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

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Stars, our Destination

I keep on having the conversation of late, how our megastars are so much more likely these days to implode before having done anything of any real worth. I mean, maybe we'd care a little more about Britney there if she'd actually done something interesting first. All she did was what most of us do: grow older and start fucking up.
And me? I don't care. People like me are paid to literally clean up the messes of those types. Well, no: to be accurate, people like me are paid to set the stage for their further failure, and pull the stage out from under them when they are done humiliating themselves, and have left for their next gig, blessedly elsewhere.

One of the many fantastic perks of doing what I do, in fact, is that so many of us are required for a fun evening of this sort, we tend to be issued color-coded t-shirts, aiding in the proper marshalling of our man-power. Y'get to keep 'em: in someone's decidedly over-hopeful view, I'll be all walkin' tall in my brand new orange t, sporting a little pride in both brand and city. Because now I've helped Dancing With The Stars, The Travelling Show, do whatever it is that they do.
Yep. To be fair about it, I had no idea that a show of this type could have any chance of going on the road, especially at Christmas time, when most things are of the Singing Christmas Tree/Yuletide Extravaganza variety. Aside from a sickly misplaced sense of hope, I fail to see where this show fits in with the holiday spirit.

The thing is, the damn thing did have an audience. I didn't go into the Garden while the magic was happening, mind you, but I know a few people who did, so I asked about the demographic makeup. White, middle-aged, female, it turns out. Okay, so why didn't they just stay at home and watch it for free on television? Uh...The dancing was pretty good, uh...
The scheme was a squad of professional dancers (or Disney animatronic puppets sprung horribly into corporeal form: I saw one. She was perhaps four feet tall and orange.) backing a bunch of has-beens, also-rans and never-weres who have been called by Terpsichore herself to dance, goddammit. Had I heard the announcer, it probably would have ran something like this:
"Pita will be dancing to 'A Theme From A Summer Place' with the Third Blonde Chick from 'Three's Company'!" or,
"Performing the 'Dancing Without Moving Your Feet' number from Bob Fosse's "Dancin'!" will be Miaow and the dude from 'Cop Rock'!"

This was only the third stop on the tour, and the road crew was already fucking crispy. Their wiring is exposed, was how I kept putting it. There was a great deal of unnecessary yelling, oftentide contradictory, while we were standing there holding an enormous stair unit, say. I'm imagining that by the time Christmas night rolls around and they're in Calgary or somewhere similar, the mood will be full on mutiny.
And I don't blame them. They're being paid well to do what should not be done at all, to borrow a line from the nice Mr. Vidal, but somewhere there is always that nagging voice: oh what have you done to yourself? For this you got a degree in stage-a-matronics? Yes, well, there's always the free bagels.

There maybe was some greater point regarding stardom-ship I was going to make here, but I haven't really slept much, and the next forty-eight hours promises a lot of the same.
The end of the year tends to include a great deal of list-making on the part of critics (like me!), but I tend to be retrograde in my tastes. The newest album I currently own (Low's The Great Destroyer) is from last year, which ain't bad for me. But let's make a list of what I suspect are the Funniest Albums Ever Made, Ever.

Bloody Nonsense
, by The Jazz Butcher. I don't think this album ever was released in the United States, and I was just lucky enough to find the damn thing on tape. Some of the jokes haven't aged well (turns out Maggie Thatcher was indeed a product of her time), or are just too British to translate, but the boys play superbly, and are clearly having such a wonderful time, you gotta stand there and chuckle.

Pure Guava, by Ween. All of their early albums are amazing, right up until The Mollusk, but this one was the most fully-realized and cohesive example of how one might go about making fun of everything that popular music is and has been, coming from a place of severe intoxication , populated entirely by one's own inside jokes. The trying-to-sound-entirely-serious while singing a song called 'Flies On My Dick' experiment is only one way this sort of world-building is achieved.

My Daughter the Broad, by The Frogs. This largely-unremembered Matador records outfit was two gay gentlemen who also were brothers (unlike the Ween boys who claimed to be brothers). These two have also been inhabiting a world of their own making since childhood, clearly, and that's why completely insane little ditties like 'I'm Evil, Jack' and 'Which One of You Gave My Daughter the Dope?' work as well as they do. One of them is shrill as the day is long, and the other sounds like a doddering old pervert. It sometimes goes on way too long for the jokes to sustain themselves, but there also is a pretty noticeable amount of making-this-up-as-we-go stuff here, too, resulting in songs like 'April Fools' where they are describing someone in increasingly hideous terms, finally resulting in a picture of something that couldn't exist at all. Not in this world.

