ghost hole

July 2nd, 2009

What is a ghost hole?  It’s a nebulous concept.  Webster’s Dictionary defines a “ghost hole” as… well, no, Webster’s Dictionary doesn’t define a ghost hole at all.  It’s the name of a ride at Coney Island.  Wikipedia tells me it used to be called the “hell hole,” but I guess that language wasn’t family friendly enough.  I didn’t even go in the ghost hole, but was mesmerized by this weird animatronic display in front of the ride:

YouTube Preview Image

What is going on here?  Is it a suggestion that the ride will make you so scared you will puke and shit violently (if liquidly), basically a complete meltdown of the gastrointestinal system?  I’m going to say yes.

tenacious

June 25th, 2009
We had a deal!

"We had a deal!"

The Mystery Shopper saga continues, with the walls closing in. Sure, the whole thing seemed like a scam, what with ol’ Ginger Prior instructing me to take a $4800 cashier’s check and deposit in my bank and then — after keeping $400 for myself (so generous) — I was to take the remaining $4400 to a MoneyGram store (any MoneyGram store, incidentally, whichever one was closest, thereby seemingly negating the focused critique of the Mystery Shopping evaluation [unless, of course, MoneyGram is investigating problems with *every single location in their franchise*]) and send the $4400 to a certain “Retta Hutchins” in Gallopolis, Ohio.

hey, people, now, smile on your brother

from sea to shining sea

Well, this seemed to have SCAM written all over it, especially with the check arriving in an envelope with a chicken-scratched return address of a company that seems to no longer exist (and also one that is not called anything even close to “Mystery Shoppers”). The envelope was apparently sent from Michigan, the check was from Texas, the money was to go to someone in Ohio. So very scammy. I laughed at the audacity of the scam and went on with my life.

Then my phone rang. From a blocked number.

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

Well, I’m curious by nature and have also been applying to a shitload of jobs and chasing down some freelance stories, so I answered. That’s when a man with heavy accent explained that he was none other than Bill Johns, the man whose chicken-scratched name adorns the Mystery Shoppers/General Dynamic Systems/University Federal Credit Union cashier’s check. Now the creepiness of the scammer(s) writing out my name and address is compounded by the fact I’m actually talking to the motherfucker.

so... what are you wearing?

"so... what are you wearing?"

He wants to know why I haven’t cashed the check yet (not why I haven’t sent in my report). I want to know who General Dynamic Systems is. He’s evasive. I insist. He asks, “Oh, is that the name on the check?” I explain, no, that’s the name on the envelope; there’s a different name on the check. So who is General Dynamic Systems? He asks me to take out my earpiece (for some reason; I am not wearing an earpiece). I thought maybe I had accidentally pressed the speaker phone button, so I take the phone away from my ear and glance at it, but everything seems to be in place. When I return the phone to my ear, the line is dead. Oh, well, I guess I called his bluff, I figure.

But then shortly after, I receive this email:

Subject: Re: Mystery Shopper Evaluation
From: Ginger Prior (Add as Preferred Sender) ?
Date: Fri, Jun 19, 2009 4:35 pm
To: perry@perrycrowe.com

Hello Perry Crowe,
The payment issued out to was to be delivered via ups with the tracking number (j2291781876),amount $4800 and i have sent you the information and details on how to go about the task , so do get back to me with the report as requested i will be waiting to read from you soonest.

Regards
Ginger Prior

Which is almost immediately followed by this email:

Subject: Instructions Mail Once Again
From: Ginger Prior (Add as Preferred Sender) ?
Date: Fri, Jun 19, 2009 4:35 pm
To: perry@perrycrowe.com

Perry Crowe,
payment for the evaluation of Money Gram services has been mailed out and will be delivered via UPS today. You are to cash the Check of $4,800 at your bank and head to any MoneyGram location in your area. You are expected to Evaluate any MoneyGram Location in your
area and send your report immediately.

