Things That Go Bump in the Night

An ongoing journey through the building blocks of Hanes’s mind...

Hanes likes to think. After all I spent 10 years in graduate school studying philosophy. But it’s not all intellectual thought. There are more prosaic musings as well. Here’s a bunch of stuff I have pondered recently or over the years. Or both. Be afraid, be very afraid.

HANDS. When I was about ten years old or so I used to look at the hands of my grandfather and his friends. His hands always looked like they were “a man’s hands,” that is, mature and experienced and capable of doing things. In comparison, when I looked at my own hands, they seemed blank and almost naive. Not capable of taking matters into, well, their own hands. Now, so many years later, I still look at my hands and ask, “Are these the hands of a man?”

“Doing your best, you are going to live life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything. But it is action that is going to make you feel intensely happy. When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward.” ~ The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

Whatever your best is in this moment, have the will to put it into committed action. Today I spent three hours of community service at Kitty City. I did a great workout at the gym. I vacuumed the apartment. I meditated. Your best does not need to correlate to “greatness” in the conventional sense. It means you are willing to act and not let another moment slip away. Anyone can do it. And it feels great! ~ Marc(January 2012)

While it’s been in the area of five years since Hanes has posted anything on this page, it’s been close to five full months since Hanes has posted a review. Why, what has taken so long of late? Actually, very interesting things. Even more than interesting, joyfully fulfilling! Now, it just doesn’t get any better than that does it?

I participated in a personal development workshop called Gratitude Training that truly changed the way I experience the world. While some of the more basic things in life have remained the same, profound openness to the possibilities of life has altered forever how I feel about myself and my place in the world. It’s great stuff and it proved to me that true happiness is achievable if you want it. All you really need to do is use the right framework from which to see all we have to be grateful for and you will be free of so many things that hold us back from being happy and joyful in all that we do. It works so check it out! (January 2012)

Idle flights of fancy are a core attribute of The Hanes Way. This fact is beyond refute. For some years now a recurring fantasy involves the following. Tracking down and beating the living shit out of the people who own spamming companies. Not protesting. Not taunting. Not threatening a lawsuit. Not pleading for reason. The scourge of email spam will never be eliminated through such means as they require a two-way dialogue between sentient creatures. No, these individuals have made it clear they will do whatever is required to evade both the law as well as proper social conduct in order to keep spamming. They put their own unsavory financial interests above the annoyance of millions in addition to the cost in lost productivity to society as a whole.

Hanes, long a believer in engaging one’s opponent on equal terms, maintains that the only recourse civil society has to combat spam is by taking the battle to the source. This means finding out exactly which specific individuals are responsible for sending out millions of spam messages a year and, regardless of country of origin, race, color, gender, creed, sexual preference, or baseball team affiliation, jumping them in a dark alley and beating them to within an inch of their life. Kind of, how shall we say, put things in terms they can understand. While letting them know in no uncertain terms why this deed is transpiring. And that it shall happen repeatedly unless they cease and desist.

Now, there’s a lot of spammers out there. So, we are talking about a big posse to administer the beatdown. But a large problem requires a grand solution. And big enough guys to take out the personal security these spam lords are sure to employ. Surely flights of fancy are not restrained by the ho-hum dictates of reality?

Such a beautiful and multi-hued jewel revenge is! Who can say the ends do not justify the means? Red Sox fans? A world without spam shall not dawn in our lifetimes without direct and decisive intervention by those most effected by it. As the saying goes, if you wanna make an omelet you gotta break some eggs. (January 2007)

I recently came across some old savings bonds gifted to me in the distant past. One, from 1973, when I was six years old, struck a chord within me. It reminded me of a convention faded away, most likely for all time. The savings bond was made out to “Master Marc Eric Landberg.” Never mind the last name, I’ve had too many of them. What struck me was the use of the honorific use of “Master.” Historically, it seems this form of address was shifted in the 19th century from covering “gentleman” of all ages to only boys under the age of 13 years old (with “Mister” then applying to adult males). I don’t know if it is still used in Great Britain but it has pretty much died out here. Which is a shame because it strikes me as kind of retro cool, even if essentially classist in nature, proper etiquette after all being the province of the upper classes. But as the savings bond itself had fully matured and was no longer gaining interest, so too with this emblem of a more polite and formal world. (January 2007)

