please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Friday, August 26, 2005

Beeswax (as in 'none of your')

Hm. Mysteries and secrets. My most oft-given piece of advice is: "Don't want people to find out your secrets? Don't have secrets." Nonetheless, we all accumulate them. Not everything is for public consumption. I've been A Sneak on a few occasions in my life, doing a bit of domestic spying to make sure that all is well. I used to be obsessive about it, but lately it's more like something to pass the time with, and very little at that. I learn what I need to learn and no longer ruin my stomach about it.
One of the great lessons of low-level espionage is that if you obtain information by inethical means, you need to either never use it or be very careful about how you use it. Another reason why secrets are poison, and are weapons against the possessor.
I have a few things on my mind today, and don't really know if I feel like discussing them in semi-public, if you couldn't already tell. When I pile up a few too many secrets, I usually just divulge them, for good or bad, and am done with them. Here? Well, it's easier to divert attention.
I haven't forgotten the tenets of psychic warfare that I learned from others and trained myself in, once upon a time. It's just that these days, I'm trying to use those skills for good deeds. Dunno though: everyone's got needs. If'n I'm trying to impress someone but not look like I'm trying to impress them while being myself but not so much that I'm scaring them away while signifying that there's a great deal that I know and have done but see it at the same time as no more meaningful than the things that everybody else has seen, done or known...And showing interest above all else, but not being a creep about it, that calls for pretty much every floor in the department to be working pretty hard. Honesty is the best secrecy. And the habitually honest are the best liars too, since no one ever suspects them. Their word is their bond, and so it is ultimately up to them to decide whether or not to abuse that trust, possibly for personal gain, or to attempt to make things a little better for everybody, but on the sly and perhaps in ways that would seem highly inethical, were anybody watching. For some reason, I don't have any problem keeping anyone else's secrets. Or, I know who needs to know and who doesn't.
Maybe I'm saying all this for a reason, and maybe I'm just fictionalizing. Who can say? Maybe I'm just engaging in that left over boyhood I-wish-I-was-a-secret-agent shit.
Like most American little boys, I was obsessed with war, but I never wanted to be a soldier (I noticed the 'die-er' part at the end, for starters). My granny was a wise woman, and when we were watching a movie one time, they were giving us the usual tour of what hell boot camp actually is, and she didn't say-"See? That's what'll happen to you if you join the armed forces." She said, simply, "Don't you want to be a Marine?"
Nope, I decided. Especially after I saw the concentration camp footage that they make you watch in this part of the country, circa seventh grade or so. My romanticization of war was offically done at that point. I decided that since soldier was out, athlete seemed unrealistic as did cowboy, I wanted to be a rock star/detective/secret agent/assassin.
I suppose that some little boys dream of being president too, but I never had that one, either. I'm actually one of the least secretive people I know, for the abovementioned reasons, but it does make one feel special to be in possession of a unknown fact. In the intervening years I just noticed how hard it is for people to communicate at all anyway, and decided that secrets are poison, and the ego is a weapon.
Hm. This was going to be a post about the records I bought today. Heatmiser, Delta 72 and Blue Oyster Cult. Now, I'm not so sure I'm into it.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Everything Is Just Fine

