Sunday, September 23

(My) Tales Of The City no.1

Cautiously I stepped away from the airport doors - having flown in alone to the city of dreams.

I knew why I was coming, I'd been told that there was only one place in the world for me. The people who had told me this were on a flight about an hour away, everyone returning by long-distance jetplane to the same exact airport. It's strange to think that millions of individuals have poured through the same doors I'd just crossed. Strange to think that I'm not the first, or the last to reach for a jacket and a smoke when that brisk bite of sea-flavored air hits me outside. Strange... to think that although we - the group - are in the same place, we, as individuals, will never experience this place quite the same way.

However, a bit of an introduction is probably in order, you see I didn't head to San Francisco alone. The three men upon who's experiences and knowledge I was relying upon to find my way in the city had all come into my life in the six-months prior. Two of them had taken me into their home, and the other - well - he had taken me quite a few places. This whole trip had come about in March, when I first moved in with the guys - I would do their yardwork in exchange for the trip and the chance to see the city they loved (and knew I would love also). I hadn't been to the West Coast since childhood and figured it would only be amazing to enjoy all the liberties of a fully-functioning adult. There was also the feeling, tugging from some deep recess in my mind, that I could never see all that life was capable of just treading water in the same old steel town I'd always known.

Thursday, September 20

The Atheist's Lament

It's strange to know you're different,
even though you feel the same.

It's odd to know some people,
still play life like a game.

A game of teams and winners,
of divisions to the core.

I hate to be the one to say,
"no-one's up there keeping score."

Wednesday, September 19

I Watched My Radio Show Die Today

Today my radio show died. A year-and-a-half of building The Greenlight District on Cleveland's airwaves went down the tubes today. It's not because myself and my co-host don't care any more... it's because the station manager felt that allowing a computer to schedule a "formatted daytime program" would "significantly increase workplace listenership during the workday".

Apparently I missed the memo that said college radio stations are now the same as crap commercial ClearChannel frequencies.

When we started our show in the 3-5am time slot on Thursdays we didn't expect much of a response. Cleveland had another idea though, and soon enough phone calls came in from listeners all over town who loved hearing genuine human beings on the other end of the airwaves. It's been awhile since Cleveland radio contained messages about peace, freedom, love and acceptance... for far too long in fact the only messages have been about consumption, war and 'ten-cent wing night'. It's my belief that the human brain can only accept so much insincere dribble as what flows from the mouths of on-air DJs before it begins to reject them, to hate them. We offered the alternative - we invited our listeners into the studio with us to hang out, to feel free, to discover new and old music they may never have heard before. And we were rewarded for that sincerity in each of the fund-raising rounds that The Greenlight District was a part of. Our show grossed some of the highest receipts, not just because of our talent for obnoxious panhandling... but because of the diversity of our audience. We pride ourselves on breaking the established rules of radio, from our off-kilter music selection (imagine 1950's pop followed by 1990's gangsta' rap) to topics of conversation rarely breached on commercial stations (gay rights, religious overreach, crappy music on the radio). We don't accept labels for ourselves and our interests, and our show reflected that in the variety we presented and our refusal to be shoe-horned into the standard "[Fill In The Blank Musical Style] from [Boring Old DJ]".

That's all over today. The status of our show has been up in the air for two weeks now. Our time slot was rolled into the fascinating new 'formatted airtime' dreamt up by the station manager (one Mr. Mark Krieger, faculty at John Carrol University). Apparently ratings are the king of non-profit, non-commercial, non-NPR affiliated public radio stations... except that they aren't. The radio station's mission statement lists this major aim:

... the consistent delivery of unique and diverse radio programming that serves the interests of both the university and surrounding community. WJCU attempts to meet this goal by offering an eclectic mix of music, sports, poetry, ethnic, informational and public service programming not found elsewhere on the dial.
They are now failing the community, the legacy of WJCU and the local DJs who've devoted endless hours to providing alternative, entertaining programming to the community. The introduction of playlist formatting, of canned DJ spots (limited to rotating blocks of 10, 20, 30 & 48 seconds) among other changes severely limits the impact that this public institution can have on the community. The scatter-shot style of student-run radio is it's essence, the reason it's successful.

Sorry Mr. Krieger, but Clevelanders aren't going to tune in to more of the same corporate-styled playlists and computer edited DJs.

