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, September 30, 2005

Like a Faucet

The Demon Sa'kul, as I've said, has sex as his only vice. My housemate is one of those fortunate men who, in the wise words of Master Tom Waits, 'gets more ass than a toilet seat'.
Thing is, he's also a child of the modern age, and (unlike grampa here) has more than one blog. He also tells everyone about them. This nice lady he brought back here the other night (she seemed nice-I turned around from the computer, said, 'nice t' meetcha', and went back to it) seemed to enjoy his company. I just got over the whole bloggin' thing, turned up the latest downloaded episode of "Deadwood" real loud, and gave them an hour and a half, or so.
By the time I was over that, and ready for bed, they were just laying around in there, giggling. I figured that I'd be able to sleep, as light a sleeper as I am. I was correct.
Now, Sa'Kul's problem is, he tends toward complete honesty in all things. He had both told this lady that he had a blog, and also had posted something in it that mentioned her by name.
Now, as you all know, I don't do that, and with good reason. I promised recently that I'd be relating the dtails of my on-line dating experiences, but I can't. I told a few too many of them about it, and there are those amongst them who I still have blogs that I read
(I'm looking at you here, DaffOdil).
So I told him that whereas I strive toward honesty in all things, there still remains the need to be quiet in some things, and let's not necessarily refer to our sex partners by their names, if they do not consent to be so named. She was pretty pissed, sounds like, despite the fact that she merited very few lines indeed in that posting (or was that why?).
So it is worth noting that I have been seeing this lady, of late. She bears an unfortunate resemblence physically to the mother of my children, but that's hardly her fault.
She's a bit less of a libertine than I am, or indeed, most of my friends. Nonetheless, she likes the fact that I am Blunt, and Honest. We're gonna refer to here as MacBeth, okay?
She spent her entire twenties (nineteen to twenty-nine) with the same guy. She has some sort of trust issues, which I understand, and some body-shame based issues (which I don't understand, as she is gorgeous) .
Truth is, I am in my usual conundrum: the sane-seeming lady, who might bore the socks off of me, and might find me to be a total liability, for which I could forgive her. I am. I drink too damn much, I am an under-employed stagehand largely living off of sales of stock from his family business, and she is one of those people who Mean Well who take on three jobs, almost entirely Non-Profit.
Like I said, I usually don't use their names. I also rarely tell them about this (or the other) blog I have, since it is still my diary, and either for people I entirely trust, or complete strangers, who I really don't care about.
She could be the real thing, but in my experience of the last year or so, I can tell you: the good ones look at me and say, "No fucking way...", and the crazy ones just stick around, endlessly.
I can't tell which one she is.
There is also this other one who I've been flirting with on line, of late. She recently moved here from Georgia, and might need the perspective of one who has lived here 95% of his life, and has the rural as well as urban perspective. She is the one that seems to be the one that lives like me, and might understand me. She might understand why I spend as much time as I do arguing online with a bunch of people on the other side of the country who I shall never meet, as I am deeply committed to speaking frankly to those Who Are Not As I Am. She might just understand that civilization continues due to the effort of those who step outside their Bubble.
And man what a bubble I live in, though that is a topic for another day.
MacBeth though, she intrigues me. She is what I think I should be trying to impress. Mind you, I can only be what I am, and anything else is lies. Lies are not a great basis for a long term relationship. She'd hate me, I think, if she knew me for what I really am.
Or not. Hard to say. She had a bad headache this morning. So I went downstairs to get her some coffee, and when I came back up, made it clear that she could lay there all day, if she felt like it, making my bed smell better. She had gutters on the house she owns to fix, as it happens, and I understand that one, too.
Then I got a call about a gig tomorrow. But I'm not gonna do that.
It's raining here. The Tulsa Kid's dad called him up today, and they were talking about his sister's wedding, next week (in Tulsa). Seems there's some shit about that, as all weddings have.

That's a longer story than I'm willing to tell here, even though it's a pretty funny story. The main point is that his dad lives in Oklahoma, and asked, "So what, do you get a hundred days of rain there, or what?"
He responded by saying, "Yeah, between October first and December thirty-first." There's a reason we're so green.
The real point is that last weekend, I drove out about two hours from here, where the green part of the state turns to the brown part, and I wanted to see the amber glow of late autumn, and shoot pool with the people I do not normally shoot pool with.
I didn't get to shoot pool with rednecks, but I did get to see the amber glow, before the endless gray cieling began. It was beautiful, and I shall always love it. I drove behind a cattle truck for about ten more minutes than I should have, because I wanted to smell the shit; the only smell more dear to me than printer's ink.
The rain is a truly spiritual thing here, you must understand. If it eases your tears down your face, you are blessed.
The lady and I are going to go out and experience the wonder that Woody Guthrie wrote of tomorrow. She says she's a small town girl at heart, and being a small town boy, I feel that one.
I used to be in a band called Rustic. We did a song called "She runs hot and cold, like a faucet".
It was an instrumental.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

