June 29, 2004

Holy crap: 2004 is half-over at the end of today! Why didn't anybody tell me that this was gonna happen! I blame the collective you!
Great news! Somebody tried to sell me pot today in Washington Square Park, for the first time in years! I feel all young and sprightly!
Please Forgive Us This One Transgression! Folks, there ain't no blog on this planet that covers the comings and goings and crackings of America's favorite foundation-repair-related mascot, Mr. Happy Crack, as obsessively and lovingly than us here at The Donk. From the delightfully insouciant T-shirts we wear while cleaning out the gutters, the little ads we see weekly in the New Yorker and New York Press, and the strangely enticing MHC bobblehead that is staring down on me as I type, it is no exaggeration to say that our eyes are always on Mr. Happy Crack, and his eyes are always on us.

Which is why we are ashamed to admit that for a few brief, completely-unlike-us minutes, we seriously considered withholding some important MHC news from our readers since we thought it was just too darn exciting, and we wanted it all to ourselves. Yes, we admit that we thought of betraying our smiling, cracked friend for no other reason that greed, or perhaps avarice; we can never remember if there's a difference between the two.

Fortunately, our better nature overcame this momentary lapse, and we are delighted to announce the once-in-a-lifetime "Be the Crack" contest:
Seeing Mr. Happy Crack 'live-and-in-person' is a sight to behold. Whether it's a franchise show or one of his celebrity-packed motivational seminars, Mr. Happy Crack in 'mascot-form' is quite an eyeful. As our popularity soars, it becomes increasingly difficult for only one individual to assume the persona of Mr. Happy Crack. That's why The Crack Team is now accepting applications from folks looking to fulfill their lifelong dream of 'becoming' Mr. Happy Crack. Submit your application and our crack-staff of judges (including famed mascot-dance innovator Gerard Gilbert) will review your submission and choose a winner before September 1, 2004. Fame and fortune await, so enter today!
One of us having previously worn the extremely-heavcostumeme-and-drum ensemble of the Energizer Bunny for the grand opening of a Drug Emporium, we feel that we have a pretty good advantage in the competition, but it is only fair for us to give everybody a chance, no matter how small. Good luck!
Anyway, so about 20 minutes into the audience Q&A section of tonight's David Foster Wallace / George Saunders discussion at the Public Theater, some frankly-crazy-sounding woman sitting in the second row was called upon by one of the two writers and she said something to the effect of "Back in my creative writing class in high school, one day we had a substitute teacher who introduced himself by saying 'Hello, my name is Mr. Cutie.' [apparently his real name] and the class couldn't stop laughing for a half-hour." and that was her entire comment!

June 28, 2004

I am in the process of trying to fix a whole bunch of stuff, so if we can all get together and pretend that the last four months of my life, well...never actually happened, that would be peachy, thank you.

June 27, 2004

In commemoration of the 18th anniversary of Wham!'s farewell concert at Wembley, I present this link to an interview with Anderw Ridgely: Andrew Ridgeley Recalls Life in the Fast Lane with Wham! and Tells Why He Wouldn't Return to the Music Business.

That was basically the same post that I ran two years ago since it's still kinda funny to reference Andrew Ridgely, except for changing the anniversary date, obviously, and wondering if the Chicago Manual of Style has any specific rules for the possessive form of a proper name that already includes punctuation.

June 26, 2004

Earlier this morning I thought I had developed a whole new personal philosophy based upon the idea that it doesn't matter how many times you smack your alarm clock if it's actually your cell phone alarm that's going off, but then I fell back asleep for a few minutes and when I re-awoke realized that I had forgotten the more complicated parts.

Ah, the hell with it: I'm going down the shore, where they have a personal philosophy ready and waiting for me.

June 24, 2004

Stupid messed-up sleep cycle.

June 23, 2004

A Comparison of the Events of My Day and the "Day" in Question for the Title Character of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"

Start of the Day:
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov: Wakes up in a Stalinist labor camp on a bitterly cold morning. Suffering from fever and aches and mistakenly thinking that a friendly guard is making the rounds, he stays in bed past the wake-up call, and is made to wash the floors of the officers? headquarters as punishment.

