Saturday, October 24, 2009

God, Guns, and free market economics...?

The Tea people are at it again. They are planning the next round of being crazy, looking crazy, and making sure Fox News documents their craziness everywhere they decide to murmur in tongues.

How did organizers get people to defend the very corporations that raised their credit card payments, put them out of work, screwed their retirement, and rejected their health care claims?

Well, because, God said so, of course!

I wonder if I am going to get an angel audit soon. Then again, I never got a Sega Saturn which I prayed for when I was 9, so I have seen no positive use of our holy tax dollars.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Straight, not Neanderthal

Let's take a moment to celebrate the expansion of the hate crimes laws to include gays and lesbians.

Some people have been rather confused about my die-hard allegiance to the gay rights movement, since I am heterosexual. Some people even doubt that I am straight considering my outspokenness. Heck, close friends and family have doubted it since I wanted to do ballet as an 11 year old (its because I thought the ballerinas were hot, and in hindsight, had I decided to be a heterosexual in the ballet world I would be more popular than a rockstar.) I love the cable channel Logo; Logo and I have a very positive and constructive Twitter relationship (in fact, they "RT: @"ed me a few days ago, thanks @Logo! Now back to #MyBlogTopic)

But the sad, boring truth of it all is that I am really just part of the sexual status-quo, a "breeder" from "Mars." There is no subtext to my political activity, I am an XY only interested in an XX. It's not my fault, this is how I was born, a statistic on the meaty part of the bell curve.

Then why would I be so aggressive about LGBT rights? Some may ask. Well, two main reasons. First and foremost, although I am a self-described atheist, there is still the matter of right and wrong. And in a modern, educated society, we know that discrimination and ignorance are very much wrong. Putting this discrimination and ignorance into law because of discriminatory and ignorant people is not only wrong, it's troglodytic. It's not a hetero or homo thing, its a human thing. And its time we evolve.

The second reason is pretty clear, it is because I AM straight. The law is on my side, I live without fear of discrimination, and I have absolutely no internalized fears of actually being gay. I feel like it is not only an opportunity, but kind of a necessity, to speak out on behalf of those who can't because they would lose their family or their community. I am in the camp that feels a lot of homophobia is a reaction to one's gay insecurity. The "ew thats gross, time to lift some weights!" syndrome. Is it really shocking that the most hetero-centric institutions like Frats, football teams, and the military always seem to get in trouble for hazing that seems just a bit...homoerotic?

Really in the end, we want a set of laws and a moral code that represents the fact that it does not matter. There should be no need to fall into camps, to associate only with specific communities based purely on identity (or mutual bigotry.) To seek a universal empathetic place to be as non-categorical as we want.

--The fight is far from over, if you have time or a dollar to donate, protect Maine's marriage equality by going to --

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Old products we wished were back for nostalgic purposes

Crystal Pepsi

Its Pepsi, but CLEAR! Perhaps a deconstructionist statement on the illegitimacy of soda ingredients?

Pogo Balls

Someone came up with the idea to let kids straddle a ball and jump around staircases leading to approximately 12,000 skinned knees.

Ecto Cooler

Because nothing quenches a thirst like the paranormal corn-syruped plasm of crushed ghosts.

Inside Out B.U.M. Equipment Sweatshirts

I scoured the internet looking for an image of these things, but they are practically forgotten out of existence. The B.U.M. inside-out sweatshirt was made to LOOK like you were wearing their equipment INSIDE OUT! The fuzzy label put all Champion shirts to shame in 1989.

OK. Soda

With their melancholy AD campaigns and a taste that resembled week-old coffee filters mixed with doctor pepper, OK soda sought out to be the carbonated beverage for Gen X. And much like Gen X, it sat around feeling misunderstood, did nothing but mope and crave attention (it even wanted you to call it at 1-800 I FEEL OK for emotional reassurance.)

Garbage Pail Kids

The fucked up, reactionary response to the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon. And they are still far more tasteful than those skanky "Bratz".

ROB The Robot

Nintendo caught on quickly that those obsessed with video games will eventually find themselves lacking of friends. So, why not make a friend to play games with you when you have no friends left? ROB the robot was that non-judgmental gamer buddy who wouldn't dump you for that kid with a pogo ball. To bad he had a tenancy to explode.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Seriously, Someone should sue Fox News.

Thomas Friedman struck a chord with the RNC when he wrote this article about the dangerous rhetoric used against Obama, the proponents of which are obviously associated with 24 hour news cycles, but now seem to be seeping into the floor of the house itself. Friedman argues that the bipolar climate is similar to that which existed in Israel on the eve of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.

On the forefront from the media-side of the attack is no doubt Fox News. If you haven't seen Glenn Beck's ridiculous ranting, you are probably just waking up from a coma or just very very lucky. In this maniacal monologue, Beck essentially is telling his viewers to "drive a steak" through the bloodsucking government.

"What kind of madness is it that someone would create a poll on Facebook asking respondents, “Should Obama be killed?” The choices were: “No, Maybe, Yes, and Yes if he cuts my health care.” The Secret Service is now investigating. I hope they put the jerk in jail and throw away the key because this is exactly what was being done to Rabin." Friedman writes.

And a valid point. After 8 years of George Bush, it is not only appropriate to distrust government, but mix that cultural sensitivity with a resurgence of old-school McCarthyism and latent racism and you have a recipe for the kind of anger that makes people protest health care reform wearing loaded guns.

Many will argue that these are the "fringe." Moderates, fiscal conservatives and intellectuals may disagree with the government on issues from time to time, but certainly do not wish death upon our leaders. But what we are seeing here is a fringe that is becoming more and more pinned to their firearms listening to every word Glenn Beck tells them.

Let me say first and foremost that I am a strong supporter of the first Amendment. It is important to protect everyone's right to free speech, no matter how utterly ignorant it can be. Our constitutional freedoms are not made up by the good guys, it was the assholes that secured our rights (re. Brandenburg V. Ohio.)

