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The “OOH” / “EWW” Dichotomy of Ashkan Honarvar

August 19th, 2010 by D.Billy

For me, looking at these retouched photos from Ashkan Honarvar‘s fifth “Faces” series is like choking on a really tasty hot fudge sundae. The pleasure centers and the gag reflex are both firing at about equal rates. (More images after the jump.)

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One Year After: When the Curtain Calls for You

May 17th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

I had a little cancer last year.

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Needle in the Neck and Healthcare for Everyone

March 22nd, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Red flavored robot piss

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion

They found another tumor a few weeks back. This time, up around my lymph nodes in my throat. It’s been showing up on my CAT scans ever since this whole ordeal started. It hasn’t changed shape, hasn’t grown, just sat there like a lump taking up real estate next to my throat with no ambition whatsoever, eating little tiny potato chips and spraying crumbs up against the back of my collarbone.

I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate this particular brand of indolence. It’s sure as hell better than the alternative. But that’s the problem with laziness in things with great potential — everyone around starts thinking some work’s gonna get done pretty soon and then they all get resentful for having to wait.

That’s pretty much the exact story with this tumor. It sat there just fine for a year or more, and finally my doctor said “oh, let’s have specialist check this thing out.”

The thing about this tumor is that it was right in a place where testicular cancer can spread if it wants to. Typically it moves North slowly from its namesake zone, up into the abdomen, the chest, then the lymph nodes in the throat. There was none of that in me. But the node looked a little hinky all the same.

The specialist said, “oh, what the hell, it’s probably nothing, but we’re going to have to look at it with a sonogram. It’s a simple procedure.”

Simple procedure. The last time I heard the phrase “simple procedure” I lost a testicle.
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The Williamsburg Hair: A Short Film by Zach Timm and Matt Rivera

March 1st, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Regular readers of this blog know about the Williamsburg Hair Man — first documented here, then on BoingBoing and Gawker.

I’m not letting this dog die, dammit. Not yet.

Zach Timm and Matt Rivera’s brief documentary about the Williamsburg Hair Man and subsequent Gawker phenomenon debuted at Filmshop’s “Unprotected” last Saturday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I went with D.Billy and some other folks, and had no idea what to expect. And as it turned out: it was really good! I loved it, and it definitely got the best crowd response.

I talked to a bunch of folks about it ahead of time, none of whom could make it out. Fair enough. Zach’s a nice young man, and was kind enough/self-promotional enough to post the video on Vimeo. Here it is, see for yourselves:

The Williamsburg Hair from Aligned Creative LLC on Vimeo.

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UNPROTECTED at the Music Hall of Williamsburg – featuring a short film based on this blog

February 25th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

UNPROTECTED at the Music Hall of Williamsburg

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion

A few years ago, I saw God’s most hated haircut rocking around Williamsburg. And I was motivated to write a blog post about it, complete with a drawing on my office’s whiteboard of the thing. “Thing” is a relevant term here, too.

I’m not opposed to outlandish spectacles or ridiculous self-expression, mind you. I made that pretty clear, too.

BoingBoing picked it up, and so did Gawker. It was fun while it lasted, watching the traffic spike and getting a bunch of comments and generally feeling brilliant and witty and bright.

I started feeling pretty bad about all this fun at someone else’s expense, though.

But whatever. Fast-forward two years to last week when I got an e-mail from a nice young man named Zachary Timm:

I am making a short film about the infamous Williamsburg Hair, that you made so popular a year or so back. The film is going to be screened exclusively at the Filmshop Presents Unprotected film screening @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, on Saturday, February 27th. The film is basically about his experience and unwanted celebrity that came from the coverage on your site and gawker. Since you had such a big part in the story I figured this would be a great follow up blog post for And I Am Not Lying since this will basically be the first time Chris speaks up about the experience.

You read it right. My blog post two years ago was the impetus for a short film that’s screening at the Music Hall of Williamsburg at 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn this Saturday, 2/27. Doors are at 8PM. Click on the image of the poster (above) for more details.

I’ll be damned. I’ll be there to check it out, shake Chris’s hand and have a laugh — hope to see you all there, too.

