vein ticked in the meathead’s neck, choked by the blue band of his t-shirt collar. A syllable like “Roo?” came out of his mouth. He projected the sorrowful hunger of a formidable dog who’d been ordered—by a turtle flute—to bite the air beneath my chin. He clipped me on the button with a slow, muscular uppercut. My entire body jiggled downward, toward the floor, which stopped it, but forced the jiggle to return, my casted arm rattling around, my neck rubbery. A minnow of beer—like a boxer’s mouthpiece—leapt out of the flagon I maintained with my off-hand, but I kept my footing. “Whew,” I huffed. Personnel surrounded us, friends, bouncers, friends of bouncers, until the matter got sorted out, the perpetrator begging forgiveness. “I thought it was a prank,” he said, “like a tough guy contest. Nobody signed his cast!” I waved for a pen. “Here,” I proclaimed. “Be the first.” And he signed it, “K-I-X ass!”, the typo perhaps unintentional, the punch taken.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


But who is making the love? 

Every so often in the wake of an amorous encounter a person may question the give-and-take dynamics that he or she experienced. He or she may ask, Wasn’t I the one who made the love? Even in cases of auto-gratification the questions may linger in the mind of the auto-gratifier. I was the only person there, he or she may reason, Surely I was in control! For these and other queries, let us take a proper look.

For a person in a coupling:

Does one define ‘making the love’ as (1) the entire arc of events or (2) the moment of greatest achievement? Consider how, in a play or film, one character can ‘steal the scene’ so to speak. It may be that the true love-maker precipitated ‘the final act.’

Positioning is important but it doesn’t always dictate who made the love. Many people can still make the love despite positions of (seeming) geometric disadvantage. “How so?” you may ask. Muscle tone, for starters. Cunning and guile. Yoga?

Many people like to assert that ‘making the love’ is a 50-50 proposition. In that, each partner contributes equally to 100% of the amorous encounter. Of course, there are many possible ratios: 10-90, 70-30, 51-49, 22-78, (-22)-122, to name a few.

Problem-solving skills may be important in bringing to fruition a love-making attempt. They do not confirm, however, who made the love. One may solve for height differences or changes in atmospheric conditions, thereby enabling the partner to make the love.

One might argue that, when traveling in the southern hemisphere, the otherwise docile partner made the love. When in fact, the dominant partner still made the love, only in the opposite direction. Consider the employment of a compass for sub-equator maneuvers.

Even as colorful language (i.e., ‘dirty talk’) or any other ‘bedroom fetish’ may contribute substantially to the amorous rhythm, it is important to remember that the ‘talker’ or the ‘fetishist’ may serve, in fact, as an “egger-on” rather than the actual love-maker.

Did you pay for a good dinner? If so, chances are the other person made the love to you out of sheer gratitude. Man, people are hungry these days! If you’d like to make the love—next time consider nudging the dinner tab toward your partner.

Perhaps the horse-action saddle makes the love.

For an auto-gratifier:

When auto-gratifying with all-natural equipment, the biggest question may be: did your hand make the love to you or did you make the love to your hand? This question is not so easily answerable. Did your hand seem especially buoyant after the encounter? If using your off-hand, then it may feel as if another person were making the love to you.

When auto-gratifying with a device, consider the nation of manufacture. If ‘Made in China’, for example, then perhaps the peoples of China are making the love to you. The power source may also be the provider—that is, Duracell may be the love-maker. Too, the device’s materials (blow-molded plastic, synthetic rubber) may also make the love.

Resources for the love-makers:

Monday, August 5, 2013


If you “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” then what’re you talkin’ ‘bout, just bein’ friends? That’s a burger. Van Halen’s a burger. Similarly, if you “Feel Like Making Love” then you’re not really making love, you’re just feeling like it. (Who doesn’t?) (Who doesn’t feel like making love?) That’s a burger. Bad Company’s a burger.

What kind of music does a financial instrument play? Songs about executive salaries built upon the manipulation of your debt, that’s what. I think I smell a burger. The guys from Accounting head out to lunch. “I don’t want a burger,” they say, but they order fish ‘n’ chips / chips ‘n’ salsa. That’s a burger. Alternative to burger’s a burger.

This entrĂ©e was invented out of necessity many years ago in Europe, by a class of people known as the Burghers. They lived in burghs (e.g., Pittsburghers) and they were busy, so they required a convenient repast. A chain sprung up, Burgher King, run by Old MacDonald. You’ve heard of him. He had a Firm, C-E, C-E-O.

“Duck Duck Goose” is a burger. They might as well stop calling for Red Rover, and instead, send burger right over. This land is both your land and my land because it’s a burger. Fifty strip-malls, fifty strip-clubs, fifty strip-searches, fifty strip-mines sewn into the little square on the flag. Pledge allegiance to the burger, citizen.

Your alarm clock wakes you, is a burger. (Explanation: time’s a burger.) You lie in bed listening to the news, is a burger. (Explanation: radio’s a burger.) You miss your train, and as a consequence, you miss your meeting, is a burger. (Explanation: sloth’s a burger.) Somewhere in the city wafts arena rock. Wafts the burger . . .