My friends Consuelo and Oraia

My friends Consuelo and Oraia consented to model in Madison Square Park yesterday for some Retropod product shots. I really wanted the Retropod on a punk-rock leather belt, and they delivered!

I also wanted a couple of postcard shots, with kind of a Billy Idol plus Richard Cheese thing. Again, C&O fired on all eight cylinders:

Next, Kate’s brother Matt is going to style the Retropod site, we’ll make some postcards and send ’em around, and then wait for the checks to start rolling in.

…From Eastern Europe, most likely.

My friends Consuelo and Oraia

I’m posting this blog

I’m posting this blog entry as I’m riding west on 27th street, in the back of a Manhattan Rickshaw Pedicab. My driver’s name is Trevor; I made an arrangement with him to pick me up at precisely 4:39 and take me to Penn station.

Man, it was everything I could have hoped for. Trevor had the pedicab neatly parked on the wide sidewalk in front of the building; I walked out of my lobby, through a dense, pinstriped cloud of executives vying for taxis, shook Trevor’s hand, hopped in the back of his rickshaw, and off we went. “Hey, what the hell’s that?” asked Jeff, our security guard.

That, my friend, is just a reflection of my station in life. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to close my computer and start shouting into my cellphone. “Sell that! Sell it!

(Actually, believe it or not, a rickshaw is the very fastest way to get from East 25th to West 32nd at this time of day — sweating visibly, Trevor got us across town in 10 minutes flat. The jealous attention is great; I’m going to have to make this a Friday afternoon ritual. Next time, I’m gonna wear a top hat and a diamond stickpin, and I’m going to throw nickels to all the unsuccessful taxi-waving Hamptons escapees as I roll on by.

I’m posting this blog

I’ve got a handful of

I’ve got a handful of Gmail invitations to give away. Earlier this morning, I went to Gmail swap and traded an address to a fellow who promised, in return, to change his hamster’s name to a name of my choosing. I have chosen the name “Imprimatur”, so that I can give cryptic answers later on when people ask how my high-school-yearbook hidden-obscenity review service panned out. “Oh, it’s doing fine; just running on the wheel, running on the wheel.”

Anyhow, I have a couple invitations left: AIM me if you want one!

UPDATE: Ell, new Gmail user, sent me a picture of Imprimatur, his newly-renamed hamster:

I’m fairly sure that I’m the ONLY Gmailer who has traded an invitation to have an English rodent named after a defunct teenage obscenity-consulting enterprise. Well, at least only the second or third one, anyhow.

I’ve got a handful of

Can I give a PowerPoint

Can I give a PowerPoint presentation while wearing a burlap robe?
Okay, so some excellent names have been suggested: “Spic-n-spannual”, from Kate, or “Extra-Censory” from Jonathan Stern. However, I need something that can be totally deadpan for when we go on Oprah and talk to PTA meetings in Texas (travel expenses to be paid up front, naturally.) Here’s what popped into my head upon waking up this morning:

Imprimatur, Incorporated

The word has heavy bureaucratic/religious overtones, since it’s the term used by the Roman Catholic Church when approving a book for publication (literally, “let it be printed.”) We can use that spurious quote attributed to Plato about the dissolution of youth as a company motto, and a nice drab color scheme (evocative of burlap) accented by slashes of angry color (evocative of the scourging of the penitent.) IMPRIMATUR!

Here’s what the front page of the website could look like:

Okay, it wouldn’t really be that much Uncle Shelby, but it could be close. That way, each double deuce in the background of the AV Club page can be presented with the correct air of moral gravity. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to draw your attention to the twelve ways that the middle finger can be introduced into your yearbook. Dating back to the 1200s, the middle finger is also called the ‘bird.’ [next slide] In combination with the pinky, it’s called the ‘white-knuckle willy.’ When held upside down, the resulting combination is called the ‘pittsburgh plowshare.'”

Making up obscene gestures will, of course, be half the fun — I’ll have to delete these Blog postings so Google doesn’t give the game away. Update: Actually, according to google, Imprimatur’s services risk actually being useful to somebody. Try reading between the lines (it’s not hard) in this report on the 136 complaints received about this Norwalk, Connecticut high school’s 2001 yearbook!

Can I give a PowerPoint

Okay, I’ve got an idea

Okay, I’ve got an idea for a new business. You ready?

High-School Yearbook Obscenity Consulting.

