Wednesday, June 30, 2010


One of many highlights from Memorial Day on Nantucket was this early adoption of the 'Icing' viral Internet meme as popularized by the (now defunct?*) site The seeds of this moment were laid in advance by a series of covert emails on the concept, a victim was selected and the Ice was presented.

Luckily, I was there to capture the moment and have to say that I think the composition of this icing is excellent. Let's break it down. First, there's the look of pure anguish on the victim's face as he kneels defeated to take the ice. Then there's the triumphant gat hand gestures of the perp gunning down his enemy cholo style with a couple imaginary 9s. Brilliant!

And yet, not funny enough for Like any good meme, it relies heavily on UGC. Realizing what comedic gold we had on our hands here, I submitted the photo for inclusion and got this response from the big shots at BIB:

They even  said "awesome ice bro...." Seemed like a done deal right? So I scoured the site for days later and have yet to see our submission get published. So I have to criticize their vision, having witnessed a lot of janky icings getting pub. What gives? What's the matter with our ice?

*Why do I think Smirnoff lawyers have to be somehow involved in this?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Air Force One

When I observed this curious trio of aircraft flying just outside of New York City on Friday, May 28 at 5:43PM, comprised of 1 CH-47 Chinook and 2 AH-64 Apache Longbows painted in stark white, my first impulse was, holy shit, that must be Air Force One, because 'Air Force One' isn't technically the 747 the President flies around on (though it often is) but rather whatever airborne vehicle the President happens to be flying in at that particular moment.

Since it's not practical to fly a 747 into Manhattan, I thought we had a chance here of an incidental Presidential path-crossing, figuring somebody important must be in the Chinook to require a dual-Apache escort out to Newark.

Unfortunately, the President's daily schedule is remarkably easy to come by with some light Googling and multiple sources (including this one) agree that he was probably in Chicago at the time, thus debunking my theory. But still, this was an impressive display of air superiority to witness on a fairly routine commute and thus merits inclusion in my continuous documentation of life's little oddities.

So with that, if anyone has any ideas who this may have been please speak up. My next best guess is Mikhail Prokhorov, aka that wild Russian billionaire who recently bought the New Jersey Nets.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tiny on the Drums

Tryon Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, June 22, 2010 9:16 PM

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mile High Weekend

I'm going to start with some not excellent cellphone photography of a most excellent bull moose that we caught out in the open this past Friday in the Indian Mountains Wilderness above Tabernash, Colorado. So there you go. I only risked life and limb to creep up on this mighty bastard as he munched his riparian seaweed lunch so I could get within 75 yards or so and still just barely within the functional range of my Blackberry Tour 9630. Check out the resolution of 3.2 megapixels at 800% magnification. Impressive no? No.

But the moose, now that was really something. Too bad I couldn't capture it with the available state-of-the-art technology, but he seemed very at home there in central Colorado. Which is odd because he doesn't belong, not really. Moose in Colorado, like the mountain goat, is a man-made artifact. Someone in the late '70s, probably at the compelling behest of John Denver, who seemed authoritative, felt the place would be better off with some appealingly rustic immigrants and before you know it the wilds were populated with strange new beasts. This about a century after grizzly bears and wolves were extirpated from the area.

This wasn't the only human-affected oddity we observed in Colorado over the weekend. May I present the second (glimpses of which are also visible to the careful observer in my moose shot):

Here we have lodgepole pines, the ubiquitous conifer of the American Rockies, dying en masse thanks to pandemic mountain pine beetle infestation. Scientists concerned with the problem, which has killed vast swathes of Colorado forest (among other western states' groves) aren't entirely sure but believe the balance slipped out of control as a result of global warming, which shortened winter and expanded the window of time during which beetles may feed on the trees without die-off due to cold weather.

It was awesomely sad to see mile after mile of Colorado forest where I'd guess 85% of the trees were dead, withered and orange. Devastating forest fires are the inevitable next step and we may be witnessing the extinction of the lodgepole pine, which couldn't adapt too man-made global warming. The thriving moose, on the opposite tack, is a hopeful reminder that nature will survive it's encounter with humanity and its impact on evolution.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Keep Your Receipts

Regular check indeed. What the hell was I doing on Thursday, October 1st of last year that I needed three $0.49 turkey sausages, one 'dessert' and a cup of coffee at 9:41am? I should have been at work where these things are not available. So, I'm not sure, I don't exactly recall ordering this, nor having visited the Corner Bistro, but this receipt was there in the thick stack of confetti gathering in my Costanza-esque wallet. So it's clearly the truth.

I've always wondered why I keep receipts, I'm not particularly vigilant against credit-card fraud and I'm not enough of a tactician to want to parse my own paper trail at the end of the tax year for nickel and dime business expenses to write off. But now I understand.