I do not think Fox News should be censored. Simply sued by its customers for providing false information. To Say "Fox News" is a misnomer is giving it too much credit, its false advertising in the most dangerous degree. And people who only watch Fox News are getting a slate of crap sold to them as news, creating a self-contained informational divide. If you are watching a news station that tells you everything you want to hear to validate your ignorance, why would you choose to pop that perfect little bubble?

Lets say Fox created a channel called Fox Health, the mission statement being to provide Healthy tips to Americans. 50% of the time they may say the right thing (get your cardio, weight training, walk instead of drive etc.) The other 50% of the time they fill the airspace with pundits who are "health experts" who claim you need to "Eat your McDonalds, because you need protein!" Or "Don't trust your Doctor, all cholesterol is 'good' cholesterol." Hell, lets even give it a corporatist throwback: "Smoking was never really that bad for you, it was just the whiny liberals who made up those lies, just like global warming!"

This channel would be breaking so many ethical rules, and also may eventually be blamed for the deaths of the 15% of Americans who only get their information from Fox Health. Sadly, this isn't far from what Fox News is doing. It is irresponsible, unethical, and essentially false advertising. Journalism with a bias is almost unavoidable, but this bias shows a deliberate attempt to manipulate the truth for its own political agenda. It cannot rightfully be called a news channel*.

for more on intentionally distorted truths, go to

*Other cable news networks also need to up their game responsibility wise, irresponsibility is symptomatic to news-for-a-profit structures. But when it comes to intentionally distorting facts for viewership, FOX far outweighs its competition.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Right to Life vs. The Right to Live

Thank whatever divine being you worship, that this health care debate is almost over. I have had it up to my recently-drained veins with insane "townspeople" and nasty comments made from reform opposition. I feel like our country has devolved into a 6th grade classroom and somehow the bad kids were getting all the attention. Obama's most recent session before a joint congress seemed more like a teacher giving a lecture to a misbehaving classroom than anything else (Joe Wilson's heckling only fit this dynamic perfectly.)

The fact is, we need health reform badly. Whatever reform we get would not be enough to please me. I am a fan of a single-payer platform. As far as modern democracies and industrialized economic power-houses go, the United States comes in dead last for life expectancy. Yet we hear from reform opponents that "when someone in Canada has a medical problem, they come to the U.S." and cite a few examples to prove their point. Sure, the United States does have amongst the best hospitals in the world, but only the wealthy and insured have the luxury to visit them.

What this comes down to is the opposition saying, essentially, that only the wealthy and economically feasible citizens have a right to live. Everyone else, those who have lost insurance due to recession-based downsizing, their children, the poor and working class; they do not have a right to live, according to the reactionary anti-reform dogma. Unless of course, they were willing to go Bankrupt, which only dilates the rich-poor gap.

The worst part of this though, is that these people who refuse to help the struggling, the republican representatives and their incredibly loud and obnoxious "tea-party" allies claim to be "Christian." Or is this form of Christianity only willing to abide by the teachings of their lord and savior until their taxes are put on the line?

I never understood American "Christianity" in the political realm. You have Joe Wilson trying his damn hardest to make sure the children of undocumented immigrants cannot get penicillin for their strep, and yet this very same Joe Wilson is "pro-life."

I suppose he only supports the life of a child when it is inside a woman. Once it pops out, it is no longer a child in need, it is a vile lazy welfare-brat looking for another government handout. Very Christian of you Joe, indeed.

Speaking statistically, of course, if Joe Wilson and his "christian" counterparts really wanted to lower the abortion rate, it probably would help if those who are stranded in tough economic waters could get the health care they need. The "right to life" is an irrelevant stance to have if you do not believe in the right to live.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Body language in text: How the new millenia will send and percieve a social yawn

"You need more exclamations!" My friend said "more. That will prove you are decidedly friendly." She was right, I needed more exclamations. Otherwise, my purely business-related "thanks, you're the best!!!!" would be seen as dismissal, if not outright passive-aggressive. And, if its as simple as an assistant receiving a package, we have obviously begun to (whether we like it or not) pay attention to specific social cyber-cues.

It is true, I believe, that emotional intelligence is a genuine genre of interactive intellect. Some people are amazing at making machines work, but have no ability to comprehend their neighbor's obvious boredom. Some people are the exact opposite. And while my friend advises me to add an extra "!!!" to my email, I begin to come to terms with the fact that our generation has become super-sensitive to vague social cues.

The internet, once again, the culprit. Take the emoticon for example. If someone ends their email with an ":)" they are either: being friendly, being flirtatious, making up for something their fault or, trying to send a more subversive sentiment.

Indeed, the subversive sentiment, the one we choose rarely to recognize. The smile that exists predominantly as the "eye roll" or the under-your-breath response.

It is If I wrote "its ok, I have a few other people who are willing to donate a kidney :)"

It is the emoticon of the martyr syndrome.

But whether we like it or not, these obviously expressive sentiments have become standard.
:) "i like you" [rarely used in heterosexual male friendships, used all the time in platonic male-female friendships]
:-O "you have a new cat?!";
:D "I like drinking"....;
;p "I wink and stick my tongue out at the same time because i don't take myself seriously, and people like that about me"

and let us not forget the:

[sentence]!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! aka "Most assuredly"

Passive social cues have become a bit more extreme over the internet, due mostly to the restrictions of text-related interactions. It used to be that social cues were set by the upper class, that is, after all, how etiquette came to be. The etiquette of old is changing. People are becoming *very nice* face-to-face but more specific on the internet.

When a republican family member wants to take advantage of my left-leaning facebook status, he does so. But at thanksgiving dinner, he might not bring it up or even challenge my philosophy. On the internet though, he feels much freer to express himself. No wonder I have to include a million exclamations to thank a coworker....

