Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mic Bleg

So, the Misanthrope has decided that he will finally get around to recording some classical guitar for real in 2006. Last night found him buried in a sea of scores trying to figure out which pieces to include and which to ditch.

Part of the preparation for this will be a little home recording on my laptop. This will not be the final recording, for which I will get Chrispy and Jackson to help as soon as I find a good room. These will be more like progress reports on my preparation. Also, I'd like to get used to recording the classical stuff as I have never really tried before.

So here is the bleg: What's a good mic for this application? I doubt it's the SM 57. I'm willing to spend a little money to get something that will produce a nice sound for these "demos."

Fire away, audiophiles.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Kristen Cavalier...er, Cavallari

The elf plot thickens.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

The Misanthrope has always loved the King James Bible for the beauty of its language. Tonight, many of us will hear one of the loveliest passages of all:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas to all. The Misanthrope is thankful for his wonderful family and remarkable friends.

Best Quotation from the Strike

From the New York Post:

"The REAL horror story was biking over the bridge - like I do every day on the way to work - and passing the horde of sallow, whimpering MTA riders, many wheezing, as they propelled their bloated bodies towards their sugary breakfasts and desk jobs." - Josh Boyer, Brooklyn

Maybe it's just the spirit of the season, but the Misanthrope feels a sense of joy knowing that there are kindred souls like this out there.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

La Taza de Oro

This Misanthrope was around the neighborhood this afternoon, trying to glue together the pieces of his broken life...okay, I was buying shampoo.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to have lunch at La Taza de Oro on 8th Avenue between 14th and 15th. $4.50 bought me a savory roasted chicken leg, a mountain of black beans and yellow rice and a cup of what is easily the best coffee in the neighborhood.

The Misanthrope is right at home in the mid-60s lunch counter setting with nary a word of English to be heard. No frills, just a steaming plate of Puerto Rican comfort food.

You can't beat the place with a stick.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

You Just Like My Bloggy Style

One of the interesting things about reading friends' blogs is seeing the different styles that emerge. For example, MikeDot's blog is mostly about storytelling. His posts are like mini-essays, usually with a lot of wit and humor. My personal favorite is the post about string arrangements, if only for this part:

(One day drummers and violists are going to be tired of getting picked on and are going to revolt against the Guitar/Violin Machine [G/VM]. The streets will run red with blood and catgut. We will build crosses out of rosewood & maple. And as we're rhythmically nailing them to the crosses, the drummers will undoubtedly rush the beat.)

Another style which I like is found in Waved Rumor, Dfactor's blog, and Travelers Diagram (Update: Tim's active link blog can be found here), Tim and Melissa's blog. Dfactor is like a clearing house of information about his passion, which is the rock. I don't know how he finds so much news, but he's always got something interesting to read. Worth checking out. Tim and Melissa also have the passion for music and they post interesting things like their top 10 shows for the year or their top 25 albums for the year. Think of them as the cool friend who seems to know about every cool band months before anybody has heard of them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's All Upside

If this is what New York is like when we effectively shut down the border with New Jersey, I have no real complaints. Maybe we can stage one of these strikes once a quarter.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005


The Misanthrope is reminded that, as always, people are disappointing. Oh yes, so disappointing.

The Elf Has Been Sighted

On Saturday afternoon I saw the elf from last Saturday morning. She was walking down Horatio Street, dressed in sweatpants and a parka. When she first walked by, I knew she was familiar but I couldn't figure out why. By the time I figured it out, she was halfway down the block and Wallace was taking a crap, so I didn't follow her.

I guess she really does live in my building.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Wilkommen in der Schweiz, Herr Waters

I'm going to wait for Chrispy to break the news that the story about Roger Waters moving to Switzerland was, in fact, true.

At least that's what Chris told me on Friday night.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

That Felt Good

The Misanthrope played a double set tonight at Fontana's, a new club on Eldridge between Broome and Grand. It was nice to play at a club where the people who work there were actually friendly and nice. All in all, it turned out to be a good night. I hope Fontana's turns into a great club, at least so I can say that I was in the first two bands ever to play there.

First up was the Via Skyway set with George, Chrispy, Rob Machold and MikeDot. As usual, Rob shepherded us through and kept the vibe nice and quiet. Chrispy wins the purple heart for singing the most heartbreaking song in the set, "River," without aid of a monitor.

The Microdot set felt great. It felt like Joe, Mike and I clicked live for the first time (out of three shows). I was having a great time, even if I am now even more deaf.

Next show is January 3rd at Pianos.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Happy Life Day Everybody

From Chewie.

Where's Bea Arthur when you need her?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Where's Chrispy?

I'm sending out a search party.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What? Huh?

So, the Misanthrope was out with a lovely young redhead this evening, and his cumulative hearing deficit was a huge problem.

Let me go back a bit.

In 2000, the Misanthrope found himself prone to bouts of extreme dizziness. I would be walking down the street and suddenly the whole street would feel like it was swinging hard to the left and then bobbing up and down. I would be sitting still on the couch and it would feel like the couch was flipping over. It was just short of being severe enough that it would make me nauseated.

As a result, I went through a battery of tests. My then girlfriend, the doctor, demonstrated her professional bedside manner by bursting into tears and saying, "You CAN'T die on me" when I failed the basic neurological test she gave me. Luckily, the MRI was clear.

One of the tests I took was a hearing test. I fully expected to find that I had huge hearing deficits because of the inordinate amount of time I had spent in front of 100 watts of rock power.

Turns out I was wrong. My hearing was, in fact, well above average at every point in the spectrum.

But I don't believe them and tonight is another example of why. Despite my supposedly excellent hearing, I was straining like a 78 year old listening to Matlock on broken TV to hear what this lovely young redhead was saying. I mean, seriously, I was getting about 65% of the whole thing and that was including the lip-reading and general deductive reasoning I was employing. It was frustrating because I think she thought I was not interested in what she was saying.

Oh, the slings and arrows of outrageous volume.

So what's my point? My point is that Roger Waters is a socialist blowhard. I am old, deaf and cranky and I want a chocolate croissant NOW.

Genesis: 1975-1980 - "Documentary"

One of the benefits of being newly single is that I now have sole control of the Netflix queue. Because of this, I was able to bump up "Inside Genesis: 1975-1980."

Truly, this was one of the most bizarre documentaries I have ever seen. There is some actual concert footage of the band, most likely from their 1979 and 1980 tours, but they never let you see a full song. More importantly, none of the footage features Steve Hackett, who left in 1978 following Seconds Out. So, on the "cool old concert footage" score, this one's a dud.

But the "talking heads" they chose are the most bizarre thing about this. They are: a music critic, a keyboardist, a singer who was probably born in 1978, a session guitarist and a session drummer. I have no idea who any of these people are or why they were chosen to talk about Genesis. The keyboardist sits behind a keyboard and says silly things like, "The song starts in G, which is nice for guitars because it's such a big, open string chord." He actually says this twice and in both cases there is no guitar playing a big open G chord. Hilariously, one of the commenters (the drummer, I think) , actually says that he didn't really think much of Tony Banks until he heard "Duchess" from Duke!

Anyway, for the old Genesis fans who read this blog, I have to warn you away from this time waster.

Now, if they would just re-release a high-quality version of the 1973 concert film of the Selling England by the Pound tour. That would rock.

Virtues of the Web

The mini-imbroglio over Roger Waters below is an interesting example of why blogs are fun.

The whole thing started out of a comment made in an earlier post where Chris quoted Roger Waters saying that the real test of being a socialist was when the money started to roll in. I'd never heard the Waters quote before, or even associated him with any kind of hard core socialism, but it struck me as hollow because I remembered reading a long time ago that the band had fled to their respective tax havens following the Animals tour. So I put up a snarky post about it and found a link confirming the story I had remembered.

Well, Chrispy didn't like that at all. Eventually, he provided the back up and the details and I stand corrected. I suspect that what happened was that the story of the band's financial woes became simplified into "the band fled to tax exiles."

Anyway, that's why blogs are fun. I story I had believed true for years turned out to be only a partial truth and I got corrected.

Roger Waters - Paragon of Virtue

Chrispy states that the story that Roger Waters established residency in Switzerland to avoid UK taxation is not true. I'll defer to him as I have not read the Pink Floyd texts he has. Apologies to Roger Waters, who is still a Socialist in good standing, it appears.


(The original title of this post was Roger Waters - Socialist Tax Exile. I changed it because it was not fair to him (see below) and because I thought the new one mocked my original (incorrect) post pretty well.)

Chrispy asked when Roger Waters lived in Switzerland. Like many UK rock stars, he fled the country in the mid 1970s to avoid the high taxes then in place. I can't remember exactly where everybody went, but I do know Waters avoided his taxes in Switzerland, which is where he wrote most of The Wall.

