Sunday, July 30, 2006

Author Stalker

This is what it feels like to be a stalker: nerves fire from every part of your body; your muscles quiver randomly like dandelions; your tired, blinkless eyes are like marathoners in the final mile, surging forward. There's a dry, brassy taste in my mouth, like deodorant or metal polish. I make a mental note to remind my boyfriend Brian to buy a different brand of metal polish--there must be one that has a more pleasing scent--strawberry, perhaps.

I'm at the Book Cellar, a genteel little bookstore in Lincoln Square, hiding behind the greeting card rack like a lion stalking a gazelle or a vulture circling a carcass, or a gay Bear pouncing on a donut. My prey is the famous recluse, author John McNally who was scheduled to do a reading and book signing. I scan the racks, hoping to find John an appropriate card for the occasion, one that says 'congratulations!' or 'good luck' or 'til death do us part.'

"Hey Paul," a man's voice behind me said.

I turned around and it's John himself. He's tall, taller than I've imagined him to be from the picture in the back flap of his books. I imagined that he would be at most 6 inches tall, with his lower body uncropped. But here he was, normal-sized and talking to me.

It was a couple of seconds before I was able to respond with a weak "Hi!" I was amazed that he even recognized me. The only explanation was that he must've read my blog and seen my pictures. But even that is surprising since I only post pictures of myself that are unrealistically attractive. They bear no resemblance to me in real life. In real life, I cannot hope to show only my 'good side' like Barbra Streisand. In real life, no cosmetic can cover up blemishes like photoshop can.

We spoke awkwardly for a few minutes. Our conversation was like a fish flopping about on dry land, gasping for a topic. I thanked him for sending me a copy of his book and he thanked me for posting my interview of him in my blog.

"Brian, my boyfriend, was saying that we should take a trip out to Duke's Italian Beef which you mentioned in your novel, out in Bridgeview," I said. "Is it like a Portillo's?" Portillo's is like the McDonald's of Italian Beef sandwiches in the Chicago area.

john mcnally"Nah," John said, "Duke's is more like a hole-in-the-wall."

"I love hole-in-the-walls," I said excitedly, "in more ways than one!"

He raised an eyebrow and said, "Ba-dum-bum."

Ouch. But I didn't feel too bad because he grinned.

The bookstore was filling up, everybody was looking for a seat. John excused himself politely. I found a seat for myself. My friend Annie, who came with me to the bookstore, sat next to me.

I felt out of sorts. When I am in an audience, I am the guy who hoots and hollers, the one who initiates the clapping, the standing ovation. I looked around, scanning the small audience. People are seated, murmuring quietly. I wondered whether I should take my lighter out and raise it above my head, swaying.

While John read from his new book America's Report Card, I studied the people around me.

I wasn't listening; I had already read the book. I finished it quickly, in two late nights. My guess is that everybody in the audience had too. I was more interested in who I had wrestle with to get in front of the line for the signing later. An older woman, about sixty and with grey hair, sat a few seats away. She had a walker beside her. When I looked at her, she looked back, narrowing her eyes as she did. She had a stack of books on her lap. I was sure I could take her down. Or at least trip her.

Later, John graciously signed all our books. As he rose to leave, a bald man who was sitting in the audience stood up. He was immensely tall. It was Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and Porno. They chatted for bit. I tried to casually eavesdrop but I couldn't understand Irvine with his thick Scottish burr.

In my mind, they were going to a nearby pub and were going to invite me and Annie along to discuss literature and booze and sex. It was perfect, I knew all about booze and sex. I stood right by the door for my invitation.

Unfortunately, a night of literate debauchery was not to be, an invitation was not forthcoming. Annie and I leave the bookstore only a little disappointed. We had our signed books and we shook John McNally's hand. I was even able to lightly touch Irvine Welsh with the back of my hand as I walked pass him.

That's enough for this stalker for one night.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Best Beths

I've been very inspired by Beth ever since I had "remixed" Stolen Car. I had bought all of her CDs and decided that if anybody was ripe for a remix, it was her.

Beth's songs are quiet and never over-produced, they lend themselves to my idea of lazy mixing and production, which is basically to add beats and atmosphere and possibly speeding it up to 30%. Many people describe her music as a fusion between trip-hop and folk. I took many of these quieter songs and made them more upbeat--pop, if you will. If you like Everything But The Girl, Fiona Apple or Cat Power, you probably will like her too.

