You guys may remember that in years past, Sophie and I did a thing in the park where we grilled (sometimes FDA-recalled) hamburgers, and, you know, that was fun, but it was a hard thing to organize and Sophie doesn't live here any more. So this year we still did a joint thing, but we just went out to dinner Saturday at Acme with a bunch of people and then got drinks at Blue & Gold, which was somehow not totally packed, even though tons of people showed up. But man, it was exhausting, because all that day I'd been tabling at HOPE for the FSF, and had to really bust ass to get downtown in time to be feted.
Loyal readers will remember the last time I went to HOPE. It's kind a lot of cash to shell out, given that I'm not, you know, a hacker, but Jeanne needed people to sit at a table and sell merch, and because the HOPE people weren't comping the FSF (drama!), it was looking like they might be shorthanded. Turns out it was fine -- the table was already in the competent hands of Thomas (whom I'd met at an Associate Members meeting a few years back), Matthew (who lives like five blocks away from me in Sunset Park), and this kid Ringo who took a bus all the way to NYC from Denver just for HOPE. And business was booming! We ended up raising a huge amount of cash for the FSF -- orders of magnitude more than the admissions fees we'd paid. I didn't even have a chance to go to any of the talks, although I did get to see the keynote address (delivered by a chubby guy who looked like a car parts salesman from Scranton -- and who turned out to be Jello fucking Biafra) from the vendor floor. Our table was right next to 2600's swag booth where they were selling bottles of this German energy drink called Club-Mate that Emmanuel Goldstein really likes and had had shipped in for the occasion. Like most energy drinks, it tasted fundamentally vile -- kind of a mix of prune juice and Budweiser -- but, as the organizers acknowledged during the closing ceremony, "One gets used to it." There'd been a lot of speculation to the effect that the Pennsylvania Hotel was gonna get torn down -- that's why this year's was "The Last HOPE" -- but at the end of the day on Sunday, Emmanuel revealed that the building's been granted a (temporary) reprieve, and that by "last," he really just meant "most recent." After things finished up that night, Thomas, Matthew, Ringo and I hit up the Peculiar Pub on Bleecker St. for an after-party pub crawl that we tried (unsuccessfully) to coax assorted hackers into joining, and ate bar nachos and talked campaign strategy until well past 11. It was a hoot!
Family news: My dad's got kidney stones -- well, one motherfucker of a stone in particular that's stuck somewhere up in his business and ain't budging on its own. I was maybe four years old the last time this happened to him. That time he passed the thing on his own; this time they've determined that he'll need some minor surgery to get it out. Unfortunately, an hour before they were going to put him under, he developed an infection from having the stone blocking his vital processes for so long, so he's gotta finish a course of antibiotics first. Nobody is thrilled about this.
So I went over to my parents' place on Tuesday to help him get some stuff out of the crawlspace above my sister's room -- they need to run some electrical cables for a new washer-dryer -- and discovered some delightful old junk: A turntable, a photo enlarger, old coloring books, an unfinished oil painting, a "portable" black-and-white television. I came back to work covered in dust and mouse poops but carrying an awesome, laminated map of the world from 1984 that my mom used to have above her desk and which features fantastical place names like Burma and Bombay.
On Thursday night I hoofed it over to Pier 54 to check out Flogging Molly. The last time I'd heard them, my friend Dave Krypel was playing them for me on our hall freshman year of college at Wesleyan. Back then I dismissed them as being a gimmick band, but I've since developed a shameful fondness for so-called "celtic punk," so if I'm going to keep dismissing them, I guess it should be for a better reason? I don't know... naturally, it's pretty hard not to compare them to The Pogues, but the resemblance is only riff-deep. Dave King's lyrics are very literal and very broad -- when Wikipedia says, "Lyrics typically touch on subjects such as Ireland and its history, drinking, politics, love, and include several references to the Roman Catholic Church," they're not generalizing. That's... the actual verbal content of the songs. It takes subtlety, and, you know, intellectual confidence to write songs about "an old hurly ball" instead of how much you hate Oliver Cromwell. Or maybe it doesn't. Not sure.
But it was nice to sit down by the water and watch the sun set and read about CSS 2.1 anonymous box generation on countyhell while listening to an enthusiastic band do their thing. There were some belligerent teenage gutterpunks hanging around near where I was sitting, begging for change to get home from Manhattan -- first they were trying to get back to Jersey, then it was somewhere in Pennsylvania, then it was Baltimore. At one point, they were scrounging bus fare back to Iowa. To their credit, they were able to exploit the crowd pretty successfully; when their initial appeal was rebuffed, a follow-up "please?!" usually did the trick.
After Flogging Molly was done, I hoofed it across town to Mercury Lounge, in a somewhat ill-advised attempt to catch The Airborne Toxic Event show. Two shows in one night! How old am I -- 26? Turned out the late show hasdstarted late, though, and the opener, a band called Blacklist were on when I got there, playing this kind of earnest, synth-y goth rock, and somehow doing it without keyboards. It wasn't bad. I drank a pee-tasting Blue Point. The 'Event themselves came on at 11:00 as promised, but, similar to Cut Off Your Hands, they turned out to be better on the Internet than live. They sound a bit like a less... "cool" Titus Andronicus. That is to say, their music's got this jangly edge to it, but they're not self-aware enough to avoid embarrassing themselves lyrically. Case in point, their lead singer has a speaking voice like Bobcat Goldthwait's, and he introduced the first song by saying, "This song's about all those black kids dying in Iraq." And there was a patch of that song that went:
...But what's reality?Yeesh. So, you know, I'm kind of oh-for-two on discovering new music.
...It's a fucking bullet!!!