Archive for November, 2004

Frosty The Snow Man’s Not True

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Photo from here

Spent an afternoon with Ricky and his nephews, ages 8 and 9, in practice for my nephew-watching. Uncle Rick brought them into the city for the first time, and the cool thing about kids is that it forces you to slow down and look at things that you pass hurriedly every day. The little old houses on Quince and Camac streets, the place where they kept the horses, etc. But you also have to keep up with them. You need five sets of eyes, six hands, and about seven legs. Ricky and I took turns holding their hands, even though the nine-year-old seemed too self-asssured for hand-holding. I was worried they’d get snatched away or run into something or get hit by a car. But you also can’t come off too neurotic, you don’t want to ruin their wonder at the world. The eight year old greeted me by telling a joke, which I initially thought was a kid question, “Why do people go to the graveyard,” and I was thinking, “Christ, I have to explain Smiths fans to them already?” And he replied, “Because they’re dying to get in!” So already the theatrics runs in the family. We took them to the Christmas show at Wanamaker’s, where they got sodas and ice cream. The eight-year-old on the show: “Frosty The Snowman’s not true. But I like the angel.” Then they knocked into each other in front of the escalator, and I was limited in my authority. A woman glared at me, and I realized, “She thinks these are my kids and we’re a family.” If she only knew! We also took them to the SEPTA train museum and various model train sites, and then shopping. The 8-year-old found a South American recorder in two minutes. The 9-year-old picked the most expensive thing in every store that we went into until he was satisfied with a toy gun that lit up. “Use it for the powers of good, not evil,” said the owner of a cool toy store on Pine Street that escapes me.

After the kids were brought safely back to New Jersey, we attempted to go to karaoke at Moriarty’s, which was off due to a private party. Then we went to Hamburger Mary’s to see my co-worker Rob’s VJ debut, and after eating a meal and deciding that it was like a gay Bennigan’s, we went upstairs to discover that he couldn’t get his monitor to work so he bailed early. Why a place would have a VJ and not provide monitors is beyond me. Poor JT and Helen followed me around to each failed event, and then we went back to their place and I fell asleep on the most comfortable couch in the world.

Today, Ant’ny and I talked about how women have to take over and kick ass after this election, and I’m going to start a private punching campaign. I will be masked or wigged, kicking ass of assholes. Watch out. But first I need to attend a good punching class. Any ideas?

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November 28, 2004 at 4:37 pm 3 comments

Kim “Paiboon” Chowchuvech

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From the Zonic Shokum site:

Sat, 27 Nov 2004
Dear Friends,

After a year-long struggle against cancer, Paiboon “Kim” Chowchuvech, at the age of 58, quietly passed away at his sister’s home in Daly City, California, at 9:45 PM (Pacific Time) on November 26, 2004.

A Sukhavati (ceremony) will be held at the San Francisco Shambhala Center (1630 Taraval Street, San Francisco, CA) at 7:00 PM on Monday, November 29th. A small gathering will be held afterward for family and friends to reminisce on their experiences with and memories of Kim. His body will be at the SFSC for three days prior to the Sukhavati (Saturday through Monday) and will be available for all to visit. Meditation practices will be held throughout the three days, but, regardless, all are welcome to visit to view Kim’s body.

Kim’s body will be cremated at Woodlawn Memorial Park (1000 El Camino Real, Colma, CA) on the morning Tuesday, November 30th. All are welcome to attend and a small ceremony may be held during the cremation. If interested in attending, please e-mail Bryn at chowchuv@yahoo.com for the exact time.

In accordance with his wishes, Kim’s ashes will be scattered at the Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.

In lieu of flowers, Kim has requested that donations be made to:

1) The “Bryn Chowchuvech Medical School Fund”: 261 Alta Vista Way, Daly City, CA 94014
and/or
2) Doctors Without Borders: http://www.doctorswithoutborders-usa.org/donate/

Any messages to the family may be sent to Kim’s son, Bryn (chowchuv@yahoo.com), who will pass them on accordingly. I offer my sincere gratitude to all of Kim’s friends who have supported him over this last year. The outpouring of care and love helped us all, especially Kim, through this difficult transitional period. Kim was blessed to have so many caring and sympathetic friends who made him feel loved and appreciated until his very last moments, truly a priceless gift for one to receive before passing on.