An Indulgence

"I want you to know it was always about you. Not the magic or the demons or anything. You. Your power's just like magic, 'cause it doesn't exist unless enough people believe in it. In a way, that's what I've been fighting all these years. Just belief.
"All I ever wanted was for the world to be free of your kind, whether you were here in Parliament, or in senate or junta or hell or in heaven. Maybe that's pointless, then. Maybe the people are too small and scared to be free. Maybe they want you there, shitting all over them.
"But like a salesman who's only too eager to sew up his market and stitch up his customers, you're happy enough to exploit that.
"Aw, sod it. Sod you. For whatever it's worth, you were always the enemy. So you can listen to what I have to say.
"I'm not ashamed."
Those are the words of a cartoon character. Well, a 'graphic novel' character, if you wanna be that way about it. John Constantine (soooo badly portrayed by Keanu Reeves, in a recent movie) is a man who walks a tightrope between Heaven and Hell. Neither wants him, both hate him. He tries to do the right thing consistently, and often does, but often ends up getting his friends killed, and doubts the verity of his mission each and every day. He also knows that he can't rest.
Not gonna give you a full rundown. The comic's been running since '87, so there's too much there. In any case, in the above quote, he was standing on a bridge in London, looking at the Halls of Parliament, while he thought the above thoughts, and it sorta makes me misty. I hear him.
I had a nice chat, in between classes, with the only Gringa Alta that matters today. She's working her way into a job as a computer programmer, but the academic system wishes that she round herself out, knowledge-wise, so she's also taking this class called "Understanding Terrorism".
Or 'Perspectives on...', I don't remember. In any case, her faculty is a published author, and the kind of person the media calls on when they would like to trot out An Expert. He asked a funny question the other day: "Who was the first president of the United States to declare war on terrorism?"
I would have answered Johnson, had I been there, but I would be wrong. His quote was, "This isn't a war against a particular country, but against tyranny." Close, but not quite the same abstraction.
Teddy Roosevelt. That's the answer. Then the teacher asked, "How did Roosevelt become presiedent?"
I'm gonna brag here, she knew this because I told her. Th' lady answered that he had been McKinley's vice president, when Bill got shot.
"So someone in here has read their history!", he said. Then the discussion began about who the man was who had shot the president.
"They pointed out that he was an avowed anarchist?" I asked. "But that a lot of people even then wondered if maybe Roosevelt paid him?"
Not exactly, went the answer. But it was implied that there, as has happened so many times in American history, was an occurrance that caused Americans to say-Here Is The Threat; Anarchism, and start to do things they previously would not have chosen to do.
Not too long after, a battleship of ours blew up in Havana harbor. It's known now that it either was a sailor smoking around the powder magazines, or maybe something else, but at the time, it was seen as a reason to go to war against Spain, and take their territories. After which we made them our own, of course.
We then got talking about the interestingly large amount of supposed lone nuts who seem to be doing the assassinating in American history. We talked about Hinckley. Supposedly just wanted to assassinate Reagan to impress Jodie Foster, but it's not like he didn't have a history.
He used to work for World Vision, International, which is a missionary/paramilitary organization, with ties to the CIA. His family was close to the Bush family. The only person I could think of who would have actually wanted Reagan dead was George Bush, Sr., who had just had his ass handed to him in the run up to the '80 election. Still, strange choice, though.
And to take "Taxi Driver" as your cover story? Truly weird, but just weird enough that it makes the whole thing sound plausible. Crazy people do things like that.
Almost as crazy as using "The Catcher in the Rye" as your cover story. When Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon, he removed a thorn from the side of the FBI that had been there too damn long. He'd been viewed as a criminal by that organization since he became a citizen, and was widely suspected to be on the verge of leading a massive resistance movement against Reagan.
Chapman was another one not without a history. He too was with World Vision, but was still referred to as being a crazed lone nut. When the "Catcher in the Rye" thing came out later, both Time and Newsweek dutifully printed excerpts from that book, suggesting that certain passages might very well contain information that could cause one to kill.
Which is silly. That book is nothing more than basic teen angst. No-the entirely plausible though completely ridiculous alternative is that Chapman was some sort of "Manchurian Candidate", triggered by the book, after indoctrination. He just happened to let the game slip, in some small part, by mentioning the book connection in print.
He is also only one of a long list of assassins described by those attending as seeming to be in some sort of trance at the time of the murder.
I mean, whoever was running the show when they killed the Kennedy brothers were amateurs, at the time. They let the patsy show his face in public, and let a mafia bagman kill him on television. The bagman then told the Warren Commission that he wasn't safe in federal prison, and that he recanted his original reason for killing Oswald (to spare Jacquie the pain of a trial), and if they could get him out, he'd tell them the real reason.
No dice, they said. He died soon after from an awfully fast-acting cancer that he claimed to his dying day that he'd been injected with. Silly, and not impossible.
The two highest ranking congressional members on that commission had very different fates. One was Wade Boggs of Arkansas (the father of beloved pundit Cokie Roberts, by the way). After he made too much public noise about the FBI not allowing access to needed evidence, and engaging in "gestapo tactics" (almost every material witness in the case had died in suspicious circumstances, shortly thereafter), he boarded a plane for Alaska, and was never heard from, again. The young Arkansas boy who drove him to the airport (and packed his bag for him, depending on who you believe) was named William Jefferson Clinton.
The other congressional member who springs to mind was named Gerald Ford. He later became president, after what some say was an insider coup against the president, who did have a hell of a lot of dirty money behind him, no matter who you ask.
In that whole debacle, before they shut down an independent prosecutor who had already learned too much (and planes started strangely crashing), it became clear that the FBI and the CIA had basically been involved in a very long turf war. The sadsack who had replaced Hoover at the FBI had basically laid it out, and the CIA had a few too many employees on the White House 'plumbers' payroll. The Chief of Central Intelligence in those days was a nut who had a big mouth, too.
Once the "bad" president was out, and everything was back to normal, the first thing Ford did was say he would clean up the CIA. He brought in an "outsider" by the name of George Herbert Walker Bush. For all that anyone knew, he was just an oilman from a rich family (whose father sold trains to the Nazis, some say). However, on the day JFK was assassinated, a memo was delivered to J. Edgar Hoover that read, "Mr. George Bush of the CIA has been informed of the events in Dallas..." The only person by that name on the employment rolls of the CIA in those days was a lowly stenographer, who most certainly had not been informed.
But the mysterious oilman had owned a company named Zapata, and had a wife named Barbara. The two landing craft at The Bay of Pigs were also thusly named, for some reason.
After the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy said he would tear the CIA into a thousand pieces for their mendacity and incompetence. He never got a chance.
On the White House transcript tapes of Nixon talking with his boys, the only time he really sounds nervous is when he puts the kibosh on certain schemes, citing that it might bring up "the whole Bay of Pigs thing again..."
So a professional cleaner-up-of-messes is President, and an unknown "outsider" is "cleaning up" the CIA. The peace movement is forever discredited by the Manson family murders (though Charlie Manson had been in and out of government "care" his entire life, and had connections to the Process Church of England, a satanic cult that had been infiltrated, some say, by intelligence sources from Elsewhere), and was further done in by the actions of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a movement that seemingly sprung from nowhere at all. Almost as if they were planted there. The Republicans knew that no one they would put up that year would take the Presidency.
Instead, a man who claimed to be a humble peanut farmer from Georgia won. He was, however, a person with strong ties to the Trilateral Commission, and Naval Intelligence. A certain subsect of Naval Intelligence had been said to be all but at war with the CIA, going way back, by the way...
The next time a southern governor became president, he too had strong ties to the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He was also a Rhodes scholar, long viewed as being a part of the Jesuit plot that ultimately took the life of Princess Diana...
Ahhh. I love this shit. Thank you for indulging me.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Slow Train to Dawn

I'm making a country mix today. First one I've made in a while.
We start with the great Will Oldham (you might know him as the boy preacher from the movie "Matewan") doing the song "I was Drunk in the Pulpit" from the Palace Bros. album 'There Is No One What Will Take Care of You'. Then the great poets of the Midwest, Freakwater, and that Nick Cave song I've spoken of before, and the great Neko Case, singing songs about her hometown, which is so damn cute, considering it's Tacoma. Like singing a love song to Cleveland, I tell you.
And examples of all the times in pop music history where it realizes its debt to country: Danny and Dusty doing "Baby, We All Gotta Go Down", which is from that weird moment in the early '80's where the L.A. punk bands started doing country, and it got called 'cowpunk'. And earlier, the Willie Nelson himself doing hippie country from The Outlaws' album. The song, "Me & Paul".
Matter of fact, every ten years or so, rock music acknowledges the debt: in the early '90's, it was called, or Americana. There's even one from pretty much Now: Mt. Eerie Doing "Uh-oh! It's Mourning Time Again", in which Phil Elvrum goes all around the Northwest encouraging hipsters to sing. This has to do with one of the things I'm writing.
The book, Slow Train to Dawn, is another one of my experiments in fictional history (as opposed to historical fiction). It follows a bluegrass player from the '30's through the '70's, and watches the influence of radio, the commercialization of country, the rise of rock and roll, the growth of an industry around same, and what it did to the old time musicians.
The other half of the story is narrarated by a guy much like me: my age, and who likes all kinds of music, dislikes very little of it...And sees a pattern in all of it. From the early slave boast songs like "Stagger Lee" to the ghetto hip hop of this day; an unbroken chain. He can see what we've gained, and what we've lost. He also is one of the few amongst his peers who cares what happened before he was born, a conceit of the author, a born history geek.
It's not really a novel so much as it's a meditation on the comforts of music: why we like what we like, and what it does to us. How the soundtrack makes the moments. An excerpt:
"Then there was the time, at Bean Blossom festival, I think, early '70's. Lester Flatt, minus Earl Scruggs, was playing a show (a fourteen-year-old Marty Stuart played mandolin, by the way), and Bill Monroe showed up.
"Now, this was big. Lester and Bill hadn't even talked for twenty years. After Lester left Bill's act, Bill took it as a personal insult. At least that's the way I understood it. Twenty years.
"So for whatever reason, The Bill Himself walked up there in his usual grey suit with country gentleman hat, as if it wasn't 1973 or whatever in America, as if all these things hadn't happened.
"Y'know? No Elvis, no Beatles, not even no Jefferson Airplane. No-"Cause when I put a spike into my vein, it makes me feel like I'm a man," or whatever. Footnote.
"He walks up just in time to do 'Two Dollar Bill', or 'Long Journey Home', whatever you wanna call that song. It's all the same song anyway. Roughly speaking the same chords- hell, same order of solos, but the words...Well, they make the song, but at the same time, they're all the same, too. Make you feel at home.
"Look, the important part is, both Bill and Lester were standing up there, playing their ever loving hearts out, Lester with that eternal smile he always had on, and right at the crescendo part, when they're just sliding into the last chorus, Monroe he just stops.
"Pros like they are, the rest of the band just keeps on playing. But I saw, and about twenty per cent of the crowd did, too, that Bill Monroe had his hand out.
"The Bill Monroe who Lester had just introduced as, and I quote, 'The Daddy of bluegrass music'. Lester looked at it a moment, and then he put out his hand too, and shook.
"That same twenty per cent who saw the hand in the first place then did this barely audible 'awww...' when they did that. So quiet, such a country gesture. A single handshake that said bullshit to twenty years of not talking. We're both old men now, and famous, and it doesn't really matter, does it? Congratulations.
"It brought fuckin' tears to my eyes. Can't explain it. I don't cry easy. I know I wasn't the only one, judging by that 'awww...', a goodly number of people had seen that strange, quiet moment in history. Made me feel good. Like things really matter."

