Friday, July 28, 2006

You would think

that a lazy summer with fuck-all to do & forbidding weather would provide fertile soil for this blog to flourish, explode in a profusion of succulent posts, raise its leafy branches toward the sun in vegetal ecstasy. But nope, not really. The most I can muster is changing my screen name. Maybe I'll update my links in a day or two.

In a few days, the yeasty ferment in my head will surely yield a robust wine. Maybe I'll get around to all those things I'd planned to blog about. An interview with Mr. Geography, the Toronto cabbie. Or Morgellons, or A.G. Rizzoli. Or maybe I'll release an anthology of ass jokes. One never knows. Always different, always the same.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just a coupla suggestions to make your life better

  • Cupcakes: gently insert Magnolia Bakery cupcakes up your ass. They're just fucking cupcakes. Jesus.
  • Gum: Big League Chew, original flavor.
  • Brownies: Cafe Abir at Divisadero & Fulton in SF used to have really good brownies from some bakery or other. Mebbe still does. (And used to have $2 Happy Pappy hours, which simply could not be beaten with a stick. Now it's $3 a pint.) Oh, also Marvelous Market in DC.
  • Cookies: the little polvorones they sell at Cafe Pick Me Up on 9th & A in the East Village. Pecan. Good.
  • Ice cream: Il Laboratorio Del Gelato, on 95 Orchard St. in the Lower East Side, is zer gut.
  • Pie: try Walker's Pie Shop on Solano Avenue in Albany, just north of Berkeley. 'Twas owned by the Walkers forever, then sold to an employee who's now owned it forever.
  • Nuts: Mike Krukow on a foul-tip cockshot to Mike Piazza: "Right in the Sacagawea," which was funny because I am six years old.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Visit to Ron Kittle's House of Fancy Salads

It has now been one year since this humble blog was born. Although even my fiercest enemies would allow that I abhor displays of sentimental and boastful self-regard, I shall herewith permit myself the merest dram of retrospective whimsy. Let us recap the Year That Was:

July 2005: A clamor arises spontaneously from the absurdly eclectic group of writers, thinkers, astronauts, and lingerie models that constitutes my inner circle of friends. A new voice is needed, clamors the clamor. The world desperately needs a half-assed mixture of corn chips, pie, sports talk, and self-indulgent twaddle. Reluctantly and with a heavy heart, I start this blog. The resulting sensation evokes the media circus surrounding Frank Stallone's recording debut.

August 2005: After a month of entertaining the masses to the very edge of coma, CC&P makes a splash in the political world by publishing the first pictures of Duke Cunningham's red asshole. "Buoy Toy," indeed.

September 2005: A "very special" month of CC&P, devoted entirely to raising awareness of eczema.

October 2005: CC&P hits a milestone, as its Value Over Replacement Blog hits null.

November 2005: Pretty much dead air. I categorically deny but nonetheless encourage speculation that I was ghostwriting the entire Paris Review while CC&P lay dormant.

December 2005: I briefly allow comments. This proves to be an error in judgment, as my wit and wisdom are outshined, and certain nitpicking motherfuckers insist on "correcting" my "gross errors" and "highlighting" my "blatant plagiarism." No comments!

January 2006: Entertainment Weekly picks CC&P as one of its five "Most Redundant Blogs."

February 2006: Blog fight! Who can forget the fireworks that ensued when I implied that Gawker was nothing more than a conduit for media and pop culture mockery? You would think that this apparently uncontroversial thesis would attract little attention. It's a real shame that zealots seized on the throwaway line about Jessica Coen being a Holocaust denier.

March 2006: Despite repeated assertions in CC&P that Jessica Coen is a Holocaust denier, nobody paid any attention, leading a friend to gently suggest that I stop attempting to manufacture controversy for purposes of publicity.

April 2006: I contemplate changing my blogging name to Rufus the Chippy Highboy, then decide to wait for the right cultural moment.

May 2006: Nothin'. A few crappy jokes, an unpleasant case of dropsy, and evenings spent lancing boils. A dark time.

June 2006: A resurrection of sorts, as Cat Fancy Online links to my post about feline dyspepsia. "Both informative and entertaining," says the redoubtable rag.

I hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have. Spoiler Alert: year #2 may or may not involve a move to Baltimore and ceaseless prattle about crabs.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I got spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle / As I go ridin' merrily along

Portishead is still beavering away at its new album, which is rumored to involve the Tunguska meteorite explosion, balloonists, Groucho Marx, and scraps of sub-Tin-Pan-Alley lyrics. Corn Chips & Pie managed to listen to a bootlegged tape of rough cuts, and I can report that Beth Gibbons has adopted an unconvincing Jamaican accent that fits rather poorly with the Leftover Salmon jam-band noodling in the background. Their cover of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" is similarly unexpected and unwelcome.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I am hot enough for ya

"...I allowed myself the rare treat of a satisfied smile." --Graham Greene, Travels With My Aunt

Imagine a time when such things were rationed, savored, meted out with the precision of a titrating lab technician. I can't. The satisfied smile as "rare treat" is as alien to me as the notion of a once-a-year Wonka bar. It's not wartime. We are a people blessed with plenty. I don't exfoliate using a makeshift brush constructed from balsa wood and rationed bulgur wheat. Um, hello. I have a luxury brush with all-natural badger bristles and a walnut no-slip handle. Why not use what God provides? I'm not a goddamn ascetic. We're the greatest nation on earth, and we're at our economic zenith. If we have the means, why not employ them?

So look, I'm not going to apologize for my lack of thrift. Frugality is for pussies. If you want to live like a scuffling desert rodent, hoarding colored string until some imagined apocalypse, go right ahead. I'm going to exfoliate with the implied sanction and backing of a 12 trillion dollar nation-state, and I'm going to stuff my face with an entire box of chocolate-covered blueberries, and I will smoke a bowl & watch the old VHS tape of "The NBA's 100 Greatest Plays," and I'm going to do it with a satisfied goddamn smile on my face. The entire time. All day, all night, smug as a bug in a rug, smiling with an insufferable degree of superiority, daring America's enemies to punch me in the throat.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Re: the glaring lack of jetpack transportation

It is the year two thousand and six, Common Era. Let's get cracking.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Final Mediterranean nuggets

  • Italian women: absolutely brazen and incorrigible. They would stare at me with the intensity of industrial lasers, daring me to glance in their direction, undressing me with their eyes. Then, of course, they would hurriedly re-dress me with their eyes. I would be optically attired with such panicked regret that I'd end up with mismatched socks, boxers on backward, etc., which is really the most annoying part of the whole deal.
  • I was shocked and appalled at Zidane's soiling of the beautiful game. Sorry, wait-- I was 100% behind it. If an Italian man pinches your nipple and insults your dying mother, action must be taken (I think we can all agree it would be kosher if he first insults your dying mother, then pinches your nipple). I wonder what would have happened to Materazzi's face if Zidane had chosen to go upstairs instead. I suspect Materazzi would now have the imprint of his own face in the back of his head, like Han Solo in carbonite.
  • Final days of cycling in the Alps: fan-pooping-tastic. I took the bike on ski lifts straight up the sides of Mont Blanc & other worthy rocks, and biked down single-tracks & dirt roads, losing 5000 feet of elevation. Unreal. Also: ibex sighting. I shot it & made jerky.
  • If Tuscans don't start putting salt in their bread, I'm going to have to call in American air strikes. Get on it, people.
  • Look, I know one shouldn't look to tourist guidebooks for history, any more than one should look for the best gelato joints in Gibbon. And writing about areas that have gone through recent conflicts certainly must be a politically tricky business. But the Croatia Rough Guide's light touch on Tudjman is pretty ridiculous. "Bull Connor's firm defense of segregation won him few friends in the civil rights community, and his perceived excesses with fire hoses and fierce attack dogs led some to regard him with disapproval; however, many ordinary Americans revered Connor for his sincere stance on a tough issue."
  • Viva grappa; viva limoncello; viva, I say.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Luck of Corn Chips and Pie

Like Barry Lyndon, I will refuse to give you a travelogue, telling you how tedious travelogues can be. And then I will give you a travelogue. Also like Barry Lyndon, I cut a fine figure indeed in my plumed hat while riding in my coach-and-six; my sword is still warm with the blood of a man who claimed differently, I'm not afraid to own.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing that we're talking about here. My last day in Italy, and I blundered upon the biggest fucking party I have ever seen. How big? In American terms, lessee: it was as if the Chicago Cubs had won the World Series over Hitler and Hirohito, in the Castro, on Halloween, uh, and then throw in the Puerto Rican day parade. I came upon a mob of Italians staring up at a hotel window, chanting and roaring. After forcing my way to the middle of the mob, Gattuso himself stuck his bearded face out of the window, to a massive cheer. For the next few minutes, various Azzurri made cameos out the window, and then one of them held the actual bleeding World Cup out the window, like the Pope dangling Michael Jackson's baby over the balcony.

