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Thursday, November 30, 2006

i'm blogging. it's awesome.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

thankful to be back in brooklyn

my apologies for the lack of updates: we got back from our long thanksgiving weekend in los angeles yesterday. i have been struggling mightily to come up with something to say. but there comes a time in every man's life when the english language fails him. the words with which he is empowered prove themselves too weak for the task at hand. simply put, there is no way of adequately describing what unmitigated, disastrous, soul-sucking hell this past week was.

mom, dad, mon frere and other multifarious west coast nice guy associates: please take no offense. i love you as much as any native son/brother/cousin/friend/mugging victim can. but here's the truth: i am never, ever leaving new york with my daughter again ever never ever. she might travel to visit. i might find occasion to come see you. but never again shall we two venture west together.

my wife, child and i left new york on thursday, thanksgiving morning, at the civilized hour of 11 am. we got to the airport minutes before boarding and let the child run around. all was going according to plan: she would board the plane exhausted and her naptime would coincide nicely with our ascent. at the airport she ran around, chased a dog or two, flirted with two older boys who were running around like maniacs. according to her schedule, she would be tired right on time. we boarded the plane at the appointed hour, feeling cautiously optimistic. we had bought her a ticket and came equipped with her carseat, 402 new toys, 35 dvds and a new portable dvd player, 319 books, 68 pounds of snacks and 21 stuffed animals. we were Ready.

or so we thought. readers, i will not bore you with specifics. the flight duration was six hours, so i have plenty of specifics if you want them. the bottom line is that of those six hours, 5:29 were spent screaming. not crying. not whining. not whimpering. not spazzing out. not running up and down the aisles. not squirming. not babbling loudly. not singing. not kicking the seat in front of her. definitely not napping. no. SCREAMING. loud screaming that brings new definition to screaming. she went through bottles and books in record time. the dvd player died after only 20 minutes of use. her nap never happened. sitting in her chair was the psychological equivalent of waterboarding. she only has a couple dozen words, but unfortunately one of them is "outside." so she employed "outside" with an astonishing regularity and volume and variance. "OUTSIDE" came from her lips about a thousand times: as a plea, a demand, a question, a prayer, a hope, a wish, a threat, an argument, a reprimand, a sexual longing.

and, believe me, there were times that i would have loved nothing more than to grant her that wish. YOU WANT OUTSIDE? HERE'S OUTSIDE AT 31,000 FEET! BUH-BYE!

a couple more things that i present to you without commentary:
  • a few minutes before landing, the baby screamed so hard that she gagged and puked all over her mother
  • they lost our luggage

more to the point: they lost the luggage that had all of my wife and child's puke-free clothing in it. my own luggage arrived just fine. but i was not the person most in need of clean clothes. this fact was pointed out to me by my wife many times over.

my dad picked us up at the airport and, for the first time in our relationship, he was visibly intimidated by me and my mood. that was pretty sweet. we got home just as thanksgiving dinner was about to begin. this was exactly what we needed after six hours of brain-raping hell: a house full of guests who are also family.

we all made due. dinner was a blur. i do know it was delicious though. lip smacking bourbon-basted turkey. speaking of bourbon, i drank as much as i could as quickly as i could. then we said goodbye to everyone and went to bed. it's a good thing we went to bed early because the baby, still on east coast time despite not having napped at all, woke up at 3:30 and wanted to PLAY.

and so it went. the weekend was a lot of family, which was a lot of fun. it was also a lot of waking up at four am, which was a lot of ass. we slipped into a routine where the baby woke up at four, so we set her up with the portable dvd player and all the elmo she could watch without exploding ... while we slept. it worked out pretty well. there were more meals. the luggage finally arrived. moods improved. a car was rented and my own childhood playgrounds were revisited. a good time was ultimately had.

the flight home wasn't nearly as much of a violation of my human rights as the flight out. it went by quickly and relatively painlessly. the baby was too tired to scream. mrs nice guy and i were too tired to care. we got back in one piece with all our luggage. the baby was so deliriously happy to be home: she shrieked with joy, naming everything in the apartment that she had names for. CAT! TV! HOME! BOOKS! CAT! ELMO! EAT! CHAIR! CAT! then she slept for 12 hours, until 7:30 this morning, and love came rushing back into my heart.

so. that was my thanksgiving weekend. i will leave you finally with this, also devoid of commentary. let your wildest imagination run wildly wild and i guarantee you it will fail to capture reality:

