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First of all, I feel bad for all the women who have the name “Katrina” because now that name is associated with all sorts of grief and destruction. If you haven’t heard by now, Hurricane Katrina, which would have been a category 6 storm if there was a category six, has utterly destroyed parts of the deep south. New Orleans has been washed out and I feel lucky to have experienced Nawlins twice before this disaster occurred. I’m sure that after the weeks, months or even years it’ll take to dry out the Big Easy pass that the city will be forever different – that there always will be a dividing line around this event, sort of how 9/11 has changed NYC. You were either there before, during or after Katrina. Period.

I take offense to the idea that Hurricane Katrina was “our tsunami” (many media outlets are using this as a catchy headline) because the tsunami came out of nowhere with no warning. People knew for days that this storm was coming. People knew for decades that the levees in place would not support the city if a large category five storm hit. While the destruction of property was in some ways a given, regardless of what the authorities said or did, the loss of life could have been prevented if more people left when they could have. I myself have put off buying emergency supplies in case there is another blackout or disaster in NYC because I’ve been lazy (the worst excuse of all). Well, what’s happening in New Orleans is about as swift a kick in the ass as there can be. My next freshdirect order will contain plenty of gallons of water, batteries, etc. I’m on the 24th floor in my new building – even a simple blackout will cause big problems in my life.

Back to the storm. First, the NY Times has a very good map for those that want to know exactly what parts of Nawlins have been affected. It was helpful to know that the St. Bernard Parrish is totally under water while the French Quarter is relatively okay (aside from rampant looting – more on that later). Next, I found this photo gallery of the destruction from the San Fransisco Chronicle through Google News. To me, it provides the best look at how awful this event is and I suggest you look at all of them, especially the captions. Pictures as the most potent and powerful way to convey how bad things are. That large crowd stranded on a bridge? Those would be inmates from from the Orleans Parish Prison. Scary stuff.

There are just so many different ways that this is bad. Here are just a few:

  • 80% of New Orleans is under water, some of it over 20 feet deep. I love NO and feel as if a friend, not just a city, is drowning
  • Bixoli, Mississippi, the city made famous by Neil Simon among others, has been utterly destroyed as well
  • Tulane’s fall semester, and maybe year, is probably cancelled. Who knows how many other elementary schools, high schools and colleges, teachers, staff and students are affected not just in that region but nationwide. A friend’s daughter was supposed to start her freshman year at Tulane this week. The whole family was there as part of a big “goodbye and goodluck” deal and they were lucky enough to rent a car and drive to Houston before the storm hit or else who knows what would have happened to them. Maybe they would have gone to the Superdome, which as of now has no A/C and whose toilets are overflowing. I just heard that those in the Superdome are being evacuated to the Astrodome as of tomorrow. I guess for some right now its “dome sweet dome” until who knows when.
  • 25% of US oil refining happens in this region. Many people do not realize their are two parts of the oil issue to consider – production and refinement. Blowing up pipelines in Iraq affects production. Katrina has created a problem where while we do have oil, we do not have the ability to turn that crude oil into gasoline. Our country has lost a quarter of that ability for who knows how long. You know its bad when you see deep sea oil rigs just floating around and when oil tanks look like lily pads when viewed from the sky. I’m betting that gas will hit $4.00 a gallon by the end of the week.
  • Once again, the worst of humanity has surfaced in the face of rampant looting and violence. There are wide spread stories of people getting carjacked as they tried to make their way out of the city. Looting is rampant and in many cases occurring in front of overwhelmed police officers. “These are not individuals looting,” Colonel Terry Ebbert, the city’s director of homeland security, said. “These are large groups of armed individuals.” It’s not hard to imagine that parts of Nawlins are currently under militia/criminal control. I wonder how long they will remain that way.

One thing is for sure: I’ll be donating money, hopefully through my company as they have in the past matched donations when disasters have struck, as soon as possible. I encourage you to donate as well. If you have any views, opinions, thoughts and/or if you know someone affected by this tragedy, please share. Part of having a site is being able to form an instant virtual community. I know that this event has really affected how I feel about a lot of things and I’ve shared with you how I feel. Now, if you want, its your turn. Until then, I’ve provided after the jump the lyrics to “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin. I immediately started thinking of this song when I heard that the levees were giving way. The lyrics are pretty spot on to what a Nawlins resident must be thinking/facing right now.

