Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fun Facts

In my sophomore year of high school I:

Cut geometry 15 times. Grade A-
Cut spanish 24 times. Grade C*
Cut biology 13 times. Grade C
Cut history 14 times. Grade B

In my junior year of high school I:

Cut spanish 14 times. Grade C
Cut drafting 14 times. Grade B
Cut history 3 times. Grade A
Didn't cut physics or english at all, those were the classes with the cutest girls, got an A+ and B, respectively.

*No wonder Mr. Martinez called me a `functional illiterate.'

Friday, November 28, 2008

Teen Angst Circa 1983

Rambler went home for the holidays and discovered this in a box of junk. It was written during freshman year at NYU. Enjoy.

October 23, 1983

As I sit in my room, I realize something. It's over. 18 years. A lifetime. Fun, memories, disappointments. Stuff that should last forever has ended. they say, now `you'll live.' I'd like to say that if this is living I'd rather be dead. No longer am i living for myself but for a system. A system to get a job, settle down and in thirty years ask if it was worth it.

Time flew in high school and all that came before it. It flew because it was freedom. It was fun. It symbolized the joy of living. Time flies here. It flies for different reasons though. Here is just a wait station for reality. reality being working for nothing and seeing that what one does doesn't change a hell of a lot in a world like this.

I'm not ready to let go of the past. Maybe in time I will be, but I'm not now. Especially when I'm letting go all alone here. From the looks of other people, I must be the only one who had a fun past. Or is it that I took it all too seriously? I guess it had to end. Now instead of constant joy, I, like the rest of the world, must find it in little spurts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


She makes me forget why I'm mad
She makes me remember who I am
She lifts me to places I've never been
She reminds me of a time when I believed in when

She makes me the man I want to be
She shows me what I could never see
She tells me I say what's right
She brings me closer to the light

Didn't think I'd get to that place
Where I didn't need the rage
To get myself through another day
Now I can just let myself go in your sway

Explaining Myself, Not Very Well

Xmastime wanted to know if I was glad that the city seems to be taking a slight downturn. While I responded to his comments regarding "Everything is just a little askew," I thought I'd take a whack at explaining myself here.

Of course I don't want a return of high crime, unsafe streets, dirty subway stations, homeless everywhere, men crapping on the streets (oh wait, that was me), etc.

But I also don't want more hideous hi-rises. I don't want Harlem to vanish into a sea of gentrification and corprification (that's my own word). I don't want a Duane Reade on every corner (I know, too late). I'm disgusted that Williamsburg and Green Point look more like Tel-Aviv these days with those awful glass buildings everywhere. I'm not against construction, but does every building that goes up have to be in direct contrast to what's already in the neighborhood? Does every architect think he's the new Howard Roark? Peter Keating is more like it.

So does this mean I'm against progress? I'm not sure how we define progress. If a city losing its character and color is progress, then yeah, I'm against it. I'm against turning Willets Point into a strip mall. I was against the westside stadium.

Am I one of those hypocrites who bemoans gentrification after they've gentrified? Probably. After college I made a beeline for Alphabet City and lived on 5th Street and Avenue B. This was 1986. Tompkins Square was full of tents, etc. I loved it. Not the apartment. That was an overpriced room ($520 a month, which was a lot back then)with a floor that you could skateboard on.

Now I look at the East Village and I literally do not recognize it. I dare say my Manhattan Valley hood (not the UES Xmastime, come on!) has more cred. But I played a part in all that by moving there when I did.

I want to see Danny Hoch's one man show on gentrification even though obviously some of that shit applies to me. That said, I won't be buying in Washington Heights or Hamilton Heights.

So what? Is no one supposed to move to New York? That makes no sense. Of course, it doesn't. What's changed is who moves to New York and why. New York used to be a creative and cultural hub as well as the financial center of the world. Now, more often than not, the ones who can come here and stay here are in it for the money. The rest can't make it here anymore.

