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Category: Letters (page 2 of 4)

A Letter to Ugg Boots In Reference to My Extreme Hatred For Them

Ugg Boots,

You’ll notice, Ugg Boots, that I did not use the word “dear” to begin this letter. I don’t want you to hold the mistaken assumption that I have anything but the greatest contempt for you. But I don’t believe that even conveys how utterly I hate you. I possess nothing but the sincerest enmity, the most profound disdain, the most resounding loathing for you. You inflict ruin on the feet and ankles of women everywhere, women gullible enough to believe that how they appear to other people is less important than that their little toesies are warm and cuddly. You are emblematic of the laziness that is ruining humanity. For every silly woman wearing you with tucked in sweatpants and a sweatshirt or North Face fleece (the gray and black one, you know the one I am talking about) I want to kick a defenseless puppy. I shed a tear for the future of the human race every time I see a pink pair attempting to navigate the filthy Manhattan snowbanks. I want to choke someone until I see the light drain out of their eyes every time I see a mother/daughter pair dressed similarly, wearing Uggs, and holding shopping bags.

You are the ruin of The United States of America.

As a Californian, I never experienced a real winter until I moved to the North East. The worst we had it, Ugg Boots, was 40 degree days, perhaps a frost over night. But it never snowed. Never sustained sub-freezing temperatures. Never had to worry that the wind chill was going to make it feel like temperatures below 0°F (-18°C). Yet people would flip their living shit about the “cold” and how “freezing” it was. And that’s when you came out, Ugg Boots, on the feet every silly, stupid college girl going to class in her pajamas. It would be 60°F (16°C) and girls would be out with fleeces and Uggs and I would want to stab them.

Even here in New York, you’ll start seeing your hideous visage as early as September once nature delicately hints that perhaps maybe it might just not be warm enough to wear flip flops anymore. Then I must endure you until May when the sweat on a person’s brow suggests that perhaps maybe it might just be too warm to continue wearing vile, wool-lined skin tubes your feet.

That segues nicely into another gripe of mine. Winter boots need not be ugly, shapeless masses of material slipped onto the foot. They can be stylish, too. They can accentuate a figure, the can add height, they can be designed. But you, horrid defiler, you are not. You make women—even women who might have lovely, slender ankles—appear as if they have wooden pylons for ankles. The only thing I find more unflattering than you, Ugg Boots, is track marks.

Look, I’ll admit something to you, something that pains me to no end. I once purchased a pair of you for an ex. I know, I know. The self-loathing will never cease. It was our first Christmas and she had moved to New York not long before. I got her a pair of the black ones and she wore them for years until it became painfully and slushily obvious that you were not up to the job of keeping her feet dry as well as warm against the New York winter.

In summation, you can go to hell along with wedges, sweatpants with words on the ass, Ed Hardy clothes, and Tap Out. A winter without you would be the most pleasant summer of my life.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

A Letter to My Landlord Frank That He Will Almost Definitely Never Read

Dear Frank,

First, let me just say thank you. You’re the best landlord I’ve ever had.

Now, let’s jump backwards a little bit. For 5 years I lived in an apartment at 310 S 3rd St. It was a fine enough apartment and I was basically happy with it. I lived there with my former girlfriend and life was mostly good. I liked the neighborhood (except on Puerto Rico/Dominican Republic days when it was constant Reggaeton until dawn—yuck) enough and everything was close and accessible and easy.

But as soon as we had problems with the apartment, we ran into roadblocks. Since my girlfriend was generally less employed than I was during that time, it often fell on her shoulders to make calls and see that repairs were taken care of. Unfortunately for us, she was a woman and good luck getting our old landlords to listen to a woman for anything. Even when we spoke to women, nothing ever happened. Repairs went untended to and things fell into our laps. A prime example, when we first moved in the apartment was newly renovated, which was nice but it also meant that we had no stove or refrigerator for like 2 weeks. Pretty annoying. And when they finally did drop them off, that was all they did. I had to figure out how to connect the stove to the gas, purchase a tube and thread goop from the hardware store, and do it myself. I imagine that this isn’t up to code, but call me crazy.