HOW TO CARRY OUT THE TASK

After cashing the payment you will deduct your $400 commission, after which you will be left with $4,400 , You are now expected to head to
your location with $4,400. MoneyGram will charge you about $150 for the transfer. We expect you to bargain with the operator concerning
the charges to see if it can be reduced or not . After all deductions you are expected to transfer about $4,250. The funds should be sent to
Gallopolis, OH. the name of our Receiving agent in Ohio is below

Name : RETTA HUTCHINS
Address : 815 3rd ave
City : Gallopolis
State : Ohio
Zipcode : 45631

come on... take it!

"come on... take it!"

I figure the email is just sort of a last resort, like, well, explaining things over the phone isn’t working, so we’ll pretend there were some technical difficulties and then just re-send the emails and hope he goes for it. Naturally I just ignored the emails.

Then, holy shit, my phone rings today, this time from Georgia, from 678-932-8667 no less. I pick it up and, right off the bat, this guy — again with a thick as molasses accent (Latino? Arabic?) — is on a first name basis with me: Perry? Yes. This is Ginger Prior from Mystery Shoppers.

Ginger

Ginger?!?!

Ginger is man? Yes, Ginger Prior is a man. Can “Ginger” be a man’s name? Maybe in Tenochtitlan, or Abu Dhabi. I start to feel bad, thinking of the incessant teasing he must’ve gotten in the school system. I also feel bad because, well, this scam is coming apart at the seams but this guy is holding fast.

The connection is really bad and the accent is really thick, so I literally can’t understand a lot of what Ginger is saying, but the gist, as expected, is why I haven’t cashed the check yet. I again inquire about General Dynamic Systems. His answer is a little evasive, but he manages to say something about GDS being a “client” in Michigan (which still doesn’t explain why the check is from Texas [and it also doesn't explain why GDS is listed as "closed" in a google search]). I begin to lecture the guy about how asking someone to deposit a large check into their bank account and then use that money to wire funds to an unknown party is, frankly, asking a lot, especially when none of the received documentation contains anything bearing the name of the company you were supposedly doing business with in the first place. Still, Ginger insists that all these concerns are nullified by the fact that the emails explained how this was all going to go down, the part about the fat check and the bank deposit and the money transfer. Using similar logic to a certain writing contest, Ginger seems to think that if you explain how you are going to fuck someone over, the fuckee has no recourse. All in all, if someone insists on thoroughly explaining something to you, and money is involved, they are almost certainly preparing to do you dirt.

Well, the connection was really bad, and Ginger was unyielding (even while being almost impossible to understand), so I offered to send the check back and when Ginger didn’t seem interested in that, I dropped a few hints about how suspicious this whole thing was and how maybe I should report it to someone and then insisted that “it wasn’t going to happen” and hung up.

Will that be the end of it? I would say yes, but Ginger has already surprised me on a few occasions.

Why havent you cashed the check yet?

"Why haven't you cashed the check yet?"

the plot thickens

June 17th, 2009
dolla dolla bills, yall

it's a gas

This morning I finally got a reply from Ginger Prior, that minx:

Subject: FINAL INSTRUCTIONS ON MONEYGRAM EVALUATION
From: Ginger Prior (Add as Preferred Sender) ?
Date: Wed, Jun 17, 2009 8:52 am
To: perry@perrycrowe.com

Perry Crowe,
payment for the evaluation of Money Gram services has been
mailed out and will be delivered via UPS today. You are to cash the
Check of $4,800 at your bank and head to any MoneyGram location in
your area. You are expected to Evaluate any MoneyGram Location in your
area and send your report immediately.

HOW TO CARRY OUT THE TASK

After cashing the payment you will deduct your $400 commission, after
which you will be left with $4,400 , You are now expected to head to
your location with $4,400. MoneyGram will charge you about $150 for
the transfer. We expect you to bargain with the operator concerning
the charges to see if it can be reduced or not . After all deductions
you are expected to transfer about $4,250. The funds should be sent to
Gallopolis, OH. the name of our Receiving agent in Ohio is below

Name : RETTA HUTCHINS
Address : 815 3rd ave
City : Gallopolis
State : Ohio
Zipcode : 45631

NB :

We expect you to be very vigilant and time cautious while you carry
out your task. The following should be put into consideration the
following

(1.) Overall time duration of the transfer

(2.) Exact time the funds was transferred

(3.) Customer service performance and customer friendliness

Every activity of Mystery Shoppers remains a secret between you and
Mystery Shoppers. As as the company reserves the right to every
documentation and information which you gather on behalf of the
company.