Like I said, when the money started to roll in, I guess Waters decided he wasn't such a socialist after all.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Okay, Rock Calendar Nazi Droid

How about "Pearl Jamuary"?

The Rock Calendar - Complete

First of all, I erred when I said the Rock Calendar starts on Zeptember 1st. It actually starts on Rocktober 1st.

Here is the full calendar

Steely January
Marchers of Loaf

Thanks to MikeDot, KeviNY1 and Johnny Strikes for their help.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Joy of NOT Playing Guitar/Black Taj

Following the run-in at 6 AM with the confused elf, the Misanthrope went to Williamsburg to listen in on the new Strikes Again! recording going on at Smoke & Mirrors Studios, the Misanthrope's all-time favorite recording studio.

It was a very different experience being in the studio with no requirement that I play anything at all. It made listening to the sounds the guys were getting a very different experience. Suffice it to say, Chris is capturing the sound of the band extremely well. I've always admired the tremendous amount of thought and effort that goes into the arrangements of Strikes Again! songs and it is going to be a treat to have a good recording of these new songs so that I can really hear what is going on. Plus, Jeff Wiens plays a solo on "Hell Disaster" that will be appearing in "Guitar for the Practicing Musician" in about a year because everyone will want to learn it.

Later in the evening, I met up with Brother Big Red John Boy Jethro Elmore to hear some music at North Six. The first band on the bill, Stay Fucked, was a bit like an amped up, Relayer-era Yes without any of the positive vibes. The guys could really play and some of the sounds were really interesting. As a math rock geek, I was into it. Birds of Avalon were entertaining, but after the 5th song featuring no ideas that did not come directly from the 1970s Rock Playbook, I grew tired of them. EVERYBODY - PLEASE STOP MINING THE 1970s. You will not do it better than they did back then.

The reason we were there was to see Black Taj. John and I are big Polvo fans and Steve and Dave from that band form the core of Black Taj. They sounded great and the songs were interesting by HOLY SCHNEIKES!!! the drummer was AMAZING. He played with a fury and abandon that I have never seen. I can only imagine that this was what watching Moon was like, at least in some very small way.

The less said about the headliners, The Fucking Champs, the better. The music was dull, joyless and irritating. Yecch.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Season of Giving

The Misanthrope was awakened at 6:00 A.M. this morning by the frantic barking of the WMDs. The WMDs do have a tendency to sound the alarm at any disturbance, from talking in the hallway to sunspots, but they typically settle down after a bark or two. This morning they would not shut up. I was getting ready to check the window for signs of an alien landing (because movies have taught us that this is the most likely reason for incessant barking), when I realized that the front doorbell was ringing.

When I looked through the peephole, I saw an attractive girl with brown hair. She couldn't have been more than 25. My first thought, of course, was that word of the Misanthrope's new single status had finally gotten out. This kind of thing has happened to me before.

When I opened the door, the girl said in a very quiet voice, "Hi, I'm here with Kristen Cavalier and MTV and we're doing some carolling because of the spirit of the season."

As we all know, the Misantrhope does not have cable and MTV has sucked since about 1992. I thought that there might be some new prank show called "Chris 'n' Cavalier." I told her that I didn't know what she was talking about. She then asked if "Kristen Cavalier" had called me. I said no. She said that Kristen was one of the richest women in Laguna Beach, California and she was supposed to call me. I told her that my name happens to be Cavalier, but I don't know of any Kristens in the family.

At this point, I was beginning to get worried that she was disoriented or in trouble, but she didn't seem drunk or stoned except for the weird story about going carolling at Gristedes at 6:00 AM for MTV because of the "spirit of giving."

When she mentioned the "spirit of giving" for the tenth time, I was beginning to wonder if she was a hooker sent by one of my friends as a joke.

Anyway, I asked her if there was somebody I could call for her because the most likely explanation seemed to be that somebody had slipped her something and she was wandering around confused. She said no and then told me that she lived "three floors up on Jane Street."

Then she asked me if I was Italian. When I said no, she looked disappointed and said "Oh." Still, she kept standing there without turning to leave. I asked her again if she needed me to call somebody, but she repeated that she lived three floors up and, finally, turned to leave.

It was then that I realized she was wearing a red and green elf costume under her black jacket.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ted Wilson Molests Afghani War Orphans

Or something like that.

There is no need for Ted to worry. The Misanthrope starts from the position of hating all humanity. There is no additional anger at Ted for his theatrical comments. My response was more the weariness of somebody who doesn't have any interest in debating his friends in that way. Also, I really do believe that Ted listens to the arguments and I found his original post in response kind of interesting.

Everybody relax. Ted and I are still capable of making a cup of International Foods Swiss Mocha Mint, grabbing a pint of Haagen-Daze and settling onto the couch to talk about relationships and watch the Ally McBeal marathon on the Oxygen network.

Oh, for the record, seven of my ancestors fought in the Revolution so you pinkos could have this conversation with me.


The Tao of Chuck

This site had me laughing pretty hard.

It reminded me of the time I was on vacation in Anguilla in 2001. We were in a cab from the ferry dock to our hotel, when the cab driver turned to us and pointed to a modern, white house on the beach. (BTW, the beaches in Anguilla are incredible). He had been pointing out various points of interest throughout the trip. With evident pride, he told us this was Chuck Norris' house. I was kind of surprised that Chuck Norris was considered worthy of this kind of civic boosterism, but I've never seen anything with him in it, so I acknowledged this landmark with a nod and a smile.

If only I had known his power. It's now clear that the comment was not said out of pride, but out of fear that Chuck would deliver a roundhouse kick to the taxi driver's head.

Strikes Again! Last Night

Saw Strikes Again! last night at CBGB.


The highlight of the show for me was standing in the area behind the stage and watching the band from the back. I've never really had a chance to listen to MikeDot play drums. Usually we are doing demos or something when he is playing drums around me. It was really fun to watch him shepherd the immense energy of the band along. It was also great to see the way he and bassist Johnny Strike connected with each other.

This is a band that has consistently impressed me with the power of their performance and the creativity of their arrangements, particularly for a band that rocks so hard.

See them


Ted has expanded his thoughts and I am pretty surprised by the turn he has taken.

He accuses me of "mean-spiritedness," which I don't really see (although I am happy to be shown examples of it and apologize if appropriate). I address his issues specifically and disagree with many of them. Nothing in the post is presented with a sense of mean-spiritedness.

I certainly never wrote anything like this:

I was wrong about that, obviously Dave is very well read. Unfortunately he can't grasp what any of it means. He sees it as not useful, or inapplicable, and I think that is dangerous.

Or this:

When was your day Dave, the 3rd grade? My God, that statement is scary. So, what's next on the list Dave, shall we invade Russia during the winter?

I don't know what these emotional comments are meant to add, but since Ted is now taking the position that anybody who disagrees with his reading of history is thinking at the 3rd grade level, I am going to bow out of this discussion. I have no interest in this level of debate.

I'm Taking Ted to the Gold Club Now

Ted has expanded his thoughts on his previous post about using historical examples to augment our understanding of the current situation in Iraq. I thought this was very helpful in clarifying what he was getting at, particularly his point that Rome spent a lot of time, blood and treasure holding on to its possessions.

I will only take issue with one point he makes.

Ted writes:

Dean's proposal is not disengagement. It's redeployment. I think it's a good step. I never said cut and run, I never said throw in the towel. I'd hate to live somwhere where any divergence from the party line is immediately labelled defeatist or dangerous. That's smells like McCarthyism. That smells like intollerance. Hate driven by fear.

There are two issues here. One, is Dean's proposal being mischaracterized as disengagement. Second, is whether the furor over his comments is indicative of a general climate where dissent is squashed.

On the first issue, my opinion is that Dean, Murtha, Pelosi and Kerry are, in fact, advocating disengagement and that disengagement is dangerous at this point. Parking the troops in Kuwait is disengaging. How are you going to fight Zarqawi or ex-Baathists, who are in Baghdad and the Sunni triangle, when your troops are in Kuwait City? It's not physically possible. If we play this scenario out, the primary way that U.S. troops exert influence from Kuwait is when the situation in Iraq deteriorates to the point where we must go back in. What is the tactical or strategic point of withdrawing if we have to do that again? We also run the risk that withdrawing leaves a security gap that the "insurgents" can exploit to control large areas of the country. This would probably lead, over time, to a re-invasion by U.S. troops. I just don't see what tactical or strategic advantage there is to "re-deployment." I see only downsides. Since we are withdrawing for no advantage except to take our troops out of the combat theater before it has stabilized or victory is achieved, I view that as cutting and running. And I also believe that Zarqawi and many in the Middle East see it as further confirmation that the U.S. will never stay if you hit them with guerrilla tactics.

