Articles of Clothing I’m Genuinely Terrified to Wear in Public

  • Hats
    Any kind of hat, including cap, beanie, fedora, cowboy, skull, doo-rag, yarmulke, bowler, Kangol, newsie, Ebenezer Scrooge nightcap, sombrero, turban, pork pie, etc. etc. Plus, wearing a hat will make you go bald. True story.
  • Sunglasses
    They make me look like a little kid doing a Risky Business/Top Gun impression, depending on the type of glasses, or how you like your Tom Cruise — pimp-y or fighter pilot-y.
  • Glasses
    The lenses are too thick, because I have this kind of vision.
  • Scarves
    Everyone will think I’m a fancy lad! Spoiler alert: I am.
  • T-shirts
    I don’t trust anything without a collar. Where’d the collar go? What are you hiding? Why do you want people to see my skinny neck?
  • V-neck shirts
    First you took away my collar, now MORE fabric goes missing? This is a disaster — a pale, hairless-chested, protruding sternum, disaster.
  • Tank tops
    This is a fabric massacre! My arms are cold, because they don’t have the ability to retain heat, due to their whispiness.
  • Blazers/sportscoats
    I’m not a businessman who does business things. I can’t even spell synchronicity. Oh, look, I guess I can. Gimme that coat: Exit strategy, synergy, 401k, contigency plan…
  • Suits
    I’ll only wear a suit to funerals, weddings, my own funeral, and my own wedding, ordered in importance.
  • Argyle sweaters
    I have several of these in my closet — I look at them longingly, then shut the closet door slowly, like a coffin lid.
  • Tight-ish pants
    “Can they see the outline? Someone please tell me if they can see the outline.”
  • Loose pants
    “Why can’t they see the outline? I don’t want them to think I’m less-than.”
  • Khakis
    I don’t own a boat, and I’m not about to walk around wearing a boat owner’s uniform.
  • Shorts
    Back in high school, I ran into the girl of my wildest dreams at a Blockbuster. She ran up to me and put her hand around my leg, exclaiming, “Look, I can touch fingers!” Thus began my decades-long shorts fast.
  • Swim trunks
    Swim trunks are tight-ish pants and shorts rolled all into one massive nightmare. A double whammy.
  • Boots
    Boots give me petite feet, a feminine step. I don’t want to shuffle across the floor to avoid the click-clacking.
  • Flip flops/Sandals
  • Watches
    I don’t have the time to focus attention to my skinny wrists. But I DO have the time to make a bad pun.
  • Jewelry of any kind
    I’m just of the opinion that if you wear jewelry (rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets), then you’re probably a child molester. I feel like it’s a pretty common opinion.
  • Bulky coats
    I was told in middle school that wearing a bulky coat makes you a gang member. I’m not about to get shot in the back by a rogue Jimmy McNulty.
  • Headphones
    Specifically the big ones, like these. Nobody but Dr. Dre himself can pull off this look. Him and maybe this asshole.
  • Everything else
    I’m pretty okay with everything else, although short sleeve button-ups are on notice.

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Filed under batshit crazy, clothes

New Feature!

While watching the Grammy’s a few months back (Who the fuck are The Suburbs?!?), I came to the realization that I have no idea what the majority of my favorite musicians look like. This struck me when the guy from Mumford and Sons showed up looking like Run-the-Option Jesus. This was supposed to be some grizzled dude with inhuman teeth, like Shane MacGowen, not somebody that could snag some crazy hot starlet ish.

Why am I so unaware of the mugs that go with the talent? It’s a combination of laziness, anxiety, and laziness. I download albums, so I never see covers or booklets; I don’t go to shows, because crowds make me go all Howard Hughes, minus the peeing in jars; and I honestly, genuinely, (love) indubitably do not care if these people are hotties or notties. The music is what’s important; not if the guy from Grizzly Bear looks like Gomer Pyle (shazam!).

Born from this almost-not-boring insight is a new only-fun-for-me game, where I’ll try to guess what a musician looks like. It’s a little something I like to call (quick, Matthew, think of a name)……something I like to call………uh…….. Face the Music? Yeah, put a face to that music. Nice job, asshole.

