Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Photo Post

Somewhere on the Nile delta, Egypt. 1996.

Copyright 1997, B. Hoben

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Night with the Chicago Mud Queens

Saturday was my pal Justin's birfday. A gang of us went out for sushi and (a whole bunch of) sake. Our plan was to go from dinner to a punk rock band/mud wrestling league show at an abandoned office building on the outskirts of Chicago city limits. This proposition was met with a chorus of unenthusiastic maybe's from 'round the table. After everyone else slinked off under the guise of one excuse or another, three of us remained. We set out on that dark and rainy night heading due West outta town, more that a little apprehensive about what to expect.

The building was located without much trouble and we were let in upon paying our $5. As it was, in its former life, a 5 story office building, and we had arrived fairly early, we were left to wander around the dark and empty hallways and rooms in an attempt to find the room where the magic was to happen. It was fun in an unrban spelunking lite kinda way and brought back memories of exploring abandoned factories as a teenager in good ol' Central Florida. Upon finally discovering the rock and roll room, we decided that the situation was more akin to various clandestine parties we'd raged at in Brooklyn or Detroit... though we doubted anyone came here armed.

Gays in the Military played first. Their sloppy take on late 7o's synth punk was made tolerable (hell, fun even) by their crazy faux queer-army guy getups and the low slung ceiling that caused the taller members to cock their heads at funny and uncomfortable angles throughout the performance. Cos' band The Functional Blackouts played the next set. They've settled nicely into the second phase of the band where the guitarist sings and the overall songwriting has grown beyond the spit and bile of their early material. Eager to hear the new album that is being sat on for some reason.

Finally, The Billy Carter Band served as the backing band for the bombast of amateur, league style mud wrestling courtesy of Chicago's Mud Queens. The matches began and very, very quickly, it turned into a wacky, violent, filthy, somewhat titillating evening. Exactly what one should expect, I suppose, from a punk rock, feminist mud wrestling show.

The crowd (pretty equally both guys and gals) were whipped into a frenzy from the start. It was a cathartic whirlwind of violence, nudity, dirt, booze and loud music. Everyone dutifully played along for the seven or eight bouts, cheering and jeering on cue and one "lucky" audience member even won a chance to strip down to his underwear, get up onstage and wrestle two gals. They pinned him immediately into the second round but through the thick coat of mud that covered his entire body, I could see the goofy smile on his face that's probably still there this afternoon. Just a little wider than the rest of ours.

*Note: I was highly intoxicated by the time the wresting started and was lucky enough to have a ringside perch. I left covered in mud. Jacket and jeans probably ruined from massive mud exposure. It was rad. However, at the end of the show, I wound up scooping armfulls of mud from the stage and flinging them all over the crowd and the stage like a two-year-old partying with his poo.

**UPDATE #1: Here's a link to the Chicago Reader's coverage of the event. The tag line in Jessica Hopper's godawful rendering of the event refers to all "The Pigs... in the crowd" but then fails to mention anything about said piggish behavior in the article. Why? Well, probably because there WASN'T any piggish, frat-type behavior to speak of. Everyone was as rowdy as they were respectful. Whatever. While the article does the evening little justice, I'm in two of the pictures, so check it out.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Best Headline of the Day

John Daly shoots 69 as his wife goes to jail

Funny for on a few levels. The story's worth a read as well.

*Note: This was the headline on Yahoo's main page, the headline on the actual story is a bit different, though still amusing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Can't Maintain This High Blood Pressure

Endless, depressing, bad news. Too much TV news stressed me out this last week. Nothing like standing up in the middle of your dinner and screaming, “BULLSHIT!” at one talking head or another. Gotta take a break from current events and plug back in to whatever it is that fills my tank.

So, where oh where am I gonna turn to lighten the mood? Who's gonna come to my particular emotional rescue? Why, Richard Simmons, of course.

