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Saturday, September 30, 2006

profiles in parenting!

Meet Bruce McMahan. "A secret sexual relationship with his daughter was not enough. There had to be a wedding."

Monday, September 25, 2006

link dump

this is not a funny story, but i feel the need to defend myself. read the caption: De Boise was known as "Mr Nice Guy" by his work colleagues. for the record, folks. i am not anthony de boise. and i do not take diabetes medication. or touch on 13 year old girls. just, you know, for the record.

nor, for the record, am i this guy. his interests, you will notice, include "staying medicated" (maybe he has diabetes too?). according to dutch in an email he sent me 12 years ago before he decamped to motor city, "the ad for this place they have in the onion out here ... includes a coupon for a 'free baked good.'" wicked.

finally, as long as i am link dumping, the
i saw your nanny blog might come in handy to nervous parents. when i first saw this i got really excited because i thought it was "i saw your mommy," the suicidal tendencies' blog. but it's not.

UPDATE: oh, what the hell. as long as we're at it. let's take a longer look at who i am not. i am not a purveyor of electronics; i am not an bitchin' jackie chan flick known by various alternative titles such as Mister Cool, No More Mr. Nice Guy and Super Chef. nor, sadly, am i marv, reference librarian and former radio personality.

and finally, it is with the heaviest of hearts that i report to you that i am, woefully, not this "mister nice guy" imposter, who describes himself as "Male, 45, Married but Looking (with my wife's permission, of course -- I'm no adulterer!)" and is "hoping to meet someone for a friendly sexual relationship." that's right, superfans, he is not at all creepy or skin-crawlingly vomit-inducing or dripping in ick-factor. just ask him and he'll tell you, plain and simple, "I like to give pleasure." now what's wrong with that?

does a body good

last week i averaged 5 hours of sleep a night. i would just like to point out that last night i went to bed at 9 pm.

i slept until 7 am.

do you have any idea what that does to a body?

i feel like a newborn lamb on a dewy spring morn, frolicking amongst the butterflies and bluejays. i feel like the star of a feminine hygiene commercial. i feel minty fresh. i feel zestfully clean. i feel alive. i have found religion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

r.i.p. home sweet home

the inevitable update is due to you all. it is not a happy update. it is, rather, a true diminuendo and crescendo in blue, with apologies to paul gonsalves and edward ellington. but oh how apt a paraphrase. our real estate story met with a crushing anticlimax this week. for you see ... with a heavy heart and an upside-down smile, we walked away from the deal last night.

it has been a crazy few days, but let me run down the details for you: we made an offer. the owner made a counter-offer. we agreed to the counter-offer. our offer was accepted. THE DEAL WAS ON.

and then we had the engineer's inspection. our engineer was referred to us by our lawyer who has been a lawyer in brooklyn for 3988 years (and therefore has 3988 years of brooklyn-awesome under his big lawyer belt). the engineer looked at the house. he said a couple of things that were interesting. here they are in no particular order, but in as-close-to-verbatim verisimilitude as i can muster after this many drinks. call them engineerisms:

  • whoever did the electricity in this house didn't know what the fuck he was doin'.
  • my daughter's boyfriend knows that i am a crazy italian.
  • this room is a converted garage? i doubt it's legal and if it's not legal, i bet it can't be made legal.
  • you need a support beam in the basement. is the house going to fall down? no. is it sloppy workmanship? yes.
  • whoever did the plumbing in here was not licensed.
  • [his ringtone was "who are you" by the who. awesome.]
  • that deck is probably not legal. and even if it were, you need to weigh it to make sure this roof can support it. me? i would have built it on pallets because you need to change the roof every 10 years. i bet this owner never changed the roof.
  • sir, i cannot allow you to stand on my ladder because if you fall and break your neck, guess who is liable.

anyway, you get the picture. i had a client-crush on this man. he was good.

oh. by the way ... did you happen to catch something in the above list of statements that was a potential deal-killer? a little alarming, perhaps? did you? look back. it's up there. take a guess. if any one of those awesome utterances was likely to be the statement to make us ultimately walk away from the deal, which one do you think it would be? let me give you a hint: it wasn't the fact that he is a crazy italian. no. we liked that about him.

