Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Horrors of Moving to London Part II

If you're interested, I just found part of another blog I put up on MySpace while living in London. I'm guessing this one probably went up around late August 2008:

London Fog: A Blessing in Disguise
I’ve been here just over two months, and I simply can’t adjust to how ugly everyone is. And I don’t mean the people have bad haircuts or that they could stand to lose 5 pounds.  Those would be major upgrades.
Someone asked me if there was a way to sum up the look of the average Londoner. It isn’t easy, but try to envision how Pinocchio would look if Geppetto had developed a crippling loss of confidence halfway through the carving. I’ll give you a hint; lopsided eyesockets. There are enough misaligned eyes in this town to make the periscope obsolete. Given my experience with UK handiwork, maybe these errant eyeballs actually meet the UK standard for “level.” Or perhaps each person is doing a cheekbone tribute to the scales of justice. Don’t ask me, I’m not from here.

London is also filled to the rim with bent genders. Notice I didn’t say gender bending. I’m not talking about drag queens. I’m talking about the fearsome bridge between male and female. You can’t cross the street in Mary Poppins’ hood without passing some pitiably hideous blob of androgyny. There’s one monstrosity in particular that keeps surfacing in my neighborhood. She/he is a hulking, crimson faced, blondish being with a thick, yogurty torso and a mammoth lower jaw. I call it Jabba the Question Mark. I’ve given up asking people like this their name. Now I just open with, “Plant, animal, or mineral?”

Picture every memorable freak you’ve ever seen, every shard of human wreckage that set your teeth on edge. Well, London is an assembly-line of those ghastly outliers. Put it this way, I am used to seeing varicose veins on legs. I am not used to seeing them on faces.
Living in London is ruining my masturbation routine. Typically, I don’t masturbate to celebrities or chicks I know. My standard MO is to jerk off to random women I see on the street. Trouble is, the women in London are so ugly I can’t find any strangers to wank it to. My self-pollution routine has been totally paralyzed. Now I find myself mentally backtracking to random broads I used to jerk off to when I was in New York. “Shit, who was that chick I passed in the elevator that one time at Macy’s?” And for some reason, I’m drawing a blank. I picked a hell of a time to contract Pervert Alzheimer’s.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Your Definitive Online Dating Translator

Online dating is becoming more normal all the time. The transition has been swift. If you were on Yahoo Match way back when, it was only one step above calling a phone sex line. Not so today.

Though online dating has become more normal, women haven't, so their online dating profiles are a mess of contradictions that can be tough to navigate if you're a novice. Everyone already knows that "full figured" means fat, but there are lots of other important words and phrases to beware of:

I'm brash=I'm loud and dumb.

I'm really into sports=I'm going to memorize one player's name and pester you with irrelevant questions about him until you finally stop caring about the game.

I'm ambitious=I'm going to keep shoehorning my accomplishments into the conversation as though you were looking for a one night stand with my resume rather than me. I will probably also declare--unironically--that I hate arrogant men.

I'm a foodie=I'm going to drag you to lots of restaurants where we'll stand on line for food neither of us actually cares about, all because a Facebook review raved about a sandwich I wouldn't eat for free at home. And though all I do is brag about the burden of having a refined palate, if you blindfolded me I couldn't tell the difference between a bowl of SpaghettiOs and a pasta dish cooked in the Trevi Fountain.

Chivalry isn't dead=I have contrived a list of arbitrary things you must do only so I will have a handy list of things to complain about when I describe you to my equally nitckpicky friends. You might intently listen to me sit at a bar babbling about my theories on crocheting, but if you didn't open the door to said bar you're a inconsiderate guy. And by the way, if you looked like George Clooney, you could slam every door in my face and I would still beg you to let me blow you through the mail slot.

I care about social justice=I once vacationed for three days in a Third World country and forgot to get vaccinated for Buttinski Syndrome, so now I want to apply my tourist's knowledge of four square miles of Nicargua to society as a whole. And lest you think I wasn't fully immersed, did I mention I took high school Spanish?  

Must get along with my dog=My dog, the one who was tortured and abused and starved by humans for six years before I rescued him, the one who has the eyes of a Marine who did a tour of Vietnam AND Korea, is an excellent judge of strange men who come through the door at 3:00 in the morning.

