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, January 26, 2007

Alright, Goddammit...

"If we lived in a two-dimensional universe, we would almost certainly deny the existence of a third dimension."-GNP, sometime in the late Eighties or early Nineties

So, you're aware that there's several other sources for blogging, right? Why, I my ownself have tried on two seperate occasions to maintain something on LiveJournal, and if you have some space on those twin foci of retardation (MySpace and Friendster), you get bloggin' rights. But we're not here to talk about those.
Nope. We're here to talk about Blogsource, which seems to be the alternate universe/Spock With A Beard version of This Thing Here. I wonder if they'll even let me write about it...Yes, though. Yes they will, as I am preparing to make fun of it.

It seems to be the outlet for those with no outside reader interest whatsoever, and have decided to do the worst job of marketing themselves ever. Am I being unfair? Let's look.

Ronnie Reyes is the king of them all. He is a motivational speaker of some sort, or was, until he became addicted to gambling, divorced and a sort of Beyond The Valley of the Sad Clowns inspirational lesson in how Not To Be. Better still, he has some sort of link to an even less joyous thing where you can hear Ronnie (and other losers!) whining about their loveless, joyless lives with full audio! God, it's wonderful-in that most horrible of ways.
Best of all, his tagline up top is "Your Insight To What's Right", which begs several questions:
You mean gambling addictions and crippling depression is the right choice for Me, The Consumer?
At what point in all of your mewling about your ex-wife and son not wanting to speak to you ever again is there any sort of Life Guidance being provided here? I feel like I'm listening to a Thought Provoking Quote of the Day (tm) answering machine message from 1987 that's still functioning, in a world that's pretty much gone to voice mail.
(and even more so)
If you're going to spend all your time describing exactly how batshit crazy you are, why is there still a "Invite Ronnie To Speak!" link in your sidebar? Tony Robbins is depressing, to be sure, but at least he's a showman. Ronnie would show up and start making off-color jokes about what bitches women are, observing how he really needs to change, oh everything about his life and when forced to do so, come up with weird little slogans that only seem to Forestall Suicide, not cause Ronnie To Thrive (tm)!

Yeah, it's hard. This self-described "Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Entertainer. Neurotic. Psychotic. Friend." is still trying his damnedest to relay to you all that he learned at similar seminars he paid good money for, back in the Eighties. I am darkly reminded of a sister of an ex of mine who, though deeply addicted to crack cocaine, oftentide sprinkled her incoherent emails with real estate tips, as she had been in that world before becoming a crack whore.
And what am I supposed to do with the disarming honesty of the above description? Philosopher who creates bumper stickers (or bum-mer stickers! Hel-lo!) on his best days? Entrepreneur who admits that he's broke and jobless? Entertainer with no audience? Neurotic-okay: I'll give you that one. Psychotic? Nope: too verbal. Friend? To who or what? He routinely complains about having No Friends.
I mean, "Something good is coming. I know it. It has to, because life just can be this miserable for this long, right? Hope is inevitable." is not an inspirational phrase. It's also poorly written, but that's because he can barely see the screen, for all the tears.

Happy Hour ("or something else") is the thoughts of a guy who seems to speak/write English in a strange manner. Almost all of his posts involve his trips to the dentist (or "the dental trip"), and his girlfriend (?) Chaire, who may very well actually be a chair that speaks to him, and provides witty quotes.
His prose style is Joycean, in that you can't easily tell the quotes from the rest of the text. He is clearly British (references to 'radio 4', calling a baby carriage a 'pram'), and sort of has that self-deprecatory thing going on that they sometimes do. I'm not sure I like it, in that none of the stories are very interesting, nor do they make much sense.
But-to read the guy, it leaves one noting the two things about blogdom that always must be noted. To wit:
It's great that people have a creative outlet for the narrative of their lives, however...
Have you noticed how boring most people's lives are?
He does make reference to the Black Shuck, who The Darkness make reference to in one of their songs ("That dog don't give a fuuu-ck!"). It would seem that there really is this big, black dog that haunts the north of England, ala our Bigfoot, here, or the Ringtailed Cat of the Northeast.

What else? Well, there's this French party chick who has a blog called "White Style", or something. It's in French, and as far as I can tell it's just this blog like any party chick's blog, and has nothing to do with the white supremacy movement in Frawnce. I'd try to apply translation to it, but that would just make this into another one of my many posts about the limitations of translation software.

Well, there's
Haszak, who is this very strange dude who says things like, " I guess I don't get depressed because I understand. We're all made of fire.", and "I was never born. Thomas Hardy is my favorite comedian."
He too is lonely, and like everyone else on this site, seems to never, ever have anyone comment on anything he says. But at least he's not like the woman who writes "Diarrhea of a Madwoman", who somehow manages to be boring, with a name like that.
Except that she's moving to England to live with someone named 'Paul', which is also the name of the "Happy Hour" guy. Who can say? People meet people through this silly medium.
Or, as White Glove (the author of 'Haszak') would have it: " A man's worth is his entertainment value to others."

As I've said, I've never been able to maintain more than one blog at a time, as that might seem just a bit more awful and pathetic than I'm willing to countenance. And as I examine this website that seems entirely populated by sad, lonely people, I'm reminded that I do have a life. Maybe that's why my stories are more interesting than theirs, too.
But Great Pain Makes Great Art, right? Well, sort of, but unintentionally, it would seem. I mean, Ronnie Reyes would be a pain in the ass in person, I think I can say, but plumbing the depths of what happens to assholes when the fragile constructs of their lives collapse are indeed the makings of Great Art. And it might just be more interesting than reading about the lives of people who have lives they are living.
Folks love a train wreck.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Eye Sawed Yoo: Chance Missed Meeting Personals Encounters!

HAWTHORNE, UNDER THE BIG BURGERVILLE BILLBOARD, 8/30: You, woman, dark hair, dark eyes, tee-shirt. Me: guy, blonde. We did not speak or even achieve eye contact. You seem very nice. Wanna fuck?

HIPSTER IDIOT ON SCOOTER, polluting lower SE with inefficient, lawnmower-esque engine, surrounded by maybe 20 other hipster idiots, thusly arrayed. Me: your sworn enemy.