And country is full of moments like that. So's rock n' roll. I figure, why not write a little love story about it?
Politics, and all other aspects of human life intrude:
"We had some well-meaning rivalries with a few other outfits. The Nashua Racketeers and us went up against each other coupla times in various battles of the bands, and of course there was the Christ Mountain Ramblers.
"The Christ Mountain Ramblers hailed from an area in rural Kentucky where some local developer planned to carve a mountain into an enormous head of Jesus Christ. To this end, his tourist attraction would need a publicity-producing house band. Before the project was even completed, they were helling all over the south, playing old time music and talking up the Lord's tourist attraction.
"The whole thing went to shit, though. The local engineers and stone cutters stepped back at the end of the line to gaze upon a sight that didn't resemble the head of Jesus so much as it did a giant, gorgon-headed demon seated on a throne.
"So-back to the drawing board it went, and this time it looked like a glaring little man. Again they tried, this time producing what looked a hell of a lot like a rotten peach. Eventually they gave up and sold it to a local strip-mining concern.
"As for why they were our rivals: they came from the other side of bluegrass. You know, as much as folks in the south like their music and infuse it into everything they do, there' s also this whole stigma there that goes along with being a musician. Just being one makes you kind of suspect. All your music playing is suggestive of late nights, drinking and sin. So most've your bluegrass musicians go out of their way to throw in a couple hymns. But that's unavoidable: most of these songs-when they're not about murder-are hymns.
"However, there's the kind of bluegrass player that does nothing but spiritual numbers. That's fine, I guess. But for some reason I see that as pissin' in the well.
"In our songs, we often celebrated the outlaw life, and said it's kinda nice to drink, dance, fight and screw. If the spirituals were included at all, it was the almost-metaphysical numbers like "The Great Speckle Bird" or "In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain".
"They saw us as heathens, we saw them as assholes. That particular rivalry was not good natured, as with the Nashua Racketeers; they meant it. We, in turn, wondered what they were so defensive about.
"But after the Lord's Theme Park venture went tits up, they kept at it, a little more bitter. We were playing gigs across town from one another, sometime early '50's, in French Lick, Indiana. After playing their set, they showed up to watch ours.
I ran into their picker n' shouter coming out of the bathroom. "Nash," I said, and nodded.
"Whaddya think?"
"Pretty fast playin'. Must needs when the devil drives, huh Bob?"
"Y'know, you really oughta shut up with that."
"How d'ya figger, sinner?"
"I figger if fun was really a sin, God wouldn't let li'l babies be born. I also figger that if yer feelin' bad about not bein' able to keep up with this, maybe you should go sell Fuller Brush, or something."
We stood there with our hands in our pockets. Really mad at each other but not showing it.
"You got a problem with my Lord, Toledo?" Nash asked me.
"Naw, The Management don't bother me at all. It's just you bein' such a damn bluenose that chaps my hide so much. I guess that means that I do, matter of fact, have a problem with your lord."
"I spread His word through song. Whose word you spreadin'?"
"The word of Music, Nash."
"What you drivin' at?" This was him getting mad now.
"I mean, I'm just tryin' to deliver the comforts of Song, Naaaa-aaash..." Tickled me to needle him, "On the other hand, yer just a song and dance man for the Southern Baptist Convention. 't's not that I think the less of you for it, really..."
"Then what, then?" His eyes were burning.
"Then maybe I just...Feel sorry for ya'."
I really thought he was gonna smack me in the face for that one.
He grumbled, "Your fellowfeeling for me is a comfort, Brother Toledo, and maybe your Song will keep you comfort too, as you smoke in hell."
"If'n they even let me keep m'cigarettes, Nash," I really didn't wanna argue with him.
"It's the truth I'm tellin' you!" He was shrieking now, and people were starting to turn. ""I'm tryin' to save you from the fires of everlastin' hell, and yer crackin' little jokes!"
"Okay, you just simmer down now."
"You'll simmer down there!"
"-make me say somethin'-"
-where all fornicatin', boozehound-"
"-that'll really make you mess your one-piece."
He looked at me. "Like what, say?"
"Like maybe you're not wrong, just dumb. And you're too well fond of the grave, and it shows in every jiz-headed thing you say n' do. Yer tryin' to poison somethin' that means a lot to me, and why I don't paste you one for it is a goddamn mystery to me, Nash."
"Because you-"
"No. Shut up. Just fuckin' shut up, you people."
And I walked away. It feels good to walk away strong, knowing that you didn't turn and run because you were going to lose. If it came to fists, you woulda made hash of them, but you didn't have to, and you didn't."

Not the most graceful way of portraying it, I realize. Whaddya need? Wrote it in half an hour in a bar. I'm considering making the Nash character, parenthetically, into a Rex Humbard (of the Hour of Power) style character, later in the book. The Humbard Family played beautiful spirituals, back in the day.
I could quote more, but I'm stopping here. I'm writing two others, which I will synopsize later.


Saturday, September 24, 2005


From the Bachelor archives, circa '97 or so:
"A man was angry at a friend of mine, and since this friend wasn't around, wanted to beat me up in their stead. I ended up debating this with him, and persuaded him that this was not the best course of action. He just couldn't understand why I thought he was crazy for his wishes in this matter.
"Trying to deflect further shit, I say, 'Nice house you got here,' which of course causes him to say, 'Oh what? You don' like my houuuuuse?', and wanted to fight some more.
"I end up dissuading him, but he parts by saying, 'I'm really mad at Bill Clinton, too...', and ends up hinting that this too might be worthwhile cause to beat me up..."

