Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Pic of the day 2012: day 109

April 18th, 2012 No comments


An Unstoppable Force Meeting an Unmovable Object

August 10th, 2011 No comments

By now a large part of the global population has heard about the shooting of Mark Duggan by Police in Tottenham, London, England and the ensuing riots/looting/chaos. Not to restate the obvious, but the whole mess is tragic and unnecessary. I’ve always thought of London as a moderately calm city (despite giving us the literal Riot Act). Sure, there have been a few incidents over the past couple of decades, but things have been pretty good during this first part of the 21st Century.

Timing, it is said, is everything, and this current mess is no exception. While Tesco and JD shops are being looted by BlackBerry toting miscreants in hoodies and sweat pants (seriously, can’t we have some moderately fashionable riot wear?), the rest of England and a good chunk of the world is gearing up for the start of the English Premier League this coming weekend. Now, with a nation in turmoil, the next big news is whether or not the season will actually start on time. The friendly match between England and Holland that was slated to take place at Wembley as well as a couple of Carling Cup matches have been cancelled, and the Football League and the Premier League are frantically trying to figure out what to do in light of current safety concerns.

Here’s the thing, though: angry footballers could be a more formidable concern than the current looters.

Something tells me that we have the potential to see some of the worst nastiness surrounding hooliganism that hasn’t been seen since the 1980′s. This has the potential to get very very ugly, and all we can do is wait and see what happens.

Update (Friday 5:30AM CST)
Well, it looks like the general “go ahead” has been given and the EPL is going to take it one match at a time. What this probably means is that Queens Park Rangers will get to play their first EPL match since 1996 while Tottenham vs. Everton (at “epicentric” Tottenham) will probably be postponed until a later date. What is wild is that outlying communities such as West Bromwich, Liverpool, Birmingham and even Manchester are up in the air because the idiocy has seemingly spread to them to some degree. Here’s hoping to a relatively smooth weekend that doesn’t screw up the table too much.

Categories: England, footie, London, Places, soccer

Ahh Portlandia

June 17th, 2011 No comments

Because it is one of the most touted places in the United States for somone of my proclivities, I was elated when faced with the opportunity to flee the Texas heat last week and nestle into the cool green lushness of the Pacific Northwest.

What I knew about Portland was what I’d seen on television and heard from friends who absolutely swore by it: a hipster mecca full of vintage clothing stores, pinball machines, record stores and coffee shops. When Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s show Portlandia came along, my view was cemented.

Here’s the thing, though: Portlandia’s cliches and generalizations aren’t that far off base.

The reason for my trip was two-fold: attend the girlfriend’s mom’s wedding (that’s a mouthful) and to visit and spend some quality time with the girlfriend’s sister who is a bike messenger and musician in Portland (how awesome is that?).

After flying into the Portland airport (an interesting descent if you’ve never seen massive mountains) we met up with said sister, grabbed our rental car and started out on the highway to the Oregon coastal town of Manzanita where the wedding and activities were to take place.

Manzanita and surrounding townships were amazing. The locals were incredibly nice and the locally-sourced food was amazing. Love you some Tilamook cheese? We freakin’ drove through Tilamook! At an amazing dinner at the Rising Star Cafe in Wheeler, our newly befriended innkeeper told us where most of the veggies in our salads came from. I don’t mean “That arugula was probably grown near Nehalem,” but freakin’ “Those cucumbers were probably grown by Bob at the top of this hill.” Wow. Just wow.

On the coast we did touristy things. We drove into Seaside and played video games, pinball and skee ball at the giant arcade there, we drove past the incredible rocks off of Cannon Beach which are quite memorable from the movie Goonies and we made fires on the beach (in a roast marshmallows way, not a ‘set fire to everything’ way). Coastal Oregon was quaint and awesome. While everyone back in Dallas was melting into the pavement, I was wandering around in jeans and a sweatshirt.

After a few days on the coast we made our way back into the Rose City for some “real” Portland time.

My first impression? Portland drivers are freakin’ insane. It really didn’t help that I was given a Chevy tank as a rental car when I’m used to driving a Prius, but many of these folks are downright insane. My second impression was sheer awe at the sight of actual bike lanes on the streets. For someone who has been living in the car-centric state of Texas for the past twenty years, it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Now down to the good stuff.

