I have a scar on my neck the size of a jungle cat's claw. It's just below my right ear, where my ear and jawline meet. It's purple around the edges in the cold, white when it's hot outside. People often stare at it but are afraid to ask me where it came from.
That's where the bullet pierced me, in my neck. It exited out of the back of my head -- the top of my skull, to be precise, left side. I remember very little, but what I do remember I've kept secret for so long. I hide the exit scar with a head of matted brown hair and a fitted Detroit Tigers cap.
I get migraines when it rains; and goddammit, it's gonna rain tomorrow. So I'm gonna tell you about the time I got shot in the head, before, God willing, another migraine cripples me.
I was six years old and had recently relocated with my family to suburban Michigan after an unsuccessful -- so I'm told -- three-month stay at my grandmother's palatial home in Atlanta. There were arguments, and dishes thrown against walls, and all that Faulkner bullshit. And finally we wound up on Grover Street, where, my father assured me, nothing bad ever happened.
And, for a time, nothing did. I grew up, was educated, went through puberty, depression, presidents, wars, Academy Awards, Pontiacs.
All that time, though, a bullet was waiting for me. And it would be a long time before I could reconcile with the shooter, my sixth-grade classmate, Lionel Gertz.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Posted by Kmork at 9:28 PM
K 11:52 PM
You champion expansion?
Spark 11:52 PM
K 11:53 PM
You *champion* expansion?
Spark 11:53 PM
It's a verb. Look it up.
K 11:53 PM
I know what it means.
Spark 11:54 PM
It means enthusiastically encourage.
K 11:54 PM
to support, perhaps, or defend
Spark 11:55 PM
Or, to enthusiastically encourage.
K 11:55 PM
I could see defending expansion, but actively supporting? Let's not pat ourselves on the back too hard, son.
Spark 11:56 PM
I should oppose expansion, then? You make little sense.
K 11:56 PM
I'm making perfect sense.
Spark 11:57 PM
Doesn't always indicate defense.
K 11:58 PM
I mean, if you were employing a bit of hyperbole, I'd applaud.
But you're trying to be all clever about it.
Spark 11:59 PM
Didn't I just define it for you?
K 12:00 AM
And I proposed several other definitions. But sure, works for me.
Spark 12:00 AM
"enthusiastically encourage," remember?
Kennan, I don't need a Webster's definition to prove me correct, so stop it
K 12:01 AM
That must be it.
Great taste in music to boot!
You're the total package!
Spark 12:01 AM
Cheap shot, and you know it.
Posted by Harrison Forbes at 10:04 AM
There is nothing subtle or understated about Phrazes for the Young, The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas's debut solo album. Where his band has, for the most part, felt comfortably confined within three-and-a-half-minute punk-pop songs, on Phrazes Casablancas is afforded the opportunity to stretch his retro sensibilities into much longer compositions (the album's shortest track clocks in at just over four minutes, it's longest at just under six), and this proves to be a double-edged sword of welcomed artistic freedom and unsound decision making.
On The Strokes last effort, 2006's terrific First Impressions of Earth, the boys managed to silence those critics who, disappointed with the band's sophomore album, Room on Fire, labeled them one-trick post-punk p(h)onies, while at the same time frustrating a slew of other critics who wanted, simply, The Strokes, and not some group taking their influences outside of CBGB to include U2 and *gasp* Barry Manilow.
And here's where it gets paradoxically frustrating on my part; because however much I champion expansion*, if I listen to a Julian Casablancas album I want to hear some semblance of what made me like The Strokes to begin with. I don't want a vanity project; I want an album that can stand alongside the best of The Strokes' catalog. And, for the most part, Phrazes for the Young does just that. Album opener "Out of the Blue" starts things off perfectly with a paean to living life as a self-perceived asshole and caring very little about it. Strokes purists might bemoan the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach that producer Jason Lader takes, but it's effectively noisy while at the same time managing to remain enticingly melodic. Casablancas has a great voice, and it's a shame that it's taken so long for its range to be tested.
Track No. 2, "Left & Right in the Dark," further expands the limits of Casablanca's skill as a songwriter and vocalist. Synth guitars propel an upbeat song that is picturesque in its ostensible portrait of a morning drive after a long night of carousing, Casablancas switching between mumbled reverie and shouts of "Wake up, wake up!" This leads into the album's first single, "11th Dimension," a The Cars-inspired masterpiece that at first sounds sycophantic to an era until, after multiple listens, its underlying beauty is finally reached. "When cities come together to hate each other in the name of sport," Casablancas mumble-croons, and I realize what a shame it is that Outkast's "Hey Ya" spoiled it for the rest of the big fish playing in minimalist synthpop's small pond.
