Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fish, or Cut Bait?

Time to address the nightly question: three hours of iPod solitaire, or one lorazepam and 30 minutes of iPod solitaire?

And it's winter in New Jersey
And it's Christmas in New York
With a giggle and a stare
And a bottle and a fork...

LUNA, "Superfreaky Memories"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Can't, Sir

Ain't gonna worry wrinklin' my brow
'Cause nothin's ever gonna be alright nohow
No matter how I struggle and strive
I'll never get out of this world alive...

HANK WILLIAMS, "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive"

Bimonthly visit to the oncologist this morning. Numbers okay, but unexpected internal swelling has landed me an appointment with another specialist, as well as a return to the oncology center in a month.

Ah, well - fuck it. Great life if you don't weaken - and what better evidence of this than Hank III covering one of his granddaddy's many timeless classics...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

DMFS - "Do You Gotta Disease?"

Mobtown's own Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad ask the burning question, unplugged, at the Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! No. 11 release party on June 17, 2009, at Cyclops Books in Baltimore...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Stupid Fucking White Man"

Probably my favorite Johnny Depp movie, Jim Jarmusch's DEAD MAN is also on my short list of all-time favorite flix, period.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Slip Between the Covers...

...of Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! No. 11, now available at Atomic Books, Cyclops Books, Red Emma's, or wherever fine submission-based, digest-sized lit-zines ostensibly focused on life in Baltimore are sold!

Familiar, Yet Strange...

Conspiracy talk surrounds everything from the JFK assassination to the Federal Reserve. But consider, if you will, that in 1997 ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau passed away....as did John Denver, who recorded the song "Calypso" (named after Cousteau's research vessel) in tribute to Cousteau and his team. Also, that same year, the Calypso sank...



Today's FRIDAY WITH WARREN feature is a fantastic live performance given on June 20, 1976, at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The show closely follows the release of his self-titled major-label debut. Anyone who's read I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, penned by Zevon's ex-wife, Crystal, will have some context of the state of Warren's life at this point in time, and in this performance it shows like the tiny hairline cracks in the finest porcelain.

The Internet Archive is a fantastic online resource essentially devoted to the preservation and dissemination of culturally-relevant media. The materials on the site are either in the public domain or have been made available by the respective artists on the condition that no profits are made.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

For Want of a Title

Michael Jackson in Disneyland
Don't have to share it with nobody else
Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand
And lead me through the world of self...

WARREN ZEVON, "Splendid Isolation"

It's Thursday...

...and I can't help wondering if the Court of Special Appeals is to the Court of Appeals what the Special Olympics are to the regular Olympics. And while we're on the subject, do you suppose Scott Weiland ever wonders how Keith Richards still gets away with it in the way that Vanilla Ice must wonder about Eminem?

While pondering such mysteries, consider this bridge game (which begins around 3:00 in this clip) between Harpo, Chico, Margaret Dumont and friend - a brilliant marriage of verbal and physical comedy...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Angry Man

Yesterday was my inaugural foray into the wild, weird world of Baltimore's "one day, or one trial" system of jury duty (which is a breeze if, like me, you're not selected, and at the end of the day you go home, service fulfilled).

I spent nearly eight hours in the jury holding room waiting for something to happen, as did a couple hundred other people. The day kicked off with an informative video, narrated by WBAL-TV 11 News' Stan Stovall, on the history and importance of jury duty. This was followed by check-in, whereby your presence is officially noted and you are issued your stipend of $15 (eleven of which I spent at the end of the day, retrieving my car from the parking garage next to Legal Aid).

The Mitchell Courthouse bears no small resemblance to how one might envision the inside of the Great Pyramid, with its winding, labrynthine passageways and heavy stonework - and, despite being several thousand years the ancient wonder's junior, in similar condition. It really is a beautiful old building, but it's no doubt seen a lot of hard and heavy usage over the last century, to which the water stains and cracked and crumbling stones will attest.

There were two major calls for jurors over the course of the day, both before lunch. The first of which sent jurors 001 through 250 across the street to the other court building where jury selection was being conducted for a trial. A short while later, they began calling what seemed like an arbitrary spread of numbers (303-427), as well as the occasional random individuals.

