Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The first piece is titled "Not for Vegetarians" and appeared in the Rusty Barnes (editor of Night Train) online side-project Fried Chicken and Coffee.
Then, this piece, titled "Memorial Day Weekend," was published in the reputable and fantastic Word Riot and includes an audio file of me reading it.
Finally, "The Maple Leaf" was published in a recent edition of Red Fez, an impressive online journal of accessible fiction, poetry, and everything else.
Okay, that's enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me? Seriously, though, I don't mean to be self-indulgent, but then again, this whole blog is self-indulgent (see blog name). In other words, I apologize for myself... I mean, have a Happy New Year.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Very well then I contradict myself.
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"
---Walt Whitman "Song of Myself"
I've used this Whitman quote throughout my adult life to explain away the numerous, rather multitudinous hypocrisies I've embraced. Let's put it this way: I'm no choir boy, and generally speaking, there isn't a ton of moral combustion inside my dank, sordid soul.
However, with this week's signings of Dan Wheeler and Bobbie Jenks, I'm experiencing a true existential quagmire, seeing my baseball fandom is the one thing that I hold to a high moral standard. For over a decade, I've bitched and moaned about The Yankees' obnoxious acquisitions of All-Star teams. I've found their Hot Stove spending-sprees---think A-Rod, Texeira, Grandersen, Sabathia, Burnett (hee-hee), Giambi, Sheffield, Clemens, etc---distasteful and deplorable, perennially raging about The Spank-boys "buying rings." I couldn't understand how Yankee fans could find any gratification in victory, knowing their team used cash over chemistry.
Well, now I'm starting to get it.
Stacked to the ceiling, The 2011 Red Sox have no holes, except for catcher. Thanks to Cliff Lee jilting New York (note to Yankee fans: stop spitting on opposing pitchers' wives; it might come back to bite you), no one in The American League can match up with Boston---at least on paper. And, honestly, I'm a bit disgusted by this.
While I'm sure The Boston Pink Hats are pissing themselves with hollow bliss right now (this whole thing stems from the fair-weather fans losing interest last season), for longtime Sox fans, this is akin wearing someone else's pants. Part of my love for The Red Sox has been their role of the gritty underdog. While The New York Yankees have historically represented affluence and ostentation and...well, New York City, The Red Sox have been the screwed-by-life bastard sons of Dostoevsky novels, the consummate lovable losers. This is largely what made 2004---and 86 years---worth the wait. It was true sweetness.
For these reasons, I simply can't celebrate what the front office has done in the past month. The Red Sox may win a World Championship this year, although The Phillies have a starting rotation that could arguably be one of the best in baseball history. Yes. The Red Sox should win World Series rings this year.
They bought 'em, fair and square.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I'm not sure where the portrait of The 2011 Red Sox is hanging, perhaps in the bedroom of owner/crypt-keeper John Henry and his impossibly hot young wife (she doesn't care about his money), but wherever it is, I'm guessing the uniforms are sprouting pinstripes.
Boy, I did a lot of leg-work to set this up: The Red Sox have turned into the Yankees.
Let me start by acknowledging that, in the past, I have been one of the most vociferous critics of the Spank-boys off-season spending sprees in an attempt to buy rings. Let me also point out that only once in the past decade has that worked. On the corners in the infield at the new Yankee Stadium are two players the Red Sox coveted, and the Yankees swept up with their bags of cash, symbols of the abject humiliation felt by Sox fans, the perpetual underdog-ness. To carry my book analogy to the next level, The Yankees have always been the Lord Henry's, the older (and queer) proponents of self-indulgence without heed of the luxary tax.
With this week's signings of both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, The Red Sox have essentially sold their souls to look beautiful through 2017. Listen, I'm not complaining. Like any fan, I want to see my team win; although in my case, I also want to see The Yankees suffer from a stubborn case of season-long diarrhea that has their player awkwardly squeezing their cheeks each time they enter the batter's box. However, something about this week's signing feels wrong to me.
Here is my full-disclosure, seeing I spent most of this week trying to be as obnoxious as possible to my Yankee-fan colleagues and friends, who are now in the unenviable position of having to sign Cliff Lee until he's 72 years old. Behind my fist-bumps with fellow Sox fans, I've been hosting a vague malaise, a feeling like this isn't right. It's as if The Red Sox got a makeover, and they look much, much nicer, but they don't look like The Red Sox anymore.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've needed to come to terms with the fact that the climax of my life as a Red Sox fan occurred in 2004, when the cast of Idiots took four straight from The Yankees and celebrated in their kitchen as The Spank-boys' dejected fans quietly tried to tuck away their "1918" signs. Any true Red Sox fan will tell that was highlight, not The World Series. And it will never get better than that night when fell to my knees in front of my television, crying, and threw both middle fingers at the screen, yelling, "Fuck you, Yankees! Suck on this!"
Nor will it come close.
So the 2011 Dorian Gray Sox will be fielding seven All-Stars along with an All-Star closer and four All-Stars in the starting rotation. On paper, they're going to be tough to beat. And I have the privilege of watching a team that will be competitive every season in the foreseeable future. Have I indulged in the new Sox fan game of guessing the batting order--Will it be Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youk or Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Gonzalez, Youk? It's a fun game and totally indulgent.
I'll get used to the new All-Star team and, I'm sure, raise a toast or two to them. Just be sure to keep that portrait covered, Crypt-keeper, far away from Fenway Park.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
But I will!