At some point in our tenure in that apartment, our bathroom ceiling started dripping. It was a pain, and we called about it. No response. As the months of dripping went on and the damage it was causing to the bathroom ceiling became evident, we started calling on the regular. No response. So we wrote letters. No response. I spoke to the super. No follow-up. The drywall of the ceiling became wetter and wetter and moldier and stained and fucked up, but they didn’t care enough to send someone over to fix it.

The final straw with them came the day I lost my job in June 2009. It was an overcast day and I had to go to the office to turn in my ID and keys and sign some paper for our corporate overlords agreeing to the shitty severance package I was getting and that I wouldn’t sue them. Spirits were high. Jesse, who I worked with at the time, picked up a bunch of beers and headed back to my house to mourn the loss our of employment. We arrived home just in time for the bathroom ceiling to explode into a great torrent of water that spread all over the floor of the kitchen and into the living room. I called my old landlords furious, yelling and cursing that this problem had gone on a year and now, on the day I got laid off, I have my ceiling exploding water all over the place. I yelled. A lot. The woman on the phone was afraid and they actually sent someone right away. It still took them weeks to fix the now gaping hole in the ceiling.

I was glad to move out of there.

When I moved into your building, Frank, I was prepared to have the same sort of shitty landlord/tenant relationship I had always experienced while living in New York. They are, generally, a bunch of assholes. Luckily, you are not.

On the wall of the kitchen of my then-new apartment there was a mirror, which is cool and everything, except that I intended to put a kitchen island against that wall and the top of the mirror only reached my collarbone. I suppose the previous tenant was much shorter than I am. I very carefully attempted to remove the mirror from the wall, but when you’d painted the place the wet paint had dripped behind the mirror and glued it to the drywall. I used a knife to remove the mirror, like a surgeon, but I was unable to take it down without damaging the wall. And then there was a giant unpainted rectangle mirror ghost. Oops!

I went to Richie, the amazing super intendant, and told him what happened. I offered to fix it myself if he could provide me with the tools, since it was totally my fault. I went to https://toolsduty.com/best-portable-tool-box/ and bought a tool box so I wouldn’t lose anymore tools. He told me it was no problem and that you’d take care of it. The next day before I returned fro work, the wall was patched and painted.

Amazing! I had never in my adult life experienced such rapid turn-around on a repair in my apartment. I expected the damage to mar my wall forever. I was glad to be wrong.

But it doesn’t end there.

One day I was here at work and I got a phone call from Jesse (same one) around 4:30, 5 o’clock. He told me he had good news and bad news. I told him to give me the bad news first.

“Your doorknob fell off.”

“What?”

“Your doorknob fell off. You can still get into and out the apartment, though.”

“What’s the good news?”

“I cleaned your apartment. I got on the phone with my mom and instead of just sitting around, I cleaned. For an hour and a half.”

“Ah, uh, cool. Let me call my landlord.”

So I called and left a vou voicemail and by the time I got home from work around 9, the doorknob was back on. And, thanks to Jesse, I had a sparklingly clean apartment. Awesome!

And then there was the time I got home around 2:30 in the morning and you had locked me out of my place and you can all the way from Queens to let me in and then we discovered that I had not been given a necessary key when I moved in. And then I had a copy of the key on my counter the next day. Amazing!

Most recently, I noticed that my microwave kept losing power because I kept having to reset the clock. Then I noticed that my fridge was also losing power, which was a drag since it meant that a whole lot of food in my fridge spoiled, but that’s no one’s fault. It’s a good thing I rarely have food in my fridge. I called and left a voicemail the next morning at work saying that I think the outlet was bad, even though the breaker is not switching off. When I got home, I saw that you’d run an extension cord from the fridge to another outlet in the kitchen. Smart. And though this is all starting to sound repetitive, the next morning at 9:30 while I am getting ready for work you show up with an electrician. Who does that? Awesome. That evening, the outlet was fixed.

So, basically, what I am saying Frank is that you are awesome. I appreciate how readily you take care of problems around the building. You respond right away and you treat every issue as if it were important, even if they are relatively minor. And then not raising my rent this year? Never ever has that happened before.

Wow. I am never moving out.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

A Letter to Men Who Wear Their Cell Phones On Their Belts

Dear Men Who Wear Their Cell Phones On Their Belts,

What the fuck are you, fucking Batman? What your pockets aren’t good enough to hold you phone? You need to proudly display the shitty old Nokia you got for free when you signed your 2-year Boost Mobile contract? Is it some sort of status symbol for you that you can own—and display—an item that 900 million other people also own?

