HAVE A SCARY HAPPY HALLOWEEN (OH, TODD, YOU DID IT AGAIN!)

I would just like to take this moment to wish everyone a perfectly great Halloween and, in case I don’t get to see you tonight, let me tell you right now how much I love your Mad Men costume. Great suit! Great skinny tie! And wait a second, is that a part in your hair? Kudos on your attention to detail. The drink in your hand was also a nice touch at this holiday party with an open bar. Thanks for doing your part to keep away the ghouls.

(I just hope I’m the only one at the party tonight dressed as this.)

BURYING THE LEDE

As you may have heard already, another in-the-works plot against Barack Obama’s life was foiled. (Hey cops, where were you when Jessica Tandy was murdered?) We’ve already seen the photo of a spooky skinhead teenager with a Swastika tattoo and Kevlar vest, brandishing a rifle, because it’s been thoughtfully published by every single news source in America, including Backstage Magazine. I realize when this kind of image rears its head, our news media has a responsibility to publish it–preferably in color, as large as possible, and beneath a headline written in that type face that looks like the letters are dripping vampire blood–but I can’t help but think there’s something really irresponsible about the way this story was run.

I’m not talking about the fact that this is the sort of incendiary news that
could make some on-the-fence voters think twice about voting for a Presidential candidate they worry might be targeted for assassination. Or the possibility that this kind of story could give other, less creative types a similar idea. No, I just think it was incredibly irresponsible of our national news media to sit for several days on this important detail from the story:

“Both individuals stated that they would dress in all-white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt…”

WHITE TUXEDOS AND TOP HATS??!!?? Why wasn’t this mentioned the moment this story broke? Why wasn’t this the headline in every single article, and the intro in every single TV news package? So many possibilities. The mind reels:

  • WOULD-BE ASSASSINS PLANNED TO GO OUT ‘IN STYLE’
  • HEIL HALSTON!
  • BAD GUYS WEAR WHITE
  • DRESSED TO KILL
  • A WHITE POWER TIE AFFAIR
  • (FLAK) JACKET REQUIRED
  • ASSASSINATION PLOT? FANCY THAT!
  • TOP HATS, TAILS, AND A HIGH-POWERED RIFLE
  • DOOMSDAY DANDIES
  • PROM KING KILLERS (alternately, DOMINICAN WEDDING ATTENDANT KILLERS)
  • DO YOU HAVE ANY GREY POUPON AND BULLETS?
  • TWO JACKASSES SMOKE WEED AND ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT WEARING TOP HATS TO KILL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

Everything you need to know about that story–the psychology of the criminals, the level of planning that went into this plot, the likelihood of its success–is right there in that statement. (from The L.A. Times) And, as if you now needed more proof that these guys were probably not going to get around to pulling off their idiotic killing spree, how about this? According to this article, the teens were also planning on wearing their white tuxedos and top hats while driving very fast in their car (presumably on the same road as Barack Obama?) and then shooting at Senator Obama from their car windows. In top hats. While blasting Taco’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz” from their car stereo. (OK, I made up that last part. OR DID I?)

Also, it’s possible this incident might have raised some local suspicion:

On Oct. 22, the men bought food, rope and two ski masks from a Wal-Mart in Brownsville, Tenn.

(Fellas, every criminal worth his salt knows if you’re going to buy a pair of ski masks and rope, split up. One guy buys the rope, another guy buys the ski masks. You don’t want to send both of those items down the Wal-Mart conveyor belt at the same time. It’s like buying condoms and chloroform. At least throw some stuff in there to get them off the scent, like Twizzlers or a duck call. Truly a bush league mistake.)