On the second issue, I think we need to retire the tired trope of McCarthyism. If Dean wants to say something, he has to be prepared for dissent. Having people disagree with and criticize your opinions is not McCarthyism. Having your ideas be unpopular is not McCarthyism. I don't agree with the overheated "un-patriotic" comments that many on the right make, but that's not McCarthyism either. Those people are just kooks. There are plenty on the Left who have no qualms about comparing Bush to Hitler. I don't think they are engaging in McCarthyism either.

Nobody is preventing Dean or any other Democratic leaders from expressing their opinions. Nobody is being censored. Nobody is being thrown out of jobs or blacklisted because of their anti-war comments. What Dean said is unpopular with a great many people and they are expressing their opinions.

With all due respect to Ted, I think raising the specter of McCarthyism and intolerance is kind of like throwing out the "racism" charge. It freezes discourse and makes it difficult to proceed. It's a way of saying, "I can criticize the Republicans all I want, but if they criticize me, it's censorship and witch hunting."

Kyiv Dispatch

Misanthrope's older, nicer brother has posted an update on his situation in Kyiv.

Actually, it was written by the Misanthrope's sister-in-law, but it is chock full of interesting observations.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Interesting Poll in Afghanistan

I thought this was an interesting poll given our discussions about what victory can look like in Iraq. (Via Instapundit)

I recall many observers saying at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2001 that history had shown that Afghanistan could never be held. I also recall many observers pointing to how much the U.S. was hated and how the invasion and occupation would end in disaster.

This is not to say that life is rosy in Afghanistan. The picture is bleak on many of the basics.

Poverty is deep, medical care and other basic services lacking, and infrastructure minimal. Nearly six in 10 have no electricity in their homes, and just 3 percent have it around the clock. Seven in 10 Afghan adults have no more than an elementary education; half have no schooling whatsoever. Half have household incomes under $500 a year.

However, there appears to be a strong sense of support for the U.S. invasion and the U.S. occupation's role in nurturing the beginnings of a representative government there.

Yet despite these and other deprivations, 77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction — compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.

One figure I found remarkable was that only 4% of those polled thought that the United States was the greatest danger to Afghanistan. By comparison, 41% of those polled thought the Taliban was the greatest danger.

The picture is not complete, but is remarkable how the relative stability and freedom created by the U.S. invasion has affected attitudes towards America in Afghanistan. i think this is something to bear in mind when considering the question of Iraqi attitudes towards the U.S.

She Must Have Hidden the Plans in the Escape Pod


My new stage name is Big Muff Tarkin.

Strikes Again! Tonight

MikeDot's band Strikes Again! is playing tonight at CBGB.

Show starts at 9 P.M. sharp.

I can only describe the band thus: When they start to crank, it's like being in the middle of a hell disaster.

Check it out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Rock Calendar

MikeDot just posted about AC/December. This led me open up the Big Book of Rock Knowledge and research the other names in the Rock 'n' Roll Calendar.

We all know that the Rock Year starts on Zeptember 1. Please remember that the Rock Year is a lunar calendar. There are no leap years.

Nova Mob-ember
Jan and Deanuary




I like ponies.

I Blame Bush

My horoscope has been eerily accurate for the last week or so, but only if I apply the predictions for the preceding day to today. I think my horoscopes are being stopped by the UN Police at the International Dateline.

I'm a Leo. My name is David.

I'm not sure what to make of this. It's kind of like living a low-budget version of "Early Edition."

I've never actually seen an episode of Early Edition, so I can now scratch that off my "To Do" list and move on to "Take Sushi Making Class."

Which is cool because here's what's coming up for this Leo on Friday:

Leo - Doing just one thing different has a very nice ripple effect right now. Invite someone unusual to lunch, or take that sushi making class, or go check out that exhibit you keep reading about. The idea is to get things expanding -- your mind, your regular routine, your circle of friends. Once expansion's occurring, it'll be hard to stop it -- not that you'd want to. The new sensations that accompany it are tremendous.

I find this prediction terrifying because I am a change-fearing creature of habit. When I order from the burrito place, they don't even need to ask for my order anymore.

So I've decided to go with the first option and invite a dead man to lunch.

A Little History

Ted has posted a response to my earlier post on Howard Dean's irresponsible comments on Iraq.

To begin, Ted sates:

Victory is defined as a resolution to a conflict in which the victor gets to impose his will on the defeated. In this case the enemy is an ideology, so victory is therefore moot.

While I think this definition is a little narrow, I can live with it. I don't understand the second part, however. The enemy is not an "ideology," it is people who are trying to impose that ideology on other people. "Nazism" was an ideology as well, but that didn't mean that victory was moot. If you help create a functioning, elected government with armed forces capable of maintaining domestic peace in Iraq, that's a victory. It doesn't mean people like Zarqawi are going to stop existing or thinking what they think, but it is going to make it difficult, if not impossible, to pose a significant threat. There are "Nazis" in the U.S. but nobody seriously believes that they are going to take down the government and start sending Jewish citizens to camps.

Ted continues:

Thusly, when one quotes Howard Dean by inferring that he said 'we can't win', one is, in fact, giving Howard undue credit for being right. We cannot win.

I didn't infer from his comments that Howard Dean said we aren't going to win in Iraq; I quoted Dean as saying it. I don't know how much clearer his comment could have been (Dean :"the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong"). I'm not at all certain why pointing out what a silly, irresponsible statement that is gives Dean any credit at all. I mean, I'm basically saying that the guy is a misguided idiot. Not a lot of credit there.

I didn't just imply that saying we aren't going to win is dangerous or irresponsible; I said it directly. It is irresponsible and dangerous. It's dangerous because it hands a lot of credit (and a huge PR victory) to an insurgency that has no way of winning short of wearing down public opinion in the U.S. It's irresponsible because Dean is a representative of the Democratic party and it sends the message that at least one of the major parties in the U.S. is ready to throw in the towel.

Ted then writes:

To those who disagree, I suggest reading some history.

I've read more than a little bit of history in my day and I'm not certain I follow Ted's examples. Historical analogies, in my opinion, don't shed much light on current situations because they are so imprecise.

For example, Rome predates the advent of Islam by a few centuries, so I don't know what the parallel is here. If we are looking for examples of successful occupations by Rome, I'd point to any number of areas into which Rome expanded at its height. But, then again, Rome was seeking to expand territory under its control, which is not the goal of the United States in Iraq, so what is the parallel?

Ted calls the American Revolution "not really a revolution," but offers no explanation for that fairly bold comment, so I don't know what he is getting at. Again, the historical parallel sheds little light because it is so imprecise. If Iraq were filled with English-speaking, American citizens who were protesting a relatively light tax to pay for, say, the earlier Iran-Iraq war, it might make a good parallel. But that is not at all close to the situation in Iraq.

Ted next turns to Vietnam. I see some similarity here, but in my opinion it is a different lesson we learn about Iraq. For starters, we pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, let the Communists take over and we remember what happened next. I assume that Dean can remember it because he lived through it. Communist "re-education camps," mass starvation, mass killings, boat people desperately seeking asylum. I don't see withdrawal as a reasonable option given what we have started in Iraq.

Another lesson we can draw from Vietnam is that the entire world saw that the way to overcome the overwhelming advantage in military power of the United States was to undermine public opinion. This is not simply a theory of mine, it is something that has been mentioned over and over by people like Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and Zarqawi in their public statements. This image of America was further enhanced when Reagan turned tail and fled Lebanon in the early 80s and when Clinton tried to respond to bin Laden with cruise missiles.

When Dean says "we aren't going to win," I imagine our enemies are smiling broadly because they see victory on the horizon. They know they have played the Ho Chi Minh strategy to win.

And that strikes me as irresponsible and dangerous.

Ted closes by saying that he the insurgents are just "the folks who live there." The leader of at least one component of the insurgency is a Jordanian leading Arab fighters imported from other countries. I'm sure that the remnants of the Baathists who are fighting are Iraqis, but I'm also sure that there were ex-Nazis in Germany after the war. Nobody suggested that we just leave the country to them either.

So far Iraq has held two elections with great success. A third election is slated for December 15. I'd define these elections as mileposts on a path to victory.

Might As Well Dump

Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli are getting a divorce.

Good. Maybe now Eddie will stop sucking and start playing real guitar again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

EZ Pass PIN Update

So, the PIN was not 2112.

I did, however, have a far more embarrassing moment when I was on the phone with American Express yesterday fixing a problem with my account. (I'd lost my card and they had accidentally cancelled the old account and the replacement account.)