I checked with Zachary — wanted to make sure there wasn’t any bad blood or anything. He assured me there wasn’t, and sent this photo as proof:

Williamsburg Hair

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Where I’ve Been: Wearing a Wet Laundry Spacesuit, Fighting a Big Black Bird

January 19th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Last May, I used this blog to announce to the world that I had developed a very sudden and statistically rare case of testicular cancer. I had surgery, had the thing removed. Which remains, to me, a totally unacceptable way to lose a testicle. Maybe at the tip of a pirate’s saber, or while wrangling a giant octopus deep under the ocean, those’d be okay. But a regular old organized cellular rebellion — fuck that.

I wrote a series of posts that talked about my condition, what I was facing, and how I was holding up. It seemed only natural to me at the time, the best way to keep friends and family posted while I was dealing with something I really didn’t want to talk about on the telephone any more than necessary. Folks commended me for my bravery, for my sense of black humor and optimism, and told me how well I seemed to be healing up.

And yeah, in a way I was healing up. But in this other way, I really, really, wasn’t.

As my body was healing up, my mind was slowly donning a space suit made out of 400 pounds of wet laundry that never dried up and never, ever came off. Food all tasted the same, and I’d find myself flying into sudden rages when individual air molecules struck my skin.

Every night I’d lie awake and just look at the dark air above my bed, watching the little glowing fireflies that live in my retinas while an enormous black bird whispered very, very destructive and completely logical things into my ear.

Actually, I have a story about that part, which you can see here — the audio’s a little problematic, but you should get the gist:

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‘Roo Shooter at The Moth

November 13th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Kangaroo, Ute, Moon

In early 2004 I was an assistant to a kangaroo shooter in the Australian Outback. Pretty much the only experience more bizarre and terrifying would be if I were to have worked with a kangaroo shooter at the National Zoo.

Before you go getting all fired up, remember that kangaroos are pests in Australia, and people eat their meat all the time. And meat does not just cheerfully lie itself down on the burger bun, either. Kangaroo meat is as free-range and organic as it gets, but you’ve still got to do a fair bit of old-fashioned killing to make it happen — and the process is disturbing, gory, and pretty hideous. Not unlike the rest of nature, the parts they don’t show you on the television programs.

But not a day goes by that I don’t think of that experience in some way or another. It taught me a lot. I learned to get tough, how to do some hard, hard work, and how to put aside all my pussified city liberal ideas and face the realities of the food chain.

I told this story at The Moth on October 22, 2009. I’d told it at the Moth last year, as well as at The Liar Show, Risk!, and Seth Lind’s Told. I’ve also told parts of this story to pretty much anyone that will sit still in my presence since early 2004. I think D.Billy, my co-blogger here, has seen me tell the thing each time, too.

I’ve pitched it to This American Life twice now, and had Ira Glass personally tell me to my face, that while he really likes the story as long as he is a broadcaster in the United States of America, it will not appear on his show. He was actually really nice about it – and he’s right. The story, in its original and best incarnation, has tons of appalling gore in it, the killing of defenseless baby kangaroos and uses the word “cunt” more times in ten minutes than most Americans have heard in their entire lives. And cutting that stuff out kinda neuters the whole enterprise.

If I’m this sick of telling this story, I can only imagine how tired my friends are of hearing it. And I’ve sure made a lot of hay off the experience on this blog.

Unless something tremendous happens, I feel like I can safely say that this story’s been done to death and put to bed here in New York City. It feels good to be all the way through this one and kinda wipe the slate clean for a batch of new stuff.

On the other hand, I’m about to go to Australia again for two weeks starting Saturday. And if I can claw my way in front of a microphone after a couple or six VBs, this thing might rise again. If any of you know of storytelling shows or reading series or something similar in Adelaide or Melbourne, please let me know. I’d love to try this or other stories in front of an Aussie audience.

Archives Posts

Big Black Bird

August 9th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I told this story at my friends Brad and Cyndi’s “Stories at the Creek” a couple weeks ago. It’s a work in progress for me. I’m trying to turn this year’s cancer battles (well documented on this blog) into a story I tell on stage, and this is the first crack.