So we have become indoctrinated in specificity. Anyone who does not send a specific emotion is either being elusive or socially ignorant. Point is, next time your friend replies to your apology email with a series of abbreviations "it k, talk tmrro?" You should probably come to terms with the social eggshells about to crack under your toes...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

About my Tattoo

So what happened on the tour became all very jumbled. We went from one coast and then back to the other. I have seen, heard, and witnessed unspeakable banalities. What is a good tour though, without a good tattoo. And if, after questioning, I am led to explain the story of my tattoo I get to say "I got it on tour" which translates into "I had an interesting life once upon a time."

So I kind of want to explain what it is and why it is, and all things related to permanent life decisions. What I got was this:

on the back of my right arm. Well not the whole thing, just the cello-man hybrid. What that is from, is Roy Lichtenstein's Cubist Cello. I liked the idea of a cello, its one of my favorite instruments that I do not play. The cubist element combines the perfect angle of art and logic -- mathematical yet emotional. It's bit of a yin-yang in its own existence.

But more importantly, it kind of solidifies myself and my musical career through the spirit of Roy Lichtenstein. We have some similarities. He was a pop artist, often criticized by his use of popular culture to make contemporary art. But instead of seeing popular culture as a consumer product, he saw it as a pallet from which to draw new ideas from existing social memes.

I'd like to think that good art doesn't rely on shock value, networking, or sexiness, sometimes its just a more accurate mirror.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What Happens in Wisconsin...

Chicago was lovely. We had an energetic crowd, partially influenced by an injection of high-school-drama enthusiasm, which I remember from my days of old. The night ended with a lovely hummus plate I shared with a music journalist whose real name is Amber Valentine, who like myself, is in the music industry as a quick-path to fiction fame. I'd like to think we had good conversations with the few words we were able to get out intermittently under the loud jazz-funk band playing twenty feet away. Amber was allergic to wheat so I got to eat all the pita.

We received a text a day or two before Chicago asking us to play an outdoors park show in Madison Wisconsin. When you think of outdoors park shows, you generally tend to think about a large outdoors stage, a festive summer atmosphere, maybe even a couple of pretzel stands on the side. Or slush. This is what a summer, outdoors music concert tends to be.

When we arrived, we saw a small sports shack on a tiny strip of grass barely passable to be labeled a park. The audience members, barring the 3 people suntanning and a few children on the playground, were the infrequent kayak renters.

Being the professional musicians that we are, we say hey, we may as well play. Which would have been a possibility had the 20-year-old sound system not shat the bed one song into our set. As luck would have it, a few nightmare of you fans showed up expecting an actual show. With no sound system you have no vocals. No vocals mean no songs. What do you do with 8 musicians, no sound system, and no songs? a 40 minute, alcohol-laced spacejam.

What occurred was something I like to refer to, in memory, as Plushmare of Goo. A completely improvised atonal series of melodies being sprayed around rather haphazardly. Apparently, two people asked for CDs and the name of our band. Absurdity works over time.

The next stop on our trip was Omaha Nebraska. We came and went and everything fell where it was, as far as Omaha is concerned. We did meet a very nice young vegan lady who gave our tour manager, Skippy, a vegan cookie in Lawrence Kansas. Skippy is also a vegan, and on a trans-continental trip through the united states, a task of being such becomes quite complicated, making this small genuine gesture of cookie-giving a beautiful notion of human kindness.

Speaking of Lawrence Kansas, we have come to the conclusion that we really do like Kansas. But something horrible happened. We needed to pull an all nighter from Lawrence to get to Denver at 8:30 am the next day for a radio promo spot. That was hellish enough, as a concept, without the need to add an extra serendipitous fuck hole in our left tire. Thanks to an awesome dude, we were on the road sooner than AAA got there, and made it to Denver with one minute to spare.

while that was happening, we found out we co-won the Deli Magazine's artist of the month with the band, the Narrative. Congrats to us.

Sign the frog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chapter 3: Landlocked Insomnia

The past couple of days have been blending together. Such is the unfortunate cycle of anxiety-driven insomnia. It all started in Lester Pennsylvania. We had a nice day off between Washington DC and Philly where we took time to work out some major kinks in our marketing. Namely a merchandise display. So we took a few hours, at a random Target in Maryland, and now we have a beautifully colored picnic basket filled with goodies. The best part is the frog-shaped stationary we are now using for our mailing list, leading to the new and effective mantra: Sign the frog. (see diagram 1)

So we were feeling good in Lester Pennsylvania, a brand new merchandise display, a frog to sign, and parking-lot wiffleball. Yet for some reason that night, I was completely unable to turn my exhaustion into sleep. The running narrative in my brain just would not stop. I had "Don't You Want Me" on repeat somewhere in the iPod of my frontal lobe, splicing with a sci-fi story I plan on never writing. Perhaps it was the anxiety of a 6 month tour ahead of me, or the excitement of having signed my first boob. (see Diagram 2)

So many things go wrong when you get no sleep. Feeling hungry and cold then nauseous and warm within a matter of seconds. Moments of drunken ecstasy followed by an envious hatred of those who were able to shut off the night before. Our second night on the tour was at The Northstar Bar in Philadelphia , and despite being absolutely loopy, I decided that it was a good idea to engage in conversation with other life-forms; this dialogued appeared to be more akin to a spoken-word mad-libs than any normative sequence of syntax.

I was lucky enough to get sleep that following night. We are now driving en route to Lancaster PA from Columbus OH. Matt is exchanging sweet nothings with Nuvi, our Garmin Navigational personality. Their relationship started rocky at first, sometimes we take familiar routes for granted, but once Nuvi proved herself right (after we tried to check into the wrong hotel despite her constant "U-Turn Here. U-Turn Here. U-Turn Here. ..... Recalculating.") Now Nuvi and Matt have developed a creepy symbiosis. She knows exactly how fast he is driving, and when we will exactly show up to our destination.

