Sport Spiel
01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003 01/12/2003 - 01/19/2003 01/19/2003 - 01/26/2003 01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003 02/02/2003 - 02/09/2003 02/09/2003 - 02/16/2003 02/16/2003 - 02/23/2003 02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003 03/02/2003 - 03/09/2003 03/09/2003 - 03/16/2003 03/16/2003 - 03/23/2003 03/23/2003 - 03/30/2003 03/30/2003 - 04/06/2003 04/06/2003 - 04/13/2003 04/13/2003 - 04/20/2003 04/20/2003 - 04/27/2003 04/27/2003 - 05/04/2003 05/04/2003 - 05/11/2003 05/11/2003 - 05/18/2003 05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003 05/25/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/08/2003 - 06/15/2003 06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003 06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003 07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003 07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003 07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003 08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003 08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003 09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003 09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003 11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003 11/30/2003 - 12/07/2003 12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003 12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004 02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004 02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004 03/07/2004 - 03/14/2004 03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004 04/04/2004 - 04/11/2004 04/18/2004 - 04/25/2004 05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004 05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004 06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004 07/11/2004 - 07/18/2004 07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004 07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004 09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004 09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004 09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004 11/07/2004 - 11/14/2004 11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004 12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004 01/09/2005 - 01/16/2005 02/06/2005 - 02/13/2005 03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005 05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005 05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005 05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005 06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005 06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005 06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005 06/26/2005 - 07/03/2005 07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005 07/10/2005 - 07/17/2005 07/17/2005 - 07/24/2005 07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005 07/31/2005 - 08/07/2005 08/07/2005 - 08/14/2005 08/14/2005 - 08/21/2005 08/28/2005 - 09/04/2005 09/04/2005 - 09/11/2005 09/11/2005 - 09/18/2005 09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005 09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005 10/23/2005 - 10/30/2005 10/30/2005 - 11/06/2005 11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005 11/20/2005 - 11/27/2005 12/11/2005 - 12/18/2005 12/18/2005 - 12/25/2005 12/25/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/15/2006 - 01/22/2006 02/26/2006 - 03/05/2006 05/07/2006 - 05/14/2006 07/09/2006 - 07/16/2006 08/06/2006 - 08/13/2006 09/10/2006 - 09/17/2006 10/01/2006 - 10/08/2006 01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007 02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007 02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007 02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007 03/25/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 04/08/2007 04/08/2007 - 04/15/2007 04/15/2007 - 04/22/2007 04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007 04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007 05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007 05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007 06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007 06/10/2007 - 06/17/2007 08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007 08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007 08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007 09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007 09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007 10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007 11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007 11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007 11/18/2007 - 11/25/2007 11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007 12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007 12/30/2007 - 01/06/2008 01/13/2008 - 01/20/2008 02/03/2008 - 02/10/2008 02/10/2008 - 02/17/2008 02/24/2008 - 03/02/2008 03/02/2008 - 03/09/2008 03/09/2008 - 03/16/2008 03/16/2008 - 03/23/2008 03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008 03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008 04/06/2008 - 04/13/2008 04/13/2008 - 04/20/2008 05/11/2008 - 05/18/2008 06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008 06/22/2008 - 06/29/2008 07/20/2008 - 07/27/2008 08/03/2008 - 08/10/2008 09/07/2008 - 09/14/2008 09/14/2008 - 09/21/2008 11/09/2008 - 11/16/2008 03/22/2009 - 03/29/2009 05/03/2009 - 05/10/2009 05/24/2009 - 05/31/2009 06/07/2009 - 06/14/2009 01/15/2012 - 01/22/2012

Saturday, September 11, 2004

My late, great Father, Seamus Murphy and Ruby, the great-granddaughter who was wrenched from his life after he'd lost his treasured grandson, Pete.

Ladder 118 buried under rubble.

A news photo of Pete's truck heading to the WTC... notice the watermark, signifying copyright. The paper will sell you a print of this image: 8 by 10 for 35 bucks, 11 by 14 for 60 bucks.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Pete, Brian, me and David at my wedding.

