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Space Kittens and You: Helping Homeless Animals

March 25th, 2011 by D.Billy

Through April 15th, Baltimore-based independent clothing & accessory company Ex-Boyfriend (a.k.a. my pal Matt Snow) is donating 100% of the proceeds from sales of magnets and keychain bottle openers to the Maryland SPCA to help provide care & find homes for homeless animals. He’s also offering FREE SHIPPING for the magnets & keychains – which feature designs like Fuzz Aldrin, here.

Check out Matt’s wares and grab a few things if you’re so inclined. Who knows? Your contribution could help give a homeless kitten the chance to grow up to be an astronaut.
LINK: Ex-Boyfriend Collection’s SPCA Animal Fundraiser

Filed under Art & Design, D.Billy, Family & Friends having Comments Off

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Crystal Meth Unicorns From the San Bruno Jail

January 31st, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

My friend Tim Gordon (of Royal Quiet Deluxe) was released from jail out in San Francisco last Friday. He had been locked up in there since late September on a false testimony for crimes that he definitely did not commit.

That’s the justice system for you. They tried to break him, tried to get him to plead guilty to crimes he didn’t commit, and he stood strong. Now he’s out and I couldn’t be happier about it.

We have been writing back and forth like teenaged lovers at two different boarding schools since sometime around Halloween. As happy as I am that Tim is out, I am going to miss writing so often. I looked forward to opening his letters at my office. I’d shut my door and read them over and over throughout the day, keeping them in my pocket until I got home at night.

He’d send me little stuff from time to time, stuff that showed he was thinking about me — stuff that showed he was keeping his soul alive, too. He said it was okay to share some of these here, and I will be over the next few months.

I was supposed to be the one keeping Tim’s spirits up, but the picture and letter below really made me smile. My friend Xeni coined the term “unicorn chaser,” and I doubt she’s seen one as bittersweet as this one.

Before reading, you should know this: Tim actually did used to hammer a pen up his nose and make drawings for all takers on the streets of San Francisco. Trust me, it’ll make sense later.

Crystal Meth Unicorns

(See the letter explaining this after the jump.)
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Happy 97th Birthday, Daro

December 7th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

My grandmother’s name is Helen Abicht, but we all call her “Daro.” Today is her 97th birthday!

She and my grandfather helped take care of my sister and I when we were growing up. I feel so lucky to have lived close to them and had them as a constant, steady presence in my life for so long. Daro grew up during the Depression, and we always had so much fun with her without spending any money at all. She knows something that a lot of parents today don’t: it doesn’t take money or electronics to have a good time. Making ice cream, painting a picture and writing a story with someone you love is the deepest, best kind of fun you can have.

She’s full of all kinds of wisdom — and doesn’t think much of people who get bored easily.

I visited her in her apartment over the Thanksgiving holiday and asked her to share her secret for having such a long and happy life. Here’s her answer:

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Setting a Plane on Fire and Landing It: Last Night’s Show Was Spectacular

December 6th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

I was all squirrelly last week leading up to last night’s show — wrangling machines, sending e-mails (so many e-mails) and in between the cracks, getting my own stories ready.

And it tickles me to no end that the show was a success. It was Tauntaun weather out last night, the first seriously cold night we’d had in New York this year. Anyone in their right mind would have been home under a blanket watching TV, but we had a full house. And they weren’t ALL our friends, either!

A bunch of people — total strangers — saw the flyer on BoingBoing and came on out to check it out, too. That’s so exciting to me, and that’s the Internet at its best: connecting people who never would have known about each other otherwise.

Everyone else’s performances were tight (say what you will about mine, I’m hardly objective) and the thing ran perfectly.

Here’s Brad Lawrence, hosting:

Brad Lawrence at Under Saint Marks' Theater

And here’s Cyndi, Magdalena Fox and Maggie (my girlfriend and a patient, helpful lady) waiting backstage:

Ladies behind the show
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And I Am Not Lying, Live: Hopefully, Not Average At All

November 28th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

I have climbed a mountain of my own bullshit and started yodeling. The avalanche is picking up steam and it’s gonna get real on December the 5th.

