Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Um, Chappaquiddick Anyone?


Senator Edward M. Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention
Denver, CO 8/25/08

Friday, August 22, 2008

Subway Stories: "Hey Fatty—Would You Like To Swap Seats?"

Riding the New York subway is always, for lack of a better term, a trip. Odds are, you'll see something almost daily that you've never seen before—something you most likely never wanted to see in the first place. Whether it's a used condom on the tracks (classy) or a recurrent pile of human feces on the steps of the subway entrance outside the OTB on the corner of Varick and King. (I'm on to you, Crazy Homeless Guy With The Horn-Rims And Oversize Olive Poncho. How do I know? Because 1. You live in the station and 2. You always glare at me, daring me to say something, eyes screaming, "You think you're better than me because you got a toilet?" Um, yes.)

Thankfully, today's experience had nothing to do with public defecation (or urination, for that matter). But, that doesn't make it any less galling.

I stepped onto the 2 train and
noticed a rather, ahem, corpulent woman seated, jammed in between two slender people. All three looked miserable. Still, that's their business, right? No one forced them all to sit there. If someone is unhappy with the situation, move someplace else.

Regardless, it had nothing to do with anyone but themselves.
Or so I thought.

Seated across from them (with an empty seat next to him), some thirty-something, Dockers-wearing douchebag—Good Samaritan that he is—looks directly at the woman and announces to the entire subway car, "Excuse me, ma'am, would you like to switch seats with me?" i.e.,
"Since you're so fucking fat, if you could somehow wedge yourself free, would you like to waddle over here and swap seats with someone one-third your size?"

He says this loudly enough so that every passenger in the car can hear what a wonderful and benevolent soul he is. So now everyone looks at the still corpulent, now mortified woman. Humiliated, she feigns a smile and mouths, No thank you.

"You sure?" he loudly insists, i.e.,
"Surely you mustn't have heard my generous offer through your fat ears, Fatty McFatFace."

To avoid further humiliation, she accepts his offer. He then takes her seat, fitting comfortably between the other two people, all smugness and self-satisfaction. It's all I can do not to plant myself in front of him and kick him in the balls.

There's kindness, there's chivalry and then there's this asshole. Insistently drawing attention to himself, trying to show the world that he's a better person than everyone else.

Hmmm, sounds kinda like a certain sanctimonious blogger.
Talk about comeuppance.
In my face, me.

Spanish Johnny did not see that coming.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Genius

If you thought my Olympics post was lazy, wait'll you see today's... Below, you'll find the genius that is Conan O'Brien's Harvard University Commencement Speech from way back in 2000. Probably the funniest goddamn speech you'll hear in your entire life.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Cunt


Oh, what a word.

Why is it, in England everyone from toddlers ("Gimme back me Elmo, you fookin' cunt!") to grandmas ("Which of youse cunts finished me tea?") use the word freely in their everyday life, but in the U.S. it would get me fired? If I'm not mistaken, the British created our language—so who are we to suddenly decide we know better than they which words are appropriate and which aren't? We're now the arbitrators of good taste? The same country that gave the world The Rock, Toby Keith and Greatest American Dog?

Everywhere else, cunt is used playfully—a term to mock your friends, both male and female. Here, it means one thing and one thing only: vagina (aka beaver, beef curtains, box, clam, gash, hoo-ha, kooter, muff, mound, poon, pussy, quim, snapper, snatch, taco, tuna, twat and—pronounced with a Spanish accent—va-hiná). Furthermore, it's not only considered worse than all those charming terms combined, it's considered pretty much the most despicable word in the English lexicon, right up there with the n-word. (That's a whole other post...) In fact, it's the n-word of female anatomy, thus it being dubbed the c-word.

Oh, grow the fuck up, ladies. Cunt. There, I said it. Cunt, cunt, cunt. Now the world didn't end, did it? Get over yourselves. Don't take it so personally. Sometimes a word is just a word, nothing more. Do you hear guys bemoaning use of the word cock? No, you don't.

But, if you did, you know what to call them, right?

Cunts.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't Stand So Close To Me—Seriously, Get The Fuck Away From Me, Sting


So The Police recently concluded their worldwide reunion tour. "So" being the operative word, as in So What? Seriously, who the fuck cares? That being said, my intention here is not to slam the music of The Police.

But, while I'm at it... Yes, I liked The Police. Back in 1985. They've turned out to be one of those bands whose music and legacy were, in retrospect, a little hollow and a lot overrated. The true test of a band's legacy is not how great they sounded at their peak, but how great—and relevant—that music still sounds today. How do The Police fare? I'd say somewhere between, oh, Cheap Trick and Peter Gabriel. (Today's equivalent? Coldplay.) Pick a Police song, any Police song, and odds are it feels more than a little dated and, dare I say, simplistic. Their music lacks any sort of nuances or depth. Huh, sounds just like a certain lead singer...

