That's one among many medieval dancing manias, including St. Vitus Dance, which started in Aachen sand spread across Germany, eventually encompassing thousands of choreomaniacs. (I think that's the technical term. If not, I'm coining it now.) My favorite has always been tarantism -- when you get bitten by a tarantula and can't stop dancing -- because I love a good tarantella, but especially Debussy's and Chopin's.
So my discovery of the breakthough exploration by 5280, the Denver Magazine, of one-hit wonder Miami Bass classic Whoomp! (There it is), sent me down a pointless research jag. Along the way I learned the following. The Whoomp chant was brought up to North Denver, home of Tag Team, by three strippers: Cinnamon, Chocolate, and Dark-N-Lovely. Whoomp! is one of the most successful singles of all time, putting it in league with, you know, Elvis and all that. Dude's name is DC the Brain Supreme, not "DC who reigns supreme." In 2010, some music video forensics specialists thought they'd identified an extra in the original video as Barack Obama.
The song still nets each half of Tag Team around $50K per year (and that's after getting shafted on the original ownership structure.) I had forgotten that Tag Team made an ill-fated adaptation of their song for the Addams Family movie, called Addams Family (Whoomp!). The distinctive sample comes from an Italian disco single, "I'm ready," by a group called Kano, which is great in its original:
Italian disco was a short-lived genre of its own, some of which was collected by K-TEL:
Presumably a more authentic, non-K-Tel compilation?:
A lovely story, about a young couple reunited 63 years later by a myster letter:
So when she received a short but revealing note written in that code last year, she was pretty sure she knew who had sent it, even though it wasn’t signed. But the message was powerful: “I have never stopped loving you.” And so she set out to find him.
And it was no small task for anyone, much less an octogenarian:
“It wasn’t easy because his return address was a latitude and longitude. He wanted it to be that, if I really wanted to get in touch with him I would,” she told Yahoo! Shine in a phone interview from her home on Monday. “The only problem was, when he wrote the latitude and longitude, he gave the wrong one.”
Eventually, she found him and he revealed he'd loved her for six decades:
“I really loved that woman from day one,” he said...He’d kept every paper towel note she’d written over all these years, and would look at them and think of her with a fondness from time to time. And after two marriages—one ended in divorce, and his second wife died in 1989—he felt ready to get in touch with her. “It seemed to me the time was right to send it,” he said of his note.
Ever since my own birth, it seems, I have dreaded nightfall and the silence of the evening dark. As an adult, I have been granted some solace. The iPad is a perfect nightlight. It is the fatherly reassurance that Freud says we all crave. Mine comes from a man named Steve.
I push a button and, as the argentine glow washes over my face, my dread begins to recede. The image of an apple appears; it has been bitten and I can not help but think of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden. But in a moment the apple disappears, and – lo! – is replaced by salvation: orderly rows of apps, bright columns of faithful soldiers in my own private war against solitude and disorder and oblivion.
This item about Ding Jinhao's graphological indiscretion at Luxor being part of a long line of visitors leaving their mark on antiquity made me want to see some examples from the days of the Grand Tour. So I collected some, starting with an example from the apprently profilic graffitist Belzoni:
Then there's the famous etching by Arthur Rimbaud, itself a tourist destination now. (Presumably he got a chance to put his name in the sandstone when traveling through Africa, where, at one point, the poet spent some time as a gun runner in Abyssinia.)
The chili pepper does not want to be your friend. It wants to hurt you so badly you turn it loose.
But I also rather like the post-game synposis:
Out in the arena, beyond the stage, the festival has moved on. The squeals of a greased pig contest provide soprano counterpart for the low tones of digestive torment. Backstage, the carnage has reached a peak. A paisley of curled up, writhing youth covers the floor. The drinking water cheerfully dispensed a half-hour ago is coming back up. The Christmas elves are abandoning their posts. From the far corner, Aaron, the photographer on the story, yells without taking his gaze from the lens. “Mary! Is my camera bag on high ground?”
In the tradition of the post-game interview, a chat with the winner seems to be in order. He’s now lying against a wall in the fetal position, his head supported by the caved-in cardboard Nestlé’s box. He speaks little English, but manages to convey his state: “Very no.”
To demonstrate the ease of bicycle burgling on the streets of New York City, Casey Neistat made a video for the NY Times where he stole his own bike in broad daylight with an increasingly complicated, and conspicuous, serious of methods.
Essayism, as an expressive mode and as a way of life, accommodates our insecurities, our self-absorption, our simple pleasures, our unnerving questions and the need to compare and share our experiences with other humans. I would argue that the weakest component in today’s nontextual essayism is its meditative deficiency. Without the meditative aspect, essayism tends toward empty egotism and an unwillingness or incapacity to commit, a timid deferral of the moment of choice. Our often unreflective quickness means that little time is spent interrogating things we’ve touched upon. The experiences are simply had and then abandoned. The true essayist prefers a more cumulative approach; nothing is ever really left behind, only put aside temporarily until her digressive mind summons it up again, turning it this way and that in a different light, seeing what sense it makes. She offers a model of humanism that isn’t about profit or progress and does not propose a solution to life but rather puts endless questions to it.