Ken Goldstein: Turns off radio alarm in his Jersey City apartment at first sound, ends up sleeping for another hour. There is no punishment for this action.
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov: After his punishment assignment, makes his way to the mess hall for a small bowl of gruel and slight amount of bread. Returns to his bunk to sew the bread into his mattress for later.

Ken Goldstein: Eats bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch while watching TV.
Working Hours
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov: Goes with the rest of his "Gang" to the Power Station for his work assignment. During his workday he risks serious punishment by using roofing material to try to keep the freezing wind outside, works feverishly to build a wall, and finds a bit of hacksaw which he will later attempt to sneak into camp in order to fashion it into a useful knife.

Ken Goldstein: Continues watching TV, eventually washing his bowl and spoon. He later takes a quick shower, gets dressed, and checks his mail and Job Search Agents on his computer. He also plays a golf game on his computer.
Dinner and Evening
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov: After miraculously managing to sneak his smuggled hacksaw bit through the inspection, he performs a few favors in order to cadge an extra bowl of gruel, which he enjoys along with his 400 grams of bread. There is a body count, and then a second, before the prisoners are allowed to sleep.

Ken Goldstein: Late in the afternoon goes outside through the lobby in order to check his mail, grabs the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, and heads over to Newark Avenue to enjoy a masala dosa. He returns to his building and drives to a mid-Jersey club, where he plays cards for a few hours. He gets a few nice hands and wins some money, though not as much as he should have. He drives back to Jersey City
Close of the Day
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov: After engaging in a philosophical discussion with a Baptist who urges him to have the faith to endure the camps, he thinks back on his day, deciding that it had been "unclouded" and "almost a happy one." The narrator remarks that it was one of the 3,653 days of his sentence.

Ken Goldstein: Checks the baseball scores as well as the Wimbledon schedule, which he learns was completely rained out. He brushes his teeth and sets the alarms, thinking that if he can wake up early enough tomorrow he might go to a museum or see a movie in New York. As he closes his eyes and prepares for sleep, he sadly thinks that this will probably not happen.
Thank you. This has been A Comparison of the Events of My Day and the "Day" in Question for the Title Character of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"
Stupid insomnia.

June 21, 2004

In memory of our dearly departed friend, who unfortunately cannot be with us to celebrate, the NYBlog Sick & Benevolent Society presents the First Annual Paul Frankenstein Memorial Big Apple Blogger Bash.

When – Friday, July 9th @ 7:00 p.m.

Where – Siberia Bar, 346 W. 40th Street. (between 8th & 9th, there's no sign so just look for the red light over the door).

Who – Bloggers, friends of bloggers, people who read blogs, people who think they might know someone who blogs.

Please join us for a night of fond memories and stories of Paul, excessive 'social' drinking, and bitter recriminations.
For those of you keeping track of such things, my life pretty much hit its low point so far at around 2:45 this morning, lying sleepless on an acquaintance's uncomfortable couch, wallet emptied from a bad run of cards, my car sitting in a convenience store's parking lot a few miles away where it remained immovable ever since the battery suddenly, mysteriously went completely dead, realizing that none of it particularly mattered since I didn't have anywhere I really needed to be, anyway.

It is quite lovely out today, however, so that's something. And I suppose I could be the guy my family observed yesterday at Fuddrucker's, where we took my Dad for his day (it was his choice). As we all pulled up to the restaurant we saw two ambulances in front, and when we went inside we were greeted by the sight of two EMT's hovering over some huge old guy, must've been three-and-a-half bills, checking him out and injecting him with something or other. So that puts a damper on things, but we order our food eventually pick it up, and have a reasonable enough time. After a while my sister tell me to turn around (I was facing away from the situation) and check the guy out. Sure enough, the medics have left the building, and our huge and formerly incapacitated hero is back to work, his burger in one hand and some fries in the other, working double-time. Seriously, if I'm ever out to eat and I find myself in a situation where I need emergency care, I'm pretty sure that would be a sign for me that that particular mealtime is over. I mean, grab a freaking doggy bag and get some fresh air.