Wormed By Leonard, by Thinking Fellers' Union Local 282. All of their albums had funny moments, but this one's king. 'Squidder Boy' is the private thoughts of an elderly gentleman who sees only threats, everywhere he looks. Especially that darn purple squidder boy down there in that phone booth full of machine guns. You know, I thought that looked a bit questionable..."Oh, I'm not in for his game, no...This guy's got a big, fat pasty woman upstairs to pass the time with. But I'm keepin' a lookout and these hipboots are stayin' on. 'Cause if that guy tries to get me, there's gonna be blood on my boots and slime in the air!" It just goes on like that. From the gentle acoustic folk of 'Hell Rules' to the stuck-in-a-groove, 'hey the cd's skipping again' feel of 'Scraping Skin Off My Shoulder', it all works pretty damn well. The music's fantastic, too.

Helter Stupid, by Negativland. There's almost too much to say here. All of their albums are screamingly funny-while-thought-provoking, but this one is also a media prank spun badly out of control. An actual murder in Minnesota (or North Dakota?) caused the Negativ boys to hold a press conference claiming that 'Federal Official Dick Jordan' had told them not to tour, as their song "Christianity Is Stupid" might have played a role in the case. This was patently bullshit, and the journalists utterly failed to find out who Federal Official Dick Jordan was (he didn't exist, natch). But the media frenzy had begun, and the story takes on a life of its own. Told through their usual sonic collage, they start to ask why exactly it's so easy to lie to the media, whether or not they were way out of line in using an actual tragedy to make a point, and voices from history start to intrude (Manson shows up several times, as does Lennon, who says, "And we are humorous people...Because Martin Luther King, and Gandhi, Kennedy and serious people like that, all got shot.") The other side of the album is titled 'Moribund Music of the Seventies', and proposes to be an exploration of "a slow and indiscriminate culture sauntering its way through the final phases of The American Dream Era" hosted by "Cali award winner, Dick Vaughn". Priceless.

The Power of Pussy, by Bongwater. Of the four albums they made, this one is the funniest and most cohesive. Ann Magnuson's dreams put to Kramer's music, with a great deal of gender critique as practiced by people who have listened to far too much gender critique in their lifetimes. "Is it politically correct to even be here, I ask myself? Then I think, oh what the hell, I'm horny. I throw caution to the wind and peel off my girdle..." And the final tune, 'Folk Song', manages that most difficult trick of makin' you laugh, cry and kiss ten bucks goodbye ever so splendidly.

In compiling this list, sadly incomplete, I tried to exclude those who were exclusively non-musical comics (though Steve Martin's brilliant first albums certainly have a great deal of banjo on them, of course), but they bear mention.
Let's Get Small by Steve Martin. I had most of this album committed to memory, as a kid, and still do, for the most part.
The Future Lies Ahead by Mort Sahl. His hyperkinetic delivery and open neurosis make for fantastic oral history and has somehow managed to influence my own speaking style.
Dear Friends by The Firesign Theater. The fake commercials alone make this thing a document for the ages, as well as a fantastic example of what happens when a bunch of stoners have a professional recording studio to play with.
Occupation: Foole by George Carlin. Jerry Seinfeld, look upon the mighty observational comedy of this great man, and despair.

I have also excluded albums from this list that are unintentionally hilarious. That's for another day.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Man, it's disorienting being Me

You know folks, last night I was vouchsafed the opportunity to attend Portland's newest high-ticket Cajun joint. It's called 'Thickener', or something, and I wish to tell you: man that sure is a good plate of shellfish that has sausage in it (take that, Mosaic Law!)! Or: the sausagefish was tradish, delish, and really quite a dish. I finished it off with a palate cleanser of steak and potatoes.
Bee's parents were a treat, too. A retired man who has devoted the remainder of his life to boring waitresses with details about certain wine grapes, and his wife who largely kept silent until I ordered a whiskey at the end of the meal. She just kept saying, "MAKER'S! MAKER'S MARK! MAKER'S-MAKER'S MARK!" over and over, and I figured that this might just be one of those historical scenarioes in which The Man of the House casually drapes a napkin over his wife's head, and goes on with the meal.

As far as Men of the House go, they're from that lucky part of Illinois that boasts one Dennis 'Denny' Hastert as their congressional representative. They like him: he knows where to put the pork. And also, he used to be a wrestling coach. "Oh. Child molester, eh?" Bee and I said in unison.
But the overarching message was how these two lifelong GOP-ers (actually, I wouldn't be too surprised if she was a 'honey, who are we voting for?' type) came to vote almost Not Republican at all, this last election. I think it really was Foley, especially since Dad was smiling and almost slobbering at the possibility of maybe one day getting to torture someone.

