Sunday, February 29


Mel Gibson’s fetishization of the violence suffered by Christ has made over 100 million dollars in its first few days here in the US. Scary. I’m guessing that Mel is pretty glad he changed his mind and decided to add subtitles over the Aramaic. I’m thinking that the subtitleless version would have been less lucrative.

Mel has been watching his words more carefully lately, but when he was originally accused of blaming Jews for the death of Christ he simply said that the movie shows “how things really were” and that “some people may be upset by that.” And, while we can’t be blamed for everything our parents do, I can’t help noting at this point that Mel’s dad is card-carrying holocaust denier. Mel has said, “I don’t want to be dissin’ my father. He never denied the Holocaust; he just said there were fewer than 6 million.” (Of course, Mel means a lot fewer.)

Another choice Mel quote: “A monkey has a better chance of typing the Gettysburg Address than Jesus has of not being the messiah.” I’m having trouble agreeing with Mel on that one. You know, if it’s really so obvious then there are about four and a half billion really stupid people on this planet. (Of course, now that I think about that last statement I’m not sure I’ve scored a big point against Mel).

Anyway, I have a slightly different take from Mel on the responsibility of the Jews for the death of Christ. I say “sure the Jews killed Christ, but what have they done for me lately!” I don’t care how cool deicide is; you can’t rest on your laurels for 2000 years you know.

In other news:

Ray claims that it was he and not Brad who called the Republicans Yale Law School’s most persecuted minority. When he told me this I felt terrible. My faulty memory had led to the creation of a false historical record. My faith in the internet as a reliable source of information has been shaken. On second thought, however, I think that since I went to the trouble of putting in a comment option I shouldn’t have to fix mistakes like these. This blog has a built-in right of reply. So, until I read otherwise, it was Brad who called the Republicans oppressed.

Friday, February 20

My laptop is being fixed and I’m way too busy but I’m posting this foolishness anyway.

Ten reasons to think you may be too politically correct or too much of a lefty:
10. You call coca cola ‘Colombian workers’ blood’
9. You know the difference between a Spartacist and a Healyite
8. You argued that Henry Kissinger in a war criminal during a social conversation
7. You called for someone’s resignation because they used the word ‘niggardly’
6. You know what COINTELPRO was
5. You harbor a secret desire to murder Jack Welch
4. You regularly get upset about stuff the CIA did in Central America in the 1950s
3. You get a warm glow when you use public transport
2. You care about who killed JFK
1. You call pizzas ‘oppression discs’

Ten reasons to think you may be too politically apathetic:
10. You have no idea what COINTELPRO was
9. You think Central America is near Iowa
8. You would be ashamed to use public transport
7. You own a book by Jack Welch
6. You think of baseball when someone mentions the labor movement
5. You think that Saddam Hussein was responsible for September 11th
4. You think that Howard Dean is radical left winger
3. You get confused during West Wing episodes
2. You care about who killed JFK
1. You think that your new low carb diet is a way to stick it to the man

Some random notes about the first list:
Number 10 - Actually, there’s nothing wrong with calling Coke ‘Colombian workers’ blood (see
Number 9 - refers to some obscure Trotskyite sects
Number 7 - refers to a real incident in Washington DC (‘niggardly’ is an old English word with no racial connotations despite its vague phonetic similarity to a slur).
Number 6 – you really should know what COINTELPRO was, google it if you don’t.
Number 5 – hey, who doesn’t?
Number 1 – this probably has something to do with the fact that I sometimes had to separate anchovies by hand when I worked in a pizza place.

Some random notes about the second list:
Number 5 – more than 50% of Americans are so spectacularly uninformed that they think 5 is true
Number 4 – Dean supports the death penalty, is admired by the gun lobby and governed Vermont as a centrist. Also, Vermont’s civil union law was a result of a court order, not Dean (you are not a left winger just for yelling on stage).