I don’t understand at all. I’ve known people who have worn their phones on their belt, but only while they were working. I guess that is sort of acceptable, but I still think the phone should just go in their pocket. Put it in your pocket, guy.

But, you ask, what about those poor unfortunate souls who don’t have pockets? Wait. People are wearing pants without pockets but are still wearing enough of a belt that the can hang their phone? Do you see the essential problem with this? Let me recommend a solid three-step course of action for you if find yourself mired in this existential quandary.

  1. Buy pants that have pockets.
  2. Put those pants on.
  3. Put your cell phone in your pocket.

Three easy steps to success! Do you know what else it will do, MWWTCPOTB? It will help you look like less of an ASSHOLE.

For example, look at this:

This dude looks like an asshole! Why does he need a cell phone on his belt, let alone MANY cell phones!? Can you enlighten me, MWWTCPOTB? No, I didn’t think you could.

Get some pockets, jerk.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

A letter to Infinite Jest

Dear Infinite Jest,

Well, I’ve finally finished you. It’s been, what, like 8 months? When I started you, you looked like this:

But you were so big and cumbersome that it took me months and months to make it through even a few hundred pages of your massive, dense, nearly-1000 page (without endnotes) bulk. Luckily, bitching about how you hurt my hand on the subway inspired a random Kindle from my mom for Christmas. She offered at the time to buy you again for the Kindle, but I retorted that I already owned you, so why buy another copy? I’ll just finish the paper copy and use the Kindle for other books.

Well that dream didn’t last very long. You were so large that I couldn’t really hold you with one hand on the train, much less flip back and forth from text to endnotes without much difficulty. Lucky were the times I got a seat so I could spread you across my lap and actually read without worrying about letting go of the pole and being tossed on the invariably rough subway ride to or from work. I gave in. I spent the 9.99 on Amazon and bought the Kindle version. When I finished you, you looked like this:

Nevermind the text on the image.

A few weeks ago, after a brunch mandate to stitch & bitch with Jesse (MACHO AS HELL), we found ourselves in the back yard of TBD in my beloved Greenpoint drinking beers and having a sans-women hang out time. It was really nice. As such, we got around to talking about you. But before we get into the whole post of this letter, let me restate something I mentioned in reference to Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.

I like to work for a book. I really dislike having everything handed to me in tidy pockets of exposition. Nothing pulls me out of a book more than when someone within the first 30 pages stops to explain what they mean but this or that term that the author has created and feels some need to explain directly rather than letting us figure it out like rational, literate adults. I want vagueness and mystery and hints and intentional misdirection. I want to use my brain to participate in unraveling the text. I don’t think that’s so much. In fact, it is the one characteristic that differentiates books into the “enjoyed” pile and “would recommend to someone” pile. Sure, I enjoy books that are quick and hand me things, but only in the way you enjoy popcorn movies filled to the brim with explosions and tits and car chases. They’re little pieces of mental vacation. Think summer blockbuster versus art house.

Infinite Jest, you clearly fit into the “would recommend to someone” category for me. There’s nothing easy about your nearly-1000 pages and I enjoyed the task of deciphering you. You are a specific work of mad genius that I could never ever create. I enjoyed you immensely for all your rambling and wandering and temporal shifts and insane characters and plotless plot and asides and footnotes and nonsense and magical realism. It is clear to me that you are an intensely personal work by someone who was a tragic loss.

And then the other day on the subway I finished you. And all I have to say is fuck you, Infinite Jest. Fuck you with a knife and die. I’m all right with vague endings and I have never minded leaving questions unanswered at the end of a book, but this was too much. I felt like we’d stopped 100 pages before the book should have actually ended. In a flashback nonetheless. Total bullshit.

So, fuck you for making me feel like I didn’t get it. And fuck you for making me want to read you again so I pick up all the clues I missed the first time through. Fuck you. I love you. I haven’t been left wanting more so badly by an ending since I finished Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (which I thought I discussed here, but cannot find record of).

Fuck you, I love, and oh my god I am so sorry.

Love,

The Black Laser.