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Read more about Kim here and here
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This is what I wrote about him in the Philadelphia Daily News:

When I started going to the Khyber in the early ’90s, I’d see a lot of the same faces, and Kim Chowchuvech was one of them. While I don’t know him personally, we’d probably recognize each other on the street. He’d be the short Asian guy with the big glasses and the even bigger smile, who looked like the kind of person with better things to do than hang at a stinky rock show.

That’s part of his charm.

During that time, a punk band called Zonic Shokum, fronted by husband-and-wife team Steve and Debbie Polak, was chronicling other Philly bands in a ‘zine called Stain, which also branched out into a night at various clubs around town.

That’s where you’d see many of the familiar, friendly faces, including Chowchuvech, who worked as an engineer by day and volunteered at Shambhala Meditation Center of Philadelphia. He was also an avid harmonica player and on occasion would join bands like Caterpillar onstage…

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My heart goes out to Kim’s friends and family.

November 27, 2004 at 12:37 pm 1 comment

Just You and Me, Fudge Banana Swirl

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On Monday, I went with Amy Phillips to see the Dead Milkmen reunion/Dave Blood tribute. Here’s her account in the Philadelphia Inquirer before it’s lost forever:

Dead Milkmen rock again, at the Troc

By Amy Phillips

FOR THE INQUIRER

The modus operandi of the Dead Milkmen – perhaps the greatest punk band ever to come out of Philadelphia – was always goofiness and irreverence. From 1983 to 1995, the quartet launched musical spitballs at targets from church and state to frat boys and rednecks, attracting a loyal international following with its biting lyrics and jittery melodies.
So it’s appropriate that the Milkmen would choose to memorialize their deceased bassist, David Schulthise (punk name: Dave Blood), who committed suicide in March, with a raucous reunion concert that was anything but funereal.

On Monday at the Trocadero, singer Rodney “Anonymous” Linderman, guitarist-singer Joe “Jack Talcum” Genaro, drummer Dean “Clean” Sabatino, and bassist Dan Stevens (on loan from Genaro’s new band, Low Budgets) tore through 90 minutes of Milkmen classics, barely pausing for breath. It was the second of two sold-out nights benefiting mental health organizations as well as the Studenica Monastery in Serbia, a favorite charity of Schulthise’s.

The animated Linderman bounced around the stage with more energy than the kids with Mohawks in the mosh pit, making his political beliefs known through anti-President Bush and anti-Sen. Rick Santorum interjections during crowd favorites such as “Tiny Town” and “Tacoland.” Genaro played the straight man, picking surf-guitar riffs and leading sing-alongs on “Punk Rock Girl” and “Methodist Coloring Book.”

Members of opening acts Van Gogh’s Ear, Nixon’s Head, and Electric Love Muffin came out later for a wild version of “Big Time Operator.”

Sadness crept in only briefly, as Linderman paused during the “Bitchin’ Camaro” introduction to reflect on Schulthise’s passing. “I always picture him smiling his goofy smile,” he said, tearfully. “I miss him with every molecule in my body.” The moment didn’t last long: The Dead Milkmen were quickly off and running again, thrashing through a song about the joys of running people over with an uninsured car.

And Sam Adams’ review of the Sunday show from The Philadelphia City Paper.

And me? I’m not gonna pretend that I knew Dave Blood at all or had this great long history with The Dead Milkmen, as I got on board pretty late, just like everything else. I’m sad for DB, because I know how it feels to be in that place, and sad for his bandmates, friends, family, etc. The Dead Milkmen in general, represent everything that I love about Philadelphia: big hearts, big mouths, a mouthpiece for all kindsa misfits, jitbags and fuck-ups of all ages. It surprises and delights me how they get a new generation of fans every year. I remember seeing the Dead Milkmen video shot in the Fairmount prison on MTV and it was one of the few times I had such intense pride for my city and for the cool kids that I was always afraid to talk to, it was an entry into their world, which really wasn’t so far off from mine. They were our Ramones and Dave Blood just might have been our Joey.

