Faith/Off

A propos of “The Good Faith,” the play I’ve been rehearsing:

Q: Why don’t The Sopranos like Jehovah’s Witnesses?
A: The Sopranos don’t like any witnesses.

“The Good Faith” is by Harold Dean James and it opens at La Mama ETC on November 20th, which certainly is closer than it was last week, so probably I should learn my lines. It’s a musical parable about a Jehovah’s Witness (no, I’m Jewish, but thanks for asking) who goes through hell, so to speak, to reach his vision of heaven – but you really can read all about it at that link.

For those of you watching at home, this has been a shameless plug. But surely you’ve heard about the driven dyslexic bluesman who went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to Santa . . . ?

Posted in General Musings |

From Fundament to Rudiment

Pop is often phallic.Sitting around the house saying “ow” is getting old. Winter is teething on the chaw of the City. Last night our blogging compatriot Dawn Eden of The Dawn Patrol co-co-presided at her monthly tripartite Pop Gear DJ outing, spinning 60′s tunes (ranging from righteously obscure to mostly obscure) at Rififi on 11th Street, a few doors west of Veneiro’s, the classic cannoli joint I probably haven’t been in since high school. Since 60′s stuff doesn’t mostly make my dancing shoes twitch – I’m an Oldskool New Waver – I figured it would be safe to haul my tattered musculature out for a couple of hours of impeccably-researched hear-’em-now-or-hear-’em-never adventures, complete with who-on-earth-is-that vintage videos.

Though I don’t know Dawn well, I feel very attached to her these days, because she is the main reason that Pierre and I started up Pepper of the Earth. Early in October I ran across Dawn’s brief excursus on the real-life Renee (Fladen) behind one of my favorite songs ever, The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee.” I have a Renée or two in my past, about which perhaps the less said the better (phasers on “Bludgeon,” shields up). I emailed Dawn mentioning that I had managed to stock up a pathological number of cover versions of the song, and when she quoted me in a Dawn Patrol entry perfectly titled “The Banke Generation,” I realized that I’d been bit by the blog bug. Thus this, and here we are.

The Saturday crowd was warm and knew for the most part what they were getting, which means that Dawn & Co. could do what they were there to do – a comfortable mix of preaching to the converted, and leading the converted into new pastures we hadn’t browsed yet. I caught a few glimpses of Mick Jagger in the videos, at an age when he couldn’t possibly imagine ever being 30, spliced in along with hairspray do’s and mod-dot décor and snippets of movies that looked familiar, but who-on-earth-was-that, anyway? Some tune by The Grass Roots caught my ear, and I was enchanted by Geno Washington‘s cover of “Que Sera Sera,” which I had never heard before.

None matches the original, though.Dawn is now the proud owner of a CDR called “Walk Away Renee – In Excruciating Detail,” which contains 17 recordings of the song. Well, perhaps “proud” isn’t exactly the word. It includes the questionable-taste disco-lite version by The Association (“Walk away! Walk away! Renee Renee!”), the flat-out dreadful train-wreck friends-don’t-let-friends-prog-rock cover by Formula3, the clichéd live hack job sweated in by Southside Johnny (this one contemplates frustrated love as justification for moving violations), the post-Muzak glisterings of Orpheus, and so much more. Including a soft, touching, and sweet radio broadcast cover by Ida, an arch, mutant reading that somehow turns exhilarating by O Positive, and a few instrumentals and a capella takes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I did some wind-walking online this afternoon, occasionally keening over my achy breaky back. Taking my own advice from yesterday’s entry, I started poking around in the shadowy nooks where Google points to the Priory of Zion (or Scion, depending on whether you’ve read Dan Brown’s gripping “Da Vinci Code” – Brown knows better, but he’s loading his Merovingian dice a little heavily) and the other distaff views of latter-day Christianity. Soon enough I was delighted to discover that Mary Magdalene annointed Christ – this is the famous hair-wiping scene – with the contents of an alabaster container of “unguent of nard.”

This was a revelation and a joy. “Nard”? What on earth is a “nard”? I found “spikenard” easily enough, but kept going and ran a few other searches. The Acronym Finder gave up the National Association of Retail Druggists and Naval Research & Development, but also – and this has to be a joke, right? – the National Association of Rudimental Drummers. Is that anything like Remedial Drummers?

