Archive for September, 2004

Do It Anyway

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I get a lot of inspiration from cabdrivers, since they see more of the general public than I do, and they are stuck in a car with them for longer periods of time. I often wonder about what their stories are, what countries they came from, what were their dreams, what drove them out, what caused them to come here? What did they do in their own countries? Were they rocket scientists who were about to have their penises cut off for Allah? (Or more likely, for the Coalition of the Willing). Or were they farmers in a remote desert village, living on three leaves a month until a giant bag of rice falls from a relief plane in the sky?

This particular cabbie picked me up on one of the rainiest days we’d had in a while, so rainy, they closed the store because of all the leaks and floods (we never close). So rainy that umbrellas turned inside-out. A geyser, not unlike the one pictured above, erupted from underneath the subway onto Stupid Street. Cabs were hard to find.

The cabbie had this thing posted facing the backseat, which hanging in anyone else’s house would be dismissed as some kind of Jack Handy bullshit. But after reading it, I felt some solidarity for this man who deals with an increasingly rude society. Basically, the sign listed all the reasons for not being a decent person, and answered them with “do it anyway.” People are stupid and crazy. There’s no reward for being nice. You make $7.35 an hour with co-workers who could be your children. But do it anyway.
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September 28, 2004 at 10:39 pm 3 comments

Ethnic Workers

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Stupid and Crazy was especially crazy today. The morning started off with a man doing military-styled push-ups in front of the rap section. When one of my co-workers told him that he had to go do that in a gym, he responded, “Really?”

Right around lunchtime, a woman called and asked for a black employee to help with her black films. When I got her on the phone, she said, she was looking for “ethnic workers.” Apparently, the two white guys in the video department weren’t ethnic enough for her. My Puerto Rican co-worker was too offended to talk to her, as were my other black co-workers. This is the second time this has happened. The last thing I want to do is get into any conversation about race or politics or anything not concerning music or the price of tickets with a customer. But I guess I’ll save it for when someone asks for the Jewish employee to discuss Barbra Streisand. Then I’m hanging up.

September 27, 2004 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Holding Out For A Hero

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Ricky, Freddy, and Steven should form an all-gay moving company. Queer Eye meets Mambo? They picked me up Saturday morning from 4th and Girard and we went back to my house to move Freddy’s daybed into my house, which was looking to be a jigsaw puzzle from hell. First move the green couch (the guest bed at The Hotel Sherr on 8th Street) from my bedroom into the office. Move the housemate’s uncomfortable fouton upstairs with the dog constantly underfoot. Move daybed into bedroom and assemble. But it was over and done with within a half hour. Now I have a my first above-ground bed in about four years. And guests will have a comfortable place to sleep. Then we helped Amanda move into her dorm at the International House, the home of extremely attractive people from all over the world. It’s like Bennetton porn.

On the car ride over, Ricky wondered if Franz Ferdinand were really gay, or more importantly, marketed themselves as gay artists, if people would care about them so much and a song like Michael. Going back to Bowie, it’s all about not knowing for sure. He played some great stuff in the car, always the kind of weirdo pop songs that you’d have to visit in Bennetton countries to hear, like this woman from Steps doing what sounded like disco Gary Glitter and the new Fatboy Slim, which just goes “Slash! Dot! Slash! Dot! Slash!” Okay, so maybe Fatboy Slim isn’t so weird, but when Ricky plays it next to this crazy song where all they sing is “Internet, internet, sexy, sexy, sexy…”

After that we went for food at the Fresh Grocer, which means, I technically fasted for half the day. Steven was actually trying to fast and he was nauseous. I waited for 100 years to get a sandwich, watched one woman make sandwiches for 8 people while ten people stood around. Ricky asked another woman how much a piece of chicken was. She pointed to the big giant ready made chickens for a family of four. He kept saying, No for one person. And she looked at him as if no one ever eats by themselves. I ended up with a very underwhelming turkey hoagie from the readymade section, where an annoying man in front of me was taking every box of sandwich out of the case and inspecting it. The experience of eating outside was nice, and the boy-scoping and conversation with Ricky and Steven always fascinating

Put Ricky in a car and it’s always some strange adventure. After Steven left to meet his family, Ricky and I ended up at the Best Buy in Conshohocken so he could look at a DVD player that would play PAL DVD’s. If I had to wear a blue izod shirt and khakis every day to work, I would kill myself. Then somehow we ended up at an Italian festival in East Falls. But it was during mass, so we couldn’t get any food. “After mass, hon!” As mass was wrapping up, we realized we’d have to stand in a long line to buy food tickets because the ladies didn’t have change. In the car, the music got darker, The Cardigans’ Gran Turismo and this really excellent obscure Carpenters album from around 68 where Karen still got to sit behind the drums. It sounded a lot like all the incidental music that gets played in contemplative scenes from to 60s movies with lots of hair and liquid eyeliner. It’s Eleanor Rigby’s soundtrack. Karen sings in one song about what’s going to happen to her “when the winter comes.” It’s creepy when music can predict the future of the singer.
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September 27, 2004 at 10:05 pm 6 comments

