Fuck this fucking plant
Giant hogweed doesn’t sleep. It waits.
And it must be destroyed.
Hogweed has been plotting carefully for years. Hogweed has been committed to your destruction as you got soft, as you ate Chipotle and vacillated about whether or not to go to law school. Hogweed wants to burn you. Hogweed wants to kill your fucking pets. Hogweed wants you literally blind. An eye for an eye doesn’t fucking matter to hogweed because it doesn’t need vision. Hogweed thrives in the countryside, lurks in the suburbs, has its sappy foothold in the city. It moves wordlessly, silently, blindly, aided by wind and water. Hogweed’s ally is the No. 1 enemy of humans: the sun. The sun that burns you and causes cancer and kills the sexiest vampires on Trueblood also works for Team Hogweed to activate glucoside phototoxins that render your skin a worthless sack of blisters entirely vulnerable to ultraviolet light for years, and hogweed has more than enough glucoside phototoxins to blind and burn your whole damn family.
(Hogweed damage to humans - warning: slightly graphic)
Hogweed is the Spartan warrior of invasive weeds. It trains for years. It prefers harsh winters, like those in its native Caucasus, the same region that produced Joseph Stalin, or in Buffalo. In its last year of life, in a kamikaze act of bioterrorism, it grows thousands of tiny white blossoms, its decedents, in glorious tufts called “umbels,” the beauty of which once inspired sociopathic Brits to import the leafed demon for ornamental gardening. “Tut, tut! Behold this beautiful specimen. I shall bring it to my mistress! Nevermind that it chemically burns Jeeves!”
In order to become a 14-foot-tall, hulking botanical monster, giant hogweed (a/k/a Heracleum mantegazzianum a/k/a destroyer of epidermis) sinks its roots into the ground for three to five years. Hogweed is patient. Hogweed requires cold, frozen ground for a dormancy period as per its agreement with Beelzebub, and for this reason it thrives in chillier regions like the U.S. Northeast, Ontario, Quebec and the Pacific Northwest.
In its last year of life, hogweed emerges from its bunker ready to do battle with human skin cells everywhere and spread its seed.
Were you adequately preparing to do battle with hogweed all winter and spring? Probably fucking not. While you were sleeping off your holiday hangovers, hogweed was securing its position under the snow. When you quit attending thrice-weekly spin classes, hogweed redoubled its commitment to physical strength and dominance. As you razed your snack stadium, hogweed stockpiled its venom. As you lazily contemplated your bikini body from months out, hogweed began its advance. Now it’s summertime, and in the battle of human versus hogweed, the odds don’t look too fucking good.
Hogweed loves waterways. In fact, in botanical parlance, the Erie Canal is the “Hogweed Highway.”
If you actually encounter this fucking monster that is EVERYWHERE, do not touch it. Like, for heaven’s sake, you little goddamn contrarian, do not put your body in contact with its leaves and flowers and thick, prickly stalk. Hogweed produces a sap that contains furanocoumarins, chemicals that upon contact with your skin, bind to cells and kill them by attacking DNA. When this sap is on your skin and also exposed to sunlight (which, duh, is really fucking likely because you’re outside), a reaction called phytophotodermatitis occurs, resulting in burns and the utter and complete vulnerability of your body in the effected area to the sun. In large enough quantities, hogweed sap may be mutagenic, carcinogenic and lead to birth defects. It takes years to fully recover from the effects of a full-on hogweed assault. The hogweed sap is extra toxic to eyeballs and can lead to permanent blindness.
To fight hogweed, humans have a few options.
1. Stay inside forever. Perfect.
2. Behead the flowering plant like it’s Medusa and stuff its hermaphroditic umbels into three plastic trash bags, which you will then allow to bake in the sun for weeks in order to thoroughly kill its offspring. Dismember the plant and dig up its root. Give over your land to the eradication of hogweed for the next several years.
3. Call the DEC and ask them to beat the living shit out of your hogweed. According to a friend who works in government, few things make the deadened eyes of an environmental bureaucrat light up like the prospect of a battle with hogweed. Like trigger-happy soldiers, the DEC just wants to get out there with shovel and spade and destroy these fuckers.
4. Don’t weed-whack your hogweed. It will shower sap and seed everywhere, setting you up for years more plants and skin-burning agony.
5. Don’t fucking burn your hogweed. This may make your sap into an aerosol and then everyone in your neighborhood is blind.