I don't know where the hell this post is going. I'm sure my views have only become more muddled and I've set myself up for a verbal beat down.

But I'll still smile the empty apartments and retail space inside the two twin monsters on Broadway and 100th everyday on my way to work until the inevitable Whole Foods arrives.

And yes, I'm a hypocrite. I'm saying it now so in a few years when I buy some one bedroom in Hamilton Heights I've covered my tracks here.

But I sure will feel guilty about it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Everything Is Just A Little Askew

Can't help but notice a little more grit on the streets. There's a return of graffiti at subway stations if not inside the trains. I'm seeing more homeless and more beggars and they are getting more brazen.

And I don't mind. Dare I say, I feel an edge creeping back in as the economy hits the skids. I know, way too soon to declare an era over, but I'll settle for at least a hiatus.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Career Choices

Not sure if I should hitch my wagon to you
Just don't know if that's the best move
You say all the right things
Paint a picture of a beautiful dream

But how do I know that once I get in the door
You won't keep shouting more, more, more
Lots of promises about freedom of thought
Want to believe it will be more than beat the clock

Lord knows you don't get anywhere standing still
That don't mean you grab every dirty bottle and take a swill
Thinking that will be the sip that makes me rich
But in the end I end up being your bitch

So maybe I toss away the chance at cash
Sit on the sidelines...finish last
I walk away from your prize
Because my gut says you're full of lies

Leave me hanging on the street
Just another stripped down piece of meat
Bet the house on your game
Taken again by another dame

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm Ready For Football And That's All

Bad enough watching the Redskins choke their way through another big game. More annoying was NBC's halftime show which included a segment featuring Meredith Vierra babbling about the environment as part of NBC Universal's "Green Initiative."

You know what, when I'm watching football, that's what I want to watch. I don't want news on global warming at halftime. I want highlights of the games I missed earlier.

I also don't want to hear the latest Bruce song played over NFL highlights. Readers here know how I feel about Bruce's decision to play the Super Bowl so I won't reiterate it again here. But to not even have a live performance or a music video, just three minutes of Bruce over NFL highlights...pathetic. Must have been a hell of a negotiation between Jon Landau, NBC and the NFL.

Just show me the game and talk about the game. Is that asking too much?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Big D

So you're 52
Man that makes me feel old
I wish you could find that happy
Picture you alone at night up in Washington Heights
And it's just like when you were thirteen
Hanging in that attic all by yourself

I know you think you've got that inner peace thing going
But that beautiful rage is there waiting to explode
And all the meditation and all the circles
Can't lift that anger that is so deep within
Spend your days helping others who can't help themselves
And come home at night and no one's there to help you

I put too much on you back in the day
Made you play my dad when you didn't have one either
You were my protector and you were my light
And I was too little to see that wasn't right
When you took off on us all those years ago
A part of me died, just died

It wasn't fair and it wasn't right
But when you're little you don't know better
Thought you betrayed me, thought I wasn't worth it
You weren't running from me, you were running from you
Too much weight for any boy to carry
And now all these years later it seems you're still lost

Don't want that for you but I don't have a clue
How to get you where you deserve to be
Been 52 long years of desperation
Not much worth eating cake about
But man I love you and even if you never save yourself
You fucking saved me and I thank you

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The D.C. public school chancellor, Michelle Rhee, wants to do away with tenure. Big article on her in today's New York Times. Tenure is like rent control. If you've got it you love it and if you don't it must be abolished.

I have mixed views on tenure. As a product of said D.C. public school system I can tell you I had some dumb teachers who didn't deserve a desk and a chair. I barely did myself, but then I wasn't being paid to be there. There was my biology teacher who literally could not speak English. I had a math teacher who more often than not was feeling no pain during class. I had a gym teacher who weighed 300 pounds. You get the idea.

And all were no doubt protected by tenure. There were some good teachers too. Wait. Yeah, there might have been a few. Of course a lot of us students were no prize either.