Careful standing under the mistletoe tonight, ladies. There's a virile group of Sox fans prowling town. Boston got Gonzalez. Grrrrr, baby. Grrrrr.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I know, I know, I post this same video every year. However, Burroughs wrote this in 1986, and it's still spot on. Actually, it might be more pertinent in these partisan days of Glenn Beck and a "wholesome" white America. In fact, if I may, I'm going to humbly add my own Thanksgiving verses of appreciation...
Thanks for the Tea Party, and the perpetuation of "stupid" as an American ideology.
Thanks filibusters and assurance that nothing gets done in our government.
Thanks for fighting against gay marriage, and the vigilance it requires to protect the "sanctity of heterosexual marriages." Everyone knows that it's the anatomy of whom you lie with in bed that determines the level of your love.
Thanks for squawking about health care reform. Only the white or the wealthy or the educated or the employed deserve the basic human decency of being treated when they're sick.
Thanks for The New York Yankees.
Thanks for Fox News, and the perpetuation of "stupid" as an American ideology.
Thanks for reading my blog...no, seriously. Thanks.
Monday, November 15, 2010
If you're looking for one man's subjective account of teaching poetry to high school students in a public school, you've come to the right spot.
Let me start with a rhetorical question, because we all know how well rhetorical questions work at the beginning of a piece of writing: Why is it that two weeks into any poetry unit I teach I suddenly want to strangle myself with my own tongue?
First of all, I'm a poet. Scratch that. I write poetry but cringe whenever someone uses the label "poet" to describe their self. There's something so very, very pretentious about it. As if to say: Despite the fact that I practice a craft that has far more practitioners than readers, I still manage to maintain an air of self-importance that can't be penetrated by a diamond cutter.
Anyhow, my last three books have, indeed, been collections of poetry, so when the poetry unit comes rolling around each year, it's not something I'm entirely ill-prepared to teach.
In fact, each time I start a poetry unit, I begin it with an entirely misguided and delusional sense of optimism. I think, This is it. This time I'm going to hook 'em. This time I have all of these great new poems by all of these great young poets in my arsenal, and dammit, these kids are going to learn to love poetry. To hell with those dead white men and suicidal white chicks; this stuff is new and fresh and vital and in touch with these kids' worlds.
I'm actually starting to accept the fact that the vast majority of people in this world---aside from, apparently, the Chileans---could care less about poetry. Regardless of what I do as a writing or literature teacher, every time I put a poem in front of a student, they're going to look up at me like I've placed a turd on their desk.
Listen, I'm not saying that poetry isn't important. I believe it is fresh and vital and contains the potential to reach people in ways that no other art form can. However, this does not change the fact that few people read it, and even fewer care to learn how.
Does this mean we should stop teaching poetry in public schools (you should end with a rhetorical question, as well)? No. Not at all. Like we do when we write our poems, we need to forge ahead and lower our shoulders against everything that seems logical and impossible. While, for most people, the turd will likely never turn into a vibrant pulsing slice of someone's life and experiences and observations, a sneak peek into the mind of a true and vital seeker, it does matter.
Strange yet exuberant, the poems do matter. And that, my friends, is called "movement."
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
There's been some stuff going on in my little literary life that's worthy of mention---assuming you're reading this right now because you 1.) know, or know of me, and 2.) understand the relativity of the word "worthy."
I recently had a short story published titled "Vandals" in a great new literary journal titled Sententia, edited by Ryan W. Bradley and Paula Bomer, the latter who has a really interesting-sounding collection of short fiction titled Baby and Other Stories coming out shortly from Word Riot Press.
The Trailer Park Quarterly, edited by my friend Dan Crocker, recently posted their second issue, which included one of my flash pieces, "Hot Dog Night at the County Jail." Also, Dan and I are participating in a new realm of idiocy on the internet, a radio show called The Natty and Cracker Hour. Check it out every other Friday at 11 p.m.
Finally, I recently signed with the super bad-ass literary agent Sarah LaPolla at Curtis Brown Ltd. We're cooking up some literary stuff, and it's super bad-ass awesome. I'd tell you what it is, but I'd have to kill you.
It just occurred to me: Has anyone ever invented a grilled stuffing sandwich? I'd like to try that and feed my man-titties.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Last night, however, I was stumped by baseball. While my distinct enmity for The New York Yankees---that special venom that sits on my taste buds anytime I see pinstripes---required that I celebrate in New York's misery after taking a veritable ass-whuppin' at the hands of The Texas Rangers, I was somewhat conflicted by the aforementioned celebration. For two reasons:
The first---and I couldn't quite get past this---stemmed from the image in Game 2 of former-president GW Dipshit clapping in the stands at Arlington. Like most liberals, I will never forgive The Lonestar State for eight years of violence, kowtowing to the rich while the middle-class was obliterated, and pure, unfettered, ass-in-my-hands stupidity. Can I really rejoice with a team that was owned and supported by this clown? This is also the state where Darth Sidious, aka Dick Cheney, blew off his buddy's face with buck shot, an ancillary yet pertinent side note.
Then there was the simple fact that the team celebrated their victory by spraying ginger ale all over each other. Now, I have nothing but admiration for Josh Hamilton and the way he turned around his life; however, as a fan of baseball and a bit of a traditionalist, there's something flat-out wrong about this scenario. Admittedly, all male athletic celebrations reek of homoeroticism, and I'm cool with that. But I can't quite seem to wrap my head around the ginger ale. Sure, it's a sweet and touching story, but, goddamn, it's just wrong.