here's another hint. our lawyer read the engineer's report. so, naturally being 3988 years of awesome, he had a couple cogent things to say. these are few of his greatest hits:

  • the structure in the back was zoned as a garage when she bought it?! people can't start converting spaces willy-nilly! they ignore zoning laws!
  • what do you think happens if people ignore zoning laws? don't answer that. it was a rhetorical question. but you want to know what happens? CHAOS HAPPENS!
  • who do you think your broker represents? she doesn't represent you! she represents HERSELF!
  • if you buy this house i want you to sign a document that says "my lawyer told me this living space is not legal!" you'll never get financing!

so you get the picture. the garage had been converted. the garage had not been converted legally in the eyes of the city. papers had not been filed. and given a couple exceedingly arbitrary and ridiculous zoning laws, this house can officially not be made legal in the eyes of the city. therefore no bank has an incentive in financing us. they might not care, but they also might decide that the property is not legal enough to warrant their trouble. so. granted, this is merely a risk, but it is a risk we are not willing to take. end of story.

oh, by the way, here's a choice quote from the broker: "what's the big deal? i sell houses every day that aren't entirely legal! an illegal deck, an illegal apartment in the basement. nobody needs to know."

right. nobody needs to know until they need to get a loan. or refinance a mortgage. or, if the banks missed their property's imperfection up until this point, nobody needs to know until they try to sell it. and then NO ONE WANTS TO TOUCH IT because it's 25 years later and the real estate market is no longer 86 billion degrees centigrade in brooklyn and banks are looking for any excuse they can find to not proffer a loan and oh, my, isn't that interesting?, this property doesn't totally comply with city zoning laws. sorry charlie. NO LOAN FOR YOU!

so we told the owner and the broker yesterday that unless they could find a way to make the converted living space legal, we were walking. they said "ok, we'll try." and then. THEN ... THEN! mrs nice guy discovered today that the house was officially back on the market. it's listed online as we speak(easy). ugh. i feel awful.

do you know what it feels like to see the house you almost bought back on the broker's website? it feels like seeing the craigslist girl you had disgusting "casual encounter" sex with newly listed on j-date with a brand-spankin' new profile.

you feel hurt. you feel sad. you feel betrayed. you feel drrrrty.

moral of the story? if any of you happen to find a gorgeous house in brooklyn on the market with a funky little history as both an auto body garage AND an underground nightclub ... be forewarned that the city of new york does not consider that bitch legal. and, according to my lawyer and engineer, there ain't no way to make it legal. sign a contract at your peril.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mr Nice Guy and the Mothers of Invention

so i've recently started playing a little guitar with a colleague of mine. she has a thick sticky-sweet voice that could have been made by bees. what she is doing wasting her time with me and my hack chops is a mystery. anyway. we have the occasional carnegie hall gig lined up, including one tonight, but ... no name! we've been playing under our own real names, which are: PSYCHE.

i kinda want to come up with a band name, mostly because coming up with band names is something i do all the damn time. i also make up biography titles all the time. biographies are fun. they all fit a specific formula: _____, the Mr Nice Guy Story. so for example: "My Knee Hurts, the Mr. Nice Guy Story." or "Naps are for Pussies; The Baby Nice Guy Story." or "Remind Me Again Why I Married You: The Mrs. Nice Guy Story."
but band names have no rules. anything goes!

you'd figure once i finally had an actual band (ok, cringe-inducingly earnest folksy duo) i'd have a name at the ready. wrong! we can't agree on anything. here are some of my favorite (rejected) band name candidates, some more serious than others:
  • Hymen and Funkgarble
  • Awesomeface
  • The Letdowns
  • Polly Andry and Her Various Suitors
  • Stewpan
  • Overpeck Township
  • Temecula
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Omega 3 and the Fatty Acids
  • The Buttermilk Channel
  • Hobo Hurricane
  • Hillbilly Magic
  • Old News

And my all-time favorite made-up band name for my nonexistent band, which has mystifyingly gone unclaimed for several years now (someone please take it and use its powers for good):


Here are two actual names that high school friends' bands had: Trousersnake (so very excellent) and Canadian Border Patrol (which used to play with a huge canadian flag hanging behind them. after they started getting gigs at Gazzari's (R.I.P.) and the Whisky and the Troubadour, they shortened it to Border Patrol. pretty good actually.)