In my upcoming book, Tuesdays With Food; A Lighthearted Romp, I detail my upbringing in a traditional Irish/Catholic/alcoholic (or, 'Cathoholic') household, leading me down the river of life (that is the story of us all) to my being mentored by the firm hand of an older gentleman. Curiously, it's also a cookbook.
Since I abhor the common recipe book, I mostly lay out a few rough principles on which I predicate all cooking (rule #3: Italian cuisine suffered for too long without the comfort of soy sauce), but there are some mindblowing additions to the canon, as well. Rule #eleventeen: Change the game, don't play it.
Like Portland Winter Night Sky Soup. When Booty was cooking and I was waiting tables, he finally confessed to me that he was afraid of soup (sorry folks; he's Lebanese!). While in the middle of a busy lunch rush, I grabbed a big ol' pot and proceeded to demonstrate to him how easy it actually is.
I chopped up one large yellow onion very fine, started it on the fire with lots of olive oil. When it was starting to get translucent, I added thyme and rosemary. When it went from translucent to mush, I dumped in enough white wine to cover it.
As that started to bubble, I chopped up half a red cabbage, added it in and waited for it to get soft. Whilst doing so, I peeled some garlic cloves and looked upon him pityingly.
The garlic went in, and thennnn comes the soy sauce! It saltens the whole thing up, and gives it a meaty, gravy-like flavor that one could liken to beetless borscht. Top it with some fresh grated parmesan, and you got this purple madness so reminiscent of Portland's sky at night, in the winter. And thus the desert is crossed, eh?
It's really good, and I share it here in a spirit of goodwill brought on by The Festival of the Last Minute, as we call it here in the Greater Portland-land area.

Speaking of the Reason for the Season, we got Santa's birthday comin' up. When Bobby and crew took me out to The Dalles the other day, I heard this commotion approaching not very fast behind me. A hubub. I looked over at Horne of a Dilemma and said, "What is about to happen to me?"
In response, he screamed and ran away. Okay, I thought, and turned. It was a John Deere tractor pulling this large wooden thing filled with people (drinking, I suspect) and sporting a man in a Santa suit at the back, waving.
"How's it goin'?" I yelled, in my casual country style. He said it was all right. I wonder if I had run into him later over some cocktails, his tune would have changed:
"Yeah, I used to be a high-school wrestling coach until...(breaking into sobs) Those little bitches!"

Well, tonight I gotta go take down the Yuletide Extravaganza (a cocktail, perhaps, or a sexual position). It's something the symphony does...And that's all I got for ya'. It took less than four hours for me to help build the stage, so I get the feeling it's going to be a short night.
One of the guys I loaded it in with is a rigger. Those guys get paid better than me, I'm pretty sure, and rightfully so: they go up to high places with heavy things. They're completely batshit crazy, all of 'em, and this one's no exception.
He's got the crazy eyes as he's telling the story of some unfortunate named Glenn who "was mouthin' off", or something. For his troubles, Billy (the rigger: what is it about adult men who prefer the diminutive version of their names?) sent down a length of rope from the cieling, looped it around the guy's feet and tripped him from on high.
In short, he did something I'm pretty sure no cowboy ever did: lassoed a motherfucker from fifty feet up, easy. And they also have hooks and chains up there.
"Remind me never to piss off a rigger," I said.
"BINGO!" said Billy, pointing at me, eyes all wide, mouth in a little 'o', framed by a tiny moustache.
I actually would like to be one of those guys, though, as I'm fond of climbing and am sort of a psychopath, as well.

Hm. I believe some dinner is in order here. More installments of this sort to come, may god have mercy on your miserable souls.


Friday, December 15, 2006

The Heat Miser?

This birthday has been an odd one. It was unseasonably warm yesterday, in the afternoon, followed by gale-force winds, and heavy rains. In the morning, all the things that used to be up on the rooftops were littering the streets.
This is the sort of weather that leads to catastrophes along the lines of the Columbus Day Storm of the early '60's: take that, Chris! But also, let's face it: too weirdly warm when in ain't supposed to be warm=bad. It was funny to watch all of us preparing to go have fun last night, celebrating the alleged virgin birth of Our Savior (Me, and I'm gonna hafta go ask Mom about that), while gathering candles, batteries and non-electric lighting devices.