Nonetheless, I'm still slightly giddy by the fact that 1.) The $2oo million All-Stars got spanked by a team with a regular reason record comparable to Red Sox; 2.) It was A-Rod, who The Spank-boys paid Texas plus his exorbitant salary, watching the final strike; and C.) The fucking Yankees lost! While I know and anticipate The Yankee fan response ("The Red Sox were playing golf" and "Who has 27 rings?"), the German word for what I'm feeling is "schadenfreude," or taking pleasure in someone else's misery. And were the tables turned, Yankee fans would be singing the exact same tune.
After The Yankees go on another ridiculous Hot Stove spending spree and land Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford and every other aging free-agent asking for a gaudy salary, I'll be regretting this post. But for right now, the word is "schadenfreude." And right now, I left my heart in San Francisco. Go Giants!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
|Greg Giraldo - Drinking|
I just found out today, while surfing the net instead of doing anything productive, that comedian Greg Giraldo, forty-four, passed away from an apparent prescription drug overdose.
Simply said, Giraldo, who was ubiquitous on Comedy Central in recent years, got it. For me, he was a rare stand-up comedian in the sense that he always seemed to be speaking directly to me and my own unique experiences. Unabashed, he called them as he saw them and never pulled a punch---the type of comedy that takes razor-wit and an abundance of balls to pull off.
He left behind three sons. None of this is funny.
Friday, October 8, 2010
I first noticed the existence of my man-titties seven years ago. My wife and I had just taken her new IUD for a test spin, and I was completely nude, which was strange for me, seeing nakedness, especially my own, terrifies me to the point where I try to stay clothed at all times. In school, when we were told to read 1984, I was the only one in my class who didn’t find the idea of The Party uniforms, to always be worn, horrifying and offensive. I rather liked it.
With my back to my wife, she draped her arm around my chest and cupped my breast.
I shrieked. “What did you just do?”
“What do you mean? I was just touching you,” she said, nestling her face into my neck.
“You grabbed something.”
“What are you talking about?”
“What did you grab?” I sat up and flicked on the light. Feeling filthy and violated, I quickly reached for a t-shirt on the floor and covered my chest.
My wife pulled a pillow over her eyes. “What’s wrong with you now?”
“You just grabbed my boob.”
“Turn off the light and go to sleep,” she said. “I promise I won’t touch you again.”
“No,” I wailed, “you don’t understand. I’ve grown man-titties! Oh God! Not man-titties!” I snapped off the light and flung myself dramatically onto my back. I began to sob.
“It isn’t that bad,” my wife said.
I knew it was lie by the way her voice hiccupped on the word bad. While it was a kind and noble attempt to soothe me, she couldn’t quite conceal her disappointment at the pile of weeping neuroses that had manacled her “till death do us part.”
“This is worse than bad,” I said sharply, curling into a fetal position in the corner of the bed. “This is devastating.”
I admit to having an unhealthy aversion to fat. While I’m consumed by vanity, it’s a conditional vanity. Although the concept of fat terrified me at the time, and still does, this terror was complicated—more accurately, contradicted—by the fact that I used to do nothing to prevent fatness. In fact, I did the opposite: I drank excessively, ate fattening processed foods, and slept after large meals like a plump nursing child. I was, and still am, what one might label “clinically lazy.”
Since the first discover my male mammary glands, however, I have been jogging regularly and have adopted my wife’s hippy bird-food cuisine—she’s a rail so I figure it must work. In the past five years, my cup-size has reduced from a solid-B to a small-A. Progress.
Still, this does nothing to mollify the mortification I experience daily when I look in the mirror, suck in my beer gut, and see a body that looks like it was lab-tested at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Recently, at a routine doctor’s visit (as a hypochondriac all my visits are “routine” seeing, with the help WebMD, I self-diagnose a new fatal disease weekly), the nurse asked me to step on the scale. Mortified by the suggestion, I balked.
“Why do I have to be weighed?” I asked. “I’m here to see if I have Lupus. What does my weight have to do with anything?”
“It’s for our records,” she said.
So I stripped off my shoes and sweatshirt---which, if you don't know, can add up to five pounds in clothing weight---and gingerly stepped on the scale. I watched as the nurse continued to slide the lever to the right, then heaved the next lever over as well. When she finally stopped, the whole horrible truth was revealed.
Fatness has not always been a problem for me. A little over decade and an half ago, I wrestled at a lean one-hundred and sixty pounds. I was a trim, fit profile of the human form—plucked from a fucking Whitman poem.
Then something happened: college.
Somehow, I ended up joining a fraternity and ballooned my way toward the Mendoza Line (for those who aren’t up on baseball terminology that’s two-hundred, named after Mario Mendoza, a journeyman ballplayer whose career batting average hovered around .200). While flirting around The Mendoza Line, I never actually got there.
That was until this recent debacle at the doctor’s office (I don’t have Lupus, by the way). But I did find out that for almost fifteen years, I have been lounging like a beached whale on the aforementioned Mendoza Line.