You: lady cop on bicycle. Me: freshly out in the sunlight following mid-day boozing in public. Smiled at me. Though you are almost certainly either married or a lesbian, I love you and only you. Coffee?

SANDY HUT, TUES. NITE: You were the loud one who kept whooping, surrounded by people barely tolerating you. I was looking at you for a minute, thought you were sorta cute, then I noticed the bitchy, childish darkness in your eyes, the crimped brow, the spiteful little mouth n' chin combo, and foresaw you, not too long in the future, entirely consumed with bitterness and alcoholism, friendless. Decided not to approach.

WHY CAN'T WE BE FRIENDS? 'Arch-nemesis' is hardly a thing to call someone as friendly as myself. 'Stalker' is just plain unfair, and restraining orders just lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Ever since you became Mayor, you've changed. I didn't want to have to be the one to say it.

You: running for Mayor of Olympia. Me: don't know you at all. You described yourself in the voters' pamphlet as both 'schizophrenic' and 'available'. Sir, your honesty is refreshing. Wanna fuck?

DANNON YOGURT AD: You are eating yogurt, woman. I am watching television, man. Lunch? More?

(And this one's real; it was headed as "The girl who worked? True Brew". It's notable for its weird misuse of quotation marks.)
still think you are the most beautiful girl in portland . where/who are you? i still don't know your name. you "had" angle cut bangs. i still hope to "bump" into you sometime.

(And another one of these strange spam things that turn up with increasing regularity in my hotmail inbox:)

Good Day,

Let me start by introducing myself, I am MRS MARIFE CARREON DERONA, CREDIT ACCOUNTS OFFICER EQUITABLE PCI BANK. I am writing you this letter based on the latest development at my bank, which I will like to bring to your personal edification. I am writing you this letter with so much joy and excitement even though my heart goes out to the very powerful and distinguished gentleman who I was fortunate to have worked for and extremely privileged to have known for numerous years. I am a top official in charge of client accounts in EQUITABLE PCI BANK inside the Philippines.

In 2001, my client was going through a horrendous divorce in the United States of America and was on the verge of losing most of his estate to his vicious and diabolical wife. As a result of this alarming predicament, my client came to me with a very brilliant idea. He transferred some funds, ten million two hundred thousand dollars ($10.2m) to a fixed deposit account in my bank under an alias which only the two of us knew about as the confidentiality of the matter was necessary for his protection.

Due to his untimely death in early 2002, the funds have been sitting in the account ever since and will continue to do so perpetually unless we do something about it. This is where you come in. I located you through an agency that helps seek people by their email. My client did not declare any next of kin in his official papers including the paper work of his bank deposit. Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I would like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to our client so that you will be able to receive his funds. I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we can come out successful. I have contacted an attorney that will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to my client. All that is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me with your Full Names and Address so that the attorney can commence his job.

After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also file in for claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the transfer of the funds to an account that will be provided by you. There are no risks involved at all in the matter as we are going to adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary documents. The allocation of our money will be as follows: 20%($2.04m) to you for your part in this, 75% for me and my partners and 5% for any unforeseeable expenses we may incur. I think this is extremely fair, as you have nothing to lose but just a little time, while on the other hand I am staking my flawless reputation among other things. And besides $2.02 million is no pocket change. Once you are approved, the entire transaction should take no longer than twelve business days after which we will go about our daily business, but just millions of dollars richer.

As you can see this is easier than taking candy from a baby, but mind you, trust is something that is developed over time and that is something that we do not have. So I have to let you know that it will highly unfeasible to try to run away with the money because even though only you can transfer money in and out of your account, the transfer can only be authorized by my department of which i happen to be the head. The money will be transferred from my bank to an account you will provide. So please, there should be no room for greed because ten million two hundred thousand dollars can quench even the most insatiable desire for the almighty dollar.

Again, I will be in charge of everything else. I will assume all responsibilities for this endeavor so you don't have to worry about any legal ramifications, just what you will do with all that money. Your urgent response is highly anticipated so please email me.

This should be kept very secret and confidential. I believe you know.

(I like how it goes so easily from friendly to threatening. "It will be highly unfeasible for you to try to run away" is something I can easily envision being said by a James Bond Movie Villain. The juxtaposition of powerful/distinguished and vicious/diabolical is nice too: come to think of it, 'diabolical' is a word that rarely appears outside of James Bond movies, too. And the suggestion that Marife can trust me and only me with this information is sweet, despite the fact that this thing was bulk e-mailed to fuck-who-knows how many people all over the world. "Which I will like to bring to your personal edification" indeed.)

(And this little bit o' creepy:)
Night nurse shod in pale blue: I miss you. I wish that you were here with me. I'd do anything to get back to that night.
(Drinks? Enemas?)


Monday, January 15, 2007

A Veteran of the Psychic Wars

"Play the part of the leader. Either at home or in the outside world you can make a difference. Your inner wisdom and judgment is peaking, so assess long-term goals and objectives."-My Grandmother's horoscope for Sunday, January 14th, 2007
"Oh, happy day. Everyone seems cooperative and things run smoothly. You know just who you are and what brings you bliss. Contemplate important plans for the future."-My horoscope for the same day.

My maternal grandfather was a wife-abusing, child-molesting son-of-a-bitch who went back to ol' Virginny, after my Granny divorced him, and started up a whole other family. I never met him. His name was Ray, but they called him 'Buck'.
My paternal grandfather was known widely and liked by most who met him. He married his boss's daughter and started a dynasty of sorts, leaving behind a pretty large footprint in Oregon history. His name was Jesse, but they called him 'Bud'.
My maternal grandmother was perhaps the biggest influence on my young life. Her name was Ethel, but even people her own age called her 'Granny'. When she died, it was like the biggest tree on the property falling over, upending the better part of the pasture along with it.
The last surviving grandparent I had was named Eleanor, and even called herself that when speaking to me. She was known to me, at various times, as either Miz Ellie, or The Ice Queen.

She and I got in an argument in 1995 that painfully contorted our relationship for the rest of its time. Without going too far into it, she chose to begin this conversation by insulting my mother, which isn't a great way to begin any conversation, much less one where I honestly was trying to bury the damn hatchet. I ended it by verbally checkmating her in a way far meaner than I think I've been to anyone, much less an elderly woman.
She turned ninety years old last month, and we had a nice talk at her birthday. For the most part, as the years went by, we got back to at least respecting each other, if not exactly loving each other.