Certainly, the assholization of Sting (he of the adult contemporary music and Jaguar commercials) has not helped their cause. Ooooooh, Jaguar! How edgy! How rock 'n' roll! Seriously, when was the last time you heard an old Police song and thought, "Yes! De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da is on. I'm so pysched!"

My apologies for calling them just "Police," for they are The Police. And that brings me to the point of my post. When you think about it, The Police is probably the dumbest band name of all time, regardless of how you feel about their music (tired, dated, bland). It's like naming your band The Firemen or The EMTs. However, because their name is so familiar at this point, we don't even think about it. We give them—and a handful of other bands (The Beatles? Seriously?)—a free ride. Until now.

So, beginning with The Police, here's my list of Worst Band Names Ever.

A few caveats:
(1) Yes, I realize I'm not the first person to compile a list of bad band names. So the fuck what? I'm Spanish Fucking Johnny.
(2) Certainly, there are worse band names out there, but I'm only including bands that are/were (relatively) famous.
(3) They're listed alphabetically because—except where noted—they're all equally God-awful.

Here we go:

A Flock Of Seagulls

Archers Of Loaf (okay, if I were to rank them, these clowns would be tied for #1)

Boston

Boyz II Men (currently at the top of my Biggest Pussy Black Guys Ever list)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (#1 on my list of Most Poorly Punctuated Band Names)

Color Me Badd

Death Cab For Cutie

Gnarls Barkley (whose track, "Crazy," ranks near the top of my Most Annoying And Inexplicably Popular Songs Ever list)

Hair Cut 100

Hoobastank (tied with Archers Of Loaf for #1 on this list)

John Mayer (technically not a band, I guess, and not a really a terrible name either—but, I thought he deserved mention based solely on what a douchebag he is)

Kajagoogoo

Kansas (even lamer than Boston—Ooooooh, Kansas! How badass!)

Korn (Ooooooh, corn—what an intimidating vegetable! Take that, cauliflower!)

Limp Bizkit (whose album, Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water, would no doubt top my Worst Album Titles Ever list)

Mr. Big (whose track, "To Be With You," is tied for #1 with Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love To You" and Extreme's "More Than Words" on my list of Gayest Songs Ever)

Mr. Mister

'N Sync

New Kids On The Block (changing their name to N.K.O.T.B. was genius—even with all the gay songs and synchronized dance moves, I totally forgot what pussies they were!)

Peaches & Herb

Sixpence None The Richer (who?)

Tears For Fears

Thirty Odd Foot Of Grunts (Russell Crowe's atrocious band—say what you will about Keanu Reeves, but Dogstar is a pretty fucking cool band name)

Train (Seriously? That's it? That's your band name? How come none of the band members said, "Um, that's a pretty lousy name. Maybe we should go with something else?")

Toad The Wet Sprocket

Wang Chung

Wham!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yawn...



How do you say, "Who cares?" in Chinese?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Who The Fuck Is Spanish Johnny?


Everywhere I go these days, I'm asked the same question: "How do you walk around so easily with such an enormous cock?" Almost as frequently, I'm asked, "Hey, Spanish Johnny—how did you get your badass nickname?"

As anyone who knows my true identity can attest, I am neither Spanish (or its filthy cousin, Mexican) nor named Johnny. So, who then is the mysterious Spanish Johnny? One of my five readers suggested Spanish Johnny was the long-running host of Sábado Gigante on Telemundo. Another claimed Spanish Johnny was a famous drunk mandolin-playing bandit from Guadalajara, hung for all his fussin' and fightin'. Personally, I always thought Spanish Johnny sounded like a taboo and outlawed sexual act, i.e., "I gave her such a Spanish Johnny, my tongue will never be clean again."


Of course, the real meaning behind Spanish Johnny will surprise no one who actually knows me. "Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night..." With those words, Bruce Springsteen begins perhaps my favorite song in the world, "Incident On 57th Street." One of the lesser-known tracks from his second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, it's an epic tale, a modern-day (if you consider 1973 modern) retelling of West Side Story, without the gay finger-snapping dancers. And it is mind-blowingly, life-affirmingly good—particularly the live versions. It's also become my personal Moby Dick. More on that later.

I suppose now's as good a time as any to confess that I love Bruce Springsteen. Confess is not the right word, as it connotes shame and guilt. No, I shall exclaim that I love Bruce Springsteen. He is my hero, my idol, and, at the risk of sounding like a gay finger-snapping dancer, my muse. And he has been for a long, long time. As such a fan, you can imagine the great lengths I've gone to over the years to see him perform live. I mean that both figuratively and literally, as I've seen him everywhere from Albany to Asbury Park to Dublin. And I've been fortunate enough to hear him play almost every song in his catalog.

Except one.

One goddamn song that just happens to be my all-time favorite.

