Archive for the Essay Category

Subscribe to me and see my pain, literally.

Posted in Art, Essay with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2011 by andjustin4all

Literally to me.  Me things and me to dos.  And occasionally you’ll get to see things like this:


REEEEJECTION!2 Great Moments in Walkman History!

Posted in Essay, rejected by the New Yorker with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by andjustin4all

Great Moments in Walkman History 1927-2010

1927: The first Walkman is created by University of Toledo sophomore Theodore Alphonses Sony when he has his phonograph retrofitted with straps and the ability to play sideways.  Far from self contained, the portable yet obtrusive innovation never caught on in the States, but the legend of such innovation leads him to become the first American to go “Big In Japan.”

1980: Originally called the “Sound About” in the UK, the Walkman becomes a symbol of nerdom in the English town of Durham and after frequent beatings and losing his girl, a young Tony Blair dedicates his life to working out and taking his revenge against a young John Major.

1981: Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randi Rhoads gets his headphones stuck in a limo door at the airport and misses his flight to St. Louis.  Nothing happens to the plane but it would have been creepy if it did, because he tooootally dies in a place crash the next year.

1985: Distraught with the breakup of Van Halen, TV star Thomas Hanks sits, blinds drawn, listening to 1984 on his Walkman and misses the call that would have scored him the coveted role of Goose in the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun. The role eventually goes to future TV great Anthony Edwards and Hanks is never heard from again.

1986: “Walkman” is officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary and paving the way for other intellectual polysyllabic pop culture fare as Macarena, Girl Power, and Muggle.

1986: After failed summit talks in Reyjakvic, Ronald Reagan stays up all night making a mixtape and has George Schultz slip it in Mikhail Gorbachev’s Walkman has he takes him back to his helicopter.  Then Moscow “mayor” Boris Yeltsin would recall Gorbachev, on the flight home, tearing up right around Mott the Hoppel’s “All the Young Dudes.”  Fourteen months later, Gorbachev would sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in Washington.

1991: A shipment of Walkmen heading to the Yugoslavian province of Slovenia is intercepted by a group of Serbian military leaders.  The Slovenian President Milan Kucan called Belgrade and tolf President Stjepan Mesic that if the Walkmen were not returned Slovenia would secede.  Mesic assuming its a joke, wired back immediately, “That would be soooo Croatian.”  Hilarity ensues.

REEEEJECTION: My first rejected New Yorker piece. Enjoy.

Posted in Essay with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by andjustin4all



Dear Mr. President,

As per request of your office, I have pinpointed several potential postwar areas for national self esteem advancement.  After reviewing all options, it is my personal recommendation and the recommendation of this office that our betterment can not begin until we crush the looming self esteem Juggernaut in Switzerland.

We have let the Swiss reign as the Germanic Mountain Ogres of industry over chocolate, watches and neutrality as almost a favor.  These “accomplishments” have always been no more than shelf fillers for Alpine gift shops.  It is recent successive triumphs in World Record underground engineering that have me concerned. The Large Hadron Collider and the new Gothhard Tunnel that have led to a recent trend in uppity Swiss behavior and conversely a dip in US national pride.

I propose a three step passive aggressive solution to reassert American self esteem over the Swiss.

1. Personal home colliders.  After several rounds of national polling and consultation with scientists we already agree with, we find building a new larger collider would not have the international impact or “buzz” that building millions of smaller personal colliders would. The home collider, which could be small enough to fit in one’s knapsack, would take science’s greatest atom smashing achievements (and of course naming rights) out of the hands of international know-it-alls and give them back to common Americans.  It will do for science what YouTube did for film and reduce any forth coming news from the LHC to impersonal at best.

2. The Bill Richardson Tunnel.  It is a well known fact that New Mexicans have been sorely lacking a starch to replace corn.  This deficiency has caused a drop in average height and reliance on the tortilla.  In collaboration of the Department of Transportation, we will unveil the 930 mile Bill Richardson Tunnel that will cut under the Rockies from Boise to Santa Fe and not only deliver fresh white Idaho potatoes to the Lilliputian masses but have the double side effect of being 25 times longer than the 35.4 mile Gotthard Tunnel but also increase American high fiving ten fold.