I forgot to mention in my previous posts of rich, thick, chocolaty information about myself that I have twice been mistaken for a lesbian, in my lifetime.
Once, when I still had hair down to my ass, I was kissing my girlfriend, who had long red hair down to hers. We were waiting for a bus, and the street around us seemed to erupt with the passion of Those Who Never Should Have Left Their Mommies. From the loudest to the meekest, each felt the need to share their little comments. Upon being approached by a group of teenagers, I finally removed my face from hers and skritched the hair on my chin. The chief idiot among them said, "Oh, it's a dude!", and that somehow made it okay.
But it wasn't. I wanted to follow his ass home and make a thorough report on all the things that might, perhaps, embarrass him, and go to his school the next day and ruin him. Then I'd really get nasty. Oh, except that as a good leftist, I'm supposed to be bigger than that; more mature. We must never let ourselves sink to the level of those cavemen on the other side, right?
Right? It happened again, in even less believable circumstances, two years later. By this time, I was sporting considerably shorter hair, and just happened to be walking with my then girlfriend, who also, fashion being what it was, also had short hair. A bunch of fine, upstanding young men drove by and informed us that we were dykes.
Well, no kiddin' huh? I mean, here we were, and walking down the street and everything in the town we lived in, and how dare we...Wait a minute. They were the variety of shithead who deserved a stomp on the neck, then I'd really get nasty.
And did I ever tell you about the 'gyppo' clause? Whenever there would be an environmental debate that would get nasty (here in the Northwest of the early '90's, mind you, when it became clear that we couldn't just keep cutting all the damn trees, or everybody would be out of a job), the girl I was dating at that time would be called upon to deliver her little stock speech: "Well, it isn't the big companies that's the problem. It's these little gyppo, fly-by-night outfits that come in, wreck everything and move on that're..."
And by that time, the entire room would be one in its sound condemnation of these words that they knew that they clearly couldn't be on the side of like 'gyppo' and 'fly-by-night'. Oh, are you siding with the gyppoes? Even though there are autobiographies published each and every day by people who grew up in such families, and are proud of being such, the last bastion of small business in the resource extraction game? Yes, yes, these 'gyppoes' (so reminiscent of 'gypsy') clearly needed to go. Oh-the environment? Which sustains us all and makes us so much more of a tourist attraction than say-Kansas? Yes, um, yes that should be preserved, and...
On these occasions, I saw why so many people think that we as humans are descended from lower beings. We just go "Ook ook!" when we think we hear what we need to hear, even though we aren't listening to what's being said. I saw a pretty good editorial cartoon the other day: a sign in front of a church that read, "In the interest of Fairness, it should be pointed out that what is preached in this church is only a Theory held by some."
Brilliant. I'd go farther: if we decide to start teaching the tenet that this god thing created the universe, and teach it right alongside evolution, then we need to teach astrology for every astronomy course, tarot reading for every piece of forward-thinking observation on politics, and chicken gut reading for each "weather" report. S'only fair.
I mean, since evolution actually is a theory, and not a belief, that means that one can study it , examine it, prove it wrong or right, perhaps one day. In the case of creationism, it's just Belief, and that's that. Teachers aren't there to tell us what to believe, last time I checked. For any right-wingers who wish to chime in at this point and tell me that 'political correctness' has overtaken the teaching profession, let me say: no, they've been trying to provide an alternate narrative to the not-exactly-truths of a couple centuries, in the meekest of ways, and it's no surprise that everybody (even the 'politically correct', if I may) still just wants to find the gyppo to blame.
I have been told here by the Standards and Practices boys (and girls! Whoops!) here at Bachelor central that the good, believing folk would like it to be called Intelligent Design, not "creationsism", which would sort of make them sound silly, or something. That would open the door to say, someone like me coming in to the situation of this, a Nation of Laws, Not Men (and Women! Whoops!) and saying, 'well sir, i believe that it was the enchanted pancake that hangs in the sky that all good people know is there and cannot lie as all of us good people who think like myself of course know because it's the truth sir, and how can you possibly teach that there is any possible way to give an earthly explanation for the growth of the dominant race of simians on this planet, sir? My Enchanted Pancake theory needs to be taught, too!'
But 'Intelligent Design', oh, that sounds pretty reasonable. Who's against intelligence? Who's for the gyppoes?
I leave you now with a little tale of participatory democracy. I once ran for student body president, and won, even though the electorate knew damn well that I'd be moving to this side of the mountains, and would no longer be there to rule. They voted for me because they liked the "This Is Bullshit" platform I had run on, being a distinguished representative of home room (whatever that was).
Since I won, despite the pleading of those who really ran the show, but nonetheless had moved to a different part of the state, the person who ended up being inaugurated was one of the savviest politicians I've ever seen: Wendy Redwine.
She always had this empty smile on her face, making one feel entirely at home with her, like she really cared what you had to say. She was also wise enough to note that I had seized the Middle on this one. Everybody knew that the student body president was a powerless figurehead, entirely beholden to the Administration. That doesn't mean that Wendy didn't crave the not-exactly-power conferred by her office.
In her speeches, she would make clever word play: "I DON'T WANT TO BE A BUTTERFINGERS OR ANYTHING..." and then she'd throw out a Butterfingers brand candy bar, which the electorate would almost rip each other in half to take posession of. "AND I KNOW THAT IT'S GONNA BE A ROCKY ROAD...", and she'd toss out a Rocky Road, you get the picture. Her other challengers learned this trick sort of: after a lack-luster speech by their candidate, the handlers would then drag a bag of candy on stage, and toss it indiscriminately to the crowd.
I can almost envision the heated political debates that followed: "Well, Wendy just seemed to believe it so much more when she was hucking candy at me..."
"Yeah, but Tana threw so much more of it..."
"I'm still for the 'this is bullshit' ticket..."
Ah. People barely deserve to be called people, and the most brilliant politician I've ever seen in my life was Ernest Green, of Pendleton, Oregon. He ran for President of the United States in 1980. Unlike his challengers, Mr. Green, formerly of the state mental hospital, promised each and every one of us (in his radio ads, and broadsides sent to the local paper) a million dollars.
Isn't that so much better than patent lies like, "I feel your pain," or "It's morning in America", or abstractions like "A chicken in every pot", or "A return to normalcy"?
Or-"We're bringing Democracy to the world." Oh what, you're against democracy? No one who uses that word would ever lie. What are you, a gyppo? Are you not gonna give me a million dollars?
And candy?