Long before The Mendoza Line, and well before my budding man-breasts appeared, I was a sufferer of FFS, or Fat Face Syndrome. As far as I know, I am the first to identify FFS as a disease. I coined the term following an unfortunate incident with a wedding photo. The remarkable thing about getting fat is that most people have no idea how fat they’ve become until confronted with a photograph, until the empirical evidence is there and incontrovertible, and you see yourself in a photograph and say, “Holy crap, I’m fat fuck!”Yes, there will be people in your life who will offer hollow solace—like my rail-thin wife—by saying things like “Oh, it’s just a bad picture” or “The camera adds ten pounds.”
Bullshit! That’s skinny-talk.
According to my own definition, FFS is identified by the following symptoms: an unnatural width in the face from cheekbone to cheekbone; a lack of a definable profile due excessive flab under the jawbone; additional chins; and the appearance of what I’ve labeled “the jellyroll,” or a thin roll of fat that circumnavigates the neck. In the offending wedding photo, my face was wider than an industrial skillet, and with my head turned at a slight angle, my profile looked like a bullfrog’s.
Since early-adulthood, I’ve being growing facial hair as a means of diverting attention from my FFS; however, each time I trim my goatee, the true Kurtzian “horror” rears its ugly head.
But this is not about my FFS—how easily I’m derailed when I get worked up—this is about the abominable growth of my man-titties in Winter of 2003.
The day after my wife’s inadvertent fondling and the subsequent discovery of man-titties, I moped around work like I’d been told I actually had a terminal disease. But my wife, a bloodless woman, didn’t want to hear me bitch. There was not an ounce of human compassion running through her icy veins. She did not believe I suffered from any of the aforementioned disorders. On the contrary, she seemed to think that they were manifestations of deeper and more troubling neuroses, perhaps stemming from my penchant for prescription drugs. Because tranquilizers made Elvis fat, she argues, I have created a distorted image of "fat" in myself.
Do I see myself on par with the King of Rock and Roll?
Doesn’t that stand in stark contrast with my self-loathing?
Knowing I wasn’t going to get any compassion or consolation from my wife, I popped an Ativan, poured myself a glass of wine, and picked up the phone to call Cracker.
“Cracker, it’s Natty. I have a serious problem.”
“I’ve grown man-titties,” I said. I took off my shirt and stared at them in the mirror. I squeezed my left tit and whimpered.
“Oh, Jesus,” Cracker said, his voice vibrating with alarm. “Are you serious?”
“Yes,” I said. “Eliza fondled them last night. Oh, Cracker, what am I going to do? I can’t stand to look at myself anymore. This is a nightmare where I never wake up. I’m looking at them right now. I hate them, Cracker! I hate my man-titties!”
“Calm down. It’s all right,” Cracker said. “We can work on this. Don’t do anything drastic. What are you doing right now?”
“I told you! I’m looking at them! They’re disgusting!” I started twisting them, hoping they would magically fall off, hoping it was all just a cruel gag and I’d wake up tomorrow, tit-less.
“Have you stopped eating?” Cracker asked.
“Good. Are you drinking?”
“Very good. Are you drinking beer or wine?”
“Good. Beer is fattening. Most man-titties belong to beer drinkers.” I could hear Cracker cracking open a beer on the other line. “Now, I want you to listen to me. Put down the glass of wine.” He spoke in a calm, methodical voice, like he was talking me down from a ledge. It pleased me to be helped.
“Okay,” I said, practicing some deep breathing I learned from a yoga class I took in college, a class I’d always attended too stoned to blink.
“Now,” Cracker continued, “you need to start doing push-ups. You need to tighten your chest muscles. Do five push-ups right now and count ‘em off.” His voice was firm and fastidious. I followed his instructions. I couldn’t live with my man-titties and couldn’t afford not to follow Cracker's advice. Desperation will make a man do curious things.
I laid down flat on my chest and began thinking of Rocky Balboa. Anytime I'm involved in an activity that requires physical exertion, I think of Rocky. Due to our shared Italian heritage, thinking of him usually provides the necessary burst of adrenalin. Other times, it backfires, and I’ll become weepy thinking about his speech at the end of Rocky II where he holds up the belt and tells
Luckily, this time, it psyched me up, and I began doing push-ups. Little had I realized that the muscles in my arms had begun a slow atrophy since the last time I did a push-up, which was during wrestling season my senior year in high school, when I was a strapping buck.
“Count ‘em out, you fat-titted bitch!” Cracker yelled over the phone.
“One. Two. Three…this hurts. Foooo…”
“One more!” Cracker screamed.
I fell on my stomach.
“Repeat as necessary,” said Cracker.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Then I'll call Cracker. "Cracker, we were supposed to do our radio show," I'll say.
"Natty, no one was going to listen anyway."
"You're right, Cracker. By Willy's Balls, you tell the truth."
Tomorrow night at 11 p. m. EST on this internet radio link, we'll be airing the inaugural episode of The Natty and Cracker Hour and hosting our good friend Rebecca Schumedja, the hipster poet. Call in and join us for the baptism of Cracker as a Catholic. If you're unfortunate enough to be home on a Friday night at 11 p.m., this is great excuse to grab a beer and join us.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
This is part of the circle of stories I've been writing, on and off, since grad school. If you're interested, the next story in this plot line is titled "Sasquatch," and it was published a couple of years ago by Freight Stories.
There's also a flash fiction piece in Jenny's voice titled "A Long Way from New Hampshire" on The Wilderness House Literary Review.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Okay, I saw you grimace. Hyperbole only goes so far until it becomes insensitivity. But, goddamn it, this is my hair and I'm vain!