The celebration itself was small n' dignified. At its apex, it boasted all of nine people. And a lot of the evening (especially the later part) was devoted to me dealing with the drama of others. Not surprising. This is my life, and for the most part, this is what I do. It was oddly affirming: no, no, don't go, doctor. We need yez, roundabouts heres.

Not that I was going anywhere. It's funny to watch the news coverage, since generally speaking the weather-related tragedy occurs elsewhere. Three people died last night in the Northwest, but mind you, that ain't nothin' compared to, say, Katrina. But news is news and cheap-ass hyperbole is also what I just called it. Slow news day?

How could it be? In any case, tonight I'm 'onna go see The Buttery Lords , who are releasing their CD, finally. It has commentary tracks, just like a DVD, but not! Thence to The Gorge, I think, since The Red Carpet hasn't seen me in a while.

Happy My Birthday, everyone, and remember, it's impossible to prepare for the unforeseen.
Shit. I'm sorry. That came out a lot darker than I meant it to. Shit. Anyway. Who's sportin' cash around here?


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This is Never a Bad Idea

My very favorite scene in the movie version of "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" is where Dr. Thompson is sitting at the revolving bar in (what they just narrowly miss calling) Circus Circus, with a clown, and a chimp.
"Yep, this is where the magic happens," says the clown.
"But seriously," says Thompson, "How much for the monkey?

Or the scene in my own life, where I'm sitting with the owner of The Grand, who is both a scum-And-douchebag, as he describes his ongoing plan to corner the diamond market.
"You're crazy," I observe. "The entire industry is controlled by, I think, one maybe two families."
But this man is the owner of a bar in southeast Portland. His waitresses will openly talk about the fact that they had to blow the guy to get a job there, and how that was openly discussed as being the price of employment at their interview.
In short, king of all he observes, and to be taken seriously for the moment.

The scene, in short, is where you awaken, sort of, in the middle of a completely absurd situation, only sort of ask yourself-how the hell did I end up here?- and sort of roll with it, understanding that there isn't any better understanding to be had in town.

I'm walking through Vaseline Alley, coupla years ago, and I'm set upon by Tahn, who I tell that I'm sick as twelve dogs, and need to go buy some ibuprofen. She immediately locks into step with me, talking all the while.
We enter a drugstore, and as I'm looking for what I need, she is attracted to a particular display somebody put a lot of love into. It's a conical shelving unit, loaded down with generic pharmaceuticals, and surmounted with a giant, purple, stuffed elephant.
She starts pokin' at the damn thing, and I'm immediately distracted from my perusal. I'm already expecting something horrible to happen, as is the lady behind the counter, and the only one who is having a good time is Tahn, I suspect, as she keeps reaching for that damn...
"Tahn? Jesus-TAHN?" She manages to not only dislodge the purple stuffed elephant from its perch, but take a whole lot of pill bottles with it, in a big, embarrassing crash.
The lady is already upon us, as I'm trying to say 'sorry' through a swollen throat, and Tahn is saying, in this tiny Vietnamese voice, "i was just trying to see your...ted-dy..."
"IT'S AN ELEPHANT!" is what the counter lady has to say.

I know that one. It's where you say something since you're a little too in the moment, and nothing makes sense anyway. One day years ago when I worked at the hospital, I'm taking the stairs, as I only have one floor down to go, and yank real hard on the door...
dragging out, by one arm, this tiny Asian nurse, who had been trying to use selfsame door, and is briefly airborne. "I'm uh, sorry..." I said.
"The door's...Open." she responded.

Or years later, when I was washing dishes at a local eating establishment, and one of the waitresses comes in and puts down a plate covered in egg yolk. Being a dishwasher, I take the plate, rinse it and put it in the machine.
A few minutes later, she's back. "Where's my egg plate?", she demands.
I try to explain that the painfully obvious result of putting a dirty dish down next to the dishdog has occurred, and I couldn't have had any idea that there would be a problem with this, but...
No. She's off on some weird rant regarding her plans for the yolk-y dish, and how the hell could I have been so stupid-
"Don't call me talented!", she screams, "You don't even know me!"

Sometimes all it takes is walking into a house. One time I had the misfortune of walking into a house where the main entertainment seemed to be this girl I knew well enough to know that she wasn't mad at me or anything, and who had decided to begin our interaction that day by repeatedly slapping my face and yelling, "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT!"
God, I hate American pop culture, I thought, but outwardly was trying to come to grips with what was actually happening to me. Was she angry? Did she, of all things, actually have a grievance with me and this was how she was expressing it? As my mind struggled to get this one figured out, it stopped, and a long afternoon of basketball watching began.
Later, I asked her what the hell that was all about. She was genuinely shocked (and more than a little sorry) that I hadn't gotten the joke. There was something in there that I was supposed to understand, and had failed.