For security purposes, they asked me for my Mom's birthday.

My parents were married within two days of my Mom's birthday, so I have eternally been confused over which date was which.

Yesterday, I gave the wrong date.

Shame, shame, shame on me.

Dean to Insurgents: "We Give Up!"

I am so shocked by this that I barely know what to say.

Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

Politics is a full-contact sport and many things are said for partisan political advantage, but this is beyond the pale. If this is the Democratic Party's new stance on Iraq and national defense, they simply cannot be trusted with the national security of the United States. It's that simple.

In recent weeks, when I pointed to the Democrats' new strategy of "cut and run," Democratic supporters have acted shocked and claimed that the party has never said such a thing. I thought Murtha was clear enough in his words, but Dean has really made it clear for all to see.

Aside from the absurd tactical victory comments like this hand to our enemies, I am really getting tired of the Democrats' faux concern for our troops. I'm sorry, but I just don't believe it. If Dean were really concerned about our troops, he wouldn't effectively say to our enemies, "Your tactics are working perfectly. Keep it up and we'll turn tail and run as soon as we can!"

Shame, shame, shame on him.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dino Tone

Saw Dinosaur, Jr. on Friday at Irving Plaza.

MikeDot and I had seen them this past July in Central Park and it was an amazing show. Both of us came away from that grinning like fools and overpowered by the majesty of the rock.

Friday was a different vibe. For one thing, it was indoors. For another, I was literally at the foot of the stage, right in front of J. Mascis' stacks of amps. It's now Monday morning and I still can't hear any frequencies above 1.2K. Strangely, all my Husker Du and Sugar records sound great now.

Anyway, I saw two things in Mascis' playing that I thought were interesting. First, he has got so much volume and so much overdrive on his sound that he actually voices chords differently just to scale back the sound. For example, on Sludgefeast, he was basically just playing the root notes in the verse (A - F#), but it sounded like he was playing huge chords. I noticed this again and again during the set. It was very rare for him to play more than two strings when he was in fully-distorted mode.

Second, I was amazed at how relaxed his hands were. He was closer to the relaxed movements of an old jazz player than he was to the vise-like grip I see in so many rock guitarists. He got from place to place on the fretboard with an economy of movement that I rarely see.

I've always thought that the guitar player that Mascis owes the most to is Dickie Betts. He plays the same kind of thick, fluid, melodic solos that Betts usually plays...at least when he is not dive bombing the tremolo with the flanger, the chorus, the delay and the wah going all at once. The solo on "Blue Sky" is the spiritual ancestor of the guitar solo on "The Lung."

I bailed on the Saturday show because, frankly, my old man ears couldn't take it. Still, it's tough to beat the anthemic moments in the best Dinosaur material.

EZ Pass Hell

Recently, the Misanthrope has been feeling all kinds of frightening, soft, fuzzy feelings about his friends. This past week, he and the 27 Year Old parted ways and his friends have been nothing short of remarkable in their thoughtfulness (shout outs to Grub, Mrs. Grub, Walter & Jane).

I was almost reaching the point of believing in humanity again, when I called EZ Pass to update my credit card information.

I wanted to do this on line, but you need a PIN and I have no idea what my PIN was because I have had no communication with EZ Pass since January 2003.

So, I called. They asked me to confirm the address on file. It was out of date. I asked them to change my address. They said I needed a PIN to do that. How do I get a PIN? They send it to me. But my address is wrong, I won't get it. We can't change it without a PIN. How can I get a PIN if my address is wrong. Can't change address without a PIN.

This went on for about seven minutes.

Long story, short, the Misanthrope is back and he hates humanity even more than ever.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

La Nouvelle Voiture Misanthropique

After much negotiation, the Misanthrope has purchased a brand new Misanthropemobile. (Representative photo above; Options may vary.)

Anybody who has gone through the process of dealing with car salesmen will agree that it leaves one with an overwhelming desire to scrub oneself down with Janitor-in-a-Drum. As Tony predicted, every ludicrous salesman tactic in the book was employed, including the "I have to ask my manager" trick.

I suppose these ploys must work on somebody, but I can't imagine who hasn't heard of them by now.

Some favorites include:

1) Presenting the car with an outrageously high list price and then immediately crossing that out and offering a "discount." Uh, okay, but when I've already used the Mercedes website to build a car and get a lower price quote, the salesman looks kind of stupid when he tries to convince me that this is a deal.
2) Pretending that he would "throw in" the GPS navigation system for "just" $xxx. I happened to know that this involved nothing more than shoving a DVD into the system and downloading the software. Also, he was quoting me a price that was, once again, higher than the price on the Mercedes website for the option.
3) Telling me "nobody gets that option" when the option I was asking about was not available on a car in stock. I'm not buying a car for anybody else. If I want it, I want it.

Anyway, I managed to bring the deal in for a pretty big chunk of change below invoice price (according to Kelley Blue Book figures) because it was late November and I bought a 2005 model that they were holding in inventory. I cannot say enough about doing research on the Kelley Blue Book site before negotiating. The information is amazing. Not only does it list what retailers are asking for on a particular model with options, it tells you at what prices consumers are getting deals done. More importantly, it tells you what the manufacturer is charging the dealer (the "invoice price.) That gives you an idea of how low you can really get with pricing.

What got me a good deal in the end was pretty simple. I kept leaving the dealership and then negotiating over the phone to get me to come back. Finally, I put a price on the table that was outrageously below reasonable. The dealer met me halfway and we were done.

Now, where is the Janitor-in-a-Drum when I need it?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Light posting of late due to general craziness ahead of Thanksgiving. On top of finding a new Misanthropemobile (more on that next week), I've also had to deal with a few squawks on Orange Crush, the Misanthrope plane.

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody except my foreign friends; those guys get nothing.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Philip the Cat - R.I.P

This morning the Misanthrope received the sad news that the only cat he has ever liked, Philip, was struck by a car on Monday and killed.

The Misanthrope and the 27 year old met Philip last October when we stayed with his owners, Hamish and Andrea, in Washington, DC. He was just a kitten then.

I 've always been firmly in the dog camp in the eternal battle between dog lovers and cat lovers. My proof that dogs are superior? Have you ever heard anybody say about a dog, "You'll like him. He's just like a cat."?

Of course you haven't.

Philip, however, won us over instantly. He was so affectionate and so fun to play with that it was hard not to be totally charmed. For weeks after we returned to New York, we talked about our love for Philip. Even the WMDs (Wallace and Maggie Dogs) were getting jealous.

Philip's passing got me to thinking about why it is that we form such deep connections with animals. Pet owners often mention things like companionship, unquestioning love, etc. Obviously, those are wonderful benefits, but I suspect that the real reason we form such attachments is because of the sheer pleasure, the deep joy of caring for somebody else. Caring for a cat or dog, an animal that is almost totally dependent upon you for its well-being, brings out the best of human nature. I know that I take pleasure in making sure that Wallace and Maggie have a good life and are healthy. We are always told that it is better to give than to receive and it always turns out to be true when we can remember to give. Taking care of a dog or a cat is like a constant reminder of that. What dog owner doesn't know the pleasure of getting his dog a treat or taking him to the beach and seeing the unbridled enthusiasm of a dog running at top speed with ears flying back and tongue hanging out?

So it came as no surprise that Hamish told me that Philip made his already wonderful marriage feel like a family.

I know the feeling.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Salt of the Earth

I was standing outside an office building on Sixth Avenue today, eating a pretzel, when a woman approached me and started talking in a barely audible whisper. Between the traffic noise, the internal sound of my munching on the pretzel and the hearing damage sustained from too many years standing in front of way too many watts of amp power, I could not make out what she was saying. Moreover, I was really hungry and had just taken my first bite of the pretzel and didn't want to be interrupted.

Also, I don't like people.

Anyway, after reading her lips and paying attention, I understood that she was saying, "Can you spare some change so I can get something to eat?" I tore off the uneaten half of the pretzel and and handed to her.

She seemed taken aback at first, but once she regained her composure, she looked at me skeptically and said in a concerned voice, "But this has too much salt!"


Another good therapy for the Misanthrope when he is going through a blue spell is to spend some time with the two beagles.

Here's Wallace:

Here's Satan...um, I mean Maggie:

I can prove that Maggie is Satan.

About a month ago, I was at the studio with MikeDot when my cell phone began ringing over and over. It was the 27 year old (then 26), telling me to get home. It seems that the dogs had gotten into the box of heartworm medicine and eaten over a year's worth of doses. The medicine comes in a meaty treat that Maggie adores and the carpet was covered with empty foil wrappers. So, we called the animal poison hotline and they advised us that we shold induce vomiting in both dogs to be certain that there were no adverse effects.