I'm taking suggestions. Anyone got a good band name?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

please send me money

blogging has been light here and i apologize but I DON'T SEE YOU TURKEYS PICKING UP THE SLACK.

the reason for the light-bloggery is simple and, if you must know, exciting and scary. mrs nice guy and i are suddenly, almost unexpectedly and very terrifyingly, buying a house. that we can't afford. for no justifiable reason.

it all started one brunch loooong ago in a galaxy far away. on sunday morning. we were brunching at a friend's place (this friend's new apartment, actually, almost a year to the day of the BACON INCIDENT) when, disgusted by the dearth of grease fires, we excused ourselves to check out an open house one neighborhood away. another friend who had been brunching with us chose to come. his name, for our purposes, will be Irwin.

Irwin lives near Columbia University where he is employed. he hates coming to brooklyn. he always jokes about needing a passport and having to change currency. when he showed up to brunch at noon he said he had left his apartment at 4 am. it's funny, but not in a ha-ha kind of way. it's more funny in a i-want-to-kick-you-in-the-nuts sort of way.

anyway, irwin came with us to the open house. we get to the open house and there's three of us and a baby. the broker is momentarily confused. i'm like "hey, this is park slope, dude. if you don't like our unconventional family lifestyle, then move to teaneck." and then we looked around the house.

the house. how shall i put it? "love at first sight" is a cliche. "dream house" is hackneyed. "instantly shit my pants" because i knew "we both had no choice but to buy this house and go into crushing debt that will eventually fall to our children's great-grandchildren long after we are buried, having starved to death from not being able to afford food for ourselves any more" is more accurate. about 30 seconds into the tour, mrs nice guy looked at me and she had that look in her eye that every husband of a strong and scary woman knows. it said: "this is MY house, bitch." and who was i to argue?

irwin turned to me halfway through the tour and said "even i would come to visit you if you lived here. probably."

some cool facts about the house:

  • it was built in 1870! one-eight-seven-zero! that's older than the constitution! i think!
  • during the prohibition, there was a secret entrance to the basement, which was a SPEAKEASY! the original bar is still there! so are the taps! (at this point in the tour, i handed the broker my daughter and said "is this enough of a down-payment?" mrs nice guy shot arrows of death and castration at me from her hell-red eyes.)
  • it's an actual house. in new york. three blocks from prospect park.
  • did i mention that the basement was a speakeasy? that's almost cooler than having secret hallways like in Clue and Webster.
  • after WWII someone built a big-ass garage behind the house and ran an auto-body repair business. in the 70's the garage was converted into a big-ass master bedroom/screening room/play space/orgy hall.
  • one word (comprising two words): roofdeck
  • one more word (also comprising two words): speakeasy

the wife and i went back to our suddenly-repulsive condo and we she crunched some numbers. basically, we she realized that if we sold our condo for just enough money, we could afford the house and the utilities and all the sundry monthlies and bank fees and lawyers and engineers AND still have a whopping $8 a month to live off of.

so we made an offer on monday night.

yesterday it was accepted. then, for the second time in less than a week, i had to change my shorts.

that's why it's been hard to blog. it's actually been physically challenging to blog: i am in the midst of a three-day heart attack. my sphincter has seized up. one sip of coffee gives me seizures. my usually-strapping muscles are tied into Gordian knots. i think i just had a stroke trying to remember how to spell "Gordian." oop -- there was another one. there's no point in wearing clothes because i'll only sweat through them. WHAT. ME STRESSED?

so. deep breaths. every time i am confronted with a vision of my daughter being forced into sex slavery to help daddy pay the mortgage, i look at the original listing for the house again. and instantly, i feel better. i mean sex slavery, shmex shmavery. this house was a speakeasy!

dear daughter, "may you be dull"

are our daughters too coddled? you tell me. good readin' from some non-manhattan island's Times:
Father-daughter poetry is interesting in its own right, from Shakespeare to T. S. Eliot, and it is usually touching in its emphasis on safety (Prospero shushing his feisty daughter Miranda by bewitching her to sleep: "tis a good dullness"). Maybe there is a genetic factor that makes it harder for women to reach the pinnacles of human endeavour. But we will only really be able to tell once poets start writing odes to their sons, warning them that they are too frail to be tall poppies.

