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Candy and Cigarettes

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Monday, February 6, 2012

New Website and My Fake ID

I'm going to try to reel in my disgust over the Super Bowl and not subject you to a rant about how my friend Mike in Miami is right, and after Brady went all Hollywood, he hasn't won shit.  On the biggest stage, with a chance to seek revenge against the Giants and that mole-faced little bastard Eli who ruined his chance at perfection four years ago in the desert, Tom Terrific was anything but.  I am sickened and disgusted, and reminded of something my granddaddy once said to me and one of life's great truisms: sports will only break your heart, boy.

(Oh, and fuck you, Wes Welker.)

But the good news is...the new website is here!  The new website is here.  And here it is:  Very important.  Starting tomorrow, this is where you'll also go to find the blog.  You can still type in the old address, which will direct you here anyway.  The only issue might be if you use an RSS Reader (whatever the fuck that is).  My webguy says that if you do you'll want the new address.  So there you go.

Pretty cool new graphic, eh?  (Thanks, Zenaida!)  Don't worry.  The content is not going to change.  Candy and Cigarettes is still committed to bringing you the very finest in goofy You Tube clips and funny cat pics.  But we wanted to look, y'know, more professional and shit.  Some of the features should make your life easier. Like, for instance, you can just leave a comment now without having to sign up with a Google account.  Which is pretty cool.  Gone, too, are some of the bells and whistles, the MySpace-like glitter of a tweeny girl heavily crushing on the Beibs. Which is long overdue, really; we're all supposed to be grownups here.  (Though I am sad to lose the flames.  Fire is cool.)

So take a look around the new site.  Let me know what you think, or what you hate. I think it should be a lot more user friendly, with greater accessibility to my work. Hope you agree.  If not, I can fix stuff, since it's all been converted to Wordpress, which means I no longer have to rely on others to do my updates.  It's all about self-sufficiency.


We had a Super Bowl party on the hill yesterday.  Lots of people.  Tons of food. Which might've been cool if the Pats won.  But they lost.  What could've been a joyous celebration quickly turned into: Who the hell are all these people and why are they eating my food?

Got a couple cool mementos from my past, though.  One, Noah, who played guitar in my first band in CT, Something Like Paisley, brought a burned disc of our long-lost college rock classic So It Goes (still one of the best memories of my life was driving down the Berlin Turnpike at 18, flipping through the stations and hearing one of my songs [the cringe-worthily titled..."Electric Sun."  Good tune.  Awful title] on the radio.  Trinity College's WRTC.  But still).

I've been getting the rough mixes of these from our old engineer in Connecticut, Jeff, who has been painfully pulling the songs, track by track, off nearly 20-year-old, disintegrating 1/2" tape, importing the tunes into some modern, space-age software for a later mix down (it's like living in the future).  But what Noah brought over is the original record, in all it's intended, power pop shimmery glory, which he dug out of his mom's attic on a Christmas trip back east.  It's the first time these songs have been heard (as originally mixed) in probably close to a decade.  I am going to remaster all this shit later and put it up on iTunes.  Best music I ever made. Seriously.  Which is really, really depressing if you think about it.

The other trinket delivered was further proof that I, too, was once young.  My first fake ID.

                                                                 Now that is a crisp, flinty glow!

Rich found it in his stuff at his house.  He must've used it too at one point.  (And, no, we never really looked alike, except in the way that all clean shaven, angelic 18-year-old boys all look the same.)  The funny part about my having a fake ID is I didn't drink.  Like, at all.  Didn't touch a drop of alcohol until I was 21 (and within the year I'd be addicted to meth.  Which is a lesson to all you parents out there.  It's all about moderation). What did I need a fake ID for?  Fuck if I know.

The name on the ID belonged to Chris Judd, my co-frontman in Paisley, who would go on to develop schizophrenia and swell to close to 400 lbs., becoming a shut-in.  I haven't spoken to him in over a decade either.  It's a shame.  He was a great songwriter and singer, and more importantly, he was a good friend.  A much better friend to me than I was to him.  (What else is new?)

Finding old pictures of yourself like this presents a weird sensation.  On the one hand, I am obviously younger (and ridiculously feminine looking.  I mean, seriously, I've dated women who weren't as pretty as that).  Yet...this is still what I see, for the most part, when I look in the mirror.  Sure, I catch the wrinkles and gray, the ravage of the hard years, but when I look into my own eyes, I still see a 16-year-old boy (or 18, in this case).  And I don't feel much older than that.  It's like in many ways I remained trapped in this state of perpetual adolescence, angst and violent mood swings very much included.