Haw haw! Those goofy '90's! Anyway...This one is listed in my notebook as early January, 1998:
"I'm in some strange children's movie. There have been many arguments, mostly started by this little girl who is always there. She and my mom are yelling over each other; I forget what about. I finally step in and tell them that hey are both being piggish.
"'You'll just sit there and defend her the rest of your life, won't you?', the girl snarls at me.
"The music begins. It is like the white pop band music that accompanies a Dr. Seuss feature. Two figures in grey sweatshirts, 'gramma and grampa', who have been there, disappear and just become empty sweatshirts, twirling around amidst the cartoon foliage and singing a little song:
"'What of all this mat-ters?
"'What of this will remain?
"The twirling sweatshirts scatter into dust. The rest of the song concerns the fact that even what you leave behind will cease to be, in time. How everything dies, no matter how special, and will ultimately be forgotten.
"There is an image of Bill Clinton and I, marching side by side into the darkness, yelling, protesting, 'I CAN WHISTLE! I CAN WHISTLE!'
"I can see the shadowy figures in the street and flee back to my backyard (of the home I grew up in, natch). I half expect someone to call my name and be with me in the dark, or someone to leap upon me and tear me to shreds.
"I finally lay down in the darkness, alone and afraid, waiting for something to happen, someone to come. Nothing ever does."
Heh heh. Funny thing was, I awakened from that one, and my girlfriend was choking, unable to breathe. She had pleurisy, and we rushed her to the hospital. She's alive now, as far as I know.

And waiddaminnute! Why's Clinton there again?
"I was talking with my other self; what I would have been if I had taken a very different road long ago. Me in another universe; my shadow self.
"Now, in the dream, it wasn't me I was speaking with. Actually, I think his name was Eric. Crew sut, blonde hair, glasses, suit. Running a newspaper at age 25.
"All throughout the dream, we had been antagonizing each other. Finally, backing him up against the door that led out onto the patio (of the house I grew up in, natch), I proceeded to really do battle with him.
"Debating with him the varied benefits of our respective paths. I told him that 50% of him seemed like a really nice guy, but the other 50 was so rigid and horrible that it easily negated the rest. His response, unfortunately, is lost."

Yes yes folks, 'unfortunately', yes. I simply cannot think of a more tear jerking, predictable-as-hell family of origin sort of dream that we could include here. Surely there's something else in these here dusty ol' notebooks...
"Some of my slightly older friends were involved in a secret and highly dangerous project-the first public crowning of the True King.
"At the moment though, I was the king. The Hidden King, even the Dark King (or the Shadow King; I heard myself once referred to as the 'Blindfolded King'). I had to just live my life though, as if I wasn't king. Just had to go about my business as if I were just yer average Joe.
"In fact, I was still in high school, and still had to deal with the basic sniping, cavilling and bullshit that attends teen-agedness.
"All of the action took place around me (what good is it to be a king if you don't get to act like one?), and I just lived my life-aware of all the excitement, but only peripherally taking part in it.
"My memory grows fuzzy. I recall having to sneak a girl out of her house (was the True King actually a Queen?) to a high place with lots of people milling around.
"As far as I remember, after much travail, we managed to publicly coronate the True (Monarch?) of the World, and I was no longer King. I would be remembered for my contribution only by some."

Hm. Emerging Theme Alert here. On one hand, one could see this as an allegory for what we as all humans do-can't really be all you are in public because that would freak everybody out, but you might just be the person that everybody needs to hear, with the truths that must be spoken...
And, no other hand, really. I'm just God in this universe, surprise surprise. After all, these are the movies the mind shows in the basement when it's bored.
"I am one of a large group of armed people in a town. There is much plotting and set up, which involves a rare creature who is kind of (my baby mama), kind of (my girlfriend at the time). When something 'real' was happening, it was (girlfriend). When it was just me smoothing tangles out of this catlike creature's hair, it was (baby mama).
"We all knew that the person designated to die would be arriving on a certain plane, so an almost comical (even festive) procession of potential hit-people wound their way to the airport. The plane had already landed when I found my way there.
"Something had gone wrong though. As the newly introduced voice-over narrarated, 'The people in blue run from the airplane, being mown down by unseen gunmen still aboard...'
"It is true that they were all in blue, and none of them were the guy (gal?) that Needed Killed. A firefight was rapidly breaking out in the streets, and I was viewing it from the vantage point of this recessed wall.
"I crept forward to a parking lot up near the plane. A friend of mine of indeterminate gender was up there, crouched low. I warned he/she/it that it wasn't safe there, and that it should retreat back to the relative safety of the recessed wall.
"'Oh what? So you can take credit for the hit?', it said."

The fact that a voice-over occurred in that dream is no fluke. My dreams often become cartoon, I often read in them (almost never in English), hear songs in them, and once determined that the dropping of the rational mind (an actual weight) could cause one to hover.
I could go on and on here. I've been writing down my dreams for years. I'm gonna cut it off now, with a brief anecdote from one I had in early 2001:
I'm at a party, and everybody is behaving in a highly irresponsible manner. As they do the things they do, they continuously drop items here and there, which I go around and gather.
By the time the party decides to move to a nearby playground, I'm pretty much carrying everybody's stuff. As we approach the fence of the playground, I drop a pencil.
A little boy says, "That's the ugliest goddamn pencil I've ever seen."
I say, "You little son of a bitch," give him a hug, and start laughing.
The imagery is pretty clear.


Friday, September 23, 2005

We Do What We Must

Attention: there is a "new" posting down in the August archives called "On the Table". It appears down there because that's when it was written, though never posted. It describes my thoughs and feelings on Ol' Man Firewater. Some things have changed since then, but it is true that I continue to have lunchtime bevidges (just before this, in fact), but I do limit it to two.
The summer fun mix described in the latter half of it has some changes in the track listing, though none so significant as to warrant comment here.
And now, contest! Should my next posting concern:
My Dreams?
What each of my novels-in-progress is about?
Or my adventures in on-line dating?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Meetings with Remarkable People