See, back a few years ago now, when I was down and out sick for a time, my pal Carin, sent a care package that included several fun books. One of those books, probably the greatest of the bunch, was Richard Simmons' autobiography, Still Hungry After All These Years. It almost made me burst my stitches with laughter... and that was just upon fishing it out of the box. Reading it* was another matter altogether. Holy crap, the book is the literary incarnation of the "man" himself. I mean, he writes what he thinks in the same way that he says what he thinks regardless of its (usually unintentional) side-splitting goofiness or its (also, usually unintentional) double-entendre laden gayness.

Leaving alone a study of Richard's particular pathology, let's just say that S.H.A.A.T.Y. is cover to cover self-indulgent tripe, typical of the self-congratulatory, Hollywood tell-all. But because it's written by Simmons, in keeping with the rest of his endeavors, it's totally hilarious in spite of his best intentions. An autobiography gives one a pass to paint their own portrait, and here we find him desperately trying to come across as a sympathetic and earnest hero, which, of course, makes him that much funnier.

Anyhoo - I recently remembered that on page 192, he writes about all the mail he began getting after his appearance on the early 80's TV show, Real People. Everyonene wanted a word with the guru of easy, breezy weight loss. So, naturally, he opened a post office box in Beverly Hills which, amazingly, HE STILL HAS TO THIS DAY.

So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Richard Simmons address:

Richard Simmons
PO Box 5403
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Now, after checking his website, they recommend that all personal letters be sent to the following address:

Richard Simmons
9306 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

I have no idea which one you should use, should you decide to mail the guru something. I have no intention of mailing anything at this time and only share this info with you because I had nothing else to write about today. Nevertheless, a word of advice: don't send anything you might get in trouble for in this Brave New American World. And don't be too damn jerky. This guy's made us all laugh over the years, but remember, we've been laughing AT him, not with him.

*Note: I didn't actually read the entire friggin' book, OK? In this post-Frey world, I feel I must tip my hand a bit. I did, however, read MOST of the thing. I mean, large chunks. While I was in prison. For derailing a train and killing a young girl. Happy now?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Drunken Record Reviews

Woah. Not feelin' it so far today. Maybe this has something to do with it.

So, what the hell. How 'bout two goofy old drunken record reviews that I posted on Amazon.com?

Karp - Self-Titled Lp
Five Stars - Bank Robbing Music, March 19, 2005
"Play this album extremely loud and just try not to (want to) rob a bank."

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - Sport Fishin'
Five Stars - "We're Not A F***ing Surf Band", February 18, 2004
Yup, the song title says it all. To simply narrow down this band to the parameters of a surf band would be slanderous if not plain lazy. This Steve Albini recorded gem lays bare for our ears the heights to which a raw Guitar/Bass/Drums rock and roll combo can soar. Each instrument stakes it's claim without overpowering the others while at the same time dancing arm in figurative arm with a kinda locomotive force hiding somewhere behind all the seemingly thoughtless nuggets. Rock and roll was always about making more of the whole than the sum of its parts and by God the Shadowy Men've cast a golden shadow made whole by the cross-section of masterful Guit/Bass/Drums interplay and solid, solid songwriting built upon a wild library of nuggets, hooks and tearjerkering riffs on this album. Cast off the "Kids in the Hall" pre-conceptions, turn down the lights, turn up the stereo and enjoy.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Spam Poetry V.2

OK, so I don't have any new entries in the series ready to go yet, but boingboing.net just linked to Mark Dery's blog posting about Spam Lit. Of course, he nails it better and classier than I did.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

3-Legged Dogs and the Trouble They Cause

It's times like these that I disown my children. Or I would had I any. You see, when the going gets rough and I'm at the end of my patience, all hair-pulling and hand-wringing, our dog becomes her dog. Sarah gets sole custody while I slink on over to the far side of the house and curse the day I ever agreed to bring that squatty, stubby, whiny little wiener dog up here to Chicago with us. Were we to have kids, it would be here, maybe down at the county jail, just before bailing out our troubled, rebellious son or daughter, I'd turn to Sarah and say, "There. That's your kid in there. Look what your spawn has done."