I pointed out to someone I loved once that in general, one does not necessarily love someone who is a member of my family, but you do respect them. I made it my mission, somewhat early on, to be someone that people loved, if not necessarily respected at all times.
I respected my grandmother for what she had done, but never overlooked the price it carried for her, or all the people in her life. She was too busy running a business to really love anyone, and lines, by necessity, were drawn.
She, for her part, had the Chief Pest In Charge thing going on, in that it was pretty well impossible to please her, and never let you forget it. Constant undermining with little comments was the order of the day, and my putting so much distance between myself and her irked her no doubt. It meant she couldn't give me as much shit as she wished, but also it genuinely perturbed her that I'd turned my back on the entire game of family.

My friends have always been my family, and it always makes me feel like shit on those occasions when genuine familial obligation takes me back to these people I'm related to, who spend their time doing for each other what my friends and I do for each other.
When the call came from my stepmom, two days ago, that my grandma had had a massive cerebral hemorrhage, I asked, "Are you alone?"
Nope. She was there with my cousin Susan (named after my paternal Great Grandmother, and Lieutenant Chief Pest In Charge), who was doing her best to be both histrionic and The Micromanager of You. She was in management mode, belied by her tears. Managing the relatives, managing the hospital staff, who were very indulgent. When she wasn't harrassing the staff, in fact, my aunt Brenda (current Chief Pest In Charge) or my cousin Kathryn (Chief Pest of My Generation, anyway) was on the phone, doing so. Again, the staff was very nice, but the fact remained the same: there was a mass of blood where a very important part of her brain had been, and she wouldn't be waking up again.

The ravages of time were especially cruel on my grandmother, who went blind about ten years ago. She loved to read, and the thought of spilling a bunch of food all down her front at a nice restaurant horrified her. She was always of an elegant cast of mind, and didn't wanna be no slob.
My dad, stepmom and I went to see "The Queen" yesterday. It's a pretty good movie about the current throne-holder of England, and how she dealt with the emotional outpouring following the death of the ex-Princess of Wales, Diana.
"Dealt", indeed, because emotion isn't Elizabeth's strong suit. She is England, you know, and considers it her duty to be Strong rather than Warm. "Did that sort of remind you of anyone?" my dad asked afterward.
Yes, my grandma (and her sister, the other Ice Twin) had the same sort of assumed superiority and generalized disapproval going on. Why this should be is a mystery for the ages. Elizabeth, it is shown in the movie, took the advice of the absurdly grinning Tony Blair and played England's Gramma, just long enough to show that they weren't complete monsters over there in Buckingham.

My grandma, I noted at several times did wish that she could have been warmer, but whenever she tried, it went badly. Also: she'd just been to the doctor last week, and after a CAT scan, said that she felt like she'd "lost three days". I imagine that this was a minor stroke she had, and the hemorrhage ultimately resulted from it.
We tend to keep our minds, in my family, until the day we die. This means that we get to be completely coherent as our bodies fall apart around us. Looking at her there in that bed, breathing in a highly labored manner, blood on her tongue where she'd clearly bit it, I felt glad that she was asleep. It would have mortified her to look that way.
Noting that vigils of the sort we were keeping were pointless, my stepmother suggested dinner. On the way out, I paused to say one last something to Miz Ellie.
"Well, we're going to get some dinner, and it sounds like they're going to be giving you morphine, so we probably won't get to talk again tonight. Know that I love you, and we'll continue this conversation on the other side."
Highly disingenuous of me: I don't believe in an other side, and I don't think she did either. Death brings out the sentiment in people though; the hardest part is watching other people grieving.

She died later that night, and I was sitting at the bar with th' Gringa and the Tulsa Kid. We raised our glasses, and I said, "To Eleanor: Gawd knows what you would have been if you'd been born in a different decade."
True enough. Women of her power, intellect and drive mostly didn't get to use it, in the decades that she was the business end of our newspaper dynasty. I can truly only wonder what she'd have been like if she was born in 1960, say.

Beyond here, it all gets ugly. The mellow side of the Bachelors, as represented by my dad, are tired of fighting with one another, and the other side, captained by my uncle, are grasping and acquisitive as ever. I removed myself from their shit long ago, as much to protect them as myself. Still though, insecure, rigid freaks like them don't rest easy, and I'm sure even worse plans are being hatched.
Besides, one way or the other, that's it for the upper tiers of my family. We're all getting older, and that's pretty much that. I didn't expect to not get old, and mortality and I have been acquainted for a good long while. You just sort of hope that people would get wiser, nicer, smarter, and that's not always the case.

You gotta give it up to Miz Ellie though: she taught me my first lessons in the use of words as weapons, and the specifics of psychic warfare, if only by example.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Rundown!

A quick peek at the latest issue of The Merc gives a fine overview of what folks might be naming their bands these days. Let's categorize 'em!

Quite Good:
We Quit
Sauce Policy
The Snippet Birds
Good For Cows
Prize Country
Your Drugs My Money
Another Fine Crisis
The Online Romance
Whiskey Puppy
Childhood Friends
Straightedege Buddhist Strippers
Urban Sex Legends
So-Called Blues Band
Scientific Lifestyle
The American Black Lung
The Shipwreck Of Eddie King
The Real Doozies (who are playing with Suzy's Floozies [see below])

Not Bad, but only sorta Cuttin' It:
The Early November
The Sun The Sea
Swim Swam Swum
Bird Costumes
Centerline Tragedy
Me And Me
Dead Air Fresheners
Books Unburned
Grab The Camera

The Inexcusable (which, come to think of it, wouldn't make a bad band name):
Miss Defy
Disappear Fear (featuring Sonia!)
Chill Will
Untyd (or anything that is a commonly used word-but misspelled!)