I do it because it reminds me what I've been up to. Much of my own life remains a mystery to me, particularly that which disappears faster and faster with each year into the thickening fog of my past. So like the credit bureaus, or a noble archaeologist digging through the midden of a lost Indian village, I can mine the history of my purchases to uncover clues about my life and hopefully add to the non-ending quest for self-knowledge.

It's almost like looking at old pictures, only far more mundane, filling in the bulk of life between the victories, and thus probably more accurate as to the true nature of things, in that moment some months ago where the need for turkey sausage, some kind of sweet, and a cup of coffee was the imperative of the day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some Thoughts

-Day one of the World Cup: I was thinking, after a pair of annoying, low-scoring ties, so far, so boring. 200 years ago, the United States didn't settle for ties with England. Why are we so high on this one? The Founding Fathers would not have been stoked, maybe even badly disappointed, particularly given that goal was complete garbage.

-Day two, I'm really feeling Die Mannschaft after the show they put on drubbing the 'Socceroos.' Having encountered a few genuine Australians in the world, with their 'no worries mate' attitude, acid-washed jeans and near unanimous sun-kissed good looks, it was oddly fun to see their party ended by efficient German workmanship.

-It bears noting that my wife made the most outrageous meal order of her adult life the other day at Beau Monde for breakfast, I guess you'd call it: a mimosa to kick things off then a froment crepe with apples, toasted almonds, brown sugar, caramel and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This was the breakfast of champions that kicked off a day of beer-drinking and hotdog eating at the Phillies' game.

-Speaking of whom, it's been painful watching them slide from 1st to 3rd in the National League East, particularly heading into this month's American League tour de force, already off to a banging start losing 2/3 to the Red Sox before hitting up the Yankees, Twins, Indians and Blue Jays before the month is out. It's hard to image the Phillies coming out of this stretch unscathed, so I've already begun the word-smithing of a cleverly-titled post to the effect of 'The Philadelphia Phaillies' or something like that. I'd be happily proven wrong.

-I reached out to volunteer some time and energy to the Philadelphia Tax Reform movement as avowed at and was met with a disappointing reply of weary capitulation. I hope somebody's still beating some drums on this topic.

-I've been following the story on Sabina Rose O'Donnell's murder since it first broke. I saw her photo on and got a chill because back in January she had been our waitress on our lone visit to PYT. It's a terrible shame what happened to her at the hands of a coward and I hope they catch whomever is responsible for this terrible deed.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Just Ridiculous

This isn't my first screed on Ticketmaster, and it probably (sadly) won't be my last. This was just so shocking I had to share with the world. I'd like to catch Chromeo at the Trocadero in Philadelphia next month, but at a 43% gouge for convenience, I'll inconvenience myself by walking to the box office. It's nice out today and this might actually be a fun errand.

Monday, June 7, 2010

American Express Foreign Currency Conversion Fee

On my way back from Canada two weekends ago I naturally wanted to hit up the duty-free at the Thousand Islands crossing to shore up on my summer reserves of booze sans tax. While the exchange rate isn't awesome these days, the prices are marginally better and you can also load up on Canadian candy (Smarties baby!) and maple syrup.

So after scoring bottles of Patron, Hendricks, Ketel One and Grand Marnier, I thought I was pretty clever right up until I got stopped at the US Customs and Border Patrol checkpoint and referred to secondary inspection after admitting I'd ignored the one-bottle per visitor rule and actually purchased four.

They lined me up with about 7-8 other cars and had me roll up all the windows and leave the vehicle and not use my cellphone (to call my Al Qaeda friends), while a big Ford truck with a white box in the bed (Mobile Radiation Portal Monitor) slowly puttered down and up the line of cars apparently shooting some kind of radiation to find bombs, yellowcake or other instruments of terrorism.

Satisfied that we were carrying nothing dangerous, CPB let us go and I was off into the States with my tax-free hooch.

Now a fortnight later, I'm checking my American Express bill online and notice this funny little blue dot in the statement next to my duty-free liquor purchase:
...and find that AMEX has tacked on an extra 2.7% to my purchase for the service of foreign currency conversion. Shame on your AMEX for taking the low-road of surprise hidden fees (though I'm sure I was notified in one of those dense, rice-paper pamphlets about my Terms and Conditions), but I guess you have to take advantage when you have the world by the balls? That's nice customer-centric thinking.