This is bullshit.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Sam Hill

My housemate has a friend in town from Minnesota. I took them out to breakfast this morning at a restaurant where I sometimes pick up shifts. Somewhere in there, I started talking about the fact that Stonehenge is only two hours from Portland.
Both of them are from Minnesota (although he's really upstate-New-York-by-way-of-Minneapolis/Fargo/Moorehead), and I went into my usual tour guide mode: oh yes. There's not only a Stonehenge replica, but it's right down the road from the Castle which the latter day Druid built for his wife, who had no desire whatsoever to live in central Washington, despite the fact that the opening of the damn thing, in 1920-something included royalty from all over (including the crown princess of Romania, for some reason), and he also wanted to start an agricultural community nearby, neglecting to note that the ground thereabouts is dry and stony as anything can be (short of dry stones), and the only thing that'll grow there is wine grapes, as the rest of us figured out, sixty years later. The man in all these cases? His name was Sam Hill.
Yes, as in "What the Sam Hill?", railroad magnate of the 1800's. A very rich man, he had some very big ideas. I've already spoken of them, above. My housemate, The Demon Sa'kul, averred that maybe the saying came about because of the man's penchant for strange notions.
I first showed them the majesty of the Columbia Gorge, from Crown Point to Multnomah Falls. I then ran them out to The Dalles, told them the story of the inundation of the tribal fishing grounds by the dam-crazy Senators of Oregon and Washington. These days, you only hear stories of how we needed to provide jobs (which it did) to the people, and harness the river's hydroelectric power. To hear my grampa tell it, it had a lot more to do with the desire of the business leaders of the day wishing for slackwater navigation (so one could conceivably take a tanker from the Pacific Ocean to Idaho), and the ability to channel water for the many aluminum producers of Washington state.
Was it nice to have cheap power for so long? Of course. Did the Republicans ever stop charging that Public Power was no better than communism? Of course not. Did they eventually ruin the whole thing by selling it to Enron? You know they did!
It's not impossible that they started out thinking of the river as the promised land due to the influence of thinkers like Sam Hill. They were just more realistic about it.
So the castle bears the name of his wife, Mary, to this day, but it's an art museum now. It features one of the largest collections of Rodin's sculptures in the world, and a painting of the last Czar of Russia, with slashes from various swords, when someone stormed some palace somewhere, during the Revolution. The grounds are patrolled by a squad of peacocks, including a white one that we saw today. It's weird enough to see a castle in the middle of the utter desolation of the Horse Heaven hills, but almost too damn much to also share the view with peacocks. There was some sort of Klickitat County art show there today, on the lawn. A man told me how to make branch water. Branch water, it turns out, tastes like gin without the alcohol burn.
So then to Stonehenge. After touring the battlefields of Europe, post WWI, Sam Hill said words to the effect of: At Stonehenge, they sacrificed human beings to the glory of (whatever god, which may or may not be true, by the way), and these days, we turn the whole of Europe (and Asia Minor, remember) into the altar of slaughter. How better to commemorate this fact than by?...
Going back to Washington, and building an imaginative interpretation of Stonehenge, with the names of all thirteen of the soldiers from Klickitat County represented on plaques, overlooking the altar. I was recently reminded of the theory held by some that all wars are in fact mass human sacrifices, conducted to give power to those who truly rule the world. (Exactly who that is varies. It could be The International Bankers, or The Nine Unknown Men, or The Jews, or The Aliens. As Charles Fort said, "The world is somebody else's farm.") They who say this aren't speaking metaphorically: they really mean that someone is trying to propitiate the Gods (usually the Elder Gods of Sumerian mythology, or the Forgotten Ones) by offering up flesh and blood. Some have said that The Holocaust was Hitler and the Thule Society's attempt to please the old Norse gods, so as to grant them unlimited power. When the hippies and Yippies surrounded the Pentagon in 1965, what'd they chant? "Out, demon, out!"
A hot wind was blowing down on us, as Sa'kul's friend was looking at the born-on died-on dates. "Twenty-one? Nineteen? It's always young men who fight wars!", she said. She wasn't making any sort of political point, either; I don't think it had occurred to her before.
There is a plaque on the altar, of all places, that seems to stand at odds with what Sam really meant. It is a bunch of the usual twaddle about liberty only being defended by regular doses of blood from patriots who...Wait a minute. That sort of sounds like a hungry Blind, Idiot God's demands: "BLOOD! BLOOD!". Well, in any case, the plaque was clearly from some time after the '20's, and for all I know, they may seek to blot out any seeming anti-war sentiments from the long-dead builders of things, who now find their legacies serving the ongoing sacrifice, bitterly. Someone had left a little American flag there on the altar, weighed down with stones against the wind.
And had liberty indeed been defended? Well, even the not-rich and well connected were already busy calling that war a mere dying spasm for Europe's monarchies, and an opportunity for our munitions industry here to try out new ordnance. Was Germany (and Turkey) ever a threat to us? Not in any way that anyone ever bothered to elucidate. So-the blood that consecrated the ultimate sacrifice went to?
We crossed the river at Wishram, went over to Oregon again. At Biggs, we got gas. Right after that, we got back into the car and put on a Johnny Cash tape. "Flesh and Blood/Flesh and Blood/Flesh and Blood needs Flesh and Blood."
I put on my best Johnny voice and said, "This is a song I wrote after renouncing vegetarianism." I do a mean Johnny. My favorite is to do the sequence from "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", from Spire Christian Comics, sometime early 1970's: "Lost in the Indian Caves In Tennesee...Lost my camplight...Three days underground...Promised Jesus I'd quit th' piiiillls if I could just get out of the caves..."
I'd love to know what really happened. He claimed to be the equivalent of dead for three days, like Someone Else I Know.
Flesh and blood needing...You know, I wanted to ask some other people I talk to these days about whether or not they think that maybe if there is a God, whether or not it might be an alien. I haven't, because I know that they would think I was merely being catty, and trying to get their goat. (Any other animal metaphors we can drag out here?) But I really mean it: so many religious conversion stories from the ages before the printing press concern someone quite literally coming out of the sky and telling them things they didn't already know. From Ezekiel's Wheel to the Ship Rock indians of New Mexico. Or how the Dogon in Africa knew exactly where Sirius was in the sky, even though they would have needed telescopes (which they didn't have) to see it.
So if there is a God, and if there are intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe, is it not possible that these are the same people? And if that is indeed true, is it indeed possible that we are someone else's farm?
Just down from Stonehenge, there is a monument to Sam Hill. It reads, "Amid nature's great unrest, he sought rest." Clumsy, but apt. I do it too: the Gorge reminds me that there are patterns amidst the chaos (and chaos in the patterns), and Gratuitous Acts that nature sometimes seems to undertake. There is a great cycle at work here, and only fools seek to circumvent it.