It turns out that the way to induce vomiting in dogs is to feed them bread and peanut butter and then give them a shot of hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide foams up in their little peanut butter-laden stomachs and VOILA! After loading down their beagle bellies with Wonder and Skippy, we positioned ourselves close to the door, delivered the dose of peroxide and rushed to the street.

Wallace, as usual, obliged almost instantly. He covered the corner of West 12th and Washington with puke and then looked up with pleading eyes. We felt horribly guilty because the contents of his stomach turned out to be only bread and peanut butter - he hadn't eaten any of the medicine.

The Iron Bitch, on the other hand, would not be broken. Per the doctor's instructions, we ran her around the neighborhood to jiggle her stomach, but she just looked at us with cool determination. We dosed her again with peroxide, but she would not budge. At one point, she stopped at a corner and it looked like our wait was over. Instead of puking her guts out, however, she hunched into turtle position and emitted a Super-Soaker-like spray of watery crap. There was so much pressure that we could actually hear a "whoosh" as she painted the lamp post.

Despite this Satanic crap, still no vomiting. After a third dose of peroxide, we decided to go back to the apartment and give her more bread and peanut butter. When we got upstairs, Maggie made a bee-line for the persian rug and immediately released the contents of her stomach in a torrent of peroxide, peanut butter, bread and nearly two years' worth of Heartguard.

That dog is Satan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Best. Show. Ever.

The Misanthrope admits to having been down in the dumps a bit lately, what with the car problems and the persistent presence of people. But that mood was changed last night when he sat down with the final series of Blackadder starring Rowan Akinson. This is the one called "Blackadder Goes Forth" and it is set in the trenches of World War I.

It's pure genius. Hugh Laurie is brilliant as George, the idiotic public school boy. Stephen Fry is hilarious as Gen. Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett. The writing is the best of all the Blackadders series.

Get it, Darling.

Don't Fear Running with the Devil, That's All

Yesterday the Misanthrope drove his absurd pimp-car rental to Lexington, MA for a meeting. The original plan was to fly myself to the meeting because it was located less than 2 miles from Hanscom Field. As we all know now, God hates the Misanthrope, so after 5 days of perfectly clear, warm weather, we got rain and 600 foot ceilings.

During the drive, I was able to partake of the many classic rock stations in the New England area, including my old college favorite, 99.1 WPLR.

Here is a list of the songs I heard more than once over the course of 7 hours of driving, round trip:

1. Don't Fear the Reaper - 3 times
2. Runnin' with the Devil - 3 times
3. That's All - 3 times

The first two don't really surprise me. Reaper has been an FM radio staple for years, as has the Van Halen.

But "That's All"? Seriously? 3 times?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Magic of Tedstock

Chris and Ted have put up some podcasts from Tedstock. Definitely worth checking out are the tracks from the Four Fellas. The average age in the band is nine and they may have been the tightest band at Tedstock.

I may only be partially kidding.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Quagmire, Part 2

An unsuccessful suicide bomber from last week's attack in Jordan appeared on Jordanian television today and confessed that she was meant to be part of the attack. Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi appeared wearing the de-activated suicide bomb belt packed with TNT and ball bearings.

Last month I referred to al-Qaeda's quagmire in Iraq. The attack in Jordan is an example of that dilemma. Jordanians appear to be outraged. Thousands of them demonstrated against Zarqawi last week. The Palestinians are putting distance between themselves and al-Qaeda because of the attack. Zarqawi knows he cannot beat the U.S. military head on. So he attacks Muslims indiscriminately in the name of Islam and it appears that this strategy is starting to backfire very badly.

In Iraq, some Sunni insurgents are making overtures to negotiate an end to fighting and begin participating in the political process. The Saudis, who are a powerful Sunni constituency, have committed $1B to the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraqi President Talabani is saying that British troops may be able to leave Iraq in 2006. These are the actions of people who know which side is winning and which side is in the process of shooting itself in the foot. If all Zarqawi can offer is the chance that you are going to be blown to bits at a hotel while trying to plan your wedding, he's in a pretty weak spot indeed.

Obviously, this kind of backlash didn't occur when al-Qaeda was killing Christians and Jews in New York, London and Madrid. If Tuesday's attacks had killed a bunch of Western Christians, I have no doubt that there would not have been such an outcry. That's depressing. Still, if last week's attack in Jordan turns the tide of opinion against al-Qaeda and its mindless slaughter, that's some progress indeed. On top of the grief and anger, I'm sure that many in the Middle East understood the attack in Jordan as a sign that al-Qaeda has no strategy for winning this war.

UPDATE: The Imam of Zarqawi's childhood mosque calls him "kufr," which is about as damning as you can get in Islam.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Make Sure My Water Bottles are JUST SO!!!

Brother Big Red John Boy Jethro Elmore, Grubzilla and I went to Warsaw last night to see The Black Keys. I had seen them once previously, last year at Mercury Lounge and was mighty impressed with both the energy of their show and Dan Auerbach's guitar playing. I was also psyched to have some pierogis. Mmmm, that's rock food.

The opener appeared at first to be former New York Mayor David Dinkins backed by the local Phish cover band.

Only after the show did I learn that I had seen Motor City urban legend Nathaniel Mayer.

No, I've never heard of him either.

Mayer apparently had two minor hits in the 1960s, "Village of Love" and "I Want Love and Affection (Not the House of Correction). " He definitely played the latter song last night, although I have to admit I thought he was singing "I Want Love and Affection in the House of Correction," which, I am sure you will agree, puts a slightly different slant on the lyrics.

His band was actually pretty good and I enjoyed the set for the first few songs. It was only after the 10th variation on the same sound with the same basic lyrics (sample: "shake what your momma gave ya") that I started to yearn for an end to the set.

Midway through, Grubzilla decided to leave, which was probably the smart move because the time between the end of the Mayor's set and the start of the Black Keys' was about an hour. Yes, it took a two-piece band nearly a full hour to, um, uh, plug in their one guitar and turn on two amps. The drums had already been set up. Brother BRJBJE was starting to lose his temper as we watched the stage hands walk back and forth on stage rearranging the water bottles into neat stacks.

Anyway, the band played okay, but both of us were so overwhelmed with the DMV-like wait for the set that we bailed before the encores.

The Black Keys - Bring a Magazine and a Folding Chair

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Zen of Total Loss

The Misanthrope long ago resigned himself to the fact that God hates him. So it came as no surprise to him that the problem with the Misanthropemobile (see below) is a big one.

About $11,000 big, in fact.

For, you see, it seems that La Voiture Misanthropique suffered a complete and catastrophic failure of the engine cooling system, leading to irreparable engine damage. There is no fix. A new engine must be bought.

I will not be buying a new engine. We must all bid a fond "Adieu" to the late, great Misanthropemobile.

Now, getting a new car is a big enough pain. But I've also got to figure out what to do with the old car, especially since the dealer now knows I won't be providing him with any revenues.

I must say, with some shock, that I have remained bizarrely calm throughout this whole affair. And the people with whom I have had to deal have been remarkably nice.

I must be getting soft. Time to venture out into the Meatpacking District to restoke the flames of hatred.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Things You Learn While Reading Le Monde

I was reading this article about the first measures imposed under the state of emergency declared in France this morning and I kept coming across the word "couvre-feu." I hadn't seen this before and couldn't make sense of it because it basically means "cover-fire." After saying it out loud a few times, however, I had an inkling that it might be the root of our word "curfew."

And so it is. I guess it has its roots in the time when you would cover the hearth fire before going to sleep for the night.

Vachement chouette, non?

I think the word is "Schadenfreude"?

Le Figaro notes that the rest of the world media is taking a heck of a lot of pleasure in beating up on France and, surprisingly, they admit that France deserves a lot of it. (Warning: French required.)

Money quote:

"Leur analyse n'est pourtant pas dénuée de perspicacité. Elle souligne l'échec de quarante ans de politique. Si la France n'est pas en guerre, elle est plongée dans le bourbier de ses incohérences, de ses contradictions."

[Trans: Their (i.e., the foreign media's) analysis is not without insight. It highlights forty years of failed policy. If France is not at war, it has been plunged into the quagmire of its inconsistencies and its contradictions. ]

As they admit, France has never been been slow to lecture the rest of humanity on its failings.

Monday, November 07, 2005

How Dare I Be So Beautiful?


Seems like Phil Collins is floating the idea of a full-scale Genesis reunion.

I am always hesitant to mention my love of Genesis because of the difference between the band I loved (Genesis 1967-1980) and the band that most people are familiar with (Genesis 1980-1998). So, to be clear, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE COLLINS-LED BAND THAT PRODUCED DRECK LIKE "INVISIBLE TOUCH."