Anyway, I digress. Rhee basically wants to give teachers who surrender their tenure big raises (for a year and then they basically have to reapply for their job) or at least lose certain privileges that go with tenure. Naturally she's run into a stone wall with the teacher's union.

I get why someone who devotes their life to education wants certain protections. I also get that we now live in a world where fewer and fewer people have or make that commitment. Rhee got into education by doing Teach for America for two years. Hey that's a great program and noble and I wish I had the balls to quit and give it a shot.

But I'm not sure if using that sort of approach is the long-term model. Randi Weingarten, head of the NY UFT, said in the Times of Rhee, `Michelle does not view teaching as a career...she sees it as temporary, something a lot of newbies will work very hard at for a couple of years, and then if they leave, they leave, as opposed to professionals who get more seasoned.'

She has a point (and believe me, it pains me to say that).

There has to be some sort of middle ground. There is no arbitrary one size fits all solution and yet more often that not this what we go for in this country. Take three strikes you're out. That sounds great on paper, but in reality it treats every felony the same and overloads and already pressed penal system. Don't even get me started on the drug laws.

Automatic tenure is something that needs to be reexamined. Too many bad teachers are hanging in there and while having no bad teachers won't suddenly fix all the wrongs of the D.C. school system, it'd be a nice start.

But be careful that the cure isn't worse than the disease.

Bloggers And Facebookers Need Not Apply

In a sign of the times, not only does Obama want the standard deep background info on potential applicants, he also wants to check out Facebook pages and wants to know what name you've used to post comments on various sites. Oh, and have you ever sent any email that might embarrasses the president-elect? Lets see, even if we are using Kwame Kilpatrick text messages as the barometer I'm pretty much fucked.

I'm not ranting about this because, well, they're right. But it will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since I'm guessing that many of his third-tier and fourth-tier staffers will be of the Facebook generation (is that a term yet? if it isn't please lets not start using it).

Which is worse, having an uncle who worked at Freddie Mac or a wife who lobbies for investment banks or posting "nice tits" next to a friend's Facebook beach photo? We live in a world with little privacy left and yet rather than hold on to what we've got, many of us (sigh, me included) have decided to go the other way and put it all out there for the world to see. We think only our 500 "friends" see it, but there anyone who believes that may want to head downtown and inquire about the sale of that bridge to Brooklyn. Yeah, I'm showing my age with that one.

The kids in high school and college now may be the ones in for some hard lessons about their "openness" down the road. On the other hand, maybe not. Maybe in our post-whatever world, none of this will ultimately matter and life will one big Ally McBeal episode (I cite that show because of the coed bathrooms and to remind everyone yet again of my dated references)

As for me, hell whatever I do next in life hopefully won't be impacted by anything I've scribbled here. I think if I have a kid though, I'm keeping him off the grid as much as possible.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The NFL's move to split into for divisions per conference definitely took care of some of the geographical silliness such as Arizona in the East and Tampa in the central. But there is one that still bugs me. I want Baltimore back in the east. I propose swapping the Bills and Ravens. Think about it. The Bills would do battle with the Steelers, Bengals and Browns. Four old school blue collar industrial (well once industrial anyway) cities doing battle. The Ravens become the old Colts (instead of the old Browns) and all those rivalries of the past return.

Yeah, I know the Bills won't want to let go of those AFC East rivalries, but I'll bet the travel costs go down. Same for the Ravens.

I'll put this in a memo and get it to Roger Goodell.

While We're On The Subject Of Rescues

How about a bailout of the Oakland Raiders? This is sadder than anything that's happening on Wall Street. Al Davis must go. Commitment to Excellence? More like time for him to be committed.

I know, what does a Redskin fan care about the Raiders? Well as a fan of the game, it's just bad to see the Silver and Black suffer. It hurts.