Friday, August 19, 2005


He's back. My spirit guide. Like I say, I ridicule people who believe in shit like this, but you know only what you know when you know it, and...
My spirit guide is a large black man who appears in my dreams. My first encounter with him happened eleven years ago, during a time period that was particularly bad for me. I was awakened from near sleep by a vision of him, wearing aviator sunglasses and a fatigue jacket, leaning in a car window, talking to me: "Now, evah-thing's gonna be all right..." I woke up laughing.
About four years later, I had a dream in which I was a member of a temple that was stealing from the temple. I was sitting in the chapel, eating pretzels with mustard and drinking a beer. In church. Other black men in suits kept approaching me (I suspect that in the context of the dream, I may have been black, too. I didn't look in any mirrors) and saying that what I was doing looked pretty good, and, "I gotta try some 'a that!"
They didn't reproach me at all for getting drunk in church, and I was confused about this. In my revery, I felt a large hand descend on my shoulder. It was the guy from the car window again, this time attired in a white shirt and blue-and-gold turban.
"How y' doin'?" he asked.
"I'm just so confused," I said.
"I know you feel like yer not doin' right," he said, "But just keep on doin' what yer doin'. You doin' jus' fine. Just...Come and see me, sometime."
When I awoke, I knew what this was. One friend suggested to me that it was God. Since I don't believe in That, I wondered what it might really mean. Certainly, it meant that I viewed the part of me wherefrom all the good stuff emitted was being neglected. In this case, for reasons I may later be okay talking about, 'God' was wrong. I had not been doin' just fine, and should have stopped...Except that maybe I needed to get fired from that place, to break up an obvious blockage in my life...Hard to say.
The other night, I was experiencing a dream (I never dream lucidly. It's always really happening, in my perception, no matter how strange) in which I was some sort of security officer at a small college somewhere. There was a developmentally disabled janitor who had mistakenly made off with an extension cord that one of my supervisors had needed. She took what I felt to be too much pleasure in chastising him. He said, almost on the verge of tears, "I thought it was mine..."
I still felt like nothing had really gone down there that needed my comment. I could have said something, but that would have led to another two hours of conversation with my clearly irrational and mean-spirited supervisor, not making things any better for the janitor, and probably losing me my job. And if I didn't have my job, how could I stick around and keep an eye on her mendacious ass, no doubt soon to make a far bigger mistake, which I could then burn her ass but good on? I owed it to the powerless to make sure that this control freak had someone to keep her in check.
Not long after this, I'm getting lunch (still in the dream) somewhere nearby. The guy at the checkout is this large black man in drag. I recognize him. "Hey Jairus! Nice hot pants!" I say.
Yup. He's wearing these sparkly short shorts that strongly resemble the 13-year-old-girl pants I purchased last summer (and only wear when I am feeling sassy).
"How you doin' these days, Rich?"
Immediately I start babbling. "Can't stand people. Don't wanna touch 'em. Don't feel like bein' with 'em. All that chatter." I make the 'chatter' motion with my hand. "Don't like most've 'em. Even the people I love."
He smiled and nodded, but offered no advice that I can recall. He was too busy, these days, ringin' up groceries.
God's too busy accepting new dead. He also has acquired a name.
I now recognize that this person has appeared in as many as four dreams of mine, lately. I don't remember any of the rest: this one happened during one of my nights of weird sleep in which I pass out, initially, then awaken circa sunrise, putter around a bit, or read, then fall back asleep for three hours or so. He's back. He's there. Jairus. Funny thing: I could use a bit of advice, and absolutely no one else in my life is qualified to give it.


Monday, August 15, 2005

The songs that saved your Life

The last few years have been rough, to put it lightly. The decline of indicator species on the planet has mirrored the decline of indicatory good things in my life, and the world stage itself seems to be entirely run by nutjobs hardly unparalelled in history, but unique as far as my lifetime goes.
What we need is a song. There is a song written by one Steven Morrisey, of the band The Smiths, circa 1988 or so, that is entirely comprised of a monologue about the primary role songs play in our lives: "But don't forget the songs that made you cry/and the ones that saved your life/yes you're older now/and you're a clever swine/but they were the only ones that ever stood by you."
Quite so. I once attempted to make a list of the songs that saved my life, but I'm not going to keep on with the list-mania that has sort of ruled my posts of late.
I was just listening to Nick Cave's "The Lyre of Orpheus" album a little bit ago, while doing the dishes. Good old Orpheus is all too familiar to we who have spent too much of their lives reading mythology, and artists all over western civ. are fond of invoking his name when they are in the mood to maunder about being An Artist. Something big must have happened to old Nick in the last few years; either he fell in love, or he found God, or both. Most of the songs on that album (and its sister album, "Abbatoir Blues") are addressed to either the love of his life, or God, the way many of the best love songs are: you can't tell.
There's one on there where he says: "Everything is collapsing babe/all moral sense has gone/it's just history repeating itself/and babe, you turn me on." I love what he's doing there: apocalypse! Apocalypse! But it's always been this way, and-heeeyyy...
At this moment, I'm listening to "You Forgot It In People", by Broken Social Scene. The song playing right now is 'Looks Just Like The Sun', which is an imperfect piece, left with its guts and struts showing: you can hear a door close in the background at one point, and someone is saying, "Keep going. On one...two..." You get to see inside their heads as they make this statement about how there is the beauty, and it is sometimes a lie, but sometimes the lie is all that keeps us going. It is the prerogative of fools and children to point out that the emperor ain't currently wearing anything: the rest of us came to that conclusion a long time ago.
As I've said too many times: the one thing I can think of that all religions (and all those who are not religious) have in common is the notion that this world we inhabit is incurably fucked and evil. Nonetheless, that isn't a reason not to try, as I think most of the above-mentioned ultimately decide. And don't forget: people are flawed vessels, yes, but they're capable of things that are pure magic, and are holy, in the highest sense. The title "You Forgot It In People" is a warning, and a reminder. Don't forget.
The song that springs to mind right now (and there's way too many of them, but...) is "These Days", by R.E.M. It was released back in the early '80's, when the activist consciousness was reawakening, after slumbering for much of the '70's. We looked around, noticed that there were still many battles to be fought: demons only sleep.
I nearly suggested to Howard Dean last summer that he needed to adopt this song as his anthem (much as Bill Clinton adopted "Don't Stop (Dreaming About Tomorrow)" by Fleetwood Mac, a shrewd choice by a shrewd man). This was when a large number of us realized that the Clinton legacy was all lies and smoke, and the last thing we needed was another Democrat who claimed he was a centrist, then turned around and did everything the Republicans had been wanting to do for twelve years (welfare 'reform', the 'Defense of Marriage' act, NAFTA, the mishandling of a national health plan, etc.). We knew that Al Gore was a hideously bad choice, and Kerry couldn't get elected dogcatcher in a county entirely populated by cats, and anyway...
Well, the chorus goes like this:
"By accepting nature's burden (I think that's what it says), we are young despite the years. We are concerned. We are young, despite the times."
Funny thing is, "nature's burden" to one side, like all great art, it says the same thing to all people, regardless of ideology. If you knock out the part about nature and put in 'God', you've got something evangelicals everywhere could sing. It appeals to liberals too, in that it suggests the eternal youth at least espoused by the remains of the '60's movement.
Ahh, but old Howard got done in by the Democratic Leadership Council, and the media. I dunno. Maybe I'll get my way and Bill Richardson will run, and I'll tell him to use the song.
Oh hey-the best epitaph for Peter Jennings that I've seen yet is this one, tacked on to the end of 'The Daily Show' the other evening: Jon Stewart and Peter Jennings are seated side by side, both reading Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation.
Jennings says, "I mean, it's impolite to laugh, but..."
Stewart says, "It's like it was written by a little kid!"
I laughed out loud; something I rarely do.