Turns out it’s not. Those Rudimental Drummers mean business. Their slogan is “If Rudimental Drumming were easy, it would be Orchestral.” You can’t make this stuff up. Just look at what you can unearth when you’re at home sitting on your fundament, saying “ow.” Rudimentary, my dear Watson, rudimentary.

Posted in General Musings |

Oh Bone Pain

ow ow owSay it with me: “Ow.” I hurt my back sometime Wednesday or Thursday. Ow. No, it wasn’t doing that, I’m not seeing anyone right now. Unless it was a mighty powerful dream. Ow. Mid-lower-back, right side, pitched just there so it clamps when I turn and yanks when I raise my arm. Ow. Putting on my shoes is a multi-ow task: ow ow ow. Comfy Skechers loafers, don’t fail me now.

And it’s cold. We had rehearsal call at 10 a.m. today, which is downright inhumane. It might have been a total loss of a daylight, but Gheree (“Jerry”), one of the actresses, brought in apple cider AND cups AND an electric warming crockpot, all without being asked. This is a degree of Saturday-morning organization and kindness aforethought that leaves me mesmerized. If I’ve got shoes, socks, and pants all happening below the waist before noon on the weekends, I figure I’m ahead of the game.

Mr Anderson! Welcome back, we missed you.Friday, back aflame and every move a potential Yowtch, I discharged my cinematic obligations and saw The Matrix Revolutions. This movie has been savaged pretty attentively without my help. I will say that if your back hurts (ow), it is a lot of peaceful fun to sit through this in the comfy cinema chairs. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, which makes the experience pretty much the opposite of The Matrix Reloaded. Make sure your local plex has stadium seating.

The scariest part is right at the end, when the Oracle meets a little girl with strange baby teeth (introduced earlier, in one of the better sequences, in the very clean Mobil Ave. subway station). “Where’s Neo?,” asks little Sati. “Oh,” says the Oracle, “he’s off catching a wave or gazing at himself in a mirror.” <– That might not be quite right, I wasn’t taking notes. “Will we see him again?,” asks little Sati. “Oh, I don’t doubt it,” replies the Oracle. “Oh NOOOOOO!,” comments the Audience. Sequel City. What next? The Matrix: Green Screen of Death. Or The Matrix Spams. Or The Matrix Has Performed an Illegal Operation and Will Shut Down.

In other news, Larry (or Lana, or Laurence) Wachowski is “probably not” getting a sex change operation. I know you were wondering.

Seriously, the picture isn’t half bad. The SFX powerhouse scene is much more interesting than the freeway chase monster from the last one was, and the Neo-preen and Smith plot, well, go ahead, you guess who wins. Yup. Lovers die, though love does not, and so forth. Excellent olive-chewing by Lambert Wilson as the pretentiously-named Merovingian*. But if you’re going to have someone as luminous, frisky, and delightful as Jada Pinkett Smith in the movie, why waste time on wooden Neo and pinched Trinity? You bore me, no links for you! <– Soup Nazi voice. Still, it’s a fun spin, especially at $6 matinee prices with comfy chairs. Ow.

Ripley RocksA few nights ago, when my back was still in one piece, I caught the Director’s Cut of Alien (the web site is fun, if you like that kind of thing). Maybe that’s how my back snapped in the first place. You should know that Alien is probably not as scary as you recall it; the 26,000 films since then that have slavishly aped Ridley Scott‘s formula and innovations and ideas, most of which were in turn purloined from the hack films of the 50′s, have ground down the experience of the Monster Suspense Flick into the experience of the Oh-This-Reminds-Me-Of-Alien flick, and the ground here is so well-walked that it’s hard as coal.

Still, Alien has that special something, and it’s also got Sigourney Weaver, who looks about 18 in the movie and was actually 30 when it was released. Women’s Studies faculty take note – she does not have top billing in this picture (that goes to Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas). Alien is a scary enough journey, full of personality where most screamers are full of hotties, and masterful in manipulating sound and compressing space. The monster is just some stunt guy in an Alien suit wearing a big shiny head, except in careful Gigeresque close-up. The supporting cast runs rings around the material, which you don’t often see in the genre. But this is a star vehicle as sure as Nostromo is a plodding factory ship: Weaver and Scott rule everything about your life for the two hours they’ve got you in hand.

Ooooh. Ow.

* If you’re not a link-clicker: the Merovingian is haphazardly named after an ancient European dynasty, which often keeps paranoid company with the Priory of Zion, the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, the sang real Grail Family bloodlines sprung from Christ via Mary Magdalene, the Masons and the P2 Lodge, and so forth. You can have a lot of pointless fun reading about this stuff on the World Weird Web.