This is one of those rare instances where I wish the would-be perpetrators had just a tiny bit more time to work on their assassination plot before being caught. I’m not suggesting they should have kicked off their crime spree. I just wish they’d had time to rent their tuxedos and top hats and taken a few photos. Besides being just fantastic, I think it would give the American public a more accurate understanding of exactly how viable this assassination threat was if, instead of seeing a giant photo of a muscular skinhead in a bulletproof vest, we saw this:

CANINE COSTUME RECAP

Last weekend was the 10th annual Great Pupkin Dog Costume Contest in Fort Greene Park, in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is an honored tradition and, while I have attended previous Great Pupkin competitions, I was unfortunately unable to take part in the contest’s Aluminum anniversary event, as my presence was needed couchside, attending to the vitamin C needs of my convalescent wife. (Yes, WIFE.) If, like me, you missed the competition, here’s a quick recap of all the dog costumes on display:

  • caterpillar
  • bee
  • bee
  • bee
  • bee
  • housefly (bee costume painted black)
  • bee
  • caterpillar
  • dog wearing women’s underpants
  • bee
  • bee
  • bee
  • bee arthur (bee costume with grey haired wig)
  • eric bee and rakim (rakim missing)
  • bee
  • bee
  • Ashley Todd (pretty popular costume this year)
  • invisible bee
  • bee

Well done, everyone.

And a personal and private message to the owner of the pot-bellied pig living in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. If you are not the owner of the pot-bellied pig living in Fort Greene, I would kindly ask that you stop reading right now and use these next few minutes making calls for Barack Obama in states that are only partially racist. Thanks.

OK, now that it’s just you and me, pot-bellied pig owner, listen. The Great Pupkin is for dogs. More specifically, it is for dogs dressed as bees and caterpillars and sometimes Yoda. Don’t you think, what with being a pot-bellied pig in the middle of Brooklyn and all, that you are already receiving your fair share of attention on a day to day basis? Perhaps, one might argue, even enough attention that you might see an event like The Great Pupkin advertised in your neighborhood and say to yourself, “Maybe me and the pot-bellied pig should sit this one out?” No Comments Yet | Filed under: nuevo-york

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COMEDY CENTRAL AT CRASH MANSION

I will make this short and sweet. I am performing in Comedy Central’s new “live at Crash Mansion” comedy series, this upcoming Monday, October 6th. It’s a very fun lineup, and I’m providing the details right here:

“COMEDY CENTRAL AT CRASH MANSION” is a bi-weekly variety show featuring stand-up, sketch, musical acts, digital shorts and more.

This week, comedian Liam McEneaney hosts:
- Nate Bargatze
- Michelle Buteau
- Mike Drucker
- Todd Levin
- Anthony Jeselnik

at CRASH MANSION
199 Bowery (@ Spring St.)
New York, NY 10002

Monday, October 6th
8pm-9:30pm
TICKETS: $5
FOR RESERVATIONS, CALL: 212-982-0740

PRE-COGNITIVELY LIVE BLOGGING THE VP DEBATE

Today, at VanityFair.com, you’ll find a piece I wrote for them about live blogging the VP debates a full day before they happen.

I only hope my work for the magazine’s web site will guarantee me a much-coveted invitation to the exclusive Vanity Fair after-party for the 2009 Webby Awards.

CALLING B.S. ON YOUR “ART”

Commuters traversing the Lexington Passage of Grand Central Station are serenaded daily by a rotating lineup of musicians. It’s not typical busker fare–folkie spiders who haven’t bothered to download the tabulations for any music recorded after Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush; Guatemalans with cheap woodwind instruments miraculously worsening the love theme from Titanic which I guess must be the Guatemalan national anthem; three ancient black guys harmonizing to “Under the Boardwalk”; a crazy lady shuffling through your train car in plastic bag shoes, and singing church songs at the top of her papery lungs.

Instead, as you weave and strong-arm your way through the train station to be the first in line for whatever, your selfish quest for efficiency might be accompanied by some bluegrass music or a pretty cello solo bouncing off the tiled walls. If you aren’t too wrapped up in your Blackberry (Crackberry is more like it!) you might even pause for a moment and think about how lucky you are to live/work/txt in here.

I usually get to hear whatever musical selections the Metro North Railroad Endowment for the Arts has decided to schedule because the performers are stationed directly across the corridor from the spot where I procure espresso, tea and muffinery. So, if you’re listening MNREA, please believe me when I say you really need to fire the guy who plays along to Johnny Cash CDs.