  • my 17-year-old cousin, bless her heart, "came out" this weekend at a black tie beverly hills debutante ball. my presence was mandatory. in a tux.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

leashes are for losers!

kid leashes are for people who can't commit. kid leashes are for parents without strength of conviction, who can't follow through. kid leashes, i'll say it, are for pussies. what i want for christmas is the Babykeeper!

the Babykeeper is "a carrier style seat, that hangs from the stall wall in most public restrooms." also, it's AWESOME. i am not sure i know too many parents out there who would hang out more in public bathrooms if only their tot would leave them alone on the pot. but i see a brave new world of pooportunity opening up before mine eyes. i'll be buying one after work and running as quickly as humanly possible to the nearest public loo with my daughter so i can hang her from the stall. i'll sit there and read the entire sunday paper as she dangles! maybe i'll invite strangers in to look at her, point and laugh.

but let's think outside the stall for a minute, why don't we? can't you just picture our child on a christmas tree, like an angelic little ornament? next cinco de mayo she'll make an adorable pinata.

but first? first i'm going to take her for a spin on our ceiling fan.

song of the day: They'll Never Keep Us Down by the righteous Hazel Dickens. hell hath no fury like a guit-pickin' coal minin' woman scorned ... or hung from a bathroom stall.

Friday, November 17, 2006

friday fun house!

this is why god invented the internet. so you could travel back in time to see Billy Graham presage (channel?) Bill Clinton as he proves a worthy match to Woody Allen of all people. actually, Graham is all grace, wit and charm as he meets Woody on his own turf ... and pretty deftly (Sunday) schools him. i am thiiiiis close to becoming a believer myself. no wonder he had such a, uh, large flock. this is brilliant stuff:

and part two:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

the autumn of our unease

feeling a little blue today. scratch that. feeling a little blue-haired. feeling old. feeling like i got one foot -- hell: most of a leg, one teste and two ass cheeks -- deep in the grave. i am ancient. i am tired and ugly and shriveled and irrelevant and unnecessary. here, in a nutshell, is why:

1) this weekend we took the kid to
the museum. the line was so long that we decided, on a whim, to become museum members. just like that! to the front of the line and, boom, off to the exhibits. one exhibit was freakin' awesome. seriously, if you're in the tri-state area (or if the exhibit is coming to a town near you), you really should check out the work of ron mueck. the dude makes giant (and teeny) photo-realistic mixed media sculptures of people. these things are amazing and uncanny. the kid went nuts -- she made her "hey look at that!" noise which transcribes roughly as OOOOOOOUUEEEEEEEE!!!! one of the sculptures is of an unkempt, bearded, naked, uncircumcised 14 foot wild man. she ran up to it in the middle of a crowded gallery and shouted "DADDY!" but this is not what has me blue (on the contrary, i thought it was funnier than most of our fellow museum-goers did, even though it made me wonder if there's something mrs nice guy isn't telling me).

what made me blue is that not only did we acquire a museum membership ... we also canceled our gym memberships. we had to look deep into the mirror and ask ourselves: who the fuck are we kidding? shelling out $70 a month to reserve the right to work out? when we're buying a house? so. we traded gym for museum. i have not the words to describe how useless that makes me feel.

2) last weekend i was home doing nothing on a saturday night. my bride was getting ready for bed. a bachelor friend of mine gave me a call and said, basically, "hey man, we're going drinking and we're around the corner. come out." i replied, "oh, dude, i'd love to ... but it's too late. i mean, it's already 10 o'clock!" he informed me that he would never speak to me again. rightfully so

3) my knee hurts. when i walk a lot, when it rains outside, when i've been carrying the kid around, when it's sunny, when it's tuesday, when i'm asleep, when i've eaten too much rarebit, when the radio is on, when i type: jagged yellow pain.