Pierre, who was repairing the damage done here by my inspired use of control characters in the text, adds this:

FYI the Merovingian dynasty was the first Frankish dynasty, about 450 to 751, centered over Belgium and northern France. Most famous king was Clovis, who converted to christianity at the urging of his wife, Clotilde, and helped consolidate his power by co-opting the mostly christian Gallo-Romans. He defeated the Alamans, Wisigoths, and Burgundians, and pretty much reigned over all of present-day France and Belgium, but his kingdom was split between his four sons, and not reunited until Charlemagne. To be more precise, Charlemagne was a Carolingian, the dynasty that followed. Named after his grand-father Charles Martel, who stopped the Arab invasion at Poitiers.

I knew this, of course. Because I saw Pippin in high school.

Posted in About Last Night |

A Poor Excuse To Be Late For Beer

I did not overhear what prompted the comment, nor did I hear what the reply was. No matter; some phrases carry the weight of full paragraphs, and this is one of them. A poor excuse to be late for beer. Especially Belgian beer at the Blind Tiger, Wednesday night.

As usual, the place was packed by 6 p.m. and the regulars were in position. I dug right in with a Binchoise Amber, a floral, sweet beer redolent of honeysuckle and orange blossom; a relative lightweight at 6.5%, it is nevertheless a worthy reminder of its more potent siblings, especially the splendid Noël, which we hope to see again on these shores in the near future.

The “last keg in America” of Rodenbach Red, the classic Flemish sour red beer, was a disappointment. It is not clear if this was a result of the dumbing down process that has plagued the brewery since its acquisition by Palm, but it has lost all its original character –not a bad beer yet by any means, just not as distinctive and interesting as it used to be.

From Belgian to Belgian-style, Weyerbacher Quad, from Pennsylvania, is big, in the recently invented “quadruple” style. This particular keg from 2002 was also somewhat disappointing. A dominant single-note of raisins overwhelmed everything else. At 12% alcohol, one should expect more, and such a strong brew should be able to deliver more for years and years.

Quick tastes of the Southampton Triple (L.I.) and the Allagash Triple (ME) were spot on, the former more assertive than the latter, with the classic estery nose, sweet with banana and honey. Not a style I much like, however. Heavyweight Special Reserve (NJ), an aged version of their Lunacy, was farther from the triple style, and more interesting, spicier.

I did not have enough time for the other nine beers on the list, among which Hair Of The Dog’s Fred, Achouffe’s McChouffe, and Victory’s Golden Monkey are sure winners.

In what has lately become a Wednesday transition, beer then leaves the stage to burlesque. In a break with recent custom, Low presented a clever retelling of the “good bits” of Jean Luc Godard’s Une femme est une femme, with Anna Karina and Jean Paul Belmondo. Amber Ray, Julie Atlas Muz, and Ms Saturn, with the help of The Great Russello in mufti and Low manager Ariana in drag, recreated the strip-club scenes from the movie, to the songs of Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf. A clever idea well brought to life! If only Low had better beer…

Posted in About Last Night |

It Takes The Village

Once a YearFriday was unseasonably balmy, and seasonably Halloween. At 6:30 p.m. in the staging area along Sullivan Street the 30th annual Village Halloween Parade was spinning up, slowing down, prancing and primping, jockeying for position, running over the occasional hapless banner, and clashing out music and high-watt publicity from every rubberized pore. I’m riding the runners on the Temptress float, as planned. While Temptress adjusts costume and makeup, the band pumps through a quick sound check and plays along with the other floats moving into position. The Nasty Habits dancers squeeze and squeak and do their Nasty Habits thing. Me? I’m the guy blowing up the huge inflatable Corona-bottle sponsor balloons, each the size of a small mini-van. O tempora! O mores!

Sixth Avenue doesn’t get closed correctly, or summat, and it’s a good 90 minutes past start time when the first of the floats lurches out along the parade route. The actual ride up the avenue is always a bit of a blur; it’s a funny thing streaming past several hundred thousand people, dancing along and waving. We’re not built to process crowds, we were never minted to grasp scale.