I used to think of AMEX as the goto for travel purchases, but knowing that I'll pay an extra 2.7% on top of anything I buy in foreign currency, I'm thinking twice.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Justin Bieber's Purple High Tops

An old story goes that, back in college, I got out of sorts one afternoon while watching MTV and had an emotional 'freak out.' Without willing it, I drifted across the street to the multi-cultural student union building for a smoothie, into which I gently wept over my despair at feeling out of touch with pop culture. The exact stimulus, I believe, was N*Sync, or something like them, on a stage in Cancun amid a throng of thong-clad beauties and their bouncing parts and here was my sudden and overwhelming lack of comprehension. Looking back it was probably just plain old jealousy. My spring break trip to Key West hadn't been so fruitful.

Since then, I've largely reconciled my connection with pop culture. I think in the maturation of (still) pending adulthood, which entailed the erosion of the dream of setting the curvature of cool myself, my efforts to be so have softened to the point that I'm really taking most things less seriously and not expecting much beyond face value. As a result, I've come to celebrate Justin Timberlake's entire solo catalog and I'm not afraid to admit it.

There's no shame in owning up to something that makes you feel good. So another thing I'm going to surrender henceforward is my effort to log and hold people accountable for instances of hypocrisy. We're all guilty of it and pointing it out (usually) as a means to justify something bad you want to get away with is not a constructive exercise. The better thing to do is expect it, since it's human, and get on to the constructive path of forgiving. It's what Jesus would have wanted.

So with my new enlightened attitude, I'm marveling at this new wunderkind, Justin Beiber, who's suddenly up there dancing and singing from the wisdom of his 16 year old perch about love and its travails. He may be an old soul, but the 20 year old me would have rejected this on grounds of dubious voracity. What does a doe-eyed, pre-pubescent Canadian queerbait have to tell me about love?

Then, what would I have to gain by keeping the Beiber at arms-length? That's what the older me has realized and so I'm embracing Beiberama and starting to plumb its pop-cultural richness for seams to lace into my own life.

To wit, these are my new kicks -- Adidas Equations, to be precise -- loosely inspired by a sweet pair of purple kind that Bieber sports and they're driving my wife crazy. Only, not with the teenage fan-girl lust like I'd hopefully envisioned. It's more like crazy with fatigue at my antics, or something such that effects more weariness and ridicule than horniness and adoration.

Still I occasionally insist on these shoes, most recently on the ferry to Nantucket, because my point is this: Bieber doesn't act his age. Why should I?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May Tripping

From the home base in Old City, I traveled over 5,000 miles across the Eastern United States throughout the month of May as abstractly illustrated in the above SnagIt Editor on Google Maps digital visualization. In real terms, I made round-trip visits from Philadelphia to:
  • Atlantic City, NJ
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Nantucket, MA
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York, NY
  • Rideau Ferry, ON
As much as my itinerant nomadisticity was a journey of man on wheel, rail, wing and hull, what strikes me here at the end of it all was the gastronomic effort involved in literally eating my way through May on the road. En route I sampled an awesome array of distinctly North American cuisine in all of its regional splendor. While the exotic wonders of cajun cuisine in New Orleans, buttered chip wagons in Canada, and Nantucket's amazing Portuguese bread command respect, the core of the culinary experience was far more American: lite beers (and lots of them) plus hot meat, cheese and white bread. 

For the most part I try to watch what I eat. But healthy eating, like exercise, piano-lessons, non-fiction reading and prayer, is a routine easily toppled by the flux of travel. Simply stated, the road is an excuse to scarf all the junk food you can handle. And so this May I happily gave-in to the impulse to eat, and eat I did to end up here in June counting back on the previous month and realizing that I ate literally 3 home-cooked meals, had red meat almost daily and can count among that total cheeseburgers from 10 different sources and 3 philly cheesesteaks (my normal total on both of the above is like 1 per month).

Beefy Highlights:
  • Hot barbecue brisket at the random strangers house in New Orleans on the recovery from being rocked by Pearl Jam at Jazz Fest.
  • Returning to the fast-food burgers of my youth: Wendy's 1/4 Single with Cheese, A&W Papa Burger, McDonald's Big Mac.
  • The simple, yet technically advanced burger at the Crepe Cellar in Charlotte, NC - hand-packed patty, fried onion strings, gruyere and a truly wonderful bun make this the only one I'll refer to as the French Onion Soup of cheeseburgers. 
  • Not 1, but 2 cheesesteaks at Cosmi's - Philadelphia's best 'Philly Cheesesteak.' (Suck it Pat's and Geno's!)
  • Memorial Day Natucket grill-o-rama featuring classic, hand-made burgers on the grill with sliced tomato, grilled onion and pickles and the best weather anybody's seen on that island since the New World was discovered.
It's been real. 

Now as my brother says, it's time to be a homeboy, and for June that means getting back to leafy greens and high fiber to hopefully undo some of the massive damage May must have done on arterial walls and GI tract.