Some time ago, I whipped up a bunch of big talk about turning this blog into a live show. I got D.Billy and Brad and Cyndi all excited about it, and then we went and made it happen. For real.

And I’m a little antsy about the whole enterprise.

Here’s a flyer for the show:

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Blue Head, Purple Words: Getting Offended for the First Time in Years

November 17th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Halloween 2010

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion

I wore my least favorite work suit to my friend’s Halloween party, put in some contacts and painted my head blue and presto: instant Dr. Manhattan costume. Or so I thought.

The party was in the West Village, right at the heart of the annual Halloween parade. Traffic was so tight that the cab dropped me and my girlfriend off a few blocks away. Maggie’s costume was a magnificently form-fitting hot pink with a plunging (or awesome) neckline, but I got all the catcalls. “Blluuueeee MAaaaan GRooouuup” washed over us punctuated, oddly, with a rapid-fire “what’s up, dude-from-Arrested-Development?”

I thought the Watchmen movie was big enough that my lazy costuming wasn’t that much of a stretch. But that’s the mistake that nerds always make: thinking the rest of the world is tuned into their obsessions despite all the contrary evidence once we disconnect from the Internet. Now that I’m grown, it’s not that painful to find out that I’m as self-deluded as I ever was. But it’s still kind of a surprise.

We got separated at the party, Maggie happily practicing her Mandarin with a new Chinese friend. Speaking in Mandarin lights up her soul — and while it makes me really happy to see her happy, it’s not something that I can participate in very easily.

I wandered to the other side of the apartment, where my buddy’s charming alcoholic brother was doing some kind of a stumbling shamble-dance next to a tall Latin woman poured into a snug black dress. She was carrying a dumb little plastic club and had some fur around her neck in a head-fake towards “sexy-cavewoman,” but she could have dropped the charade and been La Elvira, Mistress of the Dominican Republic.

She looked me up and down and whispered with the guy in the corner. Then she looked over at me, her eyes lit up, and walked up to make some conversation. Just because I’m absolutely not available doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun to rap with a pretty lady at a party.

Like I said before, being that deluded nerd never completely leaves you.

She sipped her drink and smiled right at my eyes, showing two rows of teeth bright enough to stun a deer. And then she said “I can’t figure out what you are. Are you a faggot?”
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It’s Not Just a Blog, It’s an Adventure: We’re Turning This Into a Live Show

August 31st, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Subway Poster 092907

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion

I started this blog back in 2005. At the time I figured that if I just kept banging on my laptop, eventually someone would recognize my nascent brilliance and offer me a sack of money. That person would also be able to reach through a hole in time and pull out a finished copy of a book, by me, and drop it on the desk next to the money.

Then I’d never have to work pouring concrete driveways or slinging pizzas ever again. While it’s true that I stopped working in both the concrete and pizza industries shortly after starting this blog, the rest turned out a little differently. I haven’t seen a fricking dime of profit from this thing, and nobody’s offered to turn this into a book. Apparently, to write a book you have to do something more than just type whenever you feel like it.

Here’s the thing: while I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’ve also always wanted to be in a rock band. My early efforts in that regard were similarly misguided. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from storytelling, it’s that making a crowd feel something I’ve written — like a whole, big, crowded rock club — that ‘s pretty much the best feeling in the world. If you could chop up the laughter of several hundred strangers and line it up on a mirror, cocaine would go out of business and the would be no more killing in Mexico.

I was reading “Our Band Could Be Your Life” on the subway a few weeks ago and it hit me like Galileo’s apple. I’ve got the Internet platform and the storytelling skills – and now we’ve got Brad and Cyndi on board, two hilarious, exciting and weird burlesque performers AND storytellers, as well as D.Billy’s peerless art, design, and production abilities.

We’re turning this blog into a live show and we’re going on tour. I don’t know how and I don’t know when exactly, but I’d expect to see some of you people outside New York City by spring 2011.

That’s where we need your help.
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Daro’s Wisdom: Not for the Weak-Minded

September 23rd, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

My grandmother’s real name is Helen, but everyone in my family calls her Daro. It’s one of the first words I ever said, apparently — I just pointed at her and yelled it out and it stuck, simple as that.

