Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deerhunter -- Little Kids

This song owns my brain...

This song has been on my tongue since I first heard it this spring. I whistle it. I hum it. I sing it while I walk around. It´s in my dreams.

And all this time, I never really knew what the words were... (it´s a pathological problem with me.)

Here they are:

Kids drinking gin on their front lawn
Little kids see that man walking down, the dirt road
These kids see this guy
And they think of him dressed in flames
Kids walk behind, slowly stalk, that old man

To get older still (x4)

These kids followed him in, into his shed
where he turns on the radio, and smokes a cig
these kids cover him in gasoline, and they strike a match

to get older still (repeat)

Holy Jesus.

I never knew the song was so evil. I love it even more now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

son and daughter

In Iceland, the last names of citizens are based upon their sex and the first names of their parents. My dad´s name is Dave, so if I was Icelandic, my name would be Herb Davidson. If I was a girl, my name would be Herb Davidsdottir -- and I´d be the gangliest, most awkward looking female on this island.

Because of this unique naming system, Icelanders are listed by first name in the phone book.

Anyways, since I always love a good word game (when I was a teenager, I said I wanted to name my kid Nads, so I could yell Go Nads when he was playing hockey. Also, I friend in college once suggested I change my last name to Eaverstinks, and I laughed for about three weeks straight) I decided if I was an Icelander, I´d name my kid Blackhole.

Then, 20-30 years down the road, he´d have a son and his last name would become Blackholeson -- and would pay homage to early-90s Soundgarden.

Here are some other names I would toy with:

The dottir part is a little more difficult.
All I could come up with was Paleblue, after the Carl Sagan book.

Let me know if you can come up with any others.

Friday, September 18, 2009

slingin lingo in blue lagoon

Herbiberous' Hood Dreams:

If seeing Egypt was my boyhood dream, then exploring Iceland is my manhood dream.

I got into Reykjavik at 6 a.m. Friday morning, after leaving Boston the previous night at 9:30. The flight was only four hours, but somehow the sun was coming up as we descended into Iceland. It was like we´d flown through some kind of invisible time distorters, like different zone-thingees or something, which pushed us ahead into the next day.

I didn´t sleep a wink -- and was actually asked by the guy sitting next to me to turn the music down (a little overzealous with headphones in my ears for the first time in three weeks) -- and got off the flight needing a toothbrush and a pillow. But that wasn´t going to happen.

Zombie-walking off the plane, I ran into a really cool chick from Germany, on her way home after living in Canada, and hitchhiked through the country for the past nine months, and ending up in a small town in Newfoundland, where she wound up becoming a local celebrity -- she could walk through town and wave to people, and they would all come up and talk to her because they never got tourists. In her week or two in Newfoundland, she said she didn´t pay for a ride, a meal or her eventual plane ticket to the states the whole time.

Get to the hostel and I can´t check in for hours. So no sleep for hours. Also, I find out that my debit card wont let me take out any money from the ATMs here, so I´m relying exclusively upon my VISA. (It´s Sunday morning and I still haven´t held one Icelandic Krona in my hand).

Anyways, I luckily walk past a bus heading to the Blue Lagoon, and figuring I´d rather wallow around in hot mineral water in the middle of a lava field than on a couch surrounded by laptop-enslaved hairy tourists, I jump aboard.

We drive off there and... oh my.

About 45 minutes out of Reykjavik, through this immense lava field that looks sort of like mint chocolate chip ice cream, the way the moss, with rock kicking out of it, sprawls out for miles, as far as you can see. The lava field, with the moss exploding like some oozing, out of control science experiment, like a gigantic tumbling sick green comforter, rolling and dipping and rising out to the horizon. The Oscar the Grouch, ninja turtle green is untouched and unspoiled even beside the road.

It´s through this foreign landscape that you walk after getting off the bus, down a high-walled pathway and into the building then the lagoon.

For those not familiar with the spot, it´s this gigantic thermal pool, almost like a small lake, filled with run-off water from a geothermal power station (so I´m told... and too lazy to look up.) If you know of my fondness for hot springs, then this really was a match made in heaven.

I stayed in the water for nearly 6 hours. By the end, my hands looked like they belonged to an old lady, crossed with a California raisin, who was very sick and had emphazima (I think that´s what it´s called... whatever my sister has. hahah!)

I lay there on my back floating, and look up at a jet overhead and for the first time in a long while, I think to myself I´d rather be here, where I am, than in that plane, heading off somewhere new.

Rain comes down. And then sun. And then rain again. Wind and then calm. The cold pulls steam off the lake so you can barely see three feet in front of you. The sun comes out and everything is clear and you can see the hills and bluffs on the horizon. The water is so full of minerals, you can´t see three inches below you. But blue. And there is this mucky white stuff that you put on your face that´s supposed to expoliate and cleanse the skin. So everyone is walking around looking like the Joker girls from the first Batman movie (you know what I´m talking about.) For my seedier friends, it was bukake day down there.

(Also, you are supposed to put conditioner in your hair. While the minerals are very good for your skin, they leave your hair dry and dull... 'Like a troll,' an Icelandic lady tells me.)

I made a friend from New York -- funny how I have to travel to Iceland to meet a New Yorker, after spending eight days there -- who was on her way home that afternoon and she convinced me to hit up the ´booo-faye´. I said, ´buffet?´

So we went to this swanky part of the facility where they were serving traditional Icelandic fare, which basically means fish, fish and more fish. And all raw.