“When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin from their fourth and untitled “Zoso” album:
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break, [X2]
When The Levee Breaks I’ll have no place to stay.
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan, [X2]
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.
Don’t it make you feel bad
When you’re tryin’ to find your way home,
You don’t know which way to go?
If you’re goin’ down South
They got no work to do,
If you don’t know about Chicago.
Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.
All last night sat on the levee and moaned, [X2]
Thinkin’ about me baby and my happy home.
Going, going to Chicago… Going to Chicago… Sorry but I can’t take you…
Going down… going down now… going down….


Liberality For All

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A new comic titled “Liberality For All” is launching in October. Its premise is slightly more original than the usual “I was bitten by a radioactive spider” deal:

It is 2021, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. America is under oppression by ultra-liberal extremists which have yielded governing authority to the United Nations. It is up to an underground conservative group (known as F.O.I.L.) led by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North to thwart Ambassador Usama Bin Laden’s plans to nuke New York City.

The big idea behind the series is what if today’s anti-war liberals were in charge of the American government and had been since 9/11? What would be the results of fighting “a more sensitive war on terror” and looking to the corrupt United Nations to solve all of America ‘s problems? I can think of only two words – “Oy vey.” My favorite part is how “Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North are each uniquely endowed with special abilities devised by a bio mechanical engineer affectionately nicknamed ‘Oscar’.” Gotta love that First Amendment thang.

Thanks go to Mr. Neu for making my day. I’m going to have to get this book and just laugh my liberal ass off…


VMAs Win in the “We Suck” Category

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At first, Jessie and I tried to keep a diary of the hell that was watching the MTV VMA show on Sunday night:

9:24: Between R. Kelly’s bad lip syncing and listening to the lead singer of the Killers sound as if he ran a marathon before he sang a single word, all we can think is, “What the hell is going on? How low can the production value go?” I really liked Mr. Brightside before I heard it live – damn you MTV! A camera pans the crowd: Yeah, look at us, whoo! We’re at a trendy hotel watching a bad reality show pretending to be a relevant music awards show! Some thoughts: Who is Hillary Duff dating and why is he so much cooler than she is? Why do we need to listen to Diddy explain his 27th name change? When did MTV start sucking this badly?

9:32: Thank god something good like a new Beavis and Butthead skit happened! I am Poseiden! I am the God of Poop! Love it. Maybe the show will improve. I pray that it will because I’m watching no matter what as my wife needs to see if certain ads actually air. Oh joy of joys. We even had to stop TiFauxing “Rome” on HBO in order to watch this shite.

End of log. There was no need to keep going. The show did not improve as hoped. The rest of the evening was even worse. MC Hammer? Why? My advice to you is to fade away senor. I can go on and on….I won’t.


Lipso Nava Fan Club

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Johnny Goodtimes (yes that is his real name), is the leader of a Quizzo bar game movement in Philly, PA. He is also a reporter who wrote an article titled “Down and Out in Lancaster” about the Camden Riversharks for the Philiapelphia City Paper. Mr. Goodtimes contacted me because after he interviewed and hung out with the team, he googled “Lipso Nava” because Lipso had made such a great impression on him.

Lo and behold, my site came up. Among other things, he told me that Lipso is called “the Living Legend” around the clubhouse and that many are convinced he would be a gold glover if he could just get a shot at playing in the majors.

The article talks about my favorite player quite a bit throughout the piece. In fact, right off the bat the article opens with this paragraph:

Lipso Nava has the best porn moustache in baseball. Catcher Travis Anderson informs me (and everyone else within earshot) of this fact shortly after I enter the clubhouse. “He’s the Peter North of the Dominican Republic,” the backstop says.

“He’s from Venezuela,” cries a voice in the back of the room.

“I know,” shoots back Anderson. “I was trying to protect his identity.”