You really only need to know one song to serenade a parade, since by the time you hit the bridge the people you started with are already a block away. The band does a couple of originals because ya gotta, but most of the ride is given over to tunes that will charm a throng in six bars or less. How many times did they do “Time Warp”? A zillion, give or take. Also “Rockaway Beach” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.” At first I thought Joey would be spinning in his grave, but it occurs to me that he of all people would surely understand. Someone very much like me once described Temptress as “a glamdrag romp in the very best of bad tongue-in-someone-else’s-cheek taste,” and I’ll stand by that now.

This year there are a lot of butterflies. Some brusque person is dressed as a wonderful eyeball, complete with trailing optic nerve, and every time I try to get a picture he or she ducks and skips away. Later, somewhere up around 14th Street, I realize that the person inside the eyeball is filming, and doesn’t want DV footage of me taking a picture. Note to Eyeball: think it through. If you don’t want people taking pictures, wear a crappy costume. The level of gaze and reflected gaze is clever, but c’mon now.

Temptress - the Odd Squad CDA lissome Liberté roller blader whisks up and down the line of floats in great scoops, elegantly dipping and waving a full-sized American flag, Les Mis stylee (I thought Liberty was supposed to be topless, but not in this parade). Working the edge of the crowd is a woman with a plastic window mounted in front of her and a tray with a phone handset attached at the bottom; dressed in orange, she’s a prisoner on visiting day, and as we breeze past thumping out, oh surely it must have been “Time Warp,” she persuades a cop to pick up the phone, to the bemusement of all. She’s got her own phone on her side, and she begins to weep. She puts her hand up against the plastic window, playing out a wife-in-jail scene we’ve all seen before. The cop retreats. The crowd roars.

There’s a dapper guy in a captain’s outfit with an orange ironing-board Staten Island Ferry fastened to his waist, and now and then he smacks it against things in his path. There are Spongebobs and George Bushes, a fellow in a go-cart coffin is zipping around, and in the endless wait in the staging area, before we subside into a compressed Battle of the Amplifiers (“Shut up and let me play!” “No, you shut up and let me play!” – it is New York, after all), Temptress gets a meticulously decked-out Frankenstein to dance like the old days. He’s just a guy in a very fine Frankie costume, of course, but he’s forgotten he’s wearing it, he’s bopping around making small talk, doing the “you rock” fingers at the band and screaming “yeeeeaaaaah,” and you know – it’s creepy. It’s just creepy.

Posted in About Last Night |

5ive Years in Reverse

Top 5 Halloween costumes over the years (in no particular order):

Obelisk, Rome, but no Linus here5. Halloweening in Rome in the Via dei Serpenti, I take an appliance box of some kind, cut and trim it to a tapered point, festoon it with bodacious hieroglyphs, put it on my head, wrap myself in a bedsheet toga, and go as an obelisk. The Italians are confounded and good-natured about the whole thing, but it is not, perhaps, a high point of cultural exchange. We do not entirely grok. The temerarious among them ask if Asterix is coming too. I love them for that.

5. Berlin Mitte in, um, 1992. The Germans are lustily enthusiastic, but they just don’t get it. (This can be said about nearly everything concerning Germans, and it’s often endearing.) Their kultur-compass fixes Halloween somewhere between Walpurgisnacht (April 30th), which is the kind of dark party we just don’t have around here, and a volleyball game. I’m living out of a backpack and don’t have much in the way of extra clothes, so Beate and I bike down to the used place where they sell bulk-dyed stuff by the kilo. We kit me out for a couple of marks in a red shirt, red bib-overall shorts, red cap, red socks, ratty red sneakers. A red kerchief. Paint my face white and sketch in a hammer-and-sickle around my left eye, and I am – wait for it – the Last Ghost of Communism! . . . No, they didn’t think it was very funny down at the Kulturfabrik Halloween Party either.

5. Berlin Mitte in, um, 1993. I’m still living out of the same backpack, so back we bike to the Zweite Hand store for a kilo or two of pale green clothes and presentable blacks this time. I’ve done a Sam Shepard play at the Freunde der Italienischen Oper (long story) English-language theatre in the intervening year, so I have busted-in boots. Add a cowboy hat, sheriff’s star, vest with strategic matching holes in front and back through which we pull red kerchiefs, symbolizing blood. Dig out last year’s facepaint and go ghoulish white again, carry hand-pump air rifle. This time? Second-Fastest Gun in the West! They love me down at the Kulturfabrik. Sorta.