You're Trying Too Hard:
Dragging An Ox Through Water
Chin Up Meriwether!
Nequaquam Vacuum
3/38 And An Eye
Blame The Sea
Come Back Maggie Auburn
Nodding Tree Remedies
Think Airbag
Wombstretcha The Magnificent
Almost Is Nothing
Keep The Fork There's Pie

You're Not Trying Hard Enough:
The Hermans
Anomalous Quintet
Suburban Slim
Wellswung Gypsies
Bugs Of Lightning
Holding Out
Suzy's Floozies
Devin Phillips' Funk Project

My suggestions:
Wise Cracking Sidekick (which was the name of a duo I was, briefly, in)
Third-Rate District Attorney ("Hey! Ya' goin' to the TRDA show tonight?")
Eighteenth Pale Descendant (if you're a Smiths cover band)
The Deeply Flawed
Hey Stupid
Sandwich Boy
The Boss Of You
The Frown Club
The Exact Opposite
The Spokespeople
The Antidisestablishmentarians
Quality Adult Themes
We Wanted So Much

Just got some weird news, gonna tell you what, next post.


Friday, January 12, 2007

The Price of Admission

"It has often been remarked that men about to face death on the field of battle or, indeed, the very gallows itself, frantically seek solace in the sexual act. The same is true of the common hangover: a raw egg beaten up in Worcester Sauce or Tabasco is a useful placebo for the hung-over novice; a pint of flat or tepid ale is a kill-or-cure specific/emetic for those with leathern stomachs, while a brace of large brandies marks out your seasoned boozer who knows that he needs an empiric to get him back into the human race as quickly as may be. You may depend upon it, however, that the only sovereign cure for us men of iron is a brisk five minutes of what Jock (the narrarator's manservant) coarsely calls 'rumpy pumpy'. It is positively warranted to scour the cobwebs from the moss-infested skull; no home should be without it. Try some tomorrow. I shan't pretend that you can buy it at all reputable chemists but you will find a registry office in most large towns. I digress, I know, but usefully: these words of mine alone are worth the price of admission."

Yeah, but are they? The above is from "After You With The Pistol", by Kyril Bonfiglioni (1928-85), who was, would ya' guess, British. He was engaging in what I've seen described as "the conversation thing that the English do so well, where they can talk forever and never tell you a thing," by no less than Neil Gaiman, who is also British.
"After You With The Pistol" (perhaps as in "No, no, I insist: you're the one here with a gun, after all...", or "That guy is gunning for you. With a pistol.") is pretty much all like that. There's a story, but it's not very interesting or well written, and the reason to stick around is for little tangents like the above. He rhapsodizes in a way entirely superfluous to the plot about Seagulls, and how bad Chicago smells...
The Reverend O'Hare gave me this book for my birthday: he's always going to be a bigger fan of British humor than I am, but I have a certain appreciation for it. I mean, the guy just took himself a rather lengthy paragraph to explain how Fucking cures both hangovers and the fear of death.

B.R. Meyers, in "A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness In Modern Literature", would probably view endless gabbing like the above as overcompensation "of the sort always practiced by insecure writers". Yeah, kinda, but I even enjoy long, pointless conversations about trivial things, as long as we all agree that they're Just That, but also that we're going to act like they're not for the moment. Also, it even helps to cultivate and get used to Bores, since they comprise so much of Earth's population.
I mean, that's pretty much how I write, in novel form. The characters aren't characters at all: they're Ideas decked out as pretty little stick figures. This approach has a long pedigree in literature, and just because very few other people are doing it doesn't mean it's without worth. Indeed, most authors write from a limited perspective of Someone Much Like The Author, in which their inner struggles are catalogued in great detail, and other people are funny li'l phenomena they keep observing.
Fuck it. I'll take a book where the main character is The World any day over that. You're an English teacher who writes? And whose wife doesn't understand him? How very unique: please write a book about it.

People are interesting, but they're not so interesting that they're the only thing worth discussing. People have been doing that as long as there's been people, and with very little variation in the topic material.
I mean, Smile, by the Beach Boys (if indeed albums are novels too), was one of those long-awaited, if-you-could-hear-it-in-its-entirety-you'd-see-Gawd kinda things, and I think it's fucking awful. I'm going to have to surrender my Music Geek badge at the next trade seminar, but it's the kind of thing the rest of us would have left in our notebooks. It's just because it's all about what was going on in Brian Wilson's (and indeed, Van Dyke Parks's) head, and it strikes me as somewhere I don't wish to spend my time. Self-absorption is the heart and soul of all artistry, but never think in advance I care what your overweight, drug-addicted ass thinks.

(So wait a minute: what are you saying? That trivial ramblings are fine as long as they're not about You? That Can't Be It.)
Well, you're right, and I'm not sure it is. I mean, All Things Must Pass (poop joke, anyone?) by George Harrison is viewed by Me as one of the greatest albums ever made, but it's totally a Westerner jacking off about his Immense Spiritual Growth, and that's really played out. But it works because it's beautiful, even when it's songs with ridiculous titles like 'Beware of Evil', and 'Thanks For The Pepperoni'.
It works, in short, because it works, and that's no kind of boundary to set, I know. Maybe it's more of that Moment Out Of Time thing I like so well: you have been taken aside to have a little dream, or be given A Gift of Some Sort. It's not happening in real time, because that's where you spend most of your working hours, and that's not what Art is for.
But really? Some of the greatest art is about The Mundane, and rightfully so. Maybe there though because it shows you exactly how Surreal the Real is.

And living in a fantasy world all of one's own is boring, too. The ouvre of John "Ozzy" Osbourne is repeatedly marred by it, and often saved only by surrounding himself with excellent musicians. He's a profoundly stupid man on most days, and I love him dearly for so clearly not noticing this aspect of himself. When he sings all those songs about Evil, and the value of smoking marijuana, astral projection and how nuclear war is actually Satan's fault, I giggle uncontrollably.
There's a barbecue joint/smokehouse up in Bee's neck of the woods called 'U-licious'. We love it because that's one seriously retarded name there, and also for the clear lack of care about that fact the owner is displaying. It's so stupid, it's beautiful. The song 'Type-U Blood', by The Make Up is along the same lines, but knowingly so.
We often riff on a potential commercial for the joint: "Youuuu-licious? Meeee-licious!" It's that Unbridled Enthusiasm thing that so often cracks me up, even as it frustrates and annoys.
Or, as one of Matthew Hattie Hein's best jokes would have it: "Hysterectomy? Hysterecto-You, motherfucker!"

I think we've all learned a lot here today. One of those bands from the past I'm discovering all over again is Mott The Hoople. They wrote great, catchy tunes that presaged glam rock by a little bit, with not so much of the knowing irony that later bands did. And their name is Mott The Hoople.
Mott The fucking Hoople. As a kid, I imagined that this was someone's translation of 'meet the people', as spoken by someone out of their mind on quaaludes (for that matter, ain't the word quaalude great? It looks like how it makes you feel: not exactly onomatopoeia?). I still don't know why they were named that: the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock n' Roll has a lengthy entry that never once mentions it. I do like the fact that their first album was called Mott The Hoople, and their seventh and eighth albums were named Mott and The Hoople, respectively. They also did a song called 'Ballad of Mott the Hoople'.
I also like how the spell-check aspect here thinks 'mott' is a perfectly good word (when capitalized), but just can't get behind 'hoople'.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Golden Treasury of Timeless, Classic Hits

My ongoing battle with the software around here has long prevented me from diving back into the guts of the thing and (a) updating my blogroll, and (b) having a 'greatest hits' section.

Whaa? Oh, y'know, the posts that truly said what I wanted them to say, and did a not bad job of it. I still feel okay about reading most of them, even when tiredness/drunkenness/lack of true interest prevented me from Finishing The Way Every Man Must Finish (aaah. And we all know what that is, right, ladies?) .

I went back, for instance, on New Years' Day to the post from NYD, 2005. What's there is the usual buncha twaddle about how I'm going to be a better Bachelor, plus a picture of me wearing a cowboy hat, and smoking.
Just adjacent to this is this thing about Ronald Reagan's death that I kinda like. The right wing bloggers had been losing their shit, as had most of the news media they so claim to hate, about the recent death of that senile old bastard, and were seeking the views of others. Oh, I gave 'em some views, all right.

It sort of reminds me about the recent loss of Gerald Ford, in our long national sleepwalk. Pushing to one side my dark musing that apparently January is fatal to Republicans, the long-canned obits ranged from 'At Least He Wasn't As Bad As The Rest Of Them' to 'Best President Ever!'
I'm gonna say they missed the point. For one thing, this man was always a professional cleaner-up-of-messes, from The Warren Commission to Watergate. There are those that say the two events are more connected than they seem, by the way, and who better to preside over their orderly dismissal and ultimate forgetting than a bland, seemingly very nice man who strongly resembles...My father, actually.
I mean, was there actually anything Noble about stopping the Watergate hearings? 'The country would have been torn apart'-sorry: already happened. And the CIA in particular was starting to look very bad indeed in the ongoing investigation, so Ford appoints another bland man named George Herbert Walker Bush-an 'outsider', it was claimed-to clean it up.
Actually, lots of funny stuff happened during "The Accidental Presidency", and almost none of it was spoken of during the strange week that followed the man's death. Just lots of maundering about how 'decent' he was, and how we all trusted and liked him, even though he was incompetant. Between him and Harry Truman, I'm saying that the bland, likeable ones tend to be the real criminals.

And then, the whole chain letter thing happened. I had almost forgotten this one, even though it's one of the funnier stories outta last year. I haven't talked to Simone since. Sometimes the bad blood of efforts made in bad faith just goes too far. I don't know, though.

Recent good deeds include consoling a drunk lady who had found out that her daughter has advanced-stage breast cancer. I pointed out that my own mother had a five-pound tumor removed from her gut, and is still quite with us. Things that look utterly impossible sometimes aren't, and I reminded her of that, in lieu of just saying 'sorry' and buying her a beverage.
Also, The Tulsa Kid, Gringa Alta Prima and I rescued a dog off the street. He was an old dog named 'George' (according to his very old tags), very wet from hours in the rain, and nice as pie. Bleeding from his ass due to some bowel obstruction.
We at least got him to an animal hospital, after a night of caring for him ourselves (minus any attempts at surgery, you'll be happy to know). After they make him all better, they'll probably ship him to the county shelter, where I suspect that no one will adopt him, and he'll be put down. At least he won't die in agonizing pain on a wet sidewalk, but still, that one's fifty-fifty.

As we move into February (just like now! Hel-lo!), there was the whole filibustering Sufjan Stevens affair. Nice if you're into that sort of thing. It nearly took up the entire month, it-and the attendant commentary-is so lengthy and rife with links to the blogs of others.

Hm. Went down to one of the many places that can be described as Wine Country around here. Bought some pinot noir at the place I think makes the greatest pinot of them all: Firesteed Cellars.
(aaand back to "Teen Prostitute" names again: Steed Ramwood!)
Yeah, we're gonna not be able to help you pretty soon around here, as far as that grape goes. Too damn hot. Gonna need to grow that in the Puget Sound region, then the Okanogans, and ultimately, British Columbia leading thence to the Northwest Territories and Alaska...
Ah, don't feel so bad about it: in Assyria, they never had it this slow. All of a sudden, the cuneiform tablets start bawling about how even the earthworms were dead, and that was pretty much it. Took about fifteen years, folks estimate, for it to go from a relatively stable market economy/warring power to Place Where Shit Don't Grow. Please, no 'Ozymandias' quotes.
Firesteed is way off the path of the wine tourist: way down by Rickreall (always one of my favorite place names in Oregon), where you grow things. It was quiet, and I had one of those cinematic moments of watching a tiny figure in blue plod slowly, 'humbly'-I'd say if I was Kerouac or something, up a long dirt path in a field of green, on an adjacent hill. In the foreground, Bee walking Goofus and Gallant, careful to spread only the finest of urban dog poops to the gentle asphalt of the drive.

Wanna see me in my finest rhetorical fettle, though no doubt mad as hell and planning on failing to take it any more? Howzabout this here?
Yeah. abortion: Let's Talk About It. I had sort of planned to avoid certain things in this here public airing of what amounts to my diary, and abortion was in there. To be fair; so were breakups, so y'know...

The pavement opened up here in my neighborhood, on the 26th of December, and swallowed a city sanitation truck. It took the better part of seven hours to get the damn thing out of the hole, which no one has a decent explanation for. They dragged it ever so slowly out of its muddy, gassy hole with an enormous crane, surrounded by floodlights.
Walking that evening, a woman asked, "What are they filming over there?" I thought she was kidding. News crews were, indeed filming at that moment, which provided them with this absurd shot of a several ton truck dangling from a very long chain on a hook, while city workers lovingly sprayed it with hoses.
I tried to retrieve some of the truly awesome photos of this event (which took place about four blocks from my home, and right behind Gringa Alta Prima's apartment), but the news channel's websites have horrible-to-no archiving. Interesting though, to see what happens when you plug phrases like 'big truck in hole', and 'swallowed up by earth' into a search engine.