A week and three days past, in the Year of Our Lord, 2010, I walked into Great Clips with my son, both of us looking to clean up our respective mops in anticipation of the first of school. My hair was on the longish-side---think Jackson Browne circa 1975---and I didn't want to look like a small-time pot-dealer with my new classes starting.
Allow me to digress. Despite my inexorable vanity, I have been going to hair-shearing factories with banal generic monikers like SuperCuts, Great Cuts, Great Clips, The Pube Hut, etc. for almost a decade and have received the same essential cut every time. I call it "The Men's Regular," a clip on the sides and back and some snips off the top.
Here's the thing: the whole idea of trying to explain what I truly want my hair to look like makes me anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable. When I envision my hair, I see myself with Tom Brady's face, so everything looks great in theory. I always have a plan going in, but when I sit down in the chair, and the woman (the reason men go places like SuperCuts is the outside chance that a hot chick will cut our hair and accidentally brush her boob against our head) asks me what I want, I freeze. My words become jumbled.
It was no different at Great Clips, a week and three days ago, when the woman cutting my hair, a young girl with a sexy Spanish-accent, asked me what I wanted to do with my hair.
"Um, just a regular haircut," I said, frazzled. "You know, clean it up."
My little Latin clipper seemed zealous, exuberant about severing my Jackson Browne and making me, a 35 year-old high school English teacher, look hip. But, apparently, she needed more directives. "Clean it up" wasn't going to cut it (funny, me pun).
Before I could protest, a great mound of grayish-black hair was sheared from the top of my head, and from there, it became a blood-letting. I knew for the next month of my life I'd be handling the ubiquitous "Did you get a haircut" question, trailed by the "What a douche" whispers as the questioner walked away.
And, as you can see, my haircut looks douchey. Molded with hair gel, the front is flirting with faux-hawk, but there's no other option. So I'm in douche purgatory as it grows out. But I've learned my lesson, and my days at The Pube Hut are over. My wife has suggested her hairstylist, and while it might seem gay or metro, it beats the hell out of this.
There is much tragedy in this world of ours. In the words of Joseph Conrad, it's the "horror." And I'm yet another causality, another stooge for this big stupid stage.
On another note: my story "My Husband, Houdini" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editor of Bananafish. Thank you, Daniel. I'm humbled and honored.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I hope I can post this piece fast enough for it to be relevant. Right now, Johnny is “thinking hard”—a paradox, for sure, in The Land on Damon—about whether or not he will accept Boston’s offer to return for the final six weeks of the season. But seeing he’s absolutely loves New York…I mean, Detroit, like any good actor, he needs time to rehearse his role.
My thoughts on this issue were said best by Boston Globe columnist Eric Wilbur. Unfortunately, Mr. Wilbur had to refrain from using any of George Carlin’s seven dirty words. I don’t. So here goes.
If Johnny Damon does return to Boston, baseball fans everywhere will see---once and for all--- how two-faced and willfully ignorant that these Red Sox Nation Pink Hat, media-created, fair-weather, piss-soaked, retarded shithead motherfuckers truly are. Like a bunch of trained seals, they’ll stand and give Johnny his big phony "welcome back" ovation, and ever the performer, Johnny will raise his helmet and rub a crocodile tear from his eye. There will be all this cooing about “the reunion” and how it was never really Johnny that Sox fans hated, but those dreaded pinstripes. And The Pink Hats will forget (if they bothered to read about it) the barking Johnny did in the off-season in 2006 about how the Red Sox disrespected him—before running that saccharine full-page bullshit ad in the Boston Globe (above). And The Pink Hats will forget how Johnny was so, so happy to be a Yankee and how he so, so appreciated that rich Yankee-tradition—after he told Boston media he would “never” play for the Yankees.
Is anyone seeing a pattern?
Maybe this new marriage between the knave and the clueless Pink Hat fans who stand only to sing “Sweet Caroline” or when some small melodramatic morsel of nostalgia---remember Nomar's return?----compels them, maybe it will be harmonious. But I, for one, am not buying Johnny Damon’s bullshit. I hope he stays in Detroit where he really, really loves it, and let my injury-stricken Sox go down with their dignity intact.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Let's start at the end and flashback because I like to do funky shit like that.
As a first-year college student in 1993, a year or so into the Grunge era, roughly two years after the mullet was even remotely fashionable in anyplace other than The South and certain pockets of Mid-America, I showed up on campus at a small college in New Hampshire, to quote another former mullet-man David Crosby, with "my freak flag flying." My mullet was lush and lively, an inexorable force on the back of my neck. I figured the babes would be lining up to run their hands through those luscious black locks, so when I moved into the dorm, I was truly confounded by the fact that I wasn't making any friends.
Shucking the obvious, I blamed it on my Rhode Island-accent.
Then two weeks into my college life, after realizing two guys on my floor were also from Rhode Island, I marched to the barber downtown and had my mullet severed. Never again, other than in these pictures I now share with you, would my mullet show its now ignominious locks.
But at one time, it killed.
When I started growing it (see picture above), I was 15-years-old, filled with the universal teenage angst, and ready to start PAHH-TEYY-INNN'. Bring on the babes. Bring on the booze. Bring on the drugs.
But there was one small problem: I was a complete fucking loser.