Today’s mastermind of choice is Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

With his sardonic lyricism and deep baritone, I picture someone needlessly tall, wearing a dark, pinstripe suit. He’s the Tim Burton of songwriting – his stories are dark, but strangely upbeat. He’s a perfect gentleman that might just be an amateur taxidermist. My guess is he’s a shockingly pale giant with a receding hairline (way harsh, Tai).

So was I right?




















Wow, not far off:

Pale, almost dead: Check

Receding hairline/bald: Check

Holding a possible corpse dog: Check

The only part I got wrong was his height – he appears to be the exact opposite of a giant. I couldn’t find an accurate number, but some list him as around 5 feet tall. That’s like Prince small. Here he is getting dwarfed by Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman:

We’ve got ourselves a David Sedaris that morphed into a Paul Giamatti. Man, this just makes too much sense. Way to be typical, Merritt. Now it looks like this game I invented for msyelf is too easy. Be Sufjan-level good looking next time, dickbag.

Sorry, that was mean. We still bros? Because I’m totally into being bros.

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Netflix Has No Friends

Last year, Netflix murdered the Friends portion of their website. This was a dick move. How was I to know what other like-minded people were enjoying? How were my buddies supposed to see my hilarious* mini-reviews? They credited the couldn’t-possibly-be-true statistic that only 2% of subscribers used the Friends page as the reason for its untimely demise. Being a member of that minute group, I decided to treat their website like a gallon of spoiled 2% milk — using it sparingly, hating myself the entire time. I update my queue and call it a day. There’s nothing for me there. I’d switch to Blockbuster, if they weren’t already sitting in a trash can, causing a stink.

So instead of stewing over this shocking lack of respect from a billion dollar company, I’ll just treat this space as my new Friends page. I’ve watched a veritable assload of films over the last few years, so this may be a multi-parter.

* not true

It’s Kind of a Funny Story: It’s kind of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but made for tweens that cut themselves because Miley got high that one time. Nahthankya.

Cyrus: If the filmmakers’ goal was to make me hate actors I normally love, well then congratulations, I turned off your movie after 45 minutes. You can pick up your award when I see you in Hell.

Faster: If you look at the poster too fast (irony?), it looks like Farter. So, that’s something.

Winter’s Bone: Jennifer Lawrence makes meth and mountain folk look hot. The hills have eyes, and they’re staring at your boobies.

Flakes: Oh, you’ve never heard of this Zooey Deschanel-starred indie movie about a cafe that only serves cereal? I guess you were too busy adhering to the status quo. *sips gazpacho, trims bangs*

Public Enemies: Sure, it looks great, but so do I when I wear tank tops. It’s all surface with no substance underneath (I need to start working out more than just my glamour muscles).

Persepolis: I was disappointed to discover that this wasn’t about Frankie Persepolis, father of the modern gyro food truck. Why is his story left untold?

Clash of the Titans: I was disappointed to discover that I had confused this with the original Clash of the Champions where Sting fought Ric Flair to a draw. Why is this classic left unappreciated?

Cop Out: The nicest thing I can say about this is it didn’t make me suffocate a small animal. The goodwill that Bruce, Tracy, and Kevin built up over the years probably saved your life, Cat That Lives Next Door.

Twilight: Here’s the thing: this is genuinely terrible. Like, unbelievably terrible. But when the credits started to roll, I thought to myself, “Well, time to watch the next one.” I need to know how this bullshit ends, kind of like witnessing a hanging. Is he going to poo himself? I don’t want to see that, but I kind of do.

Twilight: New Moon: No poo-filled pants yet, but there’s still two more to go. Fingers crossed.

Repo Men: I have no recollection of this movie, other than Jude Law slicin’ throats and finally embracing his receding hairline. I’m sure those were the director’s exact intentions.

Greenberg: You know what you’re getting into when you watch a Noah Baumbach film: dudes that hate themselves, elitism, awkward sex, i.e., everything relatable to me. 5 thumbs up!