Friday, February 13


This is the first of what will hopefully be many posts about my band, The Fourelles. For now, here is a list of our upcoming shows:

Tuesday, February 17th: Skybar, Somerville (Boston), with Michael Hirsch and The Fifty Mission Crush (we go on at 9pm)

Thursday, March 11th: Cafe 9, New Haven, with 2 other bands (we go on at 12pm)

The Space, Hampden, with 3 other bands (we go on first) [postponed - April?]

. . .

What do we sound like? You ask. ‘Girly indi-pop’ is a pretty good answer to that question.

What are The Fourelles all about? You ask. Well, each song develops one of three themes. Our three themes are:

1. Woe is me.
2. This is all your fault
3. You’re not getting any

Tuesday, February 10

Big Brother Reads My Blog

I'm aware that, even after I tell all my friends about this blog, no more that 3 or 4 people are likely to look at it - even on a good week. Nevertheless, Google is reading my blog and using the text to place 'appropriate' ads (it does this automatically for most of the blogs on blogspot). After my post about surfing in Rhode Island it put up ads for the Block Island Ferry (Block Island has RI's best surf) and surf art. After I put up the post discussing bullying it put up ads for a firm offering "Leadership and Management Development." Creepy.

I don’t intend to let this blog become fixated on high school memories. This and the previous post should help explain why I don’t spend a lot of time reminiscing about those years. [But hey, I just spelt reminiscing correctly first try! High school wasn’t a total waste after all.].

Nevertheless, after my post about Robert I received some amusing e-mails from Arran about our days at Swanbourne High and I thought they were worth posting. Here are some of Arran’s ramblings:

"I confess to having unwittingly victimized Robert Solomon for a brief moment one fateful morning. I was waiting for the bus in town and there was construction work going on, so we were standing among a mass of scaffolding surrounding the bus stop. Strangely Robert happened to be there too and was in a somewhat frustrated state as other Swanny students had hidden his schoolbag by hanging it high up among the scaffolding. The bus was about to arrive and they were breaking out in fits of laughter as they watched Robert run around in a panicked state looking high and low for his cherished satchel. When he finally found it one of them decided to add to their amusement by telling Robert that I was the one who’d hidden his bag and before I knew it I couldn’t find my bag either, with the bus already visible in the distance. I spied it hanging up in the scaffolding and clambered up in a hurry, proceeding to hit my head very hard, at which point I leapt back down to the ground swearing, marched up to Robert and punched him on the side of the head muttering “I didn’t hide your fucking bag in the first place you idiot!”. He began to cry and I said “Look I’m sorry!” as everybody bundled onto the bus.

Strange, some part of me has humorous memories of high school (despite the majority being ones of persecution - not merely delusions). Most seem to involve ludicrous events often involving others’ suffering. I remember Robbie G, the deaf student who was seriously impaired by cerebral palsy getting of the bus home once - stumbling out the back door down the steps & straight into a lamp post. I don't think anyone on the bus was able to stop laughing. Yes we had much fun on that bus home, e.g. trashing the bus and throwing various bits out the window like window insulation, head rests etc. One day some guys up the back kicked out the emergency exit window while the bus was moving. We often got taken down to the depot. One time when everybody realized we wouldn't stop again until the Transperth compound, a few Asian students forced the back door open at a set of lights on St Georges Tce and almost got taken out by a passing car!

We had Smartie fights, rivet fights, a great extended tomato sandwich fight & other highlights like Casey Ribah taking a replica handgun on the bus, pulling it on Blair Williams, yelling "Blair, shut up!" followed by a big bang, laughter & Blair with eyes screwed up & fingers stuck in his ears. That was a strange thing to witness. Occasional guest appearances by Bradley Allen (ex Kent St resident bogan) who would get pissed off standing at the bus stop swinging punches at no one in particular as the wind blew his hair around, muttering "Fuckin' wind! I hate things you can't fuckin' punch!""

. . .

Unlike Arran, my bus home included non-Swanbourne kids so it was a little better behaved and they never took us to the depot. The law student in me wonders about the legality of taking a busload of kids against their will to the depot. Does Transperth still pull stunts like that? I also imagine that, in the post Columbine world, replica handguns on school buses could get a kid in serious trouble (even in Australia).