6. Contribute to global warming. Hogweed can’t survive in warm climates.
Hogweed has its apologists, of course, mostly Illuminati at the highest levels who secure their fortresses with moats of hogweed. Its ability to spread prolifically and resist eradication, however, should make any sane person wary of efforts to justify its presence.
If you don’t believe me on that matter, consider the lyrics of the greatest rock band of all time, Genesis:
Fashionable country gentlemen had some cultivated wild gardens,
In which they innocently planted the Giant Hogweed throughout the land.
Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge.
Royal beast did not forget.
Soon they escaped, spreading their seed,
Preparing for an onslaught, threatening the human race.
I call upon Congress to devote a considerable portion of the defense budget to war on this botanical terror. Fuck this devil weed.
11:34 am • 15 August 2014 • 1 note
Favorite snacks of the great writers!
I love lime Popsicles.
9:47 pm • 2 July 2014 • 3,622 notes
NO MORE NO LESS TWENTY-SEVEN DON’T FUCKING BLOW IT - (Rose punch recipe)
2:39 pm • 2 July 2014 • 2 notes
Fuck this fucking fish
Apparently this mothafuckin fish is making a comeback in the lakes around Buffalo. I hate this fish and it must be destroyed.
The lake sturgeon is so reprehensible that to prove its status as an utterly nasty lil’ fuckin’ trashbin with fins, I need only point to the facts about the species as provided by Wikipedia. There’s no debating that this thing is Satan’s watery sidekick.
The sturgeon is a bottomfeeder that doesn’t even have proper bones. It’s an evolutionary disgrace that “uses its elongated, spadelike snout to stir up the substrate and sediments” and gather up worms, leeches and larvae for dinner. Gross! The sturgeon has taste buds on its barbels, which are sensory organs that dangle near its gaping, rubbery, prehensile lips. Why taste buds are necessary for a fish that eats trash, I don’t know.
All this would be totally fucking intolerable for any creature, but the size, I SAY THE SIZE, of this fucker is what makes it the stuff of nautical nightmares. Even though the sturgeon eats lil’, low-calorie tidbits of trash all day, it manages to eat four gazillion calories in garbage so that it can grow to be seven feet long and 300 pounds. Holy fuck.
This fucker is just swimming along in the lake where folks are swimming and boating in dumb little kayaks that a wayward sturgeon could, I IMAGINE, just fucking capsize with a swish of its filthy tail and mouth udders. The lake sturgeon lives for, I don’t know, goddamn forever as part of its deal with Satan to reign over the Great Lakes. It can reach sexual maturity as late in its life as 23 years old. The lake sturgeon is a late bloomer and also probably has fucking gross, dirty fish sex that I’m not even going to think about now. According to the DEC, a sturgeon was caught in Canada in 1953 that 154 years old at the time. This fish that was caught during the Eisenhower administration began its fishy life in the administration of the first John Adams, whom no one cared for among the Founding Fathers. Still, Adams is better than a lake sturgeon!
The lake sturgeon nearly disappeared from this planet more than a century ago as fishermen zealously scooped them up and sold them to what I imagine were the self-styled Anthony Bourdains of the Edwardian era. Apparently, 5 MILLION pounds of sturgeon were fished from Lake Erie in a single year, which means that holy fucking shit there were, like, 2 million plus of these fuckers in Lake Erie. Erie’s a Great Lake, but it’s the smallest of them. How would you dip a toe in the lake without having the prehensile lips of the sturgeon rub up on them? Jesus!
Look at this asshole hugging his sturgeon like it’s a cocker spaniel.
I’m never sleeping again after that Google image search. Stuff of fucking fish nightmares.
4:58 pm • 1 July 2014 • 2 notes
Past in present
Whereas I try to be observant about places and cognizant of history and to think about my experiences, and am a nut for language, I want to talk about the following* —
"Vestige" comes from the word for "footstep" or "trace" in Latin, "vestigia," and so "vestige" is itself a vestige of a past linguistic world.
One of the great things about living in the modern city is the way vestiges of the past, both recent and distant, dot our visual- and verbal-landscapes, allowing us to time-travel merely by being alert to detail. Bronze placards indicate places of importance in capital “H” history, and I regularly stop to read them. The place where President William McKinely died, the spot beside the Niagara River where slaves would embark for Canada and freedom, the location of the Erie Canal terminus, all of these places are demarcated and declared important in Buffalo, where I live. This thought isn’t about those places at all, interesting as they are.