Here, by way of acknowledgment of an anniversary that still fucks me up completely, are some old emails, with addresses omitted.

Subject: worried
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 18:13:02 -0400
From: sport
to my friends in and around nyc - please send a brief reassurance that
you're ok as soon as you can. my prayers and love go to you on this
awful day -
love, sport

Subject: Re: worried
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 19:29:05 -0400
From: sport
thanks for the note, ***. glad you're ok. a great number of my friends
live and work downtown, of course, so i'm on tenterhooks right now. so
far no bad news on any personal level, but christ, what's to come? my
sister's son is a fireman right now assisting down there. i dread his
account of things, but those i've spoken to - including writers/photogs
and veterans of european war and other global devastation - tell me the
scene is as bad or worse than what they've seen. christ. my best to you
and yours.

Subject: (no subject)
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 00:32:45 -0400
From: sport
i just found this out... my nephew peter, with whom i was raised like
brothers, is mia - he's a firefighter whose company was one of the first
called in after the initial attack. all of them are unaccounted for. if
anyone prays, please pray for him and all the others.

Subject: Re: checking in
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 00:41:57 -0400
From: sport
thanks, *****.
I'm with you on Bach. Music has been very hard for me to take in
general. I played Appalachian Spring, which Peter and I used to bliss
out to during our young years and on later, drunken nights. Old American
Songs by Copland, too, though I couldn't take it when I listened to some
of them - too severe, too painful. Ives' "Thanksgiving And Forefathers'
Day" got me through one afternoon... it's a very important piece of
music to me, particularly in regard to God.

I will chance "Sheep May Safely Graze" by JSB, though its Christmas
affiliations may be too much to bear. My own music hasn't been very much
in mind. I waver between wanting to make an album for Peter, and not
even wanting to contemplate such a thing. He was always there at my
gigs, and I don't want to consider doing one without him there. I
understand what you mean about songwriters and their importance. I don't
know if Im one of those, and it doesn't even matter. I wrote a song
called "Home Is Far Away" for Peter and his Mother, my sister Maureen. I
listened to it and it sat on my ears like a wet rag.

I sing to Peter - in my head I sing Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around"
which was a core song for us, our way of assuring each other of the bond
that kept us going through a lifetime of frequent grief and periodic
separation. The other day I was singing it in my mind to him, and it was
shattered by the chorus of that Chumbawamba song "I get knocked down,
but I get up again..." which Pete adopted as a New Year's Eve song the
past few years. I took it as his way of assuring me he was ok, shouting
down the Sondheim ballad with his usual brave optimism. Now I wonder if
all my faith in his rescue is just my mind attempting to deny it all. I
still cling to hope.

Went to Brooklyn yesterday to see my sister and Pete's little bro, David
and David's dad Ira. Candlelight vigil on 15th street... mass at Holy
Name, where we went to elementary school. Magic Beans is imbued with
that neighborhood, which will always be my heart's home. It's so fucking
hard, friend.

Thanks for being there - I dunno if I can talk yet, but I can write here
and there. Speaking usually collapses into grief. I need Peter back. I
grieve for everyone... and our nation, and our world, but fuck, I need
Peter. I'd better stop now.
Love to you and family -

Subject: wrote this a few nights ago - grab a shovel
Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2001 00:58:30 -0400
From: sport

Apologies in advance for what follows, especially since I have no idea
what it will be as I begin tapping out these words. I'm writing/sending
this for the same reason poison labels say "induce vomiting" ...delete
it now if that's a problem. It'll be long and bitter. Sue me.

My nephew Peter Vega was my "kid brother." We grew up in the same home,
spent summers, vacations and holidays together. We played guns, told
dirty jokes in backyard tents, roamed the streets bar-hopping, sang and
cried together. When he was in the Air Force, we shared frequent, long,
inebriated phone calls over whatever distance lay between us.
Unfortunately, in recent months our relationship was strained; this
situation remained unresolved when he died trying to save lives in the
World Trade Center collapse. Some of the reason for this strain may be
traced to a family of utterly evil scum called the Grices (spelling
uncertain, but shit stinks regardless of garnish), one of whom he wedded
and with whom he fathered a now one-year old daughter. This brood of
lace-curtain mick psychotics is now doing its level best to compound the
misery of my sister Maureen, Pete's mother. I'll leave that subject
alone for now, and I mention it only as a way of explaining - to some
degree - the tone of my current thoughts. As far as our unresolved
conflict, I bear neither guilt nor resentment. He knew I loved him, I
know he loved me. People who love each other have problems. So it goes.
I'll tell you more about Peter later on.