You know how every graduating high-school class has a couple of guys who like to give the finger in the swim team photo? Or how the art students will scratch tiny four-letter Hirschfeld statements into their senior page drawings? This service will vet high school yearbook pages for:

  1. Obscene gestures
  2. Drug and alcohol references
  3. Gang signs and neo-nazi symbolism
  4. Other prohibited freakyness

Core to this business model will be the assumption that obscenity and pranks are a relatively unchanging constant through the years (only the details change,) and that high school yearbook printers have seen it all. I have no doubt that you could get a seasoned seventy-year-old master printer, show him any yearbook from any graduating class in the world, and he’d start paging through it, saying:

“There, that kid is giving the finger. Him? He’s got no pants on. This drawing here says ‘Chess club blows goats’ when you hold it up to the mirror and close one eye. The entire volleyball team is displaying the shocker. That wall clock says ‘4:20’ for a reason. That’s not a flashlight she’s holding.”

“Okay, moving on to page two…”

We’ll get indemnity insurance for when the service misses the 10-pixel-high porno centerfold photoshopped onto the principal’s mirrored glasses, which will pay for yearbook reprints. We’ll develop a slideshow designed to shock and entertain PTA meetings, and advertise it like the sideshows of old: “In-formational purposes only, ladies and gentlemen! Do NOT attend if you’re easily offended! Por-no-graphic secrets will be revealed! Purely for edu-ca-tional purposes! You WILL be shocked!”

Man, we’ll pack ’em into the PTA hall, and we’ll have a big red light that goes on to signify when folks should hold their ears and close their eyes to the SMUT that’s about to be shown, which they’ll pretend to do. Once we get ’em convinced that their yearbook is destined to be a cross between The Necronomicon and Hustler: Campus Cuties, we’ll charge a reasonable hourly rate to protect them.

All we need is some venture capital, a snappy name, and a seventy-year-old veteran of the yearbook printing industry to actually do the work. Who wants in?

Okay, I’ve got an idea

Dude, I’m huge in Columbus

Dude, I’m huge in Columbus

I’m very slightly more Zaphod Beeblebrox-y today, as Columbus, OH-based rock and roll band DB3 has released a new album featuring my badass six-year-old bigwheel-riding self.

The good news: This helps me convey that crazy, madcap, laugh-in-the-face-of-death persona that keeps the Naderites at bay. Feet off the pedals! Badass at six years old! Hey, maybe the resolution on the cover art is low enough that you can’t see the expression of abject terror on my face.

The bad news: The hammy expression may be mine, but the photo is very much my mom’s, and I gave permission for DB3 to use it thinking it would be part of a big-wheel collage, and all of half-an-inch across. Not the band’s fault, I gave them the imprimatur as a knee-jerk response. My mom, who is a Real Photographer, won’t be amused. Mea culpa, chere maman!

The first time I got unintentional overexposure was at the Hill School Computer Camp, when I was just a couple of years older than in the bigwheel photo. My fashion sense ran to short khakhi shorts with many zippers and clip rings, excruciatingly tall “ringer” calf socks, and — get this — a Doctor Who hat with a pedometer clipped to the back. Channel Ten news came by to do a story on this crazy new “techie kid” phenomenon, and I really really really wanted to be on TV. So I walk up to local reporter Cheri Banks, and say, all casual like from under the bill of my “Doctor Who” hat:

“Say, we don’t get newspapers here. Can you tell me what’s happening in the Falkland Islands?”

Yeah, smooth, right? I’m sure my story would have been more convincing if there wasn’t a TV RIGHT BEHIND ME WITH THE NEWS ON. Anyhow, maybe it was the socks, but skip forward a week, and I’m sitting anxiously in front of the TV, watching the nightly news teaser: “Kids who know more about computers than adults do, ha ha! More after this break.” The longest commercial break in history, then:

“At first glance, John Young is a typical kid at a typical summer camp…” [shot of me in the pool, waving through the dive coach’s underwater viewing window at the camera GOOD GOD THIS WHOLE STORY IS ABOUT ME! OH DEAR LORD LOOK AT THOSE GOGGLES]

“But this is a special kind of summer camp… a computer camp!” [shot of me walking to class carrying a white ring binder with my Pascal notes OH MY GOD THOSE SOCKS! IS THAT WHAT MY SHORTS LOOK LIKE! OH NO OH NO I’M A NERD! A NERD!]

“At the Hill School Computer Camp…” [shot of me fitting a new reel of tape onto a VAX system]

“blah blah blah blah of the future, ha ha ha!” [staged interchange between me and Cheri; Cheri is sitting at a computer pretending to try and fail to do something; I’m shaking my head knowledgeably and pretending to explain what she’s doing wrong, CAUSING MY DOCTOR WHO PEDOMETER TO GO CLICK CLICK CLICK OH SWEET JESUS NNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!