I’m not sure if it was some kind of committee oversight or a flawed but well-meaning initiative to introduce elderly musicians into the busker rotation, but this guy is a total dud. He doesn’t have the fire! I watched him for about ten minutes, during which he sat on a low stool looking bored, while a Johnny Cash CD played from a small, trebly boombox. He wasn’t even singing along! Occasionally, usually when a large crowd of people happened to be passing by, he would give the guitar one feeble strum or burp out an off-key attempt at the tail end of a verse–”…him diiiiie.” Other than that, nothing. Just a fat guy in a cowboy hat, listening to music very loudly in a public space. Under normal conditions, he would be fined for creating a public nuisance. Here, however, he was an “artist.”

I did feel it was important to try and understand this guy, even as I prayed for his dismissal. Whenever I see him perform, it’s late afternoon; that perfect 3:48pm moment that drags you, bored, from your office chair to get a coffee you don’t need. Maybe the old, fat cowboy treats his job as most people treat theirs. When he punches in, he’s playing those Johnny Cash songs, and singing with even more conviction than Mr. Cash himself. Maybe he’s even turning the backing track way down because, hell, he doesn’t need it. But this is a day job and, well, people often get distracted at work. Most drift over to Facebook, or start instant messaging their pals. Maybe they’re sifting through the latest online pet videos. By the end of the day, their productivity has slowed down so much they only have work documents on their computer so they can quickly alt-tab to them when a superior walks by. Really, this is not that much different than the Johnny Cash sing-along artist giving a half-assed show of musicianship when a large group passes. Then it’s back to business as usual: the business of doing very little and counting down the hours until yoga class.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT COMEDY, PART NEXT

Here is exactly what I think people picture when I tell them I perform stand-up comedy:

You don’t need words or video to know that audience member is going to be jerking that steering wheel/dog frisbee very hard, very often and very hilariously in order to suddenly avoid imaginary things in the imaginary road, as announced by that Dress Barn sales associate holding the microphone. (“Look out! It’s Lorena Bobbitt and she’s holding a pair of hedge clippers!!”)

I HAVE COME TO A CONCLUSION ON THIS MATTER

I think, of all the Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is my hands-down favorite. Yes, definitely Abu Dhabi, with Fujairah a close second.

On a related note, get some fire under your ass, Umm al-Quwain! This isn’t pee-wee baseball here.

MY BLOODY EARDRUMS (BLAM!)

my bloody valentine - roseland, nyc - 9.22.08

Attended/survived my first My Bloody Valentine concert on Monday night. I remember, more than ten years ago, my friend Chris told me about seeing this band on their final tour. (at Tramps, I think. I miss that venue.) He said the show’s finale was what seemed like a full 45 minutes of sonic thunder and feedback so punishing it caused a gradual audience exodus until, at the very last screech of guitar feedback, the previously packed venue was about about 1/10th full.

The show at Roseland on Monday night was amazing. It was beautiful and brutal. I can’t think of another show I’ve attended where the music was so present it really just occupied all of your peripheral senses. It was impossible to avoid. When the band played their final song, “You Made Me Realise” [correction: stephanie. i am an old man!] the controlled noise was so loud and dense and everlasting–maybe 15-20 minutes in all–I honestly thought I was going to throw up a couple of times. I have tried to describe this to friends without giving them the impression it was a bad experience–it was anything but–and it’s really difficult. The best thing I can liken it to is this: it was like the sonic equivalent of the opening of the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark; you had to try your very hardest to not listen closely to the music, because doing so would make your bowels liquefy and your brain burst from your skull like JiffyPop. I knew we were in for something intense, based on Chris’ story, various articles I’ve read about the bands recent live shows, and the fact that as the last song began all of the sound booth technicians donned those industrial headphones you sometimes see air traffic controllers or NASCAR pit crews wearing.

When the lights came up, I looked around and saw nothing but quiet, dazed expressions. Exiting the venue, I honestly had a hard time walking–during the finale, I could feel the notes whipping through my clothes and shaking my eyeballs around inside their sockets. It was more like a Six Flags ride than a concert. People were giggling in that way you do after traveling through 14 corkscrews forwards and backwards.

