Friday, June 11, 2004 at 15:11:15 (EDT)

Smooth sippin'
Last night at Black Betty some guy at the bar ordered a Corona with a salted-rim glass. This seemed odd, but then he later asked for a bottle of Tabasco sauce which he liberally applied to his drink. Now, I'm a big fan of hot peppers, but it has never crossed my mind to add hot sauce to beer. The only drink I really would spice up is of course the Bloody Mary.

I looked it up and found that there is a drink, out of Mexico, that sort of follows this notion, the michelada. It's actually pretty much like a Bloody Mary, with the Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. But I just can't picture adding all this to beer! Has anybody ever done this?

It reminds me a little of Ralph's day-after/hangover drink of choice: beer and tomato juice on ice. Bleah. But maybe it's really good and I just don't know it.

Okay, so tonight it's ONEIDA at the Mercury Lounge. Tomorrow it's Dana's birthday and her band STUPID will be celebrating at the Luna Lounge. I haven't seen either band in a long time so I'm totally looking forward to it.

Also, I finally got a decent grill, the mulberry-defying canopy tent has been erected, and Mr Bones has been blatantly using my flower bed as a litterbox. This confluence can only mean one thing: time for a Jimmy Legs Back Yard Party! I gotta nail down a date still, and make sure it doesn't conflict with outdoor movie nights at Abby & Zack's house.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004 at 15:46:08 (EDT)

Take your rolypoly fat promoter to the Chemical Bank & get my cash
Things that piss me off this week (in no particular order):

  • Mayor declares martial law on noise (by allowing cops to decide themselves what is 'too loud')
  • The Mulberries are back and worse than ever
  • My new camera isn't here yet and I lent my old one out so I can't take any pictures of my overheated cats or other important things like the friggin' mulberries
  • New York Press has yet to pay me for the fine work I did for them a while back

On the other hand, here's something sort of cool: Last night Josh called Zack to say he saw a bunch of drums in somebody's trash across from Fort Greene Park. So at something like midnight last night MRK and I descended upon it. There was a snare, rack tom, and floor tom, plus some other hardware like a beat-up hi-hat stand.

We took only the snare in the end, as the drums were pretty heavy and seemed kind of beat up. Plus we had never heard of the brand before and so weren't sure if they were any good. Our later research reveals the drums are Fibes, a drum company from the 70's that only recently started making drums again. The snare appears to be of the original vintage, a fiberglass shell with some weird chrome finish on it. It's missing some hardware, but the company sells all the replacement parts. Assuming we get this thing together, we could be looking at a snare worth $400. Of course, this is based on what some guy on eBay is trying to sell one for, but what other barometer of something's worth do we have beyond eBay?

Again, I have no camera, but here's what it would look like if it was all fixed up. Not bad! Things are looking up.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004 at 12:41:11 (EDT)

And then the hammer came down
Since I was in the mood to spend all my money anyway, I've been looking into getting another guitar. I already have a back-up guitar to complement my 1977 Les Paul Deluxe, but it's not a very good match for my amp setup these days. I'd like to get a guitar that is similar to my LP without being just the same thing. Which brings me to the Gibson SG.

I'm a big fan of utilitarianism, especially when it's done with a little style, so the SG totally hits my buttons. Besides the shape of the body there is nothing extraneous on these guitars. You have some pickups, some knobs, some strings. Nothing fancy really. Even the name is basic: SG = "Solid Guitar."

My usual MO in these cases is to scour eBay for a deal. I don't know if I'll do it but I did find an odd situation. This guy is selling a 1972 SG that looks pretty good to me. If the price doesn't go up too much before the auction ends I might throw my hat into the ring. But I was checking the guy's feedback and found he already sold the guitar a couple months ago. It's obviously the same instrument, same pictures, basically the same description.

Upon further investigation of this guy's auctions, I saw that he recently sold some vintage drum parts ... the same drum parts that were 'sold' a a couple of weeks before. What the hell is up with that? I know sometimes a deal goes bad for some reason and the item gets relisted. But there's no evidence of that here, as in each case both seller and buyer have left the all-important positive feedback for each other, signaling the deal went through normally. Due to the rarity/randomness of the items that have repeated, I can't believe the guy is sitting on a stockpile of identical old guitars and odd assortment of percussion instruments. He's obviously not a dealer, which would provide the only credible scenario.