Saturday, August 13, 2005


I never quite got around to doing a list like the one that appeared on Mark Maness's blog, a ways back: a set of simple, declamatory statements about myself in 'I' form ("I believe", "I am", "I once ingested", etc.). So, as Strongbad might say, let's get this trainwreck a-rollin'.
I am a fourth-generation Oregonian.
I often darkly suspect that I will die strangely (i.e. kicked to death, eaten by dogs, etc.).
I always chuckle when someone uses the word "twee".
I once ate a quarter pound of pancetta, not realizing that it isn't salami, but Italian bacon, and really should be cooked first.
I know that within the chest of every bully, there beats the heart of a true coward. This is why I enjoy provoking them.
I have met every governor of Oregon, except for Ted Kulongoski.
I am a deadeye with a rifle.
I consider myself a servant of the principle of balance.
I enjoy making up fake commercials.
I once shook the hand of Dick Van Dyke.
I maintain that we are not what we think we are, nor are we what other people think we are (So what are we really?).
I once asked what I mistakenly took to be an interstellar entity for a vision of the end of the universe. I received it. More on that some other time.
I suspect that all human endeavor, on some larger level, fails, and that even though things sometimes work temporarily, ultimately nothing works.
I have heard the rhythm that guides the universe.
I do not currently own a car.
I am currently licensed to sell alcohol in the state of Oregon.
I am writing three novels right now.
I think that our current form of government is irredeemibly broken, and have no idea how to fix it, not that anyone's asked me.
I was raised in a town that labored under a double curse.
I am, at this moment, listening to this idiot howling under my window.
I am also typing and sitting in a chair, at this moment, to be all Gestalt "Now" therapy about it.
I am not currently dating anyone, which is probably not such a bad thing.
I have no idea what Mark Maness was talking about when he said he had a "concrete sequential personality".
I was born in a hospital that is now an old-folks home, in which my great aunt, Impi, died.
I am Scottish on Dad's side and Finnish on Mom's side.
I came within one round of being on Teen Jeopardy.
I am a two-time state spelling champ.
I kicked in a plate glass window and punched a hole in a wall the last time I quit smoking.
I saw my first dead body at age thirteen.
I am currently sharing an apartment with someone ten years my junior who does not drink, smoke or do drugs. He is addicted to having sex with everything that moves though, and I gotta respect that.
I play the drums.
I have a deep fondness for the color blue.
I lied when I said "two time state spelling champ": the second time I took second place.
I keep on attempting to spell 'second' as 'secong'.
I have a daughter who is fourteen, and a son who is sixteen, neither of which is currently living with me.
I can sometimes just stare at the sky for hours.
I once was the only straight writer for a queer newspaper.
I am on good terms with most of my ex-girlfriends, but there are a couple who, if they ever cross my path again, are gonna end up in a fuckin' pine box.
I refer to what I just said above as violating the Perry Mason rule: never even joke about killing people in public, in case they do, in fact, end up getting murdered.
I love watching Perry Mason.
I can always tell a person whose knowledge of the law was garnered entirely from watching television.
I am a hypochondriac who nonetheless engages in all manner of high-risk behaviors.
I am listening to King Crimson's "Lark Tongues in Aspic" right now. S'fuckin' brilliant.
I have met a lot of queers who are not gay, and a lot of heteros who are not straight.
I have only left the United States twice, and the continent once. Vancouver B.C and Bermuda.
I once responded to the question, "Have you ever killed anyone?", put to me by an ex-girlfriend, by looking at her darkly for a full beat before saying, "No," veeerrry quietly.
I have never killed anyone.
I may have saved a few lives, though.
I once ended a friendship after a guy threw rocks at me.
I have been able to see concerts by most of my favorite bands, as a consequence of working in rock n' roll.
I only have three teeth that are not false.
I enjoy playing pool, dominoes and the game of Risk.
I despise video games.
I try to not say things like 'I am (this)', preferring to say, "I currently believe", or something.
I am an accomplished chef, who has no desire to cook for a living.
I live over a queer coffee shop that recently was given a rating by a local weekly of not-quite-gay-enough.
I have a widely-noted fondness for rusty sharp things: I think they're pretty.
I am getting really goddamn warm sitting in this room, and call an end to this experiment.