One more thing: If women's online dating profiles are to be believed, all it takes to get laid is knowing the difference between "your" and you're," so a little extra editing will mean a lot more hookups.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Adventures in Megalomania

I knew nearly nothing about philosophy until I was in my early twenties. Of course I knew of philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, but I hadn’t read their works and was almost completely ignorant of anyone who came after them.
When I was nineteen I began writing every day. This was just before I started doing stand-up. Some of the longform thoughts I put down were eventually converted into comedy bits. Anyway, as I was writing, I began to believe I was breaking new ground. It didn't stop there. Little by little, I started to think my writings were dangerous. The public probably couldn't handle them. If these thoughts were discussed in public, parts of society might unravel. And I wasn't sure society would be better off for this unraveling.

I actually spent time wondering whether or not it would be responsible to attempt to have these dangerous thoughts published. Apparently I thought I was Copernicus or something. I even started to think it might be safer to publish posthumously. This is not an exaggeration, nor was I "in denial" (I had not a shred of doubt about the importance of my thoughts, therefore I had nothing to deny).

At age 20 I took a job at a bookstore, and by stocking shelves became aware of someone named Schopenhauer. Once I read a few of his writings, I discovered that not only had Mr. Schopenhauer already chronicled some of the IMPORTANT MIKE PAYNE THOUGHTS I thought were going to set the world on fire; he had done it far more skillfully than I ever could have. It would be difficult to communicate the shock and dislocation that followed. I would even say I grieved a bit. 

Because of this, for the next few years I was ambivalent about whether it was even worth it to keep writing or doing comedy. (Looking back, I'd say it wasn't, but anyway I kept going).
Eventually in my late twenties I got over the fact that Schopenhauer (and many other writers I read after him) had beaten me to the punch on some of my penetrating macro insights. But then something new occurred to me: Maybe I could sketch out the political applications/implications of some of these thoughts, with examples from history*. Then I came upon Bill Bonner's Empire of Debt, and was once again hit with a shock; the man had already laid out most of what I thought I was going to say, and had done it so well there was no point in repeating it. This time around it wasn't as gutting. I'd been put in my place enough times by then.
I bring this up because not long ago I almost ran into the same thing. In recent years I've been thinking that uncertainty and doubt serve us much better that confidence and conviction. While chewing on this, I thought: But what happens when you doubt a doubt?  Once again I started to wonder if I was onto something. Then I came upon a gentleman named E.M. Cioran, who arrived at it long before I did. This time I just laughed.

As Goethe once wrote: "Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again."

Our thoughts and experiences feel particular to us, but they are hand-me-downs. Even being shocked by Schopenhauer into feelings of inferiority is hackneyed; Jorge Luis Borges had a similar experience.

*The fact that I was still thinking "Oh, I'll just write a book about this" shows I still had traces of delusion. I'm not alone in this: how many times have you heard a recently unemployed person--or just some random blowhard at a party--casually talk about how now they've finally decided to put out a getting your work read, published, and publicized is as simple as starting a new diet. This shows you how widespread delusions of grandeur are.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Collagen Lips Sink Chicks

Every woman in Manhattan has at least one nosejob under her belt. Some have three or four. It's like their noses are some kind of weed that keeps growing back and requires constant trimming. Because of this, whenever I leave Manhattan one of the first things I notice are women with their original noses. I have come to find untouched noses somewhat exotic.

That said, I've made peace with nosejobs. Manhattan has more broken bridges than a Sherman campaign, so I've accepted that if I'm going to keep living in New York, NY, I'm going to have to get used to cutting myself on artificially pointy noses (I now put on safety goggles before each kiss).

What I won't make peace with are lip implants. These things look horrendous 100% of the time. Whenever I see a lipjob coming my way I take cover in the nearest alley.

When I encounter a lipjob my first thought is that I looked too quickly. Surely her lips couldn't really look THAT bad, right? After a second look I'm thinking: Is it a makeup job from an Ed Wood movie? Did she accidentally glue a rubber coin purse to her face? By the third look I'm reaching for my camera phone so I can share this cosmetic tragedy with the world.