Outside of those who travel exclusively in chauffeured transport, I think it’s hard for any denizen of New York City with two functioning eyes to deny that there’s many, many more bums on the streets than even a few years ago. Why is this Hanes thought to himself? Is it an obvious result of the macroeconomic upscaling of New York City? I haven’t been able to find many hard statistics on the matter, although The Coalition for the Homeless states that in 2006 family homelessness in New York City increased by 11%. They also report that a 2005 analysis by the NYC Independent Budget Office found that city spending on homelessness prevention has remained virtually flat since FY 2001. This while I also read elsewhere that the median household income in the city declined in constant dollars between $42,700 in 2002 to $40,000 in 2005 (somehow Hanes manages to stay above the median – for now).

Most folks know that the odious former mayor Rudy Giuliani did his damnedest to hide the homeless by getting them off the streets. Be this into temporary shelters, jails, psychiatric wards or through one-way bus tickets out of town. It was a checkbox in his list of things to do to make NYC feel safe and friendly (“quality of life” crimes)to residents, investors and visitors. As with most of his short-term gain/long-term loss policies, there was a brief shelf life on the approach. Simply because it cost too much to herd and house the homeless. Or, rather, cost more than he wanted to spend. But, give the man credit, it did work and absolutely contributed to the appearance of a safer, more orderly city. Which then in turn helped the appearance become reality.

“Mayor Mike,” even as clueless as he is regarding how average people live, is more humane than the soulless Giuliani. And, arguably, less morally corrupt. I think he really cares about the plight of homeless people more than Rudy did. But, at the end of the day, he still approaches the issue as a business problem to be solved, as he does with anything else. I suspect that he sees the problem not as something to be hidden or publicly ignored but as one to be dealt with straight-on and objectively. That said, his compassion has limits and he certainly wants to (and has) hastened the pace of Rudy’s goal of making first Manhattan and then the whole of New York City into a Luxury Product. And homeless people mess this shit up. He doesn’t want to spend the money (or thinks NYC really doesn’t have it, I’m not sure) on affordable housing, drug treatment, counseling, job training, education, whatever it takes to “rehabilitate” the homeless. Combine this with a general unwillingness to sweep the problem under the rug and witness more homeless peeps on the streets. Maybe Bloomberg’s hope is that more visible homeless will spur the private sector into pitching in to help alleviate things. As if.

So, like I said, there’s a lot more bums on the streets. Begging for change on corners. Sleeping in cardboard boxes. Haunting subway stations. Just talking to their imaginary friends while strolling the avenues of our concrete gotham. It’s nowhere close to how it was while Hanes was in college in the late 1980’s but it is still highly noticeable given how few visible homeless there were during Rudy’s military junta. And it’s in all neighborhoods, not just concentrated in a few places. Now, the question is what’s going to happen about it?

My best guess is that Bloomberg is not going to deviate from his status quo. He seems much more intent on a legacy of physical infrastructure improvements. Many of which are needed. Being a staunch free market kind of guy, it’s easy to guess that he believes it will just resolve itself for the most part – if the infrastructure and tax laws favor a robust economy, said members of such economy (corporate and public) will address any outstanding issues they find nettlesome. If Goldman Sachs or condo owners in Soho are pissed off by increasing homelessness they will mandate that government find a solution and then agreeably fund it. If they do not do so, ipso facto, there is no problem. And no solution needed.

Which most likely means get used to more homeless people around. Corporate buildings have more than adequate security and the ability to move “them” along. And plenty of car services to choose among to usher employees safely home. Ditto for most luxury apartment buildings, hell their staff are probably more aggressive about removing riff-raff from near the premises, corporations at least being more worried about lawsuits and public relations. The only hue and cry I can see coming may be from brownstone owners or parents of NYU students living in non-doorman $2,000 studio rentals. They depend on the government to provide security. Without having to hand over the envelope of cash around the holidays. Still, are there enough such people to force Mike and the next mayor’s hand and reel Mr. Cracky in as Rudy did? Remains to be seen but don’t bet on it. The collective body public of the monied classes still has more than enough fat around the belly to absorb any glancing blow the homeless represent. (January 2007)

OK, I have to confess something. It's true, as sordid as it is. Valpak gets me hot! (December 2006)

Things Hanes Likes To Say, Part 1

Holy Ho Chi Minh!