The show tonight rocked. I loved that our audience members danced with us and had a good time. And an awesome amount of people signed the frog. Adding to the list of first-time autographs, tonight I signed a pack of birth control and a beer. Two of the world's best inventions. Hopefully the hotel we get to has internet, so I can finally post this, and get much needed rest. Lansing is next.

Sign the Frog.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chapter 2: In Cold Water

The van we rentedwas supposed to arrive at 10 am today. But, this is the music industry so we should have assumed that it would arrive at 11:46, which it did. Our goal was to drive to DC, despite traffic, within 5 hours (insert 24 style clock ticking now)

1:15: We have picked up all of our merch from various, GTA-mission-style locations, and are stuck in Jersey City. How do we get back to the highway? Don't worry, I have invested in a Garmin to help us out. Problem is, apparently garmin's personality is that of a passive aggressive 2nd-phase-feminism-gone-housewife dominatrix.

"Turn right twenty six seconds ago."
"I told you to keep right"
"There were five possible rights"
"Sure there were, just like there were five possible nights of the week we could have gone to see Star Trek. I still have a life you know." (paraphrased)

2:25. Dialogue, as remembered by me:

Taylor: "there was a clear presence of toilet paper between my ass and my hands."

Matt: "But you still have to wash your hands."

Me: "Toilet paper is slightly between jello and solid substances. It flushes."


me: "Ni Hao?

everyone: "what?"

me: "oh, I thought you were speaking mandarin"


we arrive to our location, set up, play an awesome show with Brian Bonz and Nightmare of You while I continue to drink. As we are loading, Taylor takes a moment to jam, dissonant jazz style with a street performer, catching the attention of natives waiting for a cab.

1:45 am we leave for our out-of-the-way hotel that charges lower fares for smoking rooms. Immediately upon entering this smelly locale, we regret saving the extra 12 dollars.

3:36 am

I am sure there is more to report but right now I am more psyched to sleep than report. So have a good night. Tomorrow, we will be rocking out in Delaware. Or at least catching our barrings.

Rocking in Delaware. A dream come true.

In and out. See you in Philly

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chapter 1: Packing.

It has become apparent to me that preparing for a long tour is a bit like packing before summer camp.

I hated summer camp.

But at least this time around, the big scary kids are bouncers, who need legal recourse before torturing their victims with worms, projectile fruit boxes, and toppled over porta-potties. Except maybe in Dallas.

So I find myself here, in front of a smorgasbord of relatively useful crap that I may or may not use. So what does Dan from Plushgun pack? In no significant order:

7 pairs of socks.
10 pairs of underwear (re-using socks; not nearly as big of a sanitation folly)
2 black shirts. Because they are slimming
2 button-ups, for shows
3 skinny ties.
2 pairs of sneakers
1 pair of running shorts
1 pair of swim trunks.
200 condoms (for the great condom-water-balloon battle of Lawrence)
1 female condom, passed over from Freezepop, to be handed over to Nightmare of You.
14th century Spanish Short Sword
FIFA '05 for PS2
Portable fan
Tennis Racket
Wiffleball set
3 pairs of jeans
Treasure Map
Floss, which has yet to be opened, despite being purchased 3 tours ago.
2 Nerf dart guns
Season 3 of Six Feet Under
1 copy of the US Constitution
toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant.
3 ounces of dignity
and one pint of shame.

I suppose I need more than the average person for a cross-country quest, though it is not because I am high maintenance, but just in general, a quirky man-child.

Lets see who's laughing when I find that treasure...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prologue: The calm, unrequited.

Very shortly, we will be shipping off to tour the country for about six weeks. This will, by this point, be considered the longest "on the road" experience we will have had. As much as I am slightly nervous about the expectations, and unable to navigate the uncertainty of the events that lay ahead, I am also keenly aware of the literary opportunity that is presented in front of me. Or at least a voyeuristic insight that is rarely if ever truly seen: the touring life of a baby buzz band in the national sphere.

This is not a tour with buses and laminated passes. We are stuffing 4 guys and gear in a van, to drive state to state, stopping at standardized highway rest-stops to pile on top of the already-liver burning fast food. The glory of a touring band is highly assumed and misrepresented. Glory days are over for the music industry, and we are working with what we have to get by and spread our sound.

I am going to be using this blog to give you a candid glimpse in our lives in the next month.5. Names will be changed to protect the innocent, but let me be blunt: this is no typical tour diary, where bands present how fun their lives are and what sights they see: if I inexplicably wake up in Vegas wearing a cheerleader outfit, you will know. Perhaps not why as I may not know either...

As we embark, the Plushgun pirates on a concrete ocean, I invite you to join our adventures.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Worst Summer Job

Dear readers,

the time has come again, to head back from campus, hang up that backpack, and work your degrading summer jobs. To make you feel better though, I will tell you my worst summer job story, and then open the floor to you. Comment with your stories and we will celebrate together!

My Worst Summer Job

The year was 2002. I was back with my parents between my freshman and sophomore year at NYU. Granted, the transition for me, from living in Greenwich Village to suburban Pleasantville caused a wave of self-entitled whiplash alone -- and to an ego so barely reconstructed -- little did I know what kind of hell I would step into when I agreed to go to an interview with my friend, an interview at a factory.

A Box factory.

"It get's hot, there is no AC, runs about, 115 degrees in the summer," our trainer casually dictated, showing us around the plant. "We get here at 5:30 am, no earlier, work until the bell, no later." My friend and I did not fit in, to say the least. We were the college kids these workers would later laugh at, prissy boys, spoiled suburban kids looking for money to pay for our illegal, collegial activities.

Our trainer showed us the process, a giant motherfucker called the corrugation machine was the heart of the box making process. This beast, which claimed the entire back of the plant as its domain, made most 90% of the noise and heat, roaring as it turned paper to cardboard. This would be my enemy, and I hardly knew it.