Yes, yes, I should probably stick to writing my stupid little blog posts, but ya know, I follow my Muse wherever she takes me even though one time, she led me to a sex party where people shit on each other. I made her promise to not ever do that to me again without telling me. I would've taken some Metamucil before going.

I put the mixes up at BestSharing.* When you click on the images below, it should take you the BestSharing site and you can DL them there. They will be there for a limited time, so get them quickly.

But listen, if you want a bona fide CD of these DJ Evil Twin mixes, I'll send them to you. I only have 5 of these CDs to give. The CD contains these 11 mixes as well as 8 other great songs.

I want people to listen to the damn thing and short of selling the thing on eBay, nobody will. All you have to do if you're interested in it is to send me your address so I can mail it to you. You MUST have a blog. Yes, this could be my way of showing up unannounced on your doorstep, but if you've read my blog, you know that this will never happen because I am waaay normal and not crazy at all. Seriously though, if you're worried about that, send me your work address, I would NEVER dream of showing up there. TRUST ME.


*If you are using Firefox, the song downloads, but may need to be renamed to a .mp3 extension.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Today I am Happy

Today, I'm in the midst my third decade and I have all my teeth. When I laugh, the lines on my face add character and that character is not Elmer Fudd. I have an ass that gravity has not pulled below the back of my knees. Half a breath is all it takes to hold in my stomach. And though my hair is slowly eroding, I can still use my muscular chest to distract you.

Today, I have a job that I do well and I don't hate. Sometimes, there are people who make it unpleasant, but by and large, that is infrequent and quickly over. We have casual Fridays which can sometimes stretch to casual Mondays and Tuesdays. This saves me a lot of money on dry cleaning, which is my third largest expenditure, behind the rent and the credit card payments for the trip to Italy ten years ago. When I get home from work, I can forget totally about it.

Today I still have both my parents, who are elderly but young enough to fret about being called "seniors." When I call them, they are healthy enough to complain of their various little ailments, which I commiserate with them about. They have not resigned themselves to the inevitable decline, but still harbor hope, which is evidenced by their efforts to marry me off to an unsuspecting young woman at their church.

I want to describe to you this day so that you will remember. I am sitting in a Starbucks, waiting for my best friends Joe, Matt and Annie. It is a sunny day; the sidewalk is white from the glare of sun, reflecting into the cafe. A pretty girl is standing outside, in a denim skirt and a jaunty ponytail, her hand covered in a plastic bag, waiting patiently for her pug to finish taking a crap so she can pick it up. I am enjoying a piping hot cup of Calm, a chamomile tea, which my boyfriend Brian has bought me. I blow into the cup to cool it off.

Today I am in love.

Today, I am writing this post, which my friends around the world will have read. I will read their comments with excitement, I respond with enthusiasm.

Today I am alive, right now, key by key, letter by letter. These are my marks in the world. This is my pee in the alley behind the dumpster, my scrawl in a bathroom stall: FOR A GOOD TIME CALL PAUL AT 773.555.1212.

You, who are me tomorrow, a week or twenty years from now--I don't know where you are, whether you're lonely, unemployed or sick in bed, a tumor growing inside of you--there were days when you were happy, this being one of them.

Remember that there was a day like today.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

America's Report Card

When John McNally, wrote to me several months ago that he was going to give me a copy of his new book America's Report Card, I ignored it as if it were a venereal disease: it's not real until the scabs appeared. I didn't think he was actually going to send me the book.

As you long time readers know, I don't write very good reviews. I tell people that I like it or I hate it, period. I'm not one for unearthing the hidden meaning of art or delving into the mind of the artist. That's for people who have a spatula instead of a personality.

However, what I am good at is the celebrity interview. I've done so, so many. This time I tried to get John to reveal more intimate facts about himself. Even if you've never read anything John McNally has written, you'll laugh (or cry) at his responses to my irreverent questions.

No Milk: When you said that you were going to send me a copy of your new book after it was published, I thought you were full of shit. I was going to send you a laxative, but I didn't know your address. But the book actually appeared on my doorstep.

I was in the middle of reading Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters. Invisible Monsters was my bathroom read, I need literature to help pass the time while I take my long craps. Your book was going to be the book I read in the car while I was stuck in traffic, propped against the steering wheel. I almost got into an accident because I so absorbed in it, it blew away both other books. I even took an extra long crap so I can finish the last chapter. You must be proud of this novel. But if you had to save only one of your books from a burning house, which one would you save?

John McNally: If you mean which of the books I’ve written I would save, I would probably say none. I tend to hate everything I’ve written by the time it’s published. Instead, I would save Richard Yates’ novel Revolutionary Road. But if I could replace the medium, I would actually save all of the seasons of Deadwood on DVD. I’m writing an essay for a magazine about why Deadwood is the best mass entertainment since Dickens. So, there you have it. I’d run into the burning house, run past my own books, and snag all of Deadwood. I should say here that the mobile home my family lived in when I was three years old burned down in the middle of the night, and while I was watching from inside the trailer next door, I saw what my father threw out the front door as the highest priorities to save: a rug cleaner; an answering machine (this was a Code-a-Phone, circa 1968), and a birdcage with our pet bird inside. And that was pretty much all we ended up with. My pet turtle, which I had bought the week before at Goldblatt’s, perished.

NM: I must admit I had some trepidation when I heard your book was going to be called America's Report Card, I have such an aversion to politically themed books. I hate things that tax my wallet, and I hate books that tax my intellect. Interestingly, your book drew me into the characters and their lives while implanting me with political rhetoric. What came first, the chicken or the politics?

JM: The chicken. The book began as an essay about my crappy job of scoring standardized tests, and how corrupt I thought the whole enterprise was. The essay didn’t work, so several years later I pulled out my shoebox full of notes and tried writing it as a novel. The novel didn’t work, either. But then came Election Year 2004. I was growing more and more pissed off every time I saw Bush on TV, and so I went back and wondered what it would be like to try writing the novel in the very moment that I was living, letting whatever was on the news filter into the story and letting my own anger fuel the writing of the book. Once I figured out that I would end the book on Election Day, I had a structure for the book, and the rest of the elements all fell into place. The last thing I wanted to do was write a politically-themed book, but I managed to find a roundabout way to write one.

NM: You mention Duke’s Italian Beef in this novel, as you did in The Book of Ralph. Let me tell you, the Italian Beef sandwich is probably the one food that exemplifies Chicago for me, more than the Deep Dish Pizza or the Chicago-style Hot Dog. There should be a fanfare of trumpets or a chorus of angels whenever it is served.

I'm from the Philippines and closest we have to something as iconic as an Italian Beef sandwich is balut, which is boiled duck embryo, still in its shell. There is no fanfare or chorus when you eat it, just the imaginary high-pitched scream/quack of a tiny, featherless duckling stewed in its own amniotic fluid.

This is the way I like my Italian Beef: on a warm, flaky bun with hot peppers and a side of the "juice" or gravy, which I will dip my sandwich in before each bite. Sometimes, in my haste, parts of the waxy paper they use to wrap the sandwich end up in my mouth. I will also throw a few fries at a time in the gravy to soak and cram into my mouth before they get soggy. I arm myself with a three-inch stack of napkins to deal with the inevitable mess of eating this delicious meal. Why does Duke's have such a hold on you? And have you ever had balut?

JM: I have never had balut, but I'm game for anything stewed in its own amniotic fluid. Sounds wonderful. As for Duke's, it's the beef sandwich place of my youth, so it's not just tasty Italian beef that lures me in, it's the nostalgia I have for the building itself, it's the melancholy that overcomes me when I step inside. I weep each time I visit Duke's. It's that frickin' emotional for me.

You and I both know that when you order food outside of Chicago that bills itself "Chicago style" that it isn't really "Chicago style." It's just crappy food with some marketing savvy slapped on it. I got married in Iowa City, where their idea of an Italian sausage sandwich is to grill the sausage like a hamburger patty and serve it on a bun. What the fuck is that? The day after my wife and I got hitched, we threw a party, and so I had a friend from Chicago cater Italian beef and Italian sausage. There are several photos of me explaining the proper way to eat the sandwiches. Our guests were virgins when it came to this shit. They were trying not to get the bun wet with beef sandwich juice. My mother-in-law actually wanted to toast her bun in our oven because she mistook the bun’s durability for it being stale. I almost kicked her out of the house. What these people didn’t understand is that a good Italian beef sandwich is messy. They were acting like I was serving deli sandwiches.

NM: I am a very important blogger, my blog is read by my twin brother, my boyfriend and his mother. They can mean the difference between the discount bin and a runaway hit novel, which believe it or not, is a very slim divide, especially for my boyfriend's mother; she's never paid full price for a book ever. This past 4th of July, after dinner, she took our styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery, rinsed them and put them back in the cupboard. How does it feel to be in the presence of blog royalty?