4) i need a new pair of jeans. my current pair has a giant gaping hole in the crotch. i knew that when i put them on this morning and wore them to work. i just don't care any more.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

this guy's in love

just a quick one today, folks. mrs nice guy and i were married in july, four-plus years ago. BUT it was eight years ago this week that we first smooched. meaning, the other day was our smoochaversary: eight years of sweet, sweet greasin' up and rubbin' down.

flashback to 1998: the then-future mrs nice guy was my roommate. i had feathered hair, a moustache and few prospects in my chosen career as a betamax repairman. she was a K Street player, lobbying hard for the tobacco industry and stealing prescription money from oldsters. like some awesome '70s sitcom we were close friends, living platonically in a two bedroom Washington DC apartment (with our two ghetto cats and weird neighbor who lived with his dead mom, upstairs from a sexually and ethnically ambiguous world bank euro-type and across the street from some fat chick who paraded around naked all the time -- i told you it was like sitcom).

so, yeah, we were just that: friends. until, that is, eight years ago last thursday, when i put the patented mr nice guy private dancer moves on the future missus. the rest is history. you'll have to ask my wife for herstory -- she seems to think she made the first move because i am a "pussy," which, if i were being honest with you, i'd admit is true. i won't bore you with the gritty details, but they involve a vacuum cleaner, late-night japanese television and sexual tension you couldn't cut with a steak knife.

eight years, three apartments, two cities and one kid later, we're still SOLID AS A ROCK UP IN THIS PIECE. so let me dedicate a little ditty to you, my bride. a little uptown Burt Bacharach, taken way downtown by the one and only James Brown. here he is, singing a sweet soulful love duet with the female preacher, Lyn Collins. listen up:
This Guy - This Girl's In Love.

readers: check out that spoken-word intro and see if you can decode it for me:

JB: If someone was in love with you, would you be able to ... to dig it?
LC: No, I don't think so.
JB: You couldn't dig it?
LC: No.
JB: But would you like that?
LC: I'd love it.

seriously, i knew James Brown (all due respect) was a weird dude with weird friends, but i'd need me much stronger drugs than anything i have in my house to figure out what the hell that exchange means. any ideas out there?

meantime -- happy smoochaversary my little wifebird. may we have eleventy thousand more. you are a brave, fierce and irrationally tolerant woman. i live in terror of the day you come to your senses.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

the mr nice guy election roundup!

so now that, finally, all the votes have been counted (virginia, where you at? montana, holla) we have for you the mr nice guy election roundup, also known as Baby Nice Guy Rocks the Vote, Even Though She Doesn't Really Because She's Under Age and I Don't Want to Get Arrested For Election Fraud.

by 9 am i am ready for work and when the sitter arrives i announce that, if she doesn't mind, i am going to take the kid to the polling place to learn the importance of performing her civic duty, even if at her age it's more like civic doody.

let me tell you this -- i love new york city voting booths. i swear to yahweh, the machine i voted on was probably used to help elect martin van buren. ancient. clunky. beautiful. i step through the curtains with baby nice guy in my arms and she instantly starts crying. already, i foresee a full scholarship to Harvard's yon Kennedy School of Government -- she is so astute a political analyst that she already knows at a glance that the best alternative is to weep. these are the fuckers i am supposed to choose between? you mean my future is in one of their hands? it's like choosing between assrape and genital electrocution.

so after i calm her down i yank the giant red handle to the right. KACHUNK, says the machine. i make my votes by flipping those little black rubber nibs. it takes about .06 seconds. i pull the giant red handle back to the left. CHUNK-A-CHUNK, grunts the machine. and all my votes disappear; presumably they have been recorded. i don't know for sure. have you ever seen these machines? they certainly feel substantial. i've seen touch-screen voting booths and, frankly, they're a bit flimsy -- they just don't have the same solemn authority to them, the same i-led-the-amphibious-assault-on-Wonsan-in-Korea-back-in-1950 vibe. there is something a little unsettling about these solid monsters. i mean, i pull the handle, flip the nibs, and pull the handle back again ... and the machine looks exactly as it did when i approached it -- it's like voting on a massive etch-a-sketch. i feel like i made my little marks and then wiped them away. voting in that middle school gymnasium always ends up feeling vaguely ... anti-climactic.

that's ok, because there was climax enough by the end of the day. historic, wouldn't you say? even my daughter felt the enormity of events as they unfolded before her: i mean, at the entrance to the gym there was a bake sale! i bought her a slice of banana bread. she balked. instead, she reached up and grabbed one of the brownies off the plate. "hey! you stole that!" i said because i am the parent and that is what i assume is expected of me. "BAD BABY!" the bake sale lady made a face and said "oh, she can have it." my child guilefully stuffed her face: she had her cake and ate it too.

clearly, she has a knack for this politics business.

anyway. on to the music portion of our program: democrats, let me dedicate a little song to you. this is by the fabulous Impressions, though not showcasing the mighty curtis mayfield. this may well be the theme song for you dems this week, you who are enjoying a groove that must easily feel half as sweet as this. listen:
Finally Got Myself Together.

and, you GOP'ers, i haven't forgotten you. i know you're hurting and i know it ain't easy on y'all. so let me just offer you this little slice of gut-level bayou R&B, something by the brilliant Allen Toussaint and performed by John Williams (though, odds are, not the same John Williams who wrote the Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Olympics themes, sadly). listen: Blues, Tears and Sorrow. "nothing but sad tomorrows," homies, believe that.