Anyway, that squatty, stubby, whiny little wiener dog of ours broke a foot last week. This was most likely due to her penchant for flinging herself off the bed at all hours of the day without regard for life and (obviously) limb despite recently reaching 13 years of age. (What is that in dog years? 70?) Now, she's peg-legging around on this goofy cast and taking some mild painkillers. Sounds pretty funny, right? It is.

But I've begun to get suspicious about that dog. I think she might be the one holding the leash. Now that she's in a position to get babied, she's milking it for all it's worth. Not only do we have to hold her ass and encased leg up while she pees and poops (stubby-legged wiener dogs do not do so well on three legs, we've discovered), but now she's realized all she's got to do is let out one of her patented, pathetic yowls and she gets carried all over the house, fed, pet, whatever. She knows this little trick gets results and employs it with an eye towards ruling the roost, I believe. She's made slaves of Sarah and I. Or, rather, like I said, just Sarah, cuz she aint my dog, dammit.

Since I don't have any pictures of our goofy little hobbled pain-in-the-ass, how 'bout a crippled wiener dog story? For Wheelie the wiener Dog by Craigslist poster, anon-8822348.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The St. Augustine volcano up in Alaska that's been a smokin' and a thundrin' for the past few months has begun what should be a series of fairly big eruptions. Check out nature's violent, chaotic display at the Alaskan Volcano Observatory's site for all the technical jib-jab and the latest web-cam shots. See the archive of web-cam shots here. They end just about the time of the latest eruption. Once you click through a bunch and get them in yr browser's cache, you can go back and click through again real fast and get a good impression of the build-up... lots of ash rain and varied camera angles. While there's no lava yet, pics from the coming days should reveal a massive loss of rock up at the peak.

What's a good soundtrack for an eruption?
Slayer? Melvins? Earth? Barry White?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Short Story Snip #1

Shelly's dad was a cop at the time. She and her cop dad and her alcoholic shut-in mother and a pair of vicious outdoor Dobermans lived next door to us on one side. On the other side, past a small yet dense patch of trees and scrub was uncle Dale's place. We never really called it Dale's house because it was never exactly a home in the proper sense. Dale bought the land real cheap back when daddy was still alive and I was just taking my first steps. April, of course, hadn't been born yet.

Dale and daddy drew up plans for the house Dale and his third wife, Aunt Dora, would start building in the spring. They had one of those pre-built trailer homes pulled in on a pair of semi-trucks that fall. I can nearly remember sitting there with momma watching them try and turn the truck around so it could back in to the lot and drop the second half of the house next to the first half and fit them together just so. Uncle Dale and daddy were out in the road blocking traffic (or what constituted traffic that far from town). Momma says I laughed and laughed at them out there in the street waving their arms and pleading with what soon became a dozen or so angry motorists after the rig had blocked the road. The driver had inadvertently backed the truck down off the road's shoulder and hung its axle up on the stone wall that ran the length of Zeke and Emma Ezekiel's sheep pasture. Luckily, the noise and bustle of the men and the semi and scared all the sheep to the far side of the hill earlier in the day. They were all safely penned by the time the big-rig tow truck dispatched from neighboring Kensuke County managed to yank the semi and its half-house payload up outta the ditch followed by about twenty feet of hundred-year-old stone wall.


Apparently, there was, for a brief time, a link to this blog on the Washington Post section of an Alito coverage story. It was a "what are the blogs saying" box with a floating list of blogs that presumably mention the hearings. Wow.

So, let me just say that I don't have much of an illustrative opinion on the hearings. They're a sham. Timid democrats afraid to get mad and starry-eyed Republicans falling all over themselves to show just how well they can suck a man's dick. (Crass, crass, crass, I know.)

