Friday, June 26, 2009

Why can't they dance like we did, what's wrong with Sammy Kaye?

I'm not a huge fan of kids. I have no use for anybody under 18. Don't get me wrong - I'm not in love with the middle-aged or elderly either. Frankly, I have little use for my contemporaries. Honestly, I don't like anybody, but it's kids I like least of all. I know I'm not the first person to string these words together, but what's wrong with kids these days? It seems that all of the kids I see at my job have a general attitude of “Fuck you, old man,” but I'm not sure what they're so angry about.

I work at the cinema, so I often have to deal with packs of douchebag teens. The other day, my friend Kevin and I were approached by a group of 12 year old girls. Their leader angrily shoved a bottle of water in Kevin's face and yelled “I paid $4.25 for this. Do you have anything to say about this?” Kevin replied “Oh, that's not water. It's unicorn tears.” When she told him that unicorns don't cry, he said “They do when you lock them up.” In addition to being the funniest thing Kevin is ever going to say, this exchange hopefully taught this girl that adults are probably smarter than she is.

My hatred for the young is far from a new development. I couldn't stand kids even when I was one. This came as a result of switching school districts between second and third grade. All the kids in my classes had already made their friends and weren't looking for new ones. They were all dicks, even back then. Maybe I had it coming - I can't remember if I had turned into such a huge asshole myself yet - but that helped kick off a lifetime of misanthropy. I didn't make a single friend until the fifth grade, and by that time I had developed the fool-proof strategy of pulling my last few baby teeth out during class just to get sent to the nurse's office, which had the unintentional benefit of making all my teeth grow back at about the same time, so they're fairly straight.

As a 24 year old crotchety old man, I find myself constantly disgusted with everything young people do. I hate the way they dress. The girls all wear bags from American Apparel and the guys all wear super tight purple jeans and neckerchiefs. Seriously, I'm angry about neckerchiefs. I took an informal poll of all the gay guys I know, and apparently neckerchiefs were declared too gay for the gay community. I don't understand the statement that these clothes are supposed to make. All it really says to me is, “We'll buy what you're selling us.” I don't think any generation before this one has so eagerly bought what they were told to buy. Then again, history is written less about the masses and more about those who defied the masses, so perhaps I just lack perspective.

My biggest fear, aside from snakes and losing my mind, is that I will grow to hate my progeny. The worst part about having kids is that no matter what you try to do, they're going to be young. You just can't stop it. I know there's no way to combat the shittiness of youth in my own child, but I know what I won't be doing, I sure as fuck won't be dressing them up in my favorite band's t-shirts. Every time I see a kid wearing a shirt that says “This Machine Kills Fascists” I want to ask him what it means, and if he's ever heard a Woody Guthrie song. I just saw a kid walk by wearing a shirt depicting the cover of Sandinista! by the Clash. There's no fucking way that kid knows what the Sandinistas were and he certainly doesn't understand the social impact of the Clash. I think it's really unfair to use your kids as a billboard to show the world that you're a cool dad. It's just as bad as living vicariously through their Little League success.

I hope that my kids will end up being productive members of society. I know that being a shitty, snot-nosed fuck is just part of growing up. Maybe some day I'll outgrow that stage myself. Really I just want my kids to grow up happy, but if my son wears a neckerchief at any point, I'll kill him and then myself.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Life as an apartment

I live in a small, messy, overpriced apartment. A studio, no less. I have a bathroom, a walk-through closet - as in you walk through the closet to get to the bathroom - and almost a kitchen. The almost a kitchen has a stove top, a sink, a mini-fridge and a microwave. Oh, and a Foreman Grill. My bed and my dining room table are less than three feet away from each other, and even closer to the study. On top of that, I share all of this with my wife and cat. It's a lot nicer than it sounds, and frankly I don't want it to change.

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I grew up in a nice house. Well, niceish. Looking back, my parents' house is a weird amalgam of things that should make a nice house, but they never really came together to make anything good. There's central air conditioning and a jacuzzi, a balcony and a basketball hoop, but things never really seem to fit. It's almost as if aliens looked at a book about houses and used their replicators to construct what ought to be the platonic ideal of a house. Everything seems nice, but with a strange veneer. I'm sure the fact that my mom is completely incapable of keeping anything nice plays a huge role in this.

As a kid, I was led to believe that the pinnacle of coolness was living in an apartment. I've always been attracted to city living. Everyone I saw growing up was either a townie loser or a retarded tourist. I wanted to go to where the tourists were leaving. That, combined with my love of Woody Allen, the New York Times and taking the subway, formed me as a city-dwelling-lefty-left-eggplant-eating-bleeding-heart-homo-liberal-douchebag. It naturally followed that if I were to live in the city, I would be living in an apartment. Nobody owns a home in the city, after all.

When I got to college, I lived in what could be considered a simulated urban environment, shoehorned into a small cow-town in rural Massachusetts. I got my first taste of real city living -- I lived in a dorm, which is an apartment with alcohol poisoning. I had my own money; everything I could ever want to do was minutes away. There was even a Taco Bell, which seemed exotic at the time. I took up smoking, which is something cool people do in the city. When I failed out of school, I had to move back in with my family. It was a horrible return to my old, boring life.

A series of unpleasant events provided me with the opportunity to once again move away from home, and this time for good. After living in a nice, big apartment with three other guys for a year, I got married. Before the wedding, my wife and I found a nice, decent-sized studio apartment in Hollywood. Now, I had always been led to believe that living in a studio was hip and glamorous. Every romantic comedy has the scene where the guy brings a girl back to his stylish, Pottery Barn apartment with the exposed beams in the ceiling and the pinball machine over by his wet bar. He lives here, alone, and pays for everything on the salary of a freelance reporter for a men's magazine. This is one of those Hollywood Lies you hear so much about. Not only does that apartment not exist, but I have yet to see a single apartment that's nearly as nice. You can imagine my shock to find that not only do apartments cost more money than you can make as a freelance anything, but they're usually run down and shitty. Oh, and your neighbors are all assholes. Who knew?