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November 26, 2004 at 6:28 pm 1 comment

T-Day

These days, I don’t want to deal with anything distinctly American like Thanksgiving, where the uptight Puritans left England to come here and dictate morality, share a meal with the Native Americans and then slowly and mercilessly kill them off, physically, spiritually, culturally. America is all about erasing individuality and soul and anything that makes us great that we take for granted. So as an American, I have to forget about American baggage and go to Bensalem to visit my very pregnant sister and my brother-in-law, his parents, grandmother, my Mom and stepfather.

My stepfather picked me up from work (yes, I worked a brief four-and-half-hour double time shift with free turkey at Stupid & Crazy) in the car filled with heat and classic rock radio. He looks like a Jewish Tommy Chong (with silver hair and beard) and talks like Tony Soprano. Somehow, hearing ’70s Who was just the right thing, “I tip my hat to the new revolution…..” DOUBLE SHOT!!! “Who the fuck are you, areyouareyou…….” I like listening to music with my stepfather in the car, he hits his hand on the gearshift in time to the music. Then he stops and listens to the traffic report as we slow down on 95, near the Girard exit, cursing out KYW in Brooklyn-ese. “Faaaaaaaaaaaaaawk!!!”

We stop off at their house in Northeast Philly, where the Christmas lights are already up around the neighborhood, Flanders-style. It reminds me of the early episode of the Simpons when the Flanders have the evil mechanical Santa on the roof, “ho ho ho hooooooooooo.” My Mom is cooking. I catch up on my People magazine-reading, where I learn that Jude Law is The Most Beautiful Man in the Universe, but I think Jake Gyllenhall wuz robbed. I go into my old bedroom, which has very little signs of me other than some bad high school artsy collage on the sliding closet door, and fall asleep.

I was tired because the night before, I went over to Ricky’s to watch the Dumpsta video, and realized that I missed out on the wonder of Jen’s tap dancing skills. Pixie brought cupcakes and then Ricky broke out the booze: rum, vodka, and something else. Thanksgiving Eve has become a tradition. We usually start out acting up at Ricky’s. He puts on the blacklight and transforms his tiny apartment into our private club. We put on costumes and dance. Some of us strip. (I did not, though I have shown my bra in the past). I walked with them over to Bob and Barbara’s, where the Thursday night drag show was moved to Wednesday, but I did not stay or I knew I wouldn’t get up for work.

Work was easy. Some people in for our weekend sale, others trying to get a jump on Black Friday (which I’m not working), and some of the tourists from the parade completely confused. Me and the new girl at the desk, a young woman who just moved here from East Stroudsberg, gossiped about boys. I told her my age and she was surprised. Her world is interesting, because her town is pretty much red and blue, and how she lives in between those worlds.

Back to the family: After my nap, we went to my sister’s house. I was on sweet potato watch in the car, making sure the hot plate didn’t end up on the floor. My parents argued like George Costanza’s parents. My sister and her husband live in one of those cul-de-sacs that all look alike. I have been to their house dozens of times, and I still couldn’t pick it out if my life depended on it. My sister is just starting to look like a proper pregant woman, but to me, she looks tiny and tired and delicate. She’s still my baby sister. Her taste in maternity wear is impeccable, she reveals that she bought her pants for six dollars someplace. She’s supposed to be on bed rest to keep her blood pressure down but she cannot sleep and sleeping brings discomfort, so she keeps moving, despite everyone else’s insistence on her to sit down and relax.

I’m domestically-challenged so I offer with the administrative and clean-up work. Setting the table, moving dishes here and there, loading the dishwasher, ooh and aahing the nursery my mother painted, bright blue with a border of baseballs, bats, footballs. Not the den of testosterone that I feared. The TV fills the living room, a glowing light of Beyonce and stern military choreography. I try not to think of Janet and the FCC and and how many people have died in Iraq and now many more people will die. Old Republicans never die. My stepfather got off the GOP bus for Bush II, but we still argue over whether it’s worse to lie about a blowjob or a war. But we remember to toast to future thanksgivings with my nephews, and the last quiet meal we’ll ever have at my sister’s house. If she doesn’t go into labor by Tuesday, she’s going to the hospital to have it induced. I’m informed I’m a godmother, and there’s a bris the week after. I’ve never been to a bris because almost all my cousins are female.