Even more so in the same vein: this time at a party where I knew almost no one. There was a room in the back where someone had placed an enormous tank of nitrous oxide. The hippies were enjoying the laughing gas, and I figured I'd just join right in.
Nitrous is strange in that not only are you depriving your brain of seriously needed oxygen, but you're also spending a lot of time laughing your ass off. Small wonder I've seen people go crosseyed from it, or just pass out altogether. All the same, I figured that here at least, were people I could talk to with a reasonable expectation that they wouldn't find me weird.
Yes, but...I stepped on toes. Gently. It was eventually pointed out to me, once I had a snootfull, that there was in fact a five dollar cover charge. I hadn't been told about it, but that seemed reasonable to me, and was preparing to pay, when I'm approached by The Girl With Bilateral Myopia.
It just makes you look insane when only one of your eyes can reliably look forward. It doesn't help that most of the people I've met with this one really are crazy, too. I knew her, or I knew her twin sister, who didn't have the sideways-looking eye, and wasn't crazy.
The man who approached me had been calm and understood that it was all just a big misunderstanding. Or he was some cheap lot-rat scam artist who decided to ask the non-hippie for some money in a really novel way. Didn't matter. He and I were cool. But that doesn't mean that others can't air their own personal grievances with me...And she says;
"People like you...One minute you're playing basketball, and the next you're beating your children." She said this in a highly accusatory tone, regardless of the surreal nature of the accusation. Funny thing is, I know who she was talking about, probably: The Indy-rock Amish Asshole. More on him later, maybe.

While chopping vegetables one day at Lena with Eona, as usual, the hi-fi was all set on the Beatles. It wasn't on at the moment, but I just sort of said, conversationally:
"I used to be cruel to my woman. I'd beat her and keep her apart from the things that she loved."
Eona just keeps chopping, not looking at me, then stops, looks at me sidewise with a little smile and says, "Man you were mean!"
"But I'm changin' my scene, and I'm doing the best that I can..."
Like I said, "Getting Better All the Time" wasn't even playing, but that's not the point.

Not sure what further to say here. I have lots of stories like these, in which the irrational point of view is running the show, mostly wielded by those whose thinkin' apparatus is perhaps not what it should be, or whatever. Just felt like sharing.


Friday, December 08, 2006

I Am Wonderful

Hah! Oh, I would just love to hear someone along the lines of Jesse Jackson (since pretty much anytime I use the term 'someone', I really mean 'Jesse Jackson') lead a crowd in chanting the above title:
"Ah ahm..."
"A-gain. Ah..."
Ahh...Feeling the love over here. I once had this great dream in which a celebrity cheerleader (Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, for some reason) was leading a stadium full of people in the following 'chant':
Which of course resolved itself into something like:

Which brings me to my 'point'. Jaq, over at 'Confessions of A Female Misogynist', contributed this to the ongoing discussion of gender relations that is our lot here in this, the freest and best-endowed of all Vales of Tears.
If you're too lazy or luddite to use a damn hyperlink, the point was basically made over there that men routinely let women get away with awful bullshit simply out of some vague hope that one day, yes one day maybe, they'll be rewarded sexually by someone-perhaps not that exact someone-for so often doing so. I've seen it, god knows, and I pretty much agree. The comment thread is worth reading too, if for no other reason than to observe the habits of males doing a version of the same thing: I am calling you Smart now, in the hope that you will find me attractive. The comments of the women are of note too: I sort of agree, but I hate you.

"So why am I not outraged? I can see where you're coming from. I think we see the same things and feel the same way but with opposite results. We're both just contemplating the complexities of being women. You're not just complaining, you're analyzing and identifying with the bullshit you're decrying. But while feel fellowship and understanding from misogynistic men, I feel it from women.

I do, however, hate most of the guys who like your blog. Men don't do what you're doing, they just complain and don't try to understand. They're dumb bitches, too, we just call it something else: stupid assholes."

'While feel fellowship', I'm imagining, is the poster accusing the author of identifying with male misogynists, which I feel is inaccurate and fucking catty, actually. But I hate the guys who claim to like this blog too, for the abovementioned reasons, and the point I really want to address is the 'men don't do what you're doing' passage.