Friday, August 12, 2005

On the Table

I was in my friend Darlin's house a few summers ago. Up on the corkboard on the wall, surrounded by other pictures of family, there's this one of this girl who is wearing a purple velvet dress and making kissy face at the camera. "Uh, who's this?", I said.
"Oh, that's my sister," Darlin' said. "She drank so much that year." Then she shook her head in a way that made her seem like a proud mother.
Oh, and I know what she means. There's just those years where your consumption runs horribly/wonderfully out of control. This last year of emotional convalescence has been that one for me. At the end of last summer, I felt a little better about myself, so I decided to keep on with my behavior patterns as they were. Naturally, this eventually led to me no longer feeling good, but then still continuing with the thing that does not work, since...Well, it worked in the past.
When I'm not feeding my raging addiction to alcohol, tobacco and food, I'm indulging my addiction to recorded music. I went to an estate sale the other day, and picked up a few records: Webb Pierce, Donovan, Henri Rene and Elton John. The Elton Disc has the song "Social Disease" on it, in which he describes his drunk self as a destuctive force of nature.
"And the days get longer and longer
And the nighttime is of little use
For I just get ugly and older..."
It's right up there with David Sedaris's story, 'Barrel Fever'. It's not some tale of someone so completely out of control that they can't make it in this world, but someone who is just smart enough not to make an ass out of themselves in public, and nonetheless is doing themselves in. Hm. What'd he have to say about that again?
"Drunk? I had, you know, some drinks but I wasn't slobbering or anything. I wasn't singing or asking in a weary voice if I will ever find love. I probably couldn't have passed a Breathalyzer test, but what does that matter if you're sitting in your own home?"
And there's the rub. I'm a person who can kill entire evenings sitting here in Bachelor Pad One, reading and listening to music, which sounds pretty healthy, but it should be noted that I'm getting stewed the entire time. It's not a death wish as such, but there's a certain amount of that pseudo-Buddhist obliviation of the ego spun horribly out of control, leading ultimately to the negation of the self.
The other night, the Gringa Alta was over here, and we got all spun up in some linguistic debate that I really don't think should have turned into the full blown argument that it became. As she left, she said, "There's been too many times when I've been sober over here, and you've been wasted, and it's just sad because sometimes you can use logic."
I wanted to say, "Well, maybe I can reason circles around you like this because one of me drunk is worth two of you sober." But I didn't, because for starters it's not true, and also because it would only be said for purposes of hurt, not clearing up a damn thing.
I live in a milieu of people who can get drinks with lunch, and the baby step I've been trying to take lately involves not turning the one or two drinks with lunch into six. This has had mixed results. Whenever The Tulsa Kid and Baby Bulldog and I get together, we sit there and talk about our lives, and it's stuff that we don't share, outside the Table, and is lubricated by his inevitable Spanish coffees, her inevitable glasses of red wine, and my inevitable Maker's rocks. Good things are being done there, so how could anyone question drunkenness on our parts?
Mitigating factors: I am now sharing this space I live in with a kid fresh off the boat from upstate New York who doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs. Nevertheless, he parties harder than any of us. His drug is sex, and I envy him for it. I just told him tonight that, while I enjoy dancing and staying out all night, I didn't feel like going downtown, or like being in a dance club. I know my damn limits. The other mitigating factor is that I'm shovelling my ass back into school in the fall. I've been threatening for years to become a 911 dispatcher, and this year, I'm making good on the threat.
I have a soothing voice, a calming presence, the ability to stay calm in stressful situations, and above all else, the knowledge of when I can help, and when I can't. I won't be able to do this bon vivant thing anymore, at that point. I've always been into consciousness alteration, and always will be. I will do this, but to a much abbreviated degree. Mind you, yoga gets me higher than a motherfucker, too, and maybe that will be my drug.
But you just gotta give it up for how good an evening on the high seas can be. Bobby Massage, the Iranian Goddess and (well, Mike and James: no pseudonyms for them, as yet) I rode out to a cliff in the middle of the Gorge the other night to watch the Perseid meteor showers. It was wonderful in that all we were doing was drinking in the back of a pickup, watching the celestial fireworks and laughing hysterically, but little things like that save lives. I rarely laugh out loud, because most things and most people don't really do it for me, humor wise. I'm also a person who is quick to notice the humorous aspect of any situation, paradoxically. Well, anyway, the Iranian Goddess is the funniest person I know, hands down, and I was keeping up with her pretty well the other night. Someone suggested that we need to start a comedy duo.
Yesss...But it's going to be a heavy metal band, called 'Deathhander'.
Every summer, I make a summer fun mix. Here's the track listing so far:
"Sympathique"-Pink Martini ("I am not proud of this life that wants to kill me...", but in French.)
"Stars and Sons"-Broken Social Scene
"Clocks"-The Casual Dots
"Love Vigilantes"-New Order
"Forever Now"-The Psychedelic Furs
"Union City Blue"-Blondie
"Combination of the Two"-Big Brother and the Holding Company
"Shake Appeal"-The Stooges
"Wonder Drug"-A.C. Newman
"Get It On"-The Woodentops
"Look What the Wind Blew In"-Thin Lizzy
"Touch and Go"-Magazine
"Funky Dollar Bill"-Funkadelic (from the fantastic album, 'Free Your Mind, and Your Ass will Follow'; a revolutionary document)
"Why Can't You Be Nicer To Me?"-the White Stripes
"Inside Looking Out"-The Animals
"There but for the Grace of God go I"-The Gories
"Celebration Day"-Led Zeppelin
"Angel From the Coast"-Thin Lizzy
"Mood to Burn Bridges"-Neko Case ("So if you have moral advice, suggest you just tuck it all away...")
"Say What You Will"-Fastway
"I Love You, You Dummy"-Magazine (a song dealing with my thoughts about the Gringa, it may be dropped from the list, and replaced with Thin Lizzy's "Honesty Is No Excuse")
"KC Accidental"-Broken Social Scene
"Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day"-Sir Walter Raleigh (a Northwest garage band of the early '60's)
"Never Say Die"-Black Sabbath
and (provisionally), "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" by Traffic, which may or may not stay, since I think it is a very stupid song, but I like the music. Its thesis is basically from the point of view of a hippie who is telling his girlfriend that he feels that she is a slut, is crazy, and basically needs to shut up and take a bonghit. Like I said, I like the music.
And yes, "Social Disease" maybe will get a place on the playlist here. I don't know. I know that there is such thing as jinxing one's-self.
The last song probably needs to be the White Stripes' "Your Southern Can Is Mine":
"Baby don't be bringin' no jive to me, your southern can is mine
(I'm sayin') Your southern can belongs to me"
I can think of a few people that that one applies to. I have a fairly extensive list, in fact, of southerners who'd better watch their ass next time they see me.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Please Stop Googling Me, Rich Bachelor!