A Letter to Gravy Regarding its Deliciousness

Dearest Gravy,

Have I told you recently how much I love you? I would hate to think that you are walking through this world with no conception of how deeply I feel for you. You are the meat juice light of my life and I have yet to encounter a meal which could not be made better by your presence. For example, while eating chicken & waffles this morning with Tita Sue, I was delivered the requisite fried chicken and waffles but you were strangely absent. My heart nearly broke there this morning at Pies & Thighs as I consider you in combination with maple syrup to be an essential element of a satisfying chicken & waffles experience.

Fortunately, I know how to bring you into my life directly. After roasting my delightful little chicken in my cast iron skillet with a rub of salt, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, I was left with what people affectionately refer to as “drippings,” i.e., the cooked off fat and love. Sensible (read: stupid) people would just dispose of this wonderful collected juice, but those of us who understand the value of fat and cooked on bits of chicken know the best thing to do: make gravy. A bit of chicken stock and a smidge of flour and whisking the burnt on bits of wonder over heat results in life’s most magnificent liquid.

While sitting at my kitchen table enjoying my dinner, the glass of you sat next to my plate and I considered taking a great big swig of it directly, but I reconsidered for two reasons. First, I would have felt very bad about myself on an emotional, if not physical, level. There’s something slightly disheartening about drinking a glass of reduced fat and chicken bits. As a sauce, I love you; as a beverage I am not so sure. Second, I would have been left with no leftover gravy to enjoy as I consume the remainder of the chicken over the next week. If there is any leftover when the chicken is gone, I will dump it into the soup I intend to make with the carcass. Waste not, want not, gravy. That’s what I always (never) say.

Growing up in an essentially gravy-less childhood was a hardship, gravy. You are gravy, so you can never understand what it’s like to grow up without you. Imagine, for my sake, what your Thanksgiving turkey would be like without the luscious brown magic you provide. Imagine, if you will, what roast beef would be like if you never kissed it with your salty grace. Imagine, for the love of God and all that is holy, what my sausage smoothie would have been like if you were not there to provide such savory redemption from the depths of bland banality. Gravy, I love you. Thank you for being so versatile and easy to prepare. You are my life.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

PS – I am not referring to your poor relations that come in a can. They will need to stay outside. Thanks for understanding that we just can’t allow their kind in here.

Oh seriously, what the FUCK, Japan?!?

Dear Japan, again,

Seriously? What the fuck. Cabbage slide flute? Are you for serious?

You do know that, in this man, you possess a tremendous national treasure, don’t you? It would be a shame if he was not allowed to pursue his produce instrument art with your fullest support.

Let me repeat myself for emphasis. Cabbage. Slide flute.

Cabbage slide flute.

Sincerely,

Joe Dillingham
The Black Laser

Big Broccoli Ocarina

Dear Japan,

Please don’t ever stop making weird people. I love video like this so much I can hardly contain myself. Where I’ve written a few sane sentences, I’ve tried my best not to explode into a stream of expletives and exclamation points and repetition of the word “awesome”. I desire wholeheartedly to see more enthusiastic Japanese men play western Christmas music on homemade produce instruments as their wives accompany them on a regular instrument. For example, I’d like to hear “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” played on marimbas made from coconuts and accompanied by a zither. Or perhaps “Little Drummer Boy” on a carrot flute with a theremin. Or “Mele Kalikimaka” on watermelon guitar with a violin.

Whatever you do, please do NOT allow two people to play two different kinds of produces instruments. This is an illustration of what might happen.

I mean that. Please, for the world’s sake, be very very careful.

Sincerely,

Joe Dillingham
The Black Laser

A Letter To iPad Users

Dear iPad users,

First watch this.

Now, let me admit that I am officially jealous. Why? Because you guys get to play with a bitchin’ version of Rebirth for only 15 bucks.

Oh, you say, what’s so great about Rebirth? Let’s rewind to 1997. I’m a sophomore in high school living in my parents house running a Macintosh Performa of some sort listening to Pantera all the time. The computer ran Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, and Leisure Suit Larry. It could dial into the internet. I had a version of Photoshop (3.0, the first one with layers) that my brother had pirated for me. It had an enormous 750mb hard drive that was filled with pictures and Word Perfect documents and games. No one knew what a hipster, an IED, P2P, the blogosphere, Google, or an iPhone were. Broadband was years off. The only instant messaging was IRC. I got all my demos from the demo CDs (yes, CDs) stuck to the cover of computing magazines. It had a 3.5″ disk drive. It was so awesome.

