Monday, January 26, 2009



I saw this news headline today: "5 killed in deadly ice storm in Midwest and South"
I'm tired of the media turning everything into this operatic drama: "The KILLER storm". If they chose to, they could report that Easter killed 5 people because people overdosed on Cadbury eggs. You know it probably has happened. But they don't because a storm is more scary than bunnies and eggs. But every circumstance can create death, even the most innocuous if you think about it. You know how I know this? I watched the movie Final Destination(2000) and movies always tell the truth. I deduce that cooking pasta can be just as deadly as operating a lawnmower after drinking a case of Budweiser. It's gotta be fact.
The media can say 500,960,345 people survived the storm next time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I hereby order this clip to be played at my funeral because I will never think it is not funny.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I know this is the wrong 'Lil, but John is more fun to look at.

Put Some Keys On That—'Lil Wayne

'Lil Wayne is completely improvising here. You can hear him laugh at himself for pulling it off. Wayne is as talented as John is ugly.

*Disappointed by the paltry download numbers for Lora Logic. In the words of Pants' mother: "You don't know what good is!".

Wednesday, January 21, 2009



Juicy Fruit—Mtume

*This goes out to J.S. for introducing me to the Biggie version years ago.

Monday, January 19, 2009



Well, not really. I thought about asking the Moroccan music sellers if they had any, though. I think I might paint this picture of him. The Hair alone, the hair alone.

Doobie Brothers—It Keeps You Runnin'

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009


Christina: "How long will it take me to crawl to Wall Mart?"

That painter Wyeth died this week. I was never much of a fan. His art always seemed to be geared towards the elderly, religious people, and other cretins I disdain. I thought his signature piece, Christina's World, was about a young girl playing God in an ochre-brown landscape during The Great Depression. It always reminded me of an America that I would never know or never care to. But after reading Wyeth's obit in the New York Times my interest blossomed. I learned that the real Christina, on whom the painting is based, could not walk! Wyeth said she would drag herself around the farm, doing chores, all the while refusing to get a wheelchair! The painting suddenly took on a new meaning for me. It became a painting about American stubborness. It's the same kind of stubborness that George W. Bush turned into a virtue and most Republicans run on. It's the idea of never needing any hand-me-downs, that everyone should provide for themselves, and that if you are poor in any form, it's probably for good reason.
This new factoid garnered from the Times, when added to the Wyeth, acted like a catalyst. It reminded me of a story this guy told me about his mother, a farmer in rural Ohio. The storyteller had a very strict work ethic. He was insensitive and didn't like vacations. He said that even after his mother suffered a stroke or embolysm one day out on the farm, she still CRAWLED to the barn to feed the cows because "it needed to get done". I remember thinking that this woman was the emblem of hard-nosed middle-America. I therefore conclude that Wyeth had his finger on the pulse!
Christina isn't dreaming of a world, she's wondering how long it will take to crawl to that effing barn!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Visual genocide


I think Adorno once said that poetry cannot exist in the wake of the holocaust. I feel the same way after seeing this photo.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


2009 is all about focusing on the positive. 2008 was a shit year for me. I think I speak for many others as well. One good thing about ‘08 was that I got to travel quite a bit. I went to Vermont, Mexico, New York, and now Morocco! It went down in these terms:


My arrival in Marrakech was a trial by fire. Pants had gotten detained in London due to a technical foul-up, forcing me to be thrust headlong—and alone—into a place I was skittish about from the beginning. I arrived having no exact address for my hotel, only a vague map with misty type because I spilled coffee on it. My ill sense of direction was not helped by Morocco’s general shortage of street signs, especially in the “medina”, or old city, a labyrinthine area of tiny streets and cull-de sacs. I knew my hotel was somewhere in there. I didn’t even know where the the medina was or what it looked like.

To an unemployed Moroccan, and there are many, seeing a confused white man carrying heavy luggage and looking up for non-existent street signs usually means one thing: CASH MONEY. Many Moroccan men, including children, earn it by leading confused foreigners through the city—especially the medina. I felt like a donkey fending off gadflies with its tail. Though instead of using a tail I used broken French, which isn’t as effective. One man walked up to me and simply stared as if I had a dick in my mouth. I eventually cried uncle and hired a man, whose name I never caught, to lead me to the hotel. He initiated me into the bargaining ritual—an art I will go into later. Needless to say I lost. I shudder to think how much I paid him.