Goddamn it. I'd really like to post this picture I found of a screaming little boy being held by...something.
But my ongoing misunderstandings with Mr. and Mrs. Blogspot leave me without a clue as to how one puts a picture all the way down here. So, enjoy yer hyperlink, and don't ever call me again.
Naw: let's end this one by a sticky-eyed, first thing outta bed look back at the very first posting on PSTM, way back in 19-dickity-Two, I believe it was:
this is why we should have hid the whiskey
And don't say I ever did anything for you.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

(Heh heh heh heh. Y'know that Pete Seeger Song? About how yer followin' a stupid leader who clearly doesn't know what he's doin', and eventually his dumb ass drowns? Heh heh? Here: read a story.)
My stepfather has a pretty good footstool. He bought it at auction for, I'm suspecting, not too much. I mean, it's a perfectly serviceable footstool: swivels, and...All right. It's from Rajneeshpuram. Y' happy?

Oh? And what is/was Rajneeshpuram? Well, it was certainly news in its day. The Big Muddy Ranch in Central Oregon, not all that far from the town of Antelope, had been lying fallow for some years in 1980. Suddenly, it was purchased by an outside concern: the followers of the Bhagwan Sri Rajnish.
Or, the Baagwan Shree Rajneesh. The phonetic spelling gives you a clue as to part of what was happening here: good old nativism was going to be on the march here, against the Outsiders. Thing is, the Outsiders were genuinely bad, and the defenders weren't so hot themselves.

At that time on the streets of Portland, one could often see people clad in purple (generally: orange, red and pink were also acceptable colors), proselytizing and begging cash in roughly speaking the same way the Hare Krishnas would in airports of the day. Along with their mono-spectral clothing, all these people wore long strands of wooden beads leading to a photo-medallion. The medallion was a picture of a beatific-looking older man with a long beard and some sort of headdress indicating either great wisdom (to some) or being One of Those People (to others).
The man in the photo was the Bhagwan (born Rajneesh Chandra Mohan, in 1931), whose organization had recently been kicked out of India for being too fucking extreme. Imagine the odds. Their ashram in Poona had been the center of several rape accusations, as well as dark allegations of not-accidental violence. Like lots of people seeking cheap land, the Bhagwan headed to Oregon.
They purchased the Big Muddy Ranch for six million dollars. At its peak, it boasted 3,000 residents (Wikipedia lists it as 7,000, but the entry was pretty clearly written by a follower). The nearest town, Antelope, had 40 people.

Curiously, the listing over on doesn't mention any of the allegations of wrongdoing in India. They claim that the man and his movement came here due to personal health concerns.
Quite so: I'd never heard this before, but also according to that listing, the Bhagwan was stabbed by 'a religious zealot' shortly before the move to the States. Also, I hadn't heard that the original ashram was in Bombay, which they left due to either community protest or the need for larger facilities, depending on who you ask.

Most Rajneeshees were American or English; the sort of person (based on the few I've personally met) who needed something else post '60's spiritual/political awakening and '70's self-absorption/malaise/coke n' quaaludes. What they found in Rajneesh was a highly comfortable mishmash of partially digested philosophies from all over The East, with just enough Christianity to sound familiar. This is described in some circles as 'syncretic'. I just call it the You'll Buy Anything Syndrome.
So, along with funny clothes and chosen foreign-sounding names (Sheila Silverman, deputy to the Bhagwan and chief spokesperson, became 'Ma Anand Sheela', for instance), the Outsiders were also those liberal cultural elitists, generally from wealthy backgrounds, that folks in Central Oregon were already well on their way to hating a lot.
They also weren't fond of the men in pink jeeps, wearing pink polo shirts, sporting Uzis, who patrolled the perimeter of the newly founded Rajneeshpuram.

Building permits were being denied to the new city on the high plains. They had already made the place a working farm again, and had gone building-crazy, not really bothering with the legal particulars.
Journalists from the outside (both Spalding Gray and Christopher Hitchens have very interesting accounts of their visits there: Hitchens was particularly horrified by the sign that read "Shoes and minds must be left at the gate.") noted the daily parade of the Bhagwan in one of his many Rolls Royces, and the odd servility of the inhabitants. Well, they'd taken that Leap of Faith, and had furthermore paid a lot of money to be there: they'd better believe it, or they'd know for certain what fools they truly were.
Tired of what they viewed as petty harrassment by Wasco County authorities (and maybe it was), the Rajneeshees began grasping for a foothold in nearby Antelope. They started with the only cafe in town, which they named 'Zorba the Buddha'.

I visited the town during this time. Having no love of vegetarian food, and noting that all other items on sale were in vivid shades of red, I purchased a (can of) Coke, and a (red) t-shirt that I wish I still had.
On my order of the demon sody-pop, the incredibly spacy woman at the counter said, "Oh wow...", and turned away, leaving me there. Other, friendlier adults then stepped in, and did me the courtesy of taking my money.
It doesn't surprise me now that they were so friendly (if so very spacy): it was in their best interest to be that way. At the time it did surprise me, since the media in Oregon (and increasingly, the United States in general) routinely portrayed them as being a rabid bunch of Jim Jones-es to be. It didn't help that Ma Anand Sheela was such an awful choice as far as mouthpieces go: she spent most of her time shrieking about what a bunch of stupid people and bigots her fellow Oregonians were.

And were we? Yeah probably at first. But then, they really shouldn't have made their miracle in the desert into an armed compound. The truly awful happenings at the People's Temple in Guyana were still fresh in all our minds.
Then, they tried to expand their purview of Antelope from the cafe to the entire town. Rather than be taken over by this crimson tide of evil, the citizens voted to dis-incorporate.