The listomania bug is upon me again, and when it is, I think of Dre. I once lived with this crazy girl. She was one of the Illinoisians I lived with (and was in a band with) at the time. She was awful; self-absorbed, all facade, a liability. My girl at the time summed it up pretty well when she said, "The drunker she gets, the further out those lips of her's get." Yup: she had a pout that could stop a semi. In any case, as worthless as I thought she was (and how shameful it was that Portland's hip inner circles seemed to give her nothing but respect and leeway to do further bullshit things), she was an artist, of sorts.
They all think they're artists, by the way, and maybe she didn't realize what her true medium was: the making of lists. I found lists written by her that said things ranging from the deeply mundane to the life-direction sort. Items like "Travel, muthafuckah!" would sit alongside items like "James Bond Girl?" and "Fondue?". One of the best items I ever saw simply said, "Make Impossible Lists!" I wish I'd saved a couple.
One time that band and I played a show in someone's basement, where a party was going on. We were the only band there that really wasn't familiar to the partiers. First off, a white rap act, of all things.
I thought to myself: I really don't need this. I don't want to stand here and watch this, trying to prevent myself from making nasty comments, and...Oh. Three songs into the set, the biggest of the three guys had jumped up, cracked his head open on a low beam. "I gotta go to the hospital!" he said, and they left.
The followup was a single hippie male playing exceedingly boring tunes on his acoustic guitar. He was a friend of the house though, and everybody listened intently, and applauded on cue. Then we went on, and everybody went upstairs to smoke pot and listen to hip hop.
Sigh. Whatever. We played to an interested audience of three, and later, when I was trying to hassle a drum kit through a very crowded party ("Here I come! Don't wanna hit you! Gonna hit you! Hitting you! Told ya!"), I noticed that the white hip hop act had returned.
The injured party now had a bloody bandage (or was that someone's shirt?) on his head. He looked pretty happy. This was my friend the Reverend O'Hare, who I would not actually officially meet for another year. The thing I had not understood at the time was that they weren't being serious, which would have changed how I viewed them entirely.
I learned later that he indeed had not gone to the hospital.
I first met Bobby Massage during the brief period that I worked for the Death Star, a large wireless phone company, about to be swallowed by another. The two weeks paid training included learning how to use three seperate computer programs, one of which was entirely obsolete, updated every two weeks, etc.
We had been told to give a Power Point presentation about this system and how to use it. My group did one that was pretty straight forward, boring a subject as it was. But when Bobby's did theirs, it quickly became clear that he had hijacked the entire thing with his wicked sense of humor.
In a deadpan voice, he narrarated the steps for using the system, accompanied by lists projected on the screen. The reason that everybody was either laughing hysterically or making noises of disgust or terror was this: the mundane details were paired with these images culled from the Internet of crying babies, vicious-looking crocodiles, people panicking, fires, etc.
I couldn't stop laughing, and soon afterward remembered that I hate working in offices anyway, and got a job washing dishes. We continue to talk about making a soap opera called "...And Then...", in which I play an independently wealthy playboy named Rich Bachelor.
Any other great meeting stories? Gotta be. Just can't think of any at the moment.
Well, the abovementioned girl I used to date, The Bleach Blonde Intergalactic Amazon, I met her when I was baking bread at a small cafe. I was covered with flour and dough, looking bad. She had wandered on in, looking for espresso.
No one else was helping her, so I volunteered. As I was pulling the shot and making the foam, I was grinding my hips a bit to the tune on the stereo. Then I was pretty much dancing in place. I wasn't paying attention to her, as I figured someone as smokin' goddamn hot as her would have no use for my dough-covered ass at all.
When I turned back around, I noticed she was looking at me that way. "What's your name, blonde boy?", she asked.
That night, we got together, and spent every largely misery-filled night after with each other, for the next four months.
See? Meeting Cute is something the movies tell you is a good sign, but I don't buy it. Seems to me that every time I've Met Cute with someone, it leads to disaster. I met another girl when we first shared a crossword puzzle, and she asked me if I wanted to go gather chestnuts with her. Of course I did, and that didn't change the fact that she was just plain awful. I met Gringa Alta Segunda in a bowling alley when she noticed that I was reciting the Litany Against Fear from "Dune", and cute as that was, she fucked me over worse than any of them.
So-to those of my friends who don't have an amazing story about how we met, don't feel bad about it: it's probably why we're still friends.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

When I was a Libertarian

Dr. Fred had responded to a fairly general question put to him by me about organic farming with what seemed like a half-hour long soliloquy. My friend Father O'Sheely is sitting on a pile of barkdust, writing in his notebook, which makes people nervous. They ask him what he's doing, and his answer doesn't really set them at ease. He and I (and a few others) are strangers attending a fourth of July barbecue on the farm of a candidate for the governor-ship of Oregon, who has already had his house raided twice, by the cops.
This is part of what happens to you when you are a retired urologist/organic farmer who advocates the relaxing or abolition of laws concerning marijuana, and one of your opponents is the state's Attorney General.
As Dr. Fred finishes his disquisition on the principles of organic farming, a large black man with dreadlocks stands up nearby, and starts into a rambling sort of sermon. I don't remember what any of it was about (this was fifteen years ago), just that sort of generalized 'It's all Good' shit that even then made me cringe. I think he's just spouting, so at some point I interject something. Everyone just looks at me. Outlander.
After a full moment's pause, he gets back into it. It is now clear to me that not everyone gets the talking stick on this day, and there is, in fact, something he is getting at. He keeps using the phrase "straight goods" to give validity to his statements. Just when I'm starting to get really bored, a man and a woman stand up.
Framed by the both of them, the guy who has been talking sheepishly starts to use legal language, leading up to pronouncing both of them husband and wife. "I'm an ordained minister!" he says. "Straight goods!"
Then we all go and get some barbecue.
The Libertarian party is always an interesting read. They swing back and forth between people who want to be able to do drugs, for instance, with no laws preventing them from doing so, and a bunch of people who don't want to pay taxes. That election cycle, it was the hippies running the show.
Not just for the drugs, I was going to vote for Dr. Fred. I liked his views that our tax dollars were far better spent on a multitude of things besides the Drug War. Not long after this party, the second of the two raids by state police happened. This netted what was reported as "weapons" (a hunting rifle, registered) and I don't remember whether or not Fred was dumb enough to keep any weed around his house in those days, but I suspect that he did.
I was on the rolls of the Libertarian party for years, but changed my affiliation to Democrat in time to vote Clinton in. Now, I'm just not so sure.
I'm not sure because as my friend Songdog once said, "the Democrats are the party of disappointment." True enough, and if you vote Libertarian, Independent, Green, Natural Law etc., your candidate is really going to lose. So what do you do? I can't support the Republicans-hell, not in 1990 and certainly not now. Armed revolt? Not likely without anti-tank devices, buddy.
The Libertarians in my state these days are the "I don't want to pay taxes and I think that government is evil, so give me a job in government" type. Jason Cox, the last candidate they had for governor, was a pretty good speaker and raised some good points, but I would no more vote him into government than I would pay a plumber who thinks that indoor plumbing is inherently evil. Besides, goatees and tiny diamond ear studs don't belong on my governor. Fashion thing, sorry.
There really wasn't a point to this post. Just another memory.


Monday, September 12, 2005


Several hours into the acid trip, GNP is having a bad time.
We had been having a pretty wonderful time, too. I was on as many hits of the same exact stuff as he was, but he was always more prone to this sort of psychotic break event than I was. My first sign that he was not okay was that he had left the living room, and hadn't returned.
I found him surrounded by women, in the tub. So he's doin' pretty good, I thought, but I was wrong. I asked Miss Kitty Love what was going on, and I couldn't help but hear the clumsy attempt to keep everything sounding fabulous in her response: "Nothing. Nothing at all. Everything's fine."
"Ah," I said. That's when I saw the desperation in GNP's eyes. "Send out for niacin," he said, in this tiny voice.
I knew this one. I also knew that the effort to get out that sentence, from brain to lips, had probably been an epic struggle. The library in the mind explodes, and the voyager of inner space is left with a bunch of nonsensical words flying around, never to be assembled into a coherent thought. The voyager then wonders if the rest of their life will be like this.
I asked The Baron if he'd be willing to drive me to the store, for the niacin. Years previous, I had experimented on myself. I was trying to determine if what I had heard-that niacin brings you down from LSD-was really true. I went out to George Rogers park, sat beside a spring, played the flute, wrote a little poetry, and after an hour, took niacin. I had determined that it reduces the psychological aspect of LSD, while there were still some residual visual distortions.
We drove up to the Way of the Safe, and were almost immediately followed by the in-store security. This was the middle of the night, and I could see that the guy was bored. I also found it obnoxious that I was supposed to just accept his none-too-subtle presence, right behind me on every aisle I turned down. Unable to find the vitamin and nutritional supplement section, I eventually turned to him and said, "If you're just going to follow us anyway, could you please show us where the vitamins are?"
He still maintained that glum-mouthed, just-doing-my-job-here look, and at first didn't answer.
"Please?" I asked.
"What do you need?"
"Niacin. Vitamins. Look-should I get a manager to actually help me with this?"
He silently led us to the proper section, then continued to follow us, all the way up to the cash register.
We brought it back to Kitty's apartment, and administered the antidote, to no effect. I had sort of suspected that this might happen-if the victim is already seized with panic, the problem is no longer strictly chemical, but mental, and needs to be treated by a hack psychologist. Like me.
Now, often in movies, this sort of trouble is illustrated by the victim undergoing convulsions. In my experience, this is entirely unlikely to happen, unless the victim purchased cheap street acid, and even then the convulsions are mostly among the smaller muscle groups.
GNP and I had even made fun of this phenomenon, some months earlier. Unfortunately, now he was doing it. We had taken him out of the tub at that point, and had directed him to a bed. I realized that I was going to have to talk him down, and any thought of my own continued fun at this point would pretty much have to be shelved.
One of the first things I did was try to determine exactly what was happening during the convulsions. Years later, he would develop this sort of petit mal seizure thing he'd do where he'd basically go into a trance for a half hour or so, but at the time, this was all brand new for him. By talking to him between the convulsions, I was able to determine that he was just simply going somewhere else during them. I couldn't stop the muscular part, but I could handle the rest.
We'd be talking and talking, then it would start to happen. At first, I'd snap my fingers; that seemed to bring him out of it. Later, I'd place two fingers on his sternum and say, with a tap for each note, "One. Two. One. Two."
When he'd snap back out of it, on the second count of 'two', he'd say, "You're gonna have to teach me that 'one two one two' thing."
I didn't have the heart to tell him that it actually was parody. Our hostess had three stuffed bunny rabbits she was very fond of , and was often losing one of them. She'd look around the house, panicking, saying, "ONE TWO ONE TWO?", and not finding the third, until she did, of course.
I requested that my helper (a nurse herself, these days) bring me a carrot. She brought me one, and I put it in the patient's hand, firmly. "Root." I said.
Root. Gotcha. Something to hold onto and remind you that here is this thing we all know, and like to eat, and furthermore is a solid thing, not subject to the shifts and randomness of abstract thought. I told him to keep on holding onto that goddamn thing.
I have often noticed in cases like this (and I've handled a lot of them) that what the patient really needs is to be reminded that there are some things we can all agree on. This is the first step in dragging them back to consensus reality.
At this point, we were sort of conversing, and he'd go into the convulsions occasionally, but they were less intense, in my observation. On those occasions, I'd just tap him on the chest again, saying, "Here. With. Me. Now.", and he'd come back.
Before long, he developed that sort of I've-been-through-hell, and Now-I-have-Revelations thing going on. He said, "I need to not fuck this up...Okay: the secret...The secret word is 'Sisissicu'."
"And what does that mean?"
"'Little but strong'," he said.
For some reason, this brought tears to my eyes.
Actually, I can sort of elucidate that one. Both GNP and I are small men. He's shorter than I am, but I'm mostly a column of muscle, and to most eyes, thin as hell: Prey. To be this is to need to have the power not accredited to you. You need to be bigger than big men, and it takes a weird mental toll sometimes. I know how to make myself taller, and I know how to make myself louder.
I also know that if some shitpicker wants trouble, and my attempts at conciliation aren't working, I know how to suddenly seem so crazy that, even if I lost the fight, I'd probably come away with one of the fucker's balls between my teeth, so they usually back down. The resta them got it easy. We have to be stronger.
Sisissicu is also the name of a small river in southern Oregon.
"Furthermore, it's gonna be an early Spring," he said, as an afterthought.
At that point, I was pretty certain he was out of it, and turned to assessing how I was doing, now that the sun was coming up, and we had been engaged in this for several hours.
This is only one example of why I am going back to school to get certified to become a 911 dispatcher. I've already been a dispatcher (taxi, ten years ago), have a pleasing phone voice and a calming presence. I'm well trained at leaving my work at work, and don't view death and mayhem as anything out of the ordinary. I like to help people, inasmuch as I can.
And the most important thing, as my stepdad pointed out, is knowing when you've done all you can, but you still can't help. I've got that in spades, buddy, believe me.
Besides, I've done everything for a living at this point, it seems, and even though I am an obscenely wealthy ne'er-do-well and social garbage fly, I need to plan for the future. Nobody gets to be the kid forever, as I'm fond of telling a lot of my patients. Besides, being an under-employed stagehand is getting old.
He was wrong about the Spring, by the way.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Four years ago, on the eleventh of September, I was opening up the cafe I worked in. When I arrived, my cook had NPR cranked, as usual. She looked at me with this look of complete surprise.
"We're under attack," she said.
Quite so. I've never heard Bob Edwards sound so damn close to tears, as he was talking to some woman who was trapped in her apartment, seeing the toxic dust heading toward her.
I asked myself, Who the hell is gonna want breakfast? Why should we even bother opening the damn place? I put this debate to bed pretty quick, though: people would need places like mine, where they could be around other people, eat good food and talk. That place was like a big counselling session on most days anyway, and that day would be the biggest test of my skills.
When making out the specials board, I avoided the conventional "Good morning" at the top, opting instead for just "Morning". As the day went by, lots of people came and went. A few co-workers came by, and one was in tears. Busy as I was, I asked her what had happened.
She stopped for a minute and said, "What happened?" I had forgotten, since I was busy tending to the needs of real people right in front of me, and unlike almost everybody else that morning, hadn't been watching t.v.
People were engaged in spirited debate about what all this would mean. They also were already more than a bit suspicious. As I've said before, lies and the staged death of our fellow Americans have been used in the past to drag us into wars that our citizenry does not want (the sinking of the battleship Maine, Pearl Harbor depending on who you believe, The Gulf of Tonkin, no matter who you ask), and is then used as a reason to take away certain constitutionally given rights, which are then never given back, post war. I didn't have a restaurant full of idiots on that day, and they already knew what was coming.
I worked my usual shift, which took me through breakfast, lunch and into the afternoon, at which point I'd start prepping things for the dinner shift. When I was done, I wandered over to Beulahland for a beer, and encountered The Masshole.
"What's goin' on?" I asked.
"What's goin' on?" he responded. Behind him, there was a teevee that had the image I had been hearing about, but hadn't seen, for the last eight hours: plane stickin' out of a building. That don't look right. I went home and watched television until I glazed.
Like a lot of Americans, I developed nightmares, shortly after. Mine weren't about the feel-thy A-rabs coming to kill us all, though. I knew in my bones on that day that the unthinkable but hardly impossible had happened: an unpopular president largely considered to be elected only by judicial coup had done played the only card he had: the Wag The Dog scenario. And he hadn't even been subtle enough to do it right. On that day, Americans killed Americans, this I feel for certain, and if there were anything remotely resembling justice in this world, the people responsible would have been hung by the neck with piano wire, until death or decapitation.
But, this ain't the world it ever should have been: ask liberal, conservative, radical or reactionary, and they'll all tell you the same. Everyone agrees on this one thing. I knew that all we could do was take care of each other, as the world decided to go insane again. I took a group of people out to my beach house that weekend, with the agreed upon proviso that we wouldn't be watching any televison, nor buying any papers. On that occasion, I wrote:
"Everything gets worse beyond here. I'm imagining that massive (further) incursions into the civil rights of Americans is on the wise. The churches here will foment the necessary hate, as they always do, to go stomp The Enemy. As if religion wasn't at least half at fault here anyway. With the othere half being that Americans have been told for a century at least now that we are somehow destined to rule the world. Like Germany."
But the nightmare? It was pretty cinematic. It begins with a shot from inside of a baseball dugout, focusing on the asses of five boys sitting on the grass. This is me and my four (fictional) brothers. We are looking at something, which the camera at first can't see. Finally, the angle changes, rising up, and you see that we are watching our father beating the shit out of our baseball coach.
We jump forward. My brothers and I are adults, and live on a large ranch with our father, who has been shown throughout the dream already to be not just violent, but kills for sport. It's not necessarily just out of hatred, though that's in there too, but more like he doesn't know any other way.
We live on a massive piece of land, which is a good thing. There is the big house, and there are also guest houses. Mostly it's a vast expanse of acreage.
Wandering down to this creek which runs through some woods, I espy my father shooting a number of forms that are lying on the ground. As I approach, I notice that they are some of my brothers, and furthermore, they're laughing.
"I don't know why he does that whole fake 'shooting-you' thing everyday," one of them says, amused.
Another indicates a body nearby that really is dead. "Looks like he really did get Joe the Bodybuilder though," he says. (Wherever that came from.)
At a later point in the dream, I inform Dad that somone is on the property. Just that, and nothing more. He immediately retrieves a box of shells.
I yell at him, "Y' don't have to shoot 'em!"
He barks some shit back at me about how, basically, of course he does.
"No, you don't!" I'm yelling. I seize him by the shoulders and start shaking. "You don't always have to kill people!"
"But I waaa-ant to!" he whines, and soon is weeping, slumping from my grip.
A little more research determines that, on top of everything else, he is infecting everyone around him with anthrax. "That explains the little dents he puts in people's legs...", one of my brothers comments.
I, of course, am outraged, and realize my impotence in this situation, but I nonetheless stand at the bottom of the stairs taunting him. Finally I say, "Gee, I think I'd like to give someone anthrax!"
I hear him come charging out of his room, and I realize that I've angered someone who is, after all, a dangerous psychopath, and that I'd better run. As I try to exit the house, I hear him opening and slamming doors behind me. The last image in the dream is of the top of his bald head coming quickly at me. I jerk awake.
Kept on working at that restaurant, until March of the next year. One morning, I put up a specials board in which the two specials were named "The last refuge of a scoundrel", and "The continuation of business by other means". I promised free breakfast to anyone who gave me the two words that were being defined there. I understand people not necessarily knowing von Clausewitz, but what's up with not knowing the most important thing Ben Franklin said?