For all my complaining, I really like my apartment. I have all I ever really wanted - video games and a cat - all under one roof, with no dividing walls. I don't like the idea of owning a bunch of useless shit, just for the sake of owning it. I don't need a front yard, I don't need any kind of huge swimming pool, I don't even really need a car. I just need a place to live, with my wife and cat. I've found a lot of joy in a compact life. I've even learned to cook full dinners without an oven. Real food, even - not just Pop Tarts and scrambled eggs.

The only thing I can't really do in my apartment is raise kids. I'm pretty much okay with this, and my wife isn't too unhappy about it either. I'm certainly not opposed to having kids - Cindy, if you're reading this, don't freak out - but it's just not something I really need right now. I'm 24, I'm not exactly financially secure or even close to out of debt. As you may recall from last week, we barely pay our bills - the idea of forcing a baby to live like I do is unpleasant. Luckily(?) the chances of accidentally having a kid are fairly low for my wife and me. This may or may not be due to any or all of the following conditions that may or may not exist: malformed pelvic bone, low sperm count, shimmying ovary syndrome, delayed ejaculation, lazy uterus, and upside-down testiculitis. Odds are, we're going to be adopting – and that can wait until we at least have a couple of bedrooms.

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I guess having a nice apartment is a good thing. It can certainly become a trap, though. The idea of never having to change my life is enticing, especially for someone as terrified of change as I am. Maybe some day I'll inherit my parents' house, and I'll be able to put the work into it to make it feel like a real home. Then I'll adopt a dozen Chinese babies and my wife's mom will finally shut up.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Doheny, Cahuenga, La Brea Tar Pits

My mother has nothing that even remotely resembles a sense of humor. She doesn't understand subtlety, irony, timing or anything like that. She's just not funny. Frankly, it amazes me that I can string a joke together. To her credit, she recognized my love of hilarity and always got me joke books from the library. Sadly, she was my only audience, so the jokes were never laughed at. She didn't even have the decency to fake a laugh. I'm not sure she knows what a joke is.

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At or around age eight, I discovered the radio. Not like Marconi, but as a fantastic medium. The greater Barnstable area used to have many good radio stations, but they're all dead now. I'm not sure what 96.3 WRZE is anymore, but I'm sure it's the Cape and Islands' number one source for ranchero music or something. The best radio station of my lifetime was Rock 104.7, who played modern rock most of the time. Four hours of their week was devoted to the two things that shaped me most as a kid. From 9:00 to 11:00pm, they'd play a show called The Cheap Seats, which was devoted to giving local bands some radio play. This was instrumental to my development as an insufferable hipster fuck. After that came the Dr. Demento Show. This was, without a doubt, the single most important radio program of my life, with Loveline coming in a close second and Dan and Damon in the Morning failing to place.

For the uninitiated, the Dr. Demento Show is a two-hour syndicated radio show that plays all manner of weird, outsider, left of the dial type music, as well as comedy sketches and stand-up routines. Since the show was so late at night, listening felt like being a member of a super-secret club. The lessons I learned from the Good Doctor are many and varied.

Nothing hurts quite like a boot to the head

AKA: There are comedy groups not named Monty Python. Dear nerds, please shut the fuck up about Monty Python. You make me hate them. Please listen to anybody else. The Frantics, The Dead Alewives, Firesign Theatre. Please. All of these groups are really funny, but you insist on telling me about my dead parrot and how you'd like to eat something with very little spam in it. Please go jump off a cliff. Also, there are parody song writers not named Weird Al.

Intro to Dadaism for fifth graders

The most popular song in the history of the Dr. Demento Show was Pico and Sepulveda by Felix Figueroa and his Orchestra. It was requested so often that once a year, Dr. Demento would play it non-stop for two full hours, which I thought was about the ballsiest thing you could do on the radio. He also introduced me to weird music like Wild Man Fischer, Tiny Tim and of course, They're Coming to Take Me Away, by Napoleon XIV, which I would later learn was released as a single with the b-side being They're Coming to Take Me Away played backwards. It was an introduction to the bizarre and the truly awful.

Take my wife, please!

Another thing I learned about was stand-up comedy. Every week I would listen with a blank tape in my radio so I could record the stand-up segments, for the purpose of memorizing them later. I would stay up late mouthing along to old Henny Youngman and Woody Allen routines. My favorite tape had 20 minutes of George Carlin on one side and all of Who's On First? on the other. Finally, I had some jokes in my life.

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The first day of ninth grade, 104.7 changed its format to classic rock, effectively killing the Dr. Demento Show on Cape Cod. When I moved out to Los Angeles - the original home of the show - I was excited about finding a local affiliate to tune in every week. I found out, much to my chagrin, that the show has lost advertisers and as such, most of its funding. It plays on nine affiliates across the US and Canada, and not a single one in LA. The closest one to me is in Fort Bragg, CA. I have no idea where that is. The shows are available on his website for a nominal fee, and I managed to get one the other day. Some things weren't as funny as I remember - I'm looking at you Whimsical Will and your Demented News - but enjoyed the experience thoroughly. Unfortunately, this is an experience that few others will have in the near future. The show is still on the air, but the mics may be going cold by the end of the year. It saddens me to think that the man who gave me so much - Shaving Cream, the Dungeons and Dragons sketch, the dirty poems of Shel Silverstein - will be going off the air. My plan is to stockpile a bunch of his shows and hold on to them for my kids. Stay deeee-mented.