Hat5. Somewhere in New York, somewhere in the 80′s. I’m in love with a blonde bartender who is teaching me the fine points of lime slices and Corona bottles. The things a guy will do for blonde bartenders. She’s working Halloween night, so I decide to do it up. My hair is fairly long at this point; I bleach it blonde. Jeans, rock-stud belt. I borrow a Guns N Roses T-shirt from my friend Monica and pin a graduation mortarboard tassel-hat to my new frizzy mane. I am – oh, wait for it – Axl Rhodes Scholar! Yay! . . . She doesn’t get it. At all.

5. Late high school or so, New York City. Skyscrapers, and evethang. A couple of friends and I are invited to Frann’s Halloween party in Morningside Heights. Frann is at Columbia, and this is all very exciting because we don’t generally get invited to college parties (we will demonstrate over the course of the evening that there is a very good reason for this). We are – how to put it? – inattentive giddy high school kids, more likely to burst into Tom Lehrer songs and lengthy recitations of Robert Klein routines than to, say, settle in for a beer or two. They hadn’t invented ADHD back then, it was just called “exuberance.”

So we forget all about costuming, and at the last minute we decide to tie our ankles together and go as a Charm Bracelet (my idea, yes). We do this before we leave the house to walk the mile up Broadway. About three blocks along we all fall down crossing 101st Street (“Left! Right! No, wait, my left! Whoops!”), and it’s kind of fun, so we do it again every few blocks. We arrive at Frann’s in high color, breathless and fizzy. She buzzes us in, we come to the door. She opens the door, someone pushes someone else, and we topple in, a big giggly flailing heap of tangled balance. Did I mention that I had what would have been a roaring crush on Frann, if I hadn’t been so fizzy and likely to burst into Tom Lehrer songs? That should be no surprise.

But this is really about Frann’s costume. When we extricate, we find her and her roommate in matching gray outfits: gray shoes, gray socks, gray shirts, gray jeans. Gray nail polish, gray makeup, gray scarves in their hair. They are Shadows of Their Former Selves.

4. Honorable Mention goes to the short red crushed velvet dress I wore Junior Year in high school, give or take. It wasn’t much of a costume, but my first-ever real girlfriend, Janine, was my fashion consultant for the thing, and we had so much fun trying it on in the dressing room at Trash and Vaudeville that we actually got thrown out of the store. In the 70′s. What would Lydia Lunch have said?

Coming soon: Halloween 2003.

Posted in General Musings |

Feel The Thrill Of An Extra Ball

The Monopoly pinball machine is not new (it came out in 2001), but that was the first time I saw one. Tucked away in the corner by the backstage door at Southpaw, it glowed and glittered in the darkened room, but its most spectacular feature –a sort of unconcealed Easter Egg– is the digital ticker display on the Electric Company’s billboard, which streams an endless series of nutty slogans, some game-related, some not. “feel the thrill of an extra ball” caught my attention right as I walked in, and I could not help staring at such profound thoughts as “quality cntrol approved this message”, “Monopoly pinball–not vaporware”, “the electricity running this display was recycled from unlit dots in the previous message”, “the next message is the next message is…” and “watching this message will make you watch this message”. “participate”.

But enough about pinball, which I haven’t really played in over 30 years anyway… Southpaw was running very late, as it usually does. It was a good thing in that it allowed me to catch the entire set by The Tombstoners, a side project of Les Sans Culottes’ mastermind monsieur Clermont Ferrand, aka Bill Carney. They answer the not-so-bizarre bizarre question “what if the Rolling Stones had been a country band dabbling in rock & roll?”; a Charlie Watts look-alike on drums does not hurt either… With a sound that borrows heavily from Dead Flowers and Honky Tonk Women by way of George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, and Joe Ely, they play the kind of rollicking honky-tonk music that confirms Brooklyn as the Country Capital of the Tri-State area. Their lyrics are characterized by strong leitmotifs made of repeated lines or phrases in clusters of two, three, as many as six or more, that assume the role of the chorus in more traditionally structured songs. Very effective, and very economical to boot!

Winterville, Southern exiles in Brooklyn, play exquisite fiddle, guitar, and banjo old-time music behind the lead vocals of Craig Schoen and Laura Comerford. If “mellifluous” hadn’t acquired the dismissive overtones that it has, it would be the perfect word for this terrific combo, who do not play out nearly often enough!

The Jack Grace Band now boasts a female backup singer, Daria, the new Mrs Grace. In a set that mixed new songs with old songs in new clothing, Jack Grace expounded, over his lead guitarist’s Santana-like lines, on his familiar themes of alcohol, cigarettes, and automotive vehicles (but not dogs, surprisingly for a band with such country roots!) and closed with his obligatory cover of Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line.