YOU ARE TO GET BACK WITH THE FOLLOWING DETAILS

(a) The 8 digit transfer code or Reference number and the exact amount
sent after the transfer was made (this should be to the nearest cent)

(b) A comprehensive and detailed report should be sent my email
immediately you evaluate the location. Additional remarks or comments
will be appreciated in your final report.

(c) The name and address of the locations should be added along with
the name of the attendant .

We expect you to get it done immediately, so we can file our report to
meet our deadline. I will be looking forward to your report.

Ginger Prior
Mystery Shoppers

Your mission, if you choose to accept it...

"Your mission, if you choose to accept it..."

And, sure, enough I walk to the kitchen a little later and this envelope had been slid under my door:

time is money

it's what's inside that counts

They splurged and went with Next Day Air. Hmm, maybe they are legitimate. But I’ve always been a little suspicious of chickenscratch. Like it denotes a diseased, rudimentary mind at work. Like Gummo. Or a Troma film. I’m not saying the people behind Gummo or Troma have diseased or rudimentary minds. Just that the end results feel like being raped by Sloth from the Goonies.

Hey, you guys (Im going to force myself on you)!

"Hey, you guys (I'm going to force myself on you)!"

Still, I wanted to see this scam in its totality, so I tore open the envelope and feasted my eyes on a $4,800.00 cashier’s check:

the poisoned apple

the poisoned apple

Okay, suddenly I’m not only dealing with Mystery Shoppers, an apparent division of General Dynamics Systems (of Sterling Heights, Michigan)…

View Larger Map

…but the money is coming from University Federal Credit Union in Austin, Texas…


View Larger Map

And the check is signed by Bill Johns (more chickenscratch), and has a remitter by the name of Manuel Alejandro Munoz.

And, of course, the check is actually made out to “Perry Browe” (pronounced “bro”), which is a pretty cool name. I wonder if it would prohibit me from being able to deposit the check. Not that I would. No, I’m afraid this is the end of the line for you and me, Ginger Prior. You have a fun, kinda saucy name and I can imagine you coming to the main stage, but then I think you would get there and you would be some guy named Bill Johns and you would knife me in the face.

would you fuck me?  id fuck me.

"would you fuck me? i'd fuck me."

I feel kinda good about getting these guys to sink the money into sending this check next-day air, and I wonder if they’ll follow up with me when I never cash the check. It’s just creepy to see the physical evidence of these scammers’ existence, thinking about Ginger Johns hunched over a desk, scratching out my name and address.

Like Cara said after my earlier post, who has time to come up with these scams, set up the background, like General Dynamics Systems?  Interestingly, GoogleMaps says that General Dynamic Systems is closed. Sneaky, Billy boy.  Drag the good name of General Dynamic Systems through the mud just because they’re not around to defend themselves.  I mean, those people have been creating and implementing generally dynamic systems since you were in short pants and now you’re gonna do them like that?

I do like the non-specific nature of the name, though.

“What kind of systems do you work with?”

“Dynamic.”

“Oh, really? In what way are they dynamic?”

“Oh, you know, generally.”

I used to work at a company named “PeopleSupport.” We had a company picnic once, hosted by a party company called “Event Solutions.” Like mayo on wonder bread served by a robot.