3. In the final stroke of genius, the state dept will deliver a clandestine gift of 500 million dollars to the country of Albania for the sole purpose of buying the production, copyright, and remaining stock of the Swiss Army Knife Corporation. They will cut as many corners as possible in producing future knives and make the blades a national shame.  Then when the Swiss are on their knees begging for clemency the Albanian government will rename the knives after their own country and make them good again.

In closing, I believe setting forth these policies will be the firm Chuck Norris drop kick Switzerland needs to keep them off any proverbial high horse and cowering in their provincial Ricola sucking snow banks.

Get it on,

Justin Robert Tierney
Undersecretary of the Department of National Self Esteem.

P.S. Biden and I will be at the Chevy Chase Maggiano’s if you’re down for some stuffed artichokes.

PFZ: Pants Free Zone

Posted in Essay with tags , , on October 15, 2010 by andjustin4all

(This article was published in the most recent issue of MI:BK available at Brooklyn’s finest drinkin’ holes)

Thank you and welcome to the Society for A Pants Free Environment.  The idea of the pants free zone (PFZ as its known in the community) is as American as Thomas Jefferson.  Democratic in nature and free from tyranny physically, but mentally and socially.  Now that you’ve made such a distinguishing lifestyle choice it is important to get things off in the right direction. To establish one’s own PFZ, one should follow the three D’s: defintiion, designation, and distribution.

The definition of a PFZ is not just an area without pants.  It is also an area without shoes and definitely without button down shirts.  All shirts, if worn, should be either cotton or linen and be of the T variety.  Wool and polyester are grounds for physical removal.  Socks may be worn for the self consciousness but are not recommended.  Also inhabitants are not limited to underwear.  Shorts, sweatpants and pajamas may be worn provided they possess an elastic waistband.  Sorry Cargo shorts.

Being pants free is about comfort not sex.  We here at SAFE suggest that such an atmosphere can be created if men exclusively wear novelty boxers, while women should wear off season holiday pajama bottoms.  These can be easily purchased in clearance racks at any of the Target or Walmart locations we’ve provided in your packet.

If one is unfamiliar with the rules of a pants free zone and questions your lack of pants, turn it around and scoff at their own prudity, squareness and abundance of pants.  Then proceed to frolic in their downturn.

Designating where your PFZ is an art as old as oriental traditions that it inspired.  A place of pure relaxation is best executed within the home.  Either in the living room, bedroom or a woodpaneled finished basement of some sort.  This place, since devoid of the protection brought by pants, should have ample bean bag chairs and second hand couches.  To lower the threat of heart racing ambition, the room should be equipped with at least one gaming system, a wi-fi connection (especially important when ordering delivery online) and some combination of cable, netflix, or both.  If chips and salsa is not readily available some one should put on pants and provide it.

Finally please remember that in a pants free zone, pants are not the enemy, but society’s requirement that we wear them.  There should be outside of every PFZ, a chair or table top for pants distribution.  Pants may be in need in answering the door to obtain your thai food, going to the mailbox to check for more netflix or when feeding your cats by the window that you have yet to buy curtains for but look upon several backyards including your landlords and her chubby awkward son.  They should be hung or folded with a full compliment of money and creditcards.

We here at SAFE believe a pants free zone should be a glorious enterprise that brings nothing but joy and freedom much like the American eagle.  If that eagle did nothing but sit and watch TV and eat Veggie Puffs.  Pants free.

