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Monday, July 26, 2004

Panhandling

Go read Lileks for today. I'll wait.
Bleat 26-JUL-04
I've spent a lot of time in the Netherlands, both for fun and work. One point about Amsterdam, (along With the obvious ones) is that it's full of panhandlers. Amazing quantities of them, of all types. Some parts of the city you can't walk down the street without being importuned multiple times. And they come in all varieties, from cute little eastern European girls down on their luck, to locals, to hopeless drug addicts, to various thugs, goons and losers. And, of course, the universal language of panhandling is English. (The strategy I've developed over the years for discouraging parasites seeking a handout is to give them a blank look and say "no hablo Ingles". The fact that I have a flat, obvious east coast accent makes it even more annoying because they know I speak English just from the sound. Also, being rather far towards the right side of the bigness and meaness end of the distribution curve helps in this regard)

A number of years ago, on my first trip to Amsterdam, I wasn't yet in tune with the panhandling zeitgeist, and was more open to a good pitch. I was approched by a weedy looking, twitchy, agitated guy with scabs on his face. In a lower-class London accent
he told me his sorry tale. He was a ship fitter by trade. He's been attacked by football hooligans who threw his tools into a canal and stolen his ID. They put cigarettes out on his face and beat him up. No one would help him. He was trapped, and couldn't get back to England. And so on. I thought he was full of shit, but he did have those scabs on his face. I gave him a few guilders mostly because it was a good act.

About a year later I was back in Amsterdam. I was approached again by the same guy. Same story. Different scabs. I stopped him in mid-tale and, putting a hand to my forhead, and in a dreamy voice said "don't tell me more, I'm a psychic, I can tell what you want. I see water. Tools, A football. You're a shipfitter. You were attacked. Yes, they stole your ID, didn't they?".

"How'ed you know that?"

"I told you, I'm a psychic"

"No, really"

"You told me the same story last year"

"But I've never been here before"

"Yeah, sure"

And while I'm on the subject -

Worst. Street musician. Ever.

A couple of guys on a corner in Amsterdam. Unkempt, filthy drug addict types. One had a junk guitar with 5 strings, completelely out of tune. Looked like he found it in a garbage can. He was spastically strumming the open strings with his fingers. Just about the most unmusical thing I've ever heard. The other guy was begging. For money. For the music.

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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Embarrassing Revelation

I like American cheese.

Not only that, after years of wandering in the wilderness of grey poupon and other designer goo, I've decided I prefer regular old French's yellow. It's nice and tangy, and it comes in a squeeze bottle. What else could one desire?


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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Pants, The Movie

I once had to make a service call on a piece of equipment at NSA headquarters.

The actual apparatus was used for testing semiconductors, nothing secret about it, all the semiconductor manufacturers used the exact same model.

I had to bring proof of citizenship and ID to the gate, and an inventory of everything in my service kit. I was accompanied at all times throughout the building. I was searched on leaving.

(Which led to a problem - my inventory sheet listed a floppy with a software update, but the goofballs back at the plant had forgotten to pack it. I spent a very uncomfortable several minute explaining to an armed guard why I didn't have something I was supposed to have with me. Just to leave.)

And Sandy "Pants Load" Berger gets to waltz out of a secure facility with top secret documents stuffed into his crotch. I don't get it. Why wasn't he under constant survailance?




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More Pants

Note to Sandy Berger:

I can see why a man in your position might want to err...
enhance his appearance. But wadded up top secret documents are just tacky.

Hint. Try a cucumber. Wrapped in aluminum foil.


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Pantload Update

We're making way too much out of this.

I store things in my pants all the time.

Right now I've got a kielbasa, two oranges.
And Hillary Duff.


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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Jacopsens

Just a thought, to play Devil's advocate for a second;

A group of musicians acting strangely on a plane, had something hidden in a McDonald's bag, were up to something in the bathroom.

Knowing musicians, it might well have been a bottle of Jack's that was hidden, and the nefarious conspiracy was one to get looped absent the ministrations of in-flight drink service.


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Neil Armstrong

How different would the history of space exploration be if Armstrong's first comment after stepping onto the lunar surface had been more along the lines of

"YEEHAHH!!! I'M ON THE FUCKIN' MOON, DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"?


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National Security?

It's in my pants.

I want my Sandy Burger fried extra crispy, y'all.

Watch out for the "innadvertantly" defense, as in
"yes your honor, I innadvertantly hunted down the man who was banging my wife innadvertantly like a dog and innadvertantly shot him 15 times at close range".


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Monday, July 19, 2004

Heretical Thoughts (No. 2 in a series)

What's so great about Miles Davis?

This thug's tuneless noodling has obsessed jazzophiles for far too long.

Davis wasn't a bad sideman in the 50's. But when he began fronting his own groups he really lost it. Davis superglued a mute into his horn sometime around 1959 and spent the rest of his career emitting an relentless cacaphony of weedy, wheezy, strangled blats, burps and squeaks. Seriously, raise your hand if you've ever listened to Bitches Brew more than once. Four sides of repetitive, boring pretentious musical masturbation and not one memorable cut. And, speaking as a bass player, I hold Davis personally responsible for popularizing ostinado bass lines. We spent decades raising the bass to be a full member of the orchestra, playing strong, sinuous, striking bass lines. Now all we get to do is play the same 5 notes over and over while the wankers^H^H^H^H trumpet players have all the fun.

What's the point of cool jazz, anyway? It's boring and repetitive. All Blues is all blah.
It's one step removed from elevator music.

And another thing.

Worst. Intonation. Ever.

Davis couldn't hit a pitch if Roger Clemens lobbed it over the plate underhand.

Freddie Hubbard has a wonderful sense of pitch. Dizzy Gillespie does amazing things with bends and microtones. Davis just plain can't play in tune.


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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Heretical Thoughts (No. 1 in a series)

What's so good about Glenn Gould?

I just tried listening to his version of the Goldberg Variations, which only confirms my earlier opinion from his English Suite.

He chews over every note like a piece of overcooked liver. Tasteless, lifeless, slow and torturous playing. Anal retentive, dragging, constipated and painful. As dead as a human MIDI file.

And it's not like he was the first to play Bach on a piano. A lot of people have played Bach on the piano. Bach played Bach on the piano. Listen to Edwin Fischer for an example of a lush, emotive, romantic and moving interpretation of the material. Gould just sounds like a robot. A boring robot. I don't get it.

Seriously, somebody email me if they have an explanation.



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