The best part, though, was about 14 minutes into the finale, I looked over (I had my eyes closed most of the time, because the light show was so disorienting—great for MBV’s epileptic fans) and saw some dude texting on his Blackberry. Yes, even a sensory experience that overwhelming cannot compete with the raw power of narcissism. Consider yourself blogged, Blackberry guy!

[Addendum: not surprisingly, people have been posting excerpts from the concert’s final conflict on YouTube. Here are just a few minutes. Ideally, these should be experienced with your eyelids propped open, like A Clockwork Orange.]

BIG-BOY CLOTHES

Spending my days in Midtown has made me extremely self-conscious about
the way I dress. For instance, today I was excited about the cool
autumn weather and my first instinct was to grab a hooded sweatshirt
out of hibernation, and climb into it. Then I remembered that in
Midtown, all the men wear big-boy clothes. And guys in hooded
sweatshirts are usually wheeling a cart full of Café Metro deli
platters along the sidewalk.

I know how to dress. Unfortunately, that knowledge has not been
augmented or advanced since my sophomore year in high school when I
settled on jeans, untucked button-down shirts over concert t-shirts,
and this year’s model of sneakers. And, apart from subtle seasonal
variations–for warmer weather, button-down shirt layer is removed;
for cooler weather, button-down shirt is exchanged for (or, in arctic
emergencies, supplemented with) a loose-fitting sweater–this has
remained my basic template for almost thirty years.

I’ve retained other sartorial tics for even longer than that. My
sneaker fetish began in fifth grade, when the latest sneaker was the
only essential element of any boy’s back to school wardrobe. I was a
regular Pascal Blaise in the suave (tearful, desperate) negotiations
with my parents that resulted in the purchase of Nike Legends for my
first day of sixth grade. They were $55 at the Army-Navy store
downtown–more than my parents had ever paid for a pair of sneakers,
and probably more than my father had ever paid for a business suit or
prescription eyeglasses. Until recently, I still tied my shoes using
the remedial “bunny ears” method despite knowing better. Even now, I
usually save the one-loop shoe-tying method for shoes stores, public
locker rooms, and any other occasion where I need to impress people.
And I still slip plastic sandwich bags in my rain boots so my socks
don’t fly off, and I can only wear a jacket if I first place it on the
floor and then dive into it. Some people might call these behaviors
“functionally retarded,” but I like to think of them as stubbornly
nostalgic.

By now I’m so far behind the curve of proper adult fashion that every
potential clothing purchase requires a complete assessment of my
wardrobe. Often, I just won’t bother because the ramifications of,
say, a pair of plaid wool pants would be far too great on my current
clothing situation. I would have to buy new belts, shoes, shirts,
sweater vests (?) — in order to convince people that I am not just
some hobo who stole the pants off a proper English gentleman.

It’s gotten so bad that, like a sad sack with scratch-off residue
lodged beneath his fingernails, desperately hoping to wish away his
low-key tragedy of a life in Lotto investments, I sometimes harbor
this fantasy that a bunch of homosexuals will break into my apartment
(not as sexy as it sounds), then dramatically toss the contents of my
dresser out the window, throw me into their Ford Escape (a proud
sponsor of the reality show in my head), and re-build my wardrobe and
home furnishings from scratch. That seems like a very millennial kind
of longing. Only in the last ten years or so has it become
conceivable, and even probable, that at some point in your life a
bunch of colorful characters will kick in your door and solve your
problems reality TV-style. I don’t mind rushing around, or having my
friends “confess” that I dress like a narc who’s gone undercover in a
Midwest high school. I would let someone take a pair of scissors to my
Batman t-shirt or bulky sweaters or dozens of nearly identical cowboy
shirts. They can destroy them before my eyes, and replace them with
suits and ties and monogrammed undershirts and trench coats for
wet and cold weather. I don’t care–they can burn everything I own, as
long as they stay away from my purple Nike Dunks. That’s my favorite
pair.

Homepage photo: Lindsey Byrnes
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