magicbeans. nothing if not awkward.

bean is not actually from antarctica. his heart is covered in paisleys.

he makes tiny little pictures and sometimes writes about his life.

A brief introduction.

Hi. My name's Bean. I've been writing online about the intimate details of my life for more than 15 years at this point. Although perhaps you noticed that throughout all of 2009 and the first half of 2010 this site was on something of a hiatus. I'm taking another stab at writing semi-regularly. We'll see how it goes.

Those little pictures next to the entries, sometimes clickable but often frustratingly not, have been a part of most entries since sometime in 1999. They tend to be a 48x48 pixel snapshot of my mood, my day, or some aspect of it. Sometimes they're just an inscrutable inside joke with myself. As source material I typically use things that I've photographed, drawn, painted, collaged, found, and/or stolen.

For the last few years, while I was ignoring this site, my Flickr and Twitter accounts saw more regular updates. Also, I've been posting some of my gradschool classwork and other work-in-progress sorts of things over at the tumblog on my domain.

There're some links over there in the right hand column, and here's [a currently broken] one to drop me a line. And 2200+ entries in which to learn more awkward things about me than you could ever possibly want to know.

20 years later.

29 June 2012

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Sometime in late 1991 or early 1992, at a record store in Greenfield, MA, I picked up a CD with cover art of an inverted starfiled. It was by a band named Codeine, and called Frigid Stars LP. I bought it, unheard, because I found the cover intriguing, and because it was on Sub Pop, the original home of Nirvana who were blowing up at the time. That was how we discovered new music back in those days; it didn't always work, but as soon as I put the CD on I fell in love.

Codeine sounded entirely original, and found a sweet spot for me (as a sad and angsty teenage boy) between power-pop and art-punk on the one hand (Teenage Fanclub, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr) and goth-tinged synth-pop on the other (The Cure, Depeche Mode). I listened to Frigid Stars on pretty much non-stop repeat through the winter of 1992.

For the next few years, if asked of my favourite band, Codeine would invariably be the answer. I thought that I had seen them live twice, both times at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA, during the 1993 and 1994 Loud Music Festivals, but according to a show list on a semi-official website it seems they only played the second of those. Soon after that in any case, and the release of their third album, the band broke up. I grew out of my teens and my angst (mostly, though not so much the sadness) and found new favourite bands, but would still find myself digging out the Codeine CDs and 7"s from time to time.

Back in February I got the weekly email, which I typically ignore, from the Bell House about upcoming shows, but this one caught my eye because the first word in the subject line was "Codeine." They were playing Brooklyn in June. A week after my birthday. A little more digging revealed that a remastered, deluxe box-set of their recordings was being put together, and they were playing about a dozen shows in the spring and summer, their first shows in 18 years, and the first with the original band members in almost 20.

I bought tickets the moment they went on sale, and pre-ordered the box set. The box set arrived on my birthday last week. Tonight was the Bell House show, the first of two in NYC. And I'm sure that my 17 year old self would have been—well, maybe if not exactly "happy"—glad to know that 20 years later I'm still really into something he was into way back when.

What happened last night?

14 June 2012

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@revbean: Remember how I came a manfish's breath away from becoming the new temporary cast member on the @ChrisGethard Show last night? // @ChrisGethard: @revbean you were great! I'm so glad to know ya now.

Back in late January or early February I discovered The Chris Gethard Show, a comedy variety/talk show that happens live every Wednesday night on Manhattan public access TV (and streams on the internet). I was vaguely aware of Chris as a comedy personality; he does improv at the UCB Theatre (where a previous incarnation of the live show happened), had just recently had a book published, and had starred on a sitcom that I had never seen. But I think it was his interview on Julie Klausner's How Was Your Week that got me to start watching the back catalogue of the show.

I started with the most recent episode, entitled "Loser Is the New Nerd," which was based on the premise that nerddom had been coopted by the mainstream as something that's actually cool, and "a loser is a nerd who doesn't have a choice." It was incredibly uplifting and empowering. Yes we're awkward, was the message, but we can build community from that awkwardness. I had worked my way through about a third of the archive by the time the next show aired.

I watched "Search for the Next Random" live on a glitchy feed in my living room. The term of the second "Random," Andrew, a temporary cast member without connections to the show, was coming to an end, and it was time to find a replacement. I wanted to make my way to the taping at the MNN studios on 59th Street in Manhattan and try for the position myself, but was unable to overcome the inertia of staying home in Brooklyn and the fear of new people and things. Regret crept in over the course of the hour, and when the show ended I sent out a tweet:

@revbean: @ChrisGethard Is it too early to throw my hat in the ring for the competition to become the fourth random?

The next week, when the field had been narrowed down to two and the final choice was picked, I again watched from home. The week after that, I think on the afternoon that the show was to air, Ted Leo was announced as the music guest. I've seen Teddy quite a few times over the years, from in-stores and tiny little clubs to big summer venues, and that familiarity, even if I've never really interacted with him in person, was enough to get me out to the show.

And it was totally worth it, I had a great time. But still felt shy and awkward when the show was over and shuffled out into the cold and the subway home. I came back the next week though. And the next. And the next. By my fourth or fifth week I had had some interaction with the audience wranglers—Andrew, Keith, and Rob—and some of the other regular attendees, and tagged along to the bar afterward.

I avoided interacting with Chris, one—because I'm shy and awkward, but also two—because I wanted to stay random enough to be in consideration for the next round of choosing a new Random. That round came, somewhat unexpectedly last night. It had been announced as Melissa's last show, but no call had been made for a new crop of potentials, as had been done on the previous two occasions. (The first Random, Jean, was truly random; she called into the show during its second week on the air, having stumbled across it on public access. She asked what they were up to and was invited to come hang out.) That call was made on the fly, a few minutes into last night's show.

Although I had been thinking about it for four months I wasn't exactly prepared to make my case, and was also, truthfully, a bit drunk from winning shots at bar trivia just prior to showing up. Also in an accelerated manner, the field was winnowed to two in minutes (by Andrew and Melissa) rather than over the course of a week in online voting. I was surprised to find myself in that final two, and to be brought back out before the Human Fish for the final selection. The Human Fish (called the show's "breakout star") is a half man/half fish who has only recently emerged from the sea and is figuring out the world of man in the form of one dichotomy (A vs B) at a time. He was presented with the conundrum "Random Ellen vs Random Bean," and didn't go my way.

Random walk a circle.

11 March 2012

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June 2012

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