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Dogs of the Road, pt. 2

The German guy is on his seven thousandth beer, and is trying to make a cultural connection with me and Short, through his limited English.
"Dooors, Lynahd Shkynahd, und Neil Young, der greatest. Mu-sic. Mak-ah."
We had to nod our heads and agree. The guy also described the incredible amounts of money he made, and the fact that he also was never home long enough (in Germany, or in his castle in Spain) to enjoy it, or his (I believe) four Harleys.
We were at the Horsey Ass, drinking and eating on the German's tabs. They were part of an international art moving consortium called Hasenkamp ("Rabbit struggle?", I asked) that was travelling with the Egyptian artifacts that our museum was about to display. They also had been asking us, that eve, if we wanted to join their company.
I sort of considered it, but I also considered the fact that they were almost never at home, and I love my home. They also had been struggling with the fact that only one of them spoke English even somewhat well, and thought that our customs were strange:
"That Belgian shit you drink, it make you crazy. We want to drink All Night." Then we had to break it to them that in the States, bars close at a certain hour. One of the first things they requested upon arrival was the rental of Harleys. The second was prostitutes.
When they arrived with the mummies, I experienced the first (and only) time in my life I've been freaked out by an art piece. We cracked open the tomb, and there was the outer sarcophagi, staring at me from 4000 years distance. I felt a distinct chill, and so did The Kid, who was standing next to me.
I didn't run away and join the circus that time, but wonder sometimes what would have happened if I did. Would I be moaning about how I hadn't seen my castle in Skamania county in forever?
Road Dog (that's the only name I know him by: I have no idea what the real one is) was once proposing that he would start a school of roady-ing. Road Dog University. I'm guessing nothing ever came of it, but I wondered what the curriculum would be.
"How to drink the free beer 101"? "How to stand around and look like you know what you're doing, a seminar"? "Coinage of new terms for already extant tools and fittings"?
For instance, when we were making the trampoline yesterday, it had four clamps on each side of it. I would describe these as 'clamps'. The guys who drove the damn thing up here from L.A. described them as "cheese-broughs". Anyone out there help me with that one?
When we would be building or demolishing an exhibit at the museum, that would entail a lot of 12, 14 or 18 hour days. Usually it would be a crew of five or so, and we would get to a point where we had seen way too much of each other. We'd get too far gone in our own running gags, and had started speaking our own language.
Requesting a certain drill bit, for instance, often meant pointing in the general direction of the thing and going, "OOK! OOK!", or "SQUAREBIT! SQUAREBIT!" When anyone from the outside world would try to talk to us, they'd get this insane jabbering thrown back at them, and would often back away slowly.
My rock production work has largely been low key enough that no one's ever gonna view me as a supervisor, which is good. I just like to do the job, and not have to spend too much time listening to the insane demands of the artists. On the teevee show though, I had a small army of interns under me, and actually had to delegate responsibilty. It was hard: I wanted to do all of it, since I was the only one I trusted to get it right.
There's the other side of it though, where a decision I made made everything run more smoothly, or my problem solving skills averted a looming disaster. In those cases, I wanted credit, but knew that asking would make me look like a jackass. I did it anyway: hell, I'd spent the first show acting as a human counterbalance, after the backdrop fell down and no one was able to figure out anything else. I deserved something.
I'm on a several hour break right now. Earlier today, I was under the stage, while trampoliners kept bowing the plywood above me, every time they made contact. My boss and I were under there to shore up the plywood, as we had noticed that it was dipping in a manner that was deeply sinister. Before long, there was six of us under there. We all were trying to make the trampoliners' lives less hazardous, while just above, they made ours more so. Eventually, one of the stage managers said, "Would the dancers please leave the stage?"
Why didn't I think of that, I wondered. After I did my duty, I was talking to this guy about why we do what we do, and he just said, "If I was working in an office? Forget it."
Fair enough. I gotta go back tonight at 8:30, and spend however long it takes beyond that tearing it all down, as I said. Jennie B. was wondering out loud when it is that alcohol sales begin in Oregon. She thought it was 7:30.
"Naw; it's Six, in'it?" I asked.
She looked at me with that look again. "You were jus' pretendin' you didn't know."
I dunno. We'll see. Somethin' to do, in any case.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dogs of the Road

