Thursday, December 22, 2005

Craig the Brooklyn Idiot: The Grand Finale

That's the big screen against the far wall of the karaoke place. That's me, making a scene, as usual. I remember singing right up in the face of the guy wearing the white shirt, on the right. He was very friendly about the whole thing, even though I was standing on his coffee table there. His lady friend was most displeased with me and my shenanigans.

I don't blame her. I got nothin' but love for the crowd. Nothin' but love.

Monday, December 19, 2005

NYC For Xmas Time... Sexual Chocolate.

The second day in NYC is always a bit rough for me. Every trip. Due to my tendency to get staggering, kidney-failing, bold-faced-lying drunk on my first night there, I have trouble functioning the second day.

But somehow, as if by magic, I always pull through. Afflicted and affected, I trudge through day two with a numbness that can only be brought by relentless pain. On Friday, my whole body felt like it was being run over by a bus. Every ten minutes or so. Throbbing, exhausting, crippling hang over bullshit.

Anyone who drinks must admit to the power of the hang over, but unless you are amongst others who are equally broken, you must not dwell on it. There’s nothing more ridiculous than a first-class drinker who constantly cries about the hang overs as if it were a completely random thing. Like justice, or some shit.

But when you’re amongst other binge-bender lovers, then feel free to wallow in your collective downgraded mental and physical state. Have a circle-jerk to commemorate it or whatever.

I was lone-gunning the hang over that day. If anyone else was as bad off as me, they too hid it. And I was looking for signs, believe you me. My misery was goddamn lonely and was really up for some company. To no avail.

The day was taken up with lunch at a dumpling house off Canal in China town. Cheap, courteous, and manic, the dumpling houses throughout Chinatown are always a good bet for good value, and horrendous bathrooms.

Speaking of bathrooms. As we walked down Broadway from Bleeker to Canal, amongst all the shoe shops and bustling shoppers, some dude felt it completely reasonable to relieve himself on the front of a shop. I believe it was a clothing boutique of some sort. It was almost freezing outside, so his stream of piss was moving with the speed of molasses across the sidewalk to the slushy gutter. We stepped over the meandering stream as it pooled. People just passed right by like “ain’t no thang, mang.” To top it off, the guy was obviously not homeless. He had that penciled-in beard/chin-strap thing that all tough-guy, Bronx-boys appear to have manicured onto their faces. Like Prince or some shit. His shoes were bright white (blancos, son!), and his North Face jacket wasn’t cheap.

First world my ass.

Later that night we met up with friends in Brooklyn for dinner at one of my most favoritest spots: Planet Thai. It’s right off the Bedford stop on the L, in Billysburg. There were around twelve of us there in total. I always enjoy going to Planet Thai when in NYC because it was the last restaurant I went to when I left Brooklyn back in 2001. Sentimental reasons. Plus, the food is good and reasonably priced.

But I was there, really, to see my friends and get drunk. I won’t lie. That hang over had been hounding me like a goddamn school loan all day, and I wanted to relieve myself of its weight. The best way to lighten a hang over load is to float it off. With sake, if available. Shots and shots and shots until all was warm and pleasantly confusing.

We booked it from dinner over to The Abbey for Brooklyn Lager, pool, Gallaga, and to meet up with more friends. The friends who met us there, met us drunk. We Wonder-Twinned together to form a horde-mass of drunkenness. Beautiful.

Shit got talked, beer got spilt, cards got played. And then it was time to wander down to Galapagos for what they advertised as a “Dance Party: Guaranteed to Make You Shake Your Ass!” Since I was already dancing to the muzak that constantly plods along in my mind, it was not a stretch to be interested in such an event. I was already pretty blitzed by then, so I do not remember much of the details surrounding what happened there, but I do remember some pieces.

There was a taller fellow, who was not part of our dinner group, and who was only known in a pedestrian sense by some of my Brooklyn friends. They had seen this guy out and about on occasion. They believed he was a local teacher of some stripe or another, and that he had been kicked out of just about every bar in Brooklyn for one reason or another. Sensing an immediate kinship with the man, I did my best to make friendly. But his dancing was far too erratic for me to enjoy. Far too erratic for anyone, apparently. No one would get within five feet of the guy, even though he was mixing and mingling IN our circle. When I tried to get close to tell him that his dancing was rather “inspired”, he almost knocked me in the jaw with an errant elbow. His dancing technique was very…epileptic, I suppose. It was very strange, but I appreciated it nonetheless. He was free-styling, and that deserves my respect if nothing else.

Once it hit two in the morning, half our group chose to leave in order to make their basketball game the next morning. The rest of us clung to our drunkenness like rabbit’s feet at the dog track and pushed on into the night. We literally pushed ourselves into a hapless hipster who was walking along Bedford Ave, on her way home from wherever. We accosted her for information. What did we want to know?

“Hey, hey, hey!” [tugging on her jacket] “Where’s the karaoke at?”

She was not pleased with being harassed by drunks on the street, but pointed us right around the corner. According to her, we were mere feet from a place with microphones, couches, and grand opportunities to make asses of ourselves in public.

SO FUCKING SWEET.

I called her a liar, which did not sit well with her. She should have punched me right there. In my defense, she was rather rude about the whole thing. It really did appear that she was just trying to brush off some drunk assholes who had grabbed her on the street and started asking her really stupid questions. Hell, I would have lied. So I assumed she would too.

But she didn’t lie. Right around the corner was Lulu’s (or something like that). A basement karaoke place.

We fell down the stairs and immediately went to the bar.

The place was very dark, with a small stage to the right, long bar to the left. Various tables and chairs were scattered about the floor between the bar and stage, and on the far wall from the entrance was a large screen with some artsy looking crap scrolling across it. Sometimes it corresponded with the song, but really it was just some random bullshit imagery floating around behind the prompted lyrics. There were maybe twenty other people in there besides us. But it could have been only ten, which I was seeing double of. Some guy was singing on the stage, alone, when we walked in. He had lots of spirit, which I believe is 99% of karaoke anyway, but he was ruthlessly butchering the Madonna (or whatever) tune that was on. We cheered him on anyway, because like I learned in Chicago, that’s what you fucking do in karaokeland. Everyone is a goddamn rock star, regardless of whether any talent is apparent. If they get the words wrong, you clap anyway. If they sing off key and vomit on themselves half way through, you go ahead and cheer like it’s a parade. Even if they produce photos of your beloved grandmother and defecate on them whilst chanting voo-doo instead of singing your favorite George Michael song, you congratulate them on a “job well done”. That’s the nature of these things.

So we fell in and I recommended that everyone take a seat at a table near the stage while some of us danced and sang back-up for the stranger on stage. I had no idea what the plan was, but everyone seemed pretty lost as to what it was we were doing there. Not everyone appreciates karaoke, drunk or not.

