Sunday, November 27, 2005


I am extremely thankfull for all my friends who have offered their love and support in the past week through emails. I'm truly overwhelmed; I don't know what I'd do without any of you.

Thank you all.

Joe Haircut

Now that it's been revealed that I'm going to get my hair cut next year, I figure it'd be a good time to discuss possible hair styles. While I'm always open to suggestions, I've found my favorite option so far. Tell me what you think.

(No, I'm not serious. Sheesh!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


"The great Fly on the Wall invented Sucksgiving several years ago. Before Seinfeld came up with Festivus, but it always gets compared to the TV thing, which sucks.

Sucksgiving is held on November 22 because John F. Kennedy was assassinated on that day, which sucked, and C.S. Lewis died the same day, which also sucked, but nobody noticed because of all the attention on Kennedy, which also sucked. Also, November 22 is the birthday of Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian whose entire act was built around how much things sucked. He is the Patron Saint of Sucksgiving."

- Jim MacQuarrie, on the Comic Book Resources forums.

It was a cold, snowy Wednesday, twenty seven years ago. At 1:08 PM (the same time JFK was killed) after thirty six hours of labor, I begrudgingly entered this world with a broken heart.

My childhood was half idyllic and half horrific. But you knew that already.

My birthdays have a history of sucking. I really don't care for them anymore. It's just a week I'd prefer to forget.

On my 13th birthday, I slipped in the shower. I found myself lying on top of the toilet, with my head on the TP dispenser, and my legs still in the tub. The shower curtain rod had come out of the wall and sliced into my stomach. It was but a scratch (“just a flesh wound”), not deep at all. But I have the scar, two inches to the left of my navel (an “innie” in case you were wondering. “Outties” are fucking weird, man).

Three days after I turned 16, Tara died. I haven’t had a haircut since.

Tara Marie Giardino was quite literally the embodiment of school spirit. Cheerleader, soccer player, actor in school plays; you name it, and she had something to do with it. And once in a while, she was actually not mean to me. One winter, she went on a ski trip with her family. I don’t know the exact details, but on her way down the slope, she fell and broke her neck. It wasn’t until the next school year that we saw her again. She had high spirits, although she was bald and had to wear a neck brace. She still did as much as she could…she lived her life. During a routine CAT scan to check on her progress, the doctors discovered something in her vertebrae. The bones that were healing properly a month ago were now seeded with tumors. The docs identified the tumor as a rare and incurable type.

Tara put up a good fight. From the ski trip till the end, she fought hard for almost two years. It's because of her that I'm donating my hair to

On my 17th birthday, I went outside to check for the newspaper. I stepped onto ice, slipped, and landed on my ass. I felt my hips push into my chest as my spine telescoped into itself, and my body kept going down the few remaining steps in the staircase and into the snow. I’ve never felt so much pain, not even when I broke my wrist in 4th grade. This felt so much worse. Amazingly, there was no permanent damage. No bones broken. I could walk on my own within a day, and was back to normal by the end of the week.

My 18th is a very complicated story. Sometimes, I have the strangest precognitive dreams. I just wouldn’t realize it until after the fact. I’d walk into a room, sit down, and out of the corner of my eye, I’d notice the way light would reflect off of something, or a certain smell…a completely trivial detail would spark the memory of a pre-cog dream. “Oh yeah, now I remember. I dreamt about the way light glared off the metallic clip of my mechanical pencil.” Stupid, meaningless shit, right? I mean, if I’m going to be psychic, give me Professor X abilities, or don’t give me ANY. All or nothing, not this puny half-assed “I will eat a bag of cheesy poofs in the near future” crap.

Despite everything I suffered through in high school, I did have a few friends. Thom, Jennifer, Mary, Chris, Dan, Joan, Chad, John, Jamie, and Eric were people I could relax around. I met John & Jamie in kindergarten, and we were buddies throughout our academic careers. To this day, though, I’ve only kept in touch with Thom. He lives in a suburb of Seattle with his wife. I ruined my friendship with Jennifer by falling for her two years too late. Chris, Dan, Mary, Joan, and Chad were all from different schools (we met at the local BOCES/Vo-Tech school in the graphic arts class)…it was hard to keep in touch. They stopped writing six months after college started. But John, Jamie and Eric were the ones I saw the most in school. Eric had transferred from Gloversville (a neighboring town) in the 9th grade. I was one of the first people to talk to him – he was a geek like me. He was into comics, too, but was more into role-playing/Dungeons & Dragons stuff, and I’m into superheroes, sci-fi and fantasy. God, we were such dorks…Anyway, in 11th grade, as I took the BOCES class, Eric kind of took my place with John & Jamie. Which was okay. They were still my friends, I just got to see them less. I started to really concentrate on the future, on my ambitions, on my career.