Breast implants at least make sense on paper, but who is getting excited about plus size lips? I can't recall a single time I've heard a guy brag about dating a woman who needs a paint roller to apply chapstick.

Remember how everyone always raved about Sheryl Crow's incredible lips? Well if you recall, Ms. Crow's lips were not large. They were pert.

I believe Sheryl Crow* won some award like Sexiest Mouth in Music. Or maybe it was Sexiest Mouth in Rock. Or maybe is what Sexiest Mouth on a Woman Who Dated a Steroid Fiend (which would actually be impressive considering she'd be beating a field full of athlete trophy wives). Whatever the award was, Crow's pert, medium sized lips look a helluva lot better than the Dr. Frankenstein experiment that is Lana Del Ray.

If you're an average looking woman who thinks she needs an edge, here's what you do: WORK OUT LIKE A MANIAC and get your body into decent shape. A tight figure (especially in this age of hyperflab) will make you a far rarer commodity than a woman with lips that stop traffic for the wrong reasons.

By the way, the lip implant trend does not bode well for the future. One day all these women getting lipjobs are going to be old grannies. The rest of their face will have shrunken, making their non-biodegradable lips look even more monstrous. Remember how when you were a kid your biggest fear was getting a kiss from granny? Well the next generation of kids are going to be forced to kiss grannies with lips that start at their chin and end at their forehead. Not gonna be pretty.

*By the way, Sheryl Crow is still pretty hot. I should have included her in my tribute to women who never hit the wall.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cops must act like robots, except when we decide they should act like humans

The saga of Christopher Dorner brings to mind an interesting blindspot in America's execution of justice; the widespread acceptance that cop-killers stand less of a chance of being brought in alive than other kinds of murderers. The notion that cop-killers are more apt to be taken out by other cops rather than put on trial like everyone else is so ingrained in us that it's a cliche in every police drama.

In substance, this is Society's position: A cop was killed, so in this case the clinical detachment we expect cops to have in every other situation can be set aside so that cops can avenge one of their own. The same society that makes a big deal about fair trials, due process, and Miranda rights shrugs off vigilantism when it is performed on cop-killers by cops. The same society that calls for deep, institution-wide reform when cops give in to adrenaline by beating a suspect after a high speed chase gives cops a pass to kill someone who has killed one of their own. Yep, that same society that is always insisting that revenge isn't justice...

If a cop is fired upon and he returns fire until he no longer hears shots? Well, he runs the risk of having a figurative bull's-eye put on him by the ACLU. He might even have a song written about him by Bruce Springsteen, and it won't be a love ballad. While he is being fired upon, he is expected to respond like Spock. But should one of those bullets hit his partner, it is an unwritten rule that he can do his best Dirty Harry impression.

It seems Society has made the bargain that cops' lives are more sacrosanct than ours. Otherwise, why be so squishy on civil liberties when it comes to cops killing cop-killers? Suddenly we get ultra pragmatic: Cop-killers aren't likely to survive because of who is assigned to capture cop-killers; i.e., other cops. DUH!

Reminds me of how amplified the reaction always is to the killing of a journalist. Some despotic regimes get lots of attention from the press. But you know when those regimes REALLY get attention? When a journalist turns up dead in a despotic country. All of a sudden the press decides that that regime has REALLY taken a turn for the worse. All that insane savagery that came before; the mass homicide, the property theft? Sure it was bad, but at least they weren't killing journalists. It isn't hard to see why this is: journalists' deaths are covered by other journalists.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Another Old Wives' Tale Debunked

You can tell how a man is in bed by how he dances.

This is an old wives' tale that shows why no one listens to old wives. So if a guy does a mean limbo, it means he doesn't struggle with premature ejaculation? And a gentleman who can tango is less likely to have a defective unit (if anything, a man who voluntarily tangos probably has some damage down below that could lead to a lucrative malpractice suit. Gives new meaning to the phrase sitting on a goldmine...).

And why doesn't it work the other way? Seems to me you can probably tell more about a woman's sexual abilities--flexibility, ability to absorb impact (if the woman you're dancing with takes punishment like a tackling dummy, you're in for a good night)--by watching her dance than you can from watching a man boogie.