Today, as I brought my deeply heartbroken and severely ill mother to the
doctor, we entered a taxicab piloted by a standard-issue longhaired Long
Island loudmouth, who immediately started a harangue about the "fucking
towelheads" and how all the other cabbies at his company were banding
together to prevent the hiring of any of "them." I assume this extends,
as it usually does, to Indians, Filipinos, or any other brownish people
with funny accents. He even threw in a few oblique remarks about "the
niggers" before I told him to "shut the fuck up... my mother lost her
grandson in this and you're upsetting her." Idiots aside, we've also
been unable to bear newspapers, news shows, or anything other than
diverting entertainment: Our Gang comedies, Golden Girls, etc. After
quitting my 4-newspaper-a-day habit, I realize how much easier life is
without absorbing the pathetic travails of the goddamned human race and
the impertinent opinions of columnists and critics. Wish I'd realized
this sooner... before my self-respect and joy in making music was
destroyed by their complete dismissal of my work. Too late blues,
always, always.

So after the first wave of post-disaster response, during which every
jerkwad in the nation sobbed cascades of luscious grief, lit candles and
sang Irving Berlin kitsch that still sucks as much as it ever did,
America returns to its characteristic belligerence and cocksure
stupidity. Hippies piss and moan about the "scary militaristic
atmosphere," and vermin like our cabby hurl bile and worse at every 7-11
counter-person they encounter-personally. Others send insipid emails
about "God's mercy and love" or animated gifs of Bin Laden getting
beheaded or beshitted (depending upon the relative "edginess" of the
sender's self-image). Petitions of all sorts... "food for thought"
(sure, "thought")... heartfelt messages from concerned celebrities...
stunningly prophetic song lyrics from old albums... suggestions where to
donate money... threats of viruses virtual and actual... every chunk of digitized bullshit imaginable. What about me? I said
novenas to St Jude (which is rather like “she loves me, she loves me
not” in the canon of pointless comforts), I'm writing this, and no doubt
I'll compose some sorry-ass tunes about the varied ramifications of this
catastrophe on my life. I'm as impotent as the rest of y'all. And
probably - obviously - more inappropriate in response.

Everyone finds a way to cope with all this, and I'm sure that Bon Jovi
singing a slow, sensitive version of "Living On A Prayer" must deeply
move somebody. It ain't me, babe. Nor am I solaced by the homily of a
priest in my old neighborhood church, where I attended a mass the week
of the incident: "Through the prism of my tears, I see a sorrowful God."
Some God you go there, padre. Great weeping Jesu! Still, leave us each
our fairytales, and let's all rah rah the tiny little flags that are
mandatory now on the radio antennae of every SUV that cuts us off,
blasting popular songs exclusively concerned with money and schtupping.
There's your culture, Rollo... wallow. How many of these patriots even
bother to vote? Well, who cares... America's united now. The lump in my
throat is probably cancer from all the viceroys I'm sucking, but dammit
it's a picturesque lump anyhow. I'll be right there with you all when/if
our duly appointed president (whose father was a lot quicker to bomb
Iraq over oil than his son is to deal with dead Americans, even if
Hussein was left untouched and undeterred) gets off his ass and begins
the glorious beguine of massive slaughter. But I won't be cheering, and
I won't be weeping. And I sincerely don't mind if the first retaliatory
scud lands directly on my benighted skull. However, I am satisfied that
the USA is as fine a place to spend our short spell of long sorrows as
any yet devised by earthlings. I only wish Theodore Roosevelt were in