If you want to make fun of me, make fun of the fact that I will be one of the few guys in the audience who is more psyched that Steve Hackett is back than he is that Gabriel is in front.

How Much More Can I Give?

Last night I went to see the Constantines at the Bowery Ballroom with MikeDot and Brother Big Red John Boy Jethro Elmore.

While I was waiting for MikeDot to show up, I saw a homeless guy pandhandling in the middle of Delancey Street. I saw him coming towards me, so I reached into my pocket and pulled out whatever change I had and gave it to him.

Now, let me pause here and say that I am a native New Yorker filled to the gills with cynicism and doubt about panhandlers. I know that some of them are truly mentally ill and need serious treatment. I know that some of them are caught in abject poverty. And I know that a small number are just bullshitters trying to pick up some extra cash.

When I was a kid, we used to see a guy begging near Central Park at the 7th Avenue entrance most days of the week. About a year after we first saw him, my parents told me they spotted him in a restaurant having a pretty expensive meal with two beautiful women. That experience just begs to grow into a lifelong rationale for not digging into one's pockets, but I ended up going the other way. I give to anybody who asks me on the theory that anybody who is cheating me has their own eternal soul to worry about; I'd rather not miss the chance to help.

Anyway, I give this guy all the change in my pocket and put it in his Chicago Bulls cap (note to panhandler: stick with the home team). Now we are best friends. He proceeds to tell me that New York was once inhabited by soldiers and horse-drawn carriages and that "He" controls it all. (At this point it was a little unclear if "He" was God or Bush.) The guy was clearly a little nutty, but the narrative was kind of entertaining although it was a bit unnerving that he never made eye contact with me. He spoke for almost five minutes, talking movingly off the fact that we were all once babies who grew in to men and this is how he knew God created the Universe.

And then he finished with, "So, I guess what I'm saying is, 'Is that all you gonna give me?'"

Kyiv Dispatch

Misanthrope has a brother. All of the genes our parents had that convey a general love of your fellow man were, obviously, passed to him. This left the Misanthrope with his black, empty, hollow soul. But the brother is a good guy.

He's currently living in Kiev, which, I just learned, is now spelled Kyiv.

Kyiv also happens to be the original home of Yasha, who taught me to play classical guitar. Yasha fled Kyiv when it was still part of the Soviet Union and has not been back since. At some point, I need to have him re-tell the story of his defection because it is pretty incredible. Of course, that was nearly 30 years ago and a lot has changed.

My brother is in Kyiv teaching at the University. His three sons are having quite an adventure. Two of them are pictured above standing in front of the 12th century church of St. Sophia.

Now that he is settled, expect updates from Ukraine from time to time.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

France Surrenders

In true Gallic fashion, the French have surrendered.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Born into Brothels

The 26 Year Old was laid low with a cold, so we decided to stay in and rent a video. This being the Far West Village, there are no video stores, so we were stuck with the DVD Express kiosk at D'Agostinos.

The pickings there are usually pretty slim, but somehow we stumbled across Born into Brothels, the 2005 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary.

The film documents the friendship of the children of prostitutes in one of Calcutta's red light districts with a photography teacher named Zana Briski. She gives the children cameras and teaches them the basics of photography. Being children, they respond with excitement and glee. In one case, a genuine artist is revealed.

All of this happens against a backdrop of social pathologies that are gut-wrenching. The children describe their situations in a kind of frightening poetic language. For the girls, all of whom are at the age where prostitution is maybe a year or less away, the sense of impending doom is pervasive.

Briski sets out to place the children in charity boarding schools, but almost all of them refuse to admit the children of criminals. Her efforts on their behalf are matter of fact and never presented with cheap sentimentality or self-righteousness. And getting them placed at schools is just half the battle; the families don't always share Briski's vision of a future with education.

For me, the most difficult case to watch was a young boy named Avijit. The photographs the children take are interesting and some of them are quite good. When we meet Avijit, however, it is immediately apparent that he is exceptional. The boy has real talent. He speaks directly and movingly of his desire to express what he feels inside through art. His photographs are on a different level than those of the other kids, hell, even his commentaries on the other kids' photos are on a different level.

At the same time, he is very clearly conflicted. His talent earns him the chance for a way out of the brothels, but he struggles with a desire to be loyal to his family and their world. Watching him cope with his general situation and his conflicted emotions about escaping is extraordinarily difficult. His plight makes you wonder how much other talent is lost in poverty and violence.

Go rent it or check out the children's photographs here.

New York from the Air

The Misanthrope had hoped to fly up to see his parents at the little grass landing strip next to their house in Connecticut. Unfortunately, Orange Crush needed a whole lot of maintenance attention today and I spent most of my time fixing all the little things that need to be fixed on a small airplane. Add to that the fact that I had to take the train to Linden because the Misanthropemobile is in the shop. By the time I was ready to fly, I was pretty much out of time.

So, I decided to do a quick loop up and down the Hudson River. Below are a few photos. Unfortunately, there was a low layer of smog hanging over the area, so the view was not too crisp.

The Battery:

Ground Zero:

Jane Street - Home of the Misanthrope:

Friday, November 04, 2005

Ahh, the Peace Movement

Making the world a better place one burned out building at a time.

Keep up the good work boys!

14th Street - Street of the Damned

I'm tempted to believe that God himself is smiting the Meatpacking District this week, probably for the sin of bringing too many annoying people to Misanthrope's neighborhood.

On Monday, the 26 year old and I were sitting in our apartment on Jane Street when the Fire Department banged on the door and told us to get out because there was a fire. Luckily, the fire was small and in the building next door, but I now realize that this was God's way of warning the Misanthrope to make himself scarce because vengeance was at hand.

This was followed on Wednesday by a 4 alarm fire in a garage on 15th Street.

Following through on his "plague every two days" plan, God delivered this mayhem on 14th Street this morning. The 1010 WINS story is not very informative, but it features the best news graphic I've seen in a while. Instead of a picture of the actual scene of the crash, we get this:

Classy! I think the soft pack of GPCs really adds to my understanding of the story.

I emailed Misanthrope correspondent Kevin Dugan and got this report on the NY1 employee who caught the drunken driver.

The best part about this story is that Howie's name means "bad man" in German. My German isn't good enough to translate "kick ass."

(Editor's Note: During the writing of this post, the 26 year old suggested that we should "run to the hills" and attempted to emphasize this point by singing "Run to the Hills" by Iron Maiden. Unfortunately, although she got the lyrics right (i.e., "Run to the Hills"), she sang them to the tune of "All By Myself, " by Eric Carmen. The Misanthrope interprets this as "speaking in Tongues," another sign from God to get out of town before the smiting begins anew.)

An Unplanned Junket to Yonkers/Take the A

On my way back from Stamford tonight, I had a little adventure when my car overheated and died on Broadway in the Bronx, just off the Henry Hudson Parkway. Given that I rolled to a stop in front of the Riverdale Equestrian Centre, I was fairly certain that this was not going to be my personal Bonfire of the Vanities.

I called Roadside Assistance for the Misanthropemobile and a tow truck was on the way in short order. We got the car to a storage lot and the towing company will take it to the dealer for repairs on Monday. The towing lot was in Yonkers and I needed to get home. In a display of shocking kindness, the guy who towed me got in his car and drove me all the way to the A train on 207th Street in Manhattan. It may not seem like a huge deal, but he probably saved me a good 45 minutes in travel time and he went pretty far out of his way to do it.

It's just too bad I couldn't understand a word the man was saying at any point in the trip.

Fresh from this kind gesture, I was in as jolly a mood as one can be when riding the A train, at least until a father and his two boys got on the train and sat across the aisle from me. After watching them from 207th Street to 34th Street, my heart was pretty much broken.

You see, the father talked to those two boys (I'm guessing ages 9 and 7) with such violence in his voice and such anger that it was all I could do not to wince. He was not yelling or even talking loudly. He was just flat out mean, in the plainest sense of the word.

The younger one was still at an age where he took the abuse silently, although with much confusion. After an exchange with his father, he would return to that world where 7 year olds live, the one where the biggest challenge is deciding if the Mr. Incredible action figure will defeat the evil crab action figure.

The older one, however, was aware enough to have a slighlty defeated look when his father spoke. What was worse, it was clear that, unlike his brother, he was old enough to be conscious of the fact that other people could see the way his father treated them. You could see in his eyes that a light was slowly going out.

I once saw a documentary about New York in which the narrator said that every day, New Yorkers see the greatest kindness to others and the greatest cruelty.

You can see it all in one trip on the A train.

