Monthly Archives: June 2008

Montreal, Montreal, Death, Montreal


Note: This was only a week ago, it wasn’t snowing.

Time To Go Northward! 54’40” or Fight, we shouted, and we got into the car. It was Montreal time. Like Benedict Arnold, we were going to Montreal. More likely than not, to burn that shit down. (We also considered betraying the US in September 1780 and eventually settling down in London to die at home, disgraced, in 1801. You know the way these trips tend to shape up.)

Our friend Eric lives in Montreal, in a giant exposed-brick duplex townhouse apartment that costs something like $350 a month (P.S. Eric, I hate you). Every year for four years, except last year and the year before, we’ve driven up to Montreal to sleep on his floor and debauch, debauch, debauch. Is “debauch” even a verb? It doesn’t matter, because I bet it is in French.

Quick directions to Montreal [oh, you thought the Smackdown didn’t do lists anymore, didn’t you]:

  1. Get a car.
  2. Put like $150 worth of gas in the car.
  3. Drive north until your eyes glaze over.
  4. If nobody’s speaking French, turn right and drive until they are. If you hit the Atlantic Ocean, you probably should have turned metric left, which is Canadian for “slightly to the right.”
  5. Get really, really drunk.

Montreal is a special place, and it has a very special dark side to match. It’s a place where everyone is good looking, but bars are, terrifyingly, full of fifteen-year-old girls who flirted their way in using French. This is how Montreal works. It’s a beautiful city that has approximately eight trees, total. It has like three million people and maybe eight of them are friendly. Prostitution, gambling, and murder are legal*. A very nice mountain park. Two strip clubs for every inhabitant. They speak this special dialect of English where every word is accentuated by rolling your eyes at passersby to indicate how annoyed you are to be speaking English. There’s a thriving culture and music scene*. It’s fun*.

* Probably.

But let me tell you something about this trip: Montreal was not any fucking fun. One experience to sum it up: Parched, we wandered helplessly down Avenue Mont-Royal, looking for something to quench our thirst. A parade of people was walking in the opposite direction, all eating delicious-looking ice cream. We stopped one of them. “Where did you get that ice cream?” She shrugged her shoulders. Uninterested? Trapped behind the language barrier? We tried again in French. “Où avez-vous trouvé la crème glacée?” She looked at us like we were crazy. We would have tried the good old-fashioned language of saying what-the-fuck really loud, but instead we all ended up sitting on the lawn in front of a metro station, trying to hash out the details of a suicide pact. Nobody ever wants to be the last one in a suicide pact, that’s what I learned. And 4 PM is too late to start.

I learned a lot of other things, too. I learned that when your friend crosses the border without a passport, they will not necessarily be cavity searched. Not both ways, at least. I also now understand that the duty-free shop sucks. Bonus conversation:

Customs officer: So what do you guys do for a living?
Me: I’m a computer programmer.
Matt: I’m unemployed.
Tom: Yeah, unemployed.
Rob: I’m unemployed at present.
Customs officer: Huh. Well, you know, Homeland Security is hiring.
Everyone at once: (uproarious laughter until we all, slowly, realize that we’re laughing at this guy’s awful job)
Customs officer: Uh huh, have a good time in America. Drive on the right side.

Hey, in the “pro” column, Homeland Security guys get to live near the border, and you know what that means — you too can be treated like shit in a foreign country, anytime you want! Plus: government salary! Cha-ching! Jenga!

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How I Am Going To Ruin Every Fucking Party I Ever Go To In Brooklyn, Ever Again

Alright, hold up a sec. Put down whatever you’re eating. Forget about all that My Family Is From The Deep South, Boo Hoo Motherfucking Hoo bullshit for just a second. After spending the better part of my weekend digging through old newspapers and family records (shut up, my life is unspeakably exciting usually), I found something surprising — relatives in Brooklyn!

“Pretty cool!” I said, out loud, and promptly shushed by the attractive archivist. (On topic: I’ve yet to meet an archivist that wasn’t twenty-four, with thick glasses, semi-hostile and bizarrely good looking. Time to get my MLS!) I scratched down a couple of unfamiliar looking street addresses and resolved to look into it later.

And I did. And they’re in Bushwick. Bushwick! Not even a nice part of Bushwick! Do you understand what this means? The absurd bizarre legitimacy this bequeaths me? I can only imagine my newfound conversational leverage:

Oh, hi. You moved to Bushwick three years ago? Nah man, that’s cool, cool, y’know, I got here in uh, 1858. It was sort of lame then, though, that’s why we moved to some shithole upstate town and stayed there for about a hundred twenty years. Until the yuppies took over. Yeah, man. Brooklyn, right? Now I live in Greenpoint, whatever, yeah, cool, you know, there aren’t so many paved roads and shit. Wanna buy me another drink?