Crazy Heart: Just like The Wrestler, but minus the spandex and spray tans, i.e., everything relatable to me. 5 thumbs down!

The Blind Side: Sandra Bullock changed that boy’s life. These methods are totally universal. Just be a rich, hot white lady, basically kidnap a poor black kid, and then make him a millionaire. It’s. That. Simple. If some tarted-up broad on The Wire had asked Wallace to come stay with her, maybe he would have ended up playing for Coach Taylor and East Dillon. OH WAIT, HE DID. Also, this movie is terrible.

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Filed under movies, netflix

The “Screw You Guys and Your Ideas” Project – The Berenstain Bears

At first glance this friend-suggested topic seems like a metaphorical kick of sand to the face — “You asked for it, now you’re going to get it, with your stupid everything and your stupid blog. Eat beach, nerd!” *rides off on boogie board*

How could I possibly write a handful of paragraphs about decades-old, moral teaching, children’s books…have you met me? I have the morals of half-starved hyena. I’d hijack your plate of taquitos if I thought I’d get away with it. But, believe it or not, I actually have a history with The Berenstain Bears. Not in a “we used to go out, now things are weird” way; it’s more positive than that.  We did date, but our parting was amicable and we “like” each other’s posts on Facebook regularly. I owned several books in the 80’s, most of which came apart due to repeated use. I even wrote a sketch last year about the Bears turning into hoarders — their tree was overrun with the bodies of mangled hikers. It was not well received.

I have a handful of vivid memories about wanting to be a bear growing up inside a tree. This still seems like an ideal situation; is it too late to change career plans? How’s the Tree market these days? Bullish? But with any childhood memory, things usually appear glossier, sunnier, than they probably were. I loved those books, yes, but should I have? Were they affecting me in a positive way? Their purpose was to instill good living habits into children, like how to accept others, save money, eat healthier, and how to sing the praises of a Socialist regime. So at the surface they appeared to be doing a genuinely decent service to society. Children are essentially sponges — whatever you give them, they absorb. If my parents had given me Pride and Prejudice, odds are I’d be wearing an ascot right now. Call that an opportunity missed.

To find out if Stan and Jan Berenstain had successfully swayed my personality, I decided to reacquaint myself with my favorite of the bunch: The Spooky Old Tree. I read the life out of that book. Can’t tell you why, other than it was placed in my field of vision, and 5-year olds love things they’re allowed to touch with their Skittles-stained fingers.

Of course, I don’t have a copy laying about my apartment (pinky swear), and I’m certainly not going to buy one, so this will have to do:

If your reaction was anything like mine, then, well, you’re fucking terrified/perplexed.

That was not how I remembered it. What was the point? From what I can gather, it was to keep kids from ever going outside, “Stay at home at all times, and don’t have the courage to do things, or an alligator will EAT YOUR FACE.”

Why did I, specifically, like this book (other than because it had my name magic marker’d on the front)? My guess is that I agreed with the simple math: Stay in your room + Don’t face your fears = Don’t get mauled by a giant bear. This. Explains. Everything. Do you want to know how many times I went exploring in the woods? Zero. How often did I leave the comfort of my own house? Rarely. This book, to put it bluntly, turned me into a pussy.

Before I received this as a gift, I was probably a brave young boy. I could have grown up to be a jet pilot, a UFC fighter, or a crocodile wrestler.  But now look at me: blogging in the dark, petrified of the squirrel staring at me through the window. What does it want? Money? Retribution for some perceived slight? I’m pretty sure it’s going to choke me to death after I go to sleep. I didn’t know that was your half-eaten Watchamacallit! Put your name on it next time.

I don’t blame the Berenstains for pansifying a generation — they probably saved hundreds from dying of exposure in the forest. Things could have been worse. If they had written The Berenstain Bears Dispose a Despot, we’d have a bunch of government assassins running around. Well, that might not have been that bad. You hear me, Gaddafi? You’re lucky this went the other way. Next time.

If anything, this was a bizarre trip down memory lane. A childhood favorite, something that brought me hours of joy, has now been reduced to something I blame for my shortcomings. Thanks, guys. I didn’t need that positivity anyway.