Apparently, karaoke was the brainchild of but two of us in the group. Everyone else had been somewhat coerced into going. I don’t remember threatening anyone with violence, but it would not surprise me. I get emotional over karaoke sometimes. It’s a sickness.

The real tragedy though, was that I was far, far, far gone. I had entered my “nomadic” phase of inebriation. The typical attributes I display when acting out in this condition:

1) No conversations last more than ten seconds.
2) No standing still for more than five seconds.
3) Anything remotely wet is consumed, whether it is mine or not.
4) If I know any racist jokes, I will try to tell them, and they will make no sense whatsoever.
5) I will make friends with anyone in shouting range, because it is always brilliant to wait until black-out drunk before trying to meet new people.
6) I disappear for extended periods of time without telling anyone where I plan to go. This is when I usually get in the most trouble, since I am acting on impulse ONLY.
7) I will shout/sing into any microphone/stick in arm’s reach.
8) I ALWAYS forget what I am doing in the middle of doing it and will break a conversation or jump out of a cab on a second’s notice. Beyond impulsive.

So I turned in my choice for a song, Sinatra’s “My Way”, but couldn’t wait for it to be put into rotation. They said they’d call my name when it was my turn, and I said “cool”, but in my mind I said “man, fuck that. I gotta get my Sinatra on NOW, damnit. NOW.” So I abandoned our drinking crew by the stage and sought out the microphone, wherever it might be in the club.

I found it, in the hands of two rather talented singers. A cute couple sitting in front of the stage. I have no idea what the hell they were singing, but they were singing it rather well. But, they were being very reserved about their performance. As if they were going to be graded on the realism of their treatment of the artist’s original work. Whatever man. So I sang back-up, with all my might. I must have made something of a positive impression on them because they were very nice to me.

That could also be because I had the expressions, mannerisms, and social skills of a head-trauma victim.

Once the mic was in my hands, and my song was on, everything went a bit blank for me. I destroyed the song. Lyrics were out of place. I kept loosing the beat. I was wandering around, standing on people’s tables, walking on couches, and acting like “hey honey, you remember that fucking douche-balloon from the karaoke place last night? The really drunk guy who took off his shirt and drank your Jack and Coke after stepping on my purse and breaking my sunglasses? Remember him? I hope he gets SARS. What a fucking idiot.”

Yeah. I was that guy. “Sexual Chocolate, everybody!” So, so, sweet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

NYC For Xmas Time... Night ONE.

There’s nothing quite like a solid trip to NYC to help remind me that there’s nothing really wrong with my brain or failed sense of accomplishment. Well, nothing too staggering, anyhow. I drink - act like an idiot - my girlfriend hates me for a day - I trudge through some daily, touristy, on-my-feet rituals with a devastating hang over - and force hundreds of cubic feet of cornea-scalding gas from my ass, in various public places.

Repeat daily until exhausted and unable to pee whilst still standing up.

It only took three days to hit my limits this time. I must be growing up or something. But probably not.

Most of the first night there was spent at the Russian Vodka Room. Dill flavored vodka is the shit, if you’ve never heard. It really is good. The savory vodkas are quite remarkable to me, since the entirety of my vodka consuming career has been soaked in the fruity varieties, which in comparison, are pretty nancy-boy. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a nancy-boy, because I intend to return to my Mandarin & Tonics post haste. But I really enjoyed the deviation.

Horseradish vodka. Pepper vodka. Pickle vodka. Hell, there was probably some Beef Stroganoff vodka up there somewhere. In glass decanters with spigots, lined up above the coat rack next to the entrance. Wood paneled place, full of babbling Russians who represented different stages of liver collapse. I loved them all. Them and their caucasionoidal-ethnicalish-but-could-be-Boston-Catholic-for-all-I-really-know-ness.

There’s the two mail-order-bride types sitting by the rubber wait-station. Young, early twenties perhaps, sipping on vodka martinis and chattering away. Looking around the room, obviously commenting on the attire and appearance of all entrants and inhabitants therein. They’re probably waiting for someone. Waiting for their dates, husbands, “uncles”, whatever. But really, unbeknownst to them, they’re actually waiting to get behind that bar.

Because behind the bar is their shadow. The late-twenties/early-thirties post-fox Russianette. Sure, she’s still attractive, but she’s been hit by a few trains in her day. And those trains probably started out as vodka martinis and ended up in compromised situations with “uncles”. The attitude has gone from kittenish and cute, to hard-boiled and “what do you fucking assholes want from me, huh?” She doesn’t mean to come off so rough, but that’s what the dealt cards demanded. That and some hardcore therapy, probably.

At the other end of the bar from the kittens stands three twenty-something dudes. Slump-fucked-up and high-fiving. They’re drinking beer by the time we get there at ten o’clock. They’ve been there since five. Although they are the same age, and really, in the same boat as the kittens, the two groups will probably never interact based on premise. The dudes have the appearance of their exact intentions: getting droopy-eyed drunk and forgetting today. The girls have the appearance of upwardly mobile future housewives of L.A. Producers, likely drinking to forget tomorrow.

The dudes will more than likely be the bar-backs for the kittens in ten years, and will likely mean more than that to each other, if time does not harden each beyond reach. Cookies crumble under the most-impressive weight of ironies such as these.

Sitting against the wall that faces the bar, in orange-lit booths of soft clothed seats, sit what I like to refer to as “the establishment”. Groups of older, more experienced vodka drinkers who always knew what they were in for when they curled up next to such fires. They differed from the younger ones not in how they treated the booze, because they were all knocking it back with equal impunity, but rather in how they reacted to their environment. They were much more sure of what it was they were looking for, even though they still had yet to find it. Their eyes were on the levels of their glasses but their vision scanned knowingly from their past to their imagined future.

They obviously held no expectations of the night. They hardly seemed to expect to see the end of it.

But not all The Establishment were necessarily content with themselves. Oh hell no. A couple of them were tucked in those booths, silently sipping their queasy creations with the sullen appearance of church. Of a burnt-out professor at a community college. Of a once-proud bear, now sleeping pathetically, bitterly in some too-damn-hot southern zoo. Dog food in, dog food out.

I took them all in. I get the slight sensation that I’ve been taken in, if only just bit, as well.

We sit and drink and talk and drink and shit-talk and drink some good shit. It’s the proper way of those things. And proper ways have proper directions. Eventually, our pleasant surroundings and strange cast of characters blend smoothly into the interior of a downtown cab. We hit the corner of where we’re staying and duck into a downstairs club next door.