Jay-Z thinks it’s badass he grew up in the Marcy projects… but they demolished my family’s house just to BUILD the Marcy projects! So that must have been an improvement! God knows what it was like. I heard my great-great-grandfather sold crack out the back his Escalade, although records from that era are, of course, inconclusive at best. Wood Escalade, bitches!

Anyway, I’m sure the past was exactly like today, what with the prosperity and silly outfits and $8 beers, although every single member of my family is listed in 1880 as “Laborer in hat factory.” Ironic hats? Somehow I doubt it. But whatever, man, I’m sure lofts were cooler when you couldn’t turn the lights on. And I don’t have to tell you how much cleaner the subway was, back when it was a horse.

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Are We Dead?

Nope! But I’ve gone off to Montreal for several days, and Honor’s still going to work, the sucker! But the updates are visible on the horizon. If you put your ear to the ground, you’ll hear the sound of their hoofbeats. If you’re also an Indian.

NOTE: Indians never do this, it was put in movies to trick you. If your ear is to the ground, horses will trample that shit. Word up. See you next week.

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Across The Sea

Not so long ago, I found out I was a Dutch citizen! In addition to being an American citizen, I am now Hollandaise like Eggs Benedict, my friends. And you know that that means:

That’s right: it means you are a racist.

In all seriousness, there are a lot of benefits to dual citizenship. For example:

  1. Being treated suspiciously at airports
  2. The opportunity to pay more taxes
  3. You can blog about it, like this
  4. Europeans are not asked or expected to see “The Happening”
  5. Extra taxes
  6. Wooden shoes… you racist
  7. Taxes

There are downsides, though. For example, if I get bored, I can just move to Spain. That sucks. And America has its charms: Big Macs, war, terrifying social conservatism, your choice of Dakotas or Carolinas…

Another downside: Amsterdam is the damn devil. I may be the only American in the history of the city of Amsterdam to travel there in order to specifically not sleep with prostitutes or smoke unfiltered marijuana, or buy Marijuanette gum, which I guess helps you quit. I was the American that showed up, tried to speak Dutch to everybody (failed), tried not to spend $6 on a slice of pizza (failed, TWICE), refused to go to the Van Gogh museum, and got unbelievably pissed off. When I ended the trip, I’d been sitting in Schipol Airport for seven hours because I was too angry at Amsterdam.

Still. I am learning the language (“Excuse me hello sir can I purchase a ticket for metrotrain backwards Amsterdam with happiness?”). I have a little button on my web browser bar that tells me when the flights are. And I live in New York, which used to be called New Amsterdam, duh. And “Brooklyn” is Dutch for “Brueckelen”, an old Dutch word meaning “City where everyone gets a stupid haircut or becomes ostracized.” And “New York” is a Dutch word too, but you don’t even want to know what it means.

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When The Real Bill Clinton Comes Back

Quick political minute: WTF happened to Bill Clinton? Do you know? Does anyone? There’s something missing from the air, and it’s the sound of alto sax! And soprano sex! (Gennifer Flowers might have been a tenor, I don’t care)

Remember when Clinton could turn the world on with a smile? I’ve been that world. My brother had leprosy, but Bill Clinton touched him and now he is an astronaut. One time Bill Clinton said the word “Middle East” by accident and nothing blew up for nine whole months, anywhere. My mother had a goiter the size of a baby’s fist, but Bill Clinton came along, and do I even have to tell you what happened?

That’s right. Astronaut.

But lately the magic is gone. Bill Clinton just sorts of walking around looking pudgy and sweaty and insulting people and saying awkward things. Good presidents don’t say awkward things! Good presidents paint my house for me! Hell, even George Bush painted my house for me, but then he only made it halfway up and got bored. I gave him a glass of lemonade, but he fell asleep on the lawn. He snores like a motherfucker. Where was Bill Clinton? Not helping me out in my time of need, that’s for sure.

So what the hell happened? Was it the move to the suburbs? The gimmicky Harlem office? Not being president anymore? None of these things, my friends. There is only one explanation.

Bill Clinton has been replaced by a sophisticated robot. You don’t believe me? Look at his stiff motions. His lack of charisma. One time he referred to his daughter as a “fork” and his wife as “Other Robot R-662-A-B.” Those were enough to make me suspicious.

So I took action. Dressed all in black, I snuck quietly into the recess behind the podium at an underattended rally and made my way to the former president’s side. I whispered into his ear. What happens next should be obvious: I made Robot Bill Clinton explode, simply by saying the special command “notnilC lliB.”

Where’s Arsenio Hall to save us now? Oh, that’s right, there no longer is an Arsenio Hall. But never fear! The real Bill Clinton will arrive shortly, in a spaceship, hovering in a beautiful pillar of pure light. He’ll raise his hand and say “I did not say all those things about Barack Obama,” and we’ll all have a lively discussion about what “say” means, and then we’ll sort of just not fight in wars for ten years. And I’ll get a job that doesn’t involve knowing how those frozen hamburgers that come in a box are made. (Hint: It doesn’t make you want to eat them.)

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