It's also a bit like The Shawshank Redemption.  Remember the part where Red finally gets his parole?  They ask him if he feels he's rehabilitated, and he delivers this great speech about how that word doesn't mean anything to him anymore.  But is he sorry for what he did?  Not a day goes by that he's not sorry.   Most of all though he wishes he could go back and talk to that crazy, angry kid?  Save everyone a lot of time and hassle; get another chance to get it right.

I guess in way I do get to do that.  Maybe that's what being a dad really is all about. As my boy, Holden, grows up, I get to impart wisdom and share my life experience, point out the potential pitfalls and how best to avoid danger.  And he'll think (or say) I don't know what I'm talking about, and set off to discover the answers on his own.  We've been doing this dance since the dawn of time, right?  If it wasn't true, it wouldn't be a Cat Stevens song.

And on that note... Don't forget.  Starting tomorrow, you can find us here:  Same Bat-time.  New Bat-channel.  Bookmark us!

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Thursday, February 2, 2012


Pretty big news with Facebook going public.  I was texting with my friend Big Tom, asking him what he thought about it in terms of an investment opportunity.  Don't have that many friends I can talk about possibly purchasing stock options with.  Not even totally sure how it all works, the stock market, bears, bulls and all that, but Facebook (despite my wife's assertion) doesn't seem to be going anywhere (heathen).  I once dated a girl whose father watched Jim Cramer's Mad Money religiously, and that's how he traded, where he got his stock tips and advice.  Jim Cramer said buy, he bought.  Jim Cramer said sell, he sold.  I used to think this Jim Cramer must know something, since my ex's dad owned his own house and traveled a lot.  Then came the crash, and Cramer didn't look so smart.  There was that whole feud with Jon Stewart, which went on for a while.  To Cramer's credit he went on the Daily Show, and Stewart was pretty merciless.  Brutal, really.  Not as bad as the new asshole Stewart tore Tucker Carlson, but you almost had to feel bad for Jim Cramer that night.  He's just a dude with a TV show, who likes to have a little fun with over-the-top shenanigans.  Then again, if you took him too seriously, he might've cost you your house.  But who's fault is that?  (I think my ex's dad kept his house.  Can't say for sure.  We broke up before that.)

I don't do this on my own, investing; I have a guy for that.  It's fun to speculate though, play with money and try to gauge the market, like a real growed up.  We're not talking that much money, but I think I'd like to buy some shares of the FB. Spend enough time on the goddamn thing; I feel like I should be getting paid.

When I was done texting with Tom, I wrote, "Did you ever think all those years ago we'd be talking about stocks?"  To which he replied, quite cleverly, "Yeah.  Chicken stock."

This never ceases to trip me out.  Not just my having cleaned up and joined the ranks of the responsible, but the whole transition, space, time, geography, all of it. Like a character crossing over from one sitcom to another, different program, new network and time.  Was there.  Now here.  "The part of Joe is now being played by..."  I mean, there I was one night, I was just a normal guy.  And there I was the next night, and goddamn, I was still just a normal guy...

There would've been no reason for Big Tom to think we'd ever be talking about stocks, or about anything ever again.  Last time I'd seen Tom I'd attacked him from across the room for not giving me $13.  I'll never forget what he said after he pinned me to the floor (I was smaller then).

"Here," he said, thrusting the $13 in crumpled bills into my hands.  "I had no idea you needed it so bad."

It wasn't a compliment or even a kindly act.  It was pure pity bestowed upon the wretched.  I'd had no claim to that money other than I knew he had it, and I needed it to get high.  He didn't owe me, or promise to "help me out."  He had it.  I needed it.  Therefore, I decreed it should be mine, by whatever means necessary.  Christ, I'm lucky the guy even takes my calls now (let alone plays bass in the band, man).

When I came back to San Francisco after getting my Master's down in Miami, Rich and I had gone to see this drummer I know play up at the Grant and Green.  I moved back and was living with Rich, who, understandably, was skeptical.  I mean, the last time I lived with Rich hadn't gone so well.  Rich would later confess that he was worried some of "the old gang" might be hanging around.  Which seems funny in retrospect, since I don't think a single friend came to his house when I lived there. Simply put, I didn't know anyone anymore.  It had been years since I lived in SF. There were still friends spread over the city and surrounding towns, but there was no hero's welcome.  Taking a break from the show at the Grant and Green, we grabbed a coffee at Cafe Trieste and I ran into Big Tom.  First time I'd seen him since attacking him for 13 fucking dollars.  At least 10 years had gone by.  Where did the time go?

The reoccurring theme this week, hell most weeks, has been nostalgia.  I was talking the other day about how any time looks brighter through the lens of retrospection. I'd like to issue a caveat to that and say, not this time.