Hate Filled Rant: L Train Edition

Posted in Essay, Thinkin' with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by andjustin4all

This article appears in the new humorous lil ‘zine MIBK.  For subscriptions, info, or what the letters actually mean email

Like its fellow creatures of the night, vampires, wolfmen, Jay Leno, the L-Train becomes a monster at the witching hour.  Working in the service industry, I frequently stare down this red eyed cyclops but barely have the legs under me to sneer.  Its when the L Train is running on one track and the hours begin to disappear on the platform that I become the monster.  Every thought and action, no matter how subtle is left dripping in vitriol and spite.  My fists pull at the pockets of my peacoat as if ready for a donnybrook, my eyes scan the physical shortcomings in my fellow travelers, and the young Asian Shannon Hoon beside me ceases to be ironic and amusing and becomes the murderer of every 90’s mix tape I bought in my melancholy youth and I hope for the fate of his namesake upon him.

So you can only imagine what becomes of all this when the train comes and its packed like ass half of Louis Anderson’s gym shorts.  Tears of anger well and I envy any and all who seem even the slightest bit intoxicated.

Now normally I’m a travel pragmatist.  I have no problem say resting my already porous knee cartilage in a subway seat even if there’s a less then able octogenarian swaying above me.  But I do have one code I follow without exception.  When I am standing on a subway car, holding onto the ceiling, and involuntarily touching multiple fellow straphangers, I make sure to take off my saddlebag, backpack or crate of illegals and set it below me.

The young shit before me was not a man of such a code.  Instead, he was a man to who wore a trench coat like some high school cliche and strapped on a black LL Bean backpack that was filled to capacity with what I could only imagine was the bodies of homeless puppies that took up more cubic space then the combined area of the four 80 pound rave girl in front of him.  With his earbuds ablaze, the L slowing to the pace of the wounded animal it was, I knew I would have to put off pouring into the pages of Mole People and present a physical confrontation to set this man back into civility.  Fortunately as I was sharpening my iPod into a shiv against the exposed gruff of the subway floor, I heard the mumbled call of a creature I was not ready for.

Scuse me.
Cuse me.
AaaaCuse me.

From the door on the other side of the train car I could see the densely packed throngs of weary travelers waving like high grass in a field when a boar is pushing through.

Cuse me.
Scuse me.

Yet another without the decency of a proper urban upbringing, the boar/man continued to push forward and the wave soon began to part before me. The anger turned, split and amplified.  And then the smell hit.

It was overwhelming and as he began to breach my vision I can tell that this man ranks among those without a home.  In order to avoid empathetic connection and any possible drunken attempts at conversation, I turn my copy of Mole People so the cover is facing the floor.

Scuse me.

He appeared Mexican, at least I generalized him to be. The same way I think of all Eastern Europeans as Commies.  You may be from Ecuador or your intellectual grandparents may have been died in the Siberian gulags, but its certainly not as funny to me to know that.

And I can no longer ignore him.

The cloud of cow killing stench hit me again like a spiny mallet and I stared into the squints of a man no taller then 5’3 with flowing gray hair and the girth of a security planter.  And he was smiling back a shiny drunken grin that defined shit-eating. My teeth were about to gnash into a wet enamel dust when the rave girl in the Rainbow Bright eyeliner whispered in horror.

O God. He peed.

Sure enough, as the people began to Biblically part for him, I could see he was leaving behind puddles of his waste in his wake.  It squeezed out of his Reeboks in little athletic shaped ponds.  Staring right at him I made the evasive action and sunk into the understanding crowd behind me.  Trenchcoat did not.  And as the Mexican vagrant passed him, he pushed deep into his backpack and slung him around like some Ferris Bueller bully.  The man disappeared between cars and Trenchcoat got his first whiff of what had become of his backpack.

I enjoy the small things in life just as much as I hate them.  The negativity I had stacked like newspapers in a old woman’s rent controlled apartment had no business being rewarded.  But I knew from the hopeless look in Trenchcoat’s eyes that he would carry a part of my jolly homeless Mexican with him and I could hardly hide my pleasure as the train pulled out from under the East River.

