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In 1866, the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel proposed that the embryonal development of an individual organism (its ontogeny) followed the same path as the evolutionary history of its species (its phylogeny). This theory arose from Haeckel’s attempt to synthesise the ideas of Lamarckism and Goethe’s Naturphilosophie with Charles Darwin’s concepts. –Wikipedia

“Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,”
Or so said Haeckel.
Still, my father insists that it was Verchow.
But his father before him probably had a different answer,
& so on, & so on, all the way back to
that first Furst that started it all,
that first Furst that each of us once was,
cilia propelling him around the Garden,
grousing to his wife
about his multi-cellular ingrates.

  1. “Before we order, I’d just like to explain the way I smell this evening.”
  2. “You may be wondering about this strange growth on my mouth.  Hand to god, it’s not a herpe.”
  3. “Hey chief.  CHIEF!!  You’re Cinderella15 on Match?!” (actually overheard)
  4. “Before we kick this thing off, I gotta tell you, my mom needs to talk to you right now.  No, right now.”
  5. (Begins to loudly sing along to the Bon Jovi song playing on the jukebox…)

Three things Ian should not attempt to do in an extremely crowded Uniqlo while trying to purchase pants for Micah:

1. attempt to wriggle his way into a pair of hipster jeans in the middle of the store

2. argue with the staff over who would win in a folding contest– them, or Jesus

3. offer leering advice to men shopping for tube socks while fondling the argyles

Four things I should refrain from doing on a crowded MTA train:

1) Tear the dirty scarf out from beneath the clever hat laying atop the hipster’s head in front of him.
2) Brush the dandruff from the organ-grinder’s coat of the cute girl beside me.
3) Rip Joe NYU’s copy of that fucking Stoppard play he’s been jabbing into your back for the last fifteen minutes, & begin reading it as if nothing had transpired.
4) Start up an impromptu pole-dancing class for “all the mamas in the crowd.”

I recently had a relative pass away.  This, by itself, was not such a strange thing– it happens all the time.  We weren’t particularly close, and she lived far enough away that I only had the privilege of meeting her on a handful of family occasions.  Birthdays for the old folks, bar-mitzvahs for the young, anniversaries, weddings, &c.

The strange thing was, upon signing into Facebook this evening, under the ‘Suggestions’ panel, was her photograph, and a recommendation to ‘Make her Facebook experience better.’

It took my breath away.

Things got weirder as I clicked through.  There was a photograph of the woman that I remembered, which was to be expected (what mourning husband or child even thinks to take these things down?), but, though she died nearly a year ago, I was bewildered to see wall postings from as recently as this past Thursday.  Other distant relatives told her how much they missed her, as if they were speaking directly to her.  Her daughter had posted her summer plans.  It was almost as if they were leaving flowers on  her grave.  Or praying.

This got me thinking: given the ubiquity of social networking sites, how many of these virtual graves are out there?  A brief Google scrape brought up an interesting article by the Consumerist on Facebook’s policy for the deceased, a few Facebook applications to “help you connect with the recently deceased,” and an extremely telling CNET article on Facebook allowing for memorials to be set up for the dead.

Social networking sites have become our generation’s roadside memorials, the public spaces we place our flowers when we’re unable to visit our departed kin and ken.  It’s an interesting thing to contemplate, in an era of cemeteries like Hollywood Forever.  If cemeteries’ purpose is to leave a tangible monument to the deceased, what form will their immortalization take in the future?

It was windy today along the Charles. It was also wonderfully warm– the first day I’ve lived in this fair city where the temperature exceeded 50 degrees. It was almost too much to bear. After popping out of bed and flinging my windows open, I threw on a shirt and some jeans and charged out the door into the morning. (It’s amazing how quickly the body acclimates to a climate. Fifty-eight degrees with 5mph winds in Seattle, and I’m reaching for my jacket. Here, I was wishing I’d remembered to bring shorts.)
The walk down Mass. Ave. was a whirl of contradictory stimuli: the sun beat down on the cigarettes embedded in the soot-covered snow lining the sidewalks; a small armada of sailboats raced in circles on the completely unswimmable river; beautiful girls strolled impassively down the street as middle-aged men hollered at them from their cars, blaring the new U2 album through the windows.
In the face of all this, I walked the entire day through, wending my way down from Cambridge, through the Back Bay and into China Town, taking in the architecture and touristas through half-lidded eyes, a lazy smile plastered to my face. I looked like I was stoned; I felt like I’d just gotten laid.
I’ve got a hell of a lot more to say about this city, Seattle’s creepy uncle, but there are only a few hours of daylight left, so I’ll leave it there.