You all know I´m no sushi lover, and the last time I touched a herring, I was stringing it on a downrigger on Great Slave Lake to catch some real fish, but there I was, half-dead from the pool, the other half dead from not sleeping, eating as much raw herring, salmon and mystery fish as I could stomach -- so obviously not too much. I grabbed a big scoopful of this mashed potato looking stuff, but put it to my lips and... fish. Also, I tried what I can only try to describe as a sort of mink whale eggs benny -- a piece of bacon wrapped around some cooked mink whale, in hollondaise sauce with a dip of caviar on top. It was probably the tastiest part of the buffet. That or the mystery meat soup. Or the bread with Icelandic butter. Or the skyr. No, definitely the skyr. More about that some other time.

On my way out of the restaurant, I walked right into a plate glass window, thinking it was a door. I was so tired, I wasn´t even pretending to be embarrassed.

I went right back into the pool, into the steam room, stood under the massaging waterfall and tried hard to leave, but each time I couldn´t. I couldn´t shake that I´d never float like that again in a place that looks like the moon.

Finally, with hands-a-shrivelled and smelling like a rotten egg, I heaved myself from the water and walked the shower off. Then there by my locker, was this crazy Chinese man who couldn´t get his locker open. He was butt-ass naked beside me, freaking me out, asking me how to open it, in frantic gestures of course, not language. A wrinkly, frustrated naked old man -- I believe this is what Seinfeld would call ´bad naked.´ I shrugged and showed him how it was supposed to work. But he hadn´t locked his properly, so now it wouldn´t open.

To make it worse, he had this growth on his shoulder, which I can best describe as like a testicle in apperance and as he hopped up and down or this way and that, his little shoulder ball would jiggle around.

I think that was probably the only thing that could have gotten me out of there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

slingin lingo in boston

Well, put the official fork in the official promotional tour.

With mayoral and city council elections pending in New York and Boston, all planned appearances were quashed, as not one candidate apparently had the stones to be associated publicly with someone who farts on Wall Street and spends an unhealthy amount of his time medidating on the importance and signficance of poop.

Even the Boston dadaist candidate, Swiffer Wetjet, (who says he is walking, not running, in this race) is shunning slinginlingo, claiming the poop posts are too coherent and laced with meaning.

It all came to a head when I showed up for a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman last week and upon arriving -- after hours of conjuring up and honing a couple of surely roof-crumblingly funny anecdotes -- finding out I had merely won a ticket to appear in the audience. I'd been bumped for some no name Matt Damon and some glorified zoo keeper named Jack Hanna.

More on that some another time.

So I was a somewhat broken man here in Boston, shattered by all the love lost. Also, as my inner currency exchanger has proved defective, love was not the only of life´s necessity I was losing -- my bank balance greeted me soberly, like a wet shower every morning.

With this in mind, I just kind of wandered around downtown my first day, following this little red and brick line in the sidewalk, trying my darnedest to keep my hands out of my back pocket. It turns out I was following the Freedom Trail, which outlines some of the major events and places that begat the American Revolution.

After taking a tour and reading up on the many placards, I have to say, the patriots in Boston in the 1760s were some breed of shit disturbers. I mean, no doubt, they were getting the old trombone up the wazzoo by the British, but I think they were just looking for a fight -- and a way for burgeoning capatilists like John Hancock to make some more loot.

In short, these guys were great propagandists. Consider the Boston Massacre.

Massacre means "to kill in considerable numbers where much resistance can not be made; to kill with indiscriminate violence, without necessity, and contrary to the usages of nations; to butcher; to slaughter - limited to the killing of human beings." In short, it´s got to be profuse, inhumane carnage -- like a Toronto Blue Jays season.

Well, tempers erupted outside the Old State House one night and folks, in all, the British killed 5 townspeople, and that my friends, is what they call the Boston Massacre... the British fired after they were surrounded, pelted with rocks and other objects, and taunted by angry mobs.

Hmmmm... massacre is like beauty, I suppose -- in the eye of the beholder.


The front tooth I chipped before leaving Yellowknife is now black. I look 10 IQ points slower and I´m sure my earning capacity has dropped by about $10,000 a year now.


In Canadian universities, our varsity sports teams typically include basketball, hockey, football and the like.

Well, I´m sure they practice these petty activities at Harvard and MIT, but they seemingly play second fiddle to sailing and rowing.

Yes, rowing.

I always thought that was kind of some passed era, stereotypical Ivy League pursuit.

On the train to Allston when I first arrived, there were teams of rowboats out on the Charles River. And then, walking back from downtown Wednesday night, there were teams upon teams, with guys in these long, rowboat-like seadoos, barking orders at them through plastic cones.

Just like the stereotype.


I stayed in the University part of town, between Boston University and Harvard.

Harvard is classy. It's pretty much bricktown. I walked past their football field, fenced off with this black gate. The stadium, like the gate, was obviously old and steeped with history, and the gate was all rusty, but even the rust had class and was distinguished and looked prestigious, next to the similarly coloured brick and leaves.

Boston University one gigantic strip mall of an institution. I tried to sneak into the hockey wing of the athletics department -- to search around for some signs of old Burles -- but they wouldn´t let me in because it was after hours.


I crushed my shoulders in the hostel. I refused to get into the bed because I was sure there were bedbugs in there, as I was up scratching like crazy my first night.

Remedy for the itching? Probably showering more -- although I did have a strange mark below my left armpit and left the last day with a swollen pinky finger, from what looked like a bedbug bite.