It was on one of those CDs attached to the cover of an issue of MacAddict or MacWorld or whatever that I got my first taste of computer music in the form of a demo of Rebirth from Propellerhead Software. Of course, computer music had been around for some time already in the form of the demo scene on the Amiga and old Commodore computers, but this was new to me. I had no idea what a TB-303, a TR-808, or a TR-909 were or that they were what Rebirth was emulating. I had no concept of how important the 808 was to hip-hop music. I had no idea that the 303 had effectively created Acid. There was no Wikipedia. How would you find shit like that out? I was just a teenager in my parent’s house in California avoiding my schoolwork and making luscious crunchy electro sounds on this marvelous and, at the time, prohibitively expensive (199.00) piece of software. I just used the demo over and over and over, unable to save, until it would time me out and I would have to start over. I spent a LOT of time trying to recreate the 303 line from New Order’s “Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction)”. You’ve heard it, but in case you haven’t listen below.

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/audio/confusion-pump-panel.mp3|titles=Confusion Pump Panel Reconstruction|artists=New Order]

People often talk about books or albums of events that had huge impacts on their lives. I think that Rebirth is one of those for me. Couple that with the arrival of Johnny Violent’s “North Korea Goes Bang” on an Earache sampler CD again from the cover of a magazine, and my metal-centric world was split right open. Humorously, the Johnny Violent track was such a secret shameful pleasure of mine that I never really spoke about it to anyone but would still blast it in my bedroom. Listening to it now reveals it to be a little silly, but it was a gateway drug for me.

The combo of Rebirth, the awareness that the creation of such weirdness was accessible, and the Johnny Violent track, the awareness that electronic music wasn’t just bullshit glossy crap, opened up my musical world like nothing else had since my very first metal record years earlier. As the years went on and the stigma I felt for liking electronic music faded, I explored electronic music in depth. The late 90s were a wasteland for interesting heavy metal with nü-metal and rap-metal dominating the scene. Absolutely miserable. Instead, I turned to the sounds of Underworld, Front Line Assembly, Front 242, Future Sound of London, Fluke, Daft Punk, Orbital, Meat Beat Manifesto, and whoever else was exciting and fresh and new.

After the summer of 2002, I had a little bit of money in my pocket and I purchased the then-new Reason 2.5 and a USB MIDI controller. Reason was the successor to Rebirth by Propellerhead Software and it was (and still is) an amazing piece of software. But, with its added complexity and power, the simplicity of making silly little 303 and 808 lines in Rebirth was lost. Sure, you could sample and tweak synths until your eyes exploded and you weren’t limited to strictly linear composition of sequences, but a little something was lost. I’m not saying I would go back, but it was much like learning to edit on a linear taped-based system and the Steenbeck and then moving onto a fully fledged NLE like the Avid or Final Cut. The simplicity engendered by the more limiting systems prevented me from doing a lot of dicking around. Decisions were made and you lived with them. I’ve talked about this before.

Even then Rebirth was lost to me since the Props didn’t invest the time or energy to port Rebirth to OS X. They chose, smartly, to focus their energy on making Reason awesome. Still, the legacy of Rebirth lives on in Reason as a device that will pull info directly from Rebirth into Reason. You can still download it for free from the Rebirth Museum, but it won’t work for me. Alas. Ideally, we’d see them shove Rebirth back into Reason for version 6. No need to make it fancy. Just have it support mods, be sequenceable, be routable and boom. Instant love. And my money.

To bring it all back, iPad users I am jealous that you now have access to one of my favorite, most important pieces of software for a paltry 15 bucks. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t make sense to buy an iPad at 500 bucks (at the cheapest) when I could instead get the much more useful Native Instruments Komplete 7 for the same price. If I bought the iPad with 3G, I could also afford the upgrade to Reason 5+Record 1.5. Pair Komplete and Reason with Logic Pro and I have a formidable synthesizer army capable of unleashing the wrath of the Space Pope on the universe. Nevermind that I’m not that good at making electronic music, it’s still damned fun and it’s money better spent than on trinkets or booze or nonsense.

Does anyone out there want to let me give them 15 bucks so I can put Rebirth on their iPad? Yes?

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.