I’m tired of all these scams.  There’s that bullshit with the robocalls about auto-warranty.  And there’s one about credit cards.  I pressed the button to talk to an agent on that one and I asked what card they were referring to and the guy said, “Any of them.”  Holy shit.  The scammers are such dicks, but they’re also so lazy about the scam that you almost feel that anyone who really gets taken by one of them really should’ve figured it out beforehand.  But it sucks because these scams put everyone (or most people) on guard with telemarketers and, even if the telemarketer has a legitimate offer, you just feel like they’re trying to take you.  It’s like walking the streets in L.A.  Anyone who actually tries to talk to you is going to end up asking you for money, so even if a person has a legitimate need, you’re probably going to just ignore them.  The bad apples spoil the bunch and the world grows a little colder.

i just dont want to walk.

"i just don't want to walk."

video killed the blogosphere star

June 15th, 2009

It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and hours of time on the telephone line, but here is my first video blog entry.  Call it cheap, call it guerrilla, just be sure to turn up the volume and not expect too much.

Note: It should have closed captions, so if it doesn’t, click that button with the up-pointing triangle in the lower right hand corner of the video and select CC.

seven dollar hole in my pocket

June 11th, 2009

Would you enter a contest hosted by this man:

slick

slick

Well, I did. Here were the rules, but to summarize, the winner was going to be selected on the basis of how much this guy, Brandon Scott Gorrell, “enjoyed” the story. So already we’re playing pretty fast and loose. But still, it was only $7 to enter, and it seemed like a fun, sort of grassroots-y kind of contest, a contest I had found out about by reading up on Tao Lin, a writer whom I discovered at a reading at the charity bookstore at which I would eventually volunteer and be crucified.

dont do me like that

don't do me like that

I like Lin’s work, at least his poetry specifically, and his blog, to which I already linked. He has a really weird sense of humor mixed in with social dysfunction and depression and technology and self-promotion. He’s sorta shameless in focusing on his career as much as his writing, but, hey, that’s the modern writer, right? All Twittered out with Gmail chats and Facebookings. Lin even sold a MySpace page for, like, $8100. Sold “shares” in his next book, made, like, $12,000. Gotta respect the entrepreneurialism. This Brandon Scott Gorrell has a book or two coming out from Lin’s publishing company, Muumuu House and it’s pretty clear he and Lin are thick as thieves, with Gorrell’s writing a pretty good facsimile of Lin’s.

ruh roh

the mentor/protege relationship

So now, taking into account the curious business sense and grandstanding of the Muumuu House crew and the close relationship between Gorrell and Lin, one could’ve potentially seen how this was all going to turn out, especially with the rules’ ambiguous “I will pick the story I enjoy the most” criteria (although, really, isn’t that how every writing contest is decided? i guess this one was tricky because it was just one person doing the deciding) as well as Gorrell’s declaration *somewhere* that he was going to let Muumuu House employees enter. Lin even said he would probably enter, probably use a pseudonym.

putting the pieces together

putting the pieces together

Well, you can see where this is going, and so, yes, in fact, Lin did enter and win, though apparently it was more that he “gave” a story to his girlfriend and then she entered the story under her name. Since it wasn’t under Lin’s name, the argument goes that Gorrell didn’t know that it was Lin and so it’s not like the whole thing was totally fixed. And, besides, Gorrell insisted that he had been upfront and totally explained the rules, the rules that allowed and encouraged these kinds of shenanigans. Anyway, the whole thing ignited a shitstorm on the comments section Gorrell’s blog (which was probably the whole idea, I suppose).

"i'm gonna live forever, baby, remember my name!"

The shit goes on and on, but for the most part, the people who were most angry were people who hadn’t entered the contest, but had just heard about how the contest had turned out. Which does sound like absolute bullshit. But I guess Gorrell laid out the rules, so, really, I guess he’s washed his hands of any wrongdoing, other than being just too fucking cute and clever in the retarded chic that seems to be consuming the younger generation. Really, I am around 10+ years older than most of the other contestants, so I was probably barking up the wrong tree to begin with. All I know is, I may be a little retarded, but, folks, I keep it classy. This shit was not classy.

i believe the children are our future

i believe the children are our future

Anyway, Megan Boyle and Michael Inscoe, a couple other losers from the contest have put up a site to collect any other contest losers who want to display their work (and maybe tug a little promotion for themselves after getting jerked around by Gorrell/Lin/Muumuu). So there you can find “The King,” a story I had originally published in Mr. Judas anyway. The version I submitted to the contest has an abbreviated ending.

self... esteem... shrinking...

self... esteem... shrinking...

screwy?