While I played on the football team, I was basically a tackling dummy for the varsity squad. Each week on the practice team, I was a slower and dumber version of our opponent's halfback, and the varsity defense would hammer me until I was so concussed I couldn't stand steady. These days, parents would freak out given, you know, science and evidence and shit. But at the time, we called it "taking your lumps."
Meanwhile, in an attempt to seem somewhat cool, my mullet grew and grew and became something I could use as a personal tag. Like so many kids on the skids, I found solace in hard rock and heavy metal. I was listening to G'N R's Appetite, Metallica, the obligatory Zeppelin and Van Halen (Sammy was a pussy) and Sabbath, Iron Maiden and The Cult, so what the hell gives? Why weren't the metal chicks digging me?
Again, I refer you to the picture above.
Things didn't get much better that year. My grades tanked, and shortly before turning 16, I discovered pot. Actually, it was about to get slightly better.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
If you'd like to join in the fun, call into the show and chat, the number is at the top of this link.
Check it out here.
For those of you looking for a wholesome Garrison Keiller-type poetry hour show, stay away. Stay far, far away. This WILL likely offend you.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
I imagine some people are already rolling their eyes, poo-pooing me. I suppose literary agents read them in search of the next big thing, and I guess the family and friends of the editors and contributors browse them and rightfully laud the hard work that goes into publishing a journal, but it seems to me if you really want to get your work out to larger and broader pool of readers then it makes sense to have it on-line and use resources like Facebook and blogs to direct traffic toward it.
Yet still, writers love to hang their hats on "pub-creds" that they can use in a CV or a query letter. Like braggart parents, they love talking about the places they've published. Therefore, it's not necessarily the fact that they're being read, it's that they got one past the editors, and THAT seems bogus to me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of it, too. Most writers need to feed the ego. Like anyone else in any profession, they need the validation that the work they're doing is good and appreciated by others. I get that. But publication in the slick prestigious literary journals seems more like winning a contest than it does sharing with others our thoughts and questions about the human condition. And maybe there are some purists out there who don't write for an audience and simply create for the sake of creation. This, however, is not me. I'm so vain (I bet I think this blog about me).
I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this, or what it is about Carley Simon songs that made me think of it. But I'd love to hear your thoughts, assuming, that is, you're actually reading this shit.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I haven't forgotten this blog. I've just been busy dealing with those characters from BP, plugging shit, thinking deeply about baseball and new ways of executing the "pull my finger" gag. I'm a busy man.
In the meantime, here's my friend Dan Cray, the guy whose lyrics I lift for just about every epigraph in just about every book of poetry I've written. Dan rocks.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
- It seems to me that in order to write well you don't have to be a genius (for my sake, I hope this is true). It seems to me that you just need some knowledge of language and how it works, a library card, and the ability to laugh while suffering.
- Following the Red Sox is like being in a bad marriage, I wrote about this for Slurve Magazine this week. After blowing a five-run lead with Lester pitching last night, I really want to end things between us, but I can't. Boston, I wish I knew how to quit you.
- I've heard some "literary" writers pooh-pooh the YA genre, as if it's somehow less sophisticated to write to an adolescent audience. To these pretentious asses, I suggest reading John Green's Looking for Alaska, which a couple of my creative writing students suggested I read. It's the best book I've read this year. For real.
- Someone on Facebook posted this quote from Robert Bly's book Iron John: A Book About Men: "Hermes is the god of the interior nervous system. His presence amounts to heavenly wit. When we are in Hermes' field, messages pass with fantastic speed between the brain and the fingertips, between the heart and the tear ducts, between the genitals and the eyes, between the part of us that suffers and the part of us that laughs." Nice. Very nice.
- Red Sox Fact (from my Red Sox desk calendar): No player has ever it a home run over the right field roof at Fenway Park.
- When I retire from teaching, I want to become a Jedi knight. Does anyone know how I can make this happen?
- Does anyone really read this blog? If you do, if you are reading this, identify yourself in the comments section. I want to know you, chat. And, Liz, you're my wife and I make you read this. I don't think that counts.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
As you may recall, I had to write a similar letter to Nick Green last year after penning a post, which at least half of my 40 followers read (maybe less), where I referred to him as "Nick Green the Dick Machine" and accused him of "working for the Yankees" after a throwing error cost the Red Sox a game against the Mariners. Admittedly, I'm a man of dubious honor, yet I apologized to Nick Green for my insolent and puerile remarks.
As you may also recall, earlier this season, I assigned you the moniker of "Big Poopy," a pathetic and sophomoric play off your real nickname "Big Papi," a title that commands respect. I then wrote in a blog post on April 17:
"Oh Big Poopy, Big Poopy Big Poopy. How does one go from a folk-hero to someone who is so painful to watch that you almost have to turn away. Wait, I know. He stops taking steroids."
While I was not able to watch those majestic moonshots you hit at Comerica Park last night---I was at a father-daughter dance listening to Justin Beiber at ear-bleed level as hordes of elementary school girls screeched---I saw those homeruns on replay, and, Mr. Ortiz, it was reminiscent of the bombs you hit back in the day, when it was Boston on the winning end of a historic collapse (Did you see that Bruins game last night? What the fuck?). This prompted me to look up your statistics for the month of May, so far.
Kudos, Mr. Ortiz. weel-done. May I call you Papi? Okay. Mr. Ortiz is fine with me. Anyway, this was your second two-homer game this month, and your batting average, while still on the paltry side at .231, is slowly climbing, like I knew it would.