Despite my bending and lifting for my mother, her back still goes out. I offer to give her a massage somewhere, like I’ve done for all the bad backs in my life, but there is nothing I can do, except help her change her band aid and gauze for her cut thumb, injured during a distracted celery cutting. I’m used to seeing my mother emotionally vulnerable, but not physically so. The future terrifies me.

November 26, 2004 at 6:02 pm 2 comments

One, Two, Three, Fuck You

Christmas has officially started at Stupid and Crazy, which brings in all sorts of people who are clueless and yet have a sense of entitlement about it. First three interactions of the day:

–Dude ready to lose his shit because we didn’t have the Annie DVD THAT WAS ADVERTISED IN OUR CIRCULAR in his grubby hands, despite the fact that I: offered to take his name and phone number so he wouldn’t have to wait around AND called our other store that’s 10-minutes away to set it aside for him for three days.

–A woman says to me, “If I look up a title for you, can you find it for me?” Sure, I say. She says, “Lullabies.” Are you fucking crazy? That’s like asking for the word “the.” Thinking that she’d understand that, I replied, “Childrens section, back to the right, etc.” And she said, already coming unhinged, “I thought you were going to look up a title for me!” I said, “Well, there’s going to be a lot of things called Lullbabies.” Never once did she offer me an artist, or any other pertinent information. She walked off in a huff.

–Alleged Man in the Industry cut off from the U2 Midnight Sale. The horror! Hey, guy, if you’re in The Industry, you’d have a promo already. Fucking douche.

On top of that, one of my co-workers is still so slow and dense that I feel like I should be paid to be a special ed teacher. She is everywhere, always in the way, leaning on places where I’m trying to work. I can’t stand waiting for her to do anything. She leaves a mess, I clean it up, she leaves a mess again. She’s a walking disaster, she’s a demolition clerk. I run around like an idiot, she stands still confused. I spent ten minutes trying to find something for a guy, who kepting repeating over and over again that he wanted to find the new Aerosmith DVD, as if repeating it would make it appear. The video department, the bane of my existence, a disaster with no help in site. The floor, me followed by zombified customers, a la Thriller. My co-workers, thumbs up asses.

It’s great to be Employee of the Month!

Also: why do people still care about U2? What is that counting thing? It sounds like a retarded version of “Woolly Bully.” I hate iPod. I hate white ear buds. I hate that they are called ear buds. I’m never buying one for that reason. I’m going to walk around singing songs out loud if I want to hear a song that I like.

Did I mention that I hate white people?

November 23, 2004 at 9:51 pm 12 comments

One, Two, Three…14!!!

Pics of me and Maria from the City Paper Choice Awards party taken by Andy The Boyfriend:

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Our new name for Plain Parade, after we tire of Panty Raid.

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It’s a time-honored tradition for us to bite our award. Or maybe we were just hungry.

November 23, 2004 at 9:16 pm 1 comment

Drop It Like It’s Hot

From today’s NYT:

Negotiators Add Abortion Clause to Spending Bill
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and CARL HULSE

WASHINGTON, Saturday, Nov. 20 – House and Senate negotiators have
tucked a potentially far-reaching anti-abortion provision into a $388
billion must-pass spending bill, complicating plans for Congress to
wrap up its business and adjourn for the year.

The provision may be an early indication of the growing political
muscle of social conservatives who provided crucial support for
Republican candidates, including President Bush, in the election.

House officials said Saturday morning that the final details of the
spending measure were worked out before midnight and that the bill
was filed for the House vote on Saturday.

The abortion language would bar federal, state and local agencies
from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that
refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion
counseling or referrals. Current federal law, aimed at protecting
Roman Catholic doctors, provides such “conscience protection” to
doctors who do not want to undergo abortion training. The new
language would expand that protection to all health care providers,
including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers.

“It’s something we’ve had a longstanding interest in,” said Douglas
Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee. He
added, “This is in response to an orchestrated campaign by
pro-abortion groups across the country to use government agencies to
coerce health care providers to participate in abortions.”

The provision could affect millions of American women, according to
Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, who warned Friday that
she would use procedural tactics to slow Senate business to a crawl
if the language was not altered.