My shrink, Doctor Harold Goldberg (doesn't that just sound like a psychiatrist's name?), says I have nothing to feel guilty about.  Of course, I pay him to say that, or at least to make me feel better about myself.  When I run down the list of all the rotten things I did to the people I loved, he says that's nothing unusual; it's pretty typical addict behavior.  Maybe.  But it doesn't make it right, nor does it absolve me of shouldering the appropriate amount of guilt.  I need to carry some of it.  I don't think I bear an unreasonable burden.  But I do shoulder the hurt I am owed.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Maybe it's the e-company I keep, a bunch of bleeding heart lefties with progressive politics, or this current climate of discontent running hot with the Occupy movement, but it seems like Facebook is inundated these days with cyber fist pounding and moral outrage over sins committed by the corrupt corporate oligarchy.  Even more than usual.  And the FB is always a hotbed of reactionary knee-jerking activity.  Don't misunderstand.  I am no fan of big business; the money-grubbing, -thieving bastards who latch on like succubi and syphon off my money can suck my balls.  (As if I needed to be reminded of the insurance racket, my basement walls are leaking.  Forget that I pay a hefty premium.  Doesn't matter.  Because A.) insurance doesn't cover it, and B.) even if they did, my premiums would go up, thus negating any savings.  What the fuck do I have insurance for if it doesn't cover shit like this?  Is there a bigger racket than the cocksucking insurance industry?  Only health care and all the others, brother.)

Still, it's the outrage that stands out to me, the shock of it all.  As if this is somehow news that people (and corporations are run by people) wouldn't do damn near anything to make an extra buck.  Sure, that's a simplistic approach, Business for Dummies, a complicated issue cut into bite-size Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul-like pieces for mass consumption.  I am not a business major.  My wife is a business major. But not the bad kind.  She's going to Mills, which promotes progressive, green, and sustainable business practices.  Don't understand what any of those things mean, even though she's tried to explain them to me many times.  I am the epitome of one-track.

Each morning, after I change and feed the kid, I plug in, check correspondence and start the self-promoting wheels, plugging my work on the various social networks. There is always some new egregious offense that has my e-brothers and -sisters up in arms.  Lately, it's been all about Monsanto.

Until two months ago, when I learned how to play Son Volt's "Methamphetamine," I had never heard of Monsanto.  In fact, when I was learning the lyrics, I mistakenly took the line "It's either working these gauges for Monsanto / or a bar-back job for the casino" to mean the narrator was working for some guy named Monsanto. Again.  One track.  But in my defense, how much shit can we really fit in our heads?  I mean, if I consciously acknowledged Monsanto, I might have to lose the answer to who were the three Yankees who came to bat when they resumed the "pine tar game" in 1983*.  And if I did that, I might lose should they ever ask the question at Sports Trivia night at the local pub.  Even though I don't drink.  Or go to pubs.

(* Mattingly, Smalley, Gamble.  Knowing this was a lot more impressive before Google.  I retained that info for 30 fucking years.  Now all you need is a goddamn search engine.)

I am very selective in my memory, and I push out the things that can't help me in my daily life.  Monsanto, the genetically altered food corporation and its nefarious plans to poison the American public for profit?  Not as important as a good Son Volt tune.

Obviously that's not true.  I mean, this is a big deal.  I think.  I only get what everyone's so pissed about for less than two months, but it seems pretty fucked.

So in case you are like me and live under a self-imposed rock, here is the latest cause de FB:

Whole Foods Market Caves to Monsanto

WholeFoodsMarketAfter 12 years of battling to stop Monsanto's genetically-engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's organic farmland, the biggest retailers of "natural" and "organic" foods in the U.S., including Whole Foods Market (WFM), Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm, have agreed to stop opposing mass commercialization of GE crops, like Monsanto's controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa. In exchange for dropping their opposition, WFM has asked for "compensation" to be paid to organic farmers for "any losses related to the contamination of his crop." Under current laws, Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs) are not subject to any pre-market safety testing or labeling. WFM is abandoning its fight with biotech companies in part because two thirds of the products they sell are not certified organic anyway, but are really conventional, chemical-intensive and foods that may contain GMOs and that they market as "natural" despite this. Most consumers don't know the difference between "natural" and "certified organic" products. "Natural" products can come from crops and animals fed nutrients containing GMOs. "Certified Organic" products are GMO-free. WFM and their main distributor, United Natural Foods, maximize profits by selling products labeled "natural" at premium organic prices.  (A typographical error in the second sentence of this story was subsequently corrected.  We regret this minor error.)