Essentially, Mr. Ortiz, when I wrote that you "looked like an old man waiting for his Viagra to kick in" every time you stepped in the batter's box, I was simply trying to impress people with my analogy, which I considered to possess a modicum of wit. I was wrong. Truth be told, I've always had insecurity issues stemming from a nagging inferiority complex that I can trace back to being force-fed Catholicism as a child. While I know your faith is very important to you, and in no means wish to disparage it, growing up feeling like a lowly sinner with a terminable case of perversion has forced me to over-compensate as an adult and write some of the ridiculous things I've written---articles, poems, stories, you name it. Honestly, Mr. Ortiz, I just want to be loved.
Again, I apologize for my behavior and wish you continued success this season. If you can harness our inner-Jesus and find it in your big jolly Papi-heart to forgive me, I will be forever grateful. I promise this will not happen again, unless, of course, these last few weeks prove to be an aberration and you go back to sucking ass. Then I will go back to calling you "Poopy," blaming your abysmal statistics on steroid withdrawal, and advocating for your immediate release.
Thank you, Mr. Ortiz. And good luck tonight.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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Here's this week's Soxcast. It's a little late, I apologize.
I do, however, want to address and excuse my accent. I'm originally from Rhode Island, and when I read something aloud (my students and anyone who has heard me at a book reading will attest to this) the accent, for some reason, becomes pronounced. While it might seem like I'm trying to add histrionic color to these Podcasts, I assure you, I'm not that much of a douche.
AND it is NOT a Boston or Massachusetts accent; it's a Rhode Island accent, thank you very much. No self-respecting Rhode Islander wants to be lumped with Mass-holes.
Enjoy, and Go Sox!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I am, however, going to briefly step out of my role as an imaginary sportswriter (if you're jonesing for a Graziano sports fix, I have a new article on Slurve Magazine here) and don the garbs of a literary man, the type of guy who scratches his chin and wears blazers and boat shoes.
A veritable shitload of my writing has been published in a number of on-line journals this week, starting with a flash fiction piece titled "The New Girl" in one of my favorite literary journals, Night Train. The couple in this piece is revisited in a short story titled "My Husband, Houdini" on a really nice-looking new on-line journal called Bananafish, I'm assuming after the Salinger masterpiece. Mark and Lisa, the dysfunctional couple in these stories, can also be found in the archives of The Trailer Park Quarterly with "The Man of the House" and in annals of Night Train again with "Almost Christmas" and "Moon Walk."
I know, that's a lot to take in. But if you have some time to kill, it'll give you some reading material to check out on your new iPad, you hipster.
I also had poems appear in both the print version and on-line edition of Verse Wisconsin. Check out my poem "Elizabeth Graziano" here.
There you go, folks, an entire afternoon's worth of Nate Graziano for you. Caution: in certain tests, Nate Graziano's writing has been known to cause cramping, vomiting, rectal bleeding, dizziness, shortness of breath, irrational anger, headaches, and flatulence. If you have an erection lasting more than three hours, seek immediate medical attention.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
My father, who raised me as a Red Sox fan, sent this picture to me. He took it in Woodstock, Vermont, last weekend, and after the Sox couldn't produce a run with the bases loaded with no one out in 11th inning (nice work, Big Poopy), he felt it accurately represented the team.
I concur, Dad. And ditto for Game 2.
For those of you willing to give JD Spew (a nickname credited to my college friend Rob who was kind enough to share his spite with me) and Big Poopy mulligans, then stop reading now because they're in my cross hairs.
Let's start with statistics: Spew is currently batting a miserable .129 and, get this, has struck out nearly half of the time he's stepped to the plate (14 K's in 31 AB's). Aside from this, the man plays with the enthusiasm of a fucking corpse, and don't forget this, he is currently the second highest paid player on the Red Sox (Lackey earns more), making a cool $14 million to suck ass. Here's a guy who goes on the 15-day DL if his dick hurts. Goddamn it, I can't stand the guy. I want to see suffering on his face, the torment of man in the twilight of his overpaid, sadly-average career as a baseball player. But no. Spew's facial expression never changes. While on the field, he looks about as interested in his job as the someone who bags groceries. I can't stand it. Sure, he had a great post-season in 2007. If that's all the Sox get for their money---and remembers, Boras the Ass snuck Spew's contract into the Dice-K deal (nice one, Theo!)---to put it bluntly, they got bent over in that deal.
Oh, Big Poopy. Big Poopy, Big Poopy, Big useless Poopy. How does one go from folk-hero to someone who is so painful to watch play that you almost have to turn away. Wait, I know. He stops using steroids. A friend recently asked me why Boston fans are getting so down on the guy after all that he's done for the Sox. And let's face it, without Papi and Manny, there are no World Series rings in Beantown. But this is, reciprocally, why we're so quick to throw the big lug under the bus. Sox fans had a helluva time taking the high-ground on the steroids issue, especially when A-Fraud got slammed, but when the truth about Papi and Manny was revealed (in hindsight, it was a beautiful game of denial by Sox fans), it hurt more than we care to admit. Now that Big Papi couldn't hit water if he fell out of a fucking boat, we're rechanneling our disappointment with him into pure disdain. Let's look at Big Poopy's stats so far (by the way, he's the third highest paid player on the team at $12.5 million worth of whiff): He's batting .172, having struck OVER half the time he's been at the plate with 15 K's at 29 AB's, and he looks like an old man waiting for his Viagra to kick in every time he steps into the batter's box. Pure poop.
I seriously need to stop watching them. And, so far, this teams has all the personality of a planter's wart. So go ahead, Pink Hats, keep belting out your Neil Diamond songs during the eighth inning and pretending that this team is exciting to watch, but by their very construction, having been built on pitching and defense, they're a snore. I don't want to watch them anymore. I need to find a hobby. I need to get a life. Fuck the Red Sox.
At least until tonight, at 7 p.m. when, like a battered wife, I go crawling back, crawling back to those bastards.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I'm not going to panic. I'm not going to panic.
Oh, fuck that! With a team supposedly built on pitching and defense---giving up a free out each time Big Poopy steps to the plate---if your bullpen can't hold a lead YOU'RE FUCKED!!
Did you see that? I just used two exclamation points. Do you have any idea how pissed I am right now? They dropped two of three to the Spank-Boys, and---the coup de gras---last night they lose to the goddamn Royals. There are Special Olympic softball teams that can out slug Kansas City. This is pathetic. Papelblown-save (there will no ass-monkey gigs in centerfield if you keep this up), Big Poopy (see above), Choke-a-jima, Josh (re)Bard, Marco Who-the-fuck-are-you-and-where-are-you-throwing-the-ball, all of them, pathetic.
Strap in,Sox fans. If these first four games are any taste of what we have coming in the next 158, we're going to start to thinking about the Patriots in June. Oh wait, the Pats suck, too.
Get thee to a liquor store. Now!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Happy Opening Day, folks. While I am adamantly against Opening Day being on a Sunday night, I still have this "kid on Christmas Eve" feeling swirling in my gut right now (although it might be the Mexican food I had last night). Baseball season starts today. Oh fuck yeah!
For whatever reason---which is mostly my self-centered world view---I also feel it's incumbent upon me to make some predictions. However, let's make this clear: I'm not a stats guy. While many true baseball fans are disciples of Bill James and study numbers and scouting reports, I like to take a more humanistic approach to the game. In other words, I go with my swirling gut, embrace my prejudice, and generally talk out my ass (if you haven't noticed). So here we go.
Disclaimer: I'm terrible at spelling last names, so forgive the abundance of butchering in this post.
AL East: My baseball universe revolves around the AL East, with the Red Sox playing the role of God, in the ass-kicking Old Testament sense. However, I'm also a lifetime fan and grew up with each season being another chapter of disappointment. Despite two World Series titles, I can't shake my pessimism and would never be audacious enough to predict the Sox winning the division. I also would never pick the Yankees to win anything, other than The Douchiest Team in the MLB Award. Therefore, and you're hearing it here, I'm predicting Tampa to take the AL East this year. While The Rays are often fall off the radar, they have rock-solid starting pitching (Shields and Gaza), possibly the best bat in baseball (Longoria), and a kick-ass manager (Madden). They're always a headache for The Red Sox, especially in Tampa, and I can see them sneaking up on The Sox and Yankees and repeating a 2008 performance. Well, not really. But I won't pick the Sox or the Yankees, so Tampa it is.
AL Central: The Tigers trade in Granderson for Johnny "The Asswipe" Damon. While their pitching has a ton of potential with Verlander and Nate Robertson, I won't pick them for the simple reason that they signed Judas (it's Easter, dammit). I'm also a fan of Ozzie Guillen and think his motor-mouth and straight serum is great for baseball. The White Sox take the Central.
AL West: This is going to be a dog fight. Anaheim let go of their ace (thank you), and for a big market team, that's Bush League. Texas has some fierce bats, but I'm going with Seattle. My reason (aside from Felix Hernandez): Brian, a Mariner's fan, is one of the only people who comments on my blog, so I'm throwing him a bone. There you go, buddy. The Mariners rule The West.
Wild Card: Dah Sox.
Now, I'm going to be honest, other than interleague games, I pay little mind to the National League until the playoffs. In fact, for a guy who purports to write "a baseball blog," I'm terribly ignorant about the NL. Here's what I know about National League in bulleted points:
- Albert Pujols is the modern-day Babe Ruth. The best player in the game.
- The Mets spend a butt-load of cash and, somehow, still manage to suck.
- Philly is pretty good.
- Manny plays for the Dodgers under Joe Torre.
- They don't have the designated hitter, and that might be fine in little league, so Tommy can learn how to swing the bat, but I like watching homeruns, and I love the fact that pitchers in the AL can throw at hitters with no repercussions. I like dirty games, cheating, and steroids for professional athletes.
That's about it. For baseball purists and fans of the game, you've probably stopped reading already so this is a moot point. For those who give a shit, here are my NL picks:NL East: Philly is pretty good.
NL Central: Other than the Red Sox, the only team in baseball that I like is the Cubs, probably for obvious reasons. Let's go Cubbies.
NL West: Manny being Manny. Torre being Torre. The Dodgers take it.
Wild Card: I left my heart in San Francisco.
There it is, folks. Those are my completely biased and ignorant picks. And a reminder for those of you who are interested: I'm going to be writing some pieces for Slurve Magazine this season. Check it out. And Jon Konrath, the editor of Air in the Paragraph Line, did an interview with me. Rock on.
Play ball. (I said "ball.")