Friday, September 08, 2006

accessorize your wee accessory

baby toupees. for the child who has everything ... except hair. or sane parents. i'm gonna hold out until they start making The Suri Angela Davis.

ok colossus

Thursday, September 07, 2006

the denouement ... which is not actually as exciting as the word denouement might imply, being translatable as "the nakeding" and all

who's the best? you all are the best. bless you all of my cyber-angels, various and sundry. bless.

when i was growing up, the communal space i spent most of my time in was the playground, not this tubular interweb. and most of the time when beatdowns were being administered, i was at the receiving end. somebody has to dig the ditches, right? well, that was me, in a playground-beatdown-metaphor kinda way. but now? now that i'm a full grown post-beatdown man with internets accesses? OH THE RIGHTEOUS FURY OF HE WHO NOW TURNS THE BEATDOWN TABLE UPON SOMEONE ELSE AND ACTUALLY HAS A POSSE AT HIS BACK TO STAND UP FOR HIM AND HELP HIM OUT OF A RUN ON SENTENENCE THAT IS NO LONGER MAKING ANY SENSE.

a final word to claudia: and what, beeyaaaah?! how does it feel to be an "invalid friend?"

a final word to the myspace overlords: those are the harshest words you can muster? when i read "invalid friend" i think of the bubble boy's best buddy. if i were king of myspace, the message you would be seeing on what used to be claudia's page would read more along the lines of "this friend was a skank-ass sucka post-ganking snatchdragon crackwhore goth poser so we busted about twelve caps in her account. AND WHAT?"

(deep breath)

sorry, a little slaphappy. on an unrelated note, did you know that Time Out New York is opening a lounge? and that the new yorker will be hosting a dance party in october? what the fuck? i am now offically holding my breath until i can drink a few fingers of bourbon at the Cat Fancy Annex.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

mispace es suspace

dear claudia,

hi. how's it going? nice myspace page. can i get an add? thanks.

so i was totally, like, checking out your blog because it's so awesome and you're sooo real and awesome. totally optimistic. and i love how you quote morrissey because he is deep and talented and totally hot (i mean young morrissey, not new, fat old bloated morrissey, ew!)!! and you're tuff! i mean, i love how badass you are when you write that any time someone is mean to you, you "fry them alive!!!!!!!!!!!!" you so rock!

i also love it in your profile where you write "Open your eyes to real life you wimps, there are people different than you, and if you're going to pass judgement [sic] without even knowing the people, well, then, fuck you. Meet you when you mature." totally so true. so deep! sooo mature. no wonder you are a freelance writer who earns $250K

but i was wondering, claudia, about passing judgment. like i have a dilemma. i mean, i don't know you, right? but i think i am going to pass judgment. you see, amalah's own amy pointed out to me today that
one of your blog entries looked awfully familar. should i quote it for you? i know you like quoting people, so i am totally obliged!

your awesome blog entry starts out like this:
Work on Fridays starts early. I have to arrive when the parent's leave around 5:30, and take a catnap. But...the kid woke up at 5:30 this morning. Sometimes he does this. Other times he sleeps till 6:30. The raw power of that single 60 minutes is astonishing to me. The hour between 5:30 and 6:30 has such magical attributes that if you sleep during it, you wake up refreshed. If you don't, you wake up feeling like someone has crapped in your mouth. But with the kid, there's not telling which one it'll be. It's anybody's guess! This is the sum total of excitement in my life.
the entry goes on from there to describe how you saw some gross man getting a handjob in his car! so gross! and i have to say, claudia, that it is beautifully written. gorgeous. and funny! let me quote some more of my favorite parts because something tells me you will end up taking the entry down.

the post goes on:

I head toward my favorite coffee house. I take in the scenery. I glance to my left and I notice a parked car. I notice all its windows are open. I notice there are two people in the front seat. I notice that one person is a pasty male, 40ish. The other person, I notice, is a tramped up woman in her bra, 30ish. I notice that she is giving him a vigorous handjob...