June 8th, 2009

So I responded to this craigslist ad:

Writing Reports (All Location)


Reply to: job-jgjg4-1209782309@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-06-07, 1:11PM EDT

Hello Applicant,

the purpose of Mystery Shoppers is to help businesses increase sales and improve employee customer service awareness. We provide businesses with more information than other mystery shopping companies through the use of questionnaires and detailed narratives. Once we have a contract to do so, you will be directed to the company or outlet and you will be given funds to either purchase things or require services, after which you would write a comment on the staffs activities and give a detailed report of your experience.
Some of the common details and information points shoppers:

* the date and time of the visit
* the name of the store
* number of employees in the store on entering
* how long it takes before the mystery shopper is greeted
* the name of the employee(s)
* whether or not the greeting is friendly
* the questions asked by the shopper to find a suitable product
* the questions asked by the employee(s)
* the types of products shown
* whether the employee invited the shopper to come back to the store
* cleanliness of store and store associates
* speed of service
* compliance with company standards relating to service, store appearance, and grooming/presentation

After this, we turn the information over to the company executives and they would carry out their own duties in improving there services.We are presently paying $400 to carry out two evaluations within a week.

Recruitment: Initially, we will add you to our database of Mystery Shoppers. Then, when we need someone in your area who matches your profile, we’ll give you a call and describe the project to see if you are interested.Sometimes we will arrange for a mini-interview on phone.However, If you have been a Mystery Shopper before or have been recommended by someone we know, this may not be necessary.

Assignments: Some assignments are one-off, taking maybe an hour or so of your time, some are virtually full-time. Some will need only a written or telephone briefing; others will need you to attend a training session.

mystery shoppers offers a full range of shopping services in a variety of industries:

• Restaurant • Retail • Hotels • Financial Services • Grocery
• Automotive • Call Centers • Services … and many more.

We need your the following information, so we can add you to our database.(Payment will be sent to your address)

First Name :
Last Name :
Address : (NO PO BOX )
City :
State :
Zip Code :
Email:
Sex :
Age : (18 and Above)
Cell Phone number :
Home Phone number :
Present Occupation :

Immediately this is done we will give a phone call or send an email to let you know your placement with our company.

Ginger Prior
Mystery Shoppers

And I got this email in reply:

Subject:
Mystery Shopper Evaluation
From:
Ginger Prior <gingrprishprecuritm@gmail.com> (Add as Preferred Sender) ?
Date: Mon, Jun 08, 2009 2:34 pm
To: perry@perrycrowe.com

Hello,
your application has been approved.Through extensive background checks,your information has been reviewed and processed.It is a pleasure to inform you that you have been cleared to be one of our Mystery shopper (agent).Mystery Shopper needs you to carry out a survey on one prominent company on your area.

YOUR FIRST EVALUATION
The 1st evaluation is MoneyGram International (Agents  Location)
The management and staff of …..?…..have reported lapses in the services MoneyGram in
some locations around the U.S.Their complains were based on reports which their customers forwarded anonymously and phone calls which were also made to the head office.

The MoneyGram Agents locations were reported for evaluation for the following reasons:
(i)   Slow services
(ii)  Unbalanced exchange rate
(iii) Poor services
(iv)  Rudeness to customers
(v)   Excess charge

YOUR SECRET EVALUATION WILL BE

1) To make a transfer of funds from a MoneyGram location to our Agent in another state,and the funds would be picked up by our mystery shopper at the exact location which a customer reported her funds stolen from.
2) You will have to record the time at which you got to the location and how many minutes it took you to get service.You will be sent a check of $4,800 which would cover your payment of $400 for your duty. As soon as you receive the Check you would cash it at your bank, deduct your $400 (commission) and use the rest of the money for the evaluation.
3) Upon receiving the funds, you will look for a MoneyGram location around you to carry out your task and also the Name and address of whom the Mystery shoppers transfer would be made to will sent to you. You would have to keep a comprehensive report on every activity you carry out.
4) You will also provide me with the name of the cashier that attended to you along with the name of the MoneyGram location and address.Your report should be drafted and sent to me via email immediately as soon as the transfer is made .