Indeed, Portland is a mecca of everything I mentioned before. We wandered around the downtown area for a day and a half building up our record collection with some of the most amazing finds ever. Shopping for records in Portland is religion and we had descended into one of the lower levels of the temple. Albums that were on the “I would like to own this record, but will probably never even see a copy” list were knocked out left and right, and almost all for prices that really made me feel like I was stealing from the shop owner. When all was said and done, we had about 45 pounds of vinyl and sleeves packed into my amazing Timbuk2 messenger bag and strapped to my back. That was a fun one to explain to airport security when we were leaving.

I loved Portland. Hell, I can’t wait to get back. Despite the assault to my allergies and the fact that the sun is only a sometimes visitor, it’s a pretty cool damn town to hang out in. And, contrary to the generalization, most people have jobs. My one big regret was not hitting up Voodoo Doughnuts. Sure, we walked by the original location several times, but it was closed for remodelling/exorcism.

I guess I’ve got yet another thing to look forward to on my next trip…

Houston who?

May 25th, 2011 No comments

The rivalry between Houston and Dallas isn’t anything new. For decades these two cities have sniped at each other over a variety of topics that both either feel important to be best at, or deny being worst at. All-in-all some pretty basic civic rivalry.

In 2005 Houston joined Dallas in the MLS when the San Jose Earthquakes shook themselves over to the gulf changing their name to the Dynamo in the process (I still like the originally planned name of “Houston 1836,” but apparently it was offensive to Hispanic fans).

It was always figured that FC Dallas and the Dynamo would have a pretty good rivalry, but Dallas already had been butting heads with the Chicago Fire since the beginning of the MLS and fans were pretty invested in that. Top that with a hatred for the Colorado Rapids that started up around the same time that the Dynamo hit the stage and the Dallas/Houston thing just got rather marginalized.

Flash forward a couple of years. Houston had already come out really strong by winning the MLS Cup in their inaugural year of 2006 and followed up with a repeat in 2007 while FC Dallas just couldn’t get their act together.

From a fan’s perspective, things were just nasty. At a couple of the FCD/Dynamo matches I attended at Pizza Hut Park (Dallas’ home turf), things were downright nasty. I watched in awe as Houston fans paraded up and down the concourse, ripped out seats in their designated section and even, after one match, attacked a FCD fan. Hell, even me and my friends were hassled by a couple of Houston fans in what has got to be one of the funniest war of words I’ve ever seen (more on that at a later date).

The 2010 season, however, changed everything. FC Dallas started out by winning the Texas Derby (which claimed El Capitán) and then pushed their way to the MLS Cup Final while Houston did not even qualify for the playoffs.

To say this didn’t sit right with the Dynamo organization and their fans is an understatement.

At the beginning of the 2011 season, this lovely billboard was put up on the tollway leading to Pizza Hut Park. It annoyed the hell out of me, but I thought it was pretty funny.

When it didn’t get the reaction Houston was looking for, they followed up with this gem of a commercial.

That’s what finally got people pissed off. We are allowed to joke about things like our home stadium being way up in Oklahoma, but we don’t need the stinkin’ Dynamo making cracks about it.

Dallas quickly retaliated by putting up this banner at Robertson Stadium (the Dynamo’s home turf). Funny right?
Dallas then turned around and got the San Jose Earthquakes involved with this little stunt

All of this “frivolity” leads up to Dallas taking on Houston at Houston on Saturday, May 28. FCD will be coming off a Wednesday away game in Seattle, and Houston will be coming off a Wednesday away game in LA against the Galaxy.

Needless to say, both teams will be sufficiently riled up for this match. Who can say what will happen out there, but it’ll be a doozy of a match with FC Dallas leading the Dynamo going into the match by four points (that doesn’t include the result of the matches that both teams have tonight).

Houston who?

Down Terrier du Lapin

July 23rd, 2010 No comments

There isn’t much in the world more interesting, at least to me, than subversion and secret societies. I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up in the waning years of the Cold War or that my love of history just took a random tangential turn somewhere when I was around thirteen, but the mysterious little things people do for reasons known only to themselves (world domination, free internet, kittens & porn…) fascinates me incredibly.

I’m sure I’ll end up writing several postings about the hows and whats of me becoming obsessed with the Illuminati and the Discordian Society, but this one is even more tangential.

I high school (when my obsession du jour was cyberpunk) I read a novel by Jonathan Littell called Bad Voltage. It had some pretty interesting concepts presented in it, but what really stuck with me was the presentation of the cataphiles who explore and organize mischief/mayhem/productivity in the catacombs underneath Paris.

Bad Voltage) made it even more enticing by putting a couple of maps of the catacombs in the front of the book and then proceeded to explain how it was illegal to go into the catacombs. How do you get a teenager excited about doing something? Tell him it’s verboten.

Most recently a gentleman who I am mildly acquainted with by the name of Sean Michaels spent some amount of time doing research on the catacombs and a seemingly clandestine secret society known as Urban eXperiences. Sean put his research and experiences into an incredible read for the literary journal BRICK.

Read this article as soon as you can.

What Sean uncovered is stuff you can’t make up. It was like reading a shortened version of Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. It’s got mystery it’s got intrigue, it’s got secret(ish) societies and a wildly interesting mystery man/men.

After you’ve read the article, email it to a friend. Hell, email it to your entire address book. The Atlantic originally commissioned a shorter version of this article, but killed it. They are utter morons.

Now I just need an acetylene lamp and a ticket to Paris.

Dealing with the modified – 5th in a series

May 6th, 2010 No comments

If you are here because of this article then I’m glad you visited. This is the fifth “article” in this series and you could probably stand to read the other four. You are probably what I refer to as my “target market” when it comes to little thing like being in contact with the modified (especially in Dallas).

First, and foremost, kudos to Teresa Dennis for getting out there and kicking off a new shoppe in town. Now that I’ve said that, I’m really wondering why she went with her own concept instead of franchising a Hart & Huntington shop here in Dallas. What, Dallas is just too cool for H&H to put out a shingle? I really doubt that. I expect Ms. Dennis to make a metric craptonne of money from her endeavor with almost zero repeat business. Why, you ask? The answer is simple. Hers is the land of ankle tattoos and tramp stamps. More kanji will make it’s way out of Subkulture Klothing and Ink than is in the Japanese Constitution. Part of me wants to grab my camera and just wait to be a paid contributor to Hanzi Smatter after what I expect to come out of this Uptown “experiement.”

This leads me to the fifth, and horribly late, lesson in our series: trend kills art.

I used to be a huge fan of the works of Don Ed Hardy. Hardy took a degree in printmaking and a relationship with Sailor Jerry Collins and managed to pull together an iconic catalog of style and form that helped to define “old school” tatoo art.

Then 2004 rolled around and the douche that killed the Von Dutch name decided to destroy yet another American icon. Yes, that would be Christian Audigier. It’s not coincidence that squeezle and I dressed as douchebags for Halloween in 2009 by decking ourselves out head-to-toe in budget Ed Hardy/Christian Audigier clothing.

Even Andy Warhol couldn’t mass produce that much cultural pap to be slurped up the the “undesirable elite” to be worn at exclusive clubs and events that would probably rather not have me in attendance. Hell, Andy is probably touching himself lewdly in the grave at the mere thought of having his work reach the ontological and improbable (near impossible) pinnacle that Hardy, err, Audigier has done: killing an American artform.

Sure, I’m more than willing to recognize that I have a severe degree of bitterness in this regard. For years and years I’ve wanted nothing more than a gigantic “Aloha” monkey tattooed on my torso (if you don’t know what it is, look it up). Squeezle has pretty much forbidden me from getting this, but it has been our little back and forth for the last decade. Now, sadly, it’s a cliche. I still want the little guy, but getting it now would be akin to getting the McDonalds arches put on me and declared subversive art. For that I am pissed. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Mark Ryden and Simone Legno (tokidoki for those not in the know) works become as prevalent, but I can, at the very least, still enjoy these gentlemen as pre-co-opted artists.

Above all, I want you, gentle reader, to know that this drivel is my personal opinion. Blogs are like assholes, everyone knows someone who has a stinky one. Sure, my bidet is on the fritz these days, but I still keep ordering the red curry and hoping for the best.

I honestly hope Ms. Dennis makes a good go at her “Subkulture” effort. I don’t imagine I’ll know any of the artists or clients of the joint, and I expect it to do as well as any of the trendy “boutiques” in Uptown, but I hope she learns a lot out of the exercise. Normally I’d throw in a nasty remark here about the potential for a Kat Von D guest spot at Subkulture, but I think that’s just a little too soon for Dallas’ fragile psyche.

Just a parting thought, though, what’s the over/under for the “buy the shirt, get the same tattoo for 75% off” sale at Subkulture?

My poetry in motion is more like performance art

March 12th, 2010 No comments

As I’ve stated before, I’m set to “run” a five kilometer “thing” tomorrow morning (a mere nine hours as of this writing).

As is expected, I’ve got a few whiskeys in me, so I’m both at the pinnacle of my athletic prowess and about ready to be done with this at the same time. I’m a soccer player; I run for about sixty yards at a go and I sprint that sixty. I’m not saying I’m fast or anything, but I can beat that diabetic kid down the block with no problem.

