10.29.2007

The Autobigoraphy of Arlo Harshenstein, Chapter I

Nostradamus's question about my parents ties in (however inadvertently) with one of my own recent post-work occupations; you see, inspired by my recent cleansing presence in this filth-ridden waste of cyberspace and the uproarious (a muted uproar, I'll grant) response it has generated from my conservative colleagues across the globe, I have finally begun the task I have long avoided, in short, I have begun my autobiography and will be "testing" chapters out here in order to gauge the response... I apologize for that uncharacteristically bedraggled sentence, you must understand that this has been an immensely exciting and solitary few weeks, and now that my words will finally be read by an (admittedly mostly deficient) audience, I can't even bother to edit this prologue before pasting the precious body in... I give you:

The Autobiography of Arlo Harshenstein
An American Dissident


Chapter I--Wherein our narrator discloses his patrimony, relates the circumstances of his birth, and gives a brief history of his father

I am a man not well regarded for my tolerance. I have difficulties interacting with most people in a social setting. I believe in hierarchy, and the mish-mash of everyday life is simply too unstratified for me. If I had been born a member of highest Indian caste and been treated like a God from birth, I would have a much higher regard for the "plight of others" than I now do. Why is this? Why am I among history's greatest social aberrations?

It is all their fault. My parents. On them the stigma falls. From their misguided plantings, this irregular tree has sprouted, bearing many ears of unusual and untimely corn. This book is the scattering of those kernels, if you prefer, the popping of their ill-sown corn. Whatever metaphor you choose, it must be made clear that the consequences of every future harvest from the ears of the besotted
Baum of me lie squarely at the feet of those rank sowers, those monsters, my parents.

But to details: I was born in 1978 CE, in Roosevelt Hospital on West 59th Street in Manhattan on Saturday, Novermber 18. It was, by all accounts, an unremarkable birth. My father, the then newly titled Dr. Ira Harshenstein was a 30 year old psychiatry resident at New York-Presbyterian hospital. My mother, Gladys Disraeli Harshenstein, was a medical student at Columbia. As I said, my birth occurred without incident; would that my parents lives prior to that moment had been as pacific!

The best way of relating the sum is to divide and explicate the parts; thus, I begin with my father. Ira was born in 1948 to Rabbi Gershom Harshenstein (It is believed the odd name is a bizarre joke by a drunken, racist, Irish immigration man. This is what Grandpa always said, though I don't have documentation. Our original name was probably something closer to Goldstein, but no one knows for sure) and his lovely wife Doris, similarly in New York, though I believe in the Bronx.

Ira's was a typical orthodox upbringing until, at the age of 13 he declared himself a committed atheist and entered the public school system despite the pleadings of his shocked parents. This was the first in a series of fatal (to me) mistakes. Young Ira, upon entering the already (but no where near as failed as they are now thanks to the multi-culturalists, who've forced all abstract values out of the classroom by means of their pernicious relativism) failing public schools, fell under the sway of young music teacher, Mr. Peterson, who turned him on to jazz music in band class (Dad plays the clarinet and (lately) saxophone) and I suspect other things... My father no doubt ate this Nordic heathen's words like manna from heaven, and I have no doubt this insidious devil was an incorporate part of the young fool's downfall.

Needless to say Ira's newfound design of becoming a jazz musician was (sensibly) abhorred, abominated, and detested in the extreme by his parents, who had planned for their only child to follow the example of his father and become a questioner in the line of Moses and Hillel... But no. It was not to be, due in no small part I conjecture to that son of Odin, Peterson, who for reasons beyond my knowledge injected pernicious African influence after pernicious Caribbean influence after God knows what else until the names of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Tito Puente rang as though a list of sacred Jewish sages in long and heated arguments between father and son in the family's by-then two-bedroom Lower-East-Side apartment.

When he finished High-school in 1965 (he skipped several grades and graduated at 16), the schism was complete. He applied and was granted an unusually generous scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley. He had competing opportunities in New York and Massachusetts, but his heart was set on California. His parents practically disowned him. I admit his interest in jazz and classical music may have played some small role in his receiving the scholarship, but I prefer to believe it was his incredible mathematical acuity and forthright, masculine determination that sealed the deal.

Regardless, by the time he arrived Berkeley was a certifiable hell-hole, filled to brim with stoners, tokers, trippers, liberals, feminists, civil rights fundamentalists, you name it; the place was a reeking cesspit of chaos, the epicenter of Ragnarok for sound human reasoning. Almost as soon as he arrived Ira began a twin fascination with LSD and Sigmund Freud; before long he had dropped jazz for pre-med course work, aiming at a career in, as he put it to me years later, "revolutionary psychiatry."