The music just got a bit quieter in Cleveland...

Monday, September 17

And so it begins... GLD Debut!

Click here to stream GLD from your Myspace.

What Would Jesus Drink?

During a Photoshop tutorial this morning, had to show my podcast co-host how to swap images into and out of photos with the program. She's in college and getting some intro to photoshop instruction, but it seems like I'm doing all of the work for her... poorly... hmmm.

This image we created made me think though - if Jesus were hangin' out in 2007 what would he drink? There's obviously no shortage of alcohol these days, so he could get himself out of the "wine from water" business. He would obviously like something smooth, but with a conscience.

I did a very small amount of internet searching and found a couple links to environmentally friendly breweries. If you know of anybody doing cool things with their winery, brewery or distillery (or maybe tinkering in their basement) send me a comment. I wouldn't mind drinking the same thing as the modern-day Jesus.

New Belgium green brewery... article about green brewing...

Oh... and this post totally shouldn't imply that I'm religious... Just steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition like most Americans... it rubs off on you like The Clap.

Friday, September 14

President Bush VS. The Mickey Mouse Club

After the shock of Big Brother 8's final HOH competition last night there was one last surprise for our television-softened brains... a special announcement from President Bush.

America's current HOH (to use the appropriate Big Brother terminology) appeared on screen, looking a bit withered under the thick fabric of his expensive suit. The creases in his face stood out more than I remembered, his eyes a tad weary, all of it seeming to speak to his trials and the weight of his burden... the facade was thin though. His opening line was constructed in marketing & speech writing labs to stir up feelings of pride and the growing pains of a grand democratic adventure. If he'd been able to deliver the speech without pausing at every break in the teleprompter I may have taken his words with a smaller grain of salt. As it stands though - it's quite apparent that President Bush has absolutely no opinion on the course of action in Iraq, has no internal connection to the words he muttered to hundreds of millions of television fans and lacks the intellectual prowess to address anyone - much less an entire nation - from the heart. It seemed like President Bush was a hand puppet, thrust in front of a nation to explain the actions of his handlers.

It was all eerily reminiscent of Britney Spears' latest fall from grace (or maybe, further fall from grace) at the MTV VMA's. Like President Bush, Britney has been groomed for the public eye her entire life. Since childhood she's endured makeup and bright lights, dance training and lip-syncing classes - all culminating in the past 7 years of super stardom on the pop culture stage. Since childhood George W. Bush has learned the ins-and-outs of corrupt political machinations from the first-family of corruption. His grandfather was aligned with Nazis and involved in an attempted coup during the Roosevelt administration, his father practically created the blackhole that is the modern day CIA and NSA, and he himself rigged business deals and played with oil money and handshake bailouts his entire professional career. So perhaps it isn't surprising that the unstable house of cards both of these celebrities have built are crumbling under the weight of the actual responsibilities required to be successful.

It does smack of the question, am I being paranoid when asking if this fall from grace is just as rigged as the presidential elections? Both Georgie and Britney are shuffled around by teams of professional image managers, all of their decisions are made for them, not by them. Just as Bush's initial Cabinet was stocked with marketing men and business leaders, ready to pull strings and implement their economic homicide - Britney's entourage is stocked with leeches and magic-makers, ready to coach the last bits of talent (and profit) from Brit's battered body.

I think it's time to say that Britney needs to stop playing the sexy starlet, and maybe focus on having a real life for the first time in decades... And George Bush needs to stop playing President, and start allowing people with the real ideas and real experience (and maybe the ability to deliver a speech from memory, not a poorly read teleprompter) to hold the reigns.

Wednesday, September 12

We're building a podcast future...

Clevelanders Rejoice! The Greenlight District is expanding from the confines of our stuffy FM broadcast to iPods everywhere.

Greenlight District #1: Cross Country Edition will be available by weeks end. It's all the craziness of the weekly college radio show with more great music - now completely uncensored!

Grab your downloads soon on this blog, our Myspace page or at!

Tuesday, September 11

The Girls of Cleveland

Unending love goes out to all my fellow Clevelanders. It doesn't get much better than graduating college and hitting the booze and cigarettes!

I guess when you're living in a crumbling post-industrial town like Cleveland it's the simple pleasures that truly help to mark the passage of another milestone. I know I wouldn't have it any other way.