Thomas "Cotton" Jones was a soldier in the Pacific Theater in 1944, when he wrote in his journal about his "love for Laura Mae for whom my heart is completely filled." He then put in the same pages a request for the journal to be returned to her, in case he is killed in action, "as [his] last life request." Jones was later killed, during the assault on Pelelieu, by a Japanese sniper, who got him, as the AP story notes, "right between the eyes." Laura Mae didn't get the diary -- until, 70 years later, she happened across her high school sweetheart's diary in a display in the National World War II museum. Now 90, Laura Mae finally got to read the words of her former love, with the aid of the museum curator, who took it out of the case so she could put her hands on it. The journal still had her picture on the back cover, signed, "Love, Laurie."
Preserved for posterity: a recently removed craigslist ad for a fixed gear bike. The sweetest fixed gear bike, apparently, that ever existed:
Grab a paper bag, breathe into it and calm your ass down.
You're hyperventilating because you ain't never seen a deal like this before.
Now collect yourself, then keep reading this incredible description that barely
serves to do justice to my 2010 Felt Gridlock 3 speed fixed gear bike. Yes 3
SPEED FIXED GEAR. Also known as the greatest bike the city has ever had the
privilege of existing around.
What makes this bike so much better than every
other bike that has ever been pedaled? Glad you asked. It starts with the paint
scheme. It looks like Iron Man if Iron Man were a bike. That's bold, son. Curb
appeal. It's probably also why some piece of trash stole the front tire that
originally came with this beauty. Why didn't he steal the whole bike? Because
he knew he wasn't man enough. That's ok, I replaced it with something that
looks even more boss. The next thing is the genuine leather seat. My taint has
had a love/hate relationship with this particular bit of the machine. But it's
got those swanky brass rivets so I can't stay mad that it smashed my prostate
and has likely rendered fatherhood impossible. But let's face it, I'd rather
have have a bike than a kid.
What else? Let's talk about that three speed
in-the-hub, fixed-gear transmission for a second. It's as gnarly as it is
exotic. Like the tropical, saw-toothed platypus. Which is a species that does't
even exist. Fortunately this crazy ass hub does. It offers 3 speeds, as the
name implies. It also offers a terrific chance to introduce that dome of yours
to the asphalt if you fucking sleep for one single second on this bitch. So
don't trip. Ride safe. Get a helmet and if you've never ridden a fixed gear
bike, maybe it's time to move along, young sir because this back tire doesn't
flip flop and it doesn't offer any respite. What this bike does offer is a
one-way ticket to legits-ville. Find a bowling ball. Then find another one.
Your nuts must be at least that big to even consider making this whip the
dreamiest object to ever take up too much space in your tiny ass apartment. But
you'll be filled with joy once you throw a leg over this flawless piece of
American-made* cycling excellence.
What else? Ryan, the paint's a little dinged up.
Yeah, well, that's called real life. It comes at you fast, bro. Besides, you
really want this glimmering, shimmering sex machine catching the eye of some
small time thief? I already told you what happened to the tire. You really
don't want to be living your own version of PeeWee's big adventure. Consider
the lived-in feel a natural crime deterrent. If this bike were denim jeans,
it'd be called "de-stressed" and you'd be paying extra for the
privilege. I'm not gonna charge you extra for it, though. Cause I'm not trying
to take advantage of you. But you should take advantage of this
But, aren't you sad about selling the greatest
bike on earth? No. When you ride this bike once it permanently eliminates your
ability to feel sad about anything ever again. Even for little puppies who are
afraid to walk down the stairs, because the stairs...they're so big, and
they're so little. Puppies who are young, but have already discovered the world
to be a cold, unforgiving place. But you won't give a shit about it because
you'll be on your awesome new bike living the dream.
Ryan, is that a toilet in the background? Yes.
Why? Because this bike is the shit. And you've just learned something else
about me. That's right, my name is Ryan. And your name is lucky motherfucker if
you make the best choice of your life and pay me cold, hard cash for this
*Felt bikes are imported from Taiwan. Sorry to
burst your bubble, homie, but globalization has been restructuring the way
products get manufactured and sold since the 80's. Some believe it's eroding
the American middle class. If you're the last to know, sorry for party rocking.
Read "The World Is Flat." Form an opinion. Joint the dialog. By the
way, the book is like 12 years old so this shouldn't be news. Shit's fucked up,
but we didn't start the fire. No we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it.
Now buy this bitchin' ass bike.
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.