Or actually Jaq's challenge at the end of the posting:
"So here's my challenge to all the males reading this blog. The next time some dumb bitch tries to pull a I'm-so-hot-so-I-can-get-away-with-being-a-total-bitch move, call her out on it."

Accepted! And here's why I'm so wonderful, by the by. I always do. Perhaps to my never-ending chagrin and misfortune, but I sort of made it a mission of mine, long ago, to be the one dude in the crowd who doesn't give the pretty one who's used to getting everything handed to her the thing that she wants. I've probably been wrong a few times in my application of this principle, but I doubt it.
Maybe it's just because I like that look of deep confusion on their face when they see that the one thing they know how to do isn't working. If I've learned nothing at all from the ouvre of the late Gene Rodenberry and the heraldic poetry of Science Fiction in general, it's give a robot information it can't process, and it explodes.

For the time being though (before Story Time [TM]!), let me also add further sober gender critique to the whole damn thing by remembering out loud, and in a public place: de wimmens is like dis cuz dey lives in a wurruld contro' by us Mens. Dey do dis cuz dis all dey can dooz. Word. Now to Story Time:

When I was stuck 'doing the door' at the Crystal Bathroom, I heard a number of interesting interpretations on the subject of Why You Should Let Me, And My Fake ID, Into Your Establishment:
"I'm a good friend of the Sherriff!"
"And I'm sure he'd be proud that you're using a fake ID," I said.

"I got twenty bucks for you!"
"That's fantastic. Now do you also have the other four hundred-eighty bucks I'd personally be owing if I get busted, plus the thousand the bar itself would have to pay?"

"I'm a good friend of Chuck McMenamin!"
(While this particular chain of brewpubs is owned by two brothers by that last name, neither one is named 'Chuck'.)

And one time, this tall, willowy girl with long, brown hair (ripe fer pullin'!) walks up with a Washington State ID that looks like it's been done in crayon.
"Oh, this is just awful," I said. "Don't you know anyone with a color scanner?"
She smiled, nodded and acknowledged that she at least could've tried harder. "But you'll let me go, right?"
"No. I think you should go back to wherever you got this, and ask for your damn money back."
"Yeah, " she said, and gave me a little pat on my lower back. "But we're cool, right?"
The little pat put me over the top. "Oh stop it." I said. "It's not like you're going to fuck me."
She pulled back, still smiling, but understanding now that the game, however bush-league, was up. A few more pathetic back-pats later, she was leaving.

And this is hardly the only example, but perhaps the only one where I probably saved my job by doing so. It just felt like a sting at the behest of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. And on this occasion, had it been released yet, I would have heard the eternal chords of that Christina Aguilera song "Beautiful" (such a big hit with the ladies in the crowd at the Sylvia Browne thing, a couple weeks ago I needn't add), but augmented for my personal, male needs:

And to return to the original point of the posting, the syllogism that set this pattern of bullshit behavior up in the first place is one in which both genders lose. De Mens don't get none, and eventually De Wimmens run up against either someone like me, or someone far, far worse, who call them on their shit in a far more brutal way.
Or hell, it's not just that the men fail to get laid by rewarding crap behavior: it's that the whole thing serves to promote the idea that all women are manipulative cunts who are only out for their own benefit.
And back to the whole 'men don't do this' thing, throat me, kind sister. I've spent far too much of my life asking my fine young self whether or not I'm behaving as a Good Man. If anything, I spent so much of my early life examining the shortcomings of my own gender that eventually I'd have to turn the microscope on those I'd chosen to spend my romantic life with. I didn't choose to become that bellicose asshole that I can't spend any time around either; I just woke up to the fairly elemental truth one day yet again that people, largely speaking, are assholes, and are to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Generalizations about race, orientation, religion and especially gender are inherently flawed, for this reason.
Man, I'm smart.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Taxiland Memories, II

Let's see: Okay.
It's 1992, and it's right around the middle of the day. I'm told to go to the Moose lodge in Lacey.
My passenger is a man who is carrying a bunch of manila envelopes, and has prominent welts all over his face. He tells me that we need to go to the airport; Sea-Tac. He has received his orders, and they specify that he is to kill Saddam Hussein.
I first note that he is not going to McCord Air Force base, a good half-hour south of Sea-Tac, and where he would probably originate from, before his top secret mission to kill the leader of Iraq, no doubt leaving on a black C-137.