It is here we reach momentum-shifter "4 Chords of the Apocalypse," a church hymn by way of epileptic neo-funk, a schizophrenic oddity appreciated best, I imagine, while drunk and not capable of knowing any better, which I can only hazard to guess is what occurred during its recording process. "Ludlow St.," which follows, is only marginally better in it's execution, but both are testaments to the big-eyes-small-stomach phenomena prevalent whenever an artist's ego gets too big for the skull it encompasses**. What begins as a "Brian Eno second half of Low" curio quickly becomes a country and Western pastiche about gentrification and alcoholism churned through a meat grinder. And not in a good way.
Praise Odin, however, because thankfully the album arights itself before all is sunk. "River of Breaklights" is a revelation in its pace and its surprising homage to Radiohead, while penultimate track "Glass" is likely the closest thing to a mature rock ballad we'll hear from a New York-raised socialites' son. Someone's been listening to Graceland, and not in the bad, Vampire Weekend way.
Album closer "Tourist" sums things up best, though, in its two-faced approach. Casablancas wants to have his cake and eat it too; and it works here fantastically. What starts as a smarmy guitar lesson in attitude soon shapeshifts into truth: Casablancas wants to be edgy, but he can't hide the innocent smile lying underneath his feigned angst, and it's not long before harmony overtakes the procession. Tickle him when he's frowning and he'll elicit an immediate smile, I'll bet.
Only eight songs long, Phrazes for the Young attempts to compact too much into too little space, but "Tourist" sticks the landing. Minus "4 Chords of the Apocalypse" and "Ludlow St.," this is a phenomenal EP.
* outside of professional sports and border disputes
** been there (am there?)
Posted by Harrison Forbes at 6:23 AM
Monday, October 26, 2009
Posted by Kmork at 9:30 AM
Only one thing gives me the heebie jeebies: hornets. The other week, I was in I love Cookie, buying Cheetos and deodorant, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a hornet as fat as my thumb. When I hurriedly approached the counter to pay, I saw three more of its brethren hovering near the store's ceiling, where, in the corner above the register, was a hole the size of a fist, ostensibly leading to their nest. And I was frozen; because, for me, the fear of possibly getting stung by a hornet is not one borne of pain (I've had more syringes in my arms than a heroin junkie) but of death. I am allergic to hornets (and wasps, and manual labor), you see, so any time I'm confronted by that fell species, the hair on my arms stands erect and a chill runs down my back.
This was the exact sensation I felt while watching Paranormal Activity. Rarely have I been so creeped out by a film. (Unless we're counting Ernest Goes to Camp.)
By now you're probably aware of Paramount's new-millennial Blair Witch Project. Paranormal Activity took the weekend box office and has a buzz* surrounding it that is unmatched by any horror film in recent memory**. And, in this case, there is truth in numbers. Paranormal Activity is a film that will give you chills.
But only under certain conditions.
Let me explain. Paranormal Activity will not be effectively creepy when watched in a) a movie theater, b) a house full of people, or c) on an airplane. No, Paranormal Activity is only scary, I will surmise, when watched alone, in the dark, and with ear buds.
Obviously, since the film was released widely just this past weekend, I had to cut a few corners*** to view it in such a manner; but trust me, it's worth it. When you get to be as old as I am (83), the scares are few and far between. I'm more freaked out nowadays by my heart occasionally skipping beats and the threat of people ringing my doorbell (census takers, Jehovah's Witnesses, Land Shark). And that's why Paranormal Activity is so refreshing, like a cool can of
Nestea after a hard day of thinking. Paranormal Activity, bless it, scared my balls off, even if it did crib too much from another well-known horror movie during its dénouement****.
Watch it now, before the backlash.
* Bad word choice. I'm breaking out in hives right now.
** Save for The Blair Witch Project, I suppose. That film, though, is scary like Craig Mack is handsome, and I will only accept that their similarities are shared by recording devices and the supernatural. Also: houses are scarier than forests. I live in a house every day; I sleep in a forest once or twice each year when I drink too much cologne.
*** Legally questionable activity!
Posted by Harrison Forbes at 8:23 AM
The Stuff (1985)
Apparently, Arsenio Hall was writer-director Larry Cohen's first choice to play the role of 'Chocolate Chip' Charlie W. Hobbs, but the powers that be wanted someone recognizable, so SNL alum Garrett Morris was selected for the job.
Also, Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey makes a cameo as a Stuff buyer.
Posted by Kmork at 5:31 AM
Sunday, October 25, 2009
It is 2006, November. I'm in our apartment's bathroom, washing my hands, when my cell phone rings. I quickly dry my hands and retrieve the phone from my pocket.