June 18, 2004

Good News for a Friday Night.
Jersey: Oh Yes It's Ladies' Night

It's unanimous: The ladies deserve a cheap drink, at least in New Jersey bars and restaurants.

Despite an administrative ruling that says the ladies' night at a Cherry Hill bar and restaurant violated state civil rights rules, Assembly members Thursday said there ought to be a law protecting the practice.

The Assembly voted 78-0 to approve a bill making it legal for bar owners and others to offer special promotions such as charging women different prices for drinks. The measure was designed to specifically overturn that June 1 ruling.

"It defies common sense to view Ladies Night as anything other than a way for a bar or restaurant owner to stay competitive and successful," said the measure's sponsor, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Middlesex.

Earlier this month the director of the state Division on Civil Rights ruled in favor of a man who said it wasn't fair for women to get into the Coastline bar and restaurant in Cherry Hill for free and to enjoy discounted drinks while men paid $5 and full price for beverages.
The original ruling -- brought by a man named David R. Gillespie who should never get any action, never -- can be found here.

June 16, 2004

The problem with the inevitable is that it always happens.
Hey, Daniella: maybe we should invite this guy to join the Ulysses Reading Group. He can handle the reading part of it while we hunker down to the likker and cheese!
The Kids Can Get Their Own Damn Foul Balls! I'm not sure how I missed the story originally, but I saw over at Tales From the City how some guy at a Rangers game knocked into a four-year-old going for a foul ball, then refused to give the kid the ball even after the whole stadium started chanting at him to do so. He also never picked up a Cardinals T-Shirt which Cardinals reliever Steve Kline had signed and written "Tough Guy" and "Ball Stealer."

Now, this whole story interests me for a couple of reasons, the first of which being that -- at least according to GQ writer Andres Pinter, who wrote a story about how Kline spent numerous schoolyears viciously tormenting him -- Kline is a complete asshole:
For the GQ story, Pinter arranged to meet Kline in a local bar. [T]he meeting was cordial and Pinter left thinking that Kline had mellowed over the years. "I kind of like the guy," he said. "I really do." And Kline? "He deserved everything he got," he later told a GQ fact-checker. "Little smart-ass f---er. Tell Andres if he says anything bad about me, I'm going to track him down!"
And then there's the time he told ESPN that he "hope[d] Mark Prior takes a line drive off the forehead and we never have to see him again." But forgetting about the suddenly noble Kline, and without saying that it's okay to knock over pre-schoolers, this event does remind me of one of the little side-stories of the greatest baseball game I ever attended.

It was Game Two of the 1995 Divisional Playoffs between the Yankees and Mariners, and my friend and I were in the second row of Yankee Stadium's second deck, right near home plate, terrific seats. Only one row separated us from the action, and that row was filled by a father and what we figured to be his three kids, two boys and a girl. And these three kids couldn't have possibly cared less about the game. Seriously, you would have thought that they were on some sort of combination religious service / furniture shopping expedition.

Anyway, somewhere around the middle of the game (or so we assumed at the time), Wade Boggs sent a foul ball screaming towards our section at about eleventy-million MPH, just a white-blur, heat-seeking deathball. My friend and I barely had time to react when the lone fan sitting on the aisle reached out with his gloved hand and speared the ball, just an amazing, possibly life-saving catch. And before we even had a chance to compliment him on it, the catcalls started from the next section over: "Give it to the kids! C'mon, dick, give the ball to the kids!"

Now, these kids barely even noticed the foul ball, and if it had been given to one of them there's no doubt they would have checked to see whether a GameBoy could be plugged in, after which the ball would have been thrown in the closet, never to be seen again. The catcher never turned to look at his tormenters (at least one of whom, according to his jacket, was from my hometown), just told me that he had never caught a foul ball before, not in 25 years of trying, and he'd be damned if he was giving this one up. And still the catcalls continued, for at least the next two innings, until the excitement of the game finally distracted the angry mob.

