Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Bjorn Identity

It would appear that in today's society, there is no shortage of ways to transport a small child from one place to another. Whether it be fastened to a plastic seat on the back of a speeding bicycle or yanked down the block on the end of a nylon leash, people are getting their young ones where they need to go. As of late though, I have been noticing a particularly high volume of what are referred to as Baby Bjorns - fabric contructions strapped around the torso of the parent, into which an infant is tucked like a small, fleshy cocktail wiener.

The Baby Bjorn is designed to simulate an infant's two favorite feelings: suffocation and claustrophobia. By wrapping them up in the fabric like a little vacuum-sealed ribeye, the parent of the child is able to naturally sedate them into a state of catatonic docility. Assuming the carrier feels comfortable having a miniature human being dangling from their sternum, this should generally work out to be a win-win for everyone involved.

I must say though, that even in this modern era where the line between male and female responsibility has become ambiguously blurred, there is something slightly bizarre to me about the sight of a full grown man wearing a Baby Bjorn. Working in Manhattan, this is hardly an uncommon phenomenon for me to witness, and generally the male carrier fits a startlingly similar description. Skin the color of wall primer, earth-toned cargo shorts, sandals constructed of a troubling number of straps, a tucked-in T-shirt (also earth-toned) bearing the logo of his favorite ski lodge or Northeast vacation spot, and glasses. We can only assume that before heading down to the corner store to pick up the Sunday Times, this man dines on a bowl of Kashi (with rice milk). Intermediate yoga undoubtedly follows. It's a sight to behold.

*Big surprise.

One is led to ponder the possible long term effects of these various modes of transportation. Will the leash baby later struggle with her inexplicable inclination to fetch? Will the Bjorn baby develop a sadomasochistic fascination with smothering? And will Daddy up there find the cage-free organic eggs his wife requested? There's just no way of knowing. But there's little debate about one aspect of the situation. They all look ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Shame

So yesterday, I canceled my gym membership. I could list a bunch of somewhat legitimate reasons why, and rationalize the decision from a financial standpoint, but you would find that if you squinted your eyes, and looked at the text out of focus, my explanation would just reveal a hidden picture of a vagina. Don't worry ladies, I'm not referring to the fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of your body. I'm talking about the ones that do things like wait for the walk signal to cross the street, or throw gardening parties.

My definitive action was the result of a two month, exercise free hedonism binge, during which I essentially payed the New York Sports Club $65 a month so I could eat pasta with butter three nights a week and drink six packs of Bud Heavys like they were Evian.

Upon entering the gym, I approached the front desk like a puppy who had just soiled the freshly installed carpet of its master's bedroom. The trainer who was working the entrance, a woman of maybe 45 whose build made mine look like that of Stephen Hawking, reached out to scan my membership card, which I had instinctively offered to her and then upon remembering why I came, had to pull away and put in my pocket like an infant trying to get into a nightclub with a fake ID. "I'm sorry," I said. "I actually need to speak with someone about canceling my membership." It would be difficult to describe the facial expression she made upon hearing this timid declaration, but it seemed to convey a harmonious blend of pity and disgust. "Just have a seat for a minute," she said.

For the next five to seven minutes I sat on a bench and watched people work out. Waves of patheticism and shame surged through my bloodstream and caused my vision to blur. "This is wrong," I thought. "What the hell am I doing?" And just as I was about to make a run for it, the voice of a rhinoceros bellowed at me from behind. "Eric?" Jesus Christ. I turned to see what can best be described as a well toned elephant with slicked back hair and a clipboard. "Yes," I squeaked. "I'm Eric."

"O.K., come on back to my office."

At this point I was so overwhelmed with guilt and self-loathing that my brain switched to auto-pilot. I was no longer in control of what came out of my mouth, and began responding to questions I didn't have any answers to.

"Why are you canceling your membership?"
"I'm moving. To Italy."
"How did you feel about your time at New York Sports Club?"
"I like going to the gym."

The next thing I know I am signing a piece of paper which, to paraphrase, said something along the lines of: I hereby confirm that I cannot handle the responsibilities of being a real man, and am consciously making the decision to hand in not only my membership card, but any semblance of respect once regarded towards me by this establishment."

Writing my signature made me come back to reality a little bit.
"Have a good time overseas," he said.
"What? Oh, right, thanks."