Motor City

Rambler doesn't usually weigh into politics much. Enough others making too much noise on that front. But I will say after some soul searching that Congress should help out Detroit. If we can bail out a slew of firms whose basic contribution, to paraphrase from Wall Street, is to live off the buying and selling of others, then we need to rescue GM, which actually creates.

A Forbes columnist hit it on the head:

"The U.S. is lending $120 billion to an insurance company. There's $700 billion set aside for banks and others whose leaders enriched themselves while ruining their companies and the U.S. economy.

The leaders of GM have made their mistakes--plenty of them--but they didn't enrich themselves beyond decency as those other executives did. Today's economic problems, brought on by subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, a credit freeze and a stock market collapse, were caused by those other folks.

The U.S. needs to decide if it wants a domestically controlled auto industry. We won't run out of cars. Toyota, Honda, Mercedes and BMW will make sure of that. But the auto industry created American society as it's known today. If this industry can't survive, what can?

We might ask ourselves if Japan would allow Toyota to go down in these circumstances or if Germany would let Volkswagen fail. The U.S. should also ask whether those companies will build the tanks and trucks that it might need someday.

A collapse of GM would bring a huge job loss, close to 100,000 people on its own payroll, plus hundreds of thousands of others in dealerships and supplier industries. The U.S. would pay a price for this in unemployment insurance, medical costs, the squeeze on schools because of tax losses and all the things that go with such devastation.

Maybe an American driving his Mercedes to work is thinking: `What has GM done for me lately? We're not a manufacturing economy anymore. We're technology, service, finance. Let those autoworkers, who make too much money anyway, get jobs at Wal-Mart.' But when GM gets killed, it's bad for business everywhere, and something needs to be done about it."

OK, so he lifted that last sentence from The Maltese Falcon. Dude still knows what he's talking about.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saved Again

Driving down the ten, heading out to the sea
Sun in front of me, you behind me
If I turn the radio on loud enough
Will it make your voice go away

Want to out run you on the PCH
But everywhere I turn your there
Thought maybe this time I'd escape
But you always do me one better

Spun out and raced back towards La Brea
Maybe I can give you the slip on Stocker
Got caught up in some 18th Street shit
And now I've got more than you to answer to

I'm trying to save you the pain
Can't you take that life preserver
And get away from this sinking ship
This drowing man will take you down too

Get over thinking you're a rescuer
Sometimes you've got to let them burn up
Thought I'd lost you on Crenshaw but you're still there
And now my past is on your ass too.

Gave them the split at La Tijera behind the KFC
But you weren't so fast and you took the bullet for me
Isn't that the way it always goes
Saved by you again

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tears Won't Tell

She beat her baby to an inch of her life
What makes hate that strong?
That kid's brain is gone
And the cops don't even blink twice

A thirteen year old girl buried up to her neck in the dirt
While a gang hurls rocks at her head
Another hundred stand by to cheer her death
Her crime? Being raped by three men on her way to work

Another day
More gone
No say
No song
Blood pouring
Free from their hell
No one's mourning
Tears won't tell
Did nothing wrong
Another day

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Am Not Surprised

I am not shocked nor surprised that Obama won. I have often thought our country was a lot further along on race than the media, Hollywood or the extreme left was willing to admit.

Those that are expressing utter amazement at what happened tonight are usually the very same ready to always assume the worst of their country. Look how far this country has come in just forty years. In fact, a large chunk of Obama's support comes from a generation that has no actual experience of where this country was just a short while ago. To them it is history. To them the idea that color would influence how they would vote is absurd.

Now am I saying that the whole country has moved past race? Of course not. But obviously the majority has. Could a different black candidate with a different background have won? I don't know. All I know is this candidate won because a majority of the people thought he could do the better job, hopefully regardless of his color or how the rest of the world will now look at us.