Monday, November 06, 2006

look at granny run run!

my mother-in-law ran the new york city marathon this weekend.

read that sentence again: my mother-in-law ran the new york city marathon this weekend. in case you were wondering, that sentence is english for MY MOTHER-IN-LAW IS A FUCKING BADASS.

she's also completely insane, but i suspect the two are related. (hi, mater-in-law, i know you're reading, so obviously i didn't really write this. i mean who would be so stupid? not me. therefore you can't be angry at me.)

she was in town for the weekend and stayed at a hotel. mater-in-law came on friday and we all had thai take-out. then on saturday, while i was at work, they visited the house we're buying. after which we all had a big carb-loading pastacular ... with lots of wine. then my bad-ass mother-in-law woke up the next morning and ran the marathon.

you know what's even more awesome than having a mother-in-law who runs the new york city marathon? i'll tell you. what's even more awesome than having a mother-in-law who runs the new york city marathon is having a mother-in-law who runs the new york city marathon and then, afterwards, eats her weight in take-out pulled-pork sandwiches and french fries at your apartment and talks about how much her "fucking ass" is "killing" her.

anyway. two songs dedicated to mater-in-law nice guy:

first is Run Run by Delroy Wilson, who might have been a household name if some little upstart fellow-Jamaican called Bob Marley hadn't come along and blown any chance he had at international stardom right out of the water. an overstatement? maybe, but he was on the cusp of major success (off the island, anyway) for something like 30 years, without ever quite breaking on through. it's a shame and this song proves it. sinisterly and sly. sure, it could have used a little editing, but nothing will make you feel prepared to trot 26.2 like this late-'60s rocksteady jam. all head-bobbing rhythm and sucker-punch soul.

and, because i am a bastard and i can't resist: Look at Granny Run Run ... by the great Howard Tate. baby nice guy and i stood at the eight mile mark of the race and waited for granny to run by and i just couldn't get this song out of my head. it is from his aptly titled "Get It While You Can" album (aptly titled because it's shamefully out of print ... even though janis joplin's cover version of the title track is widely available). and, granted, "Look at Granny Run Run" may be a bit of a novelty tune -- it's certainly not the gut-twistingest, heart-meltingest track on the album -- but the sentiment is all right with me. listen to the lyrics: hilarious. keep in mind this was cut in 1966. tres risque. i don't care who you are, the formula for success is simple: pill-popping horn-dog grandpas = awesome. if anyone with half a brain in one of his heads was doing the ad campaign for viagra, this would be the theme song.

Friday, November 03, 2006

friday funk. can you hear me now?

ok. we're trying a new file storage thingamajig and hopefully this will work. (the file is an mp4, but it was not purchased via iTunes. maybe it still has some DRM evil-ness in it anyway? still, this should work.)

anyway. once again, a little message from me to you, readers: You're a Hard Habit to Break, courtesy of Linda Balintine and the numero group label. can you feel it?

and as we head into the weekend, the promised poop story. the other day i was changing my little hairless mimicking monkey girl. it's scary how much she understands these days -- we need to start watching what we say. case in point: she was on the changing table, and i gingerly unwrapped her steaming nine-pound diaper. as i was hit with the full force of the chernobyl spillage in her pants i recoiled slightly and said "bleeuuugh!" then i wiped her clean and threw out the toxic diaper-burrito i had carefully folded. when i looked back at my naked grinning goon of a girl, she screwed her face into a look a disgust, grabbed her tiny cooter and went "BLEEEUUGH!"

so, great. i have now taught her to think her own girlparts are revolting. i found myself in the cosmically unforeseen circumstance of saying these words to my daughter: "oh, no, sweetie! not 'bleeuggh!' your vagina is wonderful! touch it. TOUCH IT ALL YOU WANT. please?"

clearly i need a raise so i can afford the 32 years of therapy she will need.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

a belated halloween story

ok, so a quick halloween post-script, waaay too late. in blog years it's practically halloween already again, but that won't stop me from telling a quick story.