Years ago, I read an article about childhood language acquisition. A linguist described the way in which kids assign words to physical items by saying that they “name with a vengeance,” a phrase that has stuck with me though hardy Googling efforts have failed to recover the original quote. Not only children, but adults, all people, name and name and name. We name ourselves and our streets and our neighborhoods and our buildings, all the things that together comprise what some people call the “built environment.” (We name the natural environment, too, but that is not what I’m concerned about here.) Place names can be deliberate or arbitrary, but after assignment, they gather connotations and power of their own. This is why certain ZIP codes gather cachet or notoriety. We should take care when identifying or referring to neighborhoods/Census-designated places (the latter a phrase that just revels in its bureaucratic-ness) because even though names may be assigned arbitrarily, they evolve, and the use of place names reinforces and replicates attitudes about places and the people in them.
To cite a malign example, I grew up a half-mile from a neighborhood called “Looney Acres” because of its density of rental and multiple-family houses in a wider area of mostly owner-occupied, single-family homes. The term, obviously, is a classist insult with a tinge of racial association that is meant to demean residents and call attention to the apparently high incidence of low-class problems like domestic abuse and property crimes that plague the area. Domestic abuse, clearly, doesn’t happen on well-heeled streets. I regret to say that despite some Googling (my Google game is off), I can’t find the actual name of the subdivision before it was denigrated to “Looney Acres.” Lonely Acres? Lousy Acres? Regardless, this serves as a fine example of how naming gathers such force that a name becomes a determining factor in reality. Looney Acres’ name is as much a part of its identity as its actual streets, houses and residents.
Street nomenclature in Buffalo falls into all sorts of categories: presidents (Jefferson, Fillmore, Washington), states (Michigan, Jersey, all of New England within a half-mile of my apartment, Delaware, maybe a few shy of the full lower 48), fruit (Cherry, Peach, Orange, Grape), trees (Oak, Elm, Sycamore, Ash, Walnut, Cypress), numbers, letters, authors (Homer, Virgil, Tennyson). A pal of mine keeps a great blog about how more proper name-type streets in Buffalo got their names. My favorite kinds of modern location names are those are so divorced from their obvious references that the juxtaposition of historical reference in modern use is both clear and incongruent. That Ferry Street in Buffalo was where, well, the ferry once debarked is obvious and yet meaningless because there is no longer a ferry. In Somerville, Massachusetts, I lived on Powder House Boulevard, the name of which refers to the actual Colonial-era gun powder house on the street, which had to be protected from the British, which is the most deliciously Massachusetts thing. Even in New York, where street and avenue appellations are just numbers, those numbers take on connotative meaning. What we have as a result of assigning names to the man-made landscape and then allowing those names to develop associations of their own is a sort of verbal map of places past and present. And it’s lovely to notice a clue from the past and feel like a smug, time-traveling detective.
Today’s time-travel token, our vestige, is this sign inside the Verizon utility building on Elmwood Avenue just north of West Utica Street.
The letters harken back to an era when telephone numbers were not entirely arbitrary but were actually descriptive. A ten-digit phone number consists of an area code, exchange and extension. Historically, the exchange was a group of phone numbers together in a certain neighborhood and usually named for the neighborhood or a feature of it. And so, in Buffalo, around where I live now was the Elmwood exchange. Phone numbers could be given to an operator with the exchange name and the extension. For example, “Elmwood 1234.” As phone usage and call volume exploded, the quaint way of dialing gave way to a more standardized and purely numeric system for phone numbers. The attachment of residents to their telephone exchange was strong and some were resistant to scrubbing phone numbers of local character, as this lovely column about numbers in Toronto describes. Even now, “the 716” as an area code has meaning to those who live within it. This sign tucked inside a vestibule reveals to the curious and intuitive passerby what a tiny, lost detail of life in the past — the simple act of making a phone call — was like.
As an aside, as though all this hasn’t been an enormous aside, I got onto the topic of telephone exchanges after reading “A Streetcar Named Desire.” In it, the feckless heroine makes a call and leaves her number as “Magnolia 9047.” To Tennessee Williams’s contemporaries, this is not merely a phone number but a reference to a decidedly working class neighborhood in New Orleans, a place where the delicate Southern belle Blanche is in distress. Williams makes use of place names-as-more-than-names effectively. Desire Street and its streetcar are evocative. Desire Street itself is a misspelling of the name of Napoleon’s fiancee, Desiree, a story within a street name within a story. Stella and Blanche’s distant and destroyed plantation home is called Belle Reve, and is to them just that, a “beautiful dream.” Fuck, that’s clever.