The game ultimately ended on a Jim Leyritz walk-off homer in the 15th inning, the longest playoff game in AL history. And those kids? They left back in the 8th inning, seemingly relieved that they had finished putting in their "Dad time" for the week. Damn kids.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of "Bloomsday," June 16, 1904, the date when the events of James Joyce's "Ulysses" takes place, I think I might dig into the back of my closet, pull out my college copy of the modernist masterpiece, and for the sixth time slowly struggle through the first 25 pages before giving up in frustration and reading some old National Lampoons.
Seven straight hours of job searching/applying/organizing/etceterizing.

I'm sure that tomorrow the responses will just come pouring in. Wheeee.

June 14, 2004

I definitely agree with Brian Murphy of ESPN.com's Page 2, who today pointed out one of the main advantages of being a sports fan on the West Coast, despite the fact that television programming is geared towards the East:
Take Game 4 of the NBA Finals. A 9 p.m. tip-off. 9 p.m.! At home, that's 6 p.m. That means happy hour beers, a little open flame on the grill, and some Kobe with my BBQ. In the Eastern time zone, it means waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ... for the 9 p.m. tip. No happy hour beers. No happy hour, in fact.
Back when I was living in Seattle, it was great to be able to watch a big game at a reasonable hour and maybe go out for a couple of drinks afterwards, rather than trying to stay awake for the second half and collapsing into bed immediately afterwards. Maybe we'd miss the first inning or two of a World Series game, but it was still better than waiting around for the damn game to start and dragging ass at work the next day.

Football season was the best: I'd stay out late Saturday night and crawl out of bed in time to get some coffee and bagels from the local deli and watch the second half of the opening game and then the Seahawks game, and still be able to go out for a nice Sunday night dinner/movie afterwards, civilized-like.
Ulli's Roy Orbison In Clingfilm Website

Hello, and welcome to my homepage. My name is Ulrich Haarbürste and I like to write stories about Roy Orbison being wrapped up in cling-film. If you have written any stories about Roy being completely wrapped in clingfilm please send them to me and I may put them up on the site. If you have a site with stories about other pop stars being wrapped in cling-film mail me and we can exchange links.

June 13, 2004

I swear that last night on the PATH heading back to Jersey at two in the morning, three drunk Hoboken kids were having a serious and heated discussion about how NASA and the International Space Station could possibly allow this to happen.

June 12, 2004

Greetings from Asbury Park. My friend Z just sent me a message from Asbury Park, letting me know that Palace Amusements, immortalized in Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" ("beyond the Palace, hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard"), is no more. The 116-year-old complex -- the oldest surviving amusement center in the U.S. -- was demolished this past week, despite local preservation efforts and its appearance on the National Register for Historic Places, in order to make way for a proposed hotel/convention center to be built on the site.

All is not lost, however. "Tillie, the grinning arcade clown presiding over the Asbury Park, New Jersey waterfront for 48 years," has been safely removed from the demolished building, and will be part of the new complex. This was, in fact, part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection permit issued for the project: "Prior to the demolition of Palace Amusements, the permittee shall coordinate with Asbury Park, the City's Technical Review Committee and DEP to identify what portions of the Palace Amusement Building and the Tilly [sic] mural that will be relocated and preserved. [...] The preserved mural shall be either incorporated into a lobby wall of any hotel developed or on the outside wall should the site be developed into retail space."

Click here for a photo of Tillie being airlifted to safety.

Update: Thanks to Murph for sending along news on the ultimate Jersey bathroom accessory: Tillie Tiles!

June 10, 2004

The Illuminated Donkey Gets Results!