JM: I am humbled, sir. I quake even as I type this.

CONTINUED: "The angrier the context in which I say Ann Coulter's name, the rauchier things get."


Read my other celebrity interview with John McNally. This is his website and blog

Monday, July 10, 2006

What's in Paul's fridge?

Paul Pellerito, the awesome blogger from In My Own Words created this graphic and hosts all of my alter-ego DJ Evil Twin's remixes. Please show him some love.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

No Ordinary Love

No Ordinary Love
(DJ Evil Twin Soulful Remix)
DL here
If link is broken, e-mail me.

Other Sade / DJ Evil Twin Mixes:

cherish the dayking of sorrowkiss of life

Recommended Sade CDs:

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lonely in The Crowd

Our group stood close, although there was no need--my friend Jeff's animated voice carried through the noisy, crowded bar. Ken, his boyfriend of three weeks, stood quietly at the edges, an Amstel light sweating in his hand. Noticing my gaze, he shifted his weight, leaning into the group. He nodded at something Jeff said, forcing out a chuckle, his face wide.

I felt sorry for Ken. Hanging out with the new boyfriend's crowd can be very stressful. I've been that guy. Sometimes, I am still that guy. Whenever we go to a function with friends of my boyfriend who I am not familiar with, I am back to that first time I hung out with his friends, trying to fit in.

If you're lucky, there's a person in the group that you have a connection with, maybe someone who shares your interest in chemistry, small animals or taxidermy. Or maybe one of them is someone you've slept with before, but who's forgotten who you are. You quickly switch to a Chicago southside accent. Ya hope dis will trow him aff.

The good news is that by nature, gay people are gregarious and can talk about almost any subject under the sun, probably because until we were old enough to go to gay bars, we didn't go out much. We watched a lot of TV and read a lot of magazines.

For any gay kid growing up, developing this talent for witty conversation is like a defense mechanism of sorts, especially for me. In high school, I thought that if I can make interesting conversation, then maybe the other guys wouldn't notice that fact that I am a complete and total flamer. Maybe my knowledge of music, art and fashion can fool them into thinking I am straight.

However, the problem is that if your friend brings the guy he's gone out on two dates in, you don't know how much effort you should take. The guy may not be around next week. It would be a terrible waste of an amusing anecdote.

With a stranger, conversation goes in fits of starts and stops; you try on topics like a pile of clothes in a tiny store dressing room, quickly discarding those that make your ass look flat. Even if you find a topic that fits, you're limited to talking in the past and present tense; you can't really talk about going to see The Devil Wears Prada this weekend because you don't know if your friend's made other plans with some other trick. You don't want to mention the trip to Great America next month, because that's almost an invitation.

When I meet a guy, wanting to get to know him is like the most exciting thing. I want to know what makes him tick, what his friends are like, when I can move into his fabulous loft. And I want the guy to meet my friends, my family, my shrink. If the friends like me, then I'm in. But if they don't, a casual negative comment from them could mean that I'm back online, back to pretending to be twenty-three old with a swimmer's build.

I've learned the hard way that the friends (yours and his) can end things prematurely. Better to get to know your guy first, take things slowly, before trying to merge with the Borg. That way, at least your guy's not getting to know you at the same time as his friends; you're not trying to please everybody, be everything to everyone. That's hard.

Once, I was with a group where I alternately had to be a sports nut, a political activist and an art snob. That was at a bathhouse. By the way, can I say that we gay people are getting fucking out of control with our fetishes? Doesn't anybody get off without having it to be some fucking production? Just once, I would like to get a blowjob without having to pretend to be a cop.

Ken had finished his Amstel and was halfway into a Long Island Icea Tea. He was looser, louder, spit occasionally flying out, the alcohol talking. He was really trying hard to fit in. I can tell he really liked my friend Jeff. That makes it harder, right? You know what I mean.

You remember how it feels like to be the only gay person you know in high school. You remember being in a crowd of people all having fun, connecting.

You remember being lonely in the crowd.


You don't have to be lonely if you're on the mailing list. Join now!

The Devil Wears Prada was an amusing frothy fun summer movie! Here's a song from the movie that I tweaked:

Mocean Worker - Très Très Chic (DJ Evil Twin Ecstacy Mix)

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