The "revolutionary" aspects of Ira's career should not be underestimated. By way of clarification, I will first identify what I mean by "revolutionary," and explain why I insist on peristently bracketing that term with quotations. Marx spoke of The Revolution in 1848, calling on the workers of the world to unite for social
justice in a communist society. This should not be confused with "The Revolution" of the 1960's, which in all honesty amounted to nothing more than opposition to a generalized, completely non-specific idea of "war" and an embrace of total, consequenceless hedonism for absolutely no constructive purpose at all. The few "revolutionary" groups of the era, The Black Panthers, The Weathermen, The Symbionese Liberation Army, undoubtedly (inadvertently) contributed more to the cause of Richard Nixon and the Republicans than to the "causes" they championed through their various terrorist activities.

This "Revolution" was primarily an outgrowth of the moronic youth-culture of the era, spearheaded by those who felt stifled by the quiet hypocrisies of their parents. This response on the part of the youth, totally reactionary and ultimately ephemeral, culminated in the Presidency of Bill Clinton, wherein, despite lip-service payed to "the ideals of the 60s," well-fare programs were cut severely, and (amazingly) a policy of fiscal responsibility was maintained. Thus went the flowering of "the revolution," and these same by-then-middle-aged "activists" sat idly by as their very antithesis, George W. Bush, achieved the presidency... More than a few of them had no doubt been "converted" by the prospects of a fatter, six figure salary...

But I digress, in being, as usual, too focused on the calumnious short-comings of the previous generation. My sights, in this tome at least, should be set squarely on my own peculiar history, and not on that of the entire failed love-generation (when is Brokaw's book on the baby boomers,
The Worst Generation, coming out anyway?).

Ira's life, aside from his admirable (to his parents) medical studies, consisted in a predictable number of sit-ins, be-ins, love-ins, and general orgies. During his junior year he was actively involved in the anti-war protests, conveniently just as he became eligible for draft. He needn't have worried; scrawny, sciatica-ridden Jewish intellectuals on the medical school fast-track were not exactly at the top of the army's "want-list." Nevertheless, he signed innumerable petitions, watched as countless draft cards (illegally) went up in flames, and even attended a few wild concerts at the old Filmore in San Francisco. Valhalla indeed!

Ira's own trip to the draft office was short and sweet. He was laughed out of the place as soon as they caught sight of his somewhat halting gate (his parents insisted this was the result of a youthful bout of polio, but I checked his medical records; Ira never had polio) and thick glasses. This experience apparently only hardened his zeal against the military establishment.

In any event, at last we come to the brief moment of excitement in the young chap's life. As a medical student at UCSF in the 70's Ira gave his services as an (as yet unlicensed) doctor to members of the Panthers and the despicable Weathermen while these "revolutionaries" were "underground" (funny how even revolutionaries have kids, car accidents, etc.) free of charge. He never met any of the ring-leaders, nor was he implicated in any wrongdoing. But as a kid I had to hear lecture after lecture about how dad had "done the moral thing" and helped the revolutionary outlaws... Ugh. Sickening. One of my chief aims in detailing the events of my life is to embarrass my parents as much as possible, and, the debunking of my father's pathetic "heroism" accomplished, I will move on to further topics...

Wrapping up this brief and hideous exposition of a life too boring and insignificant to be told in detail, Ira finished medical school and moved east to New York for his residency, where he married a like-minded hippy, Gladys Disraeli... Her even more ignominious liberalism will exposed in our next chapter.

10.28.2007

Searching For Scottie...

So I'm watching game 4 of the World Series, in which I hope my beloved Red Sox will be able to finish off the hated upstart Rockies. Unlike others, I persist in believing in "the curse" and all its potential efficacy; yes, we won in '04, but who is to say that was not just a momentary reprieve granted by the Bambino? But this is not what this blog post is about at all, not what it is about at all...

Rumors are flying that the Lakes and Bulls are on the verge of pulling the trigger on a big swap. It seems obvious what the Bulls are thinking: Kobe=Next Best to MJ, sure way to rekindle thoughts of old glory and potentially catapult the franchise back to those lofty heights in a weakened East. The Lakers, according to the above story, are trying to sell as-close-to-high-as-possible (given that a Kobe for Duncan deal is obviously off the table and a Kobe for Howard and Nowitzki would never happen) by asking for a package consisting of Deng, Gordon, Thomas, and Noah. These are definitely the Bulls' two best players and their two best prospects... In short, too much to demand.

Or is it?

