Daryl's Home Page
Journal Archive - February 2004


Journal | Sunday, February 29, 2004 | #
Same story, different weekend

Important: Big changes to this web site coming tomorrow.

... I had a nice evening out yesterday with Augie, Millie, Sabrina, Jen and Alina. All of us are expatriate Marylanders except Augie, who still lives in The E.C.*. When we went to Junior's for dinner, I drew a diagram on the tablecloth to map out which of us knew the others. None of us had met Jen or Alina except Augie, but it turns out Alina went to the same college at NYU as Sabrina, and Alina and I share a mutual friend in Australia.

* Ellicott City, Md.

- Daryl

Journal | Saturday, February 28, 2004 | #
Okay, plan B

Important: Big changes to this web site coming Monday.

... Have I written before about how so many of my friends are prone to make plans and then flake out? Almost happened twice yesterday, but Augie managed to navigate the subway and find me after he arrived in New York late last night. We had a nice time with his friends at a place called Rififi, where apparently dancing is prohibited under city zoning laws, but in a mass act of civil disobedience, people were dancing anyway! Shh, no one tell the mayor.

... Once in a while, I get an e-mail from a guy named Jonathan Cohen in Brookline, Massachussets. He used to write to me more when I was still being published regularly as a reporter and he'd see my stories on the web. I knew he was always friendly, well-informed, and with an incredible memory — he often mentions other Daryls, knowing that I'm intersted in people who share my name. But I always wondered why he read so much. Well, check out this Albany Times Union newspaper column by Brian Ettkin. Ettkin also used to get a lot of e-mails from Jonathan, and visited him. According to the story, Cohen has a neurological disorder called Asperger syndrome, a form of autism which makes it challenging for him to socialize with people, but gives him a tendency to read everything he can get his hands on. (Also note the famous Daryl mentioned in the column.)

... Remember my journal from September about the push-to-walk buttons at intersections? It seems my hunch was right and there really is a conspiracy afoot. See this New York Times story.

... Now's the time to shop shaking those Polaroid pictures. Here's a good Baltimore Sun story about product placements in hip-hop songs. Lately, I've noticed a couple of new rap songs with lines about Maybachs. Brilliant move to build a luxury car that rhymes with "payback."

- Daryl

Journal | Friday, February 27, 2004 | #
Spot the irony in today's journal

I have a bad way of writing this journal in the mornings. Usually I write something in advance. But if I wake up and there's a news story I want to comment on first thing, I'll just fire off a quick paragraph about whatever I'm thinking. Usually, it ends up much too long. So then I take a few minutes and cut it in half. Sometimes, this results in a really tight argument; other times, an incoherent mess. Example: Yesterday's ramble about Clear Channel. I didn't mean to say that a war rally is somehow indecent, the way the FCC finds some DJs indecent. I meant that a war rally is another example of Clear Channel's pandering to the federal government, like the cancellation of Howard Stern this week. Another dot I should have connected: Howard Stern works for Infinity, which is owned by Viacom, the company that owns MTV and CBS, which produced and aired the Super Bowl halftime show. Got it? Then let's move on.

... A few months back, a singer from Staten Island named Eamon released a song called "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)," a raunchy bee-bop/hip-hop track about a relationship gone horribly wrong. It's a good song and people like it. Now this week, a singer named Frankee, who claims to be Eamon's ex-girlfriend, dropped her own song as a response. It's called "Fuck You Right Back," and it's just as brutal as Eamon's song in describing him as, um, a bad lover. (Eamon said in response, "I never met the girl in my life." Click here to listen to his interview on Z100. Note that when Eamon says "I'll kill her," he's talking about a song competition.) Maybe it's my inner teenage girl, but I really dig these tunes. I'm a sucker for songs that tell stories. Judging by the huge amount of airplay they're getting, the stunt is paying off for both of them. Of course, on the radio, they sound like Swiss cheese because a third of the words need to be cut out. ("Fuh what I said, it don't mean shh now," etc.) This week, Z100 has been playing both of the songs over and over and discussing their merits in detail. Oh, Z100? A Clear Channel station.

- Daryl

Journal | Thursday, February 26, 2004 | #
Save me a game of "Berzerk"

Something extraordinary is going to happen this Sunday: We get an extra day of February. Bloody hell. How come we never get an extra day of, say, September? Worse, we have to listen to those people who have birthdays on February 29th saunter around and say things like "I turn six today! Har har har!" Oh grow up, people. But out of this quadrennial calendrical calamity comes one good idea: Pizza Party USA. Click here to read Matthew Baldwin's brilliant suggestion for how to make the most of this stray day.

... How curious that radio chain Clear Channel has suddenly become a champion of decency on the airways. Yesterday, the company cancelled New York shock jock Howard Stern on radio stations it owns in Pittsburgh, Miami, and other markets. (Stern works for Infinity and will continue to appear on other radio stations.) Stern's show is popular, attracts a demographic advertisers love, and is probably a big moneymaker for Clear Channel. Clear Channel never seemed interested in policing itself for indecent content before. So what's going on here? Well, Clear Channel made its name by buying hundreds of radio stations and operating them as cheaply as possible. They were able to do this because of relaxed FCC regulations that allowed broadcasting companies to own more stations. In other words, Clear Channel owes its success to favorable legislation. Today, Clear Channel officials are testifying in front of a Congressional panel on broadcast decency. Now that radio and TV companies face a threat of tighter regulation, thanks in no small part to Janet Jackson's boob, Clear Channel needs to make itself gleam in the eyes of legislators. Now they can say: At least we're not Infinity. We've seen this before, as Clear Channel allowed its local stations to host pro-war rallies in their communities and to ban anti-Bush singers like the Dixie Chicks. This all sounds relatively petty, since it's only radio and we've got bigger fish to fry right now, right? But it's another reminder of how much the government can influence the content of our media simply by threatening to regulate it.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | #
Getting sorted

Not busy enough? Here are some things to do. The New York Times Travel Show is at the Javits Center this weekend. The Park Slope Poetry Project meets on Tuesday. There's supposed to be a Little Gray Books lecture on Wednesday. Penn State folks: Don't forget the free concert at Lincoln Center on March 31.

... Check out Gerritt's new web site today. Happy birthday, G!

... "Today I call on our citizens... to love... local officials... of the same gender." - President Bush, in his speech about gay marriage, as edited by the Late Show with David Letterman.

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | #
Spitzer? But I barely know her!

Dear New York Music Purchaser: Throw a party. The Music CD settlement checks have been sent out. (In case you've forgotten, I wrote about this settlement in January 2003 and again last December.) I learned the good news from Jeff in Pennsylvania, who got his check last week. Mine arrive yesterday. As penance for allegedly fixing prices of music CDs, the recording industry has refunded me $13.86. The check came with a letter signed by my friendly state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer. My favorite sentence from the letter: "Please note that the attached payment instrument must be cashed by May 20, 2004." I haven't yet decided how I'm going to spend this payment instrument. Any suggestions?

... Speaking of which, a dude with a name like Eliot Spitzer really needs a parenthetical middle nickname. Like Eliot "The Eliminator" Spitzer. Or Eliot "The Jackall" Spitzer. Or Eliot "Wolf" Spitzer. Or Eliot "Lime" Spitzer.

... I rode the new D-as-in-Delta train to work yesterday. It's everything it's supposed to be: fast, convenient, and crowded. How did a line that didn't exist last week suddenly become one of the most popular trains in town?

... Correction from yesterday: Don't set your TiVos just yet. Jessica has not been officially selected to appear on any television show. She first must pass a background check and complete various other hurdles. And, this being television, nothing is ever final until it airs. A source familiar with Jessica's thinking tells me that Jessica cannot even confirm that she'll be on the show until the TV people say she can.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, February 23, 2004 | #
Daaaaay-o!

Do you ever start to eat a banana and then, maybe about halfway through, get a feeling in your gut that says "If I eat one more bite of this banana, I am going to vomit." What's with that? Bananas are a tasty snack, but I always hit a full-of-banana threshold if I'm eating one after a meal.

... True story: Jessica [might] be on a cable TV dating reality show. Congrats, Jess! Regrettably, she is contractually forbidden to discuss the details in public, including writing about it on her blog. (A source familiar with Jessica's thinking tells me that the show is TLC's "Date Patrol" and that her episode has not yet been taped, so it won't air for some time.) [Corrected Feb. 24.]

... Remember the problem with the fire alarm system at the Time Warner Center, detailed in this space two weeks ago? On Saturday the building experienced an actual fire, apparently due to faulty wiring.

- Daryl

Journal | Sunday, February 22, 2004 | #
Darth Nader

So Ralph Nader is running for president. That's so retro.

... Fair warning: I'm working on a redesign for the web site which will launch March 1. It will split the weblog off onto a separate site and use the daryllang.com domain as a personal site to promote my writing. Stick around for more details next weekend.

... I hate when, during NPR pledge week, they say public radio "runs on the honor system." As if I'm breaking some kind of ethical code by not sending money to a radio network. Actually, I could write a whole page about this, but I don't have time right now.

... Answer to yesterday's trivia question: Detriot.

- Daryl

Journal | Saturday, February 21, 2004 | #
Goin' off the rails on a crazy train

New subway service starts tomorrow. While I was out with some friends the other night, I jokingly tried to talk them into joining me on Coney Island at midnight Sunday morning to be the first people to ride the new Manhattan-bound D train. Of course they looked at me as if I were crazy. (This was after an exchange in which a dude told the group, "Hey, I have an idea, let's go somewhere and get drunk," and I said, "Dude, we're in a bar.")

I'm not really going to do wait around for the first Delta train, of course. Nevertheless, I'm excited about the new subway routes. Having express service to the west side will make my commute faster and end my love-hate dependency on the F train. F train: I don't want you back.

...Trivia question: Of the 15 most populous U.S. cities, only one has voted so far in the Democratic primary. Which one is it? Answer tomorrow.

- Daryl

Journal | Friday, February 20, 2004 | #
Talk about a bad pickup line

By total accident, I almost started a rebel uprising at my post office Wednesday morning.

First, the scene. I was at the Van Brunt station on 9th Street, an old-school post office which teeters in a constant state of borderline anarchy. There are two lines at this post office, one line for general service and an "express" line for package pickups. My brother sent me a box I had to pick up, so my first instinct was to wait in the package line. When I got there, a woman was already waiting in the express line. There's a small chime you're supposed to ring for package service. The woman was ringing it repeatedly and impatiently, but getting no service. The window was obviously closed! Duh! So I ignored the woman and waited in the long general-service line with everybody else.

By the time I got to the front of the slow line, maybe 20 minutes later, there were about 10 customers in the express pickup line behind the woman. No clerk had served this window yet, but everyone waited eagerly as if someone would appear any second. The woman at the front of the express line, by now as wiggly as someone waiting for a stadium bathroom, tried to cut in front of me in the general line, but I told her to step off. I've been waiting here for a long time, I told her, just like everybody else. She backed off quietly, but I could tell she was seething. By this point, people in the express line began to notice that I was holding a pink pickup slip, and they began to eye me suspiciously. At the front of the line, I asked for my package and the clerk got it for me. Upon seeing this, the people in the express line erupted. "How were we supposed to know what line to wait in?! Why didn't someone tell is?!" Suddenly, they were brandishing pitchforks and torches, ready to rush the bulletproof glass at the postal counter and stage a coup. I beat feet, escaping through the side door before things got ugly.

- Daryl

Journal | Thursday, February 19, 2004 | #
California! And Texas! And New York!

Bye bye Howard Dean. He's left the race before I even had a chance to vote for him. I liked Dean because, despite his rough spots, he took a genuine effort to reach out to young people. I don't feel like any of the other candidates have done so. Of course, we've learned that appealing to the young vote is a terrible strategy if you want to be president. Young people, most of them, don't vote at all. Initially, people seemed willing to donate a ton of money to Dean's campaign, which he then blew running ads in Iowa and New Hampshire: states of older, conservative voters. The Dean campaign dispatched teams of peppy, idealistic, Internet-savvy, smarty-pants young people to testify on Dean's behalf. The problem was, most American voters hate smarty-pants young people. Dr. Dean, we wish you luck in all your future endeavors. Now we have until November ponder which Skull and Bones member we'd rather elect as our president.

... Two! Four! Six! Eight! Who do we appreciate! David Hoe! He had a letter to the editor printed in yesterday's Washington Post. Click here to read it. Congrats, Dave!

... Want ad: My friend Renée is in search of an apartment in the D.C. area this summer. Requirements: Safe. Cheap. With parking. Renée notes that she is very nice, and I happen to agree. If you can help her out, give her a shout at rmp172@psu.edu.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, February 18, 2004 | #
Be sure to wear flowers in your hair

Civil disobedience is a tricky thing. It's so often used for pointless reasons, like to smash the windows of a Starbucks at a globalization protest. I don't like Starbucks either (You're telling me "tall" means "small"?!), but I'm not going to get arrested over it. On the other hand, when civil disobedience is applied to the right cause, such as civil rights, it assumes a warm and fuzzy kind of lawlessness. Check out San Francisco, in it's glorious effort to out-gay Boston, where the city hall has become the only place in the U.S. to sanction "real" gay marriages. I have a hunch that the marriages, which violate state law, might be annulled under some kind of court order. But for now — what a place to be! If only every American city and town could be so welcoming. And so bold, for a just reason.

... Some links I've been too busy to post: Slate reviews the Roaming Gnome, which I wrote about last month. And Sunday New York Times readers are discovering joys of watching Daniel Okrent lose his mind in print.

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, February 17, 2004 | #
Roll over

Ice racing rollover

Ice racing isn't all about wrecks. But here's a picture of one from the race I attended Sunday.

... I was eating lunch in a salad bar/deli yesterday when a breaking-news bulletin came on television. The Yankees officially have A-Rod! Now back to our regular program. Yeah, this is huge news in New York.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, February 16, 2004 | #
Ice racing: The antidrug

Sunday was one of those weird dream-like days where I'm glad I took notes. I woke up at 4:30, rented a car from a shady lot next to the Port Authority in Manhattan, drove four hours upstate, stood on a freezing lake until 4:30 in the afternoon, drove five hours back, dropped off the car, rode the subway home, and fell asleep.

As for ice racing itself, it's a crazy sport in which you can race a car with virtually no investment and you don't even need a track — just a bunch of buddies with snowplows. As you would expect, racing a car on ice is slippery business. There were about 30 cars on Lake Algonquin yesterday, and about seven of them rolled over at some point. (It's rare to have that many accidents, I was told.) Of those seven, maybe three or four of them suffered shattered windshields or other damage so severe that the car could not race again that day. But all off the drivers insisted their cars could be fixed within a week and returned to service at the next race. I think ice racing will make a fun story once I write it. I'll post a picture or two here tomorrow, assuming they turn out.

The scarriest part of my day was driving my rental car (a green Kia Spectra?) onto the frozen lake. See, I had to drive down a boat ramp, along a narrow ice road that had been plowed in the snow on top of the lake, and park in a large parking lot next to the ice track. I drove my car down the boat ramp and began making my way to the parking lot. But soon, I saw a slushy puddle in the road, about two car-lenghts long, perhaps six inches deep. But from my point of view, it looked suspiciously like there was no ice there at all, but just a hole into the lake. I eyed it carefully and imagined the conversation I would have with the rental car company. ("Hi, about your car... Right, a lake... No, not recoverable. Not until spring.") I decided to wait and watch another car drive through it before I attempted it. After a small Chevy had forded this ice puddle successfully, I went ahead and drove through it. No problems.

- Daryl

Journal | Sunday, February 15, 2004 | #
Go ice racer!

It's supposed to get up to a high of 15 today in Wells, N.Y., where I'll be. Perfect weather for an ice race. An ice race involves a bunch of amateur racers driving their cars out on a frozen lake, in this case Lake Algonquin. I'm not entirely sure what to expect from this ice race, but I imagine it will be cold. I wanted to go to the Daytona 500, but this is the best substitute I could find. Actually, I'm doing this for a freelance story I hope to sell to a newspaper. Will I be racing? If I still had my car, I might take it out for a spin, but I'll be driving a rental, so I think not. (On another note, this is actually the first time I've rented a car.)

Tune in Monday when I'll be sure to tell you all about ice racing. For now, check out this site for more.

- Daryl

Journal | Saturday, February 14, 2004 | #
Another subway love story

She's a skinny white girl with straight black hair in a pony tail, probably in her mid-20s. He's a large black guy, at least a head taller than her, probably twice her weight but about the same age. I've never spoken to either of them, but I see them almost every morning when I catch the F train at Seventh Avenue. They meet up at about 8:45 a.m. at the west end of the station, in a mostly deserted hallway near the Metrocard machines. The setting is a gritty-smelling cave of florescent lights, white ceramic tile, and Sharpie graffiti. In the city of the Empire State Building, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Promenade, they have chosen one unromantic rendezvous.

Not that it matters, apparently. She usually gets there first and waits for him. Once he arrives, they lean against the wall in a tight embrace, gaze into each others eyes, and whisper soft things to one another. They're totally smitten. Presumably, they then part ways and go about their workdays elsewhere in the city. When I see them, I wonder what the heck their story is. Do they meet in the subway because it's convenient? Or are they hiding? From whom, and why? Why don't they ever spend the night together? Why don't they ever meet above ground, for breakfast or something? All I really know is that they have been going through this routine nearly every day for at least a year and a half.

Some say there's no love to be found in New York, but these two people, against whatever unlikely situation might have kept them apart, found it.

- Daryl

Journal | Friday, February 13, 2004 | #
Back on planet Earth...

... It's Friday the 13th. Which means bad luck!

... My bank and credit card companies are trying to scam me. They send me "checks" made out in my name for small sums, like $7. They look like real checks. But in fine print on the back, it says that if I endorse and deposit the check, I'll be automatically signed up for some worthless service. They're trying to sell me credit protection, bonus gift plans, that sort of thing. Yesterday I got one of these Trojan horse checks from BankOne, made out for $2.50. If I deposit it, they sign me up for a credit report service called PrivacyGuard — which automatically bills my Visa card a recurring charge of $89.99 a year! Do they think I am stupid?

... That Internet is nothing but trouble. Should the Drudge Report have run an as-yet unsubstantiated piece about John Kerry's alleged affair with a young woman? Will it affect the outcome of the primary? Will some reputable news source pick it up today? (I say, no, no, and no.)

... The word of the moment is: "Movieoke."

- Daryl

Journal | Thursday, February 12, 2004 | #
Let's talk about sex

I went with my friend Millie to a reading last night called Worst Sex Ever, hosted by a friend of Millie's. (More info here.) Eleven writers, all of whom keep blogs like this one, read stories about the worst sex they've ever had. It was a packed house, thanks to blurbs in The New Yorker, The Onion, and of course, on various web sites.

Listening to these bloggers reminded me that there are two kinds of people: (a) Those who have sex with few or no partners, or (b) those who have sex with lots of partners. The difference is so fundamental, so inherently part of our personalities, that people who try to change themselves from one type to the other invariably wind up depressed, frustrated, or at least slightly mixed up. Those of us who have sex with few partners have good stories of our own, but we don't usually tell them, saving them for some night when we're drunk and playing cards with close friends. Conversely, people who get around a lot tend to yammer about their exploits to anyone within earshot. Their yarns often veer into drugs, and almost always involve devastating criticisms of the people they hook up with. (I guess I'm ignoring the category of people who just make stories up, but that would puncture my nice little two-kinds-of-people theory.) Anyway, the bloggers last night were evenly split into each category of sex habits. All but two or three were good story-tellers. It was a refreshing and entertaining show.

Gawker editor Choire Sicha (say: Corey) was there and spoke about a time he worked as a prostitute. Before his story, he passed around two containers of homemade chocolate chip cookies to share with the audience. Gawker, you might know, is so terribly mean-spirited and snarky, yet fiercely addicting and popular among media people. Given how often Choire skews other people for shooting heroin, though, I wonder about those bull's-eye-like designs tattooed on each of his forearms.

... Leftover from yesterday: Read Japhy's awesome entry about Douglas Faneuil.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | #
North! To Alaska!

I might take a day trip this upcoming weekend to the Adirondack Mountains. So here are the places I've traveled so far in 2004: Colorado, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and now upstate New York. Maybe next I should go to the Yukon, Greenland, and Siberia.

... Discast? Comney? Hmm.

... A study says women over 40 are the largest group of online gamers. For reasons I cannot fathom, they also make up a fair portion of the readers of this home page.

... The Gospel according to Mel? Check out this thought-provoking Newsweek story about "The Passion." I have mixed opinions on this, but I think people who take this movie as an article of faith are totally missing the point. I might give up Mel Gibson movies for Lent. (Come to think of it, I just looked at the list of Mel Gibson movies and the only one I've actually seen is "Chicken Run." Of course, I'm not a woman over 40.)

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | #
You can't control me!

I turned in my old license plates and cancelled my car insurance yesterday. Like a good salesperson, the woman at the insurance company tried to up-sell me on services no longer of any use to me. Would you like to add another car to your policy? There is no other car. Will you be getting another car soon? No. We can keep you on as a preferred customer, to lock you in at a lower rate if you ever want to get insurance from us again. How much does that cost? $58 every six months. Gee, let me think about that for a sec— no. Yeah, it feels good to stick it to The Man.

... My high school, Centennial, got a shout-out in a front-page Washington Post article yesterday. Actually not a shout-out, just a passing reference to a grade scandal in a long story about Howard County's weird school system.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, February 9, 2004 | #
No cause for alarm

Friday after work, my friend Britta and I visited the Time Warner Center, a new skyscraper at Columbus Circle. The first four stories of the building opened on Thursday as a futuristic glass-enclosed shopping mall. As we browsed the shelves of a Borders book store, a siren began to wail and strobe lights began to flash. We paused and looked around to see if other shoppers had reached a concensus about whether to evacuate the building. The store employees acted like everything was normal, and soon the alarm stopped. At the front counter, a cashier said the fire alarm has been going off regularly. Not a great way to make customers feel welcome.

... Mmmm, cramberries!
Cramberry

- Daryl

Journal | Sunday, February 8, 2004 | #
Boots, come home!

Update from Friday: My boots have been located. In a moment of forgetfulness, I abandoned them in Maine. Unable to walk home to Brooklyn by themselves, they found their way into a closet at the Samoset Resort, where the courteous housekeeping staff offered to send them back to me. A happy reunion is planned for when they arrive.

... A very funny music video is circulating on the Internet. It's a montage of clips from "A Charlie Brown Christmas," remixed to the song "Hey Ya." Thanks to some hard-working copyright lawyers, copies of this harmless and fun movie are being cease-and-desisted as soon as people can post them. Here's a link that still worked as of this morning. Who knows how long it will be up there, so, ya know, drop it like it's hot.

Daryl

Muddy road in Iraq
Journal | Saturday, February 7, 2004 | #
Letter from Mosul

Today's photo and journal entry come from very special guest 2nd Lt. Mike Eshoo, who is stationed in Mosul, Iraq with the Army's Stryker Brigade. - Daryl

You have heard about Iraq, a hot, flat, desert where the temperatures soar above 100 degrees daily. There are more camels than people and the only thing green is the combination a human waste and trash dumped in the street. The bugs are fierce and attack in droves of thousands.

As it turns out, you have heard about Iraq in the summer time. This is winter. This is northern Iraq. Today's high is 60 degrees and the low will take us to a chilly 35. I will wear gloves and a sweater under my uniform and body armor and still be cold. If we are lucky, it will stay dry, but more than likely it will rain. If it does rain, the rain drops will be larger than you would find in the US, and the earth will soften in some places to easily engulf the foot and shin of a soldier not watching his step. The terrain outside the city is similar to the foothills of the Appalachians with streams cutting rather steep valleys throughout the grass covered country side. Trees sway with the gentle breeze on a sunny day and are torn during a rain storm. I haven't seen sand since Kuwait.

Yes, Iraq in the winter is comfortable. However, the soaring temperatures sit in wait for their summer awakening.

2LT Michael Eshoo
A/1-23 IN 3-2 SBCT
APO, AE 09385

Journal | Friday, February 6, 2004 | #
My whole life is a wardrobe malfunction

Program note: Be sure to check the journal tomorrow for a very special guest column by Mike Eshoo in Iraq.

... How did I lose my boots?! It's pouring rain and I'm going to have to go out there in regular shoes. I'm certain I brought my boots home with me from Maine. Right? Where could I have left them? I'm always so careful about checking hotel rooms when I leave, that there's no way I could have left my boots... in the coat closet... no way possible. I wore them home, didn't I? Or I packed them in my suitcase. Weren't they in there when I unpacked on Sunday night? Oh, I don't remember. Woe is me. How can I possibly go on?!

... So the strange thing is, Janet Jackson's new song is one of the catchiest tunes she's ever done. It was sure to be a hit, even without her Super Bowl shenanigans. Oh well. Thirty years from now, media studies professors will use her boob as a case study of how weird television standards were in 2004.

- Daryl

Journal | Thursday, February 5, 2004 | #
One fewer car

I sold my Subaru yesterday. It is a great relief to be rid of the car, which sat unused most of the time and had been costing me $210 a month in insurance. There are plenty of convenient ways to travel around New York without my own wheels. At the same time, it seems a shame to sell such a good car. In the four years I owned it, I put 80,000 miles on the car and drove it to 16 states. It even climbed Mount Washington. And lately, it's been helping me get around as I get started in travel writing. Still, my life will be easier without it. I'll find other ways to continue traveling, such as renting and borrowing cars.

... You recall I was just talking yesterday about Boston. Now Massachussets appears on track to be the first U.S. state to allow all-out gay marriage. The legal reasoning behind the court decision baffles me, but I believe any step toward celebrating gay unions is a step in the right direction.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | #
Life is a highway...

During the brief and strange time in my life when I lived in New Hampshire, I quickly learned that the best thing about New Hampshire is Boston. I spent a lot of time driving on Interstate 93, which connected my apartment in Penacook to my job in Laconia. The same highway connected me to Boston, New England's major city. At the time, I-93 through Boston was a lumbering dinosaur: a green, rusting metal skyway that crept slowly over the city. By the time I learned my way around, I had also realized that I was hopelessly in the wrong job. I left New Hampshire and moved back to Pennsylvania.

When I drove I-93 through Boston on Sunday, I saw that the old elevated highway is being disassembled by cranes. Now, I-93 now passes over an elegant suspension bridge and then runs smoothly under the city through a shiny two-mile-long tunnel. It's all part of a little road project you might have heard about: The Big Dig. Billions of dollars and several years later, Boston is starting to look much nicer. In addition to the I-93 tunnel, I-90 is also underground now, running east-west under Boston and under the harbor to Logan airport. (The tunnels are even color-coded so you know which one you're in if you get lost.)

Time moves on. We plan highways, we build them carefully, and with patience and hard work they will turn out well. When we try to plan our lives that way, though, nothing seems to hold together the way that concrete and asphalt do. Sometimes it falls apart. But unlike a highway, we can pick up our life and take it somewhere else, and build it again better.

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | #
Radio free Daryl

I got a phone call a week ago asking if I wanted to be a regular participant in surveys about music I hear on the radio. Of course I said yes. I got my first survey call last night, which went like this. The pollster played little snippits of songs. If I know the song, I'm supposed to rate it on a scale of 1 to 5. Then I'm supposed to say if I'm tired of the song or not. If I don't know the song, I skip to the next one. Based on my demographic (I think) I'm being surveyed for my opinions specifically on rock music. I gave fives to songs by artists I like: The Darkness, The Offspring, Coldplay, Jet, Incubus. I gave twos to that droning, tuneless bands that all sound like Nickelback. There were a couple of songs I didn't know. And some old songs thrown in the mix, too, including a classic U2 song.

Radio has the power to make music sound better. I think it's the element of surprise. For example, the 80s song "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder doesn't sound good when I play it at home. But when that song comes on the radio and I'm not expecting it, it makes me feel great. I want to turn the volume up and sing along. That's what makes it worth putting up with commercials, deejay chatter, and the crummy, overplayed songs that get thrown into the mix. I really like the digital music channels that come with some cable TV systems. I've heard good things about XM satellite radio, too, but don't want to pay for it.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, February 2, 2004 | #
Football — and naked people!

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties because it's COLD out there today! Yeah, it's six more weeks of winter. I'm back in Brooklyn from my weekend trip, still thawing out from Maine.

... Everybody's writing about the Super Bowl hoopla, so I'll join the party. Never mind the football: this had to be some kind of record for the number of commercials involving male genitalia. (Dog bites man in the balls, man gets bikini wax, man in a kilt stands over a subway grate, guy throws football through tire, etc.) Then there was the "wardrobe malfunction" at the halftime show: Justin Timberlake ripped part of Janet Jackson's costume, exposing her right boob, which caught a few seconds of air time. Soon after that, a streaker ran across the field and delayed the game. The cameras cut away from the streaker, but CBS allowed the following line to appear as a warning in a Cialis commercial: "Erections lasting longer than four hours, though rare, require immediate medical attention." I bet that warning sells more Cialis than any piece of real ad copy they could write.

- Daryl

Owls Head Lighthouse in winter Journal | Sunday, February 1, 2004 | #
I am a New England patriot

Once again, I'm writing the journal from New England. (See more from Friday and yesterday.) This time I'm in Rockport, Maine, at a bayside golf resort.

If you seek solitude, come to Maine in winter. This truly is Vacationland, but people don't take vacations to where the temperature is 10. I had a splendid day Saturday touring some near-deserted attractions, including the L.L. Bean retail store in Freeport, two museums, and a park with the lighthouse you see above. (That's Owls Head, which overlooks the icy Rockland Harbor and Penobscot Bay.)

Sunday, I hope to drive back to New York in time to watch the Super Bowl at home. I thought about trying to find a perch somewhere in Boston to watch the "big game," just for the hell of it, but I thought better of it. I need to get home, do some writing, unpack all this crap I've collected along the way, and wash the taste of Moxie out of my mouth.

- Daryl

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COOL SONGS
"This Love" - Maroon 5 - 2.26.04

"The Reason" - Hoobastank - 2.21.04

"Please Come To Boston" - Kenny Chesney - 2.19.04

"I Believe In A Thing Called Love" - The Darkness - 2.14.04

"Light and Day/Reach For The Sun" - The Polyphonic Spree - 2.7.04

"100 Years" - Five For Fighting - 2.4.04

"Hit That" - The Offspring - 2.2.04