I crushed the shoulders by sleeping on my side, wrapped up only in the blanket. It was strange.


But not as strange as the conversation I had with a transgendered (lady? man?) person from Iran on the hostel steps one night, late.

She(?) was in Boston -- or Cambridge, I suppose -- for an entrance interview with Harvard.

She was super smart and we had a nice conversation about many things, including her telling me about her choice to attend Harvard because she(?) thought Massachuesetts was one of the more tolerant places for gay people and about how she hated being controlled and having to dress in the burka and how odd it felt to cover her body all the time, but kept dropping these sex bombs on me and trying to gauge a reaction.

Like when these three Bulgarian chicks get dropped off by these two douchebag Bostonians, and they all hug each other and the guys are obviously choked that they won´t be getting any, but try not to show it, but they hug them a little longer than is normal, hoping the girls will change their minds... but they don´t.

The whole time the person I´m chatting with is talking about what she would do with one of the girls.

I think I may have blushed.


Boston is so quiet and peaceful after the eight days in New York.


People here are so gaga over their sports teams in this city and the suburbs, it's scary. Every store sells some sort of bootlegged Red Sox or Patriots merchandise.


Americans use a whole hell of a lot of styrofoam. Coffee cups, soda cups, the whole nine.


I´ve crapped in more McDonalds the past two weeks than I ate in in the two years previous.


Writing this from a foreign keyboard in Reykjavik -- where I have decided to forego the bike and find another way...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


A few notes on conditioning:

One of the biggest differences between us and the US is the accessibility of recycling receptacles in both countries.

Here is a quote I found from comedian Jimmy Carr: "Environmentalism is, of course, the new religion. Recycling is the new praying -- it makes you feel better but doesn't make any difference -- and becoming carbon neutral is like paying the church for a plenary indulgence in the Middle Ages. If you don't think that environmentalism is a religion, try telling someone you don't believe in global warming: they go mental."

Now I don't necessarily agree with the recycling means nothing statement, but back home, recycling is like a religion. If you are seen throwing an aluminium can into a garbage bin on the street, you are persecuted by mobs of granola-eating, hemp-wearing, three-R abiding citizens. I've actually seen someone burned at a stake because they chucked a carton of beer bottles out at the landfill and they didn't cut-up one of those six-pack holders that birds apparently choke on. (Okay, no I didn't, but you get my point right.)

But in the cities I've visited so far, I have been thoroughly unable to find recycling bins. I've walked the streets with plastic bottles so long they eventually take the shape of my hands, searching for a blue or green bin. But nothing. So, reluctantly, and very discretely, I dispose of them in garbage bins. And to further the religion analogy, I feel guilty afterward, like I've committed a sin or crime.

Now is that because I've been so completely conditioned in Canada? Or because it's just an immoral thing to do? I mean, one bottle, in the scheme of things, won't make a difference right?

(Note: I'm also devising a theory on determining how progressive and liberal states in the US are by how many readily-available recycle bins are on the streets of its cities.)


I'm a guy who needs a distraction to fall asleep. I've had a TV in my room since I was pre-pubed and in latter years, I've dozed off to music via iPod, or to movies on my laptop.

On this trip, I am without any of these sleep aides, and have thusly had some terribly troubling times venturing off to lala land.

So I've created some games:

I've tried to remember all the different street names on the Monopoly board. Pacific Ave. (one of the green ones) eluded me for like three nights. It actually bothered me. I'm still one railroad short. There's BO, Short Line, Reading and....?

I've tried to remember all the hostels I stayed at, in what cities, and what their names were.

I tried to think back and name all the girls I've kissed in my life -- that game is always over pretty quickly.


Being without tunes, when they are typically my constant companion, has been tough. I've begun very quietly singing them when I'm not near anyone on the street. It's getting a little weird.

At this library, I've been able to listen to some of the songs that have tormented me. It's so nice that I think I soiled my pantaloon -- in a Harvard library.

And that bit of classiness is hopefully why you keep coming back.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

slingin lingo in manhattan

Keegs, if that whole accounting thing falls through, have I got a job for you.

I was walking through Little Italy Saturday, during the San Gennaro Feast, which runs along Mulberry Street for about six or eight blocks over ten days in September. There are food vendors running along both sides of the street, selling all sorts of Italian delicacies: meatballs, sodas, espressos, smoked meats, even clams and lobsters.

At the end of the street, I happened upon a 'Dunk the Clown' game, run by the Bozo Brothers. It's pretty much your standard dunk talk, except the clown on the seat is like an evil, insult comic clown. When I arrived, he was laughing into the microphone and demeaning the hell out of this short, grey-haired guy.

"Hey, what do you want to be when you grow up? Five-feet tall," the clown said in his Danny DeVito voice, before giving his scratchy, demented, DeVito-esque laugh.

He puts on the Lollipop Kids song from Wizard of Oz to further humiliate this man.

"Come on, ya mental midget, ya," he says and laughs.

The guy misses his five shots and takes off, while the clown wails away.

Being a baseball player, I immediately reached for the bill in my pocket, but before walking up, I waited to see if anyone else would try their hand. Also, as there were nearly 50 people gathered around the booth, laughing as the clown heckled passer-bys, I was kind of reluctant because when I went up, I'd be the centre of attention and the receptacle for his words. I racked my brain for what he would insult me about and centred on maybe skinniness, or my nose.

Well, I hand in the cash and immediately I hear...

"Oh, look at this guy. Look at the size of that nose..."

I start laughing.