Let's play devil's advocate and say this trade goes through. That leaves Chicago with a core group of Kobe, Hinrich, Wallace, Nocioni, Duhon, Thabo, Khryapa, Joe Smith, and spare parts. Certainly not a deep team, but also not without hope. The Chicago model would suggest the key to building a title winner depends upon having the league's best 2-Guard with otherworldly scoring and defensive abilities (of course Kobe is no MJ, but CHECK), a talented if aging junk-man more focused on rebounding and D than scoring (Wallace, check), and an ultratalented 3-Man with uncanny point guard abilities and some of the best D in NBA History (Nocioni? Thabo? Uh, let's just say ???????)... Okay, so it isn't a perfect match, but two of the pieces are there, and though I'm not familiar with the cap details of such a trade, I'm guessing the Bulls would be somewhat better off despite Kobe's enormous deal if only because they will be freed from giving huge extensions to all four players (or free of them should such deals be in place at the time a trade)... Of course I could be completely wrong, but I bet they have a chance at getting a decent 3-man somehow...

But it won't be Scottie. For the record, I think Michael wins 0 titles without Scottie. None. Pippen was the key.

I have felt this way since, as a youth, I turned over an Upper-Deck trading card which contained the following biographical fact about Mr. Pippen:
After he retires, Scottie hopes to become a professional dog breeder.
Damn, that mysterious cat is deeper than the ocean!

10.25.2007

Gangster Behavior

No, don't worry this isn't a Cosby-style moralizing tirade, merely a tribute to some amazing behavior by one JR Smith:
A 22-year-old Englewood woman told police she was at the DC10 club in Denver when Smith poured Moet champagne on her, according to a summons charging the guard with assault, destruction of property, and disturbing the peace.

As the club closed for the night, the woman said Smith "apologized to the victim. Then (he) changed attitude and spit on her, used his hand to push her face, and tore her dress," according to the police report.

The woman called police, who arrived to find her in the torn dress. She had no other apparent injuries, the report said.

Smith, 22, then told the officer "he was very (drunk and) doesn't remember everything" that happened at the club, according to the officer's notes on the summons.
Now that is what I'm talking about. I love the "apologizing turns to spitting-in-face" aspect of this story; that seems like such a classic, blasted, egotistical athlete thing to do. With his inhibitions lowered, even the pretense of apologizing to this woman angered JR so much he had no choice but to spit in her face and assault her!

Then after the police show up he admits he's too tanked to remember what happened! Great move, the law is really sympathetic to the "black-out defense." It's too bad this happened, because prior to his moronic brawl at MSG (by moronic I mean awesome) last year, JR was having a pretty great season, and he seemed like a real surprise "steal" for the Nuggets, who got him basically for nothing from Chicago...

Anyway, great work, my man, keep it up. Things like this help keep the basketball element of this blog alive!

10.24.2007

A Fair Solution

Nostradamus asked a provocative question about my family in his last (mediocre) post. I will get to that soon, and no, my parents' liberal, anarchistic youth is not a "sore subject" with me. I have long since reconciled myself with my origins, on many levels.

Back to business, I was perusing one of my favorite websites, Scotsman.com (my allegiance to the Scots of course derives from my strict belief in Adam Smith's laissez-faire economics and David Hume's empiricism) when I came across this interesting story:
Prostitutes in the Bolivian city of El Alto sewed their lips together on Wednesday as part of a hunger strike to demand that the mayor reopen brothels and bars ordered closed after violent protests by residents last week.

"We are fighting for the right to work and for our families' survival," Lily Cortez, leader of the El Alto Association of Nighttime Workers, told local television.
As far as I'm concerned, this is just democracy at work. The people protested, and the mayor is finally enforcing the law... Shocking! So of course a bunch of good-for-nothing, pathetic impoverished whores start a protest by sewing their lips shut and going on a hunger strike. Good for them. But it gets even better. These people are going to do the government's work for it:
"Tomorrow we will bury ourselves alive if we are not immediately heard. The mayor will have his conscience to answer to if there are any grave consequences, such as the death of my comrades," she said, surrounded by about 10 prostitutes who had sewn their lips together with thread.
If only we were so lucky! Can you believe it, they are going to actually bury themselves alive (saving the government the cost of burying them, as an added bonus), and all this mayor has to do is nothing! Talk about an easy choice. Now I'm sure some of you will call my response to this situation "cold" or "monstrous." But think about it: if a civil government is so unable to enforce its laws that a violent protest results, what choice does it have but to enforce the laws in question by any means necessary? If a few prostitutes bury themselves in protest, is that really on the government's hands, if said government is merely enforcing an existing law? I think not my friends, I think not.

More on my parents foolish and ill-advised 60s political terrorism soon. This will make my point that much clearer.

Of all the Nerve...

So I was reading Howard Bryant's ESPN.com description of the chances of my beloved Red Sox winning the upcoming World Series, when I came across this ludicrous sentence:
Unless you happen to be Nostradamus, predictions are supposed to be fun.
What does this joker Bryant know about being Nostradamus, and what's more, how does he know prophesying isn't extremely fun for one Michel de Notre Dame? How does he know, damnit?