Oh, man, that was traumatic — a window into a future filled with wedgie after wedgie after wedgie; a future where I only wore stupid clothes and acted excruciatingly, horrifyingly embarassing and never, ever got a girl to like me (I was eleven; I was starting to change my mind on the whole girl subject.) The Doctor Who hat went straight into the closet, and I vowed never, ever to embarass myself in public again.

Of course, I got over that.

Dude, I’m huge in Columbus

In defiance of every

In defiance of every ‘watched-pot’ axiom on the books, my dad and Risa went to visit my sister in Seattle for the week of her due date. Naturally, the inevitable occured: everyone sat around looking at each other for a week, the family went for long walks on the beach, and the station wagon sat, fully loaded with baby-delivery gear, alone in the driveway. At the end of the week, the inevitable happened: my dad left for Albequerque, a giant meteorite exploded dramatically, and four hours later Bridget went into labor. It always seems to work out the same way, doesn’t it?

Sixty hours after the meteor, and fifty-six(!!!) hours after starting labor, I have a new nephew! We’re anxiously awaiting pictures. Meanwhile, my dad came by last night to visit the bird-in-the-hand baby, and dropped off book that’s gonna be really useful for the Time Travel Guide project!

In defiance of every

Like watching two French courtiers

Like watching two French courtiers slap each other with hankies
I’m not proud of saying “fuck you” to a couple of Nader petitioners on the Exton train station platform this morning, but it was a knee-jerk response. In fact, I’d probably do the same thing again, except hopefully without the overwhelming aura of Pissy White Man that makes me curl my toes with embarassment when I think about it.

[John is walking to train platform, trying to avoid what look like two Greenpeace canvassers with thick clipboards.]
Canvasser #1: (Early thirties, slightly built, wearing denim-y shirt) “Sir, would you like to sign this petition to put Ralph Nader on the ballot for…”
John: (surprised) What? No! Fuck you! (walks away)
Canvasser 1: (calling after John) Up… up yours!
John: (PWM mode activated) What’s your name?
Canvasser #1: (PWM mode activated) Sasha.
John: Sasha what? You think Ralph is gonna be happy you’re shouting “up yours” at commuters?
Sasha: What’s your name? (Gets out pen and reversed business card, ready to write.)
John: Why, so you can sneak me onto that petition? Hell no!
Sasha: I’m an attorney, and you can’t go around saying… (pauses) “F-U” to people!
John: Sure I can!
Canvasser #2: (younger college student, fairly amused by PWM display) A simple “no” would have sufficed.
John: No, I disagree. I wanted a “no” with some mustard on it, a “no” plus a foot up Sasha’s ass here, so you guys will stop taking votes away from any candidate that can beat Bush! Christ, I can’t believe you guys aren’t used to this by now! Don’t you get this response twelve times a day?
Sasha: You’re the first “F-U” we’ve gotten.
John: Well, hopefully it won’t be the last. (Walks towards train, which has arrived)
Sasha: (calling after) You just got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!

Now, reading this, it looks fairly charitable to me, like I got the upper hand in the argument. Doubtless, if Nader stumper Sasha has a blog (which seems likely; we’re practically demographic doppelgangers,) it will read the other way around. You have to remember, though, that Pissy White Man Mode means that all retorts and rejoinders are delivered in a high-pitched, whiny, half-smiling and TOTALLY FUCKING EMBARASSING way. Even if I had the forethought to call the Nader stumpers “deluded patsies of the Republican party,” I wouldn’t have managed to deliver it with a two-fingered poke in the chest, gravel in my voice, and steel in my eye; it would have come out more like “Do you have a pass to be in the lunchroom right now? You don’t? I’m gonna tell the principal!” Kate tells me that if I insist on aspirating the “wh” in “where” and “wheel”, I’m never going to convince anyone that I’m about to pull their arm off and hit them with it.

What’s worse, I’m pretty sure that I steeled Sasha’s reserve to get out there on the mean streets of Chester County and spread Naderism even in the face of occasional rude language from liberals. I guess I’m the deluded patsy of the Republican party today.

Like watching two French courtiers

What I Did on

What I Did on My Memorial Day Vacation

(click the list items for pics.)

Kate and I went for a long Memorial Day Weekend to visit my mom and other Baldwin relatives with new babies (picture from Robin’s site) in Belfast, Maine. While there, we:

The trip back was a bit of a slog, as we had two flights canceled out from under us, and missed a third due to some Delta ticket window oafishness. (gory details and baby mugshots on Kate’s blog) But we made it home eventually, and are happy to be back. Lydia’s re-acquanting herself with all the old familiar ceiling fans.

What I Did on