I re-read the book of Job at some point in order to find any kind of
perspective on the disasters that seem to regularly visit my family. I
found the same utter gibberish I've always found. The same gibberish
humans have used from time immemorial to justify their terminal
bloodlust and kid themselves that there’s some mystic reason for all
this hideous pain
we endure and inflict upon each other. The bible is a
collection of random documents written by ancient bungholes who
occasionally - accidentally - landed on some insight. The koran is an
even sillier work of lunacy that was written solely as a separatist
affront to the bible (much as kwanzaa was invented by racists of african
descent to piss on whitey christmas and jew-bastard hannukah… and you’re
welcome to infer any bigotry on my part from any part of that, since I
don’t give a rat’s ass what variety of p.c. makes you happy any more
than I feel compelled to respect any group’s version of “justified”
bigotry). All we want is to hate each other. Yeah, I've read the gita
and the tao te ching and Rumi and all of it. Nice stuff here and there,
much like Mad magazine, but far less consistently rewarding. So there's
your holy books... feh. Where to find wisdom and solace? Beats the
living shit out of me. Have I lost my faith in God? Naaah. There's
something higher.
My logical proof of this is that we are so low, and we
know it. So whether it's fantasy or metaphysical reality... holy mystery
or improvised delusion, I'm on board. Individually. Where 2 or more are
gathered in anyone's name, there is evil. So the human equation is: me
and you can share a cuppa java. The minute you wanna go find some others
to form a rock band, a fraternity, a ballteam, a prayer group, a sewing
circle, a fan club... sayonara.

What do I see in our culture in this great age of communication?
Internet geeks and madmen posting illiterate drivel as ephemeral as
their worthless lives... Hannity versus Combs with a congress of the
same yattering disembodied heads they call upon for every thing from
JonBenet to Clinton's Cock... Howard making fun of retards and
discussing - with great wit - the silicone implants of some sad crack
whore... Bill Maher coaxing provocative thoughts from deep-thinking
celebrities... Leno telling "jokes" that even Bob Hope would have fired
his writers for excreting... College students advising anyone patient
enough not to shoot them that we should all read Noam Chomsky, 'cause he
KNOWS, maaaaan... Pat Robertson coming in his pants because this boosts
the rapture business higher than viagra stock.... Captains of industry
bemoaning the "needed" layoffs as they frantically protect their
fortunes like junkies guarding a stash... every tinhorn weasel you meet
daily, blabbing on and on about "what should be done" the way they
discuss baseball... urp. I'll pray, thanks. To what? Who knows? Who
cares? If I know anything about God I know it cares not a whit what
happens to us. It's more like a water fountain you take a refreshing sip
from. Helps for a second, then it goes the way of all else... down the
loo. Is life hopeless? Fundamentally, of COURSE it is. Provisionally,

So what can I contribute to our shattered dialogues (rather, volley of
monologues)? There are friends who have shown deep concern and empathy.
That matters. There are others conspicuous in their silence. I resist
drawing conclusions about this, since my impulse to always to assume the
worst is often correct but I'm no more reliable or compassionate than my
least considerate friend. There is music, still, if you look REALLY hard
in the hidden corners of well-stocked stores. There's sex: the sublime
reality-obscuring game for one, two, or more players. There's the
consuming act of consolation, which can vary from a phone call to a gift
(money orders, please) to physical help. There's the awe-inspiring
example of people like my nephew Peter's brethren in the FDNY, who
fucking rise to the occasion and do something, even if I dearly wish he
hadn't been so brave. There's the comforting reality that nothing means
anything, so try and overcome your pointless anxieties and enjoy a
minute of this transient day along with some other human.

I remember Peter and me listening to Appalachian Spring, feeling
powerful and bonded in love and rapture and Jameson's. I remember
building him a truck from a corrugated box one Christmas eve, which
looked like shit and occupied his blissful attentions Christmas day
until it fell apart... I was probably 11 and he was probably 5, and we
were a team. I remember sitting with him in a diner in NYC after a Skels
show - just us two - making the pianist play "Round Midnight" over and
over. I remember him driving me to the local store for smokes every
holiday, which felt like an annoying favor, but was actually a ritual
escape to brotherland away from the bustling family for a few minutes.
These are just scattershot memories among the many that are mine until
my lights dim. I need to make more memories with those still here, and
savor them as fully as a lifetime's tutelage in loss informs me I

But first there's a "memorial service" on Saturday. It was decided by
his widow – deeply bereaved after knowing him a couple of years - that
this needed to occur NOW, in spite of the fact that my father is in the
hospital recovering from a hip fracture and my mother is virtually
immobile with grief and already taxing illnesses. In spite of the fact
that my sister would prefer to wait a few weeks and not drag our parents
into the service so soon. I am begged by Peter's best friend (who I also
consider a dear friend) not to express in any way my seething hatred for
Pete's in-laws. He says we all need "closure."

Closure. Right. He means well.

My wife has saved my sanity through this, working hard to help, and
gracefully absorbing the extreme emotions I've been unable to express to
anyone else (this long screed hardly scratches the surface of my
blooming misanthropy and desolation, trust me). We will celebrate our
first anniversary immediately after the ordeal Saturday. (I'll be
reading some tripe from the christian bible for my sister’s sake… one of
the few acknowledgments of Peter’s real family permitted in this
detestable pantomime) Then it's on to the agonies ahead. On to the brief
ecstasies ahead. On to the inevitable, blessed nothingness somewhere
ahead after all our inadequate attempts have passed, all our ridiculous
hostilities have abated, after all our dreams and loves have been
explored or exhausted or exalted. I sure hope the anthrax doesn't hit MY
family's water supply, or yours. I sure hope nobody kills you or anyone
you love, or anyone else I love. I sure hope I overcome these shamefully
nihilistic feelings I'm drowning in, and acquire a smidgen of the
selflessness that drove Peter to make a career out of rushing into
burning buildings to save other people's lives. I doubt it, but there's
Pete's kid brother David and the rest of the family to consider, so

And I'll eventually make another album of my songs that nobody will
and dedicate it to my brother Peter. And if that ambition seems a
little hollow and insignificant, you have glimpsed what I now feel,
every moment of every day. If Pete was more like me - vain and selfish
enough to make crappy music instead of saving lives, he'd be here today,
and I'd probably share in this Live Aid orgy of righteousness and jingo
and gas and weltschmerz. But he was brave. And so he's gone. And I'm
typing this. And let me drop my black mask one moment:

I cannot fucking believe Peter is dead. He was too young… too strong.
Not perfect or angelic, but a hero and a beloved brother. He overcame
the traumas of an absent father, dyslexia, weight issues, etc, to become
a noble, good man and father. I dread the effect on our family, which is
already considerable. I want it to be September 10 again, so I could
call him and settle our issues, move on to more memory-making and forget
the bullshit. I want his daughter to grow up and know her father, for
his wife to escape the dementia of her family and spend life with Peter
in all its mundane glory. I want David to wisecrack with me and Pete
around the Thanksgiving table. I want my sister’s easy laughter back. I
want my parents to bounce their great-granddaughter as proud papa looks
on. I want to worry about nothing more urgent than my own failure. But
here we are.

I’m confused… weak, snarling, sarcastic, depressed and scared. I loved
Peter. I love you. I’m sorry… I hope for better things. I do not expect
them. To those who’ve written and called, my deepest thanks… it means
plenty. To those who didn’t? Well, imagine some tender and understanding
reaction on my part, pretend that’s how I would have felt, and let’s
leave it at that. Permanently.

Subject: In search of understanding
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 02:52:29 -0400
From: sport

As Oprah Herself will tell you, one of the most important things we can
accomplish in this frightening, divisive time is a better understanding
of each other. After writing a long spiel about my family’s ongoing
tragedy, I realized that I’ve been remiss in reaching out to others who
believe in different truths than I do. My understanding of Islam had
more to do with the “Nation Of Islam,” a noble faith which teaches that
I and my pale race were created, way back when, by a renegade wizard…
and that the honorable Elijah Muhammed circles the Earth – even now – in
a spaceship, waiting for the proper moment to swoop down and immolate
our ofay asses.