Please acknowledge the receipt of  this email. Further instructions will be sent to you during the week via email.

Ginger Prior
Mystery Shoppers

Now, the idea that my first assignment involves depositing a check into my own bank account is already fishy.  I also don’t like “Ginger Prior” rewriting from a gmail account (hell, *I’ve* got a perrycrowe.com email address).  I also don’t like the claim that I have been put through “extensive background checks” since I sent the email yesterday, an email which contained nothing that was particularly background checkable.  So what say you?  Total scam?

keep your eye on the ball

keep your eye on the ball

*advanced* technical support

June 7th, 2009

In the interest of continued innovation, I am trying to create some lively(?), self-produced videos for this space. With my natural predilection towards guerrilla/cheap endeavors, I am attempting to utilize the tools readily available to me (i.e.; using my cell phone’s “camcorder” function) to create said videos. Shooting the footage actually works quite well, in its limited, low-rez, lonelygirl15 capacity. But problems have arisen in the “getting the video onto my computer” phase.

so... close...

so... close...

Thanks to a mildly helpful Sprint customer service operator, I was able to connect my phone to my computer via a USB cable, which allowed me to easily pull the *photos* off my phone, yet the videos were inaccessible. After placing me on several holds and insisting that, well, this really *should* work, the operator finally admitted defeat and transferred me to technical support. Whom had I been speaking to before? Apparently someone with the best of intentions, but perhaps no specific training in what may be called “the technical field.”

Im going to put you a quick hold.  Okay?

"I'm going to put you a quick hold. Okay?

Well, fine, onto the experts (“experts”). I explained the situation to my new phone friend, went over the steps I had already tried with the previous Sprint representative, and almost immediately the tech supporter admitted defeat and said I would be transferred to “advanced tech support.”

tomorrow, today.

tomorrow, today.

I have to admit, I had high hopes for this advanced technical support. I pictured Tom Cruise in Minority Report (“There is… no question.”)

And the guy on the phone had the appropriate swagger of someone with one foot in the future. There was a backdoor way of getting the video off my phone, he casually informed me. Would I like to know it? Yes. Yes, I would. Well, he told me how to get tothe picturemail page on the Sprint website (which I had already been to), and I did see the video, and a button that said “save to my computer.” So it seemed my problems were over and I thanked the guy and hung up.

fools gold

fool's gold

Alas, when I actually tried to save the video to my computer, the site was unresponsive as the video just constantly said “processing…” and, you know, never finished processing, which I suppose is what the “…” meant. So I’m back on the phone with Sprint, trying to get some customer service and technical support, giving my number and name and pin number and explaining the situation over and over and over, going through the same channels, handed from one person to another, each one admitting defeat and passing the buck, until I’m on hold for “advanced” technical support and then the line clicks dead and an automated voice urges me to hang up and try my number again. Getting a little irritated now. I wait for whomever put me on hold to call back, since they must have number, as I have given it out over and over and over again thus far. But no call. So back on the phone and dialing Sprint. Back through the same prompts. Back through the same hoops. I get to I reach advanced technical support. We run through the same options again, a dance whose choreography I can recite by heart, including the lack of success which greets every suggestion. Finally the advanced technical support guy confesses, well, he’s googled everything he can think of to help me, but he’s just not finding anything. I call for professional help and I get a guy googling shit. Hell, I could do advanced tech support! You could do it. Everyone is doing it. You and I have the exact same tools at our disposal as Sprint advanced technical support. Google is the great equalizer. Anyway, the guy says he’s going to put me on hold and try to find a colleague who is more knowledgeable about Macs (I am so high maintenance!). But it’s a hold I’d never awaken from.

corporately sponsored euthenasia

corporately sponsored euthenasia

The line goes dead again and still I have no answers. And Sprint is not utilizing my call back number. So I slowly climb the Jacob’s ladder of Sprint customer service operators again until an operator tells me she’s transferring me to advanced technical support and the line goes dead. Again. My phone company, specifically the tech support people within my phone company, lack the technical know-how (no how?) to successfully transfer a phone call.