"I just wants ta' drink some beers and make some love," said Jennie B.
"Understandably," I said.
She wasn't hitting on me. The only woman on the crew of roadies I was working on this morning, I'm assuming by her mode of dress and haircut (Goddess strike me dead) that she was a lesbian. We'd just been out in that hot, hot sun all day long, shimmin' plank and skinnin' deck, and she was saying what was probably on everybody's mind.
I hadn't seen Road Dog in a while, either, but there he was. He and I worked together at The Crystal Bathroom, and before that, I'd met him at a rock festival a bunch of us were setting up down in Champoeg.
The day had been long and basically fruitless. I'd taken Hazel and The Masshole down there to serve as extra hands. The morning had been spent in constructing a beer garden, and upon its completion, we were told that there would be no beer sales that day, as the last weekend's fest had gotten out of hand, and now we had to take the damn thing down.
I was grumbling deeply, but was keepin' it to myself. The Masshole was wise to me though, and stepped up. "Everybody's talkin'," he said. "They say yer doin' GREAT!"
I din't understand him at all, and yelled, "WHAT?" at him, before I saw the 'Now just take it easy' hands up gesture.
So all we really had to do that day was construct a courtesy tent for the late Eliot Smith, and stock it (Budweiser and hummus) with the things he liked. The circumstances of his suicide are still strange: who ever decides to kill themselves by stabbing themselves repeatedly in the chest? His girlfriend at the time was under investigation, last time I checked.
But mind you, Mistah Smith had this awful habit of making an identity out of his suicidal tendencies. A friend of mine was introduced to him once in a bar. About a half hour or so into the conversation, he says, "But don't get too close to me, 'cuz I'm probably going to kill myself one of these days..." Yup. A murder victim with supreme deniability waiting to happen.
So later, backstage, I am in heaven. If'n you're ever going to be at some big, dumb arena rock show, try to see if you can at least volunteer or something so that you don't have to stand in line for a port-a-potty, pay for water, etc. Chef Ra, the legendary rock caterer (for the Grateful Dead, amongst others) was there, kicking down the good free food that freaks like me get fed for doing these things. I was watching Sonic Youth with their kids, playing on the swingset someone had erected there. I was also sitting at a table full of old roadies, drinking beer.
From across the meadow, I see Road Dog approaching. He has somehow commandeered a golf cart, and is heading right for us. I keep thinking, "No, he's not gonna do it, is he? No, he's not. Here he comes though. Yes, he is.", and he rams that thing right into the table, knocking all of our asses to the ground. He laughs like the madman he is, and tears off on his golf cart, looking for other people to terrorize.
Road Dog's brothers are even worse. They don't even work for a living, last I checked, and enjoy getting drunk and blowing up cans of gasoline.
I dunno. I love the tech life. What we all are is basically a bunch of construction workers who aren't assholes. The project I'm working on right now, there's really only one jackhole in the bunch, and he's not even a boss. We're all people who work in theater, rock n' roll, art exhibit design and teevee, and have a sense of humor about it. You have to.
I spent eleven hours yesterday (better than the sixteen hours they'd been estimating) building a stage. Those big towers that hold the roof up on those things? I suspected there'd be a machine or something. Nope. Just a bunch of people in the weirdest game of tug-o-war you've ever seen, and the good ol' pulley. Bronze Age technology.
We get paid well, we eat good food (when it shows up) and we laugh a lot, because we all have stories.
Tomorrow, my day consists of going and setting up a beer garden (hopefully not to be ordered to be taken down shortly thereafter), then leaving for a few hours, coming back and watching the dancers use the trampoline I constructed today, then spending all of tomorrow evening taking the entire shit n' kaboodle down, probably ending around dawn.
After that, who knows? Road Dog was passing around a pad of paper yesterday. He's putting together a crew, and maybe it's time for me to run away and join the circus again.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

another brief note concerning recent events

Hey, check this guy out.
honest wagner


The Virginia

Cats Dig Me, over at Hollander Space , has a posting concerning the Virginia Cafe, right here in downtown P-Diddy. His is a story about being a real live a-dult, and mine concerns my twenty-first birthday.
It should be noted that I was in a miserable mood that evening. Dead end job, working to support both girlfriend and daughter on same, and furthermore had sworn off the drinking of alcohol and the smoking of cigarettes three years previous. So what, exactly was there for me to celebrate, except another year of survival?
However, kinda like your bachelor party, this is for your friends, not you. So off we go.
First stop was The American Cafe and Bar (currently known as the side of The Rialto where there are no pool tables), where I was alone for a moment, afore the resta the folks showed up. I knew nothing of mixed drinks, and decided to order something that at least I knew tasted good: a Singapore Sling.
Yeah, I know. I hear ya' laughin' out there. What happened next I kind of deserved, but...Well anyway, I order the damn thing, and barely looking up, the barman says, "We don't serve them fuckin' frou-frou drinks in here, man."
But it's my birthday, and...What I then said was, "How 'bout a bourbon n' Seven? Is that a manly enough drink for you?"
He actually thought about it for a minute before mutely nodding his head. Funny thing is, he didn't seem to have a problem with it later on when my friend came in and ordered me a Flaming Orgasm, which I didn't want.
Somewhere in here, Lady Miss Kitty Love sweeps on in, skirts trailing in her wake, and plunks down at the table with a pronounced list to starboard. The man asks what she'll be having, perhaps not noticing that her lids are at half-mast, and she chuckles a bit beofre looking at him and saying, "Water." So she'd already been out hittin' it, and the guy who ordered me the Flaming Orgasm, Bear, had just turned 21 himself not all that long before. He had terrified his mother on that occasion by saying that he planned to spend the evening going around town colecting free drinks until he fell down. He did it, too.
From that place, we then moved on to Mary's Spot. It was a lesbian bar, and we all knew it. In those days, there was a lot more segregation between the Orientations, and our arrival, being largely male, was not viewed in a good light.
I handed my identification to the lady at the bar, and she said, "You've only been twenty-one for an hour or two."
Trying to make light, I said, "Well, it's kinda like being 'a little pregnant', right? I mean, I'm twenty-one," with a little laugh. And not gettin' any younger, I was thinking.
Instead of just doing the right thing, our lady looks over at the bouncer-this e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s woman-and says, "Should we serve 'im?"
Lady at the door just shakes her head no, without a single word.
Bear starts to argue, as if that's gonna help, and I dissuade him by saying, "Nope. Nope. Let's go. Why would we wanna drink with a buncha assssholes like this anyway?" We left, and wandered over to The Virginia.
From way back in my club days, I had noticed that joint. It always looked so classy, and is yet another one of the I-swear-twelve bars in Portland that claim to be The Oldest. It isn't, but that didn't matter. It had that look of cocktail society, grownups dressed all nice and acting silly, with a slight tinge of The Past in there, which I loved. None of this changed the fact that the place is still a college bar, and gets packed as hell with screaming meemees of every sort, most nights. This was the case on my birthday, as well.
I mean, the joint was five deep at least around the bar (there wasn't any room for the thirteen or so that Cats spoke of), and even though I was a neophyte when it came to bars, I knew that there was just no way we were gonna get served.
Bear again does his number in which he angers a bar server, in some vain attempt to get served, leading to the man, busy as he was, to follow our asses into the street, where I already was, and then mediated the situation by telling Bear to calm the fuck down, and the barman that maybe he should go back inside and start selling alcohol to his customers.
What can I tell you? Three bars, and I'd only had two drinks. I needed to get up and go to work in the morning, so I walked home, pausing briefly to masturbate in a pile of pallets.
I don't know what that was about either. When it's my birthday, I usually make it a point to say out loud, at the beginning of the day, "It's my birthday, and I can do whatever I want!", so I guess that's it.