What is going on here is probably a form of "shill fraud." Not pleased with the going rate for his items, he's logging in as another user (or getting an accomplice to) and artificially jacking up the price. In some cases, this gets other bidders excited (demand breeds demand), and some joker ends up paying way more for something than anybody rightly should. In other cases, as I suspect for the guitar, nobody takes the bait, and prettygirls777 "wins" the guitar. Notice that in the feedback this user left for the seller, they claim "I received my guitar almost instantly." The feedback was posted one day after the auction ended. Unless they live in the same house, I highly doubt the guitar ever left the seller's living room.

I totally want to bust this guy. eBay usually just suspends a user for 30 days when they catch them doing this sort of thing. That's cool with me, but I still kind of want the guitar even though I know something screwy is going on here. That's how much of a sucker I am.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004 at 15:45:51 (EDT)

Sooner rather than later genius invents a tool
After years of whining about it, I finally ordered a new digital camera. My old camera, a prehistoric Kodak DC3400, was serviceable but huge and boxy. Plus I always would forget to turn the power off after downloading the photos, so I was going through 4 AA batteries every week (okay that last thing is more a personal defect than a camera failure).

So after much comparison shopping, I decided on the Sony DSC-W1. It's pretty much like the Canon Powershot Elph, which seems to be the camera of choice for blogger and layperson alike. No doubt the Canon is a fine instrument, but the Sony has a couple of features that drew me to its corner, most of which are directly tied to things I didn't like about my last camera:

  • Big-ass (2.5") view screen on the back, better for showing drunk friend picture of his nostrils directly after taking shot
  • USB 2.0 connection to rapidly download vital photos of cats asleep
  • Higher-quality movie mode, allowing basement band to reach new heights of Video Magic (also cat movies)
  • "Burst" shooting to take important action shots of cat
  • Requires only 2 AA batteries and hopefully has a better auto shut-off feature for dumb owner

It's 5 megapixels and is a pretty recent addition to the market so I'm hoping it lasts me a long time. It's bigger than the Elph but then again so is my cell phone. Expect especially dazzling photos of cats and furniture in the very near future!

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Monday, June 07, 2004 at 12:31:00 (EDT)

I got a Raleigh, and you can't have her
After looking in on B's new kitten (i totally flaked on taking pictures but, like babies, kittens are never more darling than when they are not your own), I found a little old lady eyeing my folding bike. She must have been in her 60's and had a little white dog on a leash. At first, she just seemed impressed by what is admittedly one of the finest bicycles ever made.

"Can I ask where you got it?" she asked after a couple of preliminary compliments. I told her I got it on eBay, which she did not totally seem to comprehend.

She asked how to spell "eBay" and then commented, "You know, I used to have a bike just like that ... it was stolen a few years ago."

Oy veh, I thought. She's been waiting out here for me for the past hour so she can accuse me of stealing her bicycle. As a thief, I guess I'm not very smart, since I keep returning to the scene of the crime with the stolen property. Despite the fact that I know I'm not a criminal, suddenly the burden is all on me to prove my innocence.

"Well, I think the guy I bought this from lives in St. Louis," trying to recall the long-ago eBay transaction.

"Skinny Spanish guy?" she shot back, obviously unfamiliar with the facelessness of online auctioneering. Further discussion revealed that her bike was stolen after I had purchased mine, and despite the similarity in color and wear, her bike had been manufactured in 1965, while mine is the 1971 model. I should have showed her the year imprint on the rear hub as proof; she still seemed skeptical as I finally rolled off.

If somebody ever steals my folding bike, I'll probably be as annoyingly accusatory. Even now when I see someone on a Raleigh Twenty I look twice to make sure it isn't my baby. It's just sad to have to go face-to-face with another folder enthusiast and have to defend the ownership of your own bike. The old woman's story was all the more moving because the stolen bike had been a gift from her father back in those heady days in the 60s when young folk thought they could change the world by riding small, collapsable bicycles. Or whatever.

In other news, congratulations to Heather for shrewdly securing what sounds like a really cool apartment in Brooklyn!

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Week of June 6-12, 2004

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