Men don't tell old wives' tales because men are 1,000 times better at profiling. If a woman is a cold fish at the bar, a man knows she's going to be a cold fish when you get her home. If her whole body quakes each you brush her finger, you know her body is a one big, raw erogenous zone. If she has an Adam's Apple that extends past her overbite, she's probably isn't a she.

Men don't turn the obvious into a "CSI" episode, and when a woman's sexual disposition isn't obvious, men don't resort to bizarre numerology involving how far apart her nipples are. When a man is on the prowl, his mind is occupied with trying to figure out which of the sixteen fake versions of himself he's going to need to display to take that woman home. He doesn't have time to glean esoteric info. from her eyebrows.

The You can tell how a man is in bed by how he dances old wives' tale should suffer the same fate as actual old wives; permanent exile to the fringes of society.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Smoking Causes Cancer and Cancerous Singing

You've seen it more times than you probably realize: singers smoking on stage, singers on the cover of magazines holding cigarettes. Sometimes singers get really creative and stash their lit smoke up by the pegs of their guitar.

A lot of fans seem to think this is cool. They'll even cheer when the singer lights up between songs.

The fans should be the last ones cheering this habit. Smoking wrecks your voice. The same fan who cheers that lit Marlboro will then throw a tantrum when they find out their favorite singer periodically lip syncs. "What, you mean I paid good money and this guy's not even really singing?!"

Well, maybe he could have hit the high notes every night if he hadn't been lighting up during each guitar solo. Instead of cheering his tobacco addiction, you should have booed and shamed him into quitting. Maybe then his voice wouldn't have given out 16 concerts into a 30 concert tour.

Cheering a singer who smokes is like cheering a quarterback who thumb wrestles middle linemen with his throwing hand. If you saw Joe Flacco on the sidelines getting his thumb bent down like a cheerleader after a Super Bowl win, you wouldn't'd pawn that #5 jersey in disgust. Is it any wonder that athletes often have stipulations in their contracts barring them from certain risky activities?

Why do singers today still flaunt their smoking? They seem to think this puts them in step with all the old smoking greats they pretend to like: Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson.

It's true that in the old days singers like Howlin' Wolf smoked. You know who else smoked back then? EVERY HEART SURGEON IN AMERICA. Everyone used to be a smoker. The Surgeon General walked around with a Chesterfield in one hand and a hookah in the other. The hazards weren't fully known yet.

Sometimes musicians (and critics) laud cigarette scarred voices. They act like smoking can turn a whiny tenor into a lady killing baritone. 'Fraid not. A chain smoking tenor doesn't get velvety pipes; he gets a voice that sounds like a tenor struggling for breath. Tom Waits sings like a dying bullfrog screaming into a toilet paper tube.

It may have looked cool when Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison smoked...until you remember that they were both notoriously horrible live singers. A smokey voice is a figure of speech, not a recommendation.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Small talk only comes from small brains

I spent many years working many different types of retail, and never ceased to be amazed by how insulting and condescending the public could be. Because of this, I have to talk myself out of drop kicking any customer I witness being condescending and/or trite.

Case in point: fruit stand workers in Manhattan. Across Manhattan, there are gentlemen who stand on the sidewalk in almost any kind of weather and sell a variety of fruits and vegetables at a lower price than you typically find in grocery stores. What a wonderful convenience.

What isn't wonderful is all the nonsensensical small talk and patronizing tripe fruit stand guys are subjected to by the idiot public.

The last two weeks have brought sub-freezing temperatures to New York City, and I keep hearing morons telling the fruit stand guys to "Keep Warm" and "Don't let yourself get too cold!"

Like this guy doesn't know enough to protect himself from the elements when the windchill hits 10 below.

I'd love to hear a fruit stand guy shout back:

Really, you mean mittens are a must when it's so cold not even Pyro can get a match going? I've spent the last six hours using these completely frozen grapefruits to do some duckpin bowling on the sidewalk, and here I was thinking I just had a bad batch. Thanks Human Version of Wikipedia! My humble Bengali roots didn't prepare me for this highly technical knowledge.

If you really want to make these guys feel better, give them a tip.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Is your brain in airplane mode?