“I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down,” Ms.
Boxer said. “Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I
will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not
be doing this. On a huge spending bill they’re writing law, and
they’re taking away rights from women.”

Ms. Boxer said that she complained to Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska
Republican who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, but
that he told her that House Republican leaders insisted that the
provision, which was approved by the House in July but never came to
the Senate for a vote, be included in the measure.

“He said, ‘Senator, they want it in, and it’s going in,’ ” Ms. Boxer recalled.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Stevens, Melanie Alvord, said on Friday that
her boss would have no comment on the spending bill because House and
Senate negotiators had not settled on the final language.

Some lawmakers and Congressional aides interpreted the House
leaders’ insistence as reflection of the new political strength of
the anti-abortion movement and of Christian conservatives, who played
an important role in re-electing Mr. Bush this month.

“They are catering to their right wing doing this,” said Senator Tom
Harkin, Democrat of Iowa. “It doesn’t make it right. I think this is
the first step.”

Mr. Harkin said he intended to try to force a vote next year on
support for upholding the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which
legalized abortion. “I think it is time the women of America
understand what is happening here,” he said.

The spending measure, called an omnibus bill, was the main reason
Congress returned to Washington after the election, and members of
both parties say that despite Ms. Boxer’s warnings, it is likely to
pass with the abortion language intact.

The alternative is to let government funding for a wide array of
agencies – like the F.B.I., the National Park Service and the
Environmental Protection Agency – run out, in effect causing a
partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers in the House and the Senate intended to vote on the omnibus
bill on Saturday, when a stopgap spending measure is set to expire at
midnight. Congress failed to pass 9 of its 13 required spending bills
before its election recess, leaving much of the government – with the
exception of the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security –
to operate under the interim measure.

The 11th-hour controversy over the abortion language capped a long
and chaotic day Friday. In the House, the ethics committee ruled that
a Democratic lawmaker had brought exaggerated charges against
Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the majority leader, a finding
that provoked another round of bitter recriminations between
Republicans and Democrats.

In the Senate, the Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota,
who lost his re-election bid, delivered a poignant farewell speech
that brought him a standing ovation.

“It’s had its challenges, its triumphs, its disappointments,” Mr.
Daschle said of his 26-year career in Congress, which included a
decade as the Democratic leader. “But everything was worth doing.”

Mr. Daschle is the first Senate party leader in more than half a
century to lose a re-election campaign. His emotional talk, in which
he also urged his colleagues to find “common ground,” was attended by
nearly all of the Senate’s Democrats, who gathered him in their arms
and hugged him afterward.

But only a few Republicans showed up, and Senator Bill Frist, the
majority leader, who broke with Senate tradition to campaign against
Mr. Daschle in his home state, South Dakota, did not appear until
after Mr. Daschle finished speaking. The scant Republican showing
provoked Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, to
speak out. “I don’t know why, why in the closing days, some element
of comity, some element of grace, some element of respect for a human
being, could not have gotten some of our friends out of their
offices,” Mr. Lautenberg said.

Outside the Senate chamber, the common ground Mr. Daschle spoke of
seemed hard to find. House and Senate negotiators were still trying
to salvage a reorganization of the nation’s intelligence agencies.
And Ms. Boxer was trying to negotiate changes to the abortion
language, she said, with little success.

Louise Melling, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the
American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed the provision, said
it would effectively strip states of their right to “enforce laws
that were designed to protect women’s health.”

For instance, she said, there are four states – Hawaii, Maryland,
New York and Washington – that pay for some abortions for low-income
women through their Medicaid programs. Under the language included in
the omnibus bill, hospitals would not have to comply with those
requirements.

On Friday, nine female senators – eight Democrats and one Republican,
Olympia J. Snowe of Maine – wrote a letter to Senator Stevens asking
that the language be changed and complaining that it had not gone
through committee or to the Senate floor for a vote.

Ms. Snowe called the language “a bad provision” that would “adversely
affect reproductive health access for women across the country.” She
added, “It is an ill-advised policy that is clearly harmful to women.”

The bill generally holds spending to the level sought by the White
House. The huge measure also contains scores of home-state projects
sought by lawmakers.

November 20, 2004 at 4:54 pm 1 comment

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