I was placed at a post where my responsibility was to watch stacks of boxes, and estimate if they were in numbers of 50. So I stood at a conveyor belt watching box after box turn into stack after stack. What made this worse, however, was that this was no simple box factory. No. They had to make Pizza boxes. I have since not recovered from the feeling, so empty of pizza, soulless and wanton. I ate pizza for a year straight after that, in memorial to all of the empty shells I had to witness.

My days degraded into ritual, repetitiveness was no longer mundane, it was life. Daydreaming was not recommended, I could lose a hand. All I had was the foresight of pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Pizza...

And on the hottest day of the year, 96 degrees outside, 119 indoors, the union leader (who looked exactly as a union due collector would look, if this were a cartoon: like a brick wall) plops two knee-high rubber boots by my feet. "You're goin' in."

He leads me on a path towards the Corrugation monster, "She started coughing up a bit" he said laughing "you gotta clean up the sludge, college boy"

Armed with a shovel and a garbage can, I stared at my nemesis. She was at least 50 yards long, a gross example of industrial inefficiency. The heat was tremendous, the noise intolerable, and the smell....the smell of her sludge-like waste was worse than anything I had smelled before. I was no longer the college boy, I was Beowulf.

I had to work my way into the gross underbelly of the machine, into a river of what used to be chemicals. With my shovel, I stacked pound after pound of sludge into the garbage can, taking a break to breath every 5 minutes or so in attempt to fight the vomit inching up my throat.

After an hour or so, Mr. Brick Wall Union Leader relieved me of my activity. I had won against the machine, and emerged victorious to my colleagues. I had survived the worst job, within the worst summer job, on the worst day of the summer. After that, I was no longer "college boy," I was "city kid," a respected upgrade in the hierarchy of nicknames.

And from that day on, with my new found blue-collar-cred, I no longer feared the people around me. Instead, I was welcomed into their inner-circle, I would hear stories about their near death experiences on the job, losing skin, burns. I would tell them about the Guggenheim, the New York Philharmonic, and drinking coffee in the west village.

They still thought I was gay, of course.

So what was your worst summer job?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Proposition 8 destroys the lives of children (and puppies)

**UPDATE - California Supreme Court Upheld Prop 8 **

The california supreme court is currently undergoing the scholastic review of Proposition 8; and is trying to figure out if it is, in fact, constitutional. I know that we have tossed these terms, legally, academically, and so it goes...I am going to give you a one-sentence explanation if you haven't been keeping up.

The California supreme court decided that, based on the California state constitution (which has to follow with the umbrella rules of the Constitution of the United States of America) same-sex marriage had to be legalized, turning "traditional marriage" proponents to a referendum process--California has one of the more powerful referendum systems--that, based on a very slim majority passed, taking away rights from those the supreme court held otherwise intact.

Now the California supreme court is at the dawn of of a new decision. Is this proposition an amendment to the Constitution, or a revision? Is this a fight for equality under the law, or an equal playing field?

This may be where I take a more radical approach. What rational Americans are fighting for here is not really equal protection under the law, but the right to be normal. Marriage is just a small legal concept. Marriage is a tax break. Marriage, outside of religion, family, and tradition, is a bureaucratic measure. It comes down to normality and civility. Until homosexuals are recognized as a normal part of our normal society with absolutely no exceptions to that societal rule, they will forever be judged, banished from what we deem civil.

Until this happens, prejudice will occur. "Fags" will be thrown intermittently. And bullying will continue for children who don't fit the standard "mold" of our societal expectations. I hate using examples to make a point, and using names to promote an agenda. I know nothing about this person's true identity or their sexual orientation, outside of what the media promotes. But this is too important for now to let go. A month ago Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a boyscout, football player, and normal human being, hung himself in a town relatively close from where I grew up. He did so because of the taunts from peers. He may or may not have been gay. That doesn't matter. What matters is we lost amazing potential from someone who was loved by many, because we allow this hate to continue in a public forum.

I am sorry for becoming irate, but this is not forgivable anymore. As much as many of us try to be abnormal, it is because we have the luxury of being normal in the first place. We are destroying the lives of those who want to live like everyone else. This really pisses me off.

I generally like to end with a somewhat lighthearted note. But I can't really. I love puppies, who doesn't? And to those who love puppies but think homosexualily is unnatural, I would say then, that puppies--being the product of human domestication--are not natural. Therefor puppies are not normal...and dying from prop 8 as well.

Say you're sorry to mr. pug

Times I've been a Douche

Ask Dan.

Episode 2: "Times I've been a Douche"

Acting out the end scene from Se7en for Spin Magazine/XboX360

Dear readers,

as you may know I have asked you to send me your questions for me to answer. This could be an inquisitive tick, or an attempt to get my advice on something (which I will completely wing, but at least try to make humorous.)

here is this weeks question:

Dear Dan,

you seem like a a nice guy. your band seems like a nice band. your music is nice music for nice people! is this just an act to please fans or are you really a nice person?


Well first, Alex, let me start out by saying it is probably better to use a anonymous string of words, like "looking at pets" (LAP) or "Nice optimist marginalized" (NOM.) These keep you anonymous, as anonymity is part of the fun. Which is why your real name isn't Alex, but has been changed to protect the real Alex, from him or herself.

Now to your question. I would like to think that I am a nice, laid back, chill guy who does not take himself too seriously; thus being forever grateful for everything that has been placed upon myself and my life henceforth.

I would like to think that, and for the most part its true. But people fuck up. And I have been, on occasion, a douche. So instead of trying to prove how nice, cool, laid-back and self-consciously chill I am...I am going to bring up all of the times I have been a complete douchebag. Because I feel like in order to fully be that guy I want to be, I need to make amends. So let the waterfalls begin.