It's a joke. End of story. The guy's getting in no matter who says what at this point. And no matter what HE says, he most certainly has an agenda. In the near future, we can expect from the highest court in the land, a sharp increase in corporate favoritism and green lights all the way for unprecedented Executive branch power grabs. That's all I really have to say about it. It's a sad state of affairs.

The fox is in the henhouse, kids.

A few words about commuting.

Either I’ve been a little touchy lately or damn near every single fidgety, pokey, noisy, stinky, cell phone blabbin’, breakfast eatin’, makeup puttin’ on, elbows-out newspaper readin’, rap star in his own mind, openly bitter and hostile homeless, enormous assed, full blast ipod listenin’, shameless personal story retellin’, lead-foot toe stomping, no-room-makin motherfucker in this great city decided to sit, stand or hover next to or near me on the train over the last week.

Ok. I feel better. Thank you.

Today's Alito Roundup

Cursor.org has the latest Alito roundup:

Judge Samuel 'Say Anything Sammy' Alito, is also described as being "like a very, very smart rock. And this stoniness is slowly wearing down his opposition."

'Doing the Alito Shuffle' Maureen Dowd calls the nominee "evasive, disingenuous and deferential. He fits the Bush era like a baseball glove."

"Despite my agreement with Alito on many issues," writes Jonathan Turley. "I have rarely seen the equal of Alito's bias in favor of the government. To put it bluntly, when it comes to reviewing government abuse, Samuel Alito is an empty robe."

Monday, January 09, 2006


Lost returns to TV this week after six weeks in limbo. I'm no TV junkie, but this show's got me by the short and curlys. After dinner, lights out with a bottle of wine and for 42 minutes of an hour, all seems right with the world.

In the spirit of all that:

* I've been lost in the world of coffee for the last two days. Burned coffee at two of my regular joints had me drinking tea in protest today. Tea. Hot tea. Not southern-style iced tea. Are my loafers getting lighter?

* DJ Leana on the great Boston radio station WZBC has yet to fall into her regular spring semester gig. These days, I am lost if I don't get my week started without that Monday afternoon dose of excellent music rotation interrupted occasionally by that coy, angelic voice. (Update - Apparently, she did her regular set earlier than normal today... Why didn't I get that memo?)

* This great nation's gonna be losing a whole lot if this Alito bum gets installed as the head of the Supreme Court. It only takes a few moments to cut through the spin and the posturing to see this shithead is a tool of our Right Wing corporate overlords. His judicial opinion history almost exclusively finds him siding with government and corporate powers to the detriment of the individual. If he gets passed, we're in for a Hell of a ride, folks.

* If it stays this gray and cold here in Chicago, I'm gonna get on a plane and get myself lost. Preferable somewhere sunny with tequila and loose women.

* If I keep putting off work to type unfunny, uninteresting shit like this, I just might lose my job.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Back From Vacation

And looky here, a New Year's treat:
Abramoff is gonna squeal like the stuck pig he is. I can't wait to see who he brings down with him. Republican, Democrat, shady beltway insider, whoever. While you can bet the biggest of the fish will slip out of the net, it'll nevertheless be a hoot to see who does get snagged.

Cursor.org has plenty on this topic:

Reporting that "President Bush and senior Republican lawmakers moved on Wednesday to dump thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Jack Abramoff," the New York Times notes that Abramoff "changed his look" when he "appeared in federal court in Miami to enter two guilty pleas in a related fraud case."

As Newt Gingrich claims that Democrats are "much more tolerant of corruption" than Republicans, Hullabaloo's Digby finds the press "already buckling" under "tremendous pressure from the Republicans to report this as a bi-partisan scandal," and David Sirota urges Democrats to ponder the difference between 'Getting caught vs. coming clean.'

A lead that the Justice Department "doesn't want to follow" in the Abramoff investigation, involving the lobbyist's use of a "clearly-phony" non-profit, is said to "threaten the continued existence of the right-wing noise machine itself." Plus: The key to K Street.