Yesterday, we here at the Illuminated Donkey demanded that the NYC Guggenheim's Operations Manager should maybe get off his/her ass, go to the nearest Home Depot, and buy a few cans of paint to touch up the looking-like-crap exterior. And today?
Guggenheim Reviving Its Main Asset: Itself

After 45 years the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright's soaring spiral that has become one of Manhattan's greatest tourist attractions, will undergo a major facelift. And while it has good bones, like many Wright buildings the Upper East Side landmark is plagued with cracks, leaks and corroding surfaces. [...]

The building on Fifth Avenue at 89th Street will remain open during the restoration, which is expected to take two years. In addition to removing nine coats of paint, right down to the building's structure, to properly fix its cracking surface, the project also includes repairing the sidewalk, with its metallic rings set into concrete. Inside the building, the terrazzo floor in the main rotunda will also be restored, and the climate control and security systems updated.
You're welcome, folks!

June 08, 2004

An Open Letter to the Operations Manager of Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum, on Occasion of Visiting It Today for the Museum Mile Festival.
Dear Operations Manager:

It's great that you Guggenheim folks are putting up snazzy new Guggenheims all around the world, but in the meantime do you think you can maybe send somebody out to the nearest Home Depot to pick up a few cans of paint to touch up the exterior? The damn thing looks like crap. Seriously.

Sincerely, Ken Goldstein.

A Belated Apology to Mr. Ben Affleck. Last Summer, for reasons that I haven't determined, I wrote 1000 words on that whole Ben/J-Lo deal, during the course of which I called the Ben half of that a "tool," as well as the "Most Whipped Man in America (MWMIA)."

Well, upon hearing the news of Jennifer's reported marriage to singer Marc Anthony, I would like to take this opportunity to issue a public apology to Mr. Affleck. Because this is one dame who obviously just looooves getting married, who walks down the aisle with the frequency that Valvoline suggests getting your oil changed. And even though it certainly appeared that he was in full-tool-mode during his time with Jennifer, it must be noted that he somehow managed to avoid actually marrying her. And that accomplishment must be recognized for what it is: a sign that he must truly have some sack.

Ben, I hope you accept this apology.
Up-to-the-Second New Jersey Primary Results! As I mentioned yesterday, the electoral system was kind enough to let New Jersey actually hold Presidential primaries, along with Montana the last states to do so. Now, I'm complaining about this, but I suppose it's entirely possibly that one year the primaries could come down to a dead heat wire and Presidential candidates could be banging on my door offering to wash my car in exchange for a vote. Until then, however, we're pretty much useless.

All that being said, I would like to report that John Kerry did manage a win in this key state, picking up about 92% of the vote. This is about 18% more than he garnered in the other primary, in Montana, but that was largely due to candidates John Edwards and Wesley Clark still appearing on the ballot there, while New Jersey was limited to Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Lyndon LaRouche Jr., and George H. Ballard III.

It should also be noted the Sheriff candidate Vince Lombardi, who I previously mentioned on this site, managed a mere 3.8% of the vote. Tough luck, Vince.

Update: Fellow JCer Tris McCall has a lot more detail on the local races. See the June 8 post. Unfortunately, as the voting was not being held in his lobby, he had difficulty in finding the polls.
Oh, the jackhammering seems to have been completed. So that's good.

June 07, 2004

Being thankful for the small things these days.
The Most Irrelevant State in the Union (tie). I just received my Official Primary Election Sample Ballot for the Hudson County primary, being held this Tuesday. I started studying the ballot, in large part because the polling location for my election district is actually in my condo building, and that would be pretty freaking lame if I were to skip out on an election that was being held in my building, especially since it's not like I have a job or anything to keep me from it.

Anyway, my point is, I was looking over the ballot when I was surprised to see the name "John F. Kerry," and for a second I thought it was odd that there would be a candidate for a local position with the same name as the Presidential nominee. Then I looked and saw that "Vince Lombardi" was running for Sheriff, so I thought that maybe it wasn't so odd, but upon further study I finally realized something rather shocking: we folks in New Jersey get to vote in the Presidential primaries, too!

