02.16.06 staring at the sea

NP: "I'm From Further North Than You" The Wedding Present. I bought this album a year ago. I think I listened twice. This is a great song. I might have to go to the Maxwell's show if I don't work that night. That last Cinerama show was better than the last couple of times I saw Wedding Present.
NP: "One Life Away" M. Ward. This came on shuffle the other day. Lovely.
NP: "Starlight Motel" Ride. I never really gave "Tarantula" the time of day, but in retrospect, now that the disappointment has faded, it's actually not that bad of a record.
NP: "Only With You" Teenage Fanclub.
NP: "Fearless" Gerald Collier. Listened to this after the session described below. Like fifteen times.
NP: "Rumpled Up" Gerald Collier. Ditto.
NP: "Barbriallen (demo)" Simon & Garfunkle. I'll take this over Iron & Wine any day.
NP: "I Want To Talk About You" John Coltrane.
NP: "Future Women" The M's. Funny when you listen to a record, pick out the best song, and then look up the title and see that your favorite song is the one the band named the album after. A good feeling. It re-affirms that I'm not completely insane and can identify a good song when I hear it.
NR: Re-read "Feathers" by Raymond Carver and "Tricks" by Alice Munro. Breathtaking.



Hemingway writes of the cold, hard clarity with which a man views the world after making love to a woman he is not in love with. Camus writes of killing a man and can only mention shattering the calm of the day and nothing else. But nobody, that I know of, has written of the miserable, earth-shattering rock-bottom experienced after four or five consecutive losing sessions at the poker table.

I've had those couple of sessions in the last week. Wednesday night's session was the worst. The previous sessions were bad 5-10 limit sessions or 10-20 sessions, and I can chalk them up to bad luck / statistics / whatever. But this last 1-2 NL session. Everytime I got good cards I was in bad position and got bad flops and got outplayed. Everytime I had decent cards in position, somebody had a better hand, and I bluffed when I should have folded and checked when I should have bluffed. I just made the wrong decision every time it was an important decision. You do that five times in a session, and you never get lucky on any of those wrong decisions... You do that, and it's painful. You do that when you're playing with money that you shouldn't be, and it leads to an existential crisis.

That's the critical difference, in that second-to-last sentence: "you never get lucky on any of those wrong decisions". Every player needs to get lucky every now and then. Usually it happens when you are behind and you know it and you hit your magic card. But sometimes it needs to happen when you think you are ahead and you're actually not. But you were the raiser pre-flop, people are checking to you, and you are betting thinking you have the best hand, they are calling thinking they might have the worst hand, and then their better hand stays best on the river. This is, of course, how it is supposed to happen. But every now and then you're supposed to step in shit and come out smelling like roses.

This has not been my experience of late. I've only gotten the cards that screw me.

Especially when playing omaha hi low. I was playing a lot of short-handed 5 10 omaha hi low. Raising on the button with a suited Ace and a deuce or a trey in my hand. Flop will come with two low cards, it'll check to me, I'll bet and get a caller. The turn will come the 2 or 3, and I'm sitting there now with no low draw and a pair of threes. I'll check, the river will come no help, the other guy will bet, and I'll have to fold. Or something similar along that theme. Or I'll hit a pair on the turn, and then the river will fuck up my low, and my small two pair will lose to a higher two pair. I can't really explain it, but wow... It actually only added up to a $1150 loss online (over 43 table hours), but it felt much much worse. And it was only what I had won online the previous week, so theoretically my online play for the year has broken even. So I shouldn't even worry about it, except for the fact that it put me so on tilt last Friday that I couldn't even see straight. I played over 2000 hands, and it just felt bad bad bad. I still regret it.

I'm actually at work right now. I want to play so badly. I cannot play, as I have $3 in my pocket. Yep. $3. Wow.

Oops. Now I have $0. I just bought a milkshake. It was, fortunately, the best milkshake Logan ever made me at BBBB. I guess when you buy a shake with your last penny, this is what you can expect from fate.

This is what makes me an optimist.