The next note I say out loud. "Are they generally in the habit of sending assassins who are drunk at noon, and are loudmouths who spill their entire mission to cabdrivers?"
Turns out, he's just going home. "Then to the airport! ...Later!"
Lo these many years later, Saddam is still alive. My mission is completed. My passenger sure does appear to have drank himself to death/died in a bar brawl/is in prison for abusing his wife/molesting his child. I marginalized the opposing agent.

My passenger is drunk at Three in the afternoon, and has prominent welts on his face. He smells of rising bread dough, and I hate him. I often take him the perhaps three blocks he lives from his favorite bar, to receive the bare minimum, no tip.
I ask what's up with the welts. I had noticed on many occasions that he seemed to be one of those unfortunate cases that was already developmentally disabled before beginning his career as a drinker. This does not make me like him better than I do.
"So what's up with all the welts on your face?"
"I FELL DOWWWWN!", he says.
"You fell down," I said. "Imagine that." I hate him so much.

Later, I take a couple out to Shelton, a timber town twenty miles to the west. She is unhappy with her husband's choices of late, which are laid out in a code so personal and thick that I can't quite get what he did or didn't do. She keeps up the barrage of invective, and he addresses me, the cabbie, the Parole Officer divine, the rolling Shrink.
"See how you are?" this is directed at her, with a look at me, in the rearview.
She continues, pointing out what a worthless fuckup he is, and he throws up his hands.
"See how I am?", he asks my reflection.
And she just keep on, pounding and pounding at the man's already weak self-esteem, with things that he no doubt has actually done, and they are certainly bad things. However, she's a fucking harpie, no better than he is in her way, throwing in her lot with a jackass like this, just to follow him around for the next couple of decades, making his already decidedly awful and pointless life worse, and he says...
"See how we are?"

Whilst in Shelton, I take a little time. I pause by the enormous cross-section of ancient tree they have at the entrance to town, to note when Christopher Columbus got here. I get a call at The White Spot.
"Proudly Serving Whites Only Since..." actually, that sign's an antique. It has to be, as it was federally mandated in 1964 that such practices on the part of a public business are illegal. However...
It's another one. A guy who doesn't seem drunk so much as brain damaged. Though he is certainly drunk: Washington state is one of the better ones I've seen for serving your ass until you are face down on the bar, and then denying responsibility for your later actions. They compensate by denying people with out of state ID. But he's not just drunk, as I say: this is a head injury talking.
"So what's up with that shack out on Totten Inlet?" I ask. This is one of my favorite questions.
The shack is old, rusty, and made of tin. It also has 'WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE, SCUM', spraypainted on the window, and 'FIRST WE'LL CUT OFF YOUR FINGERS' on the door.
The inevitable response: "You didn't live there, did you?"
No, no I didn't. So?...
"Nothin'." This is always accompanied by staring straight forward. "Nothin' happened in that shack."
The stupid thing is, it's not all that hard to find out what did happen. Shelton being as small a town as it is, one guy getting busted for drugs could indeed rat out the whole town, and that's what happened. The guy who lived in that shack probably was then in the nearest prison...Right outside Shelton...

Back again, and I got Laura. She is one of the few black people that lives in Olympia. She's okay if she's not sober, or if she's not too drunk. Just enough liquor, she's all right.
On this occasion, she's very pleasant. Making conversation with me, ceasing to accuse me of "pushing me down a ravine and making me pay for it" (don't ask). Being very nice and manageable for an alcoholic of sixty-some years of age, looking for the life of her like those Carl Van Vechten photos of Bessie Smith.
She gets out, tips me far more generously than usual. I thank her profusely. Smiling, she points down.
The seat where she's been sitting the whole time is soaked in her urine. Still smiling at her little joke, she closes the door and walks away. I grab the paper towels that I pretty much always carried with me, in those days.

Then it's down to The Grief, where I pick up Tex Eagan, who I feel I can name by Actual Name here since he is almost certainly dead by now. He is in the company of weirdo junkie/alcoholic woman whose name I forget, and who I don't feel like applying a sobriquet to, here.
She is dragging him back to her place, for reasons unclear to us both. Tex is the owner of a small burger joint on Oly's west side, and actually lives down south, in Littlerock. I'm trying to not pay attention to the shenanigans in the back seat until we actually get to her trailer, back behind a cement plant in Lacey.
That's when I see it: he doesn't wanna go. He's too drunk to talk, but is shaking his head No, and is mutely imploring me to take him away from whatever weird awfulness is about to befall him.
I actually have to think about this one, a minute. This has gone far beyond any Bukowski-esque dreams any asshole like myself might have had. I might be taking part in the abduction of an elderly, comparatively rich man, I think. But also: the man in question spends his time drinking himself into a particularly ugly puddle each and every night, and sort of deserves to be done in by some casualty of the Seventies. I'm not his fucking keeper.
But above all else: This guy is so rich, so senile and so drunk, he keeps a lot of our asses in beer money, these long lonely weeks, and this bitch has never done a damn thing for me. I tell her to fuck off, and have to physically prevent her from dragging him from the car. I take him home.