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Filed under Screw You Guys and Your Ideas


There’s no excuse for the lack of attention given to this blog.

But I’m going to give you several anyway.

1. My online presence is off the charts, son! Between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and my extremely active Ashley Madison account (Life is short. Have an affair.™), I just haven’t felt the need to express myself in long-form, unless that long form belonged to a married woman.

2. I got a new job in the Fall that has me racking my head trying to fill a Word document 8 hours a day. When I get home during the week, and all throughout the weekend, the last thing I want to do is stare at a blinking cursor as I attempt (read: fail) to spill out some more thought garbage.

3. Life is kind of boring. I rely on crazy happenings for ideas, and, frankly, things have been kind of Paul Walker around here. Nobody has pushed me down a flight of stairs, nor have I pushed someone down a flight of stairs. This is the longest stair-incident drought of my life; it’s unprecedented.

4. So what, who cares?

Take all these excuses, mash ’em up and turn ’em into a stew, because they’re chock full of meaty nonsense. I should have been writing more; end of story. But excuse #3 still has a smidge of validity — wanting to write doesn’t mean ideas will immediately present themselves. So I took the coward’s way out, using a page out of excuse #1’s handbook, and requested ideas through Facebook. Thankfully, I have a lot of friends that are always willing to help out. Unthankfully, I have a lot of friends that apparantly hate me. A large chunk of their suggestions could only have manifested in their unadulturated loathing of my existence. I thought we were cool; I apologized for that thing I did that one time, right? That’s what I get for giving power to the people. I should have Gaddafi’d this thing instead. I look great all robed out. 

But I knew what I was getting myself into — and this I promised you — so I’m going to go through these suggestions in the order they came in, and, hopefully, they won’t be so terrible that you print out a copy just to spit on it. Don’t do that, guys. If anything, you’re just wasting paper.

So look for Part 1 of my “Screw You Guys and Your Ideas” series in the coming days. That name I came up with all by myself, thank you very much.

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Music in 2010: The Year of Ke$ha!


Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away
The first three tracks on the new album from my favorite verbose Idahoan – “Curtains,” “Change of Time,” “The Curse” – are so gut-wrenching, it took me several continuous listens before I could finish the rest of the album. Sadly, it couldn’t hold up as a whole, but that start is so strong it can’t be denied.

Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
Like Weezer’s first self-titled album, if it had a little more testosterone and a little less “ooh wee oooh’s.” Fantastic use of distorted power chords and grit.

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
A wonderful mish-mash of noise, falsettos and complex orchestration. The 8-hour long (ok, 25-minute long) “Impossible Soul” is a love it/hate it closing track – I lean toward the former.

Vampire Weekend – Contra
Yeah, gurl, I’m way into Paul Simon, too. Want to take this pill and see what transpires?

She & Him – Volume Two
Sure, I’m a little Zoeey-biased, but this was somehow an improvement on Volume One. When she “uh huhs” and “mm hmms” on “Gonna Get Along Without You Now,” a million boys/men freak the fuck out. Not that I would know.



10. Twin Shadow – Forget

It seems like every November I stumble on an album that just dominates my earholes for the remaining weeks of the year. George Lewis, Jr., aka Twin Shadow, put out Slow at the perfect time to take that coveted slot. His Morrissey-like vocals pair up wonderfully with sullen sadboy dance music. Yes, I know, that’s not exactly breaking the mold — it’s just quality synth pop that will remind you that your life isn’t a John Hughes movie. Sad trombone.


9. Sleigh Bells – Treats

Noise pop is one of my favorite genres, because it just seems like an oxymoron from the get-go. Noise is just noise, amirite? No, youarenotrite. Sleigh Bells brings heavy, distorted guitars that sound like they’re about to explode, and chanting, pep squad-like, feminine vocals — two things that would drown the other in a toilet — and makes it work, to a high level. These are bouncy sing-a-longs that just happen to be very, very loud.


8. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

An endearing mish-mash of psych-rock and dream pop. The album cover is my favorite of the year, and I feel like it sums up the album quite nicely — kind of charming, kind of freaky, totally awesome. “Helicopter” is a wonderfully lush experience, like swimming with a manatee that’s totally willing to cuddle with you (simile win!).


7. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

I read a review a few months back that called this Arcade Fire’s “Automatic for the People” — completely accessible and totally brilliant. I feel like this is a spot-on assessment, although I don’t think it can match up with AFTP. That album is R.E.M’s best — it just so happens to be their most radio friendly. Now, The Suburbs is a fantastic album, but it is not Arcade Fire’s best work. I’d put it below both Funeral and Neon Bible. It’s still an incredible homage to growing up in cookie cutter subdivisions, something I can totally relate to as a middle-class white boy. The crowning achievement of the album is how easily “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” fits in with the rest of the tracks. It’s euro-disco (see: ABBA) surrounded by anthemic Springsteen rock.


6. The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme

I’ve  already used up “dream pop” and “synth pop” in this list, so I guess I’ll have to describe this album as “shoegaze.” Basically, this was the year my ears lived in Partly Cloudy Drowsy Town. This album was in heavy rotation during a whole bunch of atmospheric nights spent riding on subways and walking through parks. It will put you to sleep and make you dream about girls with bangs. I should email their publicist and have that quote added to their website.


5. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt

My love for The Tallest Man on Earth, or Kristian Matsson, has grown exponentially this year, thanks to this album and an EP that subsequently followed (Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird). Matsson’s debut Shallow Grave was an incredible example that sometimes a voice and a guitar is all you need (the opposite example would be Jack Johnson *hacky sack!*). No complex instrumentation, deep production, nothing. The Wild Hunt takes this model and mostly sticks to it — only occasionally does Matsson throw in a second guitar or a piano. Ain’t broke, don’t fix, you know? Yet, somehow, this sophomore album is an improvement. At this pace, his 4th album will cure cancer (hyperbole win!).


4. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue

This is a bittersweet choice for me. It is easily Ben Folds’ best album since Rocking the Suburbs — it may even be better — but it can’t be called a “Ben Folds album.” Nick Hornby wrote the words, Ben wrote the music. This was 100% a collobrative effort between the two. Does this mean he does his best work when he has a little help, a la Ben Folds Five? Ugh, probably, but let’s look past that for now. This album could have easily been a short story collection, which is not a shock, given Hornby’s profession. Each song has a character, or characters, and a story to tell. Combine that with some of Folds’ best melodies and orchestrations in a decade, and you have an instant classic. “Belinda” is the best song Barry Manilow never wrote (totally not a backhanded compliment).


3. Beach House – Teen Dream

DREAM POP! SHOEGAZE! ATMOSPHERE! Man, I’m starting to paint myself into a very specific musical corner, huh? But what sets Beach House apart from acts like Twin Shadow and The Radio Dept. is Victoria Legrand’s vocals. They are physically over-powering, like getting caught in a tornado. You find yourself stepping back during tracks like “10 Mile Stereo.” The driving rhythms paired with her husky voice — they just pick you up and carry you along.


2. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

Now I’m not one to dance in public — only on special occasions, like when I black out from too much boxed wine — but James Murphy’s latest puts a little spring in my footwork, no matter where I’m stepping. His lyrical combination of self-deprecation and eye-opening truisms speak to me, MAN. He gives you hope, while at the same time keeping you steeped in snarky reality. That’s hard to do. Thus, I am his disciple and I will white-boy shuffle in almost-but-not-quite perfect unison when he asks.


1. The National – High Violet

There’s just something about The National that — for the lack of a better term — speaks to me. When I listen to their albums, I feel involved, like these songs were my own creation. High Violet struck a very specific nerve: feeling isolated while surrounded by millions of people. Matt Berninger’s social anxiety, that lingering feeling that he could suffocate out in the open under the weight of his own thoughts, is at the forefront:

“You’d never believe the shitty thoughts I think. Meet our friends out for dinner. When I said what I said, I didn’t mean anything.” – Conversation 16

“This pricey stuff makes me dizzy, I guess I’ve always been a delicate man.” – Lemonworld

“I live in a city sorrow built. It’s in my honey, it’s in my milk.” – Sorrow

“You said I came close as anyone’s come to live underwater for more than a month.” – Anyone’s Ghost

This album is soaked in melancholy, despite it reaching new heights musically. Berninger pours his heart out with his almost mumbly baritone, while grand sounds rise and fall around him. No wonder he feels the crush of it all.