Just overheard from one of the born-and-bred Brooklynites that plays at BBBB: "When i grew up in park slope everyone was illiterate. Now everyone's a fucking novelist."



02.13.06 a bird pooped on his cock

NP: "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" Robyn Hitchcock. I need to track down a digital copy of "Eye." I was obsessed with that album for a year at one point. I need to track it down. Or fix my damn stereo so I can listen to vinyl.
NP: "Gold Lion" The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
NP: "16 Lovers Lane" The Go-Betweens. Been obsessed with this album lately. Presented here as a stream of the entire album (not a download.) More info below.
NP: "Fun And Games" The Connells.
NP: "With Or Without You" U2.
NP: "Valentine Heart" Tanita Tikaram.
NP: "Loretta" Townes Van Zandt.
NP: "The Fallen" Franz Ferdinand.
NP: "This Song" Badly Drawn Boy.
NP: "Back To The Old House" The Smiths.
NR: Granta 25th Anniversary Issue, Fall 2004 I bought this a year ago and never opened it. Took it around the country on the HOOD tour and never once cracked the cover, I don't believe. I'm three pieces into it, and every one of them is excellent thus far. Pretty stupid.



"You're a strange person, Robert. I mean, what will you come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something - how can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?" - From "Five Easy Pieces"

Just watched Five Easy Pieces. What a frighteningly good movie. Wow. Hadn't seen it for years. Funny how little things are forgotten or changed with time. The diner scene isn't really that funny, but a couple of other scenes are just grander and more savage and more elegant than I remembered. A classic.



"It was all so peculiar, I could hardly believe it myself, because I knew I was living in 1945 and that the biggest war of all time was just coming to an end, a war in which millions of people had been killed and millions more had been horribly wounded and had lived through hell in the mud and the hospitals and millions more had been tortured and killed by the Germans in the concentration camps - I thought of all those deaths and wondered what life was about, what the point was, and it seemed to me it didn't have any, unless maybe just thinking about girls and music, and I wondered if that was enough to live for, but nothing else came to mind so I left it at that and quickly started thinking about Irena again, about one walk we'd taken through the woods one night and how afwully inferior I'd felt when she started talking about Victor Hugo and Byron and I got Byron mixed up with Balzac and Balzac with Barbusse and I hadn't read anything by any of then, and it seemed to me I was as dumb as ever and that what was really important was inventing new things and new medications - obviously very important - but that even without them you could still get along but that without girls and music life wouldn't be worth living, and so my thoughts cruised through my head until I fell asleep and when I woke up I saw it was already evening." - from "The Cowards" by Josef Skvorecky.



I can't stop listening to "16 Lovers Lane" by The Go-Betweens. It's not considered to be one of their more important works (enthusiasts probably consider it in the lower half of their canon, even including the modern-era recordings; hardcore Go-Betweens fans probably prefer to stick with making jokes about "Tallulah" and pretending "16 Lovers Lane" simply doesn't exist), but I'm willing to argue it's actually possibly their finest work.

Here's the track listing:

The Go-Betweens - "16 Lovers Lane"
1. Love Goes On!
2. Quiet Heart
3. Love Is A Sign
4. You Can't Say No Forever
5. The Devil's Eye
6. Streets Of Your Town
7. Clouds
8. Was There Anything I Could Do?
9. I'm Allright
10. Dive For Your Memory

It opens with a couple of chords that sound like the opening of "Fun And Games" by The Connells (it was probably being written at the same time). "Love Goes On!". Not just spoken, it's shouted. And what's goes better with a shout of "Love Goes On!" than a "Ba Da Ba Ba, Ba Da Da BAW!". Nothing. Nothing is better. Although the pause and lovely arpeggio ARE a nice touch. Oops, nope, wait... the big chord, pause, and plucked circular violin run are even better.