"Hey, why don't you roll the ball off your nose. We'll call it a slider. Mwhahahahaha."

I throw my first ball, it sails about four feet above the target. As does the next. And the next. And the next.

The clown is in my head.

"Hey pal, where'd you get that shirt? You make it out of a table cloth? This ain"t the great depression. Mwahahahah."

I start taking a little off, and put some right beside the target. But still nothing.

He keeps up with the nose jokes.

Finally, I hit the target, but he doesn't dunk, since the ball hit a piece of the adjacent tarp beside the steel before and it took some speed off and didn't hit directly. The crowd starts to yell.

"Hey, did he hit it? Did you get it, pal? Do you feel cheated?"

I nod.

"Well now you know how your parents felt Mwahahaha."


I didn't manage to dunk him in ten shots.

Luckily, some guy went up while I was throwing and hit it and he fell in.
("Hey chubby, you'll only get lucky once in life. Too bad you're wastin' it on a clown. Mwahahahah.")

So I took a quantum of solace.


I walked down Wall Street Friday. The night before, I joked that I wanted to bring a bag of tomatoes and throw one at each of the thousand-dollar suit wearers, for their ineptitude, which led to the swindling away of all that bailout cash. (A friend I met from Cleveland responded that these guys would probably catch the tomatoes and bring them home to make soup with them, these days.) I thought about marching down the street with a clothespin on my nose at least, in protest. But my foot was too sore to go searching for a clothespin on Wall Street. I wanted to find that Market Bull that is always displayed with pride about the spirit of Wall Street and then break some tea cups around it or later photoshop a China Shop into the shot to portary the recklessness they showed with our money, but I couldn't find the bull. So instead, I meekly walked the strip, stopping only to take a shot of two police guys armed with assault rifles on the steps of Federal Hill. (Oh yeah, when one particularly smarmy guy was about to walk past me, I let a silent one go. What else would you expect?)


On Thursday night, me and a friend visited a Columbia University party, where I was told -- for the first time in my life -- I was old. I was further likened to one of the two old Muppet guys in the balcony, who levels wisecracks upon the general populace.

I did feel old there, to tell you the truth. And poor. And ugly. Christ, the girls walking around that spot were unexplainably, incredulously gorgeous. Like genetic freaks, down to the perfectly placed mole. And all the guys there looked like Jonas Bros. And probably were nearly as loaded. And I began imagining that they each had a sailboat out somewhere in Mass., where they were taking all these broads to, and there was gate you had to get through, where commoners like me would either be working at, or turned away from. (One kid was wearing like a tailored suit with croc shoes. He didn't look older than 19 -- although I'll guess he was 21, what with the drinking age and all. Either way, I don't think I wore a suit until Cheryl got married two summers ago.)

These Columbia kids are going to make some cybernetically good looking offspring.


New York has to be home to the most beautiful women on the planet (East Village especially). New York or London, actually.

Naturally, I'm wearing my shades a lot.


Times Square is blah. I don't understand the appeal of the place. I think the warm-up comic at the Late Show put it best when he said there is this great city here and then someone decided to plop Orlando down in the middle of it.

Really, Times Square is just an explosion and magnification of all the brand name, big chain store crap that you can find anywhere in the world. It's just bigger and flashier. And the only reason it's an attraction, I guess, is because lots of people go there -- like moths with wallets to a flame.


I checked out Ground Zero on Friday, Sept. 11, amid a day-long downpour and heavy winds, perhaps fitting considering the tone of the day. The whole area is fenced off, with about a 10 foot tall banner outlining the work to be done on the new structures replacing the Twin Towers. I couldn't really get a scope of how big the buildings were, although the fenced-off area was immense.

A line of police officers stood on the West side of the area, as hundreds of 9/11 conspiracy people shouted obsenities about government, suggested it was an inside job and handed out pamphlets calling for an investigation. I've watched some of the movies on the internet and, considering the whole JFK assassination, I do think the US is possible of anything. But it just seemed a little insensitive, with all the firefighters and police and family members walking past to honour their loved ones. Or perhaps, it was exactly the opposite, and the right thing to do -- to honour those who died that day with a proper and thorough investigation that leaves no doubt as to what happened and who is to blame for the attacks. That's probably right, but it was just a little unsettling being down there around it.

Even more insensitive though was what I witnessed in St. Paul's Cathedral. Located across the street from where the World Trade Center towers stood Sept. 10, 2001, it was a haven for emergency workers during the rescue and relief efforts. On Friday, it opened its doors to the public, holidng day-long ceremonies for those who died in the attacks. The church displayed many of the flags and shows of support it had received following 9/11 and I found it incredibly moving -- especially accompanied by melodramatic violin and piano music. (I was kind of a sap on Friday.)

But as I made my way from display to display, I found myself partially disgusted with people being led around by their camera lens, feet away from a person being blessed by a pastor, or standing in front of a display of pictures of people who passed away, snapping away photos -- while a man who obviously had seen a picture of a loved one, was stuck beside a pillar, behind the flashing throng, trying to hold back tears. I looked around and nearly half of the people visiting the church, were either manically taking a picture or posing for one.

It got me thinking why we take so many pictures. I mean, really. Why do we stand in front of the Brooklyn Bridge say, or in Times Square, pose and then walk away? Is it because we want to record memories of the places we've been? Well, I'd argue that the more obsessive the picture taking is, the less actual synthesis and processing the brain is doing over what exactly it is looking at and there is actually very little thinking about what it all actually means. Standing in front of object after object, waiting for the flash to go off and then moving to the next item, the situation, the attraction, is meaningless and there is nothing but the act of the picture-taking to remember. Basically, the photograph is all that there is to the memory -- it's a two-dimensional representation of a two-dimensional moment. "I was there. See." I'm sure there were recreational photographers around, and I appreciate that. But a lot of it just seems trivial and goofy. It's like emptily capturing another landmark and then another and another, with the camera.