Fair enough - and by gum we deserve it – but this, as it turns out is
not True Islam. So what is True Islam, if not a recent invention that
mostly permits black guys to change embarrassing given names like “Lew”
and “Cassius” to cooler ones like “Kareem” and “Muhammed” (as well as
surnames like the demeaning “Little” to the crisp and e-z to spell “X”)?
I resolved to find out.

My first attempts to befriend and learn from my Muslim neighbors were
awkward at best. Spotting a beturbaned gent at the local Kohl’s, I
dropped my armload of (hunter and persimmon-hued) bathroom products and
approached him (maybe a wee bit over-enthusiastically) with a cry of:
“Hello! Hello, my brother! Tell me about Allah, et al, that I may know!
That I may understand!” Rather gruffly, he snapped “No, no, I’m a
Sikh!” I felt that familiar pang of guilt over pan-cultural ignorance.
He sure didn’t LOOK Italian, and I’d never have bothered anyone who was
under the weather.

A few days later, after listening to numerous recordings by some dead
guy named “Muskrat Alley Fatwad” (borrowed from my pal Josh Utne, who
knows a lot about world music and recommended it to me as a proven
chill-out / transcendental kind of thing plus that guy from Pearl Jam
sang with him once and maybe Sting or some shit), I returned to my
quest. Heading for the local deli on shank’s mare (which, in the
traditional argot of the ancient, drunken Celts, means: “can’t afford a
cab”), I mused “now how can I tell if those guys who work there are
Muslim? Maybe they’re Jain or Zoroastrian or Crustacean or


Bingo: two guys in fezzes were just then driving tiny cars down Parkway
Upon each fez was emblazoned: “Mecca” in really hep
embroidered script. This time I was determined to play it cool. Seeking
to impress them with what I’d learned, I ululated like the fat dead guy.
“UluUluUluAieeeeAieeeeAhhhh” I melismaed. They stopped cold and cast a
bewildered glance in my direction.

This time I dropped the condescension (which even foreigners can smell a
mile away, Clem told me), and tried the casual approach. “Hey, fellas.
Just doin’ a bit of chanting here. Yep… just chantin’ and a-chantin’. It
really puts me in touch with Gaia or something.” “Sure mister, sure…”
one replied, thrusting a tin can toward me “…wanna give a buck to the
fund for childhood burn victims?” Having no cash on hand, I quickly
offered to assign my song royalties to their cause. “I’m a Kill Rock
Stars artist!” I crowed. “Huh?” they swallowed. “Sleater-Kinney…” I
penguinned. At this they brightened, claiming great affection for, as
they put it, “whatever the fuck you’re talking about.” Sensing an
opening, I donned a tux. But before I could telegraph congratulations to
the cast, I needed to satisfy this curiosity about Islam, so I queried
my new chums: “So, guys. Tell me what it is you believe.”

“I believe I need a drink,” quipped one. “I believe it’s half-past and
we’re late for the meeting,” added the other. Inscrutable as Chinamen,
these Muslims. Off they sped (well, putt-putted), leaving me more
confused than ever. Again, aside from the exotic garb, they looked no
more Semitic than Lyle Waggoner. I was sure getting a reality check on
my own prejudices! Figured I, time to consult my own trusty Deity for
some of that guidance He supposedly offers. I dropped to my knees and
invoked the words of a dimly-remembered childhood prayer:

“O mightest of yon holiest… one true God of true God who hath in Thy
boundless mercies shewn Thy servants thru Thy holy torrents of gushing,
viscous blood that Thou art greatest among utmost holies… delivereth and
comfortheth me, i plead in utter, wretched, sin-caked humility. For thou
arteth mine Shepherd and mine Mencken, before whom all others are mere
Bombeck, and to Whom i turneth in mine detestable worthlessness for the
succour borne every minute on Thy righteous wind, Amen.”

With this I rent my garment, since I don’t actually OWN a tux, and
stood: waiting for divine guidance.
The sky remained calm.
A butterfly fluttered past.
In the distance, I heard bass thumping from a really awesome car stereo.

Ja Rule?
Couldn’t tell… but I knew it sucked.
Somewhere, someone was using a leaf blower.
Asshole. Too lazy to rake?
And I stood. Waiting.