"Quiet Heart" has a swooning violin and could have been on "The Joshua Tree". "Doesn't matter how far you come, You've always got further to go." And then the end of the chorus gets me every time. I am positive my heart pauses 1/8th of a beat at the end of every chorus. The guitar and violin swell, the rhythm section ups the attack, and Grant McLennan breaks my heart at precisely the 4'12" mark. The outro reminds me of Tanita Tikaram and U2 and makes me want to be at home under the covers.

"Love Is A Sign" opens with a couple of non-descript acoustic guitars, feels like it's going nowhere, and then just when you are getting ready to renounce the track as filler, three big notes on the violin usher you into the song. Eventually the drums come in and a hurried chorus reminds you that maybe there isn't enough time to say everything that needs to be said. The guitars stop being repetitive and start sounding urgent. A harmonica lament takes it home.

Maybe I've just been listening to too much Townes Van Zandt of late, but "You Can't Say No Forever" sounds like some sort of hybrid between Townes and Franz Ferdinand. A staccato vocal delivery and rhythmic sense seems to be shared with both. In particular I'm talking about "The Fallen" by Franz Ferdinand and "Loretta" by Townes Van Zandt.

Next is a pretty little vignette, used as a bridge to the poppier half of the record. But "The Devil's Eye" isn' a throwaway - it's a sweet and almost brashly romantic song. "I took this chance to write a message. It's just to say that I'll miss you." It toys with one ending, instead decides to do another chorus, and then fades out with great melancholy. And Badly Drawn Boy would never have existed if this song wasn't written.

And if "Streets Of Your Town" is the first song on the pop side of the record, this is DEFINITELY my kind of pop. The verses are full of big slow acoustic strums, distant backing vocals, lyrics about rain, the butcher's knives, and battered wives, and ultimately it's just about doing nothing and not knowing what you are supposed to be doing. It's about repetition and the lack of inspiration. In other words, it's a pop song about living a life which basically follows a pop-song structure. How meta can it get? And, to top it off, they refused to write an ending... It's just a good twenty-five second fade of the chorus over and over. Exactly what it should be. And did I mention the woodblock?

"Clouds" is a tough one to pin down. On one hand it is absolutely the nadir of the album. It doesn't really go anywhere. On the other hand, it's the ultimate foil for that which follows. "Was There Anything I Could Do?" has all the angst of a classic punk song, including the bad rhymes (the guru/voodoo couplet has always made me cringe) and the sing-along chorus in the form of a question. Confused? Why, ask a question! Still confused? Ask the question in the form of a song. How Low Can A Punk Get? Break his heart, and find out. Not that this is a punk song. But transcribe that violin solo for electric guitar and it would be fucking blistering.

And that's all it took. You write "Was There Anything I Could Do?", you play it a couple of hundred times, and suddenly... catharsis. And least if my interpretation of "I'm Allright" is correct. Lessee... "She knows that I'm not ready when my nerves are steady. When my eyes are free of tears someday. She doesn't want to hurt me, it's OK. I'm allright." Well, so... actually I'm wrong. He's not OK. He will be. He tries to lie about it, but he's just not ready yet. He's met this this new girl, but she knows he's not all there. It's not going to happen, but I guess there's a least some happiness in knowing that there will be a someday. It's better than where he was. Halfway through the guitar is bright and shimmering and as good as anything Johnny Marr did on "Hatful Of Hollow", the drums go from rimshots to strong snare hits, he admits that he's angry, and suddenly he slips in an extra "Will it be" in the last "Will it be Allright?" THIS is catharsis.

Catharsis is emotional, not the stuff of the mind. The mind is willful and logical and has a completely different perspective. Defiance is the word of the day in "Dive For Your Memory". Not petty stubbornness, but actually strength. The memories are good, goddammit, and nobody will take them away. There's no fade out here. A nice chord and it's time to pick up the trash from the floor. There's no fade out here. A nice chord and it's time to pick up the trash from the floor. Sit in the car with the engine running if the song's not over yet, but we've reached our destination: 16 Lovers Lane.