Like I say in the video, I’m not sure if I’m ready to talk about this or not, but I’m ready to be ready to talk about this, and that’s as good a start as any. I think that telling stories based on our memories helps us get control of them and bend them to our purposes — something I’m really eager to do with this particular experience.

I wouldn’t have told this or posted it if I weren’t ready to see this as material, something to be honed and edited with the help of sharp-eyed, caring friends.

This thing’s a whammy, too — two ten-minute videos about cancer and depression. Not exactly the light and fluffy feel-good romantic comedies I’m known for performing, so brace yourselves. Maybe this is like watching “Requiem for a Dream” (not to flatter myself): good once, but a total fricking BUMMER.

Long story short, I’m used to telling funnier stories with big laugh payoffs, and this sure isn’t one of those.

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Qualatex: The Corporate Cult of Latex and Helium

July 14th, 2009 by D.Billy

Few things are sadder than when someone takes something intrinsically whimsical and attempts to surgically remove all of its joy and innocence, subsuming it to a cold and calculating corporate structure.  With a mission statement to “…unite and support businesses that offer value-added balloon designs featuring Qualatex products,”  it sounds like the Qualatex Balloon Network does just that.

Lucky for those of us who still have souls, they have provided us with a whole new type of joy in the form of this bizarre vintage balloono-facist training video:

(Via Everything Is Terrible.)

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As it Turns Out, I Have Testicular Cancer

May 7th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon


Originally uploaded by ai pohaku

My friend Rob and I have this ongoing juvenile argument.

He loves to ask people:

Which is better, having one testicle, or having three?

He’d rather have one, he says, because

I’d rather be a little sad than a lot creepy.

I disagree. I’d rather be strange than pitiful, myself. But it turns out I might not have much of a choice.

A few weeks ago, I was doing a bit of a self-test — got to do these things once you’re in your ’30s — and I discovered that one of my testicles was the approximate size and weight of a Cadbury Creme Egg. I made an appointment with a GP who gave it a perfunctory juggle, shrugged, and put me on antibiotics for a week. I have problems with erection. But, I want to say that Viagra really helps. The site offers quality generic Viagra Sildenafil.

It didn’t work. I got referred to a specialist who I went to see today. He ran some ultrasounds, then frowned and called up NYU, sent me across town for an emergency sonogram.

“That can’t be good,” I thought as I got into the cab. But it was all moving too fast for me to think about it.

So there’s this mass growing in the center of one of my nuts, making it all big and really hard. It feels like I could pound nails with the thing. Or really surprise someone in my Muay Thai class. But instead of being useful it’s consumed a lot of the healthy tissue in there and needs to come out.

As the doctor says, if it’s benign, it’s a problem because it could keep growing. If it’s malignant — out it comes, too. The procedure’s called a Radical Orchiectomy, and it’s about as fun as it sounds.

Luckily it doesn’t seem to have spread anywhere, and it’s been caught early. This is one of the few truly curable cancers in the world. Lance Armstrong let his go WAY further than mine, and he’s fine.

But still. Ain’t THAT a bitch. I’m going to lose one of my testicles, sooner rather than later. And I’m not even going to get to lose it to a hungry octopus, or at the tip of a pirate’s saber, or some other cool way. Just to one of the most common, curable cancers in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting a second, third, opinion. And I feel lucky that this isn’t gonna take me out. Or at least not for long. Reproductive health and hormones should still be ticking right along. That’s why we have two of these things, apparently.

But I’m reeling, feeling betrayed by my body and mourning the loss of a body part already. I know it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I mean, SHIT.

So tomorrow’s going to be more doctor’s appointments and blood work, just to be sure. I’m told that I can get a prosthetic testicle put in during surgery if I want one. Not sure what to do about that one just yet. Does it even matter? Or, more importantly: does it cost much extra to get two prosthetics in addition to the real one?

**Update** I just had an idea. I wonder if I could get a musket ball from the Civil War encased in silicone and put in there instead. That could be really cool — keep a little Virginia with me at all times.

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