The four of us, we could be lined up right with the four South Park kids. John is definitely Stan. They’re both football geeks…I’d be Kyle, the smart one (although I might as well be Timmy [“TIMMAH!”] sometimes). Jamie would TOTALLY be Cartman. Holy shit, they’re both really fat, and totally in denial about it. “I’m not fat, I’m big boned” are words straight out of Jamie’s mouth. They’re both spoiled brats, too. The similarities are amazing. As for Eric being Kenny…

In the weeks between the end of classes and actual graduation, I had a dream regarding Eric’s fate. When I woke up, though, I couldn’t remember it. I was grasping for the sense of dread that slowly left my body.

Graduation went off without a hitch. It was nice. There was a moment of silence for Tara, tears flowed…it was a good ceremony. And I promised that I’d never enter those halls again, not under any circumstance, not even a class reunion.

I had better things to look forward to. I was going to the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York Fucking City. (Not many people know that that’s the official title of the city. It’s really in the original town charter, written by the Duke of York’s equivalent of a secretary. No, really, I swear! I learned about it in my History of NYFC class. Go look it up.) Bright lights, big city, stench of urine at the 14th street PATH station. Oh my god, there are people here with a plan. Holy shit, that girl is really hot! You can’t find that in Bumblefuck! Pearl Paint! Comic shops within walking distance!!! Within a month at SVA, I met most of my greatest friends. Friends who are in my life today, friends I wouldn’t give up for anything.

Some of you reading this may remember this week:

I spent Friday, November 22, 1996, in my miserable painting class. I hated that class. I don’t paint. I can’t paint. Yet, because of SVAs requirements, I had to paint. Fortunately, there was an absolutely gorgeous red-head seated next to me, with whom I had made my very first attempt at flirting. Unfortunately, I found out later on that she was more interested in one of the guys across the room. But still, I got home that evening feeling high on oil paint fumes and testosterone.

Then the phone rang.

“Jeff, Eric killed himself yesterday.”

“Oh, happy birthday.”

As I looked through the yearbook, I remembered the dream I had months prior. If I had any brains worth a damn, I could have saved him. I’ve never felt so empty in my entire life.

Eric had a decent life; a great girlfriend, weeks from entering the Marines, nothing to complain about. It turns out that he lived with his grandmother. She died a few days earlier. Apparently, they were very close. He didn’t leave a note. Heather, his girlfriend, turned up at school, crying, asking why it happened.

I immediately called John & Jamie, and left messages with their parents. I went home for Thanksgiving. The train I was on from NYC to Bumblefuck broke down between Hudson & Albany, for two and a half hours. Because of that, I missed Eric's funeral. I was beyond pissed at this point. I called everyone again when I got home, just leaving messages. No one called me back.

You guys sure picked the worst time to NOT be a friend.

I saw Jamie a couple years later. I was landscaping during my summers between school. My boss was hired by Jamie’s neighbor to mow his (the neighbor’s, not Jamie’s) lawn. As we finished up, I saw Jamie standing on his porch, looking right at me. I stood and stared at him. It was like a movie; two friends who had become bitter enemies facing each other for what seems like an eternity before they square off for the final battle. All we needed were a few tumbleweeds. I tried to convey the message, “if I ever see you again, I will thoroughly and severely bludgeon you.” But that’s all that happened. We had to move on to the next job.

John got married in 2000. He even sent me an invitation. What the hell was he expecting? That I’d just go in and act like the past few years never happened? Ignore all the pain from his betrayal? I don’t think I’d be able to control myself in his presence. It would not have been a happy occasion if I decided to show up. So I didn’t.

John & Jamie are on my Shit List, by the way. They're tied with my sister & brother-in-law.

