Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Siren Festival, Coney Island
Saturday, July 21 2001

setting: Brooklyn, New York

This was my first morning as a New Yorker. I spent much of the day with Gretchen indoors going through boxes of stuff and running FAX marathons with Jesika my LA realtor from an absent neighbor's FAX-machine-equipped apartment upstairs.
I wasn't especially impressed by the gentleness with which my packages had been handled in their transcontinental journey. I'd shipped my black 15 inch monitor in a sturdy double-layer Sony monitor box but somewhere along the way the thing had been hit by a Howitzeresque impact so great that it had penetrated the cardboard, shattered the styrofoam and blown a candy-bar-sized hole in the plastic sidewall of the monitor. I have no idea if it still works but the tube wasn't damaged.

For most of my life I didn't have warts, but in 1992 that all changed and one appeared on my right wrist. A few others have appeared in other places, usually associated with scars on my hands, but they've never been noticeable. But the wart on my right wrist is an exception. On some occasions I notice it more than on others, and then I attack it with everything in my arsenal. This normally means over-the-counter salicylic acid and/or slicing and dicing with sharp implements. But this wrist wart, more so than other warts, seems to abide by Nietzsche's dictum: what doesn't kill it only makes it stronger. In the aftermath of a recent prolonged assault it had become unpleasantly large, so today I got fed up and just snipped it off with a pair of scissors. It's a remarkably painless operation, although the blood flow that resulted was astounding. I then bandaged up the wound in a vitamin E compress. Hopefully the wart will just go away, as other warts treated with similarly hostile hosting have done in the past.

One of my Vodkatea contributors had told me about a free Guided by Voices show in Coney Island this afternoon and I definitely wanted to see it. So in the late afternoon Gretchen and I each bought $63 month-long unlimited subway passes and caught the F line subway to Coney Island. After a disconcertingly long unscheduled stop between stations, we got off at the West 8th Street NY Aquarium station. The venue, the first-annual "Siren Festival" (sponsored by the Village Voice and Budweiser, among others) was directly across the street. Being a free show featuring popular indie bands in a city the size of New York meant that the place was absolutely mobbed with people. A plurality of them looked like your typical pierced, tattooed and bespectacled indie kids (such as you'd see in any American city), but there were a good many fratboy types there as well. To get as close as possible to the stage we snaked behind others we saw moving stageward through the crowd, taking advantage of the momentarily parted people in their wake. Much like following other cyclists in a bike race, drafting in this manner requires considerably less effort than simply forging your own route through a mob (unless, of course, you bring a stun gun).
I'd made us come sort of early so I could see Superchunk, a band I'd seen at the Oberlin 'Sco back in 1992. They're just a lot of fun to watch, what with their enthusiastic jumping around and fast-paced rhythms. I like the contrast between the little guy who sings and the spunky chick who plays bass in relation to the big guys to their left playing at least one too many guitars.
Guided By Voices weren't exactly in top form, with Bob Pollard seemingly limited as to the amount of beer he could lay hands on during his one hour set. He kept fucking up the lyrics and executing rockstar moves even less deftness than usual. Gretchen thought he was "cool as a cucumber" when he just stood there singing and/or gesticulating, but she thought he "really needed to stop acting like a dork" with the goofy faces, microphone twirling and crotch-ripping power kicks. I shot video of both Superchunk and Guided by Voices, much of which turned out really swell:

Superchunk at the First Annual Siren Festival, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Guided by Voices, "Game of Pricks" followed by "Cut-Out Witch" at the First Annual Siren Festival, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Guided by Voices, "Tractor Rape Chain" followed by "Submarine Teams" at the First Annual Siren Festival, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Guided by Voices, "Twilight Campfighter" followed by some other tune at the First Annual Siren Festival, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Guided by Voices, "Skills Like This" followed by some other tune at the First Annual Siren Festival, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Guided by Voices, some unknown tune followed by "Chasing Heather Crazy" at the First Annual Siren Festival, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

For most of the Guided by Voices set we were closer to the stage than we'd been for Superchunk, and we found ourselves wedged tightly between two equally unpleasant set of audience members. In front of us was a chick who clearly thought she was "all that." She had come with her male friends and kept complaining about not having a good time. To her was a girl who back seemed to be healing from a dreadful case of bacne. It had cleared up somewhat, but it was not yet in any state to be showcased in the manner her spaghetti-strapped halter top provided. Behind us were a couple of obnoxious fans who kept hollering "GBV, GBV, GBV!" or calling upon Bob to play "Glad Girls." Other times they could be heard loudly retelling Bob Pollard beer drinking clichés. Yes, they were precisely the sort of fans who bring a bad name to fandom. Every band has them, and Guided by Voices may well have more than their fair share.

After GBV was done we took off before the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion took the stage. Heading back west away from the beach, we rode the F line past Park Slope and into Manhattan to meet up with Gretchen's rabbi friend David and his on-again/off-again fiancé.
Earlier we'd talked on the phone with my old housemate John (who is now living with his older sister in Hoboken) and he'd told us where he was going to be tonight. When we saw that bar we impulsively went on in. He was in a back patio area, surrounded by a bunch of his college chums, none of whom we knew. When he looked up and saw us he was so happy he nearly smothered us in hugs. I've never been greeted by any organism so enthusiastic (aside from a dog).
We drank beers and exchanged travel stories, breaking occasionally into laughter so loud that one of the bar's authority figures had to come over and calm us down out of concern for the bar's evidently intolerant neighbors.
After a few beers and Adderalls, we moved on to the next bar, the one where we were meeting up with Rabbi David at some sort of birthday party. John's brother Joe happened to be in town so John called him on Gretchen's cell phone and he came over with one of his particularly impulsive friends. A live rap artist was rapping over some cool DJ grooves and by now I'd had so many Adderalls that I felt completely comfortable dancing (even though nobody else in the bar was dancing at all). John kept exclaiming how happy he was to see us and how overjoyed he was to finally be in New York. "Look, people!" he'd sigh, adding, "and they're just sitting around talking! I love it!"

Earlier in the evening John had been so happy to see us he'd wanted to come back to Brooklyn and sleep at our place, but later in the evening he was more in a mood to go home and be by himself. We left him somewhere near Houston Street (pronounced "How-ston") and headed back home, stinking of cigarettes (like all people do when going home from New York nightlife).

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