There's often this feeling I get when watching MTV or some stupid television show about glamorous and expensive lifestyles... it's hard to describe, but it's a smugness, like I know that all those diamonds and fast cars don't mean squat. Clevelanders all share this same feeling, we may drool over some bling... and everyone's gotta have their vice - so some will live their lives in the pursuit of material dreams - but it's simple pleasures we're all chasing in the end. They're the ones that pay off in friends, memories and the experiences that truly count.

Monday, September 10

The Lazy Houseboy's Perfect (No-Knead) Pizza

Everyone deserves a touch of gourmet everyday. As a lazy houseboy, I've had to find simple ways to amaze my patrons without much sweat off my back. There will always be those times when I'm short on ingredients (because I forgot to do the grocery shopping) or when I'm tired of lounging but can't find the time to create a four-course meal... this recipe is the solution. I've brought it to the table with "oohs" and "ahhhs" because it looks so delicious, and while it's genuinely easy - it tastes like a gourmet creation.

So first things first, your ingredients:

  • 2 Cups (Warm) Water
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 3 1/2 Cups Flour (I like King Arthur Bread Flour)
  • 2 tsp. Olive Oil
  • about 10 Shrimp, tails-off
  • 1-2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella (to taste)
  • A Scattering of Grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 Cup Alfredo Sauce
  • 1 Cup Assorted Crisp, Chopped Veggies (Broccoli and Zucchini are best)
  • Oregano, Basil & Garlic to taste

The Perfect Foundation: Delicious Dough
  • In a large bowl, add your warm water (should be the temperature of a bath after you've soaked your tired body for about 40 minutes, just 10 or 15 degrees above room temp.), stir in your yeast (Occasionally I add sugar, corn syrup or other fuel for the yeast guys) and allow to dissolve and activate for a couple minutes.
  • Begin to add your flour one cup at a time, stirring each cup in fully before adding more flour (you should have a soupy mixture until the third cup- Add any garlic, herbs, cheese, etc. to your dough during the first two cups of flour to ensure even flavor). Add the Olive Oil and Salt to your bowl during the first or second cup of flour.
  • Turn your gooey dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover with a towel or a wet paper-towel and allow to raise for about 45 minutes. The dough ball should nearly double in size. If you're cooking this in a cold environment (Like a Cleveland Winter) you may need to raise the dough in a 100 degree oven or proofer.
The Perfect Execution: Building Your Gourmet Creation

  • Pre-Heat your oven to 500 degrees (Just max it out).
  • After raising cut the dough ball roughly in half and place each in a 9-inch round cake pan that's been greased heavily with olive oil, cooking spray or whatever lubrication you prefer. Spread the dough to the edge of each pan with floured fingertips.
  • Spread your Alfredo Sauce in a thin layer on each pizza using the backside of a large spoon. Then scatter your Assorted Veg. around in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the Mozzarella over the top of the sauce and veg in an even distribution, leaving about a quarter-inch around the edge of the pan. Add your Shrimp in circular patterns, so each slice will have a shrimp at it's center.
  • Bake your pizza pair for 10-14 minutes, removing from the oven when the cheese is crisp and bubbling, and the crust has browned around the edge.
The Perfect Presentation: Plating Your Creation

  • Presentation is key to appearing gourmet. Slice each pizza so the shrimp are in the middle of the pieces. I like to arrange plates like geometric art pieces, try making shapes from your rounded triangles of delicious pizza, toss a little spinach salad and you're ready to eat!

Friday, September 7

How to quit smoking without killing your friends....... 3 helpful tips...

There's been, in my half-assed quest to quit smoking cold-turkey these past couple of weeks, a few gentle rules I've discovered to help ease the pain of withdrawal.

1. Inform Those Around You of Your Quitting Efforts.

I chose to inform those I know and love of my struggle early. About a week before my quitting date (you should always set a firm date to stop) I stopped buying cigs and started pissing off all my smoking friends by bumming cigarettes from them. Increasing knowledge of my new quitting drive each time they told me to buy my own damn cigarettes. Once the day came that I actually stopped puffing away it came as no surprise to anyone when I screamed "I'M THIS CLOSE TO RIPPING YOUR FACE OFF!" to the poor man at the Jukebox who refused to play Michael Jackson.