-When I was in second grade, I bragged about winning capture the flag so heinously that I got punch by my best friend, who was on the other team. Kinda a douche.

-When I had a crush on a girl in high school, I manipulated my way to her completely platonic heart by feeding information that I had secretly gained spying on her boyfriend. Pretty douche.

-A couple blogs ago, I said that JEDI sucked, that's pretty douchebag.

-I have an iPhone

-once, to get out of an awkward conversation, I pretended to get a phone call. Furthermore, I answered the phone and walked away and had a fake conversation with myself for about 5 minutes. Super douche.

-I considered downloading the iPhone application that faked phone calls for the above reason.

-Unable to successfully lie about my phone number to someone who wanted it, I wrote it down so messily that it would have taken hieroglyphic researchers a week to decipher. She managed to call. And it went to voice mail.

-I have a tendency to send genuine friends to voice mail because wii is just that much more important at the moment

-I can barely take care of a plant, never mind a hampster

-I will not correct your grammar, but I will consider it

-I have bad grammar myself and I hate when you correct it

-I am jealous that kids these days have such awesome toys. The coolest shit I had was legos and ghostbusters. I am not mocking legos or ghostbusters, but toys these days speak 5 languages and shoot back at you.

-If I had a million dollars, I would put a ball pit in my living room. Then donate.

-I run my air conditioner too much, and yet I am an environmentalist. I do not want global warming, but I also don't want ME warming. At least I don't drive.

So you see, there are times when I am a douche. The first step though is awareness, and these things I am aware of, and hope to change or at least make amends. Keep in mind, I take suggestions...

Submit your questions to @


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Purity Rings and Virginity Pledges: 100% Annoying, 0% effective

The Jonas Brothers wear them. Jordin Sparks and Miley Cyrus wear them. And parents love the fact that these young celebrities have taken the vow of virginity 'til marriage.

It is a brilliant marketing campaign that one has to wonder, if at all, is grounded in truth for any of these starlets. We all remember how Britney's faux "virginity" was used in order to curb the backlash of an over-sexualized young girl; are these examples really any different?

Whether or not these kids are legitimate in their quest to buy the car before the test drive is an issue all together separate from the fact that this particular marketing campaign is actually quite dangerous. In fact, the "Virginity Pledge," which started gaining steam from the Bush administration's "Abstinence Only" programs, have proven to be ineffective and irresponsible.

The simple truth is: it does not work. People have sex, kid's lie, and teenagers are certainly not beacons of rationality. Recent studies show that 82% of pledge takers deny ever taking the pledge, which really is a bad average when it comes to pledges. This isn't a pledge, its a Best Buy HD-TV return policy post-Superbowl.

Furthermore, not only are virginity pledges virtually useless, studies show that teens who have taken them are far less likely to have safe sex, which means more vulnerable to disease and pregnancy.

This is just one of the many fronts in the so-called "culture war." Parents, many of them who see the Jonas Brothers' choice as simply positive roll modeling, are unaware of the potential consequences from pushing adolescents towards sexual ignorance.

It is time we end abstinence-only education, and install a proper, responsible method to educate teens about the consequences and safety precautions to sexual behavior.

Whenever you see these faces

just realize that they are unintentionally trying to make the USA a Bristol Palin-Levi Johnson society. And oh, how sophisticated it will be!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Voluntary End to Self Expression

We live in a time of synergy. Synergy, is the eventual result in a digital society. When you check out my blog, there are advertisements that are created by keywords. My "Big Gay Hurricane" post often has ads next to it like "Meet gay singles" and "bibles half-off!"

I am going to run a little test. Poop. Wait, once was not enough. Poop. Poop. Poop. Are any of the ads for laxatives or herbal solutions to IBS?

This is how everything gets tied together, marketing, monetizing, creation and collaboration. It is good for the economy, good for marketers and research, good for corporations and the consumer. Bad for free expression, and since free expression is the foundation for artistry, potentially the death of art as we know it.

Part 1) The supply problem

The digital world has made creation so accessible, that expression can be done by anyone with a voice and an idea. Though I call this the supply problem, it is by no means a bad thing. The fact that we are all creating, writing, blogging and posting our videos on youtube is a beautiful thing, and has helped the progression of our society. Obama was certainly lifted by inspired young bloggers and film makers. We have seen hilarious referendums to NOM's anti-marriage campaign. And countless musicians who would never have been heard are spreading their music worldwide at the click of a button.

This is a beautiful thing, but in a world of economics, an abundance of supply creates a small monetary demand. Those hoping to make money from art have to prove themselves beyond the rest of our prolific generation. But, even still for these "cream of the crop" creators, life is going to become even more difficult because of the problem of marketability.

Low levels of offensive materials guaranteed!

Artists making concessions for cash is no new paradigm. The most revered renaissance artists worked for commission from royalty. All commercial art is successful commercially because it is, well, commercial. But artists have always been able to establish leverage based on their following and talent, once they were themselves proven. Now, because so many are clawing their way to a living wage, the concessions are becoming more and more apparent. We are relying on sponsors more and more each day to keep up with the global economy, and a reliance on third party supporters can mean our expression could be completely censored. And the more we rely on large chain stores like Walmart, the more power they have to make sure I do not stand up for unions healthcare and the like through my writing, speech and even music. (Luckily I am not, nor will ever rely on Walmart's entertainment section)

A voluntary end to free expression

Now that everybody has a stake in the creative process, a middle-class is forming, rather than the "starving artist" versus the "elite." In the past, the "starving artist" would be the one with nothing to lose, and hence total free reign over every subject. They didn't have to worry about editing a music video to be less offensive for sponsor sake, they could push the envelope as far as they wanted and in the end, this led to a more expression and enlightenment in art.