I followed him as he walked his scooter into the medina maze. I had been standing in front of it all along. I can barely find a pair of errant tube socks in my apartment so this is not surprising. I refused to ride on the man’s scooter until he pointed to his heart, conveying that he might die if I made him walk any further. I didn’t want him to die so I jumped on his scooter. Then I was sure I was going to die. I thought it was a good way to go anyway: to be thrown from a speeding scooter into an donkey cart full of dates. My body would somehow ignite the dates and I would burn in a blaze o’ glory. Nay, I lived and we never found the hotel.

We tried three other hotels until one finally had a vacancy. Exasperated, I paid about 250 Dirhams for a cold, dank room with no toilet paper. There was even a puddle of water on the floor for good measure. My ‘guide’ was pretty thankful upon receiving his robust fee, which surprisingly made me happy for a moment. I had made this guy’s day, even though I could have bought a Foreman grill with I what I paid him. We kissed each other on both cheeks as he departed, Moroccan style.


I threw my stuff in the dank cave and went exploring. I eventually ended up at the famed Place de Jemaa El Fna, a huge open square often called the “heart” of Marrakech, if not the entire country. The greatness of Jemaa El Fna is hard to explain. It simply must be experienced. The commingling of smells, sights, and sounds was intoxicating. From afar the square looked like a steaming, horizontal band of silhouettes and lights. Inside the crowd, the choices of entertainment seemed limitless. There were tented eateries, orange juice vendors, and escargot stands, open day and night. By day, snake charmers, acrobats, healers, monkey handlers, and merchants ruled the square. The storytellers and musicians took over at nightfall. They played all types of music, mostly fusions of different Eastern traditions in donut-shaped crowds. Men, women, and children danced in the center as others sang along. Seeing this kind of communal togetherness was levitating.

A Gerber

A Berber

My favorite acts tended to be Berber, a blanket term for the three distinct indigenous tribes from the Atlas Mountains. The word Berber made me think of Gerber baby food half the time I was in the country. I was fascinated by a group of Berbers I only saw on the first night. They sounded like women from afar and sang in lockstep with some kind of clarinet while a whirring dervish jiggled for the crowd. The songs were intense and short, like Minuteman compositions. Unfortunately, I could only enjoy them at 3-minute intervals because I had no change. A man scouring the crowd would instantly notice every new face and attack it for money. Most acts in the square worked this way. This ceased to bother me once I realized that these performance areas were not seen as public space, but as roving human amphitheaters that charged for admittance. Unfortunately, I never found those Berbers again even though Pants and I went to Jemaa El Fna with religious fervor every night we could. And of course, my darling Pants arrived safely in Marrakech 24 hours after my arrival!


You can’t have Marrakech or Fés without their medinas. They are an amazing sensory overload, but also very intense and frustrating. Their tiny capillaries were crammed with people, souqs, motorbikes, donkeys, taxis, and many other forms of transport they could squeeze in. The motorbike’s engine exhaust choked me, and when it rained, which was often, the streets were muddy. I risked either getting run over or bothered for money the moment I looked up or stopped walking. In their character and design, the medinas of Fés and Marrakech seemed almost identical, save that every structure in Marrakech was an earthy red and those of Fés a dirty white. Fés had the largest medina in the country, if not the world (over 9,000 streets). Also, due its narrower design, motorized vehicles were barred from entering it, which made me feel like I was in the 18th century—especially when I saw rickshaws and donkeys. This stood in stark contrast to the ‘new city’ that surrounded the medinas. While walking in the new city of Fés, with its tree-lined boulevards I could have sworn I was in Paris.

The major reason one goes to the medina, other than to experience it, is to get lost in the souqs. It is where people sell every good one can imagine and where the fine art of bargaining has been refined since medieval times. The techniques of the merchants hardly varied. Their initial prices were always inflated. If I tried to bounce, they asked me for a price. After I gave one either they laughed like I was "crazy" or they made me feel like a scrooge: "Oh how can you ask for this price! I have three kids and no electricity!". This sob story tactic was a popular one. If I stood firm and showed that I was willing to walk away, nine times out of ten they caved in. I was not always good at this. Being a foreigner from a more wealthy nation, I was prone to their tactics. Yet again, I could not help but feel equally as stereotyped as a walking bag of money.


Would I go back? Hells yes. Except next time I would avoid the cities for the most part. Instead, I would visit the Sahara desert and the Berber villages.
Aside from Fés' colorful leather tanneries and stuck-in-the-18th century medina, it was not worth the 7 hour train ride. I suspect Marrakech is the best city Morocco has to offer, Dirham for Dirham.

My only true regret is not buying more music and not catching more of those Gerbers, I mean Berbers.

And never get an 'offical' guide unless you want to efficiently find your sites. Ours was a douche.

Marching Kids at Jemaa El Fna. Some of these kids encircled me and chanted something in Arabic. I hope it was nice!