Landed gentry


Nattering nabobs of negativism

Douche bag


Free Nelson Mandela!

Who’s to say?

(December 2006)

About 6-8 months ago Hanes broke down and bought a Brita water filter pitcher to keep in his fridge. Since then something has been nagging away at his cheapskate heart. Are these filters a scam?

Now, it’s not that I doubt the efficacy of the filters. There seems to be lots of very good science behind the product. To me, it’s more an issue of how long any single given filter is supposed to last. The pitcher model I have has this “Electronic Filter Change Indicator” on it that one resets with every new filter and is supposed to tell you when it needs to be changed. In my cranky opinion, though, the filters seem to wear out very quickly. Hmmm, damn suspiciously so! So, Hanes intrepidly searched Brita’s website for an explanation of why the filters degrade, what causes this to happen, etc. Nothing! Nothing I say! Not a single report or statistic to validate the recommended filter lifespan.

So, Hanes went to the web once more and searched for any third party data. Again, none to be found. Now, it starts to get scary. Is there some kind of silent conspiracy going on? Is the whole scientific community in on it? There’s plenty of web hits of the topic of Brita filters and fluoride. Hell, who knew there exists whole organizations trying to stamp out the addition of fluoride to regular tap drinking water? But it’s true. Fluoride is evil! For better or worse, though, it seems Brita filters do not remove more than the merest trace amounts of fluoride. They do, however, remove lead, copper, mercury, cadmium and zinc. Which, I think, everyone agrees is bad for you.

I guess the water also tastes better. But, luckily, New York City has some of the most kick ass tap water in the country anyway. So, I’m not sure the Brita filter is doing much to improve the taste of the water I drink. Just purify. Which isn’t such a bad thing. But at what cost, I say?

And we’re back at the main question here. Is Brita scamming their customers by understating how long their filters last and maintain their magical filtering powers? How can the truth be uncovered? Will Hanes be “disappeared” for even mentioning this on his website? The pitcher’s electronic indicator is like the palm jewel out of Logan’s Run – when it says to do something you just do it, no questions asked.

Hanes calls on the International Council for Science to investigate this matter immediately! (November 2006)

Halloween is not my favorite holiday, it’s true. However this year it was particularly sad, providing yet another sign of cultural apocalypse.

It really has nothing to do with Halloween per se. That is ignored easily enough. Rather, it has to do with other holidays. Specifically, capitalism’s favorite holiday, that’s right, Christmas. In many parts of New York City, before Halloween even occurred I saw Christmas street decorations going up! The large snow flake jobs that span over and across the street and all that hokey stuff. I mean, c’mon! It’s OCTOBER. It’s freaking 70 degrees today!

It was bad enough that every store could not wait until after Thanksgiving for the more traditional, time-honored kickoff to the Christmas shopping frenzy (“Black Friday”). That launch date was jettisoned some time ago as everyone wanted to get a leg up on the competition by offering even better sales, even earlier. But now they are shaving close to a full month off Thanksgiving by getting the decorations going around Halloween. I mean, why even have Thanksgiving? It’s just getting in the way now. People buy costumes for Halloween, that’s American, spending money. People don’t spend enough for Thanksgiving, just some food and maybe a few gourds or a turkey cutout decoration. Peanuts, not worth the economy’s attention. Abolish the fucker.

Either every store is hurting that bad for cashflow or our culture really is going down the tubes. Can’t we damn well wait until the leaves are off the trees to go Christmas shopping? Are we so avaricious or desperate that we should start shopping two months before the actual holiday? If so, why stop at Halloween? Why not a Columbus Day Christmas sale? A Labor Day Christmas sale? I suspect I may see such in my lifetime.

Sure, I am a grouch. But sometimes it is actually justified. And, shit, it’s not like most of the populace is not waiting for post-Christmas sales to really buy anyway! Sick, sick, sick. And I’m not a practicing Christian anymore! I don’t even care about the religious ramifications!