You don't have to be a physicist to recognize that cell phones on a plane probably aren't as dangerous as we've been led to believe. Think of all the things they screen you for when you fly: shampoo, toothpaste, chapstick, eyebrow tweezers, bottled water, nipple rings, nail files, overly nervous looking flyers...the list is longer than Wilt Chamberlain's booty call rolodex.

OK. But can I bring this small, easily hidden device that can crash the plane with the push of a button?

Yeah, we trust you.

Friday, February 1, 2013

There are No Bad Boys Left in Rock, Just LOTS of Bad

If you don't remember Third Eye Blind, count yourself among the lucky. Paris Hilton has led a less charmed life (one might even call it semi-charmed).

During their fifteen minutes, I caught their singer Stephan Jenkins being interviewed on MTV. He was being asked about their onstage antics. Apparently, Third Eye Blind had some dancers onstage shaking their thangs behind screens, causing the VJ to say something like, "You guys are the new bad boys of rock."

The absurdity of this was forever seared into my brain.

By the late nineties, rock had become so pathetic and obsolete as a form of rebellion that all it took to grab the "bad boy" mantle was to have a woman that no one could actually see remove her top while a blow-dried pop song flatulated through the speakers.

I don't blame the host for grasping for the "bad boy" cliché. He was just doing what journalists and talking airheads always do: regurgitate meaningless archetypes. Since rock began, there have been "bad boys." When rock first emerged, they were pretty much all bad boys; Little Richard and Elvis did actually represent some sort of threat to the established order. Then as rock became the new mainstream, more defined rock categories began to emerge--hard rock, folk rock, etc.--and over time various bands--The Rolling Stones, Guns N' Roses--were given the title of "rock's bad boys."

The reality that eventually rock had no bad boys didn't matter. Once "bad boys of rock" became an established marketing tool, nothing was going to stop the industry and its sycophants from using it. No bad boys on the rock scene? No problem. We'll just create some. No one will be able to tell the difference anyway.

Even rebellions within rock were eventually distilled into irrelevance. Look at punk. The fact that Good Charlotte had nothing in common with the Sex Pistols mattered not one iota. Marketing needed to happen, "punk rock" was a marketable archetype, and the kids who fell for Good Charlotte's "punk" put-ons didn't understand or care about punk's origins. Punk (which began as something eclectic) was eventually distilled down to spiky hair, extremely simple chord structures and lots of "energy," and anyone willing to adopt those affectations suddenly qualified as punk. Never mind heckling the royal family, here's Good Charlotte.

If you think I'm just being grouchy, compare some lyrics from Good Charlotte's "Hold On" to the Sex Pistols' "Bodies":

Hold On

This world, this world is cold

But you don't, you don't have to go

You're feeling sad, you're feeling lonely

And no one seems to care

You're mother's gone and your father hits you

This pain you cannot bear

But we all bleed the same way as you do

And we all have the same things to go through

Hold on, if you feel like letting go

Hold on, it gets better than you know


Dragged on a table in factory

Illegitimate place to be

In a packet in a lavatory

Die little baby screaming

Body screaming fucking bloody mess

Not an animal

It's an abortion

Body! I'm not animal

Mummy! I'm not an abortion

The fact that by the time Third Eye Blind hit the charts punk rock was safer than a Volvo in the slow lane didn't matter. Just because something becomes passé doesn't mean its archetypes vanish. Far from it. We don't have a WASP in today's White House or on today's Supreme Court, yet progressives still harp about a repressive WASP elite. Opposing malevolent, power-abusing WASPs has been a progressive staple since your great grandparents were in shortpants, so even though WASP elites have disappeared, today's progressives still recycle that archetype to define themselves as rebels. Because nothing says rebel like speaking truth to a long dead power. I've been known to take bold stands against the Minoans.

I don't follow today's rockers, but I bet anyone unfortunate enough to open Rolling Stone would still find anodyne bands being referred to as bad boys without the faintest whiff of irony. This is extra hilarious, considering that today's world is so callous and detached that short of doing a suicide bombing during the guitar solo, nothing can really be called shocking anymore. Possibly the only thing more headline-grabbing than strapping a bomb to your chest and detonating it in a crowded arena would be to grab the mic and announce that you don't think "The Wire" is the greatest TV show of all time.