Daro is 95 years old. She lied about her age her whole life until she turned 90, and then she started telling EVERYBODY. She’s a relentless self-promoter, a tireless artist, creator, and outsider poet. And man, she’s full of wisdom that she does not mind sharing at all.

Here’s some classic wisdom she shared with me when I visited her over Labor Day weekend:

We were sitting at the dinner table eating a home-cooked meal. Sort of. She proudly announced to me “I never use the oven anymore, Jeffrey. I just do everything up here in the microwave now, and it’s great!” We had some microwaved vegetable soup with a salad of romaine leaves covered with canned pears, and canned peaches. “Try some of the dressing I invented just tonight, Jeffrey,” she told me, all excited. “I came up with it myself. It’s mayonnaise with pineapple juice mixed in!”
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Goodbye, Gran

September 10th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

My father’s mother was named Juanita Kay Simmermon, but everyone I ever met just called her Gran. She won a beauty pageant when she was in high school in Fort Myers, Florida, back before the roads were all paved and the swamps were drained. She knew Thomas Edison, Henry ford and Harvey Firestone – all their winter homes were in Fort Myers and I think she used to play cards with them.

That’s how I prefer to remember it, anyway.

Gran died last week. She was ninety-seven years old. My Dad and I went out to see her in her nursing home in South Bend, Indiana a few weeks ago, and I’m really glad I did. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it was a complete party, seeing my grandmother lying in a hospital bed suffering. But I’m really glad that I was able to visit and lift her spirits, maybe give her her last burst of joy.

I wasn’t able to make it to her memorial service, which was held this morning. I wrote the following words to be read in my absence:
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Tom Petty Said It and Now I’m Living It

May 25th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Before I get to the cancer news, let me get something right up front: it has been a spectacular weekend. This weekend was like a commercial for weekends written by writers from the Wonder Years and shot by Robert Altman.

A bunch of my best friends came up to visit this weekend — two guys I’ve known since kindergarten, one guy since the seventh grade, and then my friend Mark Koch who’s been on the scene since ninth grade. He’s the new guy.

It was Mark’s bachelor party weekend. Nobody’s going to make a smash comedy hit out of it, as the whole enterprise was more bourbon and burlesque than blow and strippers. We had dinner at Peter Luger, hiked over the Williamsburg Bridge to have a look at the streetcorner that was the cover of “Paul’s Boutique,” walked the boardwalk from Coney Island to Brighton Beach and saw a hot and hilarious burlesque show at Bar on A.

My roommate and upstairs neighbor kindly gave up their rooms for the cause and let us spread out in the building a little, too.

Not too shabby at all.

I haven’t laughed that hard in a long, long time. And at points I had my hands over my incision, afraid I was literally going to bust a stitch.

Instead I just stretched. Stretched and healed. I haven’t felt this good in a really, really long time.

So here’s the doctor’s news from the other day:

I’m healing up fine, textbook perfection, basically. The CT/PET scans showed one questionable lymph node up in my throat, but he jabbed around in there with his fingers pretty hard and said “whatever, I’m not feeling anything in there, so let’s forget about that one for now.”

There’s these markers in the blood that cancerous tumors give off — they differ by the type of tumor. But for simplicity’s sake here, let’s collectively call them Carl.

Normal levels of Carl in a healthy adult male might be between 0-5. My Carl quotient was burying the needle at 1,250 before surgery. So they drew blood from me a week after surgery, and whatever my Carl levels were, that’s the baseline right there.

Say I’ve got a Carl of 100 a week after surgery. Then a week later, my doctor expects me to have half as much Carl — a level of 50. A week later, Carl’s supposed to be down to 25. Eventually, those levels will bottom out and kinda flatline. And if Carl flatlines at a level that’s higher than normal, we start chemotherapy.

Awesome. Really, that makes sense to me — it’s careful and cautious, and following the results scientifically. What I wanted was for my doctor to clap and dust his hands off, then say, “that’s it, you’re done!”

But that’s not gonna happen for a good while yet. As a wise man named Tom Petty once said, “the waiting is the hardest part.”

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