What I Like About Jew

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As Art Spiegelman said in an interview in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, I’m not an observant Jew, “but I observe Jews.” My family was never all that religious, and the holidays centered around the family, not so much making right with The Man/Woman/Elephant Upstairs. Passover, Rosh Hashanna, and Hanukah were all centered around my grandmother’s house, and we never observed Yom Kippur. I did a year of Hebrew school when I was eight, which ended when my parents split up. At that point, Hebrew school was fun. It was all about Judah Macabee and coloring and learning the Hebrew alphabet and “yay Jews.” Quite different from my Catholic counterparts. When it was time for Bat Mitzvah time, my single Mom was basically, “Sara, guitar lessons or Hebrew school?” And hearing all my friends complain about how Hebrew school was like more homework, I chose guitar lessons because I wanted to be Joan Jett.

Since that family is now divorced, remarried, and scattered, I’m on my own when it comes to any kind of religous observance. I’m a lousy guitar player and painfully ignorant of my culture.

I have complicated issues with God, or at least the Judeo-Christian concept. I believe that we’re all at the mercy of nature, and whatever force creates hurricanes, earthquakes, dogs, babies, life, death. In general, I’m nice to people because it’s less stressful, and because life is too short and so very complicated.

But there times when I’ve wanted to spend some time with Judaism, or at least have a better understanding of my culture, my history, and mostly myself. While I see Yom Kippur as a potentially healing process, depending on the individual, some people think that giving up bagels for a day to sit in synagogue makes them a good person, and then they go and do the same shit all over again. Like Catholics who misbehave all they want as long as they visit the priest in the box.

But Catholics are a whole other mess that I’m not getting into right now. Unlike other Jews, they are fucked-up in ways that I can’t understand. As MC Lyte would say, “Just like a test, I cram 2 understand them.” Women are Madonna-Whore, something to be awed or feared but never both. Men are raised to be afraid to masturbate. The whole damn religion is about shame in any kind of pleasure. And forget it if you’re gay.

But I digress.

My beef with Yom Kippur is that it’s yet another Jewish holiday that has an unhealthy relationship with food and guilt. It wouldn’t surprise me if the majority of people with eating disorders were Jewish. Besides that, the Jews have suffered enough through history (except for the current American so-called assimilation), we should have parades, like the Irish and Puerto Ricans. Every holiday should be like Purim. We should be happy to be alive, which is so hard to do sometimes.

September 26, 2004 at 5:56 pm 3 comments

Wanda Does It

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Usually, I don’t care about meeting celebrities. Even as a music nerd, I usually don’t want to meet people in bands. But Wanda Sykes is my hero, or at least one of them. For many reasons: Pootie Tang, her spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Crank Yankers (“yes, there’s a turd, a piece of shit, in my car”), the routine where she says that she doesn’t want her man at the mall with her, but mostly, it’s that utter look of incredulousness. That look that says, “Oh no you diiiin’t!” Because with Wanda, no one would dare.

Today she came to Stupid and Crazy to promote her new book. I bought it and got it signed. I didn’t really know what to say to her, other than, “Hi, I’m a stupid white girl, please teach me to be as awesome as you.” So I told her that her new teevee show should come to Stupid and Crazy for a day, about how our customers would provide a lot of comic fodder, and how they really needed the “Wanda Treatment.”

I could just imagine:
“Get out the store you smelly-ass man!”
“Do you think anyone wants to see your silly ass dance like that?”
“You better buy these tickets now and get off that phone!”
“Where’d you learn the alphabet?”

But sadly, she told me that Wanda Does It wouldn’t be doing any record stores because the cost of clearing music that would be playing in the background is too high for their budget.

The most interesting customer of the day: “How do I get discovered in the music business? Do I just go out on the street corner and start singing…”

September 23, 2004 at 8:41 pm 1 comment

I Went Back To Philadelphia, But My City Was Gone

I tune into the Real World Philadelphia, and it’s the same episode that I watch the same seven minutes of before turning off the teevee. It doesn’t look like my city. It doesn’t even look human. There are girls who can’t even comprehend not having a man be attracted to them. There are people who use the phrase, “that ass is mine.” There are blond girls who dance like they are in rap videos, or think that’s how they are supposed to dance. I’m a fucking fossil. I’m never having sex again.

September 23, 2004 at 1:19 am 4 comments

I Forgot to Mention This

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These ladies were at the girL party. I loved their underwear so much that I bought an Axis of Eve tank in pink and Weapon of Mass Seduction underwear in red, even though it couldn’t be further from the truth these days, I’m supporting good underwear for a good cause.

September 23, 2004 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

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