Like Arran, I remember Bradley Allen as someone who was worth avoiding. I doesn’t surprise me to hear that he resented the wind for its lack of punchability. Thankfully, Swanbourne provided a few people even more vulnerable to predators like him (like Robbie G, the deaf kid with cerebral palsy who was bullied mercilessly) so I wasn’t on his radar. The only people who ever picked on me were a couple of guys named Addas and Russell. That ended in the 11th grade after I punched Russell as hard as I could right in the face. Despite the fact that it was 2 against 1 (and they were both bigger than me) Addas ran away immediately. I still laugh at that. Good way to back up your buddy there Addas. Russell and I grappled briefly but without the element of surprise neither of us could do any more damage. I never heard another word from either of them after that. Part of me wants it to be a lesson that violence is sometimes justified and effective. The reality is that I probably just got lucky that they were wimpier than they looked and they didn’t think it was worth taking further (suppose the two of them decided to reciprocate by attacking me without warning some day?). Was it worth risking getting beaten up just to avoid an occasional taunt? Probably not. Still, I’m glad to have that memory of Addas running away, it's one of my favorites.

Friday, February 6

Tim’s post about the return of racist fire bombings to Perth (see reminded me of my high school days back when the Australian Nationalist Movement first started up (circa 1988). They pasted up signs on practically every bus stop in the city. You couldn’t wait for a bus in Perth without having to stare at some horrendous caricature of an Asian or an Aboriginal. It was actually a pretty impressive publicity effort for a group that turned out to be only 10 or 20 sad acts. I wonder if any of them have suffered health effects from the glue fumes they must have inhaled.

Thinking about those posters reminded me of a classmate from back them. This guy, Robert, was even weedier and nerdier than me and he exclusively wore stretched out tracky-dacks. Although I was low enough in the social hierarchy to be friends with him, he was very hard to talk to and he always seemed to be 1000 miles away. His permanent state of distractedness even led the teachers to ostracize him. One of my science teachers once said to Robert:

“Solomon! If I was the wicked witch of the east, and I could turn you into anything I wanted, like a frog or a toad, you know what I’d do to you? I’d leave you as you are.”

Unsurprisingly, Robert didn’t come to school all that much. I heard that he used to get a daily bus ticket and ride around town defacing the racist ANM posters. The memory of this lonely battle against boredom and fascism still sticks in my mind as a perfect image of life in Perth.

Wednesday, February 4

I knew I was in trouble a couple of weeks ago when the marine forecast gave the swell size but added a caveat: “smaller in areas of sea ice”. Sea ice? In Block Island Sound? Are you fucking kidding? Sure the temperature had been well below freezing for a couple of weeks, but the ocean doesn’t freeze until the water gets down to about -5C and the surf forecast said the sea temperature was still at positive 3C. Maybe there was ice in the bays near big rivers where the water is less salty. Anyway, it certainly suggested that my next surf was going to be on the cool side. My surf buddy Oscar and I also wondered if loose chunks of ice might be a hazard.

So, you can imagine that I went to Rhode Island today with some trepidation. Not only was the water very cold, but I hadn’t surfed for over a month thanks to the longest winter flat spell I can remember. And the last time I did surf was in Australia, in the southern summer. That should make for a nice contrast with a New England winter.

At first things went ok. I judged the wind correctly and drove straight to a spot that was breaking well (the break is a few hundred meters south of Point Judith near Narragansett). The wind was directly offshore and about 6 guys were out enjoying shoulder high waves with the occasional head-high set. I gently placed my board on a snow drift (no danger of dings) then engaged my 6mm wetsuit in the usual battle to see if I could squeeze into the damn thing. To help keep my feet warm I changed in the middle of the road where there was no ice or snow melt (hopping to the side as the occasional car came past). Finally, I win the battle and I’m in my suit (picture me as a cross between a seal and the Michelin man) and ready to scramble down the rocks to the water. I paddled out and, much to my surprise, I caught an excellent wave to start out. Because it was a point break I was able to paddle out around the waves and I barely even had to get wet.