This election did not show how far we've come. It shows how far we came. We were already there. And I am not surprised.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Latest Belichick Bullshit

This is slightly more moronic than the freeze the kicker crap. Let's call it the twelfth man sting and keep an eye on it because I think it is going to happen more and more as these coaches continue to outsmart themselves.

I believe this actually inadvertently started with Joe Gibbs last season when he had the team in the hurry up offense and they turned the ball over. An eagle-eyed assistance caught the Vikings with 12 men on the field and the play was reversed and the Skins held onto the ball. It was a total fluke.

In last night's Pats-Colts game the same thing happened. The Patriots were in hurry up and snapped the ball quick and then challenged that the Colts had too many men on the field. In this case though, there was no turnover and I am 99% sure that Belichick intended all along to try to catch the Colts in this situation. It backfired on him when the refs ruled the Colts twelfth guy got off the field and the move cost the Pats a crucial time out.

As usual, none of the announcers picked up on what Belichick was up to but it seemed clear to me. And to me it's bullshit football. Win on the field. Cut the crap and play like a man.

Watch You Watch Paint Dry

I'd watch you watch paint dry
Listen to you read a book
Hear you whisper in my ear and tell me lies
Wherever you go is where I'll look

I'll follow you down a library aisle
Let you run your car into mine
Anything to hold your eyes for awhile
You're the one too good for my line

I'd watch you watch paint dry
Listen to you eat marshmellows
Sit by your window just to hear your sigh
And know I can do better than all your other fellows

Bought this new jacket for you to see
Shined my shoes for when I walk down your street
Got my hair cut right and I'm ready to be
The one those other guys of yours can't beat

My car is all cleaned and waxed
I got goodies for you in the glove box
Sprayed myself with a ton of Axe
You want to be the chain or the lock?

I'd watch you watch paint dry
Listen to you make a confession
Hear you tell them lies
And be my new obsession

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Status Update

So it's been awhile since I've actually provided some sort of an update on Rambler. Not really writing much. Yeah sure, there's the poems/lyrics but no one is knocking with any music for them. Not that I make any effort to try to get published. As far as the fiction/noir, that well has been dry for awhile.

Work is still kind of sucky but considering how many people I know who are worried about their jobs and how many others who aren't working, I am trying to just be grateful for my gig. We too will be feeling the pinch and hopefully if I do leave it'll be on my terms. My not so new boss, who I've known for a long time, has no attention span. He can't even get halfway through a joke without forgetting what he is saying. It does not instill the staff with a lot of faith. He is all about the schmooze. Nothing wrong with that, but if you can't close a deal it really doesn't matter how gregarious you are. Hell, he can't even close the door to the restroom, much less a contract. More responsibility that front falls to me but I'm not a salesman. I could be, but I also don't want to be one. I have trouble with the whole lying thing.

I'm still putting together decent events but getting asses in the seat is getting harder. You'd think with all these people out of work and looking to network we'd be booming. Truth is, we skew old.

Anyway, bottom line is I have a job and should shut the fuck up.

With regards to women, there are some faint rumblings but nothing to get too excited about and as usual I always do things the hard way. The plus side is I finally kissed someone I've been wanting to kiss for about five years. Of course she lives across the country. Fortunately, I'm headed across the country soon so we'll see if there is a quick fling or something greater in the works or nothing at all. Whatever happens is what's supposed to happen.

That's my update. Not much. Maybe I'll just stick to telling it in verse.

Cut Me

Figure it'd be different this time
Figure I got it all thought out
But I'm just as lost as I was before
And now you've walked out the door

You said I held back
And here I was thinking I gave all
Don't know what more I could've done
And when you gave me that look it stung

So I'm back to the start
Another piece of me gone
And the window's shut tight
Can't admit you were right

Back to my books,
Back to my words
Back to my darkness
Can't admit you were right

Waiting here for the next show
Hoping this one will play out
But you're still etched in my brain
And I'm still tasting your rain

So I'm back in my corner
Trying to get up again
Cut me so I can see
Cut me so I can breathe