Anyhoo, I’ve just come to the realization that my motivation for running is vastly different from my motivation for playing soccer. Before a typical soccer match, I juke myself up with a nasty mix of old 70′s and 80′s punk tracks with an average length of about fifty seconds.  This is fantastic for the quick blast down the field followed by an elbow to some poor chump’s jaw, but does nothing for a 3.1 mile gerbil wheel.

That means it’s crisis time.

As I said before, I’ve got a few of John Jameson’s finest blends in me, so I’m in perfect shape to think about motivation relating to a run that goes in conjunction with Dallas’ “Irish Season.” For that reason, I’ve beefed my playlist up with the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and The Pogues. For added motivation, I threw in some live No Use For A Name, Tiger Army and a mess of the Old 97′s. For some reason I can always get motivated to move my sorry ass around Dallas when I’m listening to the Old 97′s:  I think it’s in the water.

Next comes the self-control. To my poor wife’s dismay, I tend to make an utter fool of myself in public. I’d like to do something about that, but it’s honestly my nature. If she’s lucky, I’ll be concentrating on my next drink/smoke and paying no attention to the hundreds of people around me, but I’m not sure which side I’m going to fall on. More than likely, I’ll zone out on the heels in front of me and forget all about being a total ass and just work my way around the course. That’s the best I can hope for, but I’m not promising anything.

So, dear readers, if you see a guy wearing his green on his skin (and not just the tattoos up his left arm) jamming out to some unknown tunes while a gorgeous woman scowls at him tomorrow while you are running the 5K around Greenville Ave. in Dallas, TX tomorrow morning, give me a shout. At the very least, give me something tasty to drink because you know what they say about that hair of the dog…

Categories: Dallas, monkey, Music, Ravings, Stupidity

Imminent Death

March 11th, 2010 No comments

As a part of the regular gauntlet that is Irish Season, a new bringer of pain has been introduced by myself and friends to help justify our binging whilst nursing aging bodies that just don’t snap back after that two day bender like they used to: a 5K walk/run.

Are we insane? Probably so. Will there be blood? Again, probably so. I’m not really sure how we actually settled on doing this (the idea was definitely dreamed up on a drunken evening), but we did. So, bright and early on Saturday morning, I’ll be amongst the throngs dashing myself down Greenville Ave..

For those of you unfamiliar with the deep “Irish” (and by “Irish” I mean excuse to be drunk in public) tradition around St. Paddy’s Day, here’s what the general process is.

1. Take one part St. Patrick’s Day, and one part Mardi Gras.

2. Allow the locals to drink in the streets.

3. Mix in a bunch of drunken idiots in green and put them on either side of a major thoroughfare.

4. Put a puny parade on that major thoroughfare.

The end result is a massive party that lasts all day and ties up everything on this street well into the wee hours of the morning. The trash alone staggers me every year.

Personally, I tend to avoid the entire mess. I used to go down there and get good and drunk before 10AM, but that tends to put a damper on the rest of the day.

Now, before the parade and festivities kick off, me and a mess of friends will be attempting to make our way around a 5K course in what will become the heart of this giant cluster-fuck.

I know for a fact that I can tromp five measely kilometers with relative ease. What I’m unsure of is whether or not I can actually do it running. That, however, may not stop me from giving it a go. What’s the worst thing that could happen? (Don’t answer that)

My one goal is to make it to the finish line and then be able to get out of be of my own volition on Sunday morning. I figure if my legs don’t fall off, I’ve got one in the win column.

Categories: Dallas, monkey, Ravings

Coding in the Hellmouth

January 25th, 2010 No comments

Every couple of weeks my email inbox gets bombarded by offers of contract employment in strange and far off cities. I just about always check out where the job is in case I know someone that direction who might be interested (referral cash is as good as free money), but I generally just click the delete button and send these offers off into the ether to be recycled as ads for penis enlargement or lap band surgery.

Today, however, I got a contract offer for the one place I never thought I’d see in a contract employment email: Sunnydale, California. For the uninitiated, Sunnydale is the “town” where Buffy the Vampire Slayer takes place. Sunnydale is renowned for being a Hellmouth: a location of increased supernatural energies and basically serves as a portal between Earth and Hell.

Imagine my surprise to get a job offer there. For the seven seasons Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran on television (not to mention all the Buffy comic books I’ve read), Sunnydale as spit out baddie after baddie to terrorize the general populace and generally cause much mirth and mayhem.