The funny thing? When i get to the coffee shop, it isn't open yet because it's still just shy of 7 in the morning and apparently only underslept nanny's and handjob hookers are out 'n' about. Denied of life-giving caffeine I am forced to flip a u-turn with the stroller and walk past the parked car again. I suppose I could cross the street. A normal person would probably do this. But I was risen at 5:30 and I am not going to go out of my way so as not to embarrass Wankyjohn McPeckerpull.

hahahah! wankyjohn mcpeckerpull! that's straight up brilliant. (now, where have i heard that before? hmm ... don't seem to recall.) whatevs. really, claudia, i am impressed by your blogging skillz. you sure are witty. i am going to ask all my readers with a myspace account to email you their feedback.

for realz! readers -- tell claudia how much you enjoyed her post. really, just absolutely flood her with high praise. let her know what you really think of her. i don't think there is such a thing as too many emails for dear claudia.

a tit for tatt

it was only a matter of time. the hipsters, they are breeding. not only are the hipsters breeding, but they are going out of their way to tell us about it, to offer advice, to lend a parenting hand. here is a little something you won't find in T Berry Brazelton's library: Mommy Has Tattoos. a sign of the apocalypse? probably not. a little weird and kinda vaguely irritating? yup.

this all comes from a website announcing the publication of the book "Mommy Has a Tattoo" and the "Tattoo Coloring Book" (which encourages your 5 year old to get a head start in considering which tattoo would be best for her: angel-slut wings on her shoulder blades or some maori symbol, the meaning of which she will never quite get straight, on the inside of her ankle). more:

Our story is simple. About 3 years ago... on the street corners, playgrounds, parks, and beaches of Manhattan & Brooklyn... we saw a new breed of tattooed, *down to earth* parents! Our best friends, co-workers, and closest family were among these tattooed parents. They were still cool... still fun... and (of course) still tattooed!!! [their emphasis, not mine]
OMG!! tattoos are so totally down to earth. and if you have a tattoo you can have a kid and still be cool at the same time! phew, i was worried that not having a tattoo made me uptight and adding a kid to that made me hopelessly anal and lame. thank god, there is still time for me to attain cool down to earthness in spite of my daughter. i mean, lord knows there aren't any douchebags with tattoos out there.

i certainly have no problem with tatts. i even love saying "tatts" as frequently as possible. i just can't wrap my mind around the idea of altering my body in some way that is -- without the aid of lasers and piles of money -- permanent. i myself am uninked, but have toyed with the idea of tattooing my daughter's name/initials/birthdate somewhere on my ass or something. i may wait until we have another kid and get a combo deal, one on each cheek.

more from the website:

Meet James! He's the loveable [sic.] character at the heart of this charming story. James is afraid of his new tattooed neighbor... The Tattooed Man, until he discovers that his Mommy has a tattoo, too!
of course what the book doesn't mention is that mommy got the tattoo while on a three-day tequila-and-MDMA bender in TJ with her sorority sisters from San Diego State University. and that mommy's tatto looks like this (warning: not remotely safe for work. or your sanity.).
In one afternoon James learns that tattoos aren't scary... that his new neighbor is quite nice (so is his dog!), and that sometimes laughing is the very best thing!
keep laughing, young james, it's the only thing that will stave off the crying. also, is it just me or does it sound like the dog is tattooed too?

anyway. not sure what my point is here. i seem to recall an excellent "Life in Hell" cartoon from about 5 or 6 years ago -- two old fogies are sitting in a nursing home looking at each other. they're heavily inked and pierced. one says to the other "so i see you were stupid in the '90s too."

at least they'll have company. david brooks, who is not my favorite new york times columnist (that high honor goes to the most excellent Dan Barry), writes in his aug 27 column, Nonconformity is Skin Deep, that The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reports that about 24 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 have at least one tattoo, up from about 15 percent in 2003. thirty-six percent of those between 18 and 29 have a tattoo.