Gotta love it. Makes me want to watch Major League in the worst way. The article itself is a good look at what life is like for minor league players. Enjoy.

One last thing. Johnny also said “If you decide to start a Lipso Nava fan club, count me in.” I’m thinking of doing so. Anyone else out there interested in joining?


I’ve Got A Fever And The Only Cure Is More Coq Roq News

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I just love how this story has legs, or maybe drumsticks would be the better term.

First of all, if you google “coq roq” this blog is at the bottom of the first results page, which might explain the healthy amount of comments on the first Coq Roq related post.

Second, it turns out that some fellow rocker are offended. The KISS/Gwar combo rockers (who cannot spell) SliPKnot are suing BK because “SliPKnoT fans have expressed confusion and criticism over what they think is SliPKnoT endorsing Burger King.” Get the full legal complaint at, where else, the Smoking Gun’s site.

Thanks once again goes to Todd.


I Have Good News

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If by just reading that headline you were thinking “I just saved a bundle on my car insurance by switching to Geico,” then you’ll probably agree with the statement that Geico has the most memorable commercials on television right now. Period. I challenge you to present me with an ad campaign that is better. I love how there is no master concept holding them all together yet how that in itself is the master concept of the campaign. I love the randomness and that half of the time you have no clue you are seeing a Geico ad until you hear the tag line. They are short, irreverent and somehow, partly through immense repetition, they stick with you. More importantly, they have become part of every day life. Some examples:

* After my accountant plugged all my info into his PC program to prepare my 2005 tax return, he turned to me and said, “Good news.” I started to guess how much he was going to tell me I was getting back when he said, “I just saved a bundle by switching to Geico.” He is so dry I never saw it coming.

* When I first moved into my new apartment building, I described how I felt about the new place by asking, “Have you ever seen the Geico Tiny House commercial? Its like that.” To see Tiny House, my all time favorite Geico commercial — “I’m just trying to make an omelette!” — click here, then click “What We’ve Done” and “Geico.”).

* When I provided tech support to my friend Greg a few weeks ago, I said that something was so easy “a caveman could do it” and then we both made sure there were no caveman’s around who would be insulted by that statement.

One day, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon Geico to do a favor for me by saving me up to $500 in 15 minutes on car insurance. Until then, I will just get a nice laugh by watching their ads.


I Am Still Being Stalked

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Update on a past post: The NY Times real estate section which has in the past stalked me is once again stalking me by writing an article titled “Settling for the Upper East Side.” Since I wrote that previous post, Jessie and I wound up buying an apartment after all in the, what else, UES and yeah, I felt like we “settled” at first. However, in the end we both couldn’t be happier. Central Park & the Met are only 2 blocks away, affordable restaurants abound, many of our friends are nearby and there is a store for everything we could ever want right at our fingertips, which is something we definitely lacked downtown at 50 Murray. As cool as that building was, it was an island in a sea of nothing and we barely took advantage of half that the island offered. While I do miss being downtown, the great architecture and the grandeur of living closer to the pulse of the city, I am going to enjoy watching my dog Bingham pee on the Temple of Dendur’s window (if he can reach that high) as we play in the park. To every season, turn, turn, turn…

Anyway, if this continues and I still receive no credit or acknowledgement as the inspiration for a years worth of NY Times stories, I will be forced to take the appropriate action.


In Memory of Jerry

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Today marks the 10th anniversary of the day Jerry Garcia passed away. I remember exactly where I was and who told me: in front of Lori’s house and by Shrujal as he stood in front of his parent’s Mercedes 2 door convertible. “Did you hear that Jerry is dead?, ” he said almost happily (he was not a fan of long-haired freaky people). “Not just in the Dead but dead dead.”

To mark this occasion, the NY Times has an article in today’s paper about what has happened to his and his band’s legacy since then. Feel free to read it after the jump.

Jerry Garcia: The Man, the Myth, the Area Rug


Published: August 9, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 8 – One of the icons of modern American culture now resides in a nondescript warehouse about 30 miles north of here, in a windowless, climate-controlled, heavily-alarmed room built like a bomb shelter that is called simply the Vault.