Now it seems like we are all competing to be voluntarily censored, to make that next month's rent payment. These people are not sell outs, they are modern day artists, bloggers, and musicians...people who are offering us something we love and need, but are struggling to continue doing it. So they take that commercial, they keep silent on Proposition 8, and do everything they can to stay afloat.

American Idol winners teach us one thing. Its the democratically selected, nationally marketable, Christian, pre-screened, family friendly ass that tends to win. And then their records flop because, who wants to listen to nationally marketable, pre-screened, family friendly music? It is socially digested, commercially broken down, passed through the media-machines viscera, and ends up poop.

poop poop poop. Wow, look at those ads!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ask Dan! Episode 1: "Textholes"

I am kind of obsessed with Dan Savage's "Savage Love" columns. In fact, I even thanked him in the liner notes for giving me the useful knowledge needed to finish Pins & Panzers.

So in honor, in the most imitative plagiary, I am putting my limited knowledge in useless tidbit form, to give horrible advice to people who want it. So to help me on this journey, I had friends submit questions anonymously.

Dear dan,

when is it appropriate to text while public? I have friends that text, it is annoying, but I do the same. Are there rules? Should we come up with them?

-Someone More Sensitive

Well, SMS, there are a few things you have to consider. It really depends on the nature of the text, where you are, and who you are with. But lets face it, most of the time we text within company to show off one thing or another.

If you want your company to feel like worthless piles of shit, you text while in the middle of direct conversation. You may bring up your ability to multi-task as a form of defense, but the fact is you know, and they know, you are not involved in the conversation. This can be a useful tool when you want to ward off certain people.

If you have an iPhone, and you want to brag about having an iPhone, you may pull it out. Then you will say something along the lines of "yea...I got one of these. Not really that into it though..." while demonstrating your super-quick typing skills on the fake keyboard.

You can, however LOOK at texts, brief ones can go without a mention. If you having an important event such as "hold on, my wife is having a baby" you can give the text at least ten seconds to read, and even respond. But when you respond, apologize for awkwardly cutting off the conversation.

A very tempting time to pull out the phone is when in groups of three, one person is left out of the conversation, so they look to their phone for emotional support. This is a band-aid to your eventual problem, being interesting enough for everyone else to want to pay attention to you. However, the more you pull out the cell phone, the more the other two will feel like your presence is unnecessary, and go on talking and enjoying their real, human-to-human interaction without you.

Essentially, the only time when actively responding to text messages in company is accepted is for

a) utilitarian purposes ("420 a 441 broadway")
b) Checking sports scores
c) booty calls
d) Answer to a drunken trivia debate.

Otherwise, you make people feel awkward on purpose. And that is a sin almost as great as bashing "Purple Rain."

Send your questions to @

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Evolution, Smevolution!"

It seems like everyone has gone on a "missing link" frenzy now, that we found it. Well, at least, what it is, is this:

The picture up there is Ida, which appears to be a weird, cat-monkey combo. In fact, thats kind of what it is, a link between a lemur like species and primates. I want one as a pet.

Must give credit to our guitarist, Taylor who introduced me to the news before Huffpo did, and as everyone who knows anything about me, its that I am clearly obsessed with anthropological discoveries of the human-evolution-chain kind. But mostly because I like to see what the intelligent design crowd comes up with in scrambling for an explanation.

But what is scariest here, is not the fringe. Not the radicals who take a literate interpretation of religious texts, but the fact that only 39% of people believe that we even evolved at all

And though evidence keeps piling up like a good, ol' fashion book burning, amazingly humorous explanations for said evidence works its way out of the primordial soup.

"Evolution is just a theory"

Gravity is also a theory. Actually there are multiple theories of gravity. And, trust me when I say, do not try to test gravity. It will win.

"Fossils were Placed there by the Devil to sway us from the good word"

As was rock and roll, condoms, and corn syrup.

"Fossils don't show transition, they don't even move!"


"I'll believe it when I see a monkey give birth to a human."

I like this one the best, because all of a sudden, all of the reasons above mean nothing. In fact, this is the most empirical one! Observe and measure, the scientific method. See is believe is the mark of true faith. Well, at least we are getting somewhere...

Don't get me wrong, there are holes in classical Darwinian theory, which are being observed, tested, and studied. An interesting concept is "Quantum Evolution" which tangents from Quantum Mechanics and essentially states that evolution occurs much like the classic Darwinian theory suggests. However, much more rapidly than simple natural selection, due to our very subatomic essence being constantly measured by our environment.

I am aware how dorky the above paragraph came across, like I said, I actually am into this kind of stuff.

And while I type, I am aware this blog post is not going to change anyone's opinion. Years of scientific data, carbon dating, and fossil records doesn't even work. So I'll end this post with my favorite picture: a creationist and a turkey.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Big, Gay Hurricane

I'm sure you have all seen this video, from a group called the National Organization for Marriage (or NOM.) The one that tries to make a case that homosexuality is raising the chance of precipitation on your "opposite marriage" wedding day. Or something equally arbitrary and absurd.

In case you haven't, here is the video:

Don't let the California doctor and almost-attractive ethnically ambiguous girl fool you, bigots come in all forms of education levels and attractiveness. As a matter of fact, guess who NOM's newest role model is? Little miss "opposite marriage" herself!

Thanks to a modern, enlightened cyber generation there has been a litany of parodies making fun of said bigots, but what this issue really comes down to is "freedom."

The theory of the Big Gay Storm, is that, by giving gay couples their Constitutionally Protected rights (re: the 14th Amendment) we are taking away the rights of hate-mongers to practice their hatred.

Don't worry, hate-mongers! We have this thing called the 1st amendment too! And if you have studied your constitutional law (ha!) you would know that anybody can hate whoever they want. When a gay-married couple rolls in on their "just-gay-married" Prius, you can choose NOT to honk in celebration.