I don't know. It was just a weird moment and it didn't feel very appropriate, like people greedily capturing other peoples' grief. I'm not talking about all people here, but there are some who just pose and then move a couple feet and pose and then mark it off the checklist almost and move on. (If I sound a little cynical or hoity toity, let me just explain that I've just finished The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test -- the book, not the test. It's surely a perspective altering book. I definitely recommend you read it.)


I should probably knock on wood right now, but the New York I imagined is far from what it is. It's not the dangerous, don't walk around at night, constant hustle city I had pictured. In fact, I've not once felt uncomfortable in the subway or on the streets at night, regardless of whether I'm in Harlem or Manhattan or Brooklyn. It's definitely not the NYC in Serpico.


I've had to book it from hostel to hostel every morning, because I did little advanced planning and each time I find the new one, it's like a small victory. This morning as I was walking through the East Village, a cab honked as it approached an intersection people were walking through, which he had the right-away. As the car passed through it, an old man in a raincoat and a newspaper runs to the side of the road and yells "HONNNNNNKKKK!!!" right up as the cab cruises past.

Then he walks into a bank.


You would not believe the love still being heaped upon Michael Jackson from some in Harlem. His likeness is painted into a block of sidewalk outside the Apollo Theater -- like a Star in Hollywood -- panhandlers play his music on saxophones and pianos in the subway or along the street and there is even a temple (of junk) set up near one of the hostels I stayed at on Lenox, under constant watch by some guy.


I only saw rats once in New York, on a walk home late Thursday night, Friday morning. Saw five of them run into a hardware shop, freaked out. They were pretty small.


There is nothing I love more when visiting a city than mastering the subway system and, when someone asks how to get to such-and-such place, you can actually help them. It's kind of like the graduating from pre-school of city exploring.


I went back to Central Park to watch baseball Sunday (with a pounding head after a very, very late Saturday night). While I thought the games earlier in the week were particularly intense, it turns out they all are, and I watched a league championship series best of five. It was just as silly.

Even better were the pick-up slo-pitch games being played on adjacent fields. (Nice New York analogy, the place is so crowded and resourceful that they have four diamonds on the same field, with the infields on all four corners. With three games being played at once, the outfielders set up in the fields of the other diamonds and stand there with their backs to the other games.) One guy, a catcher on this brutal team that could barely catch the ball, was SO LOUD! For anyone who watches Yk fastball, he was like a bigger, blacker version of Sub Arctic's catcher, Johnny. He'd yell things out during this horribly unskilled slo-pitch game with a 'TONIGHT WE DIE FOR SPAAARRRRTAAAAA!" intensity.

"INFIELD, LOOK AT ME FOR THE FORCE!!!!" -- with the bases loaded at some point.
"...AND WE ROLL BOYS!!!" -- after scoring a run.
"YES GENTLEMEN" -- after scoring a run.

I was crying. Seriously. Imagine these guys falling all over the place, dropping balls, striking out at slo-pitches, and this guy yelling with such intensity. Beautiful.

And the funny part, in Yellowknife, we make fun of everything. Everything. This guy would have been laughed out of the park. But here? This intensity is the norm. It's bizarre.

And note to self (and others): next time you're in NYC during the summer, bring a ball glove, because they have pick-up games in the park all day long. As my hang-over wore off, I became more and more inclined to jump in.


I spent five nights in Harlem, with most of them just of Lenox Ave. I couldn't put my finger on where I had heard about Lenox, until I arrived in Boston.

Big 'mothafuckin' L.

Unfortunately, I never once ventured into the 'Dangerzone' -- no, not talking Kenny Loggins here people -- which I think was 139 st. and Lenox Ave.

Or as Big L said: "139 and Lenox is the Dangerzone/where we quick to put a bullet in a stranger's dome"

Maybe it's a good thing I never ventured that far North.


These musings were compiled over the week I spent in Manhattan.

I sit now in a makeshift internet cafe in Boston, on another beautiful day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

slingin lingo in my dreams

Once again, my lack of planning seems to be coming back to bite me in the ass.

I'll be flying into Iceland on Thursday night, getting in Friday morning, and hope to see the country by driving around the ring road that pretty much runs along its coast. The hitch though is that renting -- or 'hiring' as the Brits say -- a car in Iceland can run up a small fortune. I spoke with a guy who has done a lot of biking today and he suggested I buy a cheap bike and do the tour by pedal. And I think it's a great idea.


1. I'm definitely not in peak physical condition and 1,339km worth of biking could be a lot to ask.

2. I'm only in Iceland for 14 days, so if you average it out, that's 100km a day. Errrggg....

3. I'm going to meet a friend in Akureyri in the North and hang out for a day or two for some hiking, so there's a day or two to scratch to jack up the daily average.

4. I wanted to hit up some hot springs and relax and I hear the party scene in Reykjavik is pretty stellar, so I wouldn't mind chilling there for a couple days to explore.

So that means I'd probably be on the bike for nine or 10 days -- meaning about 130-140km per day. That seems hefty.

But what better way to see a country. To just be able to stop and camp anywhere I feel, by waterfalls or geysers or volcanoes or at hot springs. And it would be CHEAP -- like the budgie.