And with that I dragged myself out of this house of physical improvement, and with my tail between my legs, went home to have a snack.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Plan Of Attack

If you're like me, you like to gauge what objects in the room could be used to kill an intruder in your home. At any given moment, some hooded crook is liable to saunter in your personal space wielding anything from a gun to a general lack of common courtesy. And thus one must be ready to access their utilitarian logic and employ a line of defense using the inanimate objects that are proximally available to them.

Could I kill someone with my hardcover edition of
Garfield's 30th Anniversary: 30 Years of Laughs and Lasagna, I begin to wonder? To what extent could I injure a full grown individual using that unopened package of Double Stuffed Oreos? These are the questions you need to start asking yourself, because if you are finishing up some late night pilates in your room, and in bursts a deranged, chaffing Meth maniac brandishing a scimitar, you are gonna wanna be able to grab a pair of socks, a #2 pencil and a hanger and take care of business without having to think about it.

Will you be ready to deal with this when you least expect it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some Things I Wish I Liked

Tuna Melts - Right off the bat, anything covered with melted American Cheese is a big draw for me. The creamy, buttery, overly processed taste is something that resonates as both nostalgic and amazing. And little chunks of celery. I like the idea of this. If I liked tuna melts I would order them from the diner every time. But I don't like the taste of canned tuna! WTF.

Dancing With The Stars - Car wreck-style attraction. Check. Celebrities making fools of themselves. Check. Seemingly intoxicated and/or mentally impaired judges. Check. You meet three of my biggest standards for TV watching, Danicing WIth The Stars! And yet for some reason I just can't commit to you! As much as it seems like you should be a part of my life there's just something about watching you that makes me feel like I'm getting stitches.

Brussel Sprouts - One of my more frustrating struggles. I'm right on the cusp with these guys. If there's any chance of me winning the battle here, though, they need to be charred as hell (at least on the outside) and covered in something that makes them taste like not what they are.

You Might Wanna Read...

Death in Venice
by Thomas Mann

This short, chilling tale shines a spotlight on Thomas Mann's uncanny ability to craft luxurious, velvety prose. The words feel like they are practically melting into each other as he examines the lustful nature of human beings and their insatiable urge to pursue that which they desire. Unfortunately, in this case, it's an old man desiring to fellate a little boy named Tadzio. But once you come to terms with that, you are immersed in a haunting portrait of a Venice that Mann paints so vividly.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Mars Volta at Roseland Ballroom

I feel comfortable saying the Mars Volta is my favorite band. And while that doesn't necessarily entail that I feel like listening to them all the time, it does mean that they get my blood boiling like no other. Let's examine some adjectives. Terrifying, sexy, chest pounding, spicy, apocalyptic. These are qualities that resonate in my sternum when the Volta is tearing a track apart. Their ability to navigate back and forth between the cataclysmic and the serene is executed with such nail biting sauciness it's almost too much to handle.

I saw them last night at the Roseland Ballroom, and I'm not gonna lie. I have some issues. First, they were almost forty minutes late. Tardiness, regardless of my blind devotion, is hardly appreciated. Second, and I don't know if I can bestow the full brunt of this blame on the Volta, it was too loud. I feel like I've seen shows at Roseland before where it was the same situation. Granted, the Mars Volta does not necessarily pride themselves on quietude. But perhaps there is some sweaty, drooling techie behind the controls that can be accused for the auditory assault my ear canals were subjected to. Maybe he accidentally pushed the volume lever up when he was reaching for his fruit leather, and then fell asleep in a folding chair. We'll never know.

I took these shots while standing on my tippy toes attempting to see over the human-giraffe hybrids that peppered the crowd. The Volta is notorious for weird backdrops, which as you can see, this time featured a pile of wings with eyes and some sort of Mayan professional wrestler with fish skeletons protruding from behind his head. Good stuff.

Some New Things

I've recently been doing some works on paper, which allows me to work on a smaller scale than what I'm used to. These pieces also incorporate text, which in this case manifests in the form of somewhat ambiguous one liners. While I have certain scenarios in my head when I write them, they essentially become fragments of stories which the viewer has the freedom to fabricate upon viewing them. The colors are a departure for me, and I'm trying to keep the abstract imagery both sparse and evocative. I'll post some more soon. Feedback encouraged as always.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Richard Prince

Richard Prince basically started out by clipping jewelry and fashion ads from the New York Times, removing the text, and passing them off as his own. Interestingly, people were tickled by this. And they wanted Richard to tickle them more. So he also started making some of the most straightforward but incredibly stylized text-based paintings I have ever seen. And they're huge, as you can see above. Then there's the nurses. They're kind of take it or leave it. I'll take it.