Now the big question. Would I want to work there?  Even though the contract is only for a couple of months doing UI development (User Interface for you non-technical types), the thought of being smack dab (not sand dabs. Look it up) near the Hellmouth has some serious potential. At the very least I could team up with the local Scoobies (you know they exist) and hang out picking on weird homeless people after beers (or whatever they served) at the Bronze.

Wait a minute, that job was in Sunnyvale, CA and not Sunnydale, CA? Screw that.

Decade breakdown 1: The Shows

December 22nd, 2009 No comments

One of the first things that popped in my gourd when I thought about looking back on the decade was food (I’m hungry). After a quick granola bar, what was left was music. Specifically, live music. I attend a lot of live music events and looking back on the long list of shows I attended in the past ten years definitely gets the grey cells firing.

If I can remember anything that happened more than a week ago, it must be incredibly memorable.

So, without further ado, here is a smattering of the top gigs I attended over the past ten years. These aren’t in any particular order, I’m just scribbling them down as they float out of the murky ether that is my memory.

October 21, 2007 – Golgol Bordello @ Granada Theater
This show was utter insanity. I attended this one with my buddy Jason and his girlfriend who was on her first excursion to Texas. With as big a stage presence that Golgol Bordello has, we plopped ourselves up at the very top of the Granada Theater (easy “secret” bar access!) and pretty much danced ourselves sick.

November 23, 2001 – Vandals @ Deep Ellum Live
This was one of the first shows where I realized that I was getting older. The average age around me at the front of the stage was a good ten years younger than me. Regardless, everyone had a great time and I think that was actually the last time the Vandals came to Dallas outside of the Warped Tour.

October 17, 2002 – Catch 22/Madcap @ Galaxy Club
Catch 22 always puts on a pretty amazing show, and Madcap is always good for an offstage laugh since, at that time, they pretty much sold all of their merch out of their travel cases. What stands out at this show was that squeezle nearly had to beat the living shit out of some punk kid. It was glorious. This little bastard wouldn’t stop rubbing up on her, so, after several terse verbal warnings, she took a swing at him. That’s one of the reasons I love her so.

October 19, 2004 – Pixies @ Nokia Live
I had already seen the reunited Pixies at ACL fest, but seeing them up close was glorious. My brother actually came up from Austin to go to the show with me, so that made it all the better.

December 3, 2005 – Pleasant Grove/I Love Math/Happy Bullets (Art Conspiracy 1) @ Texas Theater
What stood out most about this show was the drunken haze. This show was a art auction and live music escapade in the place where Lee Harvey Oswald got nipped for shooting that guy from up North. Now for the important part: it was BYOB. I had me a liter jug of red wine and I made quick work of it. Several drunken catch phrases were created that night that are still a part of the Forkers/Brewsers vernacular.

February 22, 2006 – The Sisters of Mercy @ The Gypsy Tea Room
While a great musician, Andrew Eldritch is more of a diva than Mariah Carey. I had resigned myself to not being able to see the Sisters unless I wanted to travel to some goth convention in Pittsburgh (even though Andrew says the Sisters aren’t goth), but, through some stroke of luck, they came on down to Dallas and played their tunes. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed the hell out of it, but what really stands out about this one is that I paid $30 for a freakin’ t-shirt. How stupid am I?

June 18, 2004 – Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards/Horrorpops/The Briefs @ Trees
I came to this show to see Lars and the Horrorpops play, but was pleasantly surprised by the discovery of The Briefs. It was June and it was Trees, so it was hotter than hell. Squeezle and I managed to escape upstairs to have a good vantage point since the crowd was pretty insane. The Horrorpops didn’t get to play because there was something wrong with the drummer and his hands had swollen up to something like three times their size, so The Briefs and Lars each got to play extra long sets. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the swirling and whirling of the circle pit as seen from above.

March 21, 2003 – Jello Biafra @ Ridglea Theater
This one is sort of a cheat. Jello did one of his standard vitriolic/political spoken word pieces. At this particular time, he was wrapped up in a harsh legal battle with the remainder of the Dead Kennedys (then fronted by Brandon Cruz of The Courtship of Eddie’s Fatherfame) and he had a lot to say about that. At one point during his talk Jello said that the legal costs were skyrocketing, but it was a good fight. Without prompt, people started walking up to the stage and tossing money on it. Jello was actually moved by it. Of particular not for this show is that squeezle and I were sitting right next to the Flametrick Subs just knowing that Mike, err Buster, was stocking up on stuff for his next tirade-laden show.

OK, that’s all I’m willing to dig through my addled brain for right now. I might regale you with more live show insanity later, but now I need a nap.

Thinking is hard.