Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm off to the Redneck Hajj

I'll let you know how it all works out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Butler did it!

Oh crap...Ooooooh, crap.

As a Syracuse man, I am obliged to collapse into the hysteria of the moment. Yesterday, I was among the faithful believing that another NCAA title was within reach. Now - not so much.

Here's the deal. I've been here before. I was (emotionally, not physically) there when my Alma mater won it all in 2003. I've also experienced that aching death when Syracuse lost The Tournament to Kentucky in the finals of 1996. Separately, in related sports obsessions, I've been fortunate enough to experience that narcotic euphoria when the NY Giants captured SuperBowl 42. But still, this just barely counters the other side of life's continuum. I'll never forget our(Giants') evisceration at the hands of the Ravens in 2001. And let's not forget how I somehow, had to find a way to keep on living when in fall of 2000 both Al Gore and the Mets lost to George W. Bush and the NY Yankees, both embodiments of all that I wish I could change about America.

We load all this emotional capital into sports - but, win or lose, heaven or hell, not much changes. When the Yankees beat the Mets in the 2000 Series, I thought I was literally going to die, But then the next day, I got up, shaved, and went to work.

Chronic City

When asked to describe Chronic City, author Jonathan Lethem said, 'it's very long, and very strange.'

He wasn't kidding. It is long and strange but immeasurably enjoyable. Though I have to admit, I wonder non-New Yorkers can love it the way I did. It definitely has a sort of insider's perspective and having that perspective enabled me to overlook Chronic City's structural flaws and get lost in the tapestry of indigenous City totems.

I lived in Manhattan between 1994 and 2000. Perhaps these was the meatiest years of America's collective brain-death sabbatical. I lived a very privileged, insular and fortunate life. But something strange was always afoot. It took me a few years to identify it, but after a while, some anomaly would process in my consciousness. Months would pass and I'd realize I hadn't left the island. Not just the island of Manhattan, but I hadn't left Mid-Town. And then I came to realize something incredible - though I lived in the most amazing, dynamic cosmopolitan city on Planet Earth, I led an incredibly isolated existence.

So now we have Lethem's Manhattan. It is a decidedly post-9/11 Manhattan. There are a few hyperbolic fantasy elements: an indecipherable gray mist covers lower downtown and an escaped 'tiger' is on the loose, inflicting guerrilla attacks on random sections of the city. Amid this chaos, a friendship emerges between Chase Insteadman, a former 1980's rat-pack teen actor, and Perkus Tooth, a hermetic writer.

These two form a friendship that primarily exists in Perkus' apartment, where they get very high (on a pot called 'Chronic') while launching into expansive thinking sessions that circumnavigate pop culture and current events. Perkus mostly delivers ideas and Chase receives them gratefully.

Chronic City does three things. In a nod to Don DeLillo, Lethem creates a fantastical unreality to argue that a thinly veiled madness lies underneath our popular culture.

This book also explores something that art has not yet fully dissected - the mood of New York in the Post-9/11 phase. Perkus expounds: Something happened, Chase, there was some rupture in this city. Since then, time's been fragmented. Might have to do with the gray fog, or some other disaster. Whatever the cause, ever since we've been living in a place that's a replica of itself, a fragile simulacrum, full of gaps and glitches. A theme park, really!

Lastly, Lethem is using Perkus and Chase to show two sides of himself. Chase is his public self - the known celebrity. Perkus is his private world, the lone thinker, his wellspring of ideas. Creating Perkus frees Lethem. It also allowed him to take a sly dig at Malcolm Gladwell on page 221.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spaceman again

I don't know what any of this means.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Texas Fold'em

Well, it looks like the State of Texas is sending history another kill shot from its depository of Texas schoolbooks.

The Texas Board of Education has gone and changed the standards required for its textbooks. Why? Because liberals are undermining America and taking away our freedoms, of course.

So to help you understand these changes, Slimbo's Shelf has provided the following helpful guide with an additional rating scale so you can see what changes are mildly crazy, completely crazy and totally, utterly, mind-bogglingly batshit crazy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

White Sox players who look like Postal Workers

The White Sox have always been a team struggling with an identity crisis. Here we see a collection of players deep from the jungle of malaise that held this franchise hostage between the scandal of 1919 and the redemption of 2005. Look at these men. They seem resigned that whatever goodness life may bring is going to be a long ways off. The day-in and day-out grind of it all seems to be wearing them down, much like Chuck Bukowski's Hank Chinalski.

These are the faces of the Post Office. Until redemption comes, what will become of us?


Slimbo painted this in late 2005. At the time, he was still working for Lehman Brothers but had grown increasingly aware that he was either going to have to quit or else be forced out. Just the year before, he'd seen his second child born, beautiful little Alex. As happy as this made him, something else had come into his conciousness, making him very distressed. Working at Lehman had made him realize that despite the material comforts he'd afforded his family, he'd completely gravitated away from becoming the man he should be - a man of ideas and a man who lived the tenets of his faith and convictions. He wouldn't have the guts to take action on this crisis until two years later. Still, I think this painting captures his initial acceptance that something big was coming. Something that was going to change things

Post Office

"The streets were full of insane and dull people. The voices of the people were the same, no matter where you carried the mail you heard the same things over and over."
You know, Anthony Trollope was a postal worker. They say he'd rise at 5am, write steadily for three hours, and then go to work. My sister-in-law recently remarked that if he'd finish a novel after hour number two, he'd use hour three to start the next novel. You can't help but to look at such a regimen and believe it to be nothing more than robotics rather than a creative process. Either way, being a postal worker seems not to have phased Trollope too much.