Filed under music

How to Make a Cop Laugh in Your Face: A Tutorial

Officers, when you put me in this position I can't do my work.

New York can be a confusing place for a recent transplant. You don’t want to look like a tourist, ripe for the picking for the thousands of nogoodniks, ruffians, and roustabouts. So you concoct this faux-bravado that should, if successful, make you appear invincible to a week-long vacation in the ICU. You walk with a purpose, defiant against those that want to stop and stare at pigeons –“Yes, that one’s black. Amazing. Now get your Tommy Bahama shirt out of my way.” You hide behind sunglasses, mean mug like someone just told you the Cheesy Gordita Crunch has been permanently discontinued, and you certainly  don’t openly wave about your gaggle of Apple products. You are local, and just like your close friends, The Wu Tang Clan, you are not to be fucked* with.

But you also don’t want this facade to turn a tame interaction into the perfect shitstorm. You want to be prepared for anything, but this can lead to something the French like to call, “le wacky situation.” An example would be, say, thinking somebody is attempting to rob you, so you react as any tough-as-nails New Yorker would: with violence. Only this person isn’t trying to rough you up. You have done something stupid. You have egg on your face. You look ridiculous. You may soon have a court date.

This was me last week. Only I decided to boost, Jamba Juice style, my wacky situation by almost physically assaulting a member of the NYPD.

I have never been in a fight. I’ve never so much as slapped a bully for getting saucy on the playground. So if I had received my very first felony for accosting a cop, the Irony Police would have been on my ass for giving them too much paperwork. This surely would have sent me spiraling toward a life of breaking into Paint Your Own Pottery stores to huff fresh acrylics. I do not deal with Job-esque trials very well. This was a close call.

I was returning from one of my usual late nights at a Starbucks near Times Square (streaming episodes of Becker on Netflix, of course), heading toward the 42nd Street subway stop. I had my headphones on — another tactic used to look unapproachable in the city — so I was not living in the land of the hearing-abled. When I reached the end of the stairs leading toward the platform, I felt a hand pushing me from behind, trying to lead me around a corner. Given that I couldn’t hear a thing, I just assumed that I was about to be shanked to bits in the darkened catacombs of the New York underground. So I pushed the hand away from my back, and spun around ready to wildly destroy a man’s holy of holies with my fists. Luckily, I wasn’t high on fresh kiln fumes and I had my wits about me, so I immediately recognized the man in blue with the shiny piece of metal attached to his chest. I shouted out, “OH, MY GOD, I COULDN’T HEAR YOU!” and waited for the warm embrace of electricity to overtake my body.

Presented immediately to my left, the very direction I was being guided, was a table for bag checks. And sitting behind the table was another cop, trying not to laugh in my face. The officer behind me just shook his head and said, “Random bag check, sir,” and walked away. I continued to apologize to the laughing man, who politely said, “Maybe don’t play your music so loud. Have a nice night,” and sent me on my way to Fresh Change of Pants Island.

Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps it is to not automatically assume that everyone in New York City wants to shatter your inner goodness. Possibly. But I’m going to go with the ever popular “Rock and Roll is the work of the devil and should be destroyed through prayer.” If I hadn’t been listening to that filth at such a dastardly volume, I never would have found myself in such a quandary. Now I’m off to watch The Food Network to count how many times someone says the word “loins.” EVERYONE KNOWS THAT PORK LOINS ARE THE CREATION OF THE GAY CHEF AGENDA!**

* Sorry, mom. For Mother’s Day this weekend, I vow to hold my curs-ed tongue.
** For the record, I’m on board with this agenda. Have you seen Brian Boitano’s show? Dude can cook!

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Filed under idiots, New York City