As you may or may not already know, it’s the Jewish new year, and we’re currently in the throes of the high holidays.  Now, not believing in anything much, as far as non-secular things go, I often find myself hard-pressed to figure out what these holidays mean in the cultural (and not in any way religious) sense.  At the very least, it makes for a good excuse to weasel my way out of work.  At best, it’s a fantastic excuse to really turn around and examine my life in some fundamental way.  It was in that very Socratic spirit that my new Jewmate and I decided that it was time to leave behind our old, traditional methods of atoning for our various wrongdoings– that is to say, merely talking about them with our family members and loved ones– and attempt another approach.  We articulated our needs, came up with some goals, and finally arrived at a plan:

We would drunk-dial our wrongdoings.

Of course, being in the same room as someone for so abasing a mission of self-absolution is impossible.  Instead, we chose our respective atonees, crossed pinkies, and fled for opposite sides of the house.  The rules dictated that we were through when we had achieved one of three possible outcomes:

1) We had, through the strength of our convictions and the power of this gesture, managed to mollify the person on the other end of the line.  This is characterized by the “Aww” response.
2) We had, through the strength and apparentness of our self-loathing, managed to placate the person on the other end of the line. This is characterized by the “Yech” response.
3) We had, in the process of repentance, debased ourselves so badly that the injustice committed would forever stain our soul.  This is, of course, characterized by the “fuck off and die” response, and were, of course, the subjects of the most shared glee.

If you were overlooked in this process, or called you too early on in the evening for the “good stuff,” please don’t hesitate to get loaded, grab someone you’ve only just met, and call me up to make amends.

Is a phrase that should never, unless you possess a high degree of aptitude with the language, be uttered.  You will not understand the stream of Japanese that is to follow, the awkward lulls in this monologue during which you are expected to respond will undoubtedly end in the waiter pressing resolutely onward, and the culinary trial-by-ordeal which will surely ensue will leave you turgid to the point of nausea and broke to the point of destitution.

Actually, it was a nice meal.  A great meal, really.  The company was wonderful (god, Japanese girls are cute), and the food was beautifully presented and astonishingly good.  But it kept coming.  And coming.  And coming.  Raw octopus with wasabi, followed by four kinds of tuna sashimi, followed by a tomato salad (just one?  Just one, thanks), followed by chicken fried so perfectly that the fat had been just-rendered into a gooey substance that flowed out like barbeque sauce when you punctured its crispy exterior.  Eventually, I reached the point where I was unable to respond to said cute girls due to both hypersalivation and a sneaking suspicion that three quarters of my meal was lodged between my teeth.

On the flip side, I got (what I assume to be a very nourishing) kiss out of the equation, and had a damned good excuse to heave myself into a taxi once the ordeal was through.

Communicating with the Japanese is… strange.  Even with those few Nihon-jin with solid English skills, you’re forced to syncopate your speech, and chuck out your elle’s in favor of arr’s.  It almost always feels as if you’re mocking the people with whom you’re trying, in earnest, to communicate.

I feel as if I’m doing a bad impression of Mickey Rooney doing a bad impression of a Japanese man.

It started innocuously enough: a few diahrettic episodes here & there, a maismic nausea hanging over my day.  And then, slowly, I began putting the pieces together: a calculating look whenever I placed an order, a strange malevolence to the way in which my meal was placed at my table.

Slowly, surely, the stains on my underwear began to take the shape of the rising sun.

Now, I don’t know whether this attempt on my life was born of xenophobic anger, or whether O-bun is, in fact, a celebration of anal fissures, but this fecal waterfall has flowed, uninterrupted, since I set foot on this cursed soil.  I’ve desecrated every bathroom I’ve set foot in, I’ve blown ass in every bath house.

Presently, I would kill for an anvo & chee on whole wheat.