More on Paris

An interesting summary of the situation in France by a the Iranian-born editor of a French political quarterly.

This passage gets to the heart of the tension that France is experiencing:

In some areas, it is possible for an immigrant or his descendants to spend a whole life without ever encountering the need to speak French, let alone familiarize himself with any aspect of the famous French culture.

The result is often alienation. And that, in turn, gives radical Islamists an opportunity to propagate their message of religious and cultural apartheid.

Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the "millet" system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.

In parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place. In these areas, all women are obliged to wear the standardized Islamist "hijab" while most men grow their beards to the length prescribed by the sheiks.

The radicals have managed to chase away French shopkeepers selling alcohol and pork products, forced "places of sin," such as dancing halls, cinemas and theaters, to close down, and seized control of much of the local administration.

France has long pursued a foreign policy designed to promote good will in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, that good will can't solve the inherent tensions in trying to integrate two vastly different cultures.

Paris - City Alight

Well, my original post on the Paris riots below certainly sparked some controversy in the comments section.

The discussion went in the direction of the problem of passages in the Koran that advocate the killing of infidels. That was not really where the original post was pointing, however. My joke about "insurgents" was more of a jab at the ridiculous coverage of events in Iraq and the endless pontificating on America's failings from the "enlightened" French government.

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe now. These riots are, no doubt, the result of the growth of that population in a country that has a long historical obsession with the concept of French identity and the uniqueness (and superiority) of French culture. Until now, my impression is that the French have tried to pretend that there would be no problem assimilating a large Muslim presence into its modern, secular state.

Unfortunately, many of the cultural norms and beliefs that the immigrant community bring to France cannot be squared with a modern, secular state. You can't have one community that believes in French jurisprudence, for example, and another that wants to live under sharia law. This tension was revealed recently in the controversy over banning headscarves from French schools.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim community is mostly ghetto-ized. This doesn't excuse the rioting, but it does provide some context.

I am not assigning value judgments here. I am merely pointing out that France has a mess on its hands and not a lot of ways to square the circle. I suspect this is going to get uglier because the problem has been ignored for a long time.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Catholics Made a Monkey Out of Me

Following up on an earlier post about the sad delusions and sophistry of the Kansas Board of Education, I note with approval that the Vatican has urged Catholics to listen to modern science, lest they turn into "fundamentalists."

I'm certainly no big fan of the Roman Catholic church (full disclosure: I am an Episcopalian), but this is a worthy statement and deserves recognition.

I Can See Clearly Now My Brain is Gone

MikeDot and I sat down for another writing session last night at the studio. Once again, the results were promising. In Ted's honor, I am calling the nascent song "Please Hamer, Don't Hurt 'Em."

Mike hates that title.

What was interesting about it was that I really feel like we have sharpened our focus on what we can make the band sound like through the songwriting.

Ever since we became a three-piece, creating the band sound has been a bit of a conundrum for me. Mike and Joe can vary their sounds somewhat, but the guitar has the most options available for different sounds and approaches. The problem was that I was growing tired of the sounds and approaches that I had used in the past because they were so heavily indebted to mainstream rock. As satisfying as it is to play a lot of big, thrashing chords, it was getting kid of dull for me.

It was "Paper Airplane Crash" that set off the lightbulb in my head. We played it on Sunday at Tedstock and I really felt like it was the most original and satisfying song in our set. It builds on the minimalism that we explored in "Beauty Mark" and it includes time-honored Microdot techniques like different instruments playing in different time signatures. Most importantly, the arrangement itself is a centerpiece of the song. All three instruments have a lot of independence in movement and the result is more of a weaving of sounds, as opposed to the big brushstroke of one color you get when the bass is holding down the root, guitar filling the air with big chords and drums laying down a backbeat.

On the way home from Tedstock, I felt like the light had been turned on and I could see the map at last. It's hard to put it into words, but I had a clear conception of how we could sound as a three-piece that didn't amount to a retread of a lot of 1990's indie tropes and 1970's prog tricks. Mostly, it involves weaving the instruments together and using that weaving to create patterns of tension that resolve into beauty.

What was cool about last night was that I think Mike is looking at a pretty similar map, which is exciting. Nothing beats working with somebody who is on the same page.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Insurgents Battle For Sixth Straight Day

Looks like the "insurgents" are winning in France. France has become France's Vietnam. It is a quagmire.

It is remarkable to see this kind of thing happen in France because of the age-old fascination with French identity. It will be fascinating and somewhat scary to see where this goes.

One thing is for sure. Platitudes about the need for "dialogue" with the rioters are not going to stop much of anything.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Well, Duh

Oh, to live in such an age of wisdom.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Misanthrope Goes Gawker

Misanthrope and his Droogies appear on Gawker.

Yes, we are that famous.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday - What a Day

The 26 Year Old and I are still recovering from the excellent time we had last night with Anne and John P at John's Williamsburg bar. We'd better get in gear soon because today is a busy day.

In honor of Tedstock, I broke out the sad remains of my vinyl collection. Helping me on the road to wellness this morning is Polvo, one of my favorites. On the turntable as I write is 1992's Cor-Crane Secret.

I love this band. Since they broke up, I can't wait for the new Black Taj CD , featuring ex-Polvo members, and their New York shows in December.

Onward to Sunday, October 30, 2005:

First up for today, my friend Chuck Webster is appearing in a show at P.S. 1 called "The Painted World." This is a pretty big show for him and I am very pleased. I also happen to be an "early Webster collector," so I have many reasons to be excited.

Chuck's work is available at the ZieherSmith gallery on 25th between 10th & 11th Avenues.

After the P.S. 1 show, it's on to TEDSTOCK.

At 7:00 P.M. Microdot old and new joins forces with George Vitray and Chris Pace for the "classic" Via Skyway line-up.

At 8:00, it's the new and improved Microdot, with new drummer JoeDot behind the kit.

With my musical responsibilities out of the way, I intend to drink heavily and enjoy the rock stylings of the other bands on the bill. Here's the schedule:

9:00 - The Horse You Rode In On
10:00 - #12 Rock and Roll Noodle (featuring the delicious talents of Gabble Ratchet)
11:00 - The X's
Midnight - Just One
1:00 - Figo


Friday, October 28, 2005

Some Lawyers Think Rove Molests Collies

UPDATE: It looks like they have removed that sentence and updated the story. Well, at least one editor at AP is not asleep at the switch.

This AP story contains the kind of crappy journalism that we have come to know and love from the Associated Press.

About midway through the story, we find this sentence:

Some lawyers have raised the specter of broader conspiracy charges as well.

Well, which lawyers? Lawyers associated with the case? On what basis are they "raising the specter"? Are these criminal lawyers with prosecutorial experience? Are they just some guys the reporter knows from college who became lawyers?

The bigger question is why this is unattributed. If they are sources inside the case, the writer should say so. If they are not associated with the case, why are they anonymous? And why should we care what they say if they have no access to information about the case?

For conspiracy to exist, there has to be an underlying crime. Based on news reports this morning, it looks like Libby is going to be indicted for giving false statements to the grand jury. There is no mention of the supposed crime that started this ridiculous mess - the purported outing of a "covert" CIA agent.

Thanks for the garbage, AP.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Intelligent Malign

Fellow Misanthrope Grubzilla sends us this development in the Kansas Board of Education debacle.

I think the 2 groups really hit the nail on the head with this:

In the statement, as well as in letters to the state board, the groups opposed the standards for singling out evolution as a controversial theory, and also for changing the definition of science itself so that it is not restricted to natural phenomena. (Emphasis added)

The proponents of "alternative" "theories" like Intelligent Design are faulting science for not explaining something it is not designed to explain. They love to point to the drastic changes in scientific knowledge over the years as evidence that evolution may turn out to be wrong altogether. But they are missing the point. Science is never saying, "This is truth." Science is saying, "This is a construct that is supported by and explains the observations of natural phenomena using the available techniques of the time."

Science and religion are not reconcilable, but not because there can't be a God. They are irreconcilable because the definition of faith (believing without having to see) is the direct opposite of the definition of science (trying to describe what can be seen). I wish we would stop wasting time pretending this isn't true.

These nutcases on Kansas Board of Education are battling a straw man that they have erected. In doing so, they are not only striking a blow against their children's ability to see good science, they are providing a terrible example of what folks used to call sophistry. Very depressing indeed.

Bravo to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association for sticking it to them.


Just have to give a shout out to all my exes. They are all great people and, what's more, they are HILARIOUS.

So, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how great they are on my blog.

I'm sure the 26 Year Old understands.