I put up the digital photos of Kendel and I's trip to Paris. I still have to get the 35mm film developed. Should have taken snow photos yesterday to finish up the rolls. Here's the Paris Gallery:

paris photos


02.08.06 stack 'em

NP: "Slip It In" Black Flag.
NP: "Salvatore Amato" Bell Orchestre.
NP: "For The Price Of A Cup Of Tea" Belle And Sebastian.
NP: "Escher" Teenage Fanclub.
NP: "Laissez-Moi Tranquille" Serge Gainsbourg.
NP: "Cherry Cream On" Unrest.
NP: "Rend It" Fugazi.
NR: February 13 / 20 double issue of The New Yorker. The article on the Beijing alleyway is wonderful. The whole issue is great from beginning to (almost) end.



Walking to work. Put on "Slip It In" by Black Flag. I'm pretty certain I haven't listened to this record for at least 15 years. I was going to call my mom while walking to work. Decided that I couldn't call her immediately after listening to the line "Say you don't want it... You don't want it... And then you slip it on in." I need a buffer of at least fifteen minutes, in my best estimation.

Then I start to think about the first time I heard that record. I was probably 12, maybe 13. Certainly at least four years away from losing my virginity. I don't think I really had any idea about what they hell was going on. I'm trying to think if my friend Chad had discovered his father's old Playboy and Club magazines in his basement at this time. I don't think so. I can't even fathom how my teenage brain tried to analyze a song like "Slip It In." All wrong, I'm sure. (Not that I'm any better at it now.)

Work was pretty uneventful. Poker news in NYC is a bit strange: LLLL, RRRR, and DDDD all got raided and closed. It looks like AAAA closed voluntarily, as did another place I had never even been to, I guess I'll call it IIII if it even matters now. We're doing alright at BBBB... Soon we might be the only game in town.

I play for a couple of hours. Make one bad call, and have my QQ run into KK and I'm down $400, but really I feel like I'm playing well. All the Omaha Hi/Lo I've been playing online is definitely helping me to tighten up my game. I buy another $400 in chips. In a couple of hands I play A9 beautifully and have my top pair turn into second nut straight, and I get paid off on my re-raise all-in on the river by the third nut straight. A couple of hands later I flop a straight and take down a $200 pot. I play for a little while longer and get up from the table up $150. I felt like I could have played longer, but I didn't want to play all night. Instead I went home and won $500 playing online Omaha Hi/Lo. ($350 of which I donated back in an hour this morning stupidly, but... still... I made $900 in basically 36 hours, putting me back to basically even for the year.) A rollercoaster it's been, but I do feel like the Omaha is helping me to tighten up my game and make my ability to make marginal calls just a bit sharper.

I head to Veselka out of the subway. In there Eamonn's friend Parilla is sitting with one of his friends, both pretty drunk. We get to talking. He said he ordered some eggs and onion rings. I told him that I've been foregoing the french fries / home fries / onion rings for the potato pancakes lately. He says that that reminds him of a sandwich he's been craving. (Never does the story he then tells have ANYTHING to do with potato pancakes.) The sandwich is called The Stack and an ex-girlfriend first made it for him. It's a grilled cheese on white bread. And it's a BLT, minus the mayonaisse, with the bottom piece of toast removed. Then the BLT is smooshed on top of the grilled cheese for a triple-decker. It can then be dipped in mayonaisse or ketchup or whatever during consumption, a la a french dip.

It DOES sound like a good lunch. But here's the beautiful part: Perillo continues with his story. When he was 13 or so a friend of his started talking about how much he would love to have 2 girls in bed. This blew the 13-year-old Perillo's mind. "What would you do with them? I don't even understand or comprehend." He asks this friend what he would do with two girls. The friend replies "I'd take the first one and put her face down on the pillow with her ass in the air. Then I'd just stack the other one on top. I'd stack 'em."

Now THAT sounds like a delicious lunch. Or a kinky McDLT.

Strange how my day came full circle with the pre-pubescent thoughts of dumb boys.



A couple of Paris photos:


for when you are sick of all those shampoos that claim to shampoo, but then really don't.



awfully cute.