On another note, I am watching a documentary on The Weathermen... Didn't your parents have something to do with that group, Arlo? Not to bring up a sore subject or anything, but I seem to recall your mom telling me about those "wild years" before she went to med school... Care to shed any light on this for us, friend?

10.19.2007

Grizzly Adams


Okay, so this dates me in a weird way, I guess... Recently, people have been saying I look a lot like Grizzly Adams (pictured above), or am at least trying to, in my present aspect.

Having recently attended a party at my parents, I chuckled knowingly at a few such cracks throughout the night. Of course, I had no idea who Grizzly Adams was. In fact, I assumed he was a member of Addams Family I had forgotten about. You know, like Cousin It's older brother or something... I'm not without self-awareness, I assumed this joke was a commentary on my somewhat bedraggled appearance...

Time and again I explained, no, in fact I am attempting to replicate the look of Kurt Cobain circa 1993 in order to more fully experience his musical and creative influence. People seemed to understand where I was coming from.



Eventually, I got around to googling Grizzly Adams and learned he's some kind of (fictional) environmentalist trapper who communes in the mountains while fleeing a murder conviction (OJ Simpson much? Oh wait, this bears no relation to The Juice, except in the twisted hollow that is my sickened mind)... In short, exactly the look I was going for... Ugh.

When will the baby-boomers die so we can finally be rid of their inane cultural references?

10.18.2007

Coincidence?

So I was on my way to work and stopped into a Starbucks (I know, I know, coffee houses are notorious dens of liberal ideology. Believe me, I would go anywhere else if I could, but literally all of the other shops in my neighborhood have been driven out of business by the corporate beast, which is quite right and as it should be) in order to steal myself into a caffeine haze before entering that den of (my) oppression, the office.

Upon receiving my "medium" coffee (I refuse to indulge in their ugly foreign sizing nomenclature) and before I could object the cashier had pressed a card into my hand saying "Here is your free song of the day! Have a great day!" I grunted something under my breath and moved quickly out of the store, glancing down as I reached the safety of the sidewalk to see what song I had "won"...

Annie Lennox. I seem to remember her music from my youth. In particular, I remember hating it. Oh well. I turned to throw the card away, but my inner-thrift took over; unable to "waste" something of even perceived value given to me ever, I stowed the card and forgot about it.

Upon getting home, I downloaded the song. Totally odious. Odious.

Then I find myself looking on my favorite site, Drudge Report this afternoon and what do I come upon, but this story that reminds one of how great and wonderful America is:
University of Colorado police are looking into an incident at Macky Auditorium on Tuesday night during which a man, dressed in a black cape and wearing a gas mask, approached the stage where British singer Annie Lennox was performing and frightened her into retreating backstage.

CU Police Sgt. Gary Arai said the man, a 32-year-old Denver resident, was escorted out of the building by security around 9:30 p.m. and the concert resumed.

"A fellow who was dressed in a black cape, platform boots and a gas mask approached the stage," Arai said. "Lennox saw him coming and threw down her microphone and went backstage."
My only thought: finally, someone appropriately outraged by a bad song of the day!

10.12.2007

Did You Ever Wonder What Would Happen If...


...you tried to cling onto the bottom of a moving truck instead of calling a cab? It isn't a good idea:
David Connolly, 37, walked up to a truck parked off Interstate 80 in Berkeley before dawn Thursday and, in Spanish, asked the driver for a ride, said California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Davis.

The truck driver, who had been sleeping, told authorities he was uncomfortable with the idea and told Connolly no. When Connolly insisted and tried to open the truck door, the driver blocked him and started to drive away.

Without the driver's knowledge, however, Connolly had somehow climbed underneath the truck and hidden himself in a space above the driveshaft, Davis said. Near the A Street exit on I-880 in Hayward, Connolly apparently lost his grip.

It was unclear whether Connolly let go because the truck hit a bump, if he passed out from fumes or fell asleep. It is also not known whether he died as a result of falling to the freeway or from being hit by many cars, Davis said.
Okay? Definitely not a good idea, right? This reminds me of the story of the man who stowed away on a plane by climbing into the wheel well, not realizing that compartment isn't pressurized or heated... Here's one such story (not the one I was thinking of)... Here is an old Slate story about the plane wheel thing...

But back to our main guy, Connolly, man, that sucks. Poor guy. Seems like he was just your average Berkeley cat... Too bad. I'll leave you with this sobering quote:
Connolly's remains were strewn across five lanes and 1,000 feet of highway, and the CHP reported receiving about 80 phone calls from witnesses or drivers who had hair or blood on their cars.

"It looked like something that comes out of a horror movie," Davis said.
Youtube?

