November 30, 2011

Today’s post will be almost exclusively about my best friend, Harvey Forsyth, Jr., who passed away exactly one year ago. Tonight, there will be a happy hour for The Harvey Forsyth Memorial Fund at Field House from 6pm to 9pm. Please do your best to be there.

word

pal [pal] n. 1. a very close, intimate friend; comrade; chum 2. an accomplice

standpoint

So, for today’s post, I was looking for a cool, obscure word that would sort of sum up how close Harv and I were. But none of the words I looked at came close to the word above: pal.

When I read the first part, “a very close, intimate friend,” it made me chuckle. Harv and I were not shy about talking about how great we thought the other was, but if he ever heard me describe him as “a very close, intimate friend,” he would’ve said something like, “Dude, that sounds sort of gay.” And then I’d say it all of the time just to piss him off.

But it was the second definition that really made me smile: “an accomplice.” Harv and I were each other’s accomplices for the better part of 20 years. One of us needed to talk about something, the other was there. One of us needed a best man for our weddings, the other was there. One of us needed to blow off steam, have some Miller Lites and watch a Flyers’ game, the other was there. One of us needed whatever, it didn’t matter what it was, the other was there. One way or another.

And whatever we did, whatever happened to be going on, we laughed our way through most everything. And, holy shit, we laughed a lot. Harvey was my favorite person to make laugh. It seemed I could tell him any story and he would crack up. He knew me so well that he understood why something irked me or amused me or angered me. Hearing him laugh will always be the number one thing I miss most.

Which leads me to today’s quotation.

quotation

“Well, this is fucking depressing. Josh, say something funny.” ↔ Harvey Forsyth

When I think about all of the things Harv said to me, that line above is my favorite. A couple of our closest friends from college came to visit him in the hospital and after they left, our friend Phil stayed behind to talk about some affairs he was handling for Harv and April. I asked Harv if he wanted me to step out and take a walk while they discussed some very private matters. He peshawed me and told me to sit down. Obviously, I won’t go into to the details of what was discussed but it all centered around taking care of the business of Harv’s final wishes. At the time, it was a mostly hypothetical conversation because none of us truly thought the end was near. I sat silently and intently listened to every word, wishing it was four other people, any four other people, sitting in that fucking room. When the discussion wound down and the inevitable awkward silence fell on the room, Harv turned to me and said, “Well, this is fucking depressing. Josh, say something funny.” I said, “I stopped listening to you guys about seven minutes ago.” Not the funniest thing I’ve ever uttered, not by a long shot, but it had the desired effect. Everyone laughed, including Harv. And, even though, I’m sure I did make him laugh again after that, it’s the last time I actually remember.

tune

One time, Harv and I shanghaied a bootleg video of a Jane’s Addiction concert from the Hammerstein Ballroom ’97. We watched that goddamn tape about twice a month for two years until Harv’s conscience finally got the better of him and he returned it to its rightful owner. Here’s a fantastic, albeit not the best quality, clip from that show.

gallimaufry

These iPhone apps are getting a bit out of control.

→ I guess I’d heard that R.E.M. had broken up but it didn’t register until I read this interview with Mike Mills.

→ So after a mainly serious post today, here’s a little lighthearted romp of a slideshow featuring celebrities who are not what they used to be.

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04.27.09 – Monday

Word: somnolent [som-nuh-luhnt] adj. 1. sleepy; drowsy 2. tending to cause sleep: For him, the opera was a somnolent experience.

Birthday: Mary Wollstonecraft (1759), Samuel F.B. Morse (1791), Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Jack Klugman (1922), Casey Kasem (1932), August Wilson (1945), Frank William Abagnale Jr. (1948), Kate Pierson (1948), Ace Frehley (1951), Sheena Easton (1959)

Occurence: 1810Beethoven composes Für Elise.

Standpoint: Over this past weekend, I walked into a bar. That’s not the intro to a joke. But the end result was funny. I had unsuspectingly entered the sometimes-strange, occasionally-uncomfortable but always-entertaining world of karaoke.

If you’re between the age of 21 and 120, you’ve inevitably experienced this Japanese form of entertainment. Admit it. Whether an active participant or an amused onlooker, you’ve attended – on purpose or by accident – what Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy called “a karaoke jam.” If you’ve never been, you are either (a) living in some cave on a very high mountain or (b) overly concerned with maintaining your “too-cool-for-karaoke” status. (If you fall into one of those two categories, I congratulate you, albeit for very different reasons.)

In any case, if you’re one of the billions who have actually witnessed it live, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed what I have. No matter where or in what kind of place it takes place, watching karaoke will always brings out the following types of individuals:

  • “The Trailblazer” – This person gets up to sing first because he or she is either (a) dared by friends to do it, or (b) the self-desrcibed “life of the party.” Most likely, the rendition is not awful but “The Ham” is in no danger of being hounded by record label executives. Probable Song Selection: Something by Madonna or Journey.
  • “The Pro” – For the first few songs, you’ll most likely witness this person, sitting with a small group of friends (if any), and stoically analyzing the participants like Simon Cowell. When his or her name is called to step up to microphone, “The Pro” will rise with limited fanfare, walk confidently towards the front and belt out the lyrics. The performance is much better than what been offered so far and most in attendance will turn to a friend and give a look that says, “Hey, this ain’t so bad.” At the end of the song, he or she receives a loud cheer while walking unassumingly back to his or her chair. Probable song selection: Something by Celine Dion or Billy Joel. [Note: Inescapably, “The Pro” will become less and less appreciated over the course of the night due to everyone getting drunker and realizing they have more fun when people suck. After many drinks, “The Pro” is more commonly referred to as “that fucking showoff who keeps singing the sappy songs.”]
  • “The Badass” – Usually a male, this character brings a certain machismo to the mic. His attitude is a mixture of “I’m the greatest,” and “Karaoke is for douchebags.” The beers and shots have gotten the better of him, and he’s decided to show the crowd how it’s done. The song completed, he’ll usually shove the microphone back at the DJ or simply drop it on the ground before strutting off the stage. Shooting the middle finger to all gathered is optional but not a requirement for “The Badass.” Probable Song Selection: Metallica or Guns ‘N’ Roses. Maybe Poison.
  • “The Giggler” – Opposite of “The Badass,” this is commonly a woman or, more accurately, a group of women who’ve collectively gathered the nerve to take the stage after a very long conversation in which, “I’ll go up there if you do,” is uttered close to 900 times. The ladies will take the stage with the best intentions but only two of them will actually sing the song. The other three will look out at the crowd and laugh with hands over their faces. For both the participants and observers, the performance can’t end soon enough. Probable Song Selection: Britney Spears or Cyndi Lauper.
  • “The Longshot” – During the course of the night, there is always a dark horse. Someone who gets up and sings dreadfully but possesses a certain characteristic like being older than everyone else or being cute in a non-traditional way. The crowd will rally around  and spur him or her on. This is unique to karaoke because it’s the only time someone can do something worse than everyone else and get the loudest round of applause. For one night, “The Longshot” is the most popular person in the place.  Our common love of the underdog combined with our penchant for overindulging in booze makes this possible. Probably Song Selection: Frank Sinatra or Neil Diamond.
  • “The Almost” – Wastes the entire night by going back and forth on whether to get up and sing and will annoy practically everyone by polling them on if he or she should, “just get up there and do it.” Never getting the needed encouragement due to the fact that no one really gives a shit, his or her attention will be turned toward becoming the drunkest person in bar (who didn’t sing).

The one undeniable fact about karaoke is that its huge popularity is owed directly to massive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Without booze, karaoke doesn’t exist.

Quotation: Life is something that happens when you can’t go to sleep. Fran Lebowitz

Tune: On every mix CD I’ve made in the past 5 years, Pinback‘s “Fortress” has eventually made it on to each one of them.

Gallimaufry: Britain’s Got Talent‘s Susan Boyle getting a makeover or Simon Cowell’s response to it? It was a dead heat in the battle of news items I couldn’t care less about…Lollapalooza announced its 2009 lineup. Along with the obvious acts (Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction), some of the chosen (Band of Horses, The Manchester Orchestra, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird) make me feel like the organizers are purposely trying to get me in Chicago this August 7-9…Only in this day and age can something like a cruise ship fighting off a bunch of Somali pirates be spun as a negative against the good guys.

Incoming: As I wrote last week, I moved this weekend. I’m a little behind in terms of being organized for this week’s posts. Stay tuned for more details.

03.23.09 – Monday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: jejune (request from Marc Schuster) [ji-joon] adj. 1. without interest or significance; dull; insipid  2. juvenile; immature; childish  3. lacking knowledge or experience  4. deficient or lacking in nutritive value

Birthday: William Kidd (1645), Schuyler Colfax (1823), Joan Crawford (1905), David  Grisman (1945), Ric Ocasek (1949), Ron Jaworski (1951), Chaka Khan (1953), Moses Malone (1955), Amanda Plummer (1957), Hope Davis (1964), Richard Grieco (1965), Yasmeen Ghauri (1971), Keri Russell (1976), Perez Hilton (1978)

Occurrence: 1775Patrick Henry delivers his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. It is strange that he said those words while he had his wife, who had gone insane, straitjacketed and locked in a room in the basement since 1772.

Standpoint: Twitter has replaced Facebook as the most talked about social networking site on the web. This past week, “tweets” (Twitter’s 140 character status updates) were big news. During the weekend festivities at SXSW, members of many bands (Jane’s Addiction, The Decemberists, Grizzly Bear – to name a few) were keeping their followers constantly updated before, during and after their shows. Shaquille O’Neal announced before the Phoenix Suns’ Saturday night game against the Washington Wizards that he was going to tweet something big during halftime. (Later, he found out that his coach knew about it and simply typed the message, “Shhhhhhh.”) Someone even jeopardized a job she had been offered after bad-mouthing the proposed employer in a tweet. Whether we like it or not, we’re living in a pretty amazing/insane time. Cell phones make sure that everyone is constantly accessible. Facebook makes it possible for everyone to stay friends until death or account deactivation. Now Twitter affords people the ability to follow the actual events of someone’s daily life. The globe is shrinking and there’s no end in sight.

Quotation: Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.Douglas Adams

Stupefaction: United States Armed Forces have turned down 48,000 potential recruits since 2005 due to obesity.

Tune: If you’ve recently been the victim of a bad break-up, trying doing what I did last time a relationship went awry – listen to “Rootless Tree” by Damien Rice about 400 per day. ATTENTION: IF YOU ARE LISTENING TO THIS AT WORK, DON’T PLAY AT A HIGH VOLUME. CURSE WORDS ARE SUNG LOUDLY.

Link: Multicolr Search Lab – Find images employing your favorite colors.

Gallimaufry: I am still watching “Kings” and enjoying it…This past weekend, Nicholas Cage’s new movie, “Knowing”, opened. I haven’t seen it but is Cage going to make another viable film? Not sure, but I’m of the opinion that he needs to sit down and figure out a way to star in a movie that doesn’t suck. The Washington Post’s John Anderson has more to say about the actor’s once-great careerThe Onion is chronicling President Obama’s first 100 days in office. My favorite so far? Day 42…Anyone catch the Morrissey show last night in Philadelphia? If so, I would love to hear how it was. He’s on “Late with Jimmy Fallon” tonight.