We were pretty much alone there, upon entrance. In their defense, it was a cold and listless Thursday night. Just after the first season’s snow, so the true drunks were biding their time and catching up on Tivo’d sessions of The Daily Show. No thing.

Beyond their defense was their blatant disregard for a man’s glass of alcohol, and potentially, his free goddamn drugs. As soon as I would place a drink down on ANY surface, Roomba vacuu-bots (or some other sneaky-ass shit) would scurry out and snatch it away. Thinking I had been boozebambled after going up top for ten minutes for some cancer, I kindly asked the bartender where my fucking drink magically went. Seeing as how there was NO ONE else in the place, it had to have been the help who helped themselves to my rye and ginger.

Apparently, the ‘tenders of this particular establishment have a “no drink left behind” policy, put in place to “protect the patrons” of the bar from “date-raping miscreants”, and that the practice of snatching any and all drinks that aren’t touching someone’s lips is a standard by which ALL New York bars rightly adhere to.

Which, regardless of what anyone says or believes, is complete and total bullshit. If it is a standard, rule, guideline, law, whatever…then these douche-balloons were the only ones bothering to stick to it. In most other Manhattan spots, I placed my drinks next to the exit door, ON THE TABLE LEFT THERE FOR JUST SUCH PURPOSES by the management, while out for a smoke. These assholes were obviously out to a) stop me from getting drunk enough to take a shit on one of their chaise lounges, b) pad some tabs by essentially making people pay for their first fucking drink TWICE, or c) both. I’m sticking with b), but only because a) is tough to judge by only looking at my eyes. You must train the eyes to watch my belt. That’s where I get all “telltale” about such things.

So I told him it was bullshit and that it made no sense, seeing as how a) we were the only ones in the club (so no danger of strangers and their evil free drugs there), b) I would probably PAY for whatever drug someone would be willing to drop in my drink FOR FUCKING FREE, so whatever, and finally c) I was really, really drunk and that drink was really, really expensive so please, please, please… let me, get what I want. Lord knows it would be the first time…

Dude begrudgingly gave me another drink on the house, and I begrudgingly told them that they had a fine policy of protecting their patrons from free drugs. So both of us are lying assholes who pretend to do each other favors. It’s awesome like that.

I remember peeing in the women’s restroom shortly thereafter. It was pretty nasty in the ladies’ pee-cave. It was even nastier after I left.

Whatever. At least I didn’t shit the chaise. That’s all I gotta say ‘bout that.

Monday, December 05, 2005

McNo-Can-Do #3

Condiments. Yep. Mayo remains disgusting, but I left it in for the sake of a cohesive concept.

Condiments: A Middle school Art Teacher Fumbles Through Discussion of Race Relations

In life, it is easy to believe that the sidelined tastes that end up on the tips of our palates should be kept separate from one another. As if they would feud upon contact, and render a combined flavor akin to that of animal feces.

But this just isn’t so. Feel free to digest this analogy: keeping your condiments apart is the same as lodging a handful of sporks deep into your anal canal while riding a cross-town bus with no air conditioning. Your initial reaction to that fun-loaded imagery is sound: sure, it sounds like a gas, but man, it wastes what precious little time we have on this rounded, mostly wet planet of consumption opportunities. Precious, precious little time.

How little time? Not enough time to bother with the segregation of our condiment population. That’s how goddamn little.

You see, there is something truly beautiful that happens once the mayonnaise has been properly spiked with mustard. Just a knife-load will do. The flavors combine in such a manner as to become superior to their individual elements. Mustard, by itself, tastes something close to salted copper, while mayo tastes pretty much like what it is: rotten eggs and degraded animal, vegetable, or nut essence.

But if you put the two together, a free vacation for two on a Carnival cruise explodes across your capped molars, and you feel as if all your worries were set ablaze by My Little Pony and some cotton candy-ish Care Bears.

But chocolate, unfortunately, goes with nothing.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Another Seasonal Ramble and the Thing

I love the holidays, I really do. Charlie Brown. Flocked bushes. Tinseled train sets and shit. But really, I only like the holidays for the feeling that I get in my gut, not for the overblown, Hallmark-fueled disaster of it all. I like the smell of Christmas trees. The taste of hot cocoa. Chestnuts roasting on… I couldn’t pick a chestnut out of a nut lineup. I always get busy busy busy around the holidays, and that’s okay. I hope you’re busy too, as it is a sign of progress (or early demise, which might also be considered progress, if only for someone else).

So, in the spirit of this holiday quarter, I have a seasonal rhyme for the house. I did one last year too, and it also sucked something awful. Sucking is the new pink, haven’t you heard?

Hark, the Hell’s Angels sing!
With wreaths weaved with meth and bottle brush shanks.
Where the hell is my cheer?
Lights on the tombstones of kazoos this year.
Pumpkins to peppermints to champagne on the floor.
Santa’s not gay, I’m pretty sure.
I want the Olsen twins in my stocking. Now.
Trickin’ sure is a treat!
Unless there’s weeping scabs involved.
Lumps of coal.
Butts of cigarette.
Three bottles of empty Shlitz.
Feelin’ the spirit yet?
George Michael never really cared,
whether they knew it was Christmas Time At All.
Santa’s still not gay…
but he might swing for thick chest hair.
Jinglin’ my bells.
The rotting turkey smells.
I’ll be hungover Christ-mas day.
It’s no fun, to not be snide, when hookers ask for pay, HEY!
33% less consumptive spirit will be felt at registers this year.
That’s like punching the baby Jesus for crying.
He sleeps on hay, which has to chafe.
Target’s got discounted influenza on every aisle.
I’m giving out STDs this year.
Again.
Hark, the Hell’s… where’s that pipe at?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Amazin' ineptitude of Amazon

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IF YOU DON’T LIKE READING POINTLESS RANTS…well, I can’t help you there.

So I put an order in for a couple of books back in September with Amazon, remembering that they have trouble with order fulfillment. As in, they tend to tell you “yah, yah, you should plan to see that reach a shipping date between next month and your third prostate exam”. I tried to order some Christmas gifts from them, two or so years back. But I did it in mid November. So they told me they would be booked up until February with delivery issues if I continued with the order.

I cancelled, of course, because that’s absolutely atrocious fulfillment. They said “sorry”, I said, “get a new business model you lazy-assed, cheeky fuckers”, and we parted ways. Until last year when Mothers’ Day came around and I got this coupon for something I thought my mother would like. It was a good month out from Moms’ day, so I figured they could handle it.

Nope.

“Please expect delivery to be beyond the actual holiday, as we are experiencing a high volume of orders.”

Oh really? No fucking shit? You mean to tell me that coming up on Mothers’ day, you’re getting MORE requests for Mothers’ day items than normal?

Get OUT!

Needless to say, I chose to do nothing for Moms’ day, until my girlfriend convinced me to go on a midnight run to Randall’s for a last-minute gift basket that kicked so much ass, the Amazon gift was an insult to have even been considered in the first place. Seriously, the gift basket was tight, and put together with begrudging love, as my girlfriend rightfully insisted it should be. It really was nice, and I’m glad I did it. But that’s another story for another time.

So I ordered two books from Amazon on September 7th. They estimated the delivery to be somewhere in the following two weeks. I figured, what the hell? Better than digging through the bookstore, right?

WRONG.

The first book was sent for delivery on October 20th, which isn’t that bad, really. A month and a half to deliver a book... Certainly not stellar, but not entirely stupid either. Things can get complicated. It happens. They sent me an email beforehand, asking me if I still wanted it, explaining that I would not be charged for it until I agreed to finalize the order. A month and a half after I made it, for only half of what I ordered. Awesome. I got the book just after Halloween. It’s an okay book. I should have done better research, since it did not end up being the “internet impulse buy” that I initially took it for. Oh well.

Today, the 22nd of November, I got a notification from Amazon asking me if I wanted to complete the transaction for the second book, which would be delivered by December 24th, according to the message. Christmas Eve? THE Christmas Eve? What mail route runs by my crib on that day?

Okay.

After passing through some hoops, hunting down my password and whatnot, I got to the actual page where one agrees to complete the (retardedly retarded) order. It stated that I should expect delivery north of January 16th…

For a book I ordered on September 7th. A book which was supposed to be in stock and available at the time of order. I ordered that shit when it was 100+ degrees outside, before hurricanes started wrecking shit on the coast DURING HURRICANE SEASON. Why the fuck am I in line behind the Christmas shoppers for delivery?

Yeh, I agreed to take the delivery. I really do want the book, and I have enough other shit going on right now that I can wait to read it. But that doesn’t excuse how ridiculous the whole thing is. I’m no super-star employee or anything, but the efficiency of the Amazon system makes me feel like a human amongst walruses in a Pick-Up Sticks competition.

So I wrote them a letter to accompany my agreement to complete the purchase. They make me feel better about myself, and that’s gift enough, I suppose.


---------------------------------------------
Dear Amazon Employee Who Has to Read This,

This order was put in ON SEPTEMBER 7TH. I will be getting the book FIVE MONTHS LATER, AFTER CHRISTMAS. This makes NO sense whatsoever. Did I need to wait for a classroom of kids with Downs to finish reading them first? One by one? Oh, lighten up. I’m the one who should be upset here, not you.

Let's be reasonable here.

I realize that your company is in the business of collecting information, not selling "things" (that’s just the method, which is fine by me), but... wow. It isn't like I live in an electricity-free, thatched hut in the Andes Mountains where books must be delivered by three-legged burros. Or that you need to wait for a time machine to be invented to *actually* find these books you claimed to have access to. I assumed they had already been written when I ordered them, five hairstyles back.

The point being, I didn't just want to ORDER them back in September, I wanted to have them DELIVERED BEFORE THE CHRISTMAS NIGHTMARE that will besiege your company in the next month. I planned properly for this, knowing that Amazon, without fail, will become so constipated by the deluge of Christmas orders, that its shipping department will choke, seize up entirely, and deny anyone delivery of anything beyond disappointment. Happens every year.

But how could this ruin me if I ORDERED IN SEPTEMBER?

You miraculously found a way to scuttle my diligent efforts. My reasonable plan: unreasonably scatted upon. I am left a broken man, with nothing to read. Please weep for me. But only briefly. Then kindly get crackin’ on filling my order.

Since I am a man of honor and have respect for (however egregiously late) purchase fulfillment, I will continue with this purchase. I really do want the book. But until such time as Amazon is capable of selling and delivering items WITHIN the average lifespan of a healthy hamster, I am afraid it will be my last of such orders with your company.

Hopefully I will not be too old to read by the time this book arrives. Or perhaps you’d be willing to trade it for one on tape. If I can still hear.

Trying to laugh it all off,

Craig
------------------------------------------------

For the love of internet commerce, Amazon, get your shit together.

Friday, November 18, 2005

McNo-Can-Do #2

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Man, This Sandwich is Awful.

There’s something about that sandwich that I just don’t get. When I eat a sandwich, I have pretty low expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly expect it to display standard sandwich attributes like: two slices of bread should be involved. Some kind of meat product in there somewhere. Perhaps a slice of cheese, tomato, or if I’m feeling pretty chancy? A pickle.

Nothing too complicated though. And I don’t remember going out of the norm for this specific piece of lunchtime construction. No capers, nothing with “Dijon” in the title, and none of those pickled carrot things I have to pick out of those Vietnamese sandwiches I get downtown. One time, I had to take a crap behind a dumpster during my lunch break at some shit-purposed bead/incense shop retail job because some lady got shot in our only bathroom during a failed robbery that day. If it weren’t for those pickled carrot thingies, I bet I could have waited until I got home. Plus, I could have wiped myself properly before getting on the bus to meet up with my folks for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. The cops refused to let me back in the place before I left, and my parents repeatedly noted how much I smelled like human shit. I kept telling them “I must have stepped in dog shit on my way over, and that dog must have eaten Taco Bell,” or something like that.

Whatever.

There were no fringe items used in the making of today’s sandwich. Elementary cafeteria, prison lunchroom style.

So what happened here? Let’s look at this situation, play by play, effort by effort, layer by goddamned layer. First, I got out the bread, then…oh yeah.

I think it’s the bread I used.

My girlfriend bought it, and the packaging was really complicated. As if the manufacturer was trying to protect the consumer from bread-related radiation. There were two or three bags between which to navigate before hitting breadrock, and the loaf was approximately half the size of the standard. Little stones and twigs were falling all over the place when I pulled two slices from the hermetically-sealed trio-bag. And I bet that baked disaster cost a fortune.

You’d think that the extra cost involved would demand that the rocks be ground down a little more. Or that they would remove the twigs from the mixture, like a better quality ounce-bag. It’s funny how bread + “organic” + extra $$$ = me with an explosive rectal disorder. But then again, maybe it was that weird tasting cheese.

Where the hell is “humus” cheese from, anyway? Is that country near Yugoslavia? How exactly does one buy products from Humustan, huh?

Oh, here we go again. Pardon. Excuse me and my shitnami. I really need to stop dating these patchouli-wookie girls.

Fucking Eskimo Shit.

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I don’t know where you think you’re coming from with that shit, man. Those are definitely not going to fly as monkeys. Anyone can tell that they’re raccoons or something. Wolverines? What the hell are those anyway, Jack?