There, in towering rows of 13,000 audiotapes, 3,000 videotapes and about 250,000 feet of traditional 16-millimeter film lives the recorded history of the Grateful Dead, one of the seminal American rock bands.

The Grateful Dead ceased to exist on Aug. 9, 1995, when the band’s lead guitarist and most recognizable figure, Jerry Garcia, died at age 53 of a heart attack at a drug treatment center. Yet 10 years later, the man and the band remain alive for millions of fans, and the once notoriously ad hoc Grateful Dead business operation has become a model for a music industry struggling with the Internet and digital democracy.

“When I first got into the record business I learned that it wasn’t cool to be into the Grateful Dead,” said Christopher Sabec, 40, a lawyer who said he saw the band more than 250 times and is now chief executive of the Jerry Garcia Estate L.L.C., controlled by Mr. Garcia’s heirs. “But if you look at where the music business has been forced to go by technology, now it’s not about selling records. It’s about live shows and inspiring a fan base to be absolutely loyal. Hello? Who did that first? The Grateful Dead.”

The Jerry Garcia company and Grateful Dead Productions are separate businesses each generating millions of dollars of revenue a year. Just how many millions is not publicly known. But consumers still buy more than a million J. Garcia-brand neckties each year, and Cherry Garcia is often the top-selling brand of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, each pint generating royalties for the Garcia heirs.

The band’s four surviving members – the drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, the bassist Phil Lesh and the guitarist Bob Weir – have toured occasionally as the Dead, though not this year. They control the Grateful Dead’s licensing business, which oversees thousands of products sold around the world, like gas tank caps, incense burners, golf club covers and sandals. (The Garcia company receives a share of the proceeds.)

But for cultural and practical matters, the heart of the Grateful Dead’s legacy resides in the 10,000 cubic feet of space in Novato, north of San Francisco. The Vault feeds a continuing business based on regular releases of old concert recordings on iTunes, on the band’s Web sites and in stores, feeding old Deadheads and creating new fans.

Physically, there is only one key to the Vault, and only two people know where to find it. David Lemieux, 34, the band’s archivist, is one of them. Jeffrey Norman, one of the band’s engineers, is the other.

“This is it, the key to the Vault,” Mr. Lemieux said, holding up the gleaming shard of metal, a sliver that to some Deadheads may be more sacred than a splinter from the True Cross.

One major way the band and the Garcia company have kept the flame alive is by regularly releasing audio and video recordings of old concerts that have been restored with the latest digital techniques. Two years ago, for instance, the band released a DVD of its performance that closed San Francisco’s legendary Winterland Ballroom on Dec. 31, 1978.

“There is just no way we could have done the Winterland release without the current technology,” Mr. Lemieux said in his memorabilia-plastered office.

For fans used to fuzzy old cassettes, the new releases are a revelation.

“Many of us Deadheads are experiencing a renaissance now in our appreciation for the band because such high-quality recordings are available,” said Amir Bar-Lev, 33, a filmmaker from New York who said he saw the band more than 100 times. “Ten years ago I was listening to 20th-generation tapes kicking around the floor of my car. Now, thanks to all of the technology, I can hear the band in all its glory.”

Mr. Weir, the guitarist, said in a telephone interview on Friday from West Virginia, where he was on tour with his band RatDog, that although Mr. Garcia sometimes resented his own celebrity, he would have been pleased that his music endured. “I’m glad people can still enjoy it,” he said.

He continued: “I am a big fan of Duke Ellington and I never saw him live. I’m a big fan of John Coltrane and I never saw him live. I don’t want to put us on that level, but we don’t play all of this music casually or callously, and of course Jerry would appreciate people being able to experience it.”

More broadly, the Grateful Dead’s emphasis on touring over selling records presaged the music industry’s current predicament over file-sharing on the Internet.

The Grateful Dead was the first major band to allow fans to freely make and trade recordings of its live performances in the belief that spreading the music that way would ensure long-term success. That formula was later adopted almost wholesale by other successful bands, including Phish, andfans still avidly trade live Grateful Dead recordings online.