Addition--Is it possible that this David Connolly is the victim of this horrific accident? He's also 37...

10.09.2007

Police Squad!


I urge you all to read Arlo's epic two-post masterpiece detailing his recent party experience. Really amazing, so good to have the old Arlo back.

On to other things... I noticed this quote in TrueHoop's interview with John Hollinger:
People are going to think you're just sitting in your basement saying "lookie here, I'm feeling like Yao's going to be about a 27 this season." But that's not how it works, right? Can you explain the science?
Of course that's not how it works -- I don't have a basement. Come to think of it there are one or two other differences.
He doesn't have a basement! Hilarious! Inspired by the recent flurry of OJ news, I have been thinking about the Naked Gun series of films, and this led me naturally to consider the original (OJ-less) series documenting the absurd exploits of one Frank Drebin, namely Police Squad!. It only lasted for six episodes in 1982, but having just watched those 6 episodes on a Netflix DVD, I have to say the show was pretty great, full of non-sequitur humor and all varieties of absurd misinterpretations along the line of Mr. Hollinger's.

In summary, rent Police Squad!, it rewards multiple watchings.

...For Fighting

Figurative fighting, of course. The actual variety involves far too much human contact for my tastes.

Where were we? Oh yes, I was just coming across the landing, walking over the abominable green carpeting towards a cadre of eight to ten of my least favorite people on Earth, and, strange as it is to say, I was actually looking forward to what was about to transpire.

A fair amount of drinking had occurred before my arrival, but first, the scene. The gender break down was approximately seventy-thirty in favor of the males, most of whom were predictably attired in button-down shirts thoughtlessly matched to nondescript khaki pants... Even from six meters away I could discern a barely concealed wine stain on the left pant pocket of Philip, one of the decidedly least loathsome members of that corp. His underlying perversity now struck my eyes like crystal.

The other men, Rawleigh, Dwayne, Zane, Jim, and Mason, were all odious. Each seemed to me no brighter than an ox, or, in the cases of Dwayne and Mason, a man-hole cover. The lone woman, besides Julie and Cherise, was Marcia, a bland brunette from accounting who seemed almost submissive enough to serve one of my purposes, but never mind.

I have neglected to describe my own attire, which I suppose some might find noteworthy. I wore a German-made overcoat with a miraculously pristine seal-fur collar. Purchased on one of my frequent "research" trips to Zurich, it is my prize accoutrement. Despite this, it was extremely uncomfortable to wear this garment on an 80ยบ evening, but my code dictated I spare no lavishness in fulfilling this mission. Beneath the jacket I had on an extremely well-tailored Thomas Mahon suit, made to my exact specifications on one of the tailor's rare visits to the US. My necktie was a subtle burgundy monochrome. My hair was coiffed to perfection. I was myself to a tee.

Julie, the intemperate hag who had reminded me of this accursed gathering, sauntered up to me, her inhibitions no doubt loosened by the cheap, poisonous swill I saw stagnating in pitchers and glasses on their long table.

"So you maaaade it. We're all, like, so happy. So what is up with you man? You've been like, so agro lately."

"Julie, I need not explain myself to the likes of you. Suffice it say, you sicken me." She sort of stumbled back, supporting herself on a nearby chair.

"Wow, like totally. That's what I mean. Good one, dude, you got me."

"I can assure you that I am not joking. As you might have been able to discern from my present dress, had you even a shred of breeding, I am a man with little patience for drunkenness and less for users of slang. Your manners strike me as boorish, your demeanor, a blight, your prospects of ever finding a non-sterile mate, miniscule."

As this last dagger found home it seemed to me, in my heightened state, as though the very blueness of her eyes exploded, unleashing an ocean of tears upon her makeup encrusted face. But I was just getting started.

I wheeled to my left to obstruct the advance of Zane, a lanky repressed homosexual with not the slightest inkling of his own nature, catching him by the tie as he moved to comfort Julie.

"Not so fast, Stallion. We have unfinished business."

I could practically taste the guilt on his breath. "What are you talking about, Arlo? I think you have the wrong idea..."

"No, Zane. I'm not the one who's ass-backwards. Face it. Face the ass. You crave it. You love it, you fucking pervert, at least allow yourself that measly salve!"

If it is possible, Zane's sickly pallor descended to a deeper gray as I moved forward toward my main object.

"And there you are, Cherise!" By this point, the group had grown pretty silent, with certain parties comforting Julie and Zane, both of whom had retreated to separate corner tables. Cherise was looking at me with the dumb muteness of an animal. Her stare conveyed so little intelligence I was amazed to note the rise and fall of her chest. Instinct alone surely animated that spirit-deprived husk!