Yes, almost five months after those hardy souls in Iowa basically decided who the Democratic nominee was going to be, we here in New Jersey, an exponentially more representative state than Iowa or its electoral twin New Hampshire, finally get to attend the party, long after the band has packed up and the cleaning staff has thrown out the hors d'oeuvres. I mean, we even vote after freaking Guam and Puerto Rico! Along with the approximately 200 or so people who live in Montana, New Jersey will be closing out the primary season, though the ballot has thinned a little over the past few months. Gone are Dean, Edwards, Clark, and Sharpton, leaving only Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Lyndon LaRouche (whose supporters maintain a fairly regular presence over in Journal Square), and George H. Ballard, III, whose previous political experience includes (well, apparently entirely consists of) running for President in 2000.

As a side note, New Jersey has 129 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, 107 of which will be determined based on the results of the primary, while the remaining 22 "unpledged" delegates will officially consist of:
  • 10 Democratic National Committee members
  • 9 Members of Congress (2 Senators and 7 Representatives)
  • 1 Governor
  • 2 Unpledged "add-on"s, elected by a vote of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
  • 0 Distinguished Party Leaders
Doesn't that seem a little odd? I mean, it's bad enough if your state has no distinguished party leaders, but do they have to rub it in your face like that?

June 04, 2004

The jackhammer is back again. How much freaking jackhammering does the freaking sidewalk outside my freaking window need already?! I mean, sheesh.

June 03, 2004

So if somebody wants to swing around to St. Paul Avenue here in Jersey City and strangle these two guys jackhammering right outside my window, that would be terrific, thanks.

June 02, 2004

Hey, Jahna D'Lish is still back! Get over there RIGHT NOW!
Troubled Times for Monorail Fans.

Is there anything that could possibly be sadder than a monorail catching fire? Well, that's exactly what happened Monday afternoon when the Seattle Monorail, a fine little line built for the 1962 World's Fair and which I rode a few dozen times, caught fire shortly after leaving the Seattle Center station. The police arrived quickly and nobody was seriously injured, although the monorail remains shut down and a small child was tragically forced to relinquish his blue plastic balloon sword:
I tapped the man in front of me on the shoulder (and asked) if he would take care of my son. He grabbed my son and tried to pull him toward the floor as my son clung to him and cried. My son held tight to the blue plastic balloon sword that a clown had made for him at the Folklife Festival.

I told him that he had to let it go in order to use his hands to keep himself safe when it was time to get off that train. I will never forget the imagery of seeing that blue balloon sword, a symbol of powerlessness, floating down from the open door of the train.
I might be a little fuzzy on the details, but I'm pretty sure that was a scene in at least three or four of the foreign films I was forced to watch in college.

The monorail fire comes on the heels of continued controversy over the new 14-mile-long, $1.75 billion Seattle Monorail Project which was approved by voters in November 2002 (and discussed for many years before that, going back to when I lived there), but still remains in the planning stage, with many fighting for the project's cancellation.

If there's one thing we here at The Donk love more than monorails, it's Vegas. So when Keith and I saw the new Las Vegas Monorail firsthand (the station was right outside our room at the Sahara), we were practically giddy with excitement and anticipation. A few minirails currently exist in Las Vegas -- one connecting Mandalay Bay, the Luxor, and Excalibur, and another connecting Treasure Island and the Mirage -- but the under-construction Las Vegas Monorail would run along the east side of the Strip for practically its entire length, from the Sahara down to the MGM Grand.

Unfortunately, technical glitches and safety concerns have prompted repeated delays in the monorail's opening. Originally scheduled to begin taking paying passengers in January, that opening was pushed back to March, and then to the currently announced "Summer," with no specific date mentioned as yet. Another big negative is that the monorail will only operate from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, which would be fine if this were the Topeka or Shreveport Monorail, but pretty freaking ridiculous in Las Vegas, a city where even the wicker stores are open 24 hours.

And I haven't even gotten into that whole did-the-Raja-Chulan-to-Bukit-Nanas-Monorail-slam-into-a-fallen-tree controversy.

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