Right this way, sir.

"Right this way, sir."

The whole thing has gotten a bit too Sisyphean, so I gave up for the day. And yet I still needed to figure out how to get the goddam videos off my phone and onto my computer. So the next day, I set my jaw and started the process again. I tersely though not angrily explained the situation and how I needed advanced tech support from someone familiar with Macs and mention how I have repeatedly gotten disconnected. The operator and I reach a consensus that that shouldn’t be happening and that the operators I have been talking to should have, at the very least, called me back.

Hey, Im on your side.

"Hey, I'm on your side."

She does manage to get me through to an advanced technical support guy, but she doesn’t believe that there are any specific Mac-savvy folks to be found. The advanced technical support guy gets on the line in a hillbilly drawl and we take up the timeless dance once more. Try this, try that, I’ve tried it, how about this, doesn’t work, maybe this? He slowly repeats several keywords as he no doubt hunts and pecks them into the google search window. His remarks almost all have a coda of “lemme/I’ll do this real quick” and “and stuff like that.” It was really an amazing experience in rhetoric. Somehow his saying “real quick” as he prepared to do something was supposed to convey to me that he was, in fact, working at maximum speed and efficiency. And his tagging of “and stuff like that” was usually almost non-sequitur but somehow hinted that the vastness of his knowledge and/or efforts was beyond his ability to express (or at least to express it real quick). In the end, he basically said I had to download a driver from the phone manufacturer’s website, though a visit to the website showed no drivers were available for download. I suggested maybe the phone, or at least the video function, was somehow not compatible with Macs. The guy conceded that, yeah, maybe that was true. Has no one ever had this problem before? I asked. No. No, they hadn’t, he replied. I guess maybe all self-respecting Mac users have migrated to iPhones.

I am a Mac.

Justin Long, your soup is ready.

So here I am, still unable to upload my videos directly from my phone to my computer. I did find a way to pull the video off the Sprint website by using Devo’s laptop, then emailing the saved video from her computer to myself and then downloading the video from my email on my own computer. I know there is a much simpler way to achieve my goal, but I haven’t been able to properly google it yet.

caught between google and the deep blue sea

caught between google and the deep blue sea

all good things must come to an end

May 18th, 2009

Remember this awesome Dewars ad on the building across the street from me:

death of a dream

death of a dream

Well, no sooner had I finally snapped a photo of it than someone (presumably the owners of the garage on the other side of the wall) painted over this amazing piece of art so that it now looks like this:

the nothing

the nothing

They didn’t repaint the entire wall. They just specifically painted over the coolest part of the wall. In gray. Gray that doesn’t match the other gray (which I suppose would be impossible with the weathering effect of… um… weather). Why the paint job/censorship? Methinks someone objected to the message of the ad, as the artistic quality cannot be in question. They probably objected to the very laissez faire attitude I found so heartening. This is New York after all, where you’ve got to fight for your right to party (and by “party” I mean “sustain a tolerable existence”), so you can’t afford to be doing/being/saying nothing and you sure as hell can’t avoid criticism.

Excuse me, sir, but I take issue with your conduct.

"Excuse me, sir, but I take issue with your conduct."