"Jules gave me the scoop, Cherry. It's too bad you're leaving, because I truly believe we could have had something special; if by special you understand a one-night stand in a roach-ridden motel on your credit card. Because, honestly, I would only sleep with you after ingesting the entire contents of a Super-8 mini-bar, watching approximately six hours of brutal, hardcore porn, and blind-folding myself to shield my senses from even the remotest suggestion of your presence as we "did the deed." You see, you actually disgust me that much. My esteem for your entire existential being is so low as to be beyond parody. The very thought of your face destroys my every dream of beauty."

As the blood drained from her skin I turned, batting away the importuning fingers of that Aryan monster, Jim, and stalked carefully back to the stairs. Before I mounted the landing to descend, I turned, demonstratively flaring my sealskin collar, and declaimed:

"Let this suffice to say that I no longer need be cced on all of your tedious plans. In fact, if you could do me the favor of never speaking to me, or even looking at me, except when dictated by the vicissitudes of our mutual work, I would be eternally in your debt."

Without waiting to gauge their response, I disappeared down the staircase, exiting that infernal domain with the levity of one freed from a long and forced servitude. As I walked back to the subway my mind's eye idled over the still images of their shocked faces, faces now forever emblazoned amongst the lineaments of my inner darkness.

10.08.2007

Saturday Night's All Right...

So the party has come and gone. I am fine with everything that happened, and I think it may end up doing me a great deal of good. I feel cleansed, spiritually, now that I've finally shattered that insidious image of me that had been emerging in the minds of my scared, lonely, desperate, pathetic and moronic co-workers.

How are they, you ask? Normally I would have first-hand information to pass on, but thanks to the stupidest of federal holidays (yes, I have seen that episode of Nostra's favorite show. I know that insulting Columbus can offend some segments of the Italian American population. If anything, this encourages me to disparage the over-hyped non-achiever all the more. The prospect of insulting even a segment of an ethnic group thrills me!) I have the day off and have been reduced to reliving the night over and over again without any further empirical proof of the damage done. What follows, at least in regards to the trauma wrought on my co-workers' psyches, is purely my own educated conjecture.

I arrived at the Irish bar (Delancy's or O'Sullivan's or O'Herlihy or some other such ugly, bastardized name from a barbaric tongue) to find it almost empty. Perhaps I have the wrong place, I thought, momentarily cheered. I sat at the bar and ordered my usual, Scotch, neat. At least one good things has come from these vulgar, backwards Gaels, I inwardly chuckled as I savored the rich hues of the Glenlivet. To my horror, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

"Arlo! What are you doing down here? The party is upstairs, buddy. Honestly, I'm kind of surprised to see you. It's been a while..." Jim, an abominably boring Nordic creature whose blond hair and blue eyes raised such waves of revulsion in my being that I had always found it impossible to concentrate on anything he said to me, was standing directly behind me, effectively pinning me against the bar. Of course, I thought, upstairs... They're probably all waiting up there like a pack of soul-destroying lemmings... I swallowed a bit of bile that had bubbled up in my throat upon my being touched and said with my most forcedly-pleasant tone:

"Jim, old chum, great to see you. Upstairs, of course, I should have known. I'll follow you." Saying this, I had to suppress a powerful need to unleash a flood of Scotch-laced vomit all over his carefully pressed striped shirt. Mercifully Jim turned away, and freed from that malevolent visage, my stomach calmed. I followed him at a safe distance up the stairs, girding myself for the inevitable moment of total, Conradian horror.

It didn't come. As I rose to the top of the landing and surveyed the assembled crew, a new resolve asserted itself. It was as if a hard, impenetrable shell had frozen my emotions fast. They couldn't touch me now. Now it was their turn to suffer.

To be continued...

Once in a Lifetime

Arlo, your scorn is as refreshing as ever. Keep up the great work! Meanwhile, I wanted to point you all to Paul Krugman's latest column:
Now, as they survey the wreckage of their cause, conservatives may ask themselves: “Well, how did we get here?” They may tell themselves: “This is not my beautiful Right.” They may ask themselves: “My God, what have we done?”

But their movement is the same as it ever was. And Mr. Bush is movement conservatism’s true, loyal heir.
Yes, there will never be a break from the ecstatic, Afro-pop, Eno-induced haze the Republican's find themselves swimmin' in... Great use of New Wave lyrics, Mr. Krugman. This column made me smile more than a year's worth of David Brooks's so-called satires...

10.05.2007

Further Turmoil at my Work


Sorry to bury your content, Nos, but you can do better. That's right, you need not read Nostradamus's post. It really isn't worth your while. Let's just say NM's subtle mode of slander hasn't changed one bit...

Never mind. I wanted to fill you idiots in on some of my dealings with your kindred in my office. For the sake of anonymity, I will not mention where I work, but I will say it is probably familiar to many of you, in that it is an office, in a building in New York, where getting more money is the primary objective, and human interaction is one of the more bothersome and annoying obstacles on the road to achieving that end.