Worse yet, the Rajneeshees were actively recruiting homeless people in Portland, and moving them to Wasco County, perhaps in order to sway elections. If they'd kept on at the rate they'd been going, Rajneeshpuram would have easily been the largest city in the county. Even worse than that was the whole salad-bar-bioterrorism thing.
Folks eating from salad bars in The Dalles (about 750 of them, in fact) started coming down with salmonella poisoning, which killed none, but sure did make them sick. It has been said that this was a test run for a larger mass poisoning scheduled for election day.
Lots of people don't like zoning laws, but this was spiralling horribly out of control. This was the first bio-terrorism attack in the United States, by the way. Around this time, Sheela and few other inner-circle Rajneeshees were plotting to kill the Attorney General of Oregon, and even began stalking his house.

Somewhere in here, Sheela and some followers fled, taking most of the money with them, to Germany. They started a restaurant and disco. The place was raided, and most were extradited to the United States, though some to England. Rajneesh himself fled to Charlotte, North Carolina (again with the 'health reasons'), where he was arrested and extradited to Oregon.
Later, he moved back to India, and adopted the name 'Osho'. The name, even now, bears a registered trademark symbol, in an unintentionally hilarious twist. The trademark itself is disputed, and disagreements about what 'Osho' even means continue to this day (though the most common translation, from the Japanese, is 'Friend').

If you go to the (re-incorporated) town of Antelope now and ask the locals what they thought about all that, you'll get some pretty justifiable anger about the attempted hi-jacking of their community by Outsiders, along with some ugly Christian Rightist mutterings. It's best not to ask.
There is a clumsy monument at the courthouse in The Dalles to those who got sick defending their right to a salad, and the Osho (R) movement boasts over twenty 'meditation centers' worldwide. I believe The Big Muddy is still empty, but I'm not sure.
The footstool? It's a pretty great footstool.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Trimming the Fat off the Ham

When I was first approached about the project that would eventually gain the name Gittin' Wimmin ', I was working at a rock show, as a security guard. A co-worker of mine was embarrassingly kissing her boyfriend, at length, after the show. I wanted to talk to her, but since she was unavailable for that sort of thing, I got her boyfriend's friends, who spoke to me at length about music.
"Would you want to join a soul-influenced punk band?", they asked.

Well, that sounded stupid. I did not yet realize that this sort of thing was already a sub-genre of its very own, here in the year 1999. The Detroit Cobras, The Dirtbombs, and most importantly, the soon-to-be-very-famous White Stripes had decided that such a thing was where popular music was headed. For the moment though, I was still stuck in the experimental noise/pure depressed '60's pop stuff I'd been playing forever. I said yes to this idea as a lark.
Well, for one thing, it had been years since I'd taken on any project that required skill as a drummer. Anything that smacked of training or proficiency just seemed a little too try-hard-y, you know? Maybe just maybe I needed a genre of music that required accuracy and speed. Maybe I needed a little science in my art.

Above all else, what you could more accurately call this sub-genre was neo-garage. This was taking up where some of the rock n' roll pioneers of this very region left off. The Sonics, The Wailers (not of the Bob Marley variety) and especially The Kingsmen (of "Louie Louie" fame) all had been minor hitmakers of the early '60's, and all had been from Here, roughly speaking.
The sort of music they practiced was of a highly primitive sort, just as Rock was about to move into its perhaps most pretentious period. They played popular music as if it could still be done by a bunch of kids in garages, which is of course what made the whole enterprise attractive in the first place.
A quick listen to the compilation records compiled by one Kearney Barton, a producer of the time, reveals people who on one hand want to be primal and explosive, but also want to make a buck, and are actively trying to sound like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Them, Donovan, etc. The artists on all (ten?) of the records are from Portland, Tacoma or Seattle, and most of them are forgotten (though "Louie Louie" will live forever, and "Flash and Crash" by the Sonics was recently featured on 'The Sopranos'). The major breakout act of this scene was a quartet of weirdoes practicing space-age pop, surf and incredibly strange covers of standards named The Ventures.

Well, I liked that stuff, in as much as I'd heard it. More to the point, I was looking for something to do, and this seemed like just the thing. After one afternoon jamming with the kids (a boy-and-girlfriend combo, plus the guy who'd been kissing my co-worker), we decided that we were a good match. Now it was time to pick a moniker for ourselves.
We threw around a bunch, but the major one that stuck was Gittin' Wimmin'. "Oh," I said to the only woman in the band-the one who had suggested it-"that's an awful name."
"Yeah, well...Why do most people join bands?"
I had to agree. Mind you, my suggestion for the band's name had been Tennessee Penis Ford (or Tennessee Ernie Penis, or Penis Ernie Ford, on various evenings, scheduled for rotation).

We played a number of shows around town, and were liked, for what we were. Our lead singer was not one that could be said to be capitalizing on her sexual appeal. The lead guitarist was a strange, though handsome, man who unfortunately was tethered to said lead singer, and our bass player looked like a damn kid. At age Twenty-Nine, I was the oldest by several years and was said to be the 'mascot' of the band, considering that I was sleeping with four (sometimes five) separate women concurrently during this period.
"I hope," said Miss Kitty during this time, "that you'll one day look back on this period in your life, and feel lucky."

I suppose so. I was in a band that had not one but two theme songs (although the second one, 'Everybody Counts With Gittin' Wimmin', was just a crowd participation song in which we led everyone in counting up to Eight). All the musicians were good at what they did; I personally re-learned how to be exact and quick on the drums.
The lead singer and her boyfriend, having been in such Champaign-Urbana legends as Lit (no, not the famous one) and Bantha, had years of inside jokes transmogrified into songs. These days though, his still skewed toward the jokey and hers were of the sort that younger women write: all addressed to an un-named 'You' that is responsible for everything bad. This marred even our funnier songs. The bass player had written an entire song cycle about the Utah practice of renting llamas for daily rates. It was strange, but cute.

Yeah, we were doin' okay. But the side project I really wish we'd gotten into was 'Booshy' Buchet and the Happy Birthdays.
That was just gonna be me and the two other fellas. The idea there was a sleazy lounge combo of recovering alcoholics, mostly singing songs about our disgrace and redemption. We would wear filthy white tuxedoes (one of us with a big dark footprint on the back, hopefully), and each be named for our facial hair. Mine would be Kinky Burns.
Matter of fact, I don't really write songs very often because I find that I inevitably have to sacrifice meaning to the rhyme scheme, and I hate that. But I wrote one here: a note regarding my particular dislike of malt liquor called 'Kinky Don't Take No Malt'.
"Carpal tunnel is for losers
malt liquor is not fun
I'm just here to spread a message
of joy and peace to everyone
and Jesus loves me this I know
that's what makes my garden grow
and hippity hoppity Easter's on its way.
After the intro, I kind of drag it back to the main point, but you see what I mean. All good fun.