When Game Theory Goes Wrong

I was delighted to see that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Leaving aside whether or not she was a conservative or not, I am delighted because I think she was simply not qualified for the highest court in the land. I'm sure she is a bright, hard-working attorney and she has had some success, but the Supreme Court is not like some ultra-cool partnership is the biggest law firm around. And I have no interest in a nominee who would spend the first five or so years getting up to speed on the details of Constitutional law.

When Miers was announced, Bush claimed that he had asked other women to be nominees and "several" had turned him down. I always thought this was an interesting thing for the President to state and I suspected that it was a planned gambit on his part. It implied that Democratic Senators were so over-the-top in their questioning of John Roberts that none of the qualified female candidates even wanted to be nominated. The message there was that Miers had to be confirmed because there were no other options available if they wanted a female nominee.

Interestingly, this ties in, just a little bit, with game theory work that won Thomas C. Schelling a share of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Economics. Schelling pointed out that in negotiations one side can sometimes gain an advantage if it limits its options in advance, even if limiting those options appears to be contrary to that side's own self-interest. What he was describing was the notion of "pre-commitment." If I burn the bridge behind me, you know that I am serious about staying on this side of the river. That creates a much different negotiation.

Of course, in this case, the strategy didn't work, but for an interesting reason. Bush was not involved in a two-party negotiation. By limiting his choices, he inadvertently alienated his own side and that is what brought this benighted nomination down.

So what does he do now? Claim that one of those women suddenly changed their mind? Go with a male candidate? (Note to Moonbat Tinfoil brigade: Yes. This was all a Rovian plan to nominate a male candidate.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Close to Home

A twin-engine Cessna 411 crashed on Saturday in East Hampton, NY. The pilot, William Holdgate, 50, of Nantucket, MA, was killed in the accident.

The plane hit the ground in a spot that leads me to believe that he was preparing to turn from the downwind leg to the base leg of the traffic pattern for Runway 28 at East Hampton Airport (KHTO). There may have been an issue with an engine, but this would not be fatal in a twin engine plane. It seems far more likely that he stalled the wings (i.e., put the plane in an attitude where the wings were no longer creating lift) while making too steep a turn from downwind to base at a slow speed. We won't know for six months, but I suspect loss of control in low-level, slow maneuvering will be the cause. The press always focuses on engine failure, but that is not, generally, what causes fatal accidents.

KHTO is where I learned to fly and where I base my plane during the summer. Here she is on the ramp at East Hampton:

East Hampton Airport is a truly wonderful place to fly. The main runway is very long, but there is no control tower. All pilots talk on 122.7, the common traffic frequency. The terminal is small and friendly.

So, it pains me to think of that familiar view, turning base for Runway 28, suddenly rushing up at me with fatal fury.

New Podblaze

"Horsestock", a new Smoke and Mirrors podblaze is up featuring The Horse You Rode In On, The Noodle and Microdot.

Working at Smoke and Mirrors has been the most enjoyable recording experience of my recording career. I recommend them very highly. Not only do you get great sound, you get a relaxed, artist friendly place to work and flesh out ideas.

T-minus 6 days to Tedstock.

Irony in Iraq

I think we have reached a point in Iraq where the supposed advantage of the "insurgents," that they are fighting with guerilla tactics, has become their greatest liability.

Despite the endless "quagmire" talk in the Western media, I suggest that it is the insurgency that is stuck in a quagmire. In their own way, they are caught in a Vietnam in reverse.

In Vietnam, the U.S. was fighting a war where it was difficult to find hard targets. Our massive edge in weaponry and equipment offered little advantage because it was so hard to put them to use effectively. Attacks on civilians who were mistaken for targets generated nothing but ill-will towards the Americans.

In Iraq, the insurgency has the exact same problem in reverse. What do they hit without losing the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people? What do they blow up without killing the same people they are purporting to protect?

They do try to target U.S. troops, but they clearly know that is a fight they can never win. So, they target Iraqis, which does nothing but turn most people against them. And every week, the forces protecting the civilians become more and more Iraqi and less and less American.

Iraqis are not stupid. Despite all the bleatings of the Hate America First media, they recognize who is protecting their ability to vote for their own government and who is blowing them up in their streets.

That's not a winning strategy. Sounds like a "quagmire" to me.

Is there a Wahhabi Joan Baez?

Grey Lady Down

Every day, it is getting more and more depressing to watch the slow death of the New York Times.

It's never been a secret that the Times is a left-leaning paper, but at least it used to be a good left-leaning paper.

I swear, I have no idea who reads the drivel that comes out of Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, Frank Rich or Thomas Friedman and actually takes it seriously. Even more difficult to fathom is who is dumb enough to pay the subscription fee to TimeSelect to read this crap on line.

But worse than the awful Op-Ed page these days is the sloppiness in the news reporting and the blurred line between editorial writing and reportage that has infected the main pages.

At the moment, the paper is in the process of eating its own leg. Good. Something truly drastic needs to happen on 43rd street because the Times could not be losing respect more rapidly.

Which would be sad, because once the editorializing is beaten back to the last two pages of the A section, a healthy New York Times is a good thing to have around.

Friday, October 21, 2005

And His Colleague, Detective Al Kaida

Check out the name of the policeman who killed Dimebag Darrell's killer.

That's just gotta be a living hell.

Machine Spleen

For a guy with a blog called "Misanthrope," I've been spending a lot of time laughing lately.

Last night we had a combination rehearsal/therapy session with Via Skyway. I think we reached a breakthrough with George, who was finally able to cry in front of all of us. He still has the paranoid delusions of robot persecution, but I think we are seeing some progress.

MikeDot and ChrisSemiDot combined for one of the funniest moments I can think of since...well, Wednesday, when JoeDot had me on the floor laughing.

I've heard about this feeling before...something like "happiness."

This is an annoying inside joke post.

Everybody on the outside, just deal with it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Down Metropolitan Avenue

I was driving back from the office tonight when I hit a huge traffic jam on the exit from the Van Wyck to the L.I.E. Instead of getting off, I drove down to the Jackie Robinson Parkway (nee Interboro Parkway) and got off at Metropolitan Avenue to make my way to Williamsburg.

Metropolitan Avenue reminded me of a day I spent with my Dad about three years ago. He was born in Long Island City, but grew up in Maspeth. We drove from spot to spot, finding the places where he had lived and gone to school. We visited Grover Cleveland High School, where a picture of my uncle's championship soccer team from the late 1940s is still hanging in the trophy case, next to a plaque from my Dad's championship team. It was also the place where my Dad was arrested with his best friend, Herb Pluschau, on suspicion of being a Communist because they had organized a protest against homework over school vacations. I passed Grover Cleveland, which sits in a little park on a small hill on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue, when I drove in tonight.

I also passed The Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery, where my great, great grandfather, Martin Blessinger is buried. Martin's parents, John and Eva came to America from the Rhineland on October 9, 1841 on the SS Pauline. He was born 10 months later, in August 1842. Martin grew up to fight in the Civil War with the 45th New York Volunteers, also known as the "German Rifles." He fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He's buried with his wife Adeline (also my grandmother's name) and his son Fred. His first son, John is buried nearby.

The reason we know about Martin's passage to America and his service in the Civil War is because my Dad went out and looked it all up.

And that, in a nutshell, is my Dad.

When I was a kid, his response to almost every question I asked was, "Let's look it up." If I showed interest in any subject, from model planes to architecture, my Dad would help me find a book (usually a LOT of books) that had answers and information. When we were very young, he would get up early, before work, and sit on the kitchen floor and read to/with/for us.

In our later years, my brother and I took to rolling our eyes and acting annoyed whenever my Dad would push a stack of books on us about some subject we had mentioned, even in passing. But we should really be grateful, because he made us believe we could master any subject we could think of. All we needed to do was find the right books.

Thanks, Dad.

And You Thought You Were Having a Bad Year

Since I own and run an investment fund in my day life, I know that nothing feels worse than having an investment go south based on something you could have caught in your due diligence.

So, I'm guessing that the folks who work for Thomas H. Lee, the famous private equity investor, are feeling pretty crappy now that they have lost $1.3 billion of investor value in two weeks through their holdings in Refco.

For those that don't know the story, Refco announced about two weeks ago that its CEO had been hiding over $400MM in debt. This has led to a shit-storm of epic proportions. The stock has gone from $28 to $0.90 in two weeks. Now that's volatility!

Lee is a marquee name in the private equity world. Goldman, Sachs & Co., where I actually began my career, was one of the lead underwriters on the recent IPO and they are the gold standard in big i-banking.

How in God's name did they all miss this? Who was doing the checking on the books before they did these deals?

Remember this the next time you hear people talking about "smart money" investing in a deal.

One odd thing I have found in my career is that "smart money" is often not too smart.