In 2002, my maternal grandfather died from Alzheimer's complications. Ryan, a childhood friend, was killed in a car accident. He's the son of my moms' best friend.

I know you all mean well when you say "happy birthday," but at this point, it's virtually impossible. I appreciate the thoughts behind it, though.

Happy Sucksgiving.

Project Jeff 4.0

Our bodies' atoms go through a complete turnover due to a metabolic process that takes seven years. In essence, we become a new person. It's an interesting scientific fact that's been on my mind for the past few months. Since I turn 28 next year, what better time than now to make further changes?

As some of you may know, I'm a bit fucked up.


I know it seems like I have a good attitude, but that's mostly a facade. When I'm with friends, I'm pretty comfortable. I know most of you well enough to relax and let my guard down. At the ripe old age of 14, I was anti-social, misanthropic, and suicidal. I've been struggling with depression, fear, confidence, weight, worth, & esteem issues for a very long time, and I'm just now getting to a point where I can start to do something about it. I've been taking baby-steps lately toward improvement (self-help books, socializing more, etc). I actually have a plan. I'm just gathering the tools (and funds) I need to carry it out properly.

My problems boil down to one main idea: I don't like myself very much. It's something that I've been aware of at an unconscious level. Talking with Lynne (I talk to her and Alex a lot) a few weeks ago, she pointed it out to me. A lot of it has to do with Eric's death; it must be my Catholic heritage, all this guilt weighing me down. Another thing she brought up is that I'm very stubborn and resistant to change, mostly out of fear. However, that's fed by my low self-confidence. Almost everything 'wrong' with me is circular. Like Fat Bastard says in Austin Powers 2, I'm fat because I'm unhappy, and I'm unhappy because I'm fat.

With the money I'm getting from a couple of freelance jobs, I'll be able to join a gym in January. To put it lightly, I'm extremely unhappy with my physical health. I have let my creative side go fallow; I will re-learn how to draw, and I'll be better at it than I ever was before. With weight loss and improved artistic skills, I will gain confidence. I will make an effort to be more social. I will try to volunteer at an animal shelter. I will stop wearing all black clothes so I won't be as intimidating. I will get a haircut. I may even try speed-dating or whatever other ridiculous match-making services are available.

I will find happiness, dammit, even if it kills me.

* Please note that parts of this post are culled from an ongoing conversation with Tara, Carlos' fiancée. She's been reading this and has offered many kind words of support, and has helped me organize my thoughts a bit better. Thanks for your help, Tara.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Stop the Madness

Jheri curl mullets have GOT to go. It's not just a crime against humanity, it's a crime against society, and a crime against nature.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Few Random Memories

In my third year of college, life seemed pretty cool, but school was bewildering and stressful. My main source of escapism was watching two particular cable channels: Comedy Central and Cartoon Network.

My roommate Moe had a very interesting take on life, and he exposed me to new ideas, comics, and music. He's an insightful person. During the year we lived together, he asked me, “Why do you watch Comedy Central all the time?” I replied, “Because my life is not that funny, and I need to laugh more often.”

Moe said, “That’s pretty sad, actually.”

“Yeah, I know.”


One morning (while I still worked 'normal' hours) I was walking to the train station. It was a warm sunny day in August, shortly after I moved to Astoria. An older gentleman of the cloth was walking in my direction, and although the sun was behind him, he was squinting. He stopped me and looked closely at my chest. It turned out that the ankh hanging from my neck had caught the sun just right and glared into his eyes.

He said, "from farther away, it was as if the light was coming from inside you."

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Animated Event of the Year

That's right, bitches. The Boondocks hits Adult Swim Sunday, November 6th at 11 PM. The show has already gotten great reviews. If you don't know what it is and don't understand the finer points of Google, here's a link:

The Boondocks

Now, let your eyes (and mouse) wander over to the Links section and click on artist extraordinaire Khary Randolph's site. He worked on the style guide for the Boondocks animated series. Go and give him some money, dammit.

Inger Update

About two months ago I told you about my friend Inger and her dealing with brain cancer. She's recently finished the radiation treatments. Our friend Cary briefly filled me in. She's very exhausted, and a little forgetful, but otherwise okay. She also has a little more hair left than expected.

I'd love to see her again, or even just to hear her voice. But I know she needs to rest.