*I have been unable to put fingertips to keyboard lately for fear that anything, everything I have to write is inane and inarticulate, and requires some sort of preface or justification for even taking up this humble, free space. Excuse me, I’m sorry, I’m not an expert or anything, and pardon me if you stumble upon this and feel as though you’ve wasted your time, even though you can leave at any time, it’s OK, just go, I’m not offended, but I wanted to share … What is that shit about? I don’t need to explain myself.
4:32 pm • 22 May 2014
"When in attendance at the fine dining establishment of Moon Chinese Buffet, ninth grade honors students proved their intelligence and cultural awareness by playing with chopsticks for three-quarters of an hour and unabashedly digging into a large vat of onion rings before the lo mien and sweet and sour chicken."
- “What students really get from their quality honors education,” your humble blogger, public high school freshman, period 5
4:25 pm • 17 May 2014 • 1 note
Tress-taming tips for raven-haired beauties
This incredibly accomplished woman, Amal Alamuddin, balances a busy international law career and the burdens of raven hair. She is also engaged to marry a movie star.
Cawing all women born with the affliction of raven hair! One of our ilk has entrapped perennial bachelor George Clooney in an agreement for marriage. This wiley attorney, certainly good with contracts but better with bird seed and a flat iron, has succeeded where scores of flaxen-haired waifs have failed. The ascendance of this “raven-haired beauty” to pop culture relevance gives me occasion to share some tips for managing life with raven hair. If you want to know more about how to become an attorney of such wide acclaim and accomplishment that the UN calls upon your expertise, ask Amal Alamuddin. Negotiating a delicate relationship with avian coiffure, that I know well.
As a well-known sufferer of raven hair, Katy Perry has been vocal about
Proactive cutting-edge nesting treatments.
Tending to raven hair can be a hassle, but the good news is that women who have birds for hair are usually able to find affordable and seasonally adaptable options for bird nourishment that fit right into a wash-and-go beauty routine! Whipping up a combination shampoo-conditioner-carrion-bits solution to use on your hair each morning will save you time and ensure that hair ravens are fed before their incessant, hungry cawing wakes your neighbors.
Molting season can be rough on raven-haired lasses, but a neatly executed “sock bun” can hide uneven plumage and unsightly flyaways. Ornithologists and cosmetologists agree that unpredictable patterns in molting are among the most significant challenges for raven-haired beauties, but natural-looking, weave-in feathers are becoming more popular and affordable every year.
Even though ravens are notoriously resistant to embracing color trends such as ombres and multi-tone highlighting, raven-haired ladies can take advantage of the passerine property that allows ravens to hold tightly onto perches — for long-lasting curls! Ringlets, waves and loose curls are all great styles for women who literally have birds sitting on their heads day and night.
Raven-haired women enjoy unique hair style opportunities.
Tired of conducting all their daily business with wingèd harbingers of doom attached to their scalps, some raven-haired beauties elect to eradicate their bird locks. Extreme caution is advised for those considering this drastic measure. While an at-home solution may be successful in the short term, snake hair is far more difficult to manage than raven hair and should only be committed to after consultation with a veterinary-beautician who has appropriate certifications.
Be sure to match your eyebrows to your hair if you undertake a drastic change.
Ravens love shiny objects and raven-haired gals dazzle in ornithological formal updos. The raven’s keen intelligence can be an asset to raven-haired beauties who work with, and not against, what nature gave them. After fighting mainstream beauty standards for years, some women are wearing their raven hair in natural, relaxed styles. Bird hair, don’t care, y’all.
Seriously, can’t we do a better job not attaching nearly meaningless appearance-related cliches like this to women all the fucking time?
1:24 am • 28 April 2014
Should cheerleaders be paid?
||I have issues with volunteering overall but holy shit am I opposed to "volunteering" for for-profit entities.
||The fucking Buffalo Bills are not Friends of the Night People.
||Have you been to a tailgate? Doesn't look too different from the scene on Wadsworth.
4:00 pm • 25 April 2014