Or has it become my favorite simply because I know I'll never have it? Like that hot girl who sat in front of you in sophomore algebra class—the leggy transfer student with the dirty blonde hair and the exotic name (something like, oh, I don't know, Jennifer Paris...) that you wanted to bang with every fiber of your being, but you could never have her because your father was a mechanic and hers was a chief executive something or other. Okay, so I might've combined my own recollection with the plot from Pretty In Pink. Talk about gay...

Another confession: I've seen Bruce live in concert upwards of 75 times or so. I know that sounds ridiculous and it most likely is. I tell you this because that's 75 opportunities to hear "Incident." I am 0 for 75. The odds of this are infinitesimal. Because, unlike some songs that he never, ever plays live, he plays "Incident." Not every night, mind you, but probably every fifth show or so. I've gone so far as to strategize and methodically plot out which shows to attend in hopes of having a better chance of hearing it ("Go to the second night of a two-night stand—he always plays it on the second night" or "Go to Philly—he always plays it in Philly," etc.).

Honestly, I think there have been a handful of times where Bruce was about to play it, only to see me in the crowd and then wave the band off. "That creepy, weird guy is here again. Let's play 'Hungry Heart.' One, two... One, two, three, four!"

So, you can imagine my devastation upon learning that he played "Incident" last Thursday night (7/31) at Giants Stadium, the third night of a three-night stand. The show I decided not to attend. ("He'll never play it in Jersey" and/or "He'll never play it in a huge stadium."). The show my sister attended. The show my sister called me from to say, "I'm so sorry—I think they're playing your song. Gotta go. I have to pee."

As the unmistakable, opening piano notes of "Incident," a song that is somewhat, um, fundamental to my very core, filled the stadium, my sister left her seat and went to the ladies room. Cut to me listening to her cellphone message, naked in an empty bathtub with a shotgun in my mouth.

In all seriousness, I was crushed. Devastated. It felt like someone kicked me in the balls, gut and neck at the same time. (Yes, I realize that someone would have to have three legs to do that—cut me some fucking slack, for crissake...)

You know what? I can't blame Bruce. He obviously doesn't truly know whether I'm in attendance or not.

But, I'll tell you who I can blame.

God.

That's right. He knows. And He knows how fucking—nay, how Goddamn—important the song is to me. Why then does he test me like Job? Is it because I've made one too many AIDS or rape jokes? (But, those things write themselves, God!) Was it because I once called an old lady an old fucking cunt right to her cunty face? (But, that old fucking cunt was an old fucking cunt!) Was it because I boldly—and frequently—stole from the cash register at my high school grocer job? (But... I got nothing here. That was flat-out stealing. Sorry.) Was it because I once killed a hobo with my bare hands? (And would do it again?) Regardless, it doesn't justify all the evil assholes who have been lucky enough to hear the song live. Surely, a fair amount of them were date rapists and investment bankers, no? And I've no doubt, the majority of them had no idea what song he was even playing.

I simply need to accept the fact that I will never hear "Incident On 57th Street" live. The window is only growing smaller. After all, Bruce is 58 (!), though you'd never guess it by the astounding (even sans "Incident") performance I attended on 7/27. And the E Street Band—God bless 'em—is only bound to lose members from this point out, I hate to say (R.I.P. Phantom Dan Federici).

Before I go, let me leave you with the song's opening verse. Does anyone write like this anymore? Can anyone write like this? The answer is unequivocally no. Not even Bruce himself.

Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night
With bruised arms and broken rhythm and a beat-up old Buick but dressed just like dynamite
He tried sellin' his heart to the hard girls over on Easy Street
But they said, "Johnny, it falls apart so easily, and you know hearts these days are cheap"
And the pimps swung their axes and said, "Johnny, you're a cheater"
And the pimps swung their axes and said, "Johnny, you're a liar"
And from out of the shadows came a young girl's voice, said, "Johnny, don't cry"
Puerto Rican Jane, oh, won't you tell me, what's your name?
I want to drive you down to the other side of town
Where paradise ain't so crowded and there'll be action goin' down on Shanty Lane tonight
All the golden-heeled fairies in a real bitch-fight
Pull .38's and kiss their girls goodnight


Are these my favorite Springsteen lyrics? No. Not even close, actually. Lyrically, he has a a great many songs that I believe are far more moving and poignant. But, musically, especially as the song drives toward its conclusion, this one is pretty hard to top. The final chorus, as seen below, is repeated over and over and over, more passionately each time, until it reaches a jaw-dropping crescendo—followed by a stunning convergence of guitar, piano and drum.

Goodnight, it's alright, Jane
I'll meet you tomorrow night on Lover's Lane
We can find it out on the street tonight, baby
Or we may walk until the daylight, maybe


Of course, words can't suitably describe it. You'll just have to listen for yourself.
Hopefully, it won't consume your life the way it has mine.


This transcendent performance is from a 1978 show
in Passaic, NJ



And here's a more recent performance that demonstrates
—30 years later—Bruce has still got it