01.22.06 "im at veselka. they undestand me here."

NP: "Knock On Wood" Eddie Floyd.
NP: "B-A-B-Y" Carla Thomas.
NR: absolutely nothing. kinda weird. just haven't wanted to pick up anything.



txt message sent at 6:00 AM to Kendel: "Im at veselka. They undestand me here. Whew. Wow. Im drunker than yovve ever seen me. Concrentrating."

Omigod I got drunk last night. I've discovered a new drink. It's called "whatever anybody hands me, or whatever i pour myself while behind the bar at lit".

Apparently, it's delicious.

It appears to be more delicious than the only-missing-two-bites veselka bacon-egg-and-cheese that was still sitting here on the table when i woke up (at 4 PM) this afternoon, and also more delicious than the only-missing-two-sips coffee milkshake sitting next to it.

I have one brutal fucking hangover. I think I owe the Veselka guys an apology, but then again maybe I don't, because I was definitely very very drunk, but I think they were just laughing at me. The txt I sent Kendel is fucking hilarious. I can imagine me concentrating on trying to write the word "concentrating" properly. And failing.

Did i mention the jagermeister? yowza.

But I'm happy because I finally had a good night of poker. I played the $225 tournament at AAAA. Only 12 players this week, as so many players are in Atlantic City for the World Poker Tour circuit event down there. Third hand into the tourney I have 10 10 on the button. A raise in front of me to 75, I re-raise to 300 and he calls. Head's up. The flop comes J 8 8. He checks. I bet 500. He thinks about it for a while, and he calls. The turn comes a 9. He checks, I check. The river comes another J. He bets a little, I fold. He shows me pocket 9's. I show him my 10s and tell him "good call" and I'm pissed. I just lost over half my chips from this idiot making two bad calls in the same hand.

I fight and I fight, and eventually I double up on the other small stack, and when the tourney goes to 10 players I have 1600 in chips... right where I started. I play tight... I play well. Eventually the pocket 9's asshole is shortstack, I have 10 10 in late position and make a big enough raise to put him (now in the big blind) all-in if he chooses to call. He calls with KQ, the flop comes with a 10, and I knock him out. A bit of sweet revenge. Throughout the course of the tourney I get pocket 10s five times, and never once get JJ, QQ, KK, or AA. At the final table I never once get AK. Strange.

Eventually it comes down to three players. I'm the short stack of the three with about 4000, one guy has like 9000, and the other has 5000. Then I take 3000 chips off the big stack, and the next hand the other guy at the table says "I'm getting bored. You guys want to just chop this three ways?" First place was supposed to be $1200, second $800, and third $400. We're all pretty even, and I could use the money and I think we were all pretty evenly matched... we all agree. Tip the dealers $50 each, and we each take $750 for a nice little $525 profit. I had made $50 in the 1-2 game beforehand (all on a complete stone-cold bluff on a player that was so obviously on a flush draw that it was easy to execute), so I walk out up almost $600.

And, of course, I still want to play, but I don't want to play the 1-2 game there. I walk out, walk all the way to the East Village in search of food. I think I'm in the mood for Italian, but I can't really think of anywhere except Lavagna, but if I'm going to Lavagna I'm going to want wine, spend too much money... I just can't think of what I want. I eventually pick Stromboli pizza for the bacon tomato and garlic slice. In there I bump into Julie from Northern State, and we end up talking about poker for a half hour. I think about taking her to AAAA (she has never played no limit in a card room or casino), but eventually I decide I want to go to the new club DDDD, run by the former PPPP folks. They just opened this weekend, so I don't want to take a new player. I bid Julie good night and walk over to DDDD around 11:30.