500 WORDS: Avatar

Posted in Essay, Review with tags , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2010 by andjustin4all

I’m insufferable when I know I’m right, especially when I know you’re wrong, and I will spend considerable effort burying you in a barge-sized wet pile of trash talk. And that’s just over trivial stuff like whether Eli Manning will throw 30 touchdowns (he didn’t), or if Adam Corolla or Norm MacDonald play death on the Family Guy (trick question) and it definitely doesn’t have 3 billion dollars hinged in the balance (at most 50 bucks). So imagine what it’s like to be James Cameron right now.  The self proclaimed “King of the World” just won the biggest bet in film history. And he was soooooo right. Don’t think so? Just try being a movie studio and telling him no. What carrot are you gonna dangle? Money? Creative control? Final cut? Cameron has the money to buy
most of Sub-Saharan Africa.  The only thing keeping him from making a 4 hour billion dollar movie using 3-D motion capture brain synapse connecting virtual reality panoramic
cameras where he plays every part in a drama populated with purple oxen super humanoids that live on the middle of the Earth right now is some long lost relative of Hans Gruber
hijacking the set and seeking revenge on John McClane (inhale).
I have this fantasy that he has the all the box office receipts tucked up under his shirt so he can lift it up for the movie heads and say, “Now this is the situation.”  Avatar is good old-fashioned event cinema.  Movie-going-popcorn-consuming-bootleg-proof event cinema.  I haven’t gone back to see a movie since I was about 10 and I’m seriously thinking that I might be missing out if I don’t see Avatar again.  Oh you don’t like derogatory blue Thundercats, a predictable story and think Unobtainium is a terrible word for a hard to get to mythical super ore? Two
words for you: Mark Hamill. You won’t care. It’s still awesome. What Star Wars did for miniatures or Jurassic Park did for CGI, Avatar has done for motion capture and 3-D.
And from every summer for at least the next decade you won’t be able to shoot another Transformers or Risk: The Movie! without it.  It will be done well, it will be
done terribly, but it will be done all the time.

So see it. In the theater. In 3-D.  Not because it’s the next “Remains of the Day,” (imagine
Anthony Hopkins in 3-D), but because you are the Lewis Lapham reading elitist who didn’t see the Matrix in theaters because you think Keanu Reeves is a tool.  Do it for your children.  Don’t feel bad for the people who bet against James Cameron, it’s already too late for them.

Memoirs Are So Yesterday: Itinerary for a 17 year old in Liverpool.

Posted in Essay with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2009 by andjustin4all

This from the new blog I’m a part of called Memoirs Are So Yesterday, started by my old pal Jen Wittes. Lots of spectacular writing about how much better our nostalgia is then yours and oh yes, me! This my first memoir attempt.

10:15 am Get up.

10:16 am Be the last one up.

10:17am Marvel in your host’s super human abilities to function on 5 hours of sleep, since in high school, you would routinely sleep for 11-13 hours on a non sports related weekend. Note that this will be good training for college.

10:30 am Eat breakfast. Eat lots of meat. Don’t mind you missed the eggs, you’ve hated eggs since you were a baby and sausage and bacon will do just fine.

10:36am Have your Brother, who you share a inflatable mattress with, tell you that you speak Spanish in your sleep. Fluently. Which is amazing considering you floated through six years of the subject and thinking you had a B+, just two and half months ago, you didn’t have to take the final, but you actually had a B and then you failed the final and tossed your final report card in the sewer after graduation.

10:40 am Smile that your Mother never saw that report. Realising as you write this, that your Brother is a Spanish teacher and Mom is the secretary to the Principal at said high school and can just look up your grades from 15 years ago any time she wants. Know she must know by now.

11:00 am Read the tabloid. Try not to stare at naked woman on Page three everyday, even though you are still 3 weeks shy of legally buying porn in your own country. Your Mom isn’t there, but Fran is. And her family. And she’s the closest thing anyone could have to a second Mom. Consider her one of the 3 people at your wedding that were related to you.