For shame, America. Tsk, tsk. (October 2006)

One of my all-time favorite novels is a wonderful piece of fiction by Max Frisch entitled I’m Not Stiller, penned in 1954. A challenging book, one which questions the very nature of personal identity and how much of it comes from self-identification versus external forces. Who could not love such a book? So, here’s a few quotes to entice you into reading the book!

“You can put anything into words, except your own life. It is this impossibility that condemns us to remain as our companions see and mirror us, those who claim to know me, those who call themselves my friends, and never allow me to change, and discredit every miracle (which I cannot put into words, the inexpressible, which I cannot prove) — simply so they can say: ‘I know you.’”

“There are things that happen and yet don’t count, but once they have been put into words they do count, and all the time there is really no need for them to count.”

“My reality does not lie in the part I play, but in the unconscious decision as to what kind of part I assign myself. At times I have the feeling that one emerges from what has been written as a snake emerges from its skin. That’s it; you cannot write yourself down, you can only cast your skin. But who is going to be interested in this dead skin? The ever-recurring question whether the reader is ever able to read anything other than himself is superfluous: writing is not communication with readers, not even communication with oneself, but communication with the inexpressible. The more exactly one succeeds in expressing oneself, the more clearly appears the inexpressible force, that is to say the reality, that oppresses and moves the writer. We possess language in order to become mute. He who is silent is not mute. He who is silent hasn’t even an inkling who he is not.”

Back to our regularly scheduled programming. (October 2006)

It’s no great secret that Hanes is not a wealthy man. As such, he has to cut corners. The same holds for many Americans, if not the majority of them. Given the hectic pace of city life, work, friends, family and all that, one also has little time to eat. One just grabs sustenance on the run. Add this time crunch together with no cash and it equals one helluva bad diet. Toss in not going to the gym for months and it’s a sweet extra 15 pounds around Hanes’s mid-section. More of Hanes to love! But that’s not the point of this diatribe.

The point is, what should I make of “organic” food? I have lots of friends who eat nothing but organic produce, meats, etc. and extol the virtues of organic food as healthier and tastier, helping one avoid all kinds of evil chemicals and artificial stuff. Sounds good, why not? I’ll tell you why not!

First of all, organic food is freaking expensive! It’s like double the cost of what “normal” food is, be this bananas, tomatoes, chicken breast, steaks, whatever. If I can barely afford to eat “well” with the prices of normal food, how am I going to eat any better buying only half the amount of food, albeit organic? Lots of people don’t seem to realize that this is a very serious issue, that eating well is mostly a luxury of the wealthy. Mass-produced food (McDonalds, etc.) are cheaper and thus priced low enough to create the calming sensation of a filled belly more often than organic food. And we’re not talking necessarily indulging in haute cuisine here, hell, try to make a vegetable stir fry with organic vegetables versus regular vegetables and compare the prices. Extend that to a weekly or monthly food bill and it isn’t chump change.

The question then becomes, why is organic food so expensive? Well, on the surface, it’s like, duh, mass-produced stuff costs less to make so, ipso facto, handgrown, naturally farmed stuff will cost more. More labor as well as more product loss due to rot and insect infestation avoiding fungicides, pesticides, etc. equals higher cost. It’s much harder to get a profitable scale of economy in an organic food business than a non-organic food business. If this were not the case, there would be a lot more organic businesses to begin with. There’s plenty of hippies in the world.

At first glance this sounds reasonable. More work and greater risk drives prices up. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the people most paranoid about their health are rich people! They are willing to pay the stiffer tariff and they can. God forbid the organic producers not increase their margin to whatever the market will bear. And here is where it starts to get messy and all gray. Because just what is organic food?