"Are you home?" my wife asks, clearly agitated.
"Y-yeah," I stammer, realizing instantly why she's calling. There can be only one reason why she's so upset.
"Wait there!" she shouts before hanging up.
I am undecided which action to take, to leave home immediately or to stay and state my case. My wife is not a rational woman, not a person known for thoughtfully weighing matters before making conclusions. I know this, but still I stay. To leave would be an admission of guilt.
She is home within a minute, and the look of rage in her eyes terrifies me. I stand at the entryway shaking. I know that this is the end, and I am doomed. Thank God my daughter is at a neighbor's.
"Who is Jiwon?" she screams, thrusting a record of my cell phone text messages so close to my face that I can't see anything but blurred ink.
"A friend of mine," I say plainly, but my look of guilt cannot be more clear, I know.
"A friend?" she screams. "A man or a woman?"
There is no escape. I know my wife is aware that, in this case, the sexually ambiguous given name of Jiwon is a woman's, that she has in fact called this Jiwon to confirm her suspicion, but illogically, stupidly, I tell her she's wrong, that Jiwon is a man. And that's when she wails and rakes my face with both of her hands.
There is an explanation, of course, but now is not the time to backtrack. And my wife is not someone easily appeased with the excuse I have to give, anyway. It is true: for three weeks I have been exchanging text messages with a woman named Jiwon, a woman who, under different circumstances, I would consider falling in love with.
Tufts of hair are pulled from my scalp, and I am in another state of reality. I am hovering above this abject domestic scene, wide eyed and incredulous, watching curiously. But in a flash I'm back, and Jesus does that fucking hurt! For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so says the man, but right now all I can do is stand like an idiot scarecrow as I'm assaulted; and this, oddly, feels like the right thing to do. If I am to fight back, it will be at a later date, I tell myself.
I am concerned, however, about a tutoring lesson I've scheduled and which begins in fifteen minutes. If I leave now, I just might make it on time, and this seems like the perfect excuse to vacate myself from such an ugly tableau of a marriage on the brink of ruin. So, while my wife screams and pulls at my shirt collar, without a word I slap her arm away and push past the open door and downstairs into the cold autumn night.
I am two blocks away before I discover that blood is streaming from my cheeks. Clearly, I am in no shape to tutor anyone. Not looking like this. As I stop, contemplating turning back, I also notice that I am standing in socked feet. I want nothing more than to go someplace other than back home, but where? I have no one to go to, nowhere else to return to but our apartment, where I am sure I might not live long should I do so.
Regardless, I am drawn back.
And as I approach I hear a clamor of destruction. My stomach sinks further than it ever has, because I know, without a doubt, that my wife is wreaking havoc upon my DVD collection. Do I deserve such punishment? No. A million times, no. I have upwards of three hundred DVDs, each of them cherished, and right now they are being hurled about our apartment by a hurricane of a woman.
I reenter to find discs scattered everywhere, the cases that once held them shattered all over, in every room. This is how a man is broken, I think. I don't have much, but that collection was something I was proud of, something I loved as much as a person can love inanimate objects, and now it's furnishing our apartment's floor as a testament to material revenge. This has happened to me before, by my brother Julian when I was younger, dumber. When I was thirteen he ripped my paperback copy of The Stand in half after a petty argument, and after my first year abroad he sold off the most valuable of my comic books for beer money.
This is irreparable.
Posted by Harrison Forbes at 6:48 AM
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The Blob (1988)
Screenwriter Frank Darabont, who co-wrote The Blob, has also done work on the film adaptations of Stephen King's The Mist, The Green Mile, and The Shawshank Redemption. Given that he's a big fan of King's prose, it should come as no surprise that in The Blob, Kevin Dillon plays a character with the surname of Flagg.
Posted by Kmork at 3:31 AM
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Night of the Creeps (1986)
Posted by Kmork at 11:00 PM
Green: You can't do this to me! I'm Green!
Blue: Nice try, but no.
Green: I'm the color of grass, of watermelons...
Blue: Think again, asshole.
Green: Of stoplights and...
Blue: Get used to it, bitch.
Green: When did I lose my identity?
Blue: You didn't lose it; I overtook it. You snooze you lose, boyo, and now blue is the new green, sad to say.
Green: This is all just a bad dream.
Blue: Keep imagining that, Fancypants.
Green: Get you, just wait. Ten years, fifteen, or when the sun dies and the human species is eons extinct, I will have my revenge, my moment.
Blue: Make sure it's televised!
Posted by Harrison Forbes at 12:11 PM
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Posted by Kmork at 10:34 AM
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Posted by Kmork at 12:28 AM