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Friday, June 24, 2011

Whitey Bulger is Like, Basically My Uncle

Saddest Part: He really needed to update his headshot

As it turned out, FBI Most Wanted, South Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger packed up his game and headed out west.

Man, we should have checked there first! Such has been the route of romantic dreamers for almost a hundred years!

Unhappy childhoods, broken engagements and yes, even murder charges have long sent the tired and poor (by poor, I mean: without taxable income) Pacific-bound to reinvent themselves.

Much like Chris McCandless of "Into the Wild" who battled his discontent with the material world by following the setting sun and settling in an abandoned, threadbare public bus in Alaska, alone except for some books, pens, and curious wildlife, Whitey took residence in a northside Santa Monica apartment. If not for the toney zip code, cache of weapons, hundreds of thousands of dollars in US currency, and a female companion whose love of Whitey was second only to her penchant for plastic surgery,  Krakauer could have been writing about Bulger.

In the same land where Bernie Schwartz became Tony Curtis and countless others became less ethnic or whatever else the viewing public might have found more palateable, Bulger adopted the alias of Charlie Gasko and thus, became less felonious.

Like the early Hollywood players who had that je ne sais quoi that sent them searching, Whitey Bulger found himself in Tinseltown for reasons that can momentarily elude us...

Oh yeah:

He butchered at least ninenteen people. "California, here I am come!"


Okay, it's 1994 and Feds are closing in on you. You take leave of South Boston, and using several misdirections- look-alikes, fake paper and money trails, and false sighting reports- you lose them.

With enough money and false identification to set you up, you find an apartment in Santa Monica, where for all its opulence, there's almost as much shade-pulling, mind-your-own-business and don't-ask-any-questions as Southie.

You're 64, the age of retirement. You've got ammenities. Companionship.

Now what? Sit back and enjoy, right?

Problem for Whitey:

You are cooped up with a companion who by virtue of the fact they would be your companion, and you're a killer, doesn't make for a very fit companion.

For example, like the rest of us, you seek solace in TV, maybe turning to TV Land and the Donna Reed Show. Longing for the rewards of domestic bliss, you look over to find, in contrast to Reed's "Kids, supper is ready!" and kissing Dad on the cheek,  menthol-hauling Catherine Greig, burgeoning brown edges overtaking her dye job, who occasionally might begin a conversation with:

"Hey Whitey, remember when you chopped that guy's fuckin' head off?"

For Greig, too, hasn't she removed herself  from the sisterhood of  "Sex and the City"?  I mean, I can't see Mr. Threaten-to-blow-up-your-house-if-you-look-at-another-guy finding endearment during Supper-club banter.

More, I think they have both moved out of the realm of  "Okay, he's got a bad temper, but he's a sweetheart when you get to know him..." or "Deep down he's a good guy"; My God, he's not even eligible for "He's a complicated man".

Every sweet song or movie  can't ever apply to them. Can you imagine trying to buy a fitting Hallmark Card for the man who cohorts say felt better after torturing and killing his enemies (and by enemies,  I mean: once friends)?

It might also be difficult to take in the home of Healthy Living when much of your business was devoted to reversing the process.

Sure you could limit movie-viewing to the gangster genre...but just as it's too painful for the former quarterback to watch the game he can no longer play, I would imagine that for Bulger it would be so bitter-sweet to watch someone else crank a vise on someone's head until their eyes popped. And for Greig to watch another mob moll drag her finger nails down some "whore's" face for looking at her man, would be just too much.


Most difficult for Whitey must have been leaving his family whom he loved more than anything in this world...

I know because he was my uncle; at least, legally he was my uncle. When my actual uncle died in the 70's, he was one of several men randomly (and unbeknowst to them) selected to pass on their identification to Whitey. Bulger's friends at city hall had stolen the paper work of the newly deceased, leaving their next of kin wondering why their father or husband had accrued thousands of frequent flier miles nearly twenty years after their death.

I realize it's not the same, but still, whether he's a rotten human being, only waggishly connected by a misappropriation of files, you gotta stick by your people.

That's what Whitey taught me: You gotta stick by your own because the world is sick...and to reinforce that point, he killed nineteen people: "You see? I told you the world was bad!"

But if there's one thing you've got to admire about Bulger, it's his family loyalty.  "Always honor and protect your family..." he would say. And the way he best illustrated this was by harming others families and justifying it by suggesting they "friggin' deserved it."

Bulger comes from a culture that places articulating how much you love your family (preferably, violently) above actually doing it- shit, man, that requires honesty! You don't talk about the cousin's drug problem; Don't worry where Uncle JoJo got that new Cadillac; Your relative wasn't killed, he drowned- couldn't swim (especially with his head cut off). And God help the person outside the family who points out the dysfunction...especially if they're right!

I guess if Whitey was going to be out of contact with his family, the least he could do was take refuge in a place where denial is as cherished a family value as in South Boston.

When Charlie Sheen insisted he wasn't on drugs, Bulger was said to be so homesick that he was bed-ridden for days.


How dare those-in-the-know call Whitey a rat. Okay, he did give up names to federal agents and police of people who did what he ordered. Yes, he did sell people out to save his own ass. And you bet he killed people for doing the same, calling them "rats."

But this is hypocritical, not being a rat. And no one said anything about that. In fact, it's clearly mentioned in the handbook that hypocrisy is perfectly acceptable.

And where does all this animus come from?  It's not like Whitey didn't suffer...

He faced personal attacks by federal agents using the media to lure him out of hiding. Headlines read:

- Bulger seen in gay bars
- Whitey has bad breath
-  Southie Mobster has dandruff
-  South Boston Thug Mangled Victims

Talk about cruel and unusual punishment? If he is gay and was out cruising, do you realize how tough it would be for him to live down the bad breath and dandruff thing? (Even with the hunky photo of him in the leather vest).


Maybe he's heartless and maybe he doesn't deserve to ever see the light of day...

But at least he's not petty.

At arraignment, when asked if he knew the charges agaisnt him, he replied in unwavering Southie-speak: "Yeah, well, like, basically..."

No lawyers obfuscating things or itemizing the charges.

Yeah, I hear you, man...let's cut to chase over here...

When the judge sentences him, I hope he takes this into consideration. As well as his being a good sport when fictionally  depicted by Peter Boyle (" The Friends of Eddie Coyle") and Jack Nicholson (" The Departed").

The poor guy wasn't even invited to the premiere. He probably drove up Wilshire to Westwood Village and crouched down as Greig drove the car past Fox Theatre as the red carpet filled with stars.

They returned to their humble apartment in the Princess Eugenia complex, watching re-runs and having to wait for the movie to come out on DVD like every other schmuck.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's Missing From The Inspirational Graduation Speech?

                         Hint: It begins with an "I"


   Did you know that Abraham Lincoln failed a lot before he became president and got a chance to fight for what he believed in? Sure he did. And even if the guest speaker at the graduation I sat through yesterday hadn't told me, I was well-informed of Lincoln's travails, and furthermore, I would be surprised to hear that anyone who succeeded didn't struggle (truth be told: I'd be disappointed).

Before wishing them the best in whatever they pursue, she took a moment to look behind her at the gowned class and "imagined" the future "astronauts, presidents and scientists." (Imagine: the same moderately achieving middle school class produced more than one U.S. President? Man, Phillips Exeter can't boast the same!).

While yawning, stretching and trying to come alive, I thought it was time that I took a preemptive strike, here goes: These graduation speeches are really cynical.

For one, I know that she said they could do "anything" but really, she repeated the old standard occupations (notice, she didn't say "landscaper"?); we get it: wink, wink.

Several years back, incoming Harvard Freshmen were asked what they hoped to be after graduation.

Investment banker was the number one reply. Overwhelmingly so.

But interesting: most of those who declared that their future goal didn't know what it entailed.

"How could you want to do it if you don't know what it is?" Those conducting the inquest asked.
Simply: they knew it was successful.

The interviewers suggested that the replies indicated a disturbing trend: the most talented, educated and adaptable students were not open-minded to an education that may bring them to foreign ideas. This was bad for society, they said, but also for individuals who were swayed by the lofty rather than something they were passionate about. Though...

I'd say they were passionate, as were the stars of yesterday's graduating class encouraged to be: passionate about success.

What else is this but blind ambition? And more: it's a safe bet, not for a good life, but an approved life.

Haven't some of the most successful people and inventive minds found themselves at times lost? Haven't many successful people stumbled into unexpected and newly born opportunity while muddling through their hard-fought losses?

Why if it is bad for Harvard students, many of whom stand a great chance of fulfilling the dream, would it be good for inner-city middle schoolers? If the Harvard students' pursuit reveals, in actuality, a crushing of dreams, why would it mean anything good to those less enfranchised?


Having sat through quite a few those commencement addresses, I am yet to hear listed as future profession "teacher." Nor have I seen posted on hallway walls any starry thoughts about becoming a teacher (police and fire fighters, yes, maybe long ago, but now that dies out around second grade).

The foremost problem in teaching being passed over for "higher achievement" is that it undermines the ability to influence them: "Who are you to tell me?", "What have you done?" or "Those who can't..." the students says.

Okay, before we talk of its other merits, simply: It's a good, solid job...

 Why on Earth wouldn't I suggest to a student that being a teacher, which has allowed me to provide well for my family, wouldn't be good enough for others, particularly those who come from homes that have traditionally struggled?

There is an elitist notion here borne out of academic do-goodery that encouraging the strugglers to become astronauts will cure their issues of poverty. Again, elitist, but, as well, shockingly naive: The average teacher at my school, with a Masters' degree, earns more than sixty thousand a year. Boston Police Officers frequently average in excess of one hundred thousand. Firefighters, etc...

Fair representation in well-paying service jobs is a given and a necessity for creating a socio-economically healthy communtiy.

When the average household in these communties barely teeters above the poverty line, how could you have any misgiving about doing what we can to encourage those fit for it to pursue a career that pays up to three or four times the national average?

The urban student finds himself in the same position as the chosen child of a poor family: in the family, the child is told to achieve beyond their parents, and in the school, the student to go beyond the teacher.

In both situations, it first creates a bratty child. In the long run, the child, set off on a blind run to outdo their parents and teachers, is set up for a disillusionment that Polly Eisendrath-Young refers to as "The Self-Esteem Trap."

In the book of the same name, Eisendrath-Young, a Jungian analyst, depicts many of her patients, though many are quite "successful," as marked by characteristic "restless dissatisfaction" and depression created by the  burden of "pressures to be exceptional."

The root cause, she feels, is that ours is a culture that tells every child that they are destined for greatness and genius.

While Eisendrath-Young clearly relishes reminding us that we are not great and should not purue greatness ( though, she feels quite comfortable, as the school's advisor, in telling Norwich University ROTC candidates that they are destined for military battle), she provides a valuable counter-view to "you can do anything" spiel fed to kids daily.

The chosen child focused only on "success" is not well equipped to cope with the natural ebb and flow, big and small undulating of living.

What the book should punch is: even if you achieve great things, there is a downtime. Not every moment of your life is great, and these "insignificant" moments are the core of your life and happiness.

It is possible for a teacher to play in a band, write, dance, compete in martial arts (as is done by my colleagues) where they can have their moments.

A life of both service and personal development? Man, I can see why the guest speakers would want to side-step that!

Teachers refusing to mention their own profession as a viable option, while undermining themselves and their colleagues, fails to provide a needed model of a daily worker. It reinforces what E-Y says has made us such an unhappy bunch- we are told that working a good job, providing a service at reasonable pay is nothing to shoot for.

The reigning mantra amongst teachers is "it's all about the kids." Wrong. It's interrelative. How could a teacher be impassioned in their instruction if they weren't tied to it, if it wasn't about them, too?

Yes, you are serving, but you're not serving time.

Being well-educated and skilled is what we're trying to encourage our students to be , how isn't the average teacher a fulfillment of what any school would hope for its student?

Perhaps it is the influence of teachers schooled at the elite institutions who saw their classmates go on to conquer the world of finance and inherited an inferiority complex (despite the "If I can affect the life of one child..." claims)? Or maybe it's those who view teaching solely (or most impressively) as an opportunity to be a savior, and again, like the over-burdening parent, live vicariously through the child?

In the children's book, the idyllic shot of Main Street and its neighborhood school presents a steady flow of activity- buses arriving with happy students, crossing guards waving kids along and teachers smiling as they teach kids in formation. Everybody happy that they have a job to do. That is the imagined vision of a functional community.

It is also true.

Encouraging students to approach life as a joy and success as gravy on top of the pride of living a good life is far less cynical than the subtextual suggestion that they failed if they didn't pursue a career whose title looks best on a business card.

When a guest speaker comes to our school- a pro athlete, a police detective, a private school admissions director- the children are all ears, as they hope their success will rub off on them.

Can you imagine how much more attentive students might be in a daily way if they were told being a teacher was something to shoot for? (Not to mention how much more respectful, polite and well-behaved?)


After his re-election as Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick nominated Roderick Ireland as the state's Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

In interviews, Ireland waggishly recalled  his Junior High guidance counselor steering him towards the trades.


Within this inspiring story of an African-American's outstanding achievement is some rather pedestrian snobbery.

Are we all supposed to shrug knowingly at the suggestion of "the trades"? Need any of us be reminded of how well tradesmen do in Massachusetts? How much property they acquire? How many have gone on to run corporations, get degrees and influence public policy? That having a trade doesn't necessarily stop you from going to college or becoming a lawyer?

While there is no question that it is long overdue that African-Americans find their place in politics, law, the sciences, it is a betrayal to thumb our nose at the skilled trades and the self-suffiencey that they could bring to less-priveleged communities.

It's unfortunate that Ireland made example of the guidance...I am fearful that other guidance counselors will shy away from making that suggestion at the risk of being accused of crushing someone's dream.

Ireland didn't know that he wanted to be a lawyer. What is wrong with encouraging a student to arm themselves with a profitable skill while they "find themselves"?

Kissinger had worked at his family's cigar store as he toiled through night school.

Bukowski was a mailman. Faulkner a postmaster. Raymond Carver taught. And so has been the route of some of the most creative and productive minds.

I met the cousin of a very successful screenwriter who told me that the man was a "bum" before he sold his script. Turns out, the bum had traveled, taught English in several countries, learned a few languages, wrote a novel that didn't sell, etc.

Wow, what a slacker!

My speech is short: Never stop working towards your goals and, in the meanwhile, live intelligently.

David Mamet's to theater hopefuls was: "Speak up. Tell the truth. And think well of yourself while learning to do it better."

Yes. And it is a lot easier to think well of yourself AND work towards goals with a little change in your pocket.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mass Ave

                                          Another Old Poem

The shots were still heard the next day outside the
KFC, and the boy falling was replayed over and over as
regrets and sympathies were cut and pasted from old

It would make sense that the grimacing had nothing to
do with the wrenching in my calves as I two-stepped
before each crack in the sidewalk while the begrudging
father secured the grasp, clicking a thumbnail to a

But I was elsewhere, somewhere on I-90 in 1991, near
Erie in a diner just at the beginning of the steak and
potato days. And just before the faces blurred in a
sea of loose-fitting shirts and hanging belts,
everything tightening to me like a Labor Day dunking.

How much I mean the jokes: The one about the less than
ample opportunities for salvation and such to the
attorney, pulling in all loose ends.

There will be no more road races or demos to laugh at,
and the resentment will all be from the sulfur in the
pills and the wish realized.

But you try to fit in a redemptive act or two between
tee-times and conference calls. Port Au Prince is
flooded with calls and there's no line at

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why A**Holes Like Cool Music

           " favorite: 'Fuck Everybody' by The D-Bags..."

In "Garden State", his 90 minute paean to the world sucking, Zach Braff calls upon Nick Drake, Paul Simon and a host of up-and-comers to punctuate that thesis.

" Listen to'll change your life" Sam (Natalie Portman) tells Braff's Andrew when they first meet, putting headphones on his head so to hear The Shins' "New Slang."

Sam doesn't mean it in the world-embracing- "I love you, Bedford Falls" way it once meant. She means it in the same way the Meth pusher does when they tell the stoner that his product "will change your life": I know you have the will to drop-out, now here's the way.

The soundtrack, Braff said, was the "score to his life" while he wrote the script. Imagine the luck of these hipsters?  Their inner lives and major independent label signings coincide? My life is scored by "The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round".

 From that scored life of Braff was excluded every person aiming to do an honest job: cops, gravediggers, hardware salesman appear in cartoonish starkness to natural sound. When they disappear, Andrew floats back to his lush world of Zero 7 and Colin Hay.

He and Portman's characters are so elevated above the rest us that they don't bathe naked. Anyone can appear as Nature made them, but it takes style to roll the sleeves of your flannel just-right.

This all said, I would love to lift their IPods from their sagging jeans and download their entire playlist.

How much easier my life would be if Braff, as well as being an asshole, had awful taste in music. That would make cosmic sense! But no, I'm afraid I don't get to pick the winners.


My wife and I took our nine month old daughter to one of our favorite places for Sunday brunch:

Cap'n'Cruch Encrusted French Toast, Breakfast Burger with Taso Ham and smoked Toma, Cheese Plate w/ Duck Prosciutto.

Pretty waitress in Chuck Taylors and side-burned bartender with tattooed forearms pouring bourbon.

Nick Lowe, Cocteau Twins, Shuggie Otis, Nina Simone.

What's not to love? And with the impending reality of hipsters gone and dining only where placemats double as connect-the-dot-Disney Characters, we grab the few opportunities we have left.

But don't you know...neither the waitresses nor the hostess or even the bartender (and he's probably buzzed) has ever given my daughter  the slightest smile or "What's her name?" Not even an "Awww..."

One might argue that these are young people without kids.

Well, they understand that we folk with these little people tend to put everything we have into making their life as good as it can be, right? And, you understand,  it's more than a little offensive for them to be dismissed. For all their worldly-coolness, their annoyance with kids is very mainstream America. A marked difference from every other civilized country and America is the unequivocal value of children that we seem too busy for.

I get the frustration with a table full of torn napkins, half-eaten grilled cheese and pickles, but a baby? Once a hostess dropped off a menu on our daughter who lay napping in her carseat.

I mean, if there be a singular behavior that qualifies someone as an asshole, wouldn't that be an intolerance and shortness with babies and little children?

And to the idea that when they have children they will gain a respect for them...

Remember those kids back in high school who would trash the houses of people good enough to host a keg party? They were defended as kids who didn't know the cost of the house...well, they knew a lot. They knew it cost more than sneakers and they wouldn't want anyone scuffing theirs, right?

Of course they'll value a house when they have one! That's what assholes do! They are nice when it suits them!

Which brings me to a point (finally): When you don't give a fuck about anybody else, it's amazing how focused you can be on the significant task of amassing a voluminous catalogue of music.


I got an Applebee's gift card from a work grab bag and we, with our household budget considerations altered, drove to a major mall off the highway and went on in.

"Oh, my Gahd! She is gor-gee-us!"
What's her name?"
" I know she can't eat, but, here, I bet she likes to tear napkins..." (she does and did). "Don't worry, I'll take care of that..." sweeping it away. " We are just so glad to have the little one here...I'm Maureen and I want you, Mom and Dad, to enjoy yourselves."

Sure the atmosphere was garish. You bet the food was crappy. And the last thing I want, believe me, is to hear Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" and the Top-40 playlist over and over.

But each time she passed the table, Maureen handed another napkin, brushed our daughter's cheek and gave her a smile.

She was what people, outside of hipster dens, call: A decent person.

I am sure that she would drive you crazy, playing the same four Michael Jackson songs on the Jukebox every time she came into the bar, but she was remarkably pleasant.

So pleasant, she was, that I can almost forgive her singing along to Nelly Furtado. Almost.


In "The House That George Built: With Help From Irving, Cole and About Fifty Others", Wilfrid Sheed  gives a focused recounting of the lyricists of the first half of the twentieth century.

Sheed, an expert on the Tin Pan Alley, could have easily pushed the book as the definitive chronicle of the period of Jazz, he declines, saying that, like the lyricists themselves, he wanted to just "contribute to the conversation."

Considering Sheed's trouble with defining a period of about thirty years, 1920-50, one can only imagine the challenge in my coming up with an adequate encapsulation of what an asshole is, a term which spans distant decades, lands and cultures.

Here's the best I can do, and yes, consider this only my contribution to the conversation:

An asshole enjoys an experience so much more knowing that someone is excluded from it and suffering, pining or jealous that they are not.

Just as animal-lovers need the after-the-movie disclaimer that no animals were hurt during filming, the asshole needs to know that someone somewhere out there is behind a velvet rope wishing they had what the asshole has.

"It's all good," assholes love to say at parties when someone takes the last shrimp, but they really mean: If that caterer isn't over here with another platter in like two minutes, I'll see he's fired...Whoa! And here it is!"

I was introduced to the biggest asshole I've known through my brother-in-law. Everything was about pulling a fast one on someone: "Yeah, my law school buddy was working the we got in and drank for free and we were raising our glasses in the window to the people we cut in line!"

Cool! I hope it was freezing out there, too! That'll teach them!

He created a website for his upcoming wedding and in it rather unnecessarily warned the readers of linking without permission: "something I have clearly violated with my website...but good luck suing a couple of copyright lawyers!"

Sure he loves his wife and wants his friends to share in their day of joy...but if he can remind everyone in  process that he can do shit they can't and has power they don't, all the better!

This quintessential asshole had left his previous live-in girlfriend after she had supported him through law school when she began suffering from Crohn's Disease, an illness affecting one million Americans.

I am firmly convinced that had his ex been afflicted with a rare disorder like Mastocytosis, they'd be together, boasting of their unique malady, raising what would surely be the most selfish and least empathic children the world has ever known.

(And yes, he has very good taste in music. First guy I knew who like Pearl Jam.)


With that definition in mind, we can begin to theorize...

What is hip is usually exclusive. Exclusivity lends itself to assholes being assholes.

When Sam puts the headphones on Andrew's head (an act symbolic of exclusion), she is responsible not just for him hearing it, but for adding context.

The hipster feels, maybe rightfully, that they are part of the song's production team.

The Sweetheart like good 'ol Mo takes Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way" at its long-standing face value. They are told its good by its virtue of being on the radio, and hearing it, want to share it with every one (not just those of their ilk).

I went to a John Cassavetes Film Fest several years ago. Talk about assholes...

You see what he was trying to comment on was...

At the time, the idea of shooting it the way he did was...

Look at those films and what you see today and it is...

Like Sam and Andrew's music, the jury is still out on exactly what JC's films mean, and so we, the viewer must contribute something, and part of what we offer is how it is totally not like the other stuff.

The other stuff could be seen at, well, the Chris Columbus Film Festival.

"Only the Lonely" and "Home Alone" won't inspire the deconstructon that "Husbands" will, but they are cleanly shot, well-written, they don't dilly-dally and the performances of Maureen and Catherine O'Hara, John Candy and Anthony Quinn are classically pro: enter, say it, and get the fuck off.

More, you will find that the atmosphere in the lobby of the Columbus festival will be filled with those stepping out to call home and check in with the babsysitter. Not too many assholes, or at least those by circumstance who are required to be a bit more pleasant.

Are there moments in "Only the Lonely" as meaningful as Gena Rowlands unraveling during dinner in "A Woman Under The Influence"?  Certainly not.

But just as Cassavetes films were a needed departure from the convention of storytelling, and I realize that I will have my cool card revoked for saying this: we need a system of checks and balances- "I just watch a movie for entertainment..." and, conversely,  "I don't want to see a movie that doesn't lift me..."-  to make sure that we don't all start collecting Serial Killer artworks (so cool) or that we turn the world into a strip mall.

Don't get me wrong, you bet it felt good to watch Cassavetes' films and feel like I had an edge over those still with the "Raging Bull" poster on the wall.

Yes, I can be a bit of an asshole myself.


David Lee Roth has said of his former band's music: "If you're gonna lift something heavy, put on some Van Halen."

This doesn't mean that there aren't some powerlifters out there slowing traffic as they daydream to Bread's "If A Picture Paints a Thousand Words," it merely suggests that even soft-pop listeners going for a max on their bench might be happier with their results going with a track off  "5150."

This by way of saying that assholes (maybe some of the biggest) can, yes, get their kicks off MIX 98.6, however, if their intention be to get their asshole on and make someone's world a little colder, the B-Side to a New Order song might be the quicker pill.

" Well, isn't this true about all things that are little...well...higher-brow? Low Brow is more tolerant, right?" You ask and I reply by daring you to ask the drive-thru if they can make your Big Mac medium-rare.

I can think of no better way to get lugies in your meal than that...and yet, somehow Morton's is so amenable to  it.


Cool things, and most especially cool music, has a way of making us a bit more sullen. It can do a number on the passion, too...

As Sid Vicious famously told the insatiable Nancy: "Sex is boring..." Right. And uncool.

If Portman's Sam ever hopes to get some Andrew on a regular basis, she better help him cut back on The Smiths ("no sense in sitting there hating everyone"), amp up Buster Poindexter's "Hot, Hot, Hot" and get the conga line going.