Like other offices, my place of "work" is filled with go-nowhere automatons whose primary function is to serve as seat-warmers for their eventual, equally talentless replacements. It's kind of like a merry-go-round, only mercifully with far fewer screaming, dirty children. I've worked here for three years. I've advanced, though only because of the departure of those slightly above me and certainly through no concerted effort of my own.

But don't label me a shirker! I do my work with admirable attention to detail. I'm generally sympathetic to my colleagues on at least one level; like them, I yearn to acquire mountains of cash. So I do my work, and I get promoted. In a true meritocracy, I would be higher up the ladder by now. But the fact remains: I hate my colleagues so much I can barely tolerate them. But our goals are aligned, so things proceed. Honestly, if it weren't for the constant job turnover in this industry, I'm sure some vengeful superior would have had my head long ago.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my previous post, I had acquired a group of friends from among my co-workers during the past year. I don't know why I ever allowed this to happen. My "Fuck-off" phone "conversation" took place about two weeks ago. Since then, word has slowly spread around the office that something is "up" with me... A few of my co-workers have tried to make eye-contact at various points across carefully demarcated cubicle walls. I shun these advances.

Sadly, this was not a perfect break. Last week, Julie, one of the more insipid female members of that merry troop accosted me at my cubicle exit (a clear violation of office etiquette, in this curmudgeon's book) with the following enquiry:

"Hey Arlo. We don't know what's up with you. Has a pet died recently or something, because you've been acting really weird dude? Anyway, are you coming to Cherise's going away party or not? You haven't responded to the evite, and the party is Saturday, and she's kind of on egg-shells about whether or not you're coming... If you get my drift..."

Of course Cherise was the woman I had told to "Fuck off" so vociferously on the phone... Of course it now turns out she has a severely misguided crush on me, and of course has the totally insane belief that I care enough about her to actually make an appearance at her "going away party." I never knew how dangerous friends could be until now.

I was flustered, I'll admit it, by this aggressive, exit-blocking strategy on the part of Julie. Previously I'd never suspected her capable of the foresight involved in planning a "confrontation." In a moment of panic I even eyed my stack of recently sharpened #2 pencils longingly. No. There was no easy way out of this. If the break wasn't complete, I had to finish the job.

"Julie. I'm so sorry I didn't respond. Believe it or not, I plum forgot! Of course I'll be there. The usual place, right?" I punctuated these remarks with a smile so forced I feared my ears might pop.

"Yeah... The usual place. See you there, Arrrrrlo..." She ambled off, muttering something. She seemed less than convinced by my performance.

So now I'm off to this God-forsaken party at this absolutely hideous, disgusting Irish Bar in mid-town. What could be more disgusting than the prospect of "partying" with my co-workers? A bunch of grotesque Irish barmaids of course. I swear, those people are the absolute scum of the earth.

Anyway, the party is tomorrow night. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm going with NRA membership card on my fucking lapel. If that doesn't get my message across loud and clear, nothing will.

10.03.2007

Grammatical Moment

Welcome back, Arlo. I hope everyone you hate will at least enjoy your antics this time around and not be too put off by your rampant conservatism and abrasive manner.

Moving on to more important matters, I was reading John Hollinger's (rightly somewhat skeptical) preview of the Boston Celtics (ESPN Insider required), when I came across this sentence that gave me pause:
(Cleveland had a superb frontcourt and won with defense and rebounding, but nobody seems to know this so the Cavs gets used this way a lot).
I think we know why I paused, but we also know why Hollinger's sentence is correct (replace the word "Cavs" with "team" or "Cleveland" (an option wisely avoided by Hollinger, as it would be clumsy writing to repeat "Cleveland" in the same sentence, as these excessive parantheses should demonstrate!) and it is clear that as "Cavs" is also a collective noun, the singular verb form "gets" is indeed correct.).

That said, rather awkwardly, does it drive anyone else crazy to read a sentence like that? Do you find yourself twitching unnaturally as you read aloud: "...but nobody seems to know this so the Cavs gets used this way alot."? No? Well, I it makes me shiver like a New Order beat, and while I am no strict grammarian by any measure (even in my writing classes!), for some reason these odd "plural/singular" nouns strike a peculiar disharmony in my ears... By the way, as I've said before, Hollinger is great on hoops.

Anyway, welcome back, Arlo. I sincerely hope you do make it to one of my "performances." Your presence would be much appreciated, and I know Dan and Rich et al would love to finally have some face time with the sower of so much discord...

10.02.2007

I'm Back for Good!


Scroll down to the bottom of this post. Do it now. I will wait.

