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. )