2. Isolate Yourself from Cigarettes for at least 24-hours.

This step is perhaps most important. I chose to isolate myself from cigarettes by being too poor to afford even a single pack. Wise planning ahead of time meant that when the shit hit the fan, I couldn't just stroll to the corner store for a fix. Make sure the smokers you know and love are aware of your quitting (see Rule #1 above) so they can withhold their tasty addictions from your prying grasp. Nobody likes a bum, especially one who keeps telling the world they're on their last smoke. So keep to yourself, locked away somewhere, until the banging sensation in your head begins to let up...

3. Try New and Fun (or Old and Boring) Activities!

I just took a steaming pan of sugar cookies out of my oven. And while it may be 1:00 in the morning, I know that my hands weren't idle, and wringing over a little nicotine... they were forming balls of fat and sugar into tasty morsels. Now, it's important to remember that smoking isn't just an addiction - it's a diet plan. So I won't be eating any of these cookies. I've taken far too many dietary supplements (read: speed pills) to choke any of those puppies down. These pans of fresh sugary delight will be devoured by my gay caretakers/roommates/whatever. Why don't you try something new? Cook! Read! Paint! Make handprints in mud! Whatever you do, make sure it can be done in little nibbles, like a smoke break, for at least a small amount of time. Grand ideas are perfect to piece together during those moments you're really craving a cigarette. Line up a few of these small projects and you'll be on your way. I can't say your brain is going to understand everything that's happening to it - but with plenty of distractions it won't matter what your brain thinks.

So there you have it. 3 simple rules to make cold-turkey a little less frightening. Granted, I've only been smoke free for about 56 hours now... but I haven't killed anyone! So trust me when I say that the tips above, really work.

Wednesday, September 5

Lucky Strikes and Cancer too!

New Man - Under Construction

Hey... guess what!? Starting the ball rolling in your life once you've reached a complete stand-still is really difficult. Let's be clear, I'm not talking hitting rock bottom and going to rehab like some Lindsay Lohan crackhead. Her and the wild girls of Hollywood are still trapped in cycles of vigorous activity. They have careers to save and calendars that stretch far out into the future.

I'm talking freak yourself out, childhood into manhood, step off the cliff, jump the shark type crossroads that are usually faced in western society with a healthy dose of exploration and failure.

I'm not prepared for that failure. I'm not prepared for rejection. And up to this point I've been tailoring each and every encounter in my life so that I can control whether people even have the option to reject me. That's not the case any more. From here on out I have to give up that control if I'm ever going to get ahead.

I also have to give up the things that have control over me. Goodbye cigarettes. Oh charming, vile snakes of coiling carbon. How your slowly drifting rings gave me comfort when I had none. That nearly silent voice, flaming death on one end of a lonely night - and my bony fingers on the other. I clutched you for protection in crowds, distraction in conversations, recovery on clouded mornings - when my eyes may not have opened, but my lips could find their ways to you. Goodbye you charming devil cigarettes. Such a friendly offering between strangers, a simple way to charm the unfortunately unprepared. Goodbye to bringing along a friend wherever I travel. No tell-tale corners showing through my pocket... and no lighter either. No rings of sickly yellow on my nails, those were just starting to show... but they looked so foreign on me - I've decided they can't stay. Nor can all the other foreign entrants to my temple ushered in by the devil's weed. No more monoxide, di-droxide, polyfoxhide or other will tar the walls of my lungs from here on out. So, goodbye cigarettes. It's been a good run, the two of us... well, one of me and thousands of you. Just a string of my DNA flicked out the window, crushed on the bartop, left to decay where it falls.

Life. Is. So.... fucked up.

Tuesday, September 4

Just a quick announcement: Chad Fox Controls My Brain

Just a little FYI -ForYourInformation... Chad Fox has really made a big impression on me. Maybe Chad Fox will make an impression on you. Here's his blog. Which totally details some crazy experience... wisdom actually. I'd say. Chad's like a zen school teacher at points. Other times he's like that slutty friend you live vicariously through because their stories are so descriptive. I can't really say why I'm writing this, or thinking this, or doing anything that I'm doing right now. I think I was looking for some sign that the world was interested in my input. The past month has convinced me that there's more to life than the rat race. There's more to dream about than materialism and fairy tales. And there are good people, doing good things.... and bad things..... and very dirty, dirty things..... And that all those things are happening for a reason. I need to make things happen. I'm capable of making things happen. Jesus H. Chocolate... this is going to be hard.