Then things started to go pear shaped. For some reason I couldn’t cleanly catch another wave (well, the likely reason is that I’m a SPAZ). First, I was nose-diving. In Australia I had borrowed my friend Arran’s 5 foot 8 single fin and I was finding the transition back to a 7 foot board a little strange (and, let’s not forget, I’m a SPAZ). Of course, nose diving leads to wipeouts and wipeouts lead to being underwater. They also lead to being ‘caught inside’ which means having to duck-dive more waves to get back out. This also means being underwater.

The body doesn’t like being immersed in 3C water. It’s strange though, it’s not really that you feel cold. It’s more of a jolt or shock. You’re body just says “something is really wrong here” at the top of its voice. I would compare the sensation to suddenly being slapped during an intense conversation. So, rather than thinking “I’m cold”, I’m thinking something like: “But I love the ocean, and I drove so far to see it, why is it treating me this way?”

I decide to put a stop to this nose-diving business by sitting further back on my board and catching waves closer to their breaking point. This is a very good strategy, IF YOU’RE NOT A SPAZ! Having failed to take this into account, I get in position and take a very late drop. The thing about a late drop is you have only a split second. I spent that split second thinking ‘oh shit!’ and then enjoyed a savage wipeout. (Of course, the correct technique is not to think ANYTHING and just leap to your feet.) I went over the falls and got pushed down deep then sucked back upwards but, before I broke the surface, I was dragged back down and along by the whitewater. It was the first time I’ve ever had a long hold-down in true winter conditions. It is a rich experience for the senses. First, you get the dizziness of being tumbled around. Add the fear of hitting the rock bottom (the break I was at even has a few exposed boulders to take into account). Then there is the grip of the cold. Being tumbled around causes water to rush into even the best wetsuit but the cold mainly shocks the face because that’s where you’re totally exposed. And, let’s not forget that, as the hold-down continues, you start to miss oxygen. You REALLY miss oxygen.

That wipeout had me spooked, so my wave catching skills didn’t improve. After paddling for, and missing, a bunch of waves I finally got the kind of ride that sends me back to the surf at every opportunity. I caught another wave late but, instead of being an idiot, I just jumped to my feet and made the drop. Yeah baby! I then did one of my patented awkward bottom turns and rode for a good 40 meters. The stoke from that wave had me paddling back out enthusiastically even though my fingers were starting to freeze.

I didn’t catch any other decent waves of course. I wiped out a few more times and rode a couple of mushy shoulders but that was it. By the time I paddled in my fingers were difficult to move and my tight wetsuit was giving me shoulder spasms. Then I went back to the car where the real ordeal begins . . . getting out of my wetsuit. It usually takes me at least 15 minutes while shivering in the winter wind. I was able to change out of the snow in the middle of the road again but even there my feet froze once I took off my booties. They seemed almost translucent by the time I put socks on them. I had the heater on full all the way home and it was half an hour before I could move my toes comfortably and I was still getting pins and needles from the thaw as I arrived back in New Haven an hour and a half later.

Anyway, looks like there’s going to be swell on Saturday so at least I don’t have to wait long till I can go surfing again. Wohoo!

P.S. Thanks to Brad for lending me his car today. Hopefully Oscar or Jeremy (car owning surfer friends) will want to go on Saturday.

Monday, February 2

Ok, I promise this won't be a "I went to the shops today and got a great pair of pants" blog. Rather, it is simply a piece of free online real-estate where I can occasionally post the kind of things that at least some of my friends may find interesting or amusing (ok, I admit this is only slightly less inane than a tedious daily blog). Tim inspired me to do this ( so blame him.

The name - 'dan music' is a term that some folks here at Yale Law School have for my taste in music (if they knew better they would use pretentious terms such as 'post-rock' and 'alt-country'). Paradigm examples of dan music are labradford and songs:ohia. (Oh god, I'm one post into my blog and I've already used the word 'paradigm' - kill me now).