11:30 am Watch cricket. Not just club cricket either. Test cricket. Wonder why any sport should take four days. Still be awed by Brian Lara. Take a picture with him at Madame Tousseau’s. Him and Telly Savalas with your tongue in his ear.

12 pm Go to the Pub.

12:30 pm Get your first buzz. Drink beer that’s as harsh as possible. Feel like a man. Fuck Budweiser or the silver bullet, you’re drinking bitter. Tetley’s Bitter. Drink Bud Ice in college.

12:48pm Steal bar towels and coasters. Do this for the remainder of your trip. Have future self ridicule 17 year old self for thinking stealing promotional garbage was such a score.

12:35 pm Hear “I’ve Never Known a Girl Like You Before” by Edwin Collins in the pub. Learn that boy bands like Take That are currently taking over Britain about 3 years before boy bands would take over the states.

1:30 pm Go to the betting shop.

1:40 pm Make your first bet. Not including winning the WrestleMania 4 pool in forth grade (you had Randy Savage AND Hulk Hogan) or the continuously losing every Super Bowl Sunday School bet with Chris Richardson through the late 80’s. Bet on Jean Alessi and his Ferrari. Bet on Davis Love III and his Titleist.

1:45 pm Do not bet on Michael Shumacher. Boring. Do not bet on John Daly even though you think it would be funny at the time only to see a few days later that he actually DOES win the British Open and makes a fool of you. Become a better sports better. Only take suckers bets. Pray on people’s hometown pride.

2:00 pm Go back to pub.

2:15 pm Watch the sport that’s been bet on.

3:30 pm Return to betting shop. Collect winnings. In a group, that includes upwards of 7 to 8 people every day someone is bound to win a bet and that person will….

3:45 pm Go back to pub spend winner’s winnings. Everyone wins.

4:00 pm Teach John Ryder the word, “Dork.” Watch Fran’s brother in law revel in the word “Doarrrrrrk” the rest of the trip which he has taken off from his job at the Ford plant just to haul the group of us around the English countryside to London, to Llangllen, to Mersyside, to Blackpool.

4:30pm Go home for tea.

4:55pm Fall in love with chip shops. Love Curry. Not red curry or thai curry but thick, viscus, nuclear yellow Indian curry. That comes over chips and chicken and whatever you want. Eat it everyday you can. Search for that curry for a decade. Find it on some show on the Food Network that your Mom watched “just over the Brooklyn Bridge.” Love it all over again.

5:05pm That and meat pasties.

6:00 pm Out with Nicolai and sometimes Jamie. Drive fast. Drive down two way streets meant for one car. Ignore Strawberry Fields and that club the Beatles played in first.

6:10 pm Listen to “I’ve Never Known A Girl Like You Before” in the car.

6:30 pm Play cricket. At least the wiffleball equivolent. In the back of a school yard whose fence you have to scale. Get good. Get better. Win on the last day you’re in England. Get a cricket bat for Christmas in your mid 20’s. Consider that the best present your wife ever got you.

7:00 pm Go back to the pub. Dress up a bit. Get advice from Stephanie. Feel like you look good. Burn all evidence in the future. You looked like an asshole.

7:30 pm Drink with the fam. Drink with your brother. He’s only 14. Never get carded.

8:30 pm Sing songs. Sing with the fam. Sing in the pub. Sing with people you’ve never met and will almost never see again. Sing Lean On Me like you were Bill Withers. Realize who that is in 7 years. Admire this moment.

9:00 pm Go out with “the kids.” None of whom are younger then you.

10:00 pm Get drunk for the first time.

11:00 pm Then really drunk. You’ve rarely paid for a round the whole trip. Buy a round. And another.

1:00 am Become a wallflower. Hear “I’ve Never Known A Girl Like You Before.” And never know any of the girls partying in front of you. Drunk girls with accents. Have future you slap 17 year old you in the mouth.

3:55 am Black out for the first time.

4:00 am There was a cab. Those fancy black ones.

4:15 am And more chips and curry.

5:00 am Land in bed.

5:30 am Speak Spanish fluently.