Without getting into it too exhaustively, it’s about producing food naturally, without pesticides, additives, preservatives, etc. It’s also about growing food responsibly, giving back to the earth, not hurting animals or birds in the process (be they the ones to be eaten such as chicken or sheep, or just animals hanging around, trying to eat your produce in the field). Respect nature and all that. Very laudable, who could argue? But when you dig a bit deeper you find that big agribusiness is well along into the process of co-opting the term “organic” and more or less crowding out the original small scale producers who started the organic food movement. Now, we have “organic” Kellogg’s raisin bran! Sweet! Mass produced still, with maybe a bit of window dressing to stand up to swift scrutiny of one’s organicity but that’s it. Oh yeah, and jack the price up way high. If I had access to Kellogg’s books I bet I’d find that the profit margin on the organic cereal is higher than the normal cereal. So, the corporation can look noble, parents can feel better about what they feed their kids, and the stockholders are happy too. America, what a country!

The fly in the ointment is first, does anyone really police the usage of the word “organic” in America? I don’t think the various Fair Trade organizations have that kind of reach and financial resources. Moreover, if the purpose of consuming organic produce is to be kinder to the earth than one has to consider many contextual issues. What is the cost to the environment in both producing and transporting organic food to its end consumer? If an apple is grown organically in Washington and trucked or flown to Boston, is there a net gain to the environment when accounting for gas emissions and the like?

I was discussing this with my pal Dan the other day. He was arguing that “organic” is more or less meaningless and what people should be striving to consume in order to help the environment are local products, those which have the minimal net negative impact on the environment. His line of thought was driven home further to me when I recently read an article about how much travel environmental campaigners (Greenpeace, World Wildlife Federation, etc.) do around the world in the course of their work and how many tons of carbon dioxide this travel creates, hurting the environment they are flying around the globe to protect! Sounds like the old catch-22 to Hanes. Hah! Everyone, no matter how high-minded or ethical, is implicated.

And, no doubt, “local” food isn’t going to be any cheaper than “organic” food per se, probably costs a lot more. I can’t afford the food at the Union Square greengrocers market, although most of that would likely qualify as local produce. So, I eat cheap takeout, pizza and sandwiches and all kinds of things which make me feel full but also don’t do much positive for my health. These days, you’ve literally gotta be rich to afford to live! (October 2006)

I’ve got a bone to pick with gravity. As to be expected, there’s areas of one’s body one expects to feel gravity’s pull as the years tick by. However, hair follicles are not among them! But the facts are in and it’s undeniable. My hair is moving downwards.

Hanes has shaved his head since before he started to actually go bald. But going bald he is, with a true widow’s peak above the forehead and nice hole in the middle. All well and good. Was hoping I’d get my maternal grandfather’s genes in this department, as he had a full head of hair until he died, but no such luck. What’s happening, though, is not the strict disappearance of my hair but its migration.

For example, the other parts of my head, close to where the hair used to be on my scalp. Eyebrows. The things are out of control, the hairs keep getting longer and longer, enough so to curl. They could poke my eyes out. Bleech. Worse, the ears. Uhh, hello, did I ask for long curling hairs to start growing out of my ears? No, I don’t think so! The nose too. Stray black hairs blossoming out of the end of one’s nose just does not attract the hotties the way it used to. I’m afraid I’m going to wear out my tweezers at this point.

It’s odd that my beard isn’t necessarily any thicker nor faster growing. I still don’t think I could grow a full beard if I wanted to. No, more chin hair would be too easy, gravity has it in for Hanes’s vanity big time. The plan seems to be to cover every inch of Hanes’s head in hair except the skull and beard!

I used to have one stray black hair that grew out of my left shoulder. It was a curiosity, have always had it. It must have got lonely because now it has friends! Three more right near by, across the shoulder and base of my neck. Then there’s the base of my spine, a pleasant little tuft has developed there. Bravo! Ahh, but then gravity gets a little lazy. I’ve got no more chest hair nor leg hair than ever before. Maybe my butt is slightly hairier. But only ever so slightly.

Thirty years of practice but still no hair on my palms. But hope springs eternal! (October 2006)

As Hanes’s mind is eternally preoccupied with all things financial these days, it’s no vast surprise that these concerns color the manner in which he interacts with those around him. On the cusp of turning 40 years old, I am no stranger to life divergences due to things such as friends having children and starting a family. There’s no doubting that I hang out with more of my childless and/or single friends than my friends who are parents, married or otherwise shacked up with someone. In this, Hanes is not alone, it’s pretty much an universal phenomenon. Most adults with children have all their time sucked up by the little buggers. No time to go see bands, hang out in bars, go see movies, or just veg in front of the tube. However, another thing I am noticing is an additional point of bifurcation in friendships. More unfortunate in some regards, but none less the real for it. This is the phenomenon of friends growing apart due to differences in wealth.

Although I lived in a trailer park for six years, I went to Columbia and seem to have acquired there, and elsewhere, many friends who have since gone on to a great deal of financial success. In some cases this means millions of dollars. In other cases, sadly, just six figure salaries. Now, twenty years or so removed from college this wealth has transformed how these individuals see the world, how they believe the world should be structured, and then also their place in the world. Again, this isn’t any great surprise, nor anything new.

Conversely, I dicked around in grad school studying philosophy for ten years, a poster child for indigence. Being a professor wasn’t a desired option (and really, at the end, not possible). I got into wine but the jobs in the business are 99% sales-related and Hanes hates sales. So, as a result I’ve bounced around from one dead end job to another, present employment included. I’ve yet to make more than $58K in a calendar year. Not a whole hell of a lot given the prices of rent and everything else in Manhattan.

Boo-hoo, poor Hanes. Not the point. It’s the proverbial “no one put a gun to my head,” I made all the choices in my life as a fully autonomous rational agent. Even if I was drunk. What is the point? It’s simply that the paths of my life and my peers are now long enough that where they diverge is crystal clear and becoming more so with each year. And there’s no “backsies” here, the die is pretty much cast.

I think a lot of my friends really (in the most innocent of ways) don’t understand my life and what I go through, struggling from one paycheck to the next. When we hang out, they ask me all kinds of questions and then look puzzled at my responses. Why don’t I do this or that to fix my life and get it in order? Why do I throw roadblocks in my way? All kinds of neat stuff. Of course, with my best interest in mind. I’m not blaming them but the truth is that they just don’t get it because they don’t deal with the shit I deal with on a routine basis. And, if they once did in the past, it has receded into the dim recesses of memory. Receded into recesses, get it?

When you have been wealthy long enough you can start to take things for granted. Stuff just falls into place on a regular basis. Sure, most of these friends work hard for the money. You go, Donna. And the rich have problems too. They are just different problems than the less monied. I’m not in the business of quantifying frustration, anxiety nor pain. All I can say is that, almost uniformly, my richer friends come up with “solutions” to my problems that virtually no one who isn’t rich would suggest or see as a truly viable solution. And it gets exasperating to deal with this. You reach the point where any rational person would just say these people live in a different world and speak a different language.

As a result, I tend to gravitate even more to hanging out with friends who are in similar financial straits to myself. Maybe not as bad, some have a sense of fiscal responsibility. But when we talk about shit, they will bring something up that I could have said, and occurrences like this strengthen the bonds of friendship. You feel that s/he “gets it.” Whereas, wealthier friends just don’t “get it.” NYC has become a city where there is no place for a healthy middle class (which to my mind would mean someone making up to like $75K, anything much below that is dog meat). Any human being wants to hang out with people they resonate with, not someone who needs an explanation for everything.

It’s a peculiar predicament and not a happy one. But little is gained in denying it. The world I “live in” and its realities is pushing me to become more than just a closet socialist. The world my well-heeled friends “live in” is one where hard work and grit always pay off, as evidenced by the cornucopia of cars, houses, vacations, private schools, clothes, etc. they enjoy All is good and it’s odd that anyone would not agree.

I expect to passively let many friendships die over the coming years, not out of any anger or ill will but because the pieces just don’t fit anymore. Whereas people are willing to talk about this when it comes to life differences caused by children, very few are willing to talk about differences when money is the culprit. We were all equal when we were twenty years old. But that’s no longer the case. (October 2006)

What is the the difference, if any, between character (stolidity) and personality (flexibility)? Is one trait more desirable to have then the other? If the distinction makes sense and holds water over time, can it be used to critique intolerance in its more politically correct guises? Can character be used to fight “trendiness” in intellectual thought without getting labeled as “conservative” in a pejorative sense? Hmmm. (September 2006)

Everyone loves the song “Cameltoe” which was a fun summer hit by the band Fannypack a couple of years ago. While this bit of musical whimsy brought renewed attention to the “frontal wedgie,” we must take pains to ensure the rearguard is secure as well. That is, chiquita, no one wants to see your butt crack! Even if you are one helluva plumber.

As the waistline of jeans have gone lower and lower and even lower (are there any women left who don’t have to shave their pubic hairs every day so they don’t show over their jeans waistline?), the only way a woman’s underwear will not show would be by standing totally erect and immobile. The slightest movement and it’s panty or thong all in the world’s face. She doesn’t even have to be sitting down, any vague angle does the trick.

Now, most ladies do not want their underwear showing. They have received the proper training in etiquette. The obvious answer would be to purchase and wear clothing which actually, like wow, covers up your thong while in public. Ahh, but that would be too simple! It appears that for 99.9% of the women out there the answer to this dilemma is obvious. Ditch the underwear altogether! Ergo...


Regardless of what one thinks about the potential for poor coochie hygeine without underwear, this result is more dismal than watching a parade of protruding thongs march by. Ladies, what is up with this? Does it feel sexy to have your butt crack open to your fellow subway riders or to passersby while you dine al fresco on the sidewalks of New York? And pity the poor stud who is dining with you! Are you so willing to deprive him the joy of removing your undergarments later that eve? Or do you hide a spare pair of panties hidden under the bathroom sink and quickly slip them on when arriving back at your place, all under the guise of using the toilet?

All I know, see, is that if I owned any Victoria’s Secret stock I’d be selling in a nanosecond. No women are buying underwear anymore! (September 2006)

My favorite early 20th century Viennese aphorist is Karl Kraus. And, after all, there are so many candidates for favorite early 20th century Viennese aphorist, right? Sadly, his keen wit goes ignored too often today. To redress this grievous wrong, I am sharing some of my most beloved aphorisms. May they spur you on to read more of Mr. Kraus’s essays and literary endeavors!

“She only lacked a flaw to be perfect.”

“Many share my views with me. But I don’t share them with them.”

“If I return some people’s greetings, I do so only to give them their greeting back.”

“Many desire to kill me, and many wish to spend an hour chatting with me. The law protects me from the former.”

“I don’t like to meddle in my private affairs.”

“Only he is an artist who can make a riddle out of a solution.”

“The real truths are those that can be invented.”

“Psychoanalysis is that mental illness for which it regards itself as therapy.”

“There is no more unfortunate creature under the sun than a fetishist who yearns for a woman’s shoe and has to settle for the whole woman.”

“A woman who cannot be ugly is not beautiful.”

“Truth is a clumsy servant who breaks the dishes while washing them.”

“A weak man has doubts before a decision; a strong man has them afterwards.”

(September 2006)

Hanes wants to know. Where do the stores in Chinatown get those distinctive orange plastic bags? Does the vendor promise only to sell them to Chinese establishments? I have never seen an Indian store or a Korean grocery use them. They are very bright and stylish, surely someone must know an illicit source for these bags. I am sure they fetch a pretty penny by the gross on the black market. Any insight is appreciated and your identity will be kept under the strictest of confidence. (September 2006)

Since I gave up Sure roll-on after high school I have been searching for the perfect combination deodorant/anti-perspirant. The first part is not hard to find (I also gave up wearing cologne after high school). But finding an anti-perspirant that is both effective as such and does not itself stain clothing appears to be the task of a lifetime. The problem resides in the active ingredient used by any particular brand.

The majority of the most effective anti-perspirants have an active ingredient called Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex. It is what is used in Degree and the like. While effective, this active ingredient is not particularly discerning. It binds mindlessly to clothes and in many cases results in more ingrained stains than what would normally result from the human sweat itself. As a result, one could simply use a deodorant alone and sweat freely.

Unfortunately, that Hanes, he is a sweater, a schvitzer. Other brands such as Right Guard clear gel solid stick uses an active ingredient called Aluminum Zirconium Pentachlorohydrex GLY. This active ingredient works, but nowhere near as effectively as the other active ingredient. Tetra trumps Penta. The net-net is less anti-perspirant derived clothing stains but also less perspiration control. Right Guard also makes a clear gel anti-perspirant with the active ingredient Aluminum Zirconium Octachlorohydrex GLY. This shit is useless, barely works at all. More evidence that the higher the number, the less binding ability.

To date, I have been unable to find an anti-perspirant which utilizes another active ingredient than these two and which works effectively and minimizes clothing stains. Hanes beseeches the general public, bring relief to his armpits! You will have my undying loyalty and I’ll get you drunk for free to boot. (September 2006)

I’ve had the same alarm clock for, hmmm, about 21 years. Literally the same clock. As I have gotten older, I have utilized the snooze bar much more than during the sprightly years of my misplaced youth. Here’s my question:

Who came up with a snooze bar period of eight (8) minutes? Why not seven or nine? Six or ten? Is this some standard time period for all alarm clocks? Was it derived by any sort of scientific method? Has empirical evidence shown this to be the optimal time period to allow for additional rest without risking oversleeping and thus lateness for work or something?

Really. Why eight minutes? (July 2006)

Watching the latest New York City Rent Guidelines Board meetings on NY1, it occurred to me that a big part of the landlord position to keep raising rents for rent-stabilized apartments is that their taxes keep going up. Now, I understand fuel costs, labor costs or sundry maintenance costs rising. No doubt. I even understand if certain new taxes or one time fees are levied on buildings which were non-existent previously (even though NYC has been under “anti-taxes” Republican rule for like 10 years.

But what I don’t understand is the following. And I think this has been entirely unmentioned by either side, when you’d think the tenant advocates would mention it big time.

The crux of the issue is whether or not building owners’ taxes are going up because the value of their investment is rising, thus creating higher taxes come assessment time.

That is, if a person bought a building for $100K many years ago and that building is now worth $750K and is being taxed at that $750K assessment level, this is like a rise in the owner’s net worth. As such, the costs of increased taxes should not be passed along to the tenant. Otherwise, it’s like double-dipping -- you, Mr. Landlord, make a windfall profit when you sell the building at $750K while at the same time raking in extra dough by passing along a percentage of your higher tax assessment to renters. Totally bogus. The renters have no investment benefits to gain. That benefit is entirely the landlord’s. So, if the benefit is 100% one party’s, so too should any potential downside (e.g., taxes) be 100% that party’s.

And I don’t care if the landlord is not “cash liquid” enough to pay the taxes at the higher assessment. Then one has to sell. Very similar to inheritance taxes and people who have to sell things because of the tax hit there. Some types of investments (including real estate, be they whole buildings or condomimiums) bring with them hefty annual cost structures. No one put a gun to anyone’s head and forced them to invest in real estate.
And for those who remember (Carmona!), I am still basically anti-rent stabilization. But now many years later after the big public debate, pro or con doesn’t matter since rent stabilization is all but officially dead in the water and in a few more years it won’t even be an issue. Rent stabilized aprtments are being converted and moved out of the program at a rate which will leave it a pale shadow soon enough. Adios to the poor (under $100K salary) in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Staten Island never counted.

Whether or not there will ever be truly “affordable housing” for the middle class again in New York City is a screed for another day. (July 2006)

In our contemporary culture of recycling things before they have arguably even been cycled through for the first time it strikes me as odd that one popular grooming affectation has not made a big comeback, especially among those crazy kids today who are game for any fad. Yes, that’s right, Hanes is referring to the moustache.

Now, I am not referring to people who have full beards and moustaches too. These are pretty common and I think could even be included in the “scruffy” unshaven look favored by many dudes in their 20’s. I am referring to the manly moustache without beard, either thick and full or thin and crisply detailed. It seems to me that I do not know a single person who has a moustache without also having a beard! Nor can I recall seeing anyone on the street or such with one.

How can this be? The moustache may truly be the Final Frontier for hipster trendiness! Please share your moustache stories -- Do you know anyone with a moustache? If male, have you ever considered of late growing a moustache? Would they be campy and fun or utterly gross? I mean, what made them so freaking popular throughout history until like the early 80’s and then simply cease to exist?

Hanes needs some help here people. (July 2006)

Back to top