I wish I would have planned this out a little better and maybe given myself another week.

Anyhow, let me know what you think. You all know me and can talk me out of -- or further into -- this delusion.


Friday, September 11, 2009

jungin limbo

The tap of stories from Jung's Asian Saga has temporarily run dry, but fret not my friends, the man has provided us with an update of his latest meanderings.

Let's just say, we may need to explain the true meaning of charitable work to Mr. Jung.



Well folks,

Believe it or not, at one point I actually had a job which paid me enough money to galavant around the globe without a care in the world. Alas, nowadays with the economy fucked the fuck up I find myself drinking cheap beer and lamenting about the good old days.

For the last 2 years I've been employed as a wellsite geologist working on an oil well drilling rig. I have been in charge of evaluating reservoir potential amongst other things all the while keeping up to date on the latest happenings in the world of porn via playboy tv.

So with the economy in the shitter and my boss informing me "well, I've got some bad news, EnCana has basically cut you the fuck out the picture" I decided to buy a motorbike and ride around like I don't got a care in the world.

With the purchase of a $900 motorcycle (understand I'm not the type that buys a ducati first time out, no shots to P) comes its fair share of problems and I've been sifting through the manual and trying to pinpoint a plethora of problems that seem to be popping up with reckless abandon.

So my roommate talked me into going to a charity ride to benefit some kids foundation where they give money to kids whose parents never got the "use a condom" memo in high school. The premise was simple, poker. You buy a "hand" and at each stop you get a card. Best hand wins.

Long story short, I got five fuckin kings and made off with a cool $1000. Don't hate me, hate the money I see.

Now, back in the money I decided to go to Vancouver with my good buddies Blacked Out.


They were playing a couple shows in Van and needed a roadie/beerfueled idiot. So, my winning ways continued when I won the 50/50 draw at the bowling alley they played at (I never said they were signed or anything). I made off with a cool $150 and proceeded to buy beer and chicken wangs with the proceeds.

The night ended at a middle eastern food joint. Of course, I only pieced that together from the curry that was literally applied to my shirt with a trowel.

Once back in Calgary, I went to Safeway to buy one of those whole bbq chickens that are absolute shit but when you smoke pot like Ricky from trailer park boys, sometimes stuffing a day old chicken into your shit talker is all you can muster. I almost walked out without that stupid breakopen card they give you.

Of course, somehow I managed to win on that too. I won a pen, which is actually nice enough to go in my laptop bag for whenever I do go back to work (read 2011).

So there it is, I won money and goods on three different occasions in a matter of one week. I never win shit. I think I'm gonna buy me a lotto ticket today.

Its kinda funny, I went from making upwards of 20K a month to making 0. Now, I win a bit of money and I'm convinced the recession is over.

slingin lingo in staten island

Okay, not technically 'in' but more like 'on the ferry to/from'.

Oh, my poor dogs. My blistering blisty under my second big toe (the one that looks like ET) is causing me nothing but anguish, as I walk with a gangster limp down NYC streets in an attempt to quell the pain that shoots up my leg every time my left foot comes down on pavement.

Took the ferry to the final burough I'd yet to visit so far on the trip: Staten Island aka birth place of the Wu Tang Clan.

Now like I mentioned earlier, I didn't get off and spend any time on Staten Island, because again, my foot was giving me grief. But I made sure to take advantage of the free ride on the Hudson to scope out the Manhattan shoreline and the Maid of the Mist herself, the Statue of Liberty.

I've seen quite a few of these types of landmarks in my days and most of the time, once they come into sight, I kind of stand there for a few seconds, think about the type of work that went into designing and then constructing the structure and then shrug my shoulders, snap a shot and take off to a pub.

However, with the green lady, it was different. I don't know if it was all the 9/11 tributes or visiting Ground Zero earlier that day and the fact that the Statue has been such a powerful and prevelant symbol of liberty and freedom, hammered into my cranium for the entire duration of my life or if looking at it from the middle of the Hudson River, away from the towering buildings that act like horse-blinders for consumers, finally allowed myself to place where I was -- in New York City. But I definitely felt moved by the statue -- moved how? I'm not sure -- and its glowing torch, as we slowly approached and it grew larger out of the mist, and then as we passed and it faded into the rain until it was just a silhouette, slightly darker than the Newark and Manhattan skylines, with white-capped waves whipped up by the gusting winds thrashing the sides of the ferry.


Waiting to get off the ferry and back to Manhattan, I stood behind this man in his forties who was waxing poetic about old school hip-hop, with no one around him.

"See back then we didn't have no 50 Cent, no Jay-Z, none of that shit," he says. "We had Bizzy B and Kool Mo Dee."

And then he starts to just start singing hooks.

"Youuuuu... got what I nee-eeeeeeed..."

"I know y'all know the words." No one acknowledges the man with the Everlast chinstrap.

"I got sunshi-i-ine... on a cloudy day."

Again no one even looks. I walk about 200 metres before heading down to the subway where I bump into him again, still singing. Still no one cares.

Come to think of it, travelling without the iPod, I've had a hankering more than once to hear an old song, especially as an avenue name or street sign conjures up a lyric from the countless New York records I've listened to and the song just floats around in my head and I'm humming like mad for the rest of the day.

And since I'm not crazy enough yet to start singing them, I'll list the top five I've had pestering me here in New York.