I walk in and there are two games. 1-2 NL, and 20 40 half kill omaha hi low. Now, I've been playing all that online pot limit omaha hi low, but I shouldn't be playing 20 40 ANYTHING, especially if it's half kill. Technically you should sit down with $1000-$1200 for a game like that. In other words, everything I have in my pocket. I buy in for $500. I pick up some nice hands, and am up $400 in like 45 minutes. I think about leaving, but felt it would be too much of a silly hit and run. So I play. Over the next two hours, I go back down to even, then down. And then down some more. I buy in for another $300 when I have like $80 in front of me. At one point I'm down to $200 in front of me. And then I go on a terror. I pick up a bunch of nice hands and start picking up pots. The table goes down to 4-handed, and I start scooping some pots with second nut low and middle two pair high. In a 4-way pot on the button I raise with A2spades in my hand, and the flop comes two spades and two low cards. The turn is a low spade, the river is a blank that doesn't pair the board. I get one caller, he has A2 and I quarter him for a big pot. I take a bunch of heads up hands against Bobby G who ends up busting out at 10 minutes before 3:00 AM, saying he's going to go get more money, and the three of us at the table say "don't bother... we're going to get out of here at 3:00". I look down and I'm up $380. I walk out of there at 3:00 on the dot, I'm up $955 for the night, and I'm ready for a drink. I walk to LIT listening to Stax Singles Vol. 6. The MP3's above are from that disc and they come back to back. The greatest walking music ever. The backing vocals on "B-A-B-Y" are all whoozy and awesome. I show up at LIT, don't see Erik or David, and buy a Bud. It's the last drink I pay for. By 6:00 AM I'm pouring myself Jagermeister shots, getting my own beers, serving other people drinks, carrying Foss around over my shoulder, selecting songs on David Cross's Itunes, and did I mention the Budweiser and Jagermeister? I did, didn't I?

The rest you know.

It's after midnight now, and I'm just starting to feel like a human being again. My brain cells still hate me.

I told Mitch about my poker, and then told him later about the drunken end of the evening. His response: "i'm gonna have an intervention for you but i can't decide which type to do first. you need so many..."

so true.




a reflection of a reflection of a reflection of a budweiser sign.




01.21.06 nothing funny

NP: "Pardon My French" Get Him Eat Him.
NP: "Fake French" El Guapo.
NP: "Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring" The Magnetic Fields.
NP: "Paris Rag" Masa Sumide.
NP: "Dear Spirit, I'm In France" Oxes.
NP: "Open Air" The Oranges Band.
NR: last issue of The New Yorker. A short story by Samantha Hunt that seems to be set within a half hour of where I grew up. My jaw almost dropped when a reference was made to a roadside "Crystal Cave" sign.



Finally got off my ass and got some photos from the Franz Ferdinand tour up online. I'm not very happy with how they turned out, in general, and I wish I had taken more, um, "candid / life on the road" kinda shots, but... At least there are a few shots that are salvageable. Here they are:

franz ferdinand tour photos


I also finally finished up "The Megan Brown CDs" project. My niece Megan turned 12 in August, and i felt this was the time for a more formal introduction to good music. Me being the foremost authority on good music, of course. And, of course, this means I also ignored pretty much every genre of music that I'm not versed in, so it ends up being a list of punk / indie / alternative songs of the last 30 years. The entire playlist was determined by figuring out exactly how many songs fit on 30 cds (down to the second, pretty much), while still allowing for data to be burned onto each cd: all the songs are ripped as mp3s and contained on the disc, so that Megan could drag and drop the files straight onto her MP3 player, if she so chooses. And, of course, the order of the songs on each cd was painstakingly selected. Not working straight through, but the project still isn't actually finished. I've been sending her a new cd approximately every 12 days, so that it will take her a year to get all the cds. And I only just now finished the final eight CD's running order. I still need to burn those eight, but in the meantime, here are the tracklistings for the entire series:

Megan Brown CD #01 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #02 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #03 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #04 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #05 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #06 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #07 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #08 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #09 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #10 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #11 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #12 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #13 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #14 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #15 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #16 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #17 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #18 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #19 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #20 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #21 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #22 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #23 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #24 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #25 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #26 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #27 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #28 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #29 Track Listing: click here
Megan Brown CD #30 Track Listing: click here






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All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of The Self-Starter Foundation. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

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