"The only person without one of those Pacific Northwest Indian tribal graphics scrawled across his shoulder will be a lone 13-year-old skater scoffing at all the bourgeois tattoo fogies," he writes with his characteristic bile. but something interesting happens. he concludes by making an actual point about "the most delightful thing about the whole tattoo fad":

A cadre of fashion-forward types thought they were doing something to separate themselves from the vanilla middle classes but are now discovering that the signs etched into their skins are absolutely mainstream. They are at the beach looking across the acres of similar markings and learning there is nothing more conformist than displays of individuality, nothing more risk-free than rebellion, nothing more conservative than youth culture.

Another generation of hipsters, laid low by the ironies of consumerism.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

nanny? check.

we have nanny!

she starts today -- should be here by the time i finish typing this. mrs nice guy, who is my hero, took thursday and friday off from work and spearheaded Operation Fob Daughter Off. she interviewed like 8 people, and i even got to meet one or two of them, including the one we ultimately hired.

she's 27, a bit young, but we really liked her. we actually, in our astonishing stupidity, hired her over an older, more experienced woman who also happens to be a trained baby nurse. why? why do we do these things? well, it was a gut decision and, despite a minor twinge of buyer's remorse, i am thrilled to hand over my non-napping-finicky-eating-hell-toddler today and hide out at the gym for the next 7 hours.

in all seriousness, i am pretty happy with the decision. her mother is a nanny in the neighborhood and she helped raise her four siblings, so i think she's got the chops. she's also, i think, less likely to be a tot lot benchwarmer and a little more engaged in actually playing with and actively helping us bring up our child. we both really liked her sense of calm and quiet confidence, her sense of humor.

so she's on her way and i will show her the ropes today. i could barely sleep last night. i feel all nervous and giddy like some high school junior about to go to prom with some bigshot varsity lacrosse player, hoping he's a good dancer and doesn't slip a heavy dose of rohypnol into her zima and fingerbang her in the biology lab.

Friday, September 01, 2006

i want bitty, too

jodi kantor writes this excellent piece about nursing mothers in today's new york times. it's a must-read. the nut is, essentially, this:

As pressure to breast-feed increases, a two-class system is emerging for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs -- generally, well-paid professionals -- breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator. But for lower-income mothers--including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military--pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breast-feed at all, and others to quit after a short time.
of course, if you don't feel like reading about it, you can see proof of (the first half of) her premise here:

summer's end

summer is officially over. how do i know this? because labor day weekend is upon us? no, that is the answer i would expect of a LOSER. a pathetic childless loser. i know that summer is over because when the kid woke up this morning .... it was still dark outside.

first of all, a note about how the kid wakes up. i have friends with kids. at the tot lot, where i do my "comparing and despairing," i talk to my friends. their kids, they say, wake up with nary a peep. their angelic children arise with a coo ... and lay in their cribs for a while. they may babble sweetly: "mama, baba, poppee," in gentle baby tones. they play with a stuffed animal. gradually, the child will get bored and start to whine. that's ok because mom and dad have had time to wake up and are eager to fetch baby.

my kid? every single morning (and after every single nap) she wakes up by having her skull split open, green hellfire erupting from her throat. before she even opens her eyes, she is screaming like robert plant in the opening strains of "immigrant song." aaaauuugghAAAAUUUGHHaaauuughhhh -- valhalla i am coming! and i am taking this whole fucking borough with me! no gentle babbling. no cute crib rustling or plushtoy playing. just siren-wailing.

this morning it was siren-wailing at 5:30 in the am. she was shrieking in tongues, communing with her aggrieved ancestors. it was still dark outside. i went from experiencing deep REM cycle sleep (in which i was cavorting with eight oiled up gisele bundchens and a midget conjoined-twin) to suddenly knowing what it would feel like to have a skinhead doc marten my head into the sidewalk. normally, at 5:30 in the morning, i would pretend to sleep through her screaming and make my wife deal with it. it's our ritualistic game of bed-chicken: let's see who will cave first and get the kid. but there was no denying it was my turn to get the kid.

so i got the kid, fighting every urge to pull her out of the crib by her ululating tongue.

did i mention it was still dark out? ugh.

happy labor day weekend y'all. here's some excellent scissor sisters gaiety to get things off to a proper start: