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Mar 17, 07 02:08 PM

Rex Rolex and the Cocks on Coke.

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That's the name of a band that I saw on a flyer on Knaackstrae and Sredskistrae last week, when I was in Berlin.

It was a week of sitting in cafs, drinking lattes, and having disjointed but fun conversations in German. I didn't whip out the camera until I was sitting in the airport on my way back, just to have something to blog around.

Es war wie meinem letzte Reise. Ich machte Spa, aber ich war ein bisschen einsam. Aber ich habe ein paar Berliner getroffen. Das war ausgezeichnet. (It was like my last trip. I had fun, but I was a little lonely. But I have met a few Berliners. That was excellent.)

I spent a lot of time writing long descriptive emails to friends back in New York. I felt like I was almost having more substantive conversations over Trans-Atlantic email than over dinner the week beforehand.

I bought a pack of Nil, seen above and below, as a gift for Scrap. It scares me when my friends smoke. I myself am quit--of a three-pack-a-day habit!--since 1998. But everybody smokes so elegantly in those cafs in Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg, I found myself wanting Scrap around to enjoy being able to smoke everywhere. It's weird to me that I wasn't wanting to smoke myself.

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Pat Dillett and I got together yesterday to edit down the songs we recorded in the subway tunnel. (it definately hangs together like a record, but I'm not exactly sure what I'm gonna do with it. I haven't even been able to get Smofe and Smang a rerelease!) It turned out to be easier to edit than I thought it was, which is great for a guy like me that despairs over a wheezed note or two.

I was late. I was late for a reason that embarrassed when I showed up an hour tardy. I took a walk in Prospect Park in the falling snow. I was enchanted with the trees, and with the fact that mine were the only shoeprints on the trail. I saw a bunch of cardinals, so red against the snow, on a fence. I saw three nicknames freshly scratched on a railing--CHUBB, FROSTY, DESIREE. I relaxed so completely that I came back to my apartment, ate a leisurely breakfast, and totally forgot that I was supposed to go into Manhattan and work.

It's about as close as I could get to literally stopping and smelling the roses.

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Snow makes me happy. I needed it. The night before, I was trying to get my computer to do something it wouldn't. This is one of the few things left that will make me hugely, irrationally angry. I banged my hand so hard on the table that it hurt like fuck the next day. Not smart for a guitar player.

I'm bipolar, and didn't know it until a few years ago. My mania manifested itself in attacks of massive, irrational anger. I would lay awake all night, violently resenting some ghost from the near or distant past. I would try and mitigate this by smoking weed. Treating mental illness--depression, mania--with weed is like treating drowning with rocks in your pockets.

Thank God, I'm in therapy and on drugs now, and life is a busload better than it ever was. Although bipolar is a rather fashionable diagnosis these days, and, being afflicted with terminal uniqueness, that steams me. I learned, much to my chagrin, that Danny Bonaduce is on the same pills--on an episode of his VH1 show, he told an intake guy as he was checking into rehab.

Worked for me. Doesn't work for everybody. Sucks.

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I'm in the mood for full disclosure, so I wanted to tell you that I did you a mild James Frey above. The Rex Rolex and the Cocks on Coke flyer was actually on Danziger Strae, not Knaackstrae. I just thought Knaackstrae was a hipper name.

I think it sucks that guys like James Frey get hunted down and lynched for playing loose with facts in their memoirs. Why not reinvent real events to tell better stories? Memory itself is an act of imagination.

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My friend Peter Mack got married yesterday. Congratulations, Peter.

We used to smoke weed together at Simon's Rock, and do this thing where we'd flip the input-select switch for the speakers on a stero, alternating between a vinyl LP of "Bags and Trane" and a cassette of ringing cathedral bells. When the jazz record was on, we'd do this mocking finger-snap Beat jive, and when we switched to the bells, we'd scream, "THE BELLS!! THE BELLS!!"

We did this for hours at a time.

We also used to do a dance based on our guess of how the painting of the guy on a Penguin paperback edition of Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo" would dance, to Firehose's "Making the Freeway."

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In other news--an awesome pad in one of those East Berlin neighborhoods that looks like the East Village in the 80s--hit by an Art Bomb--costs $400. Prenzlauer Berg, the neighborhood I love best, gets snobbed on for being gentrified. Aparments there are $800! I pay more than double that, and I live way the fuck out in Brooklyn.

I have never had the intention of moving here. I'm happy in Brooklyn, and can't imagine leaving my peoples. But, hoo boy, $400? And you get to live HERE?

I was talking to a transplant from North Carolina on the U-Bahn (subway). He just had a baby with his German wife. He was explaining how terrific it is to be a parent here--school is free, including the universities, health care is free, and the German government gives them a $200/month subsidy just for having a kid!! German mothers are guaranteed by law a year off, with 2/3rds pay!!

Not to mention that the guy barely works and lives very comfortably. He's a literature professor, living in Berlin. He only teaches a couple of classes. He was like: "Well, maybe I'll teach more classes and make more money next Fall...I don't know...whatever."

It's amazing to contemplate what kind of a country America would be if we weren't spending all of our dough on, you know, like, wars and stuff.

(I blogged the above already, on a personal blog in an undisclosed location; sorry, secret personal real-life computer friends, about plagiarizing myself)

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I am recommending:

Tomte, "Ich sang die ganze Zeit von dir. " ("I sang the whole time for you") German indie-rock band, guy has an incredibly expressive voice. He sounds like what I always want the singers to sound like when I skip through all those fucking bands on those CDs that come with Vice magazine (I love Vice, though--makes me uneasy with its meanness, occasionally--and I'm probably snobbing on indie rock because I'm resentful they haven't embraced me like I'd like them to).

Mickey Avalon, "Waiting to Die," and "My Dick" (seen below). He is much hated on, because every hot 18 year old girl in Los Angeles is all over him. Also because his story is one of impossible gritty romance: the grandkid of holocaust survivors, his mom was a pot dealer, and Mickey became a teenage junkie and street whore. I think he's hilarious and funky and sleazy. I also like him because I hope he's the future of the white rapper--he's not clowned up in ersatz rapper gear. He looks like he wants to be a slutty 80's metal guy, with his skinny body in tight jeans, slipping off his ass, tattoos on his taut belly.

Amy Winehouse, "Rehab." Louchely sexy, British, and tattooed, with a fantastic soulful voice. And as a recovering addict, I am charmed immensely by the chorus: "They tried to make me go to rehab," she sings, "I said, No, no, no."

Speaking of which. This moved me in a big way. Craig Ferguson--from the CBS talk show that I never watch because it's on against Conan--talking about why he's not gonna tell Britney Spears jokes anymore, and opening up about his own alcoholism. I might defect talk shows!

Posted by Mike on March 17, 2007 2:08 PM