Then the parade commenced: Buffon actually sprayed champagne on me from the top of a bus, which is surely my best celebrity encounter of all time. I followed the surging crowd down towards the Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, and it felt like I was part of a victorious army marching on Rome. Without the raping and burning, of course. Hundreds of thousands of people clogging the streets, climbing buses, rocking (but not quite overturning; Detroit still has one up on Rome) cars, and singing that goddamned White Stripes riff all night until I began to have auditory hallucinations on the flight home.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Polenta nuggets

Heading home tomorrow. There will be summing-up. But first, some brief notes:

  • In retrospect-- and, mind you, only in retrospect-- I should not have worn a beret & carried a giant baguette to the main square in Pisa, where I watched Italy win the World Cup. It was an error in judgment for which I paid dearly.
  • The spectacle of the celebrations (about which more shortly) aside, it was actually pretty frustrating. I was right there with the mob, right there with their excitement and anticipation, up until the middle of the shootout. And then about half the crowd (normal-looking guys and girls, nary a black shirt or swastika tattoo in sight) starts making monkey noises when a French player of African descent lines up for his kick. Aaaand they lost me. Jesus fucking Christ. It was like making sweet love to a supermodel, nearing the Special Moment.... and then having Goebbels accidentally walk in on you. Ah, those liberal-minded Europeans. Fuck 'em.
  • And then it felt as if the country had just had a revolution. Statue-climbin', beer-sprayin', flag-pokin', tractor-drivin', bomb-detonatin', mob huggin' celebration. What can be said? I have never seen anything like it.
  • But here's the great mystery: how did the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" become the theme song for the Azzurri? All goddamned night, the crowd was singing the bassline, over and over and over and over. "Ohhh, oh-oh-oh-oh ohhh, whoa!" And to think I really liked that song once. "Eh, Fran-ce-si bas-tar-di!" Etcetera.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I am a stout bearded Walser man

When my friends say I remind them of Hannibal, the great Carthaginian general, I usually just demur modestly. But perhaps there's something to the comparison after all. I disappear for a while, and it's unclear where I've gone. Then bam! I take you by surprise from the Alps.

So yes, I am in the Val D'Aosta. And I have a few things to get off my chest. Several blog posts have arisen while I've been cycling, but as I have lacked internet access, these gems simply go to waste, like semen into a teenager's dirty sock. I will put these in bullet points to accommodate your miserably short attention span.

  • One looks back at certain phrases one has uttered with incredulity. Did one really say that? Without irony? Yes, one did. There are two basic classes of these phrases: the first class is the Unforgiveable class. Take, for example, anything you said about Milan Kundera when you were 19. The second class is the Only Comprehensible In Context class. When I was traveling in Mongolia two years ago, I had the occasion to tell several people, "I hope your livestock are fattening up nicely." I said it in Mongolian, of course-- perhaps poor Mongolian, since it was from a crappy phrasebook. But it seemed to be received with appreciation. And I said it without irony or excessive self-consciousness. Nothing would have made me happier at the time than plump livestock. I was united with these nomadic herders in the common hope for morbidly obese goats and camels.
  • This trip hasn't provided me with any comparable phrases, though I have had plenty of the stilted political conversations you tend to have when traveling in a country where your limited grasp of the language forces you to conduct all conversations in broken English. I have said many stupid things in this way. "Yes, the Marshall Plan helped Europe. But I don't think Bush is so good. So why do you like Berlusconi?"
  • I also repeated the phrase "Ah, so you are gathering rosemary" several times, pretty much just to hear myself speak. A kindly old Croatian man was gathering sacks of rosemary on a mountain trail while listening to martial-sounding music on a transistor radio, beating out the dried branches onto blankets spread over the ground. We smiled and spoke incomprehensible monosyllables to one another, until I understood what the hell he was doing. "Ah, so you are gathering rosemary." "Bog."
  • I hadn't seen this much good-natured anti-German sentiment since Hogan's Heroes: when Italy defeated Germany 2-0 in the semifinal, the country fucking exploded. I will spare you the details, but let's just say I got more than my share of man-hugs. And this time, it was they who held on uncomfortably long.