Can you believe your eyes? Do you feel as though they are deceiving you? They are. And they aren't. Because, yes, indeed, I am BACK! Arlo Harshenstein, that irascible counterpoint to Nostradamus, has returned from his o'er hasty retirement.

You see, once I stopped blogging, I stopped reading blogs. Pretty soon I wasn't spending much time on the internet at all. I began to read books, take long walks on sunset evenings over covered bridges, and, strangely, to soften. It was like my psychiatrist hippy parents were right all along; the whimsical spirit of my namesake, and his brilliant film Alice's Restaurant, had invaded my soul. Soon I found myself engaged in what I would previously have described as horrible pursuits: campfire singing, leave-no-trace camping, birding... I was at a total remove from my former, hard won urban bitterness. On top of this, my coworkers actually began to take notice of me, even going so far as to invite me to their pitiful social gatherings after work. To my extended horror I even enjoyed myself!

As you have probably gathered, this miraculous transformation could not last, and yet my reversion began innocently enough. I received an invitation to a jazz gig performed by one "Nostradamus Marquis," a personage with whom I had been at complete odds for well over a year prior. I took this missive as an olive branch (and not, as I more rightly should have, as one of the exigencies of e-mail listservs), and I even intended, in my new spirit of friendliness, to attend one of these "performances" should I find myself in the neighborhood. But before I had a chance to catch up with my old chum in person, I decided to peruse my old stomping-grounds, if only for nostalgia's sake.

Upon calling up the familiar URL, I must say I felt only two emotions: shock and awe. My departure had obviously initiated an enormous drop off in both the quantity and quality of blog posts. I mean, check out the posts from May... Uh, notice there are only two of them and they are both about The Sopranos (way to break out of the MSM mold Nostra)? Oh, and that they both blow in terms of writing? Sure, Nos was dead on about how the show would end, but who gives a fuck? A thousand bloggers on their thousand unread/unreadable blogs no doubt did the same.

No, something had gone drastically awry in my absence. Where was the viciousness, the spite, the total scorn for convention? Where was the tabloid intensity, the stalker-like, fetishistic devotion to topics as unvaried as Terri Schiavo, Natalee Holloway, and Cindy Sheehan? Gone. All gone. In its place, a trifling commentary on the ho-hum scandals du jour completely devoid of any primal edge. It was ugly. Just looking at it, I knew what I had to do. My name isn't a synonym for "rough stone" for no reason!

Soon after my discovery, I found myself feeling differently about my new "friends" from the office. It was a Friday, and I was supposed to meet them at a trendy bar downtown. Needless to say, I stood them up. When one called me to see if I was "ok" I answered my handset, screamed "FUCK OFF!!!!" as loudly and forcefully as I could, and hung up. The following Monday that woman literally shivered as she walked by me near the elevator. Mission accomplished.

So I'm back, and I'm as bitchy and full of spite and resentment for everyone and everything as I ever ever ever was. Oh, and I'm still conservative as hell, in case you were wondering.

Ah, Sorry!

Okay, I know, my quest to recreate the golden age hit a snag for the last eleven days or so. I apologize, I had, for the first time in literally three years, meaningful work to do! I know, it's absolutely not an excuse. I'll try to do better. Don't give up on me, Dad!

(Extra points to anyone who caught the Ricky Fitz reference in the last paragraph.)

Back to business, now that I have announced that D-M will be changing its format, I thought it would be best to continue posting in the old format for as long as possible. As I'm sure many of you have seen, Harvard prof. Orlando Patterson (no relation to Lee "Best Video" Patterson, alas) had a compelling op-ed piece about the state of Black America over the weekend in the NYTimes. I thought it was a well argued, compelling editorial, except for one part:
O. J. Simpson, the malevolent central player in an iconic moment in the nation’s recent black-white (as well as male-female) relations, reappeared on the scene, charged with attempted burglary, kidnapping and felonious assault in Las Vegas, in what he claimed was merely an attempt to recover stolen memorabilia.
Malevolent? Who the fuck do you think you are, Patterson, calling OJ malevolent? Have you even seen Naked Gun: 33 1/3? Anyone capable of the amount of dramatic sympathy inherent in the role of Nordberg is obviously so deeply steeped in the boiling tea leaves of life as to be beyond your simple Manichaeistic categories. And what's more, since we know OJ is a veritable vessel through which vatic spirits flow upon the dramatic stage, would it not be correct to grant OJ a similar spiritual inculpability on the world's stage as well? Of course it would. OJ has no "bad will." He has no will at all! OJ is not OJ. What you don't understand, Prof. Patterson, is that we all, black or white, male or female, Latino or transgender, or transgender Latino, we are OJ, and that is simply all there is to say about the matter. Now take your sermonizing somewhere else, because on this score at least, your dulcet tones strike pure discord.