Booshy himself had a great one called 'I've Shaved My Ways (No More Booshy Days)':
"I remember two Easters ago
trimming the fat off the ham
I knew I shouldn't have spoke
to your mother that way
I said it was the fortified wine
Oh, but it was Me, all the time."

Pure gold. And the bass player, the most baby-faced of the three ("Peachy Fuzz"), would step up timidly to the mike, holding his li'l bass guitar as we hurled invective at him.
"Sing yer little song, Peachy!"
"I found you in that fuckhole in Kankakee, and I can put you back!"
And then, in a tiny voice, he'd begin to sing:
"You...Can be...Such a cruel, cruel me...Can't you see?" Tears to the eyes. Even now.

Ah, there's really too many stories about all the above. We made an album. I'm told it sucked. I moved to Ashland...Aw. Bands're stupid. Haven't been in one since, myself, although I know the rest of them have. Still though, I look back fondly on sitting around in our basement up on Mt. Tabor, doing the call and response numbers:
"If y' fry it in baaacon grease!"
"You'll 'turn up' dead in a lake!"
and the chorus:
"Whatcha think about that, Booshy?" I would solo, in my deepest basso profundo. Things like this are what make it all worth while, sort of .


Monday, January 01, 2007

The Excluded Middle

New year, everyone: let's get to it. Baby 2007 (an awkward name, but it beats the one his mother wanted: Brock Hambly) is still having the amniotic fluid siphoned from its ('his'? Do years have gender? We know that they can be animals) various ora, and already the great work continues. And yes: I mean bloggin'.

The Erudite Redneck reminds us that this day is given over to the eating of blackeyed peas, if you call The South home. When I was dating Gringa Alta Segunda, a South Carolingian by extraction, she told me that the blackeyes are for good luck in general, and the collard greens you're supposed to eat with them are for good money luck, specifically. That was Baby 2004, the year I went to work on New Year's Day and was fired, after working a hellish breakfast shift. Four months later, lost the girl, too, so those damn peas and foul greens that I don't like also don't work, or maybe I'm just not From The South enough. I don't know.

Th' Honeybee holds that this day is sacred to the steak, which I can always get behind as a food option. I assume this is because she's a Chicagoan by extraction: Butchershop to the World, or whatever the damned Carl Sandburg called it.
In 'An Afterward to Trout Fishing In America', Richard Brautigan sternly admonishes Mr. Sandburg:
Cats walk on little cat feet
and fogs walk on little fog feet,

Good point. He was always a stringent realist, that Dick Braut.
(Exercise: go through the proper names used in this posting and put 'Teen Prostitute' after them. I think you'll be happily surprised at the result.)

I myself am eating of the Finn bread my mother gave me, with a little butter and sugar. The Finns call it pulle, and the Swedes call it bulle. I don't know if the Norse have this one, but they probably do: everyone seems to have an egg bread. De Jeeeeews call theirs challah, and it's eggier. The Greeks put slivered almonds on theirs.
Finns, reflecting their long, proud culinary traditions, put cardamom in it and dump a bunch of sugary coffee all over it before baking. I was stunned, the other day, to note that there was a 'Finnish Cuisine' section in the bookstore. Even more stunned to note that there was more than one book. I was sort of expecting them all to have one page that pretty much says, Marinate the hell out of stinky whitefish, and you can never go wrong with a good cup of coffee.

I'm reading The New Yorker this morning, and there's this story about Walt Disney that's pretty interesting. Until I hit 'Meet Me In St. Louis', I was pretty against the whole Disney franchise. I sort of see them as Nazi Dicks, and even as a kid, they creeped me out. I've often maintained that this is how to delineate American households, as regards the entertainment: I'm a Warner Brothers kid; get that fucking rat out of here. Give me a wise-cracking rabbit any day.
You know? And for that matter, what is the necessary Excluded Middle choice here? The Dodge to Disney and Warners' Ford and Chevy? The RC to their Coke and Pepsi? The Winston to their Marlboro and Camel? The CBS to their ABC and NBC? The 'maybe' to their 'Yes' or 'No'? The 'sorta' to their 'definitely' and 'certainly not'? (Stop it.)
Anyway, I've never figured that one out, but about the almost religious (and certainly subliminal) love of products: in my own personal cosmology, Marlboro is a redneck cigarette, while Camel is for hippies. Coke is for right-wing bastards, the more easygoing (and sweeter) Pepsi has its own generation that keeps updating itself every decade, to stay with the times.
Ford is The North, and Chevy is The South. (I've actually seen that one come to blows amongst friends. Also, I really pissed off this guy from Georgia by not liking Coke. I said that this was a pointless debate, and he agreed, saying, "It is pointless, because there's no denying that Coke is the best product ever made.") ABC is childish bullshit, CBS has the biggest staff of censors working in the Big Three, and NBC is for grownups.

So there. The other problem I keep having with the Disney story is that my mind keeps transposing references to Mickey Mouse as 'Mickey Rourke'. It's disturbing.

We threw the dirt on the grave of The Rest and Relaxation last evening. I did so by getting drunker in a way that not only have I never been, but I'm pretty damn sure that No One has ever been. It was so drunk in there (excuse me: crowded) that walking was pretty much out, and-say: don't you hate it when you are forced to write in boldface by weird software associated with a certain nationally-famous website in which the likes of Rosie O'Donnell once blogged?
Anyway: my favorite bar has closed, but I don't think that's a bad thing. Not having a clubhouse all of my own where they routinely give me free booze just for being so charming and wonderful would improve my health and vitality. I am not, in short, looking for a new favorite bar: with my lady on my arm, in any case, they all are.

I'd go on and on about how much I like the Honeybee, but if you know me you've already heard it, and if you don't know me you don't care, so let's just leave it at this: her hatred of Mitch Albom is hilarious and endearing as hell. It enters discussions you never would envision, and is always delightful to encounter.
What else? Uh, 'publish'. And: Happy Brock Hambly, everyone!