I will have to follow up with the owners of the garage to understand the motivation behind the painting’s removal. Maybe someone is a recovering alcoholic. Maybe they’re more Jim Beam drinkers. Or Evan Williams. Or maybe they’re just pricks.

dead dog found on beach

May 14th, 2009
eyes without a face (or eyes for that matter)

eyes without a face (or eyes for that matter)

Reports are pouring in about a new Montauk monster. I was excited last year when the original MM (OMM) showed up, as I am usually excited by the term “monster” (who isn’t?). I even sojourned to Montauk itself this February, not so much to see or hopefully see the MM, more out of an inborn instinct to travel to the very tip of things:

Montauk is the tip of the lower pennisula on the far right

Montauk is the tip of the lower pennisula on the far right. Brooklyn is in the lower left.

Montauk was very cool (and cold, as it was February) and very lovely. Devo and I spent an extended Presidentine’s Day weekend at Daunt’s Albatross, which was quaint if backbreaking, and took in a pancake breakfast at the fire station and walked the pristine beaches and forests. We watched a solitary seal lay curved to the sky on a solitary rock until the lapping waves of a stiff wind and rising tide rudely tossed him into the sea and overwhelmed his perch. We saw and a dried-up-and-split-into-pieces carcass of what appeared to be a long-legged starfish (or, you know, a monster). But we saw none of this:

OMM

OMMMG

But still, the very notion of a monster, and one so conveniently located, had me hooked. I’ve long been a fan of Bigfoot/Yeti/Sasquatch, the Loch Nech Monster (got to like it when they put “monster” right in the name), Ogopogo, Chupacabra, the Hairy Half-man from Hinkley, dragons, ghosts, aliens, three-card monty and the smile on a dog’s face, so I still carry an affinity for MM, even as it was been explained to me by strangers over coincidental beers that Montauk isn’t far from an animal testing facility and, in all likelihood, MM is just a water-logged pug with it’s face peeled back like a hoodie. So when my friend Lesley said she was selling handmade clay animal heads and would make them by request, I didn’t hesitate to request a bust of the Montauk Monster:

so full of life

so full of life

a twinkle in the eye

a twinkle in the eye

Very cool. I can totally see “Monty” hanging out with Glomer:

But during the design phase of the MM bust, I saw an image, an angle on the beast, that changed everything:

full frontal

full frontal

Sure, I had been told that MM was just a dog with a ruined face, but now it was clear what I had taken for a turtle beak was just a side view of snout-bone. It’s that angle that had people hooked. Hell, if it had a turtle beak, then anything was possible:

Gojira!

Gojira!

But instead, it’s just some dog gone to pot. Which is the same case with this new photo. Anyone with a casual knowledge of what animal skulls look like (which is maybe less than I imagine, but there are museums full of this stuff) should note the snout-bone jutting from these “monsters” faces. A good axiom for Montauk-monster-hunting: “The snout points it out!”

I think the real question is why are Long Islanders throwing so many dogs into the ocean?

it’s waining, it’s pouring, the old man is whoring

May 8th, 2009

I went to the 92YTribeca last night for “Wainy Days Live,” a sort of variety show hosted by David Wain, the guy who did all the stuff (Stella, The State, Wet Hot American Summer, et al [sorry, I've been looking for an excuse to use "et al" for a while]). Wain has his own web series, “Wainy Days,” and the fourth season (whatever that means in web terms) just started, and the evening was a celebration of that fact, jack.

New York City?!

New York City?!

An impromptu taco night had delayed our arrival (though we got there on time) and the place was super packed. We did manage to score some seats in the way back, like the back of this second but connected room so it looks like you’re watching from down the hall but you can still see the people so it’s okay. And you’re sitting. Standing is a young man’s game.

wanna go back in time

wanna go *back* in time

David Wain is a funny motherfucker and a great host. Paul Rudd did some stuff. Michaels Showalter and Black joined David on-stage for some browbeating and a sketch about extra farts. And there was a performance of the original “Wainy Days” episode/script, written by a 12-year-old Wain. It was provocative with an exploding erection impregnation rolling into a Roe v. Wade punchline. That kid was some sort of prodigy. And we watched the premier episode of the fourth “season”:

Well, the MyDamnChannel video doesn’t seem to be loading very expediently, so here’s a few other Wainy Days episodes for a taste of the madness: