Author Archive

The Burning Man Franchise: A Hot Property or a Study in Clichés

An open letter to the Burning People that run Burning Man,

Some see a magical place of infinite possibilities. I see a vast untapped demographic.

As I formulate this letter on further merchandising Burning Man, my concerns are twofold: 1. Can I properly convey my business plan to expand the Burning Man franchise? And 2. Can I do so without it being a study in clichés? The answer is a resounding Yes (on the business plan) and a definite No (on the cliché avoidance plan).

Burning Man is a very popular anarchical event of infinite self-expression. Its counterculture ethos speaks to the spiritual vagabond in all of us and despite its subversively-tinged sensibility, it has become an ever present fixture in the Mystical-Astrological Complex. And I believe we should tap into that vast reservoir of new-age good-will to decant a new demographic. Not only do we want to grow our natural constituency, i.e., those who dance like no one’s watching. But we also want to target market those who dance like there’s a stick up their ass? Read the rest of this entry »

What Distinguishes Man from Beast? – It’s Laughter.

~ Sharing laughter with someone can be a very intimate experience, but with benefits. The benefit being you don’t have to call them the next day. It’s only laughter. You shared a joke, not a membrane. ~

~Robin Williams~

 

Who needs words? I’ve got laughter.

I had gone to the pool simply to enjoy the gravity-defying magic of our buoyant friend water. I anticipated my usual routine: swim for a bit then imagine the pool drained of water while I floated in space, insensible to the gravity of my situation. I hoped to make this body of water not so much a sensory deprivation tank as a sensory augmentation tank. In other words I was crafting an out-of-body experience on the cheap. You see, it’s still fun to play make-believe – even at 56.

 

An Unbidden Epiphany

While I pursued this ersatz meditative experience, little did I expect the epiphany that would soon visit me. No one expects an epiphany. You can’t. That’s why they’re epiphanies. They’re designed to materialize without warning – kind of like my Uncle Leo. Epiphanies are unscheduled wormholes to understanding that don’t telegraph their presence – they shower it on you like a coach’s Gatorade bath. And it is this aforementioned unexpected insight which prompts this essay.

 

The Epiphany

I began my watery meditation ritual by laying out my towel on the chaise and trying to put my iPhone down so I could read my book which, in 3 weeks of lugging it to the pool, I managed to get past the Table of Contents and deep into the Introduction. As I finished my 4th game of online solitaire, a young couple with a baby entered the pool area and took up residence at the far end amidst a menagerie of water wings, beach towels and mini-coolers. They settled in, set up shop and the daddy lovingly introduced his baby girl to the wonders of liquid water. As the attentive father began dipping the legs of daddy’s little chicken pot pie (his words not mine) into the water, the tiny girl squealed in sheer delight. Each dip was a little deeper and more revelatory than the previous. And each squeal was now followed-up by cloud bursts of thunderous little baby giggles. She was experiencing indescribable joy.

 

I would’ve gladly traded places with her if only society didn’t frown on a 56-year old man squealing in delight while being dipped in the water by a guy half his age sporting an Eminem tattoo. As I bore witness to the little chicken pot pie’s celebratory peals of laughter, I experienced an epiphany: that this humorous faculty the baby girl so uninhibitedly demonstrated is what separates us from the animals. We’re the only specie that laughs. Read the rest of this entry »

“Memory Foam” Mattress Memorizes More than Contours

Memory Foam always makes a great first impression, but sometimes it absorbs a little more than you bargained for.  

I always knew my memory foam mattress would have a memory; what I didn’t realize is that it would have a consciousness too.

It was time for a new mattress. The old one had taken on the characteristics of its owner and had also begun to sag in the middle. It was spent from being flipped and rotated 9 ways from Sunday – the mattress and not the owner. The battered cushion had accumulated a decade’s worth of stains making it look like a bad tattoo that was slowly dissolving. So, the wife unit and I (wife unit being an old British colonial measurement of a female helpmate) visited The Illusion of a Bargain mattress store conveniently located at www.HappyMattress.com. Happy Mattress was a Chinese conglomerate affiliated with Sparkle Cleaners and Tasty Restaurant. BTW, be prepared for images unrelated to mattresses if you Google “happy” and “mattress.”

 

Because we didn’t care much for soft mattresses, we opted for a firm California King instead of a forgiving Martin Luther King. And because our bed was delivered during National Mattress Awareness Month (another Hallmark holiday I guess), they threw in some contour sheets and shams. I was beginning to believe the entire transaction was a sham until I laid down on the mattress. Holy Back-to-the-Womb Batman: it was like mother nature was caressing me in her arms.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hardiman Blows the Lid Off Toilet Seat Manufacturers’ Mendacity

Oh sure this lid  looks good down, but try getting it to stay up on its own now that this extra thick seat-fro has been added.

The Jeopardy Lead-in

Contestant 1: I’ll take Unscrupulous Things Toilet Seat Manufacturers Do for $2000 Alex.

Alex: Because they refuse to manufacture toilet seat lids so they can accept a carpet-like lid cover without tipping back toward the bowl and crashing loudly onto the seat, toilet seat manufacturers are known by this term.

Contestant 1: What are Bad Samaritans?

Alex: No.

Contestant 2: What are Russian Oligarchs?

Alex: That too is incorrect.

Contestant 3: What is Eligible for a David Hardiman essay highlighting a detail so minute it can only be seen through an electron microscope or by his very small mind?

Alex: That’s right. That was a tough one. Almost had you there. Read the rest of this entry »

On Censuring Irving Berlin for Overstating the Exceptionality of “Show Business”

The prodigious one fondling his first love – the piano.

If I have any superpowers at all it’s in being a sober arbiter of esoterica. And it is in keeping with my need for precision in these peripheral netherworlds that I take exception to the gross hyperbole contained in Irving Berlin’s scantily-researched claim that ♫There’s No Business Like Show Business ♫. For Moses’s sake Mr. Berlin – we all know full well there are many businesses like show business. How dare this little refugee from Russia emigrate to our shores and tell us what our business is – such chutzpah. However innocuous the observation There’s No Business Like Show Business may seem, I’d like to see Mr. Immigrant Composer make that same claim in Mother Russia – he’d get a one-way ticket on the trans-Siberian express to a reeducation camp where his once-jaunty song would be repurposed into “There’s no Gulag like our Gulag.”   

I believe I can fairly sum up my bewilderment at Berlin’s lyrical impudence by paraphrasing Fredo Corleone when he warned his brother Michael about disrespecting Moe Green: “Irving, you don’t just walk into America’s Jazz Age and start yelling, ‘There’s no business like show business’ without attribution, sources or citations. It’s just not done.” Read the rest of this entry »

On Coping with Temporal and Spatial Imprecision in Early American Folk Songs

 

No issue too trivial, no remedy too irrelevant in structuring my universe.

She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes 
She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes
She’ll be coming round the mountain, she’ll be coming round the mountain,
She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes

She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes (Hee Haw) 
She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes (Hee Haw)
She’ll be riding six white horses, she’ll be riding six white horses,
She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes (Hee Haw)
 

Most of us feel a mystic kinship to Early American folk songs: case in point, the jaunty call and response song She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain. Traditional ditties like these from the Early American songbook convey a sense of unbridled optimism stretching out over a robust country ripe with opportunity. And yet for all its nationalist fervor and manifest destiny the song fairly bristles with an inexcusable lack of time-space coordinates. More specifically, once the listener realizes an unnamed and otherwise phantom “she” will be coming ‘round the mountain, our first reaction is to wonder when she’ll arrive – when will “she” be coming ‘round the mountain? Our reptilian logic centers are primed for processing the precise locus of this event. And despite our anticipatory curiosity, all we are told is that she’ll be coming ‘round that mountain, “When she comes.” I’m afraid this simply will not do. Although I loathe words that have a “b” followed by an “h”, I nonetheless abhor songs whose feel good, sunny lyrics betray an appalling lack of time and place. Read the rest of this entry »

My Secret Shame: The DQ

Better than Disneyland, and with much shorter lines.

While others write graphically about their soft-serve escapades in steamy lick and tell exposés, my soft-serve affair involves more telling and less licking. Ice cream holds no special place for me. And what little ice cream I do consume is of the rock hard, scoopable variety. Although my preferred ice cream might be a high-cost, high-butterfat product, I’m not a snobby connoisseur of craft ice creams served at micro-creameries. In my world lactose is not something you enjoy. Lactose is something you tolerate – like that thick and sour Greek-style yogurt which has become all the rage with hipster Milklennials. They “partake” of the grassy, Grecian yogurt to inject a little culture into their colon – 6 billion lactobacillus acidophilus cultures.

I’ve always thought cow’s milk should be for baby cows. That’s what nature seems to have intended for mother’s milk. It’s for baby whatever’s; and not meant for race car drivers who’ve just won the Indianapolis 500. But what if the nipple was on the other teat. Suppose there were entrepreneurial cows who froze human breast milk, ground Oreos into it and then served it to their calves? Read the rest of this entry »

Fake Book on Ombudsmen Generates Fake Book Review

This is a thing – really? Yes, really.

Ombudsmandry Throughout the Ages

by Frank Knarf

St. Albans Press, 341 pp., $55.00

 

In Frank Knarf’s bracingly inconsequential book Ombudsmandry Throughout the Ages, within the span of 3 pages the author tells us everything we’d ever want to know about ombudsmen. How he manged to concoct another 338 pages on such an esoteric topic I’ll never know. This is not an overly long book. Crime and Punishment was a long book. This book makes eternity look like a coffee break. To read beyond page 10 is a crime. To read beyond page 20 is both a crime and punishment. At least the middle section has centerfolds of historic figures like Attila the Ombudsman, Vlad the Ompaler and Donny and Marie Ombuds. Ombudsmandry Throughout the Ages is a tough read. In controlled clinical trials, professional scholars have attempted to “binge-read” the book and in all cases have suffered spontaneous narcolepsy or herniated cerebrums. It simply can’t be read at a sitting and I’m at a loss as to why St. Albans Press decided to publish it instead of the more titillating Hunter-Douglass corporately-sponsored catalog titled 50 Shades of Shades.   Read the rest of this entry »

You think I’m “Nuts!” I think I’m “Differently Advantaged.”

My airborne happy space. Why must it be off limits to me?

That I possess an avid interest in congregating near the forward lavatory of commercial jetliners cannot be denied. And because one person does not constitute a congregation, my peculiarity becomes all the more cultish. This quirk, this foible, this idiosyncrasy of deriving immense gratification in Proximal Flight Deck Loitering has been discouraged by flight attendants and Air Marshalls alike. But like my life coach always says, “There’s nothing I can do for you David. Not now. Not ever. Oh yeah, and stop with that airplane loitering sh*t.”  

Like most people with a socially unwelcomed interest, it came to me uninvited – I was born this way. So I like to loiter at the front of planes. So big deal. I know I’m harmless. Why should I have to convince you? Can’t you look into my soul and see that I’m not nuts. I’m just differently advantaged? Besides, my supposed trespass doesn’t pose a danger to anyone. And anyway aren’t Christians supposed to Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Well forgive away, and start with me. “I accept your forgiveness.” Read the rest of this entry »

“Heal Me, Video Solitaire. Heal Us All.”

Truth right there in Black & Red. Breathe easy. It’s all going to work out.

I’d heard the uncharitable whispers: “His brain is an unkempt mess” and “His thoughts are badly disheveled.” This pained me greatly as I prided myself on appearing both kempt and sheveled. Many of these sotto voce critiques of my wordiness were true: I was a walking trove of excessive verbosity. And when I was prose-doping (taking literary performance enhancing drugs), I became a towering trove of staggering prolixity. It was all mental masturbation giving me the illusion of control and masking a feeling of helplessness. Then again maybe I was being too hard on myself? Maybe I just liked to have fun with worms. See what I did there? You thought I’d say fun with words, instead I said fun with worms. What can’t I do? A lot. Because most of my grandiose ruminations don’t amount to a hill of beans. Or (as the prose-doping kicks in) don’t amount to a towering mound of staggering legumosity.   Read the rest of this entry »