Southpaw was running very very late, as it usually does. It was a very bad thing, as there were only about 20 people left in the room by the end of Jack Grace’s set. And it was almost 4 a.m. by the time I made it home.

Posted in About Last Night |

I Wanna Be Your Kazoo!

“I wanna be your kazoo!” a member of the audience shouted at Erika Simonian in the middle of her set at Galapagos Thursday night. She was busy intertwining said kazoo with her microphone cord, to hold it in place for the right moment, at the CD release party for her new CD “All The Plastic Animals“. On stage with drummer and bass player, Erika can clearly rock –but we knew that already from her work with the Sprinkle Genies. Whether she needs to, or should at all while doing her solo material, is doubtful. Not that any of it was any less than very good; even under less than perfect circumstances, Erika’s extraordinary voice carries the day. Perhaps it was the big, high stage with curtains, or perhaps the vast industrial hangar feel of the bar room at Galapagos, or just the fact that the band is a very recent project that still needs tuning, but the songs felt less intense, less emotional that at her recent solo shows, or especially the few times she played as a duet with her former Erics and Week At The Lake co-conspirator Todd Satterfield.

Happily, the CD does recapture beautifully the more intimate feel of those live performances. It is without a doubt just as satisfying as her terrific 2002 debut solo CD, “29 1/2“. I shall certainly have more to say about it in the future.

Debby Schwartz started the evening with a short solo acoustic set, full of her trademark laments of discontent, sung over delicate guitar finger-picking and strumming in alternate tunings (which eventually caused a string to snap with a loud twang as she was retuning it).


A short hop on the L train, and I arrive in time for the memorably named duo Scorpio-Thunderbolt (aka Richard and Jennifer) at Sidewalk. Surrealistic vocals in English (mostly), Swedish and French over fast –sometimes frantic– guitar strummings with echoes of Wild Thing and reverb-laden cavalcades of surf licks. The lyrics evoke images of Salvador Dali, René Magritte and Paul Delvaux running wild in incomprehensible landscapes dotted with leather T-shirts and vampires (in Hoboken), and shoes and ships and sealing-wax … well, not quite sealing wax yet, though I do firmly expect pigs with wings any day now…

From dada to roots, and last stop for the evening, Trina Hamlin, solo at the Living Room. Trina is very busy, she’s on the road constantly and does not play in New York as often as she used too –our loss, their gain– so it was a special treat to see her in the new home of her old haunt, the Living Room. This set focused mostly on older material, including the beautiful Jacaranda Tree with Sam Shaber on backing vocals, the show stopper “from the steamy swamps of Minnesota” Down To The Hollow , closing with back to back covers of the Beatles’ Oh Darling and her unforgettable a-capella version of Jimi Hendrix’s Angel.

Posted in About Last Night |

Happy Boo Day to You

Flower Power Very Scary Devil
Rock Ever Onward The Madding Crowd
Not Really a Girl Not Really a Ramone

These past few years I’ve ridden the Temptress float in the annual Halloween Parade. Same again this time out, so off I go to wrassle up some film, have a quick meeting in Park Slope, and then head down to the staging area on lower Sixth Avenue. This year I’m the lame guy who didn’t put together a costume. Again. I’m, uh “With The Band,” that’s my costume this year. Yeah. That’s the ticket. Photos above are from the 2001 parade, in a city still reeling from September 11th but putting on its best brave face.

Posted in General Musings |

Rodents and Philology

I mentioned to Linus in email that in my earlier ramblings on mice and men I had actually left out one layer, which had put me on the track of musculus: in older French slang, a bulge on the biceps is called une souris, i.e. “a mouse”. Latin had two words for mouse –mus, which is related to both “mouse” and “muscle”, and sorex, which means mouse but not muscle (as far as I know), and is the origin of souris.

To which Linus replied within minutes:

In Yiddish, of course, this is spelled “tsuris,” because if you have one of those mouse-like bulges of muscle then clearly you haven’t been eating enough of your hard-working Mother’s meals, so maybe you think food leaps out of the stove already done, and not like someone has to stand there in the hot kitchen stirring and cooking it, but then what would a prince like you know about the hard life your mother leads putting food on the table and clothes on your back and making sure you have enough so you can go out and fool around with those friends of yours who aren’t even mostly Jewish?

Posted in General Musings |