Now at the opposite end of the spectrum you have Chuck Bukowski. In Post Office, we read how the job almost swallows him whole - and let me tell you, this was not a man who rose at 5am, ready for work. You always have to wonder how much of Chuck Bukowski is real. Because how can one man drink and whore himself into oblivion yet still return intact to our shared reality to write about it? As is often the case with skid row poets, (like Tom Waits), you have to wonder what's real and what's affectation.

Post Office was Bukowski's first novel, published in 1971. In this book, Bukowski describes the life as a novice postal worker as a horrific, powerless and soul crushing existence. Supervisors are sadistic, shifts are short on manpower and long on hours, customers are ghastly at best and days seem to be controlled by either torrential rains or scorching sunlight. Between shifts, Bukowski's alter ego, Hank Chinalski wallows away in the world of copious booze and random sex that was late-60's Los Angeles.

There is a good deal of poetry in this work though. Despite his seemingly nihilistic behavior, Chinalski is a man searching for something, some shred of meaning in world gone uncaring and insane.

For the next post, I'll be presenting Chicago White Sox players who look like postal workers. --C.C.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Heath Care Reform Facts

Click HERE to get the facts on Health Care Reform.

by C.C.

The Cuse Curse of #1

Not good. Not good at all. Seems like only yesterday, Syracuse was going ride into that big dance sunset with that big #1 ranking on their back with only a regular season game against Louisville and a Big East Tourney jaunt standing in their way.

And now they haven't won since. The real enemy here was the first round bye in the Big East Tournament. That killed them. Coming off a loss to Louisville, that killed them. And now they'll head to the NCAA Tourney with even more time playing Wii, hitting the bars on M Street, not studying and NOT playing ball.

Hate to say it folks....this ain't gonna help Slimbo recover any time soon.

West Fens, MA

Hello! My Name is Cornelius C.

Hello, there Slimbo's Shelf readers!

My name is Cornelius C. and while Slimbo is recovering, he's asked that I fill in to keep Slimbo's Shelf going. You know, like a lot of you, I got pretty damn mad when I read the last post where Slimbo announced he'd had it with writing.

So I look forward to bringing you the material you depend on, right here where you always come looking for it.
All for now.
West Fens, MA

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Slimbo's Shelf is going off the air..or line, or whatever.

Thanks to all you readers out there.

If The Shelf comes back on-line, I can notify you. Shoot me an email at and I can notify you if I fire this old jalopy back up again.

Be well.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Nostalgia for the Strong Boss

Or should I call this post 'Oh Crap - Part II'?

Today Dimitry Medvedev, expressing frustration at the lack of Russian medals at the Vancouver Games, issued a rather severe call for the resignation of Russia's Olympic officials. He went on to further lament the loss of the prestige the Soviets once held in international competition.

I remember this well. When the United States hockey team upset the Soviets at the 1980 Lake Placid games - it was a fluke, a wonderful fairy tale fluke. The rag-tag, unshaven vagabond USA had upset the robotic, efficient machine that was the USSR. It was one of my earliest sports memories and perhaps, was crucial in forever fueling my obsession and adoration of the sports underdog. There was something mystical about the Soviet athletic program back then. To this day, when I think of those old red uniforms with the yellow 'CCCP' letters, it just strikes a chord of fear in my soul - and not due to memories of the looming danger of nuclear annihilation. It was just that those athletes were so damn good.

I suppose this gives me the opportunity to talk about Hedrick Smith's The Russians. This book was written in the early 1970's by a New York Times correspondent living in the Soviet Union. Although, The Russians is out of print, I picked up a used copy on I'm currently writing an unruly and wildly unpublishable novel that takes place in an indecipherable time and place. Despite that ambiguity, I am trying to layer in an atmosphere that is decidedly Soviet (in a nutshell, I'm using the eastern bloc paradigm as a metaphor for the brainwashed town-hall teabagging apocolypto our nation seems destined for). So I was hoping The Russians would provide some texture from the voices of everyday Soviet citizens.

Unfortunately, the strongest voice that comes through is Smith's and it is often condescending and deprecating. Perhaps because in the three decades that have followed this book's publication, all the dirty laundry and empty suits of both communism and capitalism have come to light, Smith's high horse seems a bit thin and self righteous.

But in light of Medvedev's comments today - there is one chapter where Smith appears to be dead-on. It is called 'Nostalgia for a Strong Boss'. In this chapter, Smith incredulously encounters everyday Soviets who wax nostalgic for Stalin's reign despite (an albeit a loose) understanding of his atrocities. I suppose it's the old 'but he made the trains run on time' argument. But back to Medvedev. Today he actually lamented the loss of the Soviet school of athletic training.
Interestingly enough, the post-Soviet wild-west market economy seems most culpable. From The Times article quoting Russian Olympic official Gennady Schvets: "In the 1990's, everything was destroyed. When stadiums turned into markets and pools into V.I.P. saunas, athletics collapsed."

So what's to blame? The loss of the strong man or the sense of communal achievement?

Oh Crap!

3-2, Canada wins the gold.

Ah, well. I guess you can't complain about silver.

And Ryan Miller - congrats on the tourney MVP - well deserved.