Even though there are now high-quality recordings for sale, created using the official sound-mixing boards used at concerts, fans are still free to trade recordings made in the crowd. The band used to offer a special section of seating for amateur tapers.

“They wanted to create a space for themselves and their fans to gather and play, and that didn’t sit well in the offices of the record business,” said Mr. Sabec, who is perhaps best known in the music industry for discovering and managing the 1990’s teen-pop group Hanson. “Now I find myself sitting in meetings where other bands are using the Dead as a model.”

In the years immediately after Mr. Garcia’s death, Grateful Dead merchandising brought in more than $50 million in annual gross revenue. That figure may have declined a bit since then, and the band’s licensing activities are now separate from the Garcia estate’s business affairs, but both entities continue to thrive.

In addition to ties and ice cream, the Garcia company has expanded into rugs and wine. An artist as well as a musician, Mr. Garcia signed his work “J. Garcia.”

“I’m not trying to turn the J. Garcia brand into something you find at Target, but I am trying to broaden it,” Mr. Sabec said. “There are J. Garcia carpets that my mother would be happy to have in her house, and she’s not a Deadhead. If you were to position it only for people who were fans of Jerry’s music, it would be a much smaller market than what we’re going for.”

Yet even as the Garcia company has expanded its ambitions, the band’s business wing, Grateful Dead Productions, has in some ways pared down its operations in recent years, like many United States companies.

For a few years after Mr. Garcia’s death, as the technology bubble expanded (Aug. 9, 1995, was also the day Netscape stock went public, signaling the coming dot-com boom), the band pursued a vision of creating a business tentatively called Bandwagon, which would function as a one-stop merchandising and online distribution operation for a variety of musical acts. In addition, the band came close to creating what would have amounted to a countercultural theme park in San Francisco.

“The whole Bandwagon thing was a function of the dot-com mania, especially spectacularly in the Bay Area,” said Dennis McNally, the band’s longtime publicist and historian. “There was also an idea of creating a performance space and museum called Terrapin Station, which we figured we needed $50 million to do. And in the context of the dot-com revolution, that seemed perfectly doable.”

In the end, the band balked at potentially having to cede final control of the projects to outside investors. And as the dot-com bubble burst, the band went in the opposite direction. It laid off dozens of longtime employees, closing its own warehouse and largely outsourcing the logistics of the memorabilia business.

Now, the band has only about 10 employees, including Mr. Lemieux at the Vault.

Although the theme park never came to be, on Sunday in San Francisco, the city unveiled the newly renamed Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in John McLaren Park, near the blue-collar Excelsior District where Mr. Garcia grew up before moving to the better-known Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

Backstage at the event, Mr. Garcia’s older brother, Tiff, seemed to share his sibling’s somewhat ambivalent attitude toward the marketing of celebrity.

“They’re trying to do an Elvis on him, with all of the garments and merchandise and different items,” he said. “But I’m not surprised. He meant so much to so many people, and I’m proud of the fact that one individual could draw so much attention.”


Old Enough To Know Better

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From the “I Don’t Know What To Say” Department:

Emergency workers helped a New Hampshire man out of a difficult situation over the weekend after a friend apparently locked a padlock around his testicles.

According to the Portsmouth Herald, police reported that the 39-year-old man was intoxicated when they arrived at the scene on July 30 at about 3:40 a.m. The man, who was not identified, told them that he had the padlock around his testicles for two weeks.

The man said that a friend put the lock on while he was drunk and passed out. When he woke up, the friend was gone.

“Never in my 13 years have I seen anything like this,” Cpl. H.D. Wood told the Herald. The man told police that he tried to remove the lock with a hacksaw because the key had broken off in the lock.

He was taken to Exeter Hospital, where a locksmith removed the padlock. He was treated and released, and the hospital said he had no lasting injury. Police said that they did not know the motive for the incident.

I would surmise the motive was to goon it up. This crime reeks of goonage to me. I bet his friends can’t wait for his 40th birthday party. Hopefully that’ll make the papers as well.

Via Todd