My perspective might be skewed, since I live in Berkeley (or close enough), a city divided in two: those who take yoga, and those who teach it, everyone draped in rainbow flags and Birkenstocks, chomping on kale chips and pot butter; my mother-in-law weeps over my refusal to spend $300 a week on organic groceries.  I don't buy into the organic thing, for the most part.  I don't trust the government.  I don't trust the FDA.  And I don't trust his mythical coalition of Dudley Do Right Organic Farmers who will sacrifice profit for the greater good.  Except when it comes to buying milk for my boy.  The hormones they pump in that shit will give you man boobs.

Most of this recent batch of Monsanto news comes via left-leaning outlets like PR Watch, the Progressive Dieter, Che Guevara's Guavas and Revolution.  OK.  I made that last one up.  But you do have to temper the message.  No different than FOX News reporting on, well, anything.

I am not making light of frankenfoods.  OK.  I am making light of frankenfoods a little bit.  But not because the thought of Dr. Evil pissing on the crops with which I feed my family isn't nauseating.  It's because it reminds me of just how helpless I am.  You can either find a way to laugh or you storm the bastille.

I abused my body for years.  I pumped God-knows-what directly into my bloodstream with reckless abandon, with not the slightest concern for whether I lived, died, or otherwise.  I remember a hot shot I took one morning, and walking out of my apartment and collapsing on the sidewalk, paralyzed, as whatever poison I had just willingly injected into my body caused my temple veins to throb to the point of near aneurism.  And I lay there until the moment passed.  Then I was up and on my way to find my next fix.  Didn't even momentarily entertain the notion of taking a break.  

When I got clean, I tried to make it up to my body.  It took a while, but slowly I began eating more vegetables, exercising more, drinking less soda.  I still willingly sacrifice some degrees of health for vanity's sake, like using non-stick sprays over cooking in olive oil, because I'd rather look good and be dead than be overweight (and alive).  It's my value system.  Don't judge.  

Despite my inherent skepticism re: most organics, I still buy a lot of them.  I won't buy Supermarket meat.  Because it tastes like shit.  I buy from a butcher, and generally grass-fed, hormone free, free range, organic meats.  Which ain't cheap. You are what you eat, and beef should be red, not pale packaged pink.  I want to taste the fresh blood from my cow.

I used to buy meat from Whole Foods.  But I don't anymore.  I sort of hate Whole Foods for its hipster-attracting qualities, and severe overpricing.  I've found other "natural" markets sell the same shit, for far less; all you miss out on is the Whole Foods experience.  Not such a loss.

This afternoon, I saw most of my friends were posting requests to contact the president and complain about FDA forcing Whole Foods to accept Monsanto's evil goods.  Not quite sure that is what is happening, from the limited reading I've done. But I signed the petition anyway.  Monsanto seems like it's run by a bunch of dicks, and I'm always for sticking it to the man.

Won't make a difference.  Then again, that's what I thought a few weeks ago when the cause of the day was stopping PIPA or SOPA or whatever the fuck that anti-piracy crap was called that had Wikipedia going black for 24 hours (and thus thwarting my "research").  I was, like, Yeah, that's gonna work.  I thought, What a waste of time.  If congress and its big business buddies want this bill passed, they are not going to give a shit about a few cybernerds shaking their skinny British guitar player arms at the screen.  Only they did.  So many people got pissed, such a consolidated effort and opposition staged, that SOPA/PIPA went quietly into the good night.  Leaving Duff McKagen to weep silently...

Maybe I've been selling grassroots short and the art of muckracking isn't dead after all.

I cut myself off from caring about outcomes because there's less room to get hurt that way.  Nothing revolutionary.  People do it all the time.  I think it's one of the governing precepts of Buddhism.  And as a white American who intermittently considers himself Native American when he's suffering a lack of cultural identity, obviously I've dabbled in the religion.  I like dabbling.  Beats full on submersion. Less risk, even less residue.  All sorrow comes from attachment, life is suffering. Sounds like my kind of religion.  But it was missing something.  The guilt.  Which is why I learned to incorporate a little of the Catholicism of my youth to make myself truly miserable.

I don't know what these bastard fucks are doing at Monsanto.  Or where Monsanto is even located.  But I don't want my corn genetically modified.  (Unless it passes on significant savings, allowing me more money to consume shit I don't really need, like a talking monkey butler/robot.)  Mostly I don't like to be bullied.  Nobody does. But this resistance to being pushed around seems to strike a distinctly American chord.  There's a lot about this country that will bug me (Puritan views of sex, etc.), but I always admired the spunk, that scruffy-faced kid part that doesn't take kindly to being told what to do.  It's in those moments where the little guy stands up, takes his hits, and keeps moving forward that I feel part of a something greater than me (it also makes me really want to re-watch Rocky).

The nameless, faceless money-making machines will keep on pushing.  That ain't ever gonna change.  But it's good to know, even if the opponent is a little murky, they can only push so far before we start pushing back.

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