I pause briefly, and write down a few thoughts:
Headlines fall like rain as the slow drag Billie Holliday song continues. Shot across the rooftops as something ticks out there; something designed not to be noticed.
Out headlights roll patient impatiently through the rain The Long Parade. The Sound sucks at our steps across the pebbles of the beach. It wants to swallow you. And you, unhesitating, are drawn toward it.

See? I was an asshole too, in those days, and fancied myself a Poet. Note that clever play on words involving The Puget Sound. C minus, student.
Actually, what little poetry I ever did that was worth a shit was composed in taxis. Check "The Taking of the Cain Woods" and "Nisqually Cut Off Blues" in the red Mead Single Subject (80 sheets) notebook, after I am dead. They're winners.

Hm. Matter of fact, I just found this in same notebook. Printed here without editing for early-Twenties idiocy:
The man had walked alla way from Shelton. That's twenty miles or so. He'd had a few drinks and a bite to eat. He now wanted to go home, and that's where I wander in here.
He explained how he'd done the walk this morning as I marvelled at how frail and old he looked. Brown suit, two flannel shirts...
Naturally I dumped in my own input about the beauty and nobility of walking how those who travel in contact with the Earth truly own it, etc. and we discussed how outta whack the seasons were a beautiful, brief, intense winter that knocked ya down and beat hell outta you, then-ah. Spring!
"It was one o' the things you could count on, now it's gone, too." he said.
"Yeah. I figure it's an indication of how outta balance everything is." I concurred.
Again, our main topic:
"Walked all the way over here from Shelton. Think I just about killed my legs."
"Mmheah I bet."
"I live with-"
(and it's weird. I was gonna ask him that)
"-my daughter and son in law. He's only 49 and I can outrun him."
"He's into his Soft Years." I said, pausing to consider-yeah. We become teenager, adults, then MidleAged, then teenagers again,although most never recover from the downtime of The Soft Years.
And I was sitting beside a 75-year old teenager.
"I can rest faster than him, too." my passenger said, with a crusty grin.
"Yup. I bet." silence for a while. Always happens, we recharge, clean out the barrel and then-
I say, "Hey uh I feel like there's a lotta questions I should be asking you, like what'd you do for a living, when you worked?"
" I was a carpenter, a roofer enlisted in unions...Any kind of union job 'at had to do with carpentry."
Silence again, we were rollin' down by Mud Bay and he says to me, "Wanna know how I became a carpenter?"
"By praying. I asked God and he told me what to do."
"Wow. I see."
So I'm riding along with 75 year old teenage Jesus in my cab...Um,
"Yeah, I just asked the Lord and he showed me in a dream. I believe in prayer. I figger the guy upstairs knows more than I do (snicker chuckle)."
Nice to note that all this was devoid of the usual proselytizing. A Walkin' Man, God Damn. Nice to be able to count on your feet for life and always there is the Foreman on this job, all set t' give you Guidance.
"How long were you an apprentice?" I asked 'eem.
"I wasn't. I knew how to after the dream. Signed up by the unions as a journeyman. They came for
I could envision him, hands and arms comically distended, blurry slappin' studs together an' planks and joists, out in the darklands, the unions seeking out this carpenter messiah healer.
"Never had one house rejected..." he was saying.
"I bet not..." Journeyman Jesus Teenage Elder...
The trees stood tall dark witness beside the road as the Olympics started looming ahead.
"Two people gave me rides when I was on my way to Olympia," he now said.
"One of 'em gave me twenty bucks."
For no explicable reason, money also rained down like advice from Upstairs for this guy and for what must be the Ten Thousandth time in my life, I thought, "Maybe the unexamined life really
is better..."
"While you were praying, did you fast, too?" There we go, seeking The Rational Explanation again. Oh , he starved himself into The Visionary State and I could easily do the...
"Yeah, yeah I did."
"For how long?"
"While I'm workin'...Oh, a day at most."
"I see."
"I believe in fasting and prayer."

It ends there, with a note: "(there is no end...)".
Later in the notebook, I make a note:
When god was handing out jobs, he looked at me, threw me the keys and said, 'You Drive'.