1. Any song off the last two Deerhunter albums. Particularly 'Little Kids' and 'Rainwater Cassette Exchange.'
2. What they may Seem - Talib Kweli and Tony Touch
3. Nutmeg - Ghostface Killah
4. #9 Dream - John Lennon
5. Definition - Black Star

Thursday, September 10, 2009

proposing the host-soul test

I propose a new test, to run along side the 'did that person torture small animals as a child' question when potential serial killers are looked at?

What do you do when you enter a hostel room at 2 a.m. with the lights out and people are sleeping? (And I don't care what state of sobriety you are in)

Normal person: Tip-toe in as quietly as possible, making as little noise as you can, to try not to awake or disrupt fellow travellers.

Compassionless could-be serial killers: Turn lights on, complain that it stinks in the room and turn on the A/C, walk around in high-heel shoes and start packing. (Extra Ted Bundy points if the person has the audacity to bitch that others could be annoyed by their actions.)

(Note: I write because this happened last night.)

I believe this test would be just as helpful as any other in targetting pyschopaths because it demonstrates a person's complete lack of thought for others.

I feel better.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

slingin lingo in central park

Central Park pretty much defies logic.

One minute, you find yourself surrounded by buzzing and seething, flash-producing humanity in Times Square, where sounds of cars honking and jack-hammers drilling and subways rumbling floods your ears and smells of car exhaust, horseshit, pizza and any other food you can imagine invades your nostrils... and then, just blocks from the madness, with each step into the park, under the giant oak trees, the sounds slowly dissipate and then all you really hear is ducks and laughing and birds tweeting and wind through the leaves and you smell the sweet smell of grass.

We wandered for a bit, after wandering aimlessly through the city for hours -- where my blisters started getting blisters -- and came across a strangely competitive quasi-fastball game. Now since I set out on this trip, I've seen a Cubs game in Wrigley, a Yankees game in the Bronx and a Sox game at U.S. Cellular in the South Side of Chicago. The semi-final fastball game I watched in Central Park, between two dueling teams of "musicians, artists and wannabe artists" -- as one player told me -- was the most intense and entertaining game I've been privvy to so far.

We showed up in the bottom of the fifth inning and immediately, I was struck by how serious these guys were taking the game. Spectators in wife-beaters, and with 'mysterious' drinks in brown paper bags, were hassling the ump, telling him with whom and how to fornicate, and the ump, smiling, gave it right back. Old-timers with big guts and five-oclock shadows busted players balls and opposing players were yelling obsenities at the batters, guys would get right up into their teammates faces if they made a mistake, and there was a lot of congratulatory yelling every time an out was made.

My two favourite players were... oh shit, I can't remember his name -- number 30 -- but he played second base and had all the hand signals, swagger and chatter of a big leaguer. He was in the Jimmy Rollins/Orlando Hudson mold. He also backed his mouth up with his game, making beauty play after beauty play at second base.

The game consisted of a pitcher slinging (not a windmill pitch, but slung underhand) a softball-sized rubber-coated ball, in front of a 10-man field, with no outfield fence.

The greatest player in the game was a guy named Jimmy Meyers. He was straight out of the movies. Big, fat, balding Italian guy, who pitched for the eventual winning team and got so worked up over a mistake that he'd swear and throw down his hat. (Think Tony Soprano, but taller).

With his team up and needing just one out in the bottom of the seventh, he turns around, hefts the ball in the air and yells at his team at the top of his lungs in his New Jersey accent "Who eva gets this ball, free rounds! Free rounds! Free rounds!"

The rest of the guys go: "ah sheeet. Better get outta my way."

They get the out, a pop-up to short, and the guys go CRAZY, mobbing Jimmy Meyers on the mound.

The ump comes over and tells us this team will get killed in the finals. He then says he umps 35 games a week and was the ump that threw DeNiro out at home plate in the movie 'Righteous Kill.'

"Now there's a nice guy," he says of DeNiro.

Yeah, the Park is awesome and I think I'll rent a row boat before I leave and just sit in it, float around and read all day.

One other thing I noticed about the park though. There were like hundreds and hundreds of latina or black nannies pushing around little rich white kids all over the park.

Better get going. Heading to a Mets game tonight (found a $90 ticket for under $30).

And tune into Letterman tomorrow night, herbiberous has been contacted and will be appearing at the Ed Sullivan Theatre to talk some slinginlingo.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

slingin lingo in harlem

Everyone bitches about their job.

At least once a week at the paper, I'd go for lunch with fellow reporters or other people involved with the publication and we'd vent about what we thought about this and that and the other thing.

Working for a tour company, I'd have coffee every morning with a friend before work and we'd wonder what kind of goofiness they'd ask us to do that day and bitch about how we were not getting enough hours.

At an airline I worked at, I'd invite in a co-worker, shut the door in my office and we'd talk about all the manic and maniac people who were completely intolerable, but surrounded us all day.

In NYC, two drug pushers get on the subway downtown together and talk all the way to the Bronx about how their boss doesn't respect them and doesn't see all the hard work they do.
"Everyone want that position, but ain't nobody gonna get it."

They talk about how they do their job and how they don't say hey to people they don't know even if the other person says what's up and that's not disrespect, it's just the way it is.
"You know, I joked around with Dimitri, but..."

They bitch about their co-workers and how little they do.
"You know, he tell me he's gonna go get some ass. And that's cool. But it's all the time, man. He hates doin' his job."

And I sit there, while these two men in their forties go back and forth, talking about how hard they are and about scratching out a living in a world colder and crueler than I could probably ever imagine. And yet I nod, because I can relate.