we opted out of halloween this year. the kid is 17.3 months old and frankly doesn't know a pumpkin from a steam train. AND add to this the fact that she screams bloody murder any time we try to put pants on her. you're going to tell me i should spring for a costume she'll tolerate wearing for all of .0004 seconds? not. (although the entire week before halloween every time she saw a particularly garishly decorated home, all green-spiderweb and hockey-masked-scarecrow, she would point and go OOOH!).

the nanny came on halloween morning. the baby was in her pyjamas and could stay that way for all we cared: wife and i had an appointment with our lawyer at the end of the day to sign the contract on our apartment, which WE SOLD WITH A QUICKNESS (god bless park slope). so we told the nanny to meet us at the lawyer's office (conveniently on "court" street, how quaint), and to bring the kid. at 6 pm i show up at the lawyer's. so does mrs nice guy. just steps behind her is the nanny, who has our child ... in the cutest fucking unicorn onesie EVER IN THE WORLD HISTORY OF CUTENESS. (jesus, enough with the caps.) our child was all in white, with a purple horn and a purple tail and purple glittershoes. how cute was she? my heart exploded in my chest, cracking my rib cage and unspooling my intestines onto the floor in true halloween fashion.

then, slowly, it dawned on me: i knew that mrs nice guy did not purchase this costume. i know for damn sure that i didn't. i asked the nanny -- "did you buy her this?" she, sheepishly, said "no. my mother did."

and so it's official. we are such bad parents that our nanny's mom feels the need to intervene. we're such total deadbeats that our NANNY'S MOM feels the need to step in and do it right. i can't possibly imagine what was going through nanny's mom's brain, but it was probably something along the lines of "fucking losers." she thinks we're spite-filled, black-hearted, halloween-grinches. i bet she called child protective services. ok, maybe she didn't. but she sure as shit laid some serious guilt on us from afar for being too caught up in our multi-squijillion dollar real estate wranglings to spare a thought for our poor child.

(update on the mp3 situation ... will hopefully have something straightened out for you shortly. meantime be brave, little ones.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


readers. my wee gentle angels, you are descended from on high to guide me back on to the path to glory. no. it is not for mr nice guy, this slow steady sink into putrid obsolescence and self-pitying despair, brought upon himself by his own foul hubris! nay! you have shown me the light and the light has shown me only that i am not worthy of you.

seriously. your comments were lovely and overpowering and lovely. so, of course mr nice guy will live on! i may take some liberties with the form from time to time. i may indulge myself and challenge you all to be better people ... but together we can make the world a better place, one post at a time. i even have a good poop story to tell you, perhaps tomorrow. but for now, take my hand as i lead you into a future replete with beautiful things.

FOR EXAMPLE! i present to you a mr nice guy first! a song! i have long been toying with the idea of starting an mp3 blog, but the thought of starting from scratch was daunting. also, i am a luddite. so let us begin now, together, with one relevant ditty and see if this works. and if maybe i can introduce a few good, palliative tunes into your life, it will help soothe you after my weak stabs at humor.

this is Linda Balintine. she comes to us courtesy of the
Numero Group, a label in the midst of putting out an insanely excellent series of compilations of lost sounds called "Eccentric Soul." i think they're 11 or 12 discs into the series now and there is too much goodness to get into at the moment, but i thought Linda Balintine's contribution is particularly on point today.

this is from detroit's long-defunct Bandit label and it will steal your booty right on up out of your chair. it's called
You're a Hard Habit to Break and it's dedicated to you, my darlings.

UPDATE: seems like i am having technical problems with the ol'MP3. anyone out there know how to post music in a handsome and friendly way?

wherein i whine like a little self-pitying kicked puppy

hi all. everyone's fine -- thanks for your concern.

but i need a few reasons why i should keep updating this bad boy. it's not really doing much for me these days. i don't particularly feel like writing about all the wacky, zany things my kid does because i don't really want to turn into one of those insufferable people who only talks to you about his wacky, zany kids. it's frankly not that interesting in the long run. i'm also increasingly more inclined to protect her privacy.

got a lot going on at work, buying a house, blah blah, and this has turned into a chore. so i'm thinking, if i continue writing in this space, it may be in a different format. then again, it may not. i don't know. i ain't getting paid enough for this. i guess it wouldn't very nice of mr nice guy to just stop writing without giving the 5 of you who read a heads up. so. i don't know. what's the point? what do you all think?