Speaking of lil'miss "opposite marriage" here is the most recent add from NOM

Internal ugly will keep you from winning a beauty contest, but my favorite part about this commercial is that the only, actual, legal reasoning backing their hate campaign is: "will create widespread and unnecessary legal conflict..."

I really do want to see where the rest of that sentence goes, but from a legal standpoint, essentially, it is saying that it will cause an "annoyance" bureaucratically. The Brooklyn post office causes widespread and unnecessary legal conflict. Getting all freaked out about heading back to kinkos to change a few words on legal-sized paper, is not enough baggage to finally make sure everyone is equally protected under the law.

This past election cycle, prop 8 passed with a slim majority of the vote. It is, and always has been my stern opinion that the matter of basic rights should not ever have to be put up for a vote. Some things, a simple majority should have no power to decide, and that is why we have a constitutional system. The 14th amendment exists already, and it gives us all equal protection under the law. Haters have a right to hate, lovers have a right to love, and states (MA, CT, ME, RI, IA) are finally realizing that equal protection extends beyond irrational fear.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why "Jedi" Sucks

Let's face it.

"Return of the Jedi" sucks.

Now, if you please put down your pitch forks and torches, I would like to *remind* you as to why Jedi is still the worst of the original trilogy. The wool has been pulled over our eyes with the advent of the new trilogy, which sucks far beyond Jedi ever could, making it seem even relatively awesome in comparison. Yet, every time I see the 30-pounds-heavier Han Solo and a tribe of well-marketed Care Bears defeat the most powerful imperial army in the Galaxy, a part of my childhood dies.

Remember the super-climatic light saber fight between Vader and Luke? Yea, the one where Luke hides in a vent the whole time screaming about daddy issues. And the dramatic, "look at emperor, look at look, look at emperor, look at look" scene where Vader's change of heart happens? Reminds me more of tennis voyeurism, than a revelation.

But the worst part about Jedi is how solidly it cemented the franchise, leading to the eventual sucking forever in the Star Wars name.

If any of you remember the Ewok TV Show

how could we do anything but doubt the next attempt at episodes 1-3.

Which is why I applaud Steven Colbert's passive aggressive consumption of Ewoks.They are the precursors to Jar Jar Binx. Their whimsy was unnecessary, their fighting tactics were archaic, and really, the only shining light was when Chewy GTAs that AT-ST.

Friday, May 15, 2009

An Equal and Opposite Reaction

Apparently, according to Fox News, there is a petition out with 65,000 signatures asking Notre Dame university to rescind its invitation to president Obama to give the commencement speech at this years graduation.

Why? Well, because he supports reproductive rights and Stem Cell research. But is it really a Catholic thing that we are talking about here, or is the right still pulling at straws to start a reaction? When all else fails, scream gay marriage and abortion and you are likely to pull the visceral strings of an army of social conservatives.

Or maybe it is because Catholics oppose Obama, since he appears to be so unpopular in highly Catholic areas like New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Italy, Spain, France...

And a whopping 25% of Catholics oppose the invite, thats almost half of a majority!

No, it is not a Catholic thing. It's a reaction thing. The right has found itself in a place where it is no longer winning in any cultural or political front. So it is only natural and understandable they fear a popular voice of progress.

Forgive me if I am wrong, but aren't Universities supposed to be a place of intellectual discourse and debate?

Should Notre Dame follow lockstep with these demands and fire every teacher that recognizes natural selection or astrophysics? Or....better yet...just dump the theater department, you know there has got to be a gay in there somewhere...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Generation Why

Welcome, fine readers, to the first installment of my own, personal, uncensored blog....perhaps offensively forgivable or unforgivably outspoken. Here I will put all of my overflowing social commentary without the beating bass drums or synthy lines.

Perhaps this is where I can put my BA in political science to use...

My first entry is about people who do not dance at shows.

I live in Brooklyn. Williamsburg, to be exact, which is to many considered the "hipster capitol of the world." Of course, the etymology behind hipster actually confuses our baby boomer parents, who remember the term being used for jazzers from the 40s. But today, they are essentially considered a subculture that is constantly searching for the next trend, being artistic, philosophical, political...(skinny...)

In reality, what we are talking about is the tale of a 3rd-generational nouveau-riche individuality, where the constant struggle to be one's self turns us, incidentally, into the most abhorrent followers in a completely unfounded elitist structure (pitchfork).

We have found that its easier to be admired when we critique. When we watch a movie or see a band, we look around to verify that our friends enjoy it before we say we do. Opening yourself up to enjoyment has become nothing but vulnerability . And yet, what gives these trend setters the right to decide the "ins and outs" to our society? Well, actually, absolutely nothing, aside from perhaps their more frequent ability to copulate than the average singleton.

Now, I am going to say a few things to clarify.

Having good taste in food, good fashion sense, good taste in music and films. All of things things are great qualities. Having these qualities would probably make you "hipster." Really, what it is, is the taste and social movements of our generation. We have a style and a sense of humor. There is nothing wrong with this. And in a grand scheme of things, we are all "hipsters."

The culprits are those who just try way too hard to find individualism, they lose it completely.

Take, for instance, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. I am not going to say anything about the music, which I think is based on its merits, but this name is a perfect example of the worst in us. It is a name that is pretending to be completely unique, yet actually sells out to its own ironic sensationalism. It's really a brilliant marketing strategy.

This so-called counter culture has commercialized itself voluntarily, it has embraced the concept of excessive American behavior and though there is nothing wrong with being commercial, pretending you are above it, is. We spend all of our time making sure we are not being judged by those "cooler" than us. But the secret is...nobody is cooler than the shamelessly self-aware.

Like THIS guy:

In our recent trip to Spain, we found that people let themselves enjoy the lives they were living. Maybe that is a reaction to living under a fascist autocracy for so long.

We never had to deal with that, instead, we have decided to limit our freedoms voluntarily.

Enjoy life.

Be yourself.

Dance when you want to.

(rant over. )