The rest of us spent the day watching movies. The first feature of the day was MEET THE PARENTS, starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro, followed by YOU'VE GOT MAIL, a romantic comedy (an update, I believe, of an old Jimmy Stewart flick) featuring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Well before lunchtime (12:30 - 1:45), I had come to the conclusion that all of the questions the clerk and counsel and whoever else comprise the Whole Process are complete and utter bullshit. Indeed. The true test of potential jurors comes in seeing how they react to being placed in a room with approximately 200 other people they'd never otherwise sit down with under their own volition, viewing movies that, likewise, none of them would ever watch.

Nevertheless, over the course of the day I still managed to finish Graham Greene's BRIGHTON ROCK and about the first 70 pages of Barry Gifford's THE IMAGINATION OF THE HEART. All the while, I mentally hashed out a screen treatment in which a bunch of gangbangers, feeling "wronged" by the system, jack a packed city courtroom. The kicker: Steven Seagal, as the jury foreman-with-a-past. I'm not sure what exactly that past is just yet, or that it even really matters. The important things to remember are the movie's tagline ("One Angry Man...") and Seagal's one-line coup de grace upon dispatching his chief adversary: "Court's adjourned."

Indeed, all this for the incredibly low price of $15. I think the city got its money's worth.

Regardless, girl, it's alright...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Voir Dire

I have jury duty today here in the city of charm...

I hope I run in to Pauly Shore while I'm there, because that motherfucker is Guilty as Hell.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

THE KINKS - "Well-Respected Man"

And he plays at stocks and shares
And he goes to the regatta
He adores the girl next door
'Cause he's dying to get at her...

- THE KINKS, "Well-Respected Man"

THE ROCK 'N ROLL TRIO - "All By Myself"

Johnny Burnette could howl like some moonlit feral beast on the make. Devil's music, indeed...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Drink and the Devil Have Done for the Rest

I went shopping today and bought limes, fresh mint and antidepressants.

Ah, the first mojito of the season...


Yes, I know it's Saturday, but I inadvertently missed posting "Friday with Warren" yesterday (apologies, AJM and CE), so we'll pay him a visit this morning instead...

Baltimore may not be Denmark, but it's a dark and stormy day, nonetheless, and what better way to set the tone for "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", a beautifully morbid little tale of double-crossing mercenaries and post-mortem vengeance from Zevon's 1978 albumExcitable Boy...

Friday, June 19, 2009

JOHNNY CASH - "Doin' My Time"

I listened to this song frequently during chemotherapy...

"Do these guys."

David Simon couldn't make up a quote like this one from yesterday's Sun:

"We went to our drug people and said, 'Do these guys,' " [Baltimore police homicide commander Terrence] McLarney said. "We took down an entire drug organization to get this murder."

Gives a little perspective on where Simon is coming from. Much like all those crazy characters and scenarios inhabiting Carl Hiaasen's novels that you're certain could only be the product of a sunbaked, over-fished imagination....until you read his Miami Herald columns.

I'm a Poet, and I Had No Idea!

It takes a like-minded inner marketing whore to make a fellow inner marketing whore blush. I think Ms. Marsden's and mine may have come up through the same cat-house...

THE KINKS - "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues"

And I've been to my local headshrinker to help classify my disease
He said it's one of the many cases of acute schizophrenia he sees...

THE KINKS, "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues"

"You can't see her, but you can smell her from here..."

All you "sexually provocative" city workers, beware ('specially all you stanky ones)!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Greatest Story Ever Told

SMILE, HON No. 11 Release Party a Success

Thanks to the more than 40 people who turned out for the Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore! No. 11 release party last night at Cyclops Books (most of that number stayed for the roughly 90-minute duration of contributor readings and music). Also, special thanks to The Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad and The Hilltop Hightops for providing musical relief, as well as Cyclops owner Andy Rubin for hosting the evening.

Looking down at my arms, riddled with track marks from the lab tech’s multiple attempts earlier in the day to plant an IV in my chemo-scarred veins, I felt suitably adorned for an evening on North Avenue. True, the weather could have been better, but it most certainly could have been worse. Recalling a similar turnout for the Smile, Hon No. 10 release party, held last fall at Rubin’s previous store, Baltimore Chop Books, I believed that so many people showing up on a shitty Monday night in November could only mean they would once again turn out in force on a crappy Wednesday night in June. And with this, the crowd did not disappoint. Solid readings all around, and well-received by the audience. Looking forward to future events…

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Drawing Blood From a Battery Cable

This morning, the pretty lab tech took three stabs at my hideously-scarred veins before seeing a return on the investment during my quarterly CT scan. Still, she made it work, eventually - and any day it doesn't take 10 is a good day in my book...not that I speak from experience...

Do the rock, the radiation rock
Jumpin' up and down to the atomic clock...

-The Flametrick Subs, "Radiation Rock"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

THE POGUES - "Bottle of Smoke"

The day being clear, the sky being bright
Came up on the left like a streak of light
Like a drunken fuck on a Saturday night
Up came the Bottle of Smoke...

- The Pogues

With A Cherry On Top

Dispatch from Captain Winky, New Jersey-based Industrial Hygienist:

[This] is the 1st time I have ever looked at someone’s blog. You should be honored.

Aye, Captain. Aye...

The Big Wave Finally Caught Up

RIP Bob Bogle, lead guitarist for and co-founder of The Ventures (who scored hits with songs like "Walk, Don't Run" and the theme from the TV series "Hawaii Five-O"), who has died at the age of 75...

Fourth Estate Sale

Just returned from the Post Office, where I mailed out review copies of the latest issue of Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! So heads up, press corps - and I think you know who you are...

SMILE, HON No. 11 Release Party

That's right, folks - come on out to Cyclops Books, at the corner of Maryland and North Avenues, tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 17, beginning at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate the release of the latest issue in the award-winning Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! series, published by Eight-Stone Press. This free event will include readings by contributors to the issue as well as live performances by The Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad and The Hilltop Hightops.

Monday, June 15, 2009

These Colors Don't Run

I just received an e-mail in my inbox with the subject line "The color of your manhood will never fade." That said, it's reassuring to know I'm so colorfast.

Eight-Stone Press Publishes SMILE, HON No. 11

BALTIMORE – Get hot and bothered this summer with Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore! No. 11, the latest installment in the award-winning series published by Eight-Stone Press.

In this issue, SIOBHÁN FITZPATRICK plants petunias in Pigtown; LISA SINGER’s anger management reserves the right to refuse service; SOMMER MARSDEN leads the way into temptation; CARYN COYLE turns heads; and PIPPY ROCKWELL considers the sociopolitical ramifications of sex-toy selection, plus a whole lot more. Contributors include:


From the harbor to the hills, the submission-based Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore! collects the tales of those on whom Mobtown has left her indelible mark: polished, professional essays; barroom sermons delivered from the sanctity of a favorite stool, the poet’s fleeting sentiment captured in both word and snapshot – a slice of Baltimore as told by Baltimore, presented with the time-honored, DIY accessibility of a limited-run, handcrafted zine.

Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore! is an Eight-Stone Press production and available for purchase locally at Atomic Books, Cyclops Books and Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse. For more information, contact:

William P. Tandy, Editor
Eight-Stone Press
P.O. Box 11064
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
E-mail: wpt@eightstonepress.com
Website: http://www.eightstonepress.com
Blog: http://eightstonepress.blogspot.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/eightstonepress
Facebook: “William P. Tandy”
Twitter: “EightStonePress”


SWEET - "Wig Wam Bam"

New SMILE, HON Printed

Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! No. 11 has been printed. Just tending to a few follow-up details; expect the official announcement sometime in the next 24 hours.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CHRIS ISAAK - "Wicked Game"

Here Comes the Judge

Back to Business as Usual, having returned from several days of coastal exile. While there, I inexplicably found myself the object of affection of more than one member of the judiciary. Meanwhile, overdeveloped prostitots paraded their hormonally-induced wares (including temporary henna tramp-stamps) along the shoreline while a TV news crew hovered just offshore. And a 67-year-old woman is lucky to be alive after having been swept overboard in rough seas; fortunately, her recently-installed breast implants (offering no less than 24 pounds of buoyancy apiece) kept her floating face-up until being rescued some 30 minutes later.

Okay, I made that last one up. But I did see a number of such women matching that physical description. And regardless of age, if there's one thing that will never make any sense to me, it's the appeal of fake tits.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Shit Has Hit the Fan

Well, folks, I'm leaving town for a few days - you know, just until This Thing blows over. My access to the technologies that make frivolities such as this blog possible will be rather limited, hence, posts may be sparse during the interim.

In the meantime, take Warren's advice: Send lawyers, guns and money...

Bad Girls Go to Hell!

Baltimore's all-girl garage power trio THE DEGENERETTES (featuring frequent Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! contributor Rahne Alexander) celebrate the release of their first studio album, Bad Girls Go to Hell, beginning at 9:00 p.m. this Saturday, June 13, at The Windup Space, 12 W. North Avenue, in Baltimore. The first 100 people in attendance will receive a CD with admission. For more Degenerettes info, visit them online...

T. REX - "20th Century Boy"

Monday, June 8, 2009

Baltimore Zen

I've been designated to serve as a "Floater" at the work convention later this week.

"Stick Out Your Can"

Well, if you can't dig me, you can't dig nothin'
Do you want the real thing, or are you just talkin'...
Stick out your can
'Cause I'm your garbageman

The Cramps, "Garbageman"

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon takes out the trash. And while we're at it, here are The Cramps:


Baltimore Songwriters Association will host an artists showcase at Honfest this weekend, June 13-14, on the Avenue in Hampden. Performers will include past Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! contributor Sahffi, Woody Lissauer and more...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

SERGE GAINSBOURG - "Requiem pour un Con"

SMILE, HON No. 11 Release Party, Part II

WHO: Eight-Stone Press and Cyclops Books

WHAT: "Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore!" No. 11 Release Party

WHERE: Cyclops Books, Corner of Maryland Ave. and North Ave., Baltimore

WHEN: Wednesday, June 17, 7:00 p.m.

WHY: Because Detroit will never be able to take it away from us.

HOW: They're bankrupt.

SMILE, HON No. 11 Release Party

No postings yesterday (Saturday), as I was busy trading up (as well as taking Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! No. 11 to the printer). That said, mark your calendars, as there will be a release party/reading to mark publication of Smile, Hon 11 beginning at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 17, at Cyclops Books, on the northeast corner of Maryland and North Avenues. More details to follow...

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Teaser...

Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! No. 11 will go to the printer tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak at the cover, featuring a gorgeous photo entitled "Your Time", courtesy of Ryan Coffman/Susurrus Din...

Fridays with Warren

Zevon gets his Irish on in today's selection, a live performance of "MacGillycuddy's Reeks", from his penultimate album My Ride's Here...

I saw her on Killarney's shore one morning in July
When I still thought I was a thorn trying to find a side
I met her in the little launch that runs to Innisfallen
Hunched together, haunch to haunch, trying to keep my balance...

- Warren Zevon, "MacGillycuddy's Reeks"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Edgar Allan Tow"

Around 3:55 p.m. every week day, the tow trucks begin circling the cars unwittingly parked in the "NO PARKING 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m." zone in the vicinity surrounding Poe's grave, in Westminster Burying Ground, on Baltimore's west side. Sometimes, when the clock strikes four, they'll follow behind the meter-maid, tag-teaming the sorry bastards and hauling them away two at a time until such time as their cash-only ransom is paid in full. My coworkers, accordingly, have dubbed them "Edgar Allan Tow."

They don't fuck around here, on the west side. I once saw them haul away a DHL van parked along the curb at 4:02, hazards flashing, while the driver was inside an office building making a pick-up.

THE KINKS - "Come Dancing"


Too low to find my way, too high to wonder why...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Bird is the Word

During my college years I spent a few summers working for the DPW in Barnegat Light (named for its lighthouse, built in the late 1850s by George Gordon Meade, when he was with the Army Corps of Engineers; a few years later, he would go on to command the Union forces at Gettysburg), New Jersey, a small town at the north end of Long Beach Island that was not on the way to anywhere...

We picked up the town's recycling each week, and tend to whatever odd projects needed doing. But the choice detail was beach clean-up. We'd drive the 30-odd blocks of beach-front, admiring the pretty girls while we dumped trashcans that oozed and overflowed with all sorts of unmentionable things, all the while sweating to the local oldies station.

One day, an older lady flagged us down, pointing in the direction whence we had come. Morgan ("The Organ" - enough said) slowed the truck down, stopping beside her.

"There's a dead bird over there," she said.

I pulled on my suede work gloves. "I'll take care of this."

I got out of the truck and walked about 50 feet back, in the direction she was pointing. It was a seagull carcass; given its overall condition, the bird had obviously been dead for quite some time.

I picked up the bird and walked back to the truck. "Thank you, ma'am," I nodded to the lady. "Just a seagull. We'll handle it from here."

"Oh, my," she said, looking somewhat dismayed. "Tell me, do you have any idea what it died from?"

I paused. Cause of death? Hell, I thought - given the shape it was in, the thing had been overtaken in the shipping lanes by some foreign-documented freighter and only landed here by dint of wind and current.

I shook my head. "Too soon to say," I told her, "but the lab boys should be able to shed some light for us. Thanks again, and have a great day."

She backed away, seemingly reluctant to accept my preliminary report. The truck began to lurch forward as Morgan let up on the brake. I stood my ground, took a deep breath and lobbed the carcass as hard as I could against the rear windshield of the cab, shouting, "SQUAK!!!" as it made contact. Morgan slammed on the brakes. He turned around and leaned out the window, yelling, "What THE FUCK is wrong with you?!"

But I had already hopped in the back of the truck. "Go!" I clutched the side of the truck as Morgan peeled away. And with that we sallied forth, admiring the pretty girls while we dumped trashcans that oozed and overflowed with all sorts of unmentionable things, all the while sweating to the local oldies station - which played this song damn near every day...

THE AQUA VELVETS - "Spanish Blue"

ALTON ELLIS - "Girl, I've Got a Date"

While undergoing chemotherapy in summer 2007, I listened to a lot of music, and one song I played the hell out of was "Cry Tough" by Jamaican singer Alton Ellis & The Flames, a great little rocksteady tune that particularly resonated with me given the circumstances.

During the course of that summer, Ellis was listed to play some kind of reggae show in Anne Arundel County. However, with nearly four months' worth of treatment under my belt at that point (not to mention an obliterated immune system), I didn't make many concerts, let alone the Ellis show. Nevertheless, I hoped to one day have that chance...

Unfortunately, it never happened. Alton Ellis died the following year, in October 2008 - ironically (for me), from cancer:

I'm a Dirty Girl

Even my inner marketing whore is blushing at being the focus of "Smut Girl" Sommer Marsden's "Hump Day Heresy" this week...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Baltimore. Get In.

Management wishes to extend its sincere thanks to everyone who picked up a gun, knife, blunt object or simply used their bare hands to send someone off for making this possible...

Where You Stand Depends On Where You Sit

At long last - a bit of positive news reaffirming that the entire city is not in the shitter...not one this nice, at least.

Slogan's Run

In an an effort to revitalize the city's ever-faltering image, the Royal We here at Eight-Stone Press propose two new slogans to "get in on":



Remember, vote early and vote often...

Baltimore City Scales Back Trash Collection

In a perfect world, indeed, this plan would be all pretty girls and sunshine...

But this is Baltimore. Sure, some might consider twice-weekly trash collection excessive, even encouraging of waste. But the reality is that, even with twice-weekly collection, the shit piles high in Charm City. And in many neighborhoods, fewer collections won't translate into less trash generated; rather, there will only be higher piles of the stuff, stinking in the summer heat. One thing is for certain: word will quickly circulate among the Rattus norvegicus population that Baltimore lays a nice spread.

As for recycling - hell, even if the city were to broaden the recycling detail, well...mine is one of only two houses on either side of one winding city alley that even bothers to sort out/set out recycling.

And speaking of putting out the trash, Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! No. 11 has been proofed/edited; only thing left now is to print it...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Apprentice House Publishes THE VEGAN MONOLOGUES

Loyola College's imprint Apprentice House announces the recent publication of The Vegan Monologues, a collection of essays by frequent Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! contributor Ben Shaberman.

There’s nothing funny about being vegan, unless you’re humorist Shaberman. From dog chases to fornicating grasshoppers to chicken stock sabotage, he explores the lighter side of the meat-free lifestyle. Shaberman’s reflections will put a smile on the faces of vegans and omnivores alike.

His essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Vegetarian Times, VegNews, and a variety of other publications. His commentaries have also been carried by NPR’s Morning Edition as well as NPR in Baltimore and Des Moines.

Rave Reviews for The Vegan Monologues

Smart, wry, and just a little bit cynical, Ben Shaberman’s Vegan Monologues parlays the author’s unique sense of humor into a readable tome that elucidates the joys—and tribulations—of the meat-free lifestyle.
- Aurelia d’Andrea, Editorial Director, VegNews Magazine

Ben Shaberman has a remarkable talent: He writes entertaining stories with a vegetarian focus. His essays are insightful and intelligent, and they’ll make you laugh out loud. He is entertaining to the end.
- Shane Speer, Former Deputy Editor, Vegetarian Times

Ben’s warm writing takes equal aim at social absurdities and his own human vulnerabilities. This book is for all of us who find ourselves searching for meaning in the routine triumphs and disappointments of our everyday lives.
- Aaron Henkin, Co-Producer, WYPR (NPR in Baltimore)

Look for Ben Shaberman's ode to Baltimore's troubled Senator Theater in the forthcoming Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! No. 11, due out in early June 2009.