I just Googled myself again. This is very Simpsonian behavior, and really should be stopped. (And by Simpsonian, I mean Homer, not O.J. Just imagine what he'd find out about public perception of himself if he did, though.)
(Yeah, but he's gotta know, right? If he's watched television or read the papers at all since 1994? The guy has mostly seemed to me like someone who lives in some weird Jacksonian world of his own construction, maintained by flunkies.)
(And by Jacksonian, I mean Michael, not Andrew.)
If you Google "Please Stop Tickling Me", anyway, it will quickly take you to the posting of mine from several months back, in which I explain the origin of the blogname. Much like Googling "Rich Bachelor", which will get you hits about the cultural cliche of the wealthy unnattached man, and at least one story about a guy whose name actually seems to be Richard Bachelor.
I ran into M.L. yesterday. It had been months since I'd talked to her, and ultimately forgot to mention that a joke of hers has expanded into a weird byway on this here cultural circuit: She used to receive a lot of calls, wrong number each time, from some entity whose name, according to caller ID, was "Rich Bachelor". Since "Big Man On Campus" was a mouthful, and "Ro-ger, that wavy-haired bastard" was too obscure, I randomly chose M.L.'s phantom caller as my screenname (sp?), one hungover Super Bowl Sunday in 2005.
Early attempts on my part to get noticed in this freakishly incestuous world on here were without fruit. I wrote an obituary for Hunter S. Thompson, and attempted to get, say, Wonkette to notice it. As I've said though, my lack of tech savvy is a thing of song and story.
Then Bitchslap, administrator's administrator (actually, his job title is "associate associate"), decided to Google-bomb me. He went to web forums all over the world, where people like him and not people like me can go. He'd wander in there and start babbling about my blog, leaving a bunch of people in, say, Portugal to sit around shortly thereafter saying what certainly looks to me like "What the hell was that?" in Portuguese.
Nowadays, mention of my name on this search engine will net one a few mentions of the Erudite Redneck's blog, and mention of my blog comes in the form of me talking about my blog. Very meta-meta; blogging about blogging on a blog that I actually found by using Google.
The thing I haven't done yet, after threatening to do so a couple weeks ago, is Google 'Google'. I suspect though, that would cause me to become my own grandfather, or meet myself coming out of the store. One must be careful not to shred the veil between the worlds.
And of course, I imagine that this post will set me right at the top of the list in both categories. I wonder what Yahoo or Alta Vista has to say about me.


Monday, August 08, 2005

hello there ladies and gentlemen

Dear friends:
Due to my temendous lack of tech savvy, my last two posts appear below my third-most recent. This is because they were begun but not finished, and saved as drafts. Then I did that other one. In any case, I just can't do anything with this here damn box. Please enjoy "Farther Along" and "We Cannot Fancy". Or "History Is My Demon". Whatever.
Also, the HTML on here is all kinds of screwy, so when one tries to go to the archives for, say February (that's when the good stuff happens), one must simply scroll down: there's no listing of posts for that month.
I also saw one of our other friends on here who had a 'favorite posts' feature on her blog. I can't seem to get this, and I should, because my writing of late has bored the living hell out of me, and y'all should have some sort of incentive to check out the heart-wrenchingly good posts of, say, April (remember April? Awwww....).
Pointless Shakespeare Quote:
"Men in fire walk up and down these streets."