About 2 hours later, I decided that, if the good Lord insisted on
remaining mum, that was good enough for me. As He had so many times
before in my hours of deepest need, He calmly offered bupkis, that I may
suss it out for myself. How does He restrain Himself so from blatantly
laying out His Divine Plan (which would deny me the blessed fruits of
sheer faith, the crafty So-and-So)? Well, that’s why He’s God and I’m
just a little lost lamb. I steered my woolly ass back toward home. Maybe
the Internet would shed some light on my confusion. I did a search on
ISLAM. In a flash, I had my results:

“GOGETEM.COM has found 18,553,430 matches for your inquiry; you may
narrow your results by adding more search terms! Click HERE to instantly
contribute to the Microsoft USA_CARES_FOR_USA fund and receive your free
limited-edition commemorative flag decal boldy emblazoned with the
stirring words: 'Look... I got a flag too! Hell yeah!”

I elected to narrow my search and forego the contribution.
For now.
Sure would like oneathem flag stickers, though.

So I added more search terms… since I was tired from all that standing
and trudging, I simply used common search words I’d often employed

Better luck this time… first hit:
…sweating like a warthog, I SLAM my stiff meat into her… (30%

…plus the bancobunco courtesy shopping card IS LAMinated with sturdy
plasticoat for your convenience and… (23%

…brushing back her lush tresses with a haughty smirk, supermodel Trish
Van Voorhees answers my question with a question. “IS L.A. More fun than
New York? IS LAMborghini better than Hyundai? At the end of the day… "

And somehow, through all the detours and insignifica, a bright ray of
enlightenment pierced my dark confusion. We’re all basically the same!
It all means one thing! Namely, NOTHING! Eureka! And the best thing I
can offer my Islamic brethren is to ignore them just like I ignore the
rest of the schmucks I meet each day! And only then did I truly
understood what God had been trying to teach me all along! To wit:
“Go about your business, mister. Have your fun, leave me out of it, and
don’t bother the rest of us with your silly fucking creeds!” Such a
simple, eloquent truth… so perfectly inane it stank of Divine wisdom

So, thus satisfied that my search had ended… my quest fulfilled…
I pulled on my rubber surgical gloves, donned my hepa filter mask,
adjusted my goggles and walked to the mailbox to see what the postman
brought today.

Subject: Peter Vega, R.I.P.
Date: Fri, 04 Jan 2002 14:01:43 -0500
From: sport
It's the last batch-mail on this subject I plan to send, because I
figure enough is enough. But on the morning of January first, recovery
workers at the WTC ruins found the body of my beloved nephew (little
brother) Peter Vega. The news brings a measure of comfort to many that
loved him, if not to me. My mother talks of dream visitations; my sister
talks of various mystical communiqués. I'm glad such things solace them,
and I wish I could claim similar experiences, but there ain’t none. I've
completely lost the faith that sustained me through recent years, so
there's only this. Words. Just what everyone needs… more words.

It's now clear to me that that "faith" was an entirely self-generated
delusion that did indeed sustain, as other delusions have sustained me
all through life. Fair enough; in the vastness of all that was lost in
Bin Laden's charnel house, the fairy dreams of one idiot have little
significance. The same applies to my current feelings about all this,
many of which are extremely ugly. So forgive the gloom... instead of
the long and tortured continuation of this email I've written, re-read,
and decided not to send, I'll only add a prayer sent to me by an admired
stranger who has been very kind to me, and I call that a friend. While
the religious aspect may leave you cold, it has more to do with the
individual human's power to effect a benign influence on earth. The
individual human who wrote is was Francis of Assisi.

As for me, tomorrow we bury Pete in Green-wood Cemetary (where we used
to wander as children through the beautifully morbid Victoriana and
imagine lurking vampires), and then it's on to the next album, a gesture
or an attempt entitled "Uncle" ...the next batch email will be a plain
gig announcement. No replies to this are necessary.
Love and fond wishes to you all, and... hit it, Saint Frank:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us
sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there
is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to
understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are
born to eternal life. Amen