Got into NYC today after an 18 hour bus ride from Chicago. Tired. Found my way to the hostel in Harlem. Sunday. Church day. All sorts of noises from all religious denominations. Muslims. Jews. The Haitian church across the street has been blaring music all day. Men in what I can only describe as martian uniforms walking around. Women and men dressed right up with kids in ties.

Every store sells t-shirts.

Internet time dwindling.

Check ya later

slingin lingo in chicago

Holy hiatus, Batman.

A little disclaimer before I begin: this here lingo is not being slung from Chicago as the title of the post suggests, but instead from a basement hostel in Harlem.

And now to begin.

So to take advantage of the recent blog traffic -- perhaps slightly inflated by the visitors who stop by to peep the Megan Fox shots -- slinginlingo is currently undertaking a late summer promotional tour, which started a week ago when yours truly hopped on a flight to Chi-Town. Over the next month and perhaps longer, I'll sell some SL merch and just generally bask in the glory and adulation of fans of the blog.

And I had a lot of dignitaries and VIP lined up for this tour. I had set up a drive thru of Chicago by the Mayor himself with his own personal autocade, followed by a brief address to our adoring readers in Millenium Park and a key to the city presentation. I was humbled to say the least. I hatched and rehatched my speech on the flight, fine-tuning it with puns the masses have come to love, and underlining or highlighting important words deserving of inflection. I took it all quite seriously.

However, the mayor never arrived and when his cavalry did, they did not believe I was who I claimed to be. Turns out, a minor blunder the Saturday before I left Yellowknife, deflated the tour -- the kid chipped his front tooth -- and holding up a picture next to me, the Mayor's chief of staff did not believe my mug belonged to herbiberous. Instead, they grabbed some kid who was getting off a flight from Tel Aviv. So it goes.

So it was up to me to hook up somewhere to stay. Embittered and battered, I crumpled up my speech, tossed it in the garbage and looked to just enjoy myself and forget about slinginlingo, the cause of such embarrassment.

Through a divine act, my hastily scribbled directions to a downtown hostile proved nearly perfect and after a three-minute walk from the 'L' I was laying on my bed.

I wandered around that night, soaking in the city and then made it my mission the next to see a Cubs game. I picked up a ticket in the bleachers and, last Tuesday, I was officially a bleacher bum in Wrigley Field and had a grand ole' time -- although I had to leave during the seventh inning stretch, as they got a goofy former Cub to sing "take me out to the ballgame." -- that honour had been promised to me as part of the whirlwind tour.

The Cubs won! The Cubs won! I met some folks -- a slew of old ladies and a couple young ones -- at the game and we took the party from the crazy bleachers to the crazier streets surrounding Wrigley. Basically, each corner around the stadium is just piled with bars, which keep getting seedier and cheaper, the further away you get, like four streets deep. There were people dancing and making out to songs popular in the mid-1990s on the dancefloor, so I felt like I was back at the Monkey Tree.

Brief aside: Americans don't dance, they fuck with their clothes on. I went to a party on Friday and I saw couples dancing for like a half hour and they hadn't even looked at each other. I could see a girl leave and imagine her coming back to the guy and him not recognizing her. Then she'd turn away and he'd see her backside and say "ohh snap!" and run after her, seeing it was the booty he'd been rubbing away on for thirty minutes. There was one couple where the guy literally had the girl bent over with her hands on the floor. As a man who knows a thing or two about the dry-humppety-hump -- I'm not nicknamed 'DH' on the slo-pitch team for nothing -- I thought I'd step in and let this young man know some of the side effects of that sort of intense dry rubbin'. But experience is the best teacher. I'm sure there were a lot of folks with swollen members walking around Saturday.

Anyways, we kept the party going to downtown, where I left those I was with and proceeded to aimlessly hop from jazz bar (jazz is dead btw. The bar had four white guys all wearing horn-rimmed glasses playing to a room full of white-haired white people, with their tour bus idling outside. When a creative artform is institutionalized, it dies. Or it was just a shitty club.) to duelling piano bar (a new level of hell) to whole in the wall dive to Billy Goat Tavern underneath the Tribune Building. It's a sweet place and over the course of four days, I became a regular. The tavern is adorned with the by-lines of all these old reporters and it has some damn delicious burgers -- although if you order a single cheezeborger, the man behind the counter nearly cries and pouts and tells you the double cheezeborgers are the best.

Saw many a site. Don't want to bore you with goofy details. Saw a White Sox game and had to leave during the opening pitch, as again, that was supposed to be me throwing it out. Apparently, the Chicago Blackhawks were more important.

I'm at a loss for a paragraph to tie all this together now. With the promotional tour all-but-obliterated, I really am aimlessly travelling and I find when I'm out on the street walking around, I really don't have any important destination I'm seeking. I've stumbled upon some good times and some healthy shenanigans, but at the same time, I feel there is a lot I'm not seeing. I'll try to elaborate at a later time. This common room is suffocating with people and sound and I'm sweaty.

Maybe when I have a sane second, I'll think of something more revealing about Chicago.

Brief aside: I never realized to what degree technology has completely taken us over. I'm going without my cell phone, iPod and laptop and walking the streets of Chi, I swear, a good 60 per cent were immersed in conversations or texting away as they went from place to place. And even in the hostels, EVERYONE travels with a laptop now. Just five years ago, I made fun of a girl who was backpacking Europe with a laptop. It didn't seem to me like she was roughing it. Now, I feel as if I'm lacking something very important.