They’re not wolverines Billy. They’re nutria monkeys. And of course no one would fall for them being monkeys. Unless they were shown from really far away, to people who had no idea what a nutria monkey looked like. Eskimos maybe.

But we don’t know any Eskimos, Jack.

No one does, Billy. They’re made up. Made up by the Inuit to hide their true identity as the real Eskimos.

To hide their what?

Identity.

Oh.

Yeh, to hide it so that no one would ever realize that they themselves were the real deal. So that the white settlers would go off searching for some weird-ass igloo-living seal-beaters that arm wrestled polar bears or some shit, way out there in the desolate Yukon, to steal land from and give diseases to rather than the real Inuit. Like a snipe hunt.

Ah. That’s smart.

Damn right it is.

So, how does that relate to this nutria monkey situation?

I think it might have been some monkeys that told me I could find monkeys in Louisiana. I went, and these are all I could fucking find. So, nutria monkeys they are.

Oh. Good one. You were on, like, an Eskimo hunt then.

Well, whatever. They’re a bunch of fucking monkeys now.

Right.

Hey, don’t monkeys fling shit? These things aren’t flinging any shit.

I don’t know, Jack.

They really need to be flinging shit.

I don’t know about all that, Jack. Is it really necessary?

Yes. Yes, it is. Here, fling this when the crowd gets here.

Fucking Eskimo shit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

MTV CHINA? Holy shit... - GO VOTE!

Just got this message from a friend of mine (go ALIEF!) whose band, Johnny Hi-Fi, has a video that is in the running to be MTV China's world debut/PREMIERE VIDEO. Goddamn. That is... beyond badass to me. But it is no surprise, given their talent and the staggering ambition of Eric, their frontman. Dude does not fuck around when it comes down to business. Much respect.

So please go vote for their video (even though we're in the US, and this is a China thing, which seems a bit strange, I know, but whatever). Johnny Hi-Fi: "Man Overboard". Here's what he sent me (via big-ass email blast):

MTV is launching its newest channel MTV Chi on December 6th. You may remember from our past emails, Johnny Hi-Fi is hosting 2 premiere episodes of "Top 10 Chi Countdown" and "Live From". But two days ago came a bigger surprise.

MTV Chi's huge PR efforts around the world, already seen by millions of visitors on MTV China and MTV Chinese, named Johnny Hi-Fi as the upcoming artist from America. MTV Chi has also put Johnny Hi-Fi's music video, in a mix with 21 other videos from multi-platinum artists from Asia and US, to compete for the first music video spot on MTV Chi (think Video Killed the Radio Star). Johnny Hi-Fi is the ONLY unsigned artist to compete for this honor.

Now we need your help. Log on to www.mtvchi.com, admire the screenshot of Johnny Hi-Fi's music video on MTV Chi's homepage, and VOTE for "Man Overboard"!!! Vote as many times as you want and make us famous!

And if you are in the New York area, Johnny Hi-Fi will headline this year's Asian Rock Fest in NYC, and of course, MTV Chi will be there to film it!

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Time I Just Kept Writing Without Structure.

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This is a rambling, quasi-rant. I have no time for good editing, so I am posting it “as-is”. To all my Houstonian peeps reading this: I love you. Know that.

But your city is a hundred layers of frustration. Not that you need me to say it.

Yes, everyone here in Austin does their damnedest to point out the vast chasm of difference between our little city and the rest of Texas. The politics, the real estate, the attention paid to water-borne geckos, and our tendency to celebrate any bikini-clad homeless man with a social agenda. We’re all silly like that, and most Austinites are quick to point out how “weird” or “weirder” everyone/thing is here.

I’m all up in that bandwagon today.

But normally, I see these differences as more background noise than something that needs to be pointed out. Shit’s a bit strange here, but so what? Sure, we have a Yellow Bike Program, movie theatres you can get blasted in, and nekkid watering holes (close enough to Austin, damnit). But is that what really defines a city? What sets it apart? Honestly? Most of Austin’s big issues are right in line with any other Texas city: economic divisions, a dubious police force, and the obnoxious congestive effects experienced when half-assed city planning meets explosive population growth. So, aside from some glaring differences (like, say, knowing that voting to prohibit other individual’s rights guarantees that yours will be on the block next) we tick down the line of comparison against cities like Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston: text book, pretty much down the entire line.

But there are some more subtle differences between our greenbelted city and those in our vicinity. Much more nuanced differences. Things which we definitely take for granted until it all blows up in our face, like it has over the past couple of weekends during my trips down to Houston.

Traffic. Sweeeeeeeeet Jesus. Approximately six hours of every day I visit Houston is spent ON THE WAY somewhere. Usually, I feel like I’m stuck on some stretch of Karachi-bombed freeway, creeping along with a broken cement barrier scraping past, a mere four inches from my left side view mirror and a leaky “Fish” truck that is far too wide for its lane on my right. A smoldering cigarette butt is thrown from the Fish truck, and it bounces off my hood and over the cement barrier into oncreeping traffic. I look at the driver, he flashes us a gold-toof grin and begins to dig around in his nose for something. Word, son. Nice. Suddenly, the Fish truck’s lane is putt-putting along at a speed roughly twice that of mine, somewhere in the neighborhood of ten miles-an-hour. Ten minutes and ten car lengths later, I am no longer moving.

Things go from mildly frustrated to “fuck this bullshit” awesome.

And when you finally reach the source of your lane’s wrist-slittingly-slow speed, you grind your teeth down to dime-thickness upon the discovery that it is some douche-balloon in the LEFT HAND lane who has “magically” run out of fuel (check the gauge, bitch!), and is standing next to her vehicle, asking people to help her out with some cash for gas. Woman, you have absolutely lost your goddamn mind to do that to all of us and then request some sort of payment. You better call Tyrone before someone runs your stupid ass down.

Impressive. Impressive in that “you know, I used to believe otherwise, but there should be some exceptions that allowed for legal, impromptu public stonings” kind of way. Seventy lemur lifetimes later, when you finally exit the freeway and reach a goddamn gas station, you realize that you too were running low in the petrol department, and would have been in the same boat as that chick you just wished smallpox on.

Man, fuck that shit.

All the complaints here in Austin about traffic, based on having to sit in thirty minutes of Mopark traffic, pale in sad comparison to the hours required to navigate through Houston’s myriad of intersecting freeways with third-world no-lane interchanges. Just to get some goddamn gasoline. We have it good here, even if it could be better.

But you know what’s even WORSE than the traffic in Houston? The worthless “club scene”. Before I really dig into this, I want to state for the record that I have been going out in Houston for many, many years. I have many friends who live there, friends who I absolutely adore, who are regulars amongst Houston nightlife. When I visit Houston, it is not unheard of to see me out about the town, partaking in all that it has to offer, and enjoying myself in and amongst the “club scene” I am just about to start shitting all over. If there were a more convenient way for me to hang out with my friends in Houston, I would do it. If one of them was willing to allow us all to meet up at their place, get flammable drunk, argue with inanimate objects, and break things made of glass, then I would obviously prefer to do that rather than deal with the “club scene”. Well, you might be wondering then, “if you participate in that scene so often, how bad could it possibly be?” Oh, well then. Let me break it down for you:

Several thousand Striped Shirt dudes get together, primp, and prepare to profile by slinging credit cards and Red Bull with vodka all over the place in the hopes that some ladies, preferably total strangers, will be impressed enough to toss out handjobs beneath brass-decorated club bars like they were Halloween candy. This is the reason for the scene. This is the pack of wildebeest that supply the endless hunger of the Serengeti-like population of cash-hungry elements feeding off of them like vampires of the club-night. These dudes are out to get their rocks off, and plan on dropping lots of cash, booze, china, attitude, and pride to that goal.

Given that this is the endgame and method for the credit spending majority of “clubberz” in Houston, they get preyed upon by “club ownerz” and the “chickenheadz” that populate the interiors of Houston’s ever-changing club landscape. Bars/clubs breeze through that city by the hundreds, with very few making any real effort to change the scene, or do anything of real note. They’re out for the cash, just like the ladies are. And the system that is in place reflects that.

To begin, just about every place offers “valet”. This is a luxury service, which many people, whether wealthy or just spoiled, honestly prefer. They hate to park their own ride, and happily pay some random ex-con to wipe some spunk on their steering wheel and park their spare-tired Jetta on the no-light street next to the nearest plywood Hooverville. The same spot that homeskillet drove past to get to the valet awning, where he yelled out to his bros over the thumping house beats streaming from his iPod, “dudes, that shitty space right there is why I get valet to find me the choice spots!” And it only costs like, $5 plus tip. Plus all the change in your ashtray and a pair of Oakley sunglasses (damnit, bro! That’s my sixth fuckin’ pair, man! Lame!). Smooth.

Car has been taken away for a good keying. Now get behind the velvet rope and note that bouncer is wearing a three piece suit from Oak Tree, circa 1988. That was the year he tried out as a walk-on for the Bengals but was cut from the program for excessive steroid abuse. His teeth are chipped, probably from being on the wrong end of a few mag-lites in his day, wielded by rage-fueled doorguards of night establishments, much like himself today. He is not happy to see you. He is not happy to see anyone who is not two-dimensional, green, and a deceased prior-ruler of American politics. If you try to introduce him to Washington, he just might urinate in your bloodied mouth.

He honestly believes that he deserves such power and authority. This is the way of the “club scene”. And so it begins.

There is a cover charge for almost every fly-by-night bullshit-dancefloor-focused asshole circus in the downtown area. $5 would be a cheap cover. $10 would be considered a “typical” charge, if you are an out-of-town dude. If you are a dude wearing tennis shoes, expect to be charged a bribe for your entrance. Probably north of $20 (I got you next time Nick, sorry for pinning all that shit on you but I had no duckets! Ahhhhh!). He’ll say that your shoes are “disrespecting the establishment”, and that he is doing you a favor. This is hilarious for obvious reasons, but you will keep that to yourself. If you are wearing a hat, comfortable jeans, a smile, or hair that is not cemented into place you may be denied entrance for life. You might even get the mag-lite treatment. Again, this is the way of the scene. For the ladies, entrance is free. Unless the ladies are of the slower, or less attractive variety, which get charged as if they were dudes because they either a) are too slow to understand that they ARE the whole REASON for the club, or b) they look more like dudes, so they get charged appropriately. Thems the breaks in Houston.

So, as a dude in Houston, before you even ENTER a club, be prepared to drop at least $15 in cash. That’s an average though. Some will be slightly less, others will be obscenely more. Feel free to cry about it, as I am sure it would help your cause.

Once inside, prepare to drink heavily. You will want to do this because the interior will look exactly like every other interior of every other club you have ever been to over the rather expansive tract of time you have been indulging in such things. This realization will depress you. Immensely. And you will dive immediately into whatever will help you “adjust” your surroundings so that you can ignore everyone/everything there except for your friends (who are the only reason you’re there to begin with).

Besides, alcohol is fun. LOTS of alcohol is LOTS of fun. Especially when dispensed with complete abandon in the form of coordinated shots amongst a dozen like-minded friends. Suddenly, you’ll forget about that ass-hat manning the door who taunted your choice in footwear. You’ll forget the warm lighting. The square-foot tiled dancefloor, covered in sticky-spilled Red Snappers. That really nice dude in the bathroom that hands everyone paper towels and tells tales of living in New Orleans “before it got all wrecked-out”. You’ll forget all the Striped Shirt dudes that line the dance floor, who envision themselves as lions, stalking the crowd for the weak and sick, ignorant to the fact that they themselves are the wildebeests of the scene. It is their cash that fuels it. Well, their credit, more specifically. Their hard work and efforts that cause the owners and ladies to get together in a symbiotic effort to fleece them of what little money they can borrow at usurious rates…

Whoa. I’m going way overboard here. It isn’t that one-sided. It’s a game, really. Some dudes play it well, some dudes don’t. I, personally, never bothered playing it because I know I wouldn’t be particularly good at it. Besides, it’s more fun to show up, drink like a fish, laugh at the world for a bit, dance with the abandon of a half-wit, and scream the lyrics to songs you usually only sing in your car (alone). I’m in it for the fun. For the experience of the situation, not the game. But that’s just me. Call it lame if that makes you happy.

Where was I… ah yes. Inside. The drinks are mad-expensive, and the drunker you get, the higher the probability that your tab is going to get padded. It might occur as the result of an error in communication between bartenders over your 15 shot order. Perhaps you asked for Crown, but got gut-rot instead. It may be an honest mistake. But more than likely, the bartenders ran out of comps for their crew of broke-ass hoodrats, and your bill was already tipping out over $100 BEFORE they saw you stumbling around like WC Fields and making out with a wall-mounted light fixture, so they just started dropping some beers/McCalls on your bloated tab. You are too far gone to get that shit straight anyway. You can argue, but it won’t take much in the way of drunken-Jedi mind tricks to throw you off.

YOU: “Hey, maaaaaaan. Is this.. [holding bill three inches from face] ah hun-red an fitty two bucks?”

BARTENDER: “Yep. The tip line is at the bottom.”

YOU: “Whoooooooaaaaa, waidah minute, fursht. I de’yint drank all that man.”

BARTENDER: “I don’t know who drank it. But you ordered it. The tip line is at the bottom.”

YOU: “But whaaaaaaaaat is on here? I mean, whaddis’ on this tab?”

BARTENDER: “Right now, everything is on there but the tip. Bottom line.”

YOU: “…” [looking suspiciously at the multiple, moving images of the bartender]

BARTENDER: “The line at the bottom. I gave you twenty percent off, because you guys were so nice. It’s the line at the bottom. Thanks for coming in.” [walks away with urgency]

YOU: [curious expression melts over face] oh no shit? Twenty? Well, alright then. Shweeeet! [signing furiously, forgetting to bother doing math and totaling tip, leaving that to the limitless discretion of the bartending/management staff, which should make Christmas extra sweet this year for their kids]

And that’s just one establishment. In Houston, try going to more than one place. Better yet, try to go to more than one place with more than two other people. It becomes a logistical shitstorm of confusion and bad directions. Everyone knows how to get where they want to go, but no one can explain to anyone else. Plus, the fucking freeways inside the loop swap all around like a Harry Potter staircase. Nothing is near anything else, so it’s not like it is convenient to say “man, fuck this place! The door guy is a goddamn rabid orangutan and the bartender charged me fifteen bucks for tap water with a splash of immigrant urine! Let’s stand outside and coordinate (argue, cry) with each other for thirty minutes, compromise in frustration, drive another thirty minutes, and do this all over again somewhere else on the other side of downtown! Who the fuck keyed the entire right side of my car? That’s so awesome!”

Yes Houston, you are awesome. Awesome indeed. And by "awesome", I mean: "excrutiatingly difficult". I look forward to Thanksgiving this year, where I will repeat all of the things listed above (except for the valet, which is the most obvious fleece, as I prefer to be a mark at the bar rather than the parking lot – or both).

My friends are the best to get stumbling drunk with, they really are! I just wish we had a better venue...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Flippin' Yo Lids n' Sheeeeeit.

Brother Nick sent me this link, so I thought I'd dick around with it. It WASTES IMMEASURABLE AMOUNTS OF TIME. So be careful. But I want to see what other people come up with (since you're all creative types with funniness and things of that sort). And I like to be entertained.

I really do.

Here's the one I did. I did another one, which liked MUCH better, but Flipbook flipped the script on me and the load-up barfed all over the place. So an hour's worth of painstaking work was burned to digital cinders, and replaced by something much simpler. Thems the breaks. Word to that.

A-lot of the other ones are just some fourteen year-old drawing pirates with big dicks, skull-fucking poorly drawn naked women, ending with the word "FART" written like chicken scratch across the screen (so fast you have to watch it like, fifteen times to figure out the plot and read the ending word) Here's a good one I found. Violence is the answer.

I want to see YOURS. (your flipbook, you dirty, dirty such-and-such)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Metabullshit Post. Yes, I suck. Uh-huh. Yeah.

Okay. So I haven’t posted much around these parts lately. That’s because I’m lazy and have a “work” problem (as in: I need to do work to pay bills and shit) + a “drinking” problem (as in: if I go out I drink. I go out a-lot. I drink a-lot. And the hangovers just bleed into one another).

But I write elsewhere. Namely: here. But they don’t archive things too well, and some friends have complained that they never catch any of my shitty writing up there. So, I dug all up in that bitch and found some links. If you’re tired of reading my crap, then stop torturing yourself.

Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

A-lot of what I do is just for information purposes. I originally intended to write with more of a satirical stance, but that style met some pretty strong resistance and has since given way to pretty text-book hack-journalism. If I continue writing for them, I will have to find some way to periodically return to my pointier roots. Otherwise, I will bore myself to death whilst simply pimping shit I like through their site. Which is not the point of the thing.

Regardless, for those who missed my Austinist post-things:

I did a book review for Ben Reed’s The Bow Tie Gang. Good fucking book, if you’re literate.

I relayed my experience at EXTRAVAGASM 2005. No one read the thing, because people honestly HATE sex. I don’t get it.

I got all controversial with this half-baked opinion piece on the Austin Smoking Ban. People get so touchy over this shit.

I got to interview local DJ legend, DJ Mel. I don’t really like interviews, so I asked him ridiculous shit. I feel that it exposes more of their true character, and Mel is as crazy as me. So it worked out.

I wrote an open letter to the shittiest freeway intersection. The shittiest ever.

I told the bats underneath the Congress Ave bridge to get a real goddamn job. Freeloading, flying rats.

And we wrote a little ditty about this fucked-up 5k we have here in weird-town. Keep Austin Weird! And really fucking hot! With some bacon and ice cream, but no beer! Alright! Super-sweet alright!

I say goddamn!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fucking Mutated Expectations and Shit.

Every now and again, we as actors on a larger stage, the stage of happenings and going ons during the course of our lives, we breach the lines that separate our individual parts. That is to say, we start reading someone else’s lines, in a way. We don’t always know whose lines they are, or if that part is even meant to be played. But what can definitely be said is that we abandon our normal role, and take on some lines that just don’t fit our current selves. Perhaps the new part will stick, perhaps it will be wholly rejected. But that is not the point. I believe everyone does this sort of experimentation in personality, as a function of personal growth and progress. It is how one picks up new hobbies, changes careers, goes from being a soldier to a staunch anti-war activist, or survives prison by shanking fools in the showers from behind.

Alright, perhaps that last one is a bit specific and rare, but you should have seen the dream I had the other night. I was in this weird truckstop shower, trying to get some sand off of me, and had no idea what I was doing there. The shower was rather large, about the size of an average apartment bedroom, with hollow metal walls like those one would find for a toilet stall in a public restroom. A gap above and below the wall led out into the truckstop’s main room. Cement floor with a drain in the middle. Outside my shower stall, there were cafĂ© tables set up in a larger room, with plasma TVs all over the place, like a sports bar of some sort. But it was truck stop, not a bar, and I was covered in sand, not overcharged tabs. The dream started with me vigorously scrubbing myself beneath a blast of hot water, nude as a bee.

So I was in there, scrubbing myself down, with my eyes closed. I was thinking about how weird it was to just have a shower stall out in the room like it was, wondering where my clothes might be, or how I got all sandy to begin with, and then I opened my eyes to see some dude walking through my shower stall/room, fully clothed. He passed through an arm of the shooting water, getting his pant legs wet, and was paying absolutely no attention to the fact that I was already in there. Under normal conditions, I would have totally lost my shit and probably busted out the most awkward wet-and-sandy-windmill fighting technique ever witnessed in any truck stop bath house, ever. But this was a dream. My word, it was definitely a dream. DUUURRREEEEEAM.

For starters, my penis was easily a good foot long, flaccid. Crazy thick too, like a pork loin. Not that I’m hung like a wine cork in real life, but I’m certainly not packing anything of equestrian proportions. So when I looked down and saw the thing, the stranger who was passing through also took notice, and he stopped next to the stall door, staring back at me in awe.

What the fuck?

I have no idea what it was that my mind was parsing through, or what it was trying to reconcile, but he and I just stood there, staring at my Johnson for a few seconds. When I looked up, he was smiling, and there were two other dudes looking over the top of the stall, trying to pretend that they were watching the plasma TV mounted on the wall above my shower. One of them stepped down out of view, walked over to the door, opened it, and peeped his head in, smiling like the other intruder. Real creepy-like.

Uh, WHAT. THE. FUCK? Seriously, this time.

There was a definite air of homoeroticism involved, which in all honesty, I’m cool with even in real life. I feel comfortable enough in my own understanding of the difference between my own feelings of attraction and the mere reflection of those imposed upon me. Not that I am the subject of such things on a regular basis, but whenever it has come up in my real life, I believe I have handled it with respect and decorum. Even though these dudes were much more aggressive in their stance than any I have experienced, it played out the same, for the most part. But it all felt as if it could degenerate into a jailhouse-communal-bathroom situation at any moment (don’t drop the soap, son!). Of course, in dreamland, we are all super-something-or-other, if we aren’t victims. Apparently, I was not playing the victim role in this dream, because I just folded my arms and said something along the lines of “hey, guys, I’m trying to get this sand off me, would you mind staring at some other dick, somewhere else?” Just as I imagined they would, they all scurried off with real embarrassment. Again, I’m not going to pretend I know what this dream was trying to make me privy to. But it might have something to do with unabashed confidence, even in the face of obvious reasons to be embarrassed or intimidated.

Because soon after that, the guys that scurried away must have gone around telling everyone of my bathing escapades, because a growing crowd had formed to watch me shower. Looming over the stall walls, peeking through the door, and some were just hanging out in there with me. They all started out with a menacing sort of tone, a kind of “come on now, squeeeeeel! Squeeeeeeeel!” sort of presence to them. But I checked each one individually, with a cold stare, or some snarky words about whatever jacked up gear they were wearing (typical truck stop garb: filthy work boots, padded vests, old jeans, whatever) or their potential pathetic penchants for banging one-legged, genetically limited boys. And they quickly backed down after being confronted. Then, women started to join the mob. Teenage girls and hormonal fifty year old ladies. Just as lecherous as the trucker dudes. For whatever reason, I remained calm and just continued to concentrate on the project at hand: get that fucking sand out of my various cracks and crevices, all the while wondering: where the hell are my clothes?

For those who don’t know me, I’m not an exhibitionist by normal definition, and I am certainly not the type of person who would stand for this type of deification. I mean, these trucker dudes and random ladies were slowly morphing into a benign crowd like one would find at a PTA meeting. And I was their sole focus of curiosity. Me and this inhuman slab of shlong swinging between my legs. Somehow, I had earned their respect, and they were staring at me like I was supposed to answer some existential question for them. They were highly expectant, and I realized it, but didn’t care. I was intent on solving my own sand problem. Fuck them and their ridiculous expectations. I owed them nothing, and acted accordingly.

Eventually, I got all the sand off of my skin, and was done with the shower. I still did not know where my clothes were, where the sand came from, where I was, or where I was supposed to be. But as soon as I turned the water off, the crowd dispersed, and only a few remained. It was almost as if I had just finished some sort of stage show, and there were some people milling about, hoping to meet me, the performer. All I wanted to do was get out of there. But they sort of crowded me in, keeping me in the stall, chit-chatting with me about inane bullshit. I even knew some of their faces. People I had worked with in the past, or friend-of-friends from current day. But I had no feelings of shame or embarrassment. I didn’t even think to ask to borrow an undershirt or anything. I willingly complied with the rules of pointless banter and fielded comments and questions about the weather or politics. Newborn nude and dripping wet. Whatever.

The dream ended with me requesting that everyone leave my stall so that I could figure out where my clothes were, and whether or not the absurd swelling of my procreative member was the result of something medically scary. Everyone smiled and shuffled out or lowered themselves from the top of the stall walls, wishing me luck in my quest. Fucked up sand-washing-big-dick-exhibitionist dream: fin.

Now how this relates to my little theme here, is the question of role, and expectation in an individual’s life. The occurrence and results of mutation in personality.

In the dream, I acted completely different from what I would have done in real life. Probably different from how anyone else would act as well. The situation was absurd, and there was a thick expectation from the crowd around me. Expecting what? I didn’t know. And I didn’t care. Whatever they were waiting for me to say, or do, was not going to come from me willingly. And that was a conscious decision that I was actively making throughout the events that played out. It was like a dry-run, staged by my mind, for situations (albeit much less ridiculous) that I would (and have) inevitably encounter in my real life. Situations where I would be challenged, however subtly, to comply with expectations imposed on me beyond my own abilities or willingness. This happens to everyone in life, and how we respond to these situations is a powerful molding agent for the mutations and expectations of our own personalities. It is one of the many ways in which we grow and change throughout our limited time here, together. Perhaps my brain is trying to shore itself up, or bracing itself for something it perceives as immediately threatening.

I would have had to buy new pants if that dream was my reality. I like my pants as they are. But thanks, my little mind, for the opportunity to see the other side, if only in a dreamland truck stop. Somehow, there’s no irony in any of that.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What the? Who? Whatever Man.

Dash of this, pinch of that… some streaming consciousness (mental feces) pouring your way here today. That’s what the pen demands, so that’s what gets up.

Sometimes, I’m just fucking drained. I have nothing left to give. Maybe it’s my diet. Maybe it’s those dabblings in random excess. Maybe it’s my natural disposition: to be tired-dirt-spent.

Nah. Not that last one.

I hear bananas are a “natural mood enhancer”. Whatever that means. Some moods shouldn’t be “enhanced”, in all honesty. I’ve already had one today, along with three cupcakes and nachos. See what I mean about the diet thing? Not exactly stable. I have a banana sitting on my desk right now. Brown dotted. Curious little dude, wondering when I’m going to peel and destroy him with my teeth.

Then I will make him into poo. The good poo, of course.

My memory has been dealing me worse and worse here recently. I forgot two good friends' birthdays this past weekend. TWO. And even after I realized it, I kept forgetting to DO something about that. I neglected to DO anything to make it up to them.

This is becoming a rather nasty pattern with me. One that I feel is a bit of a departure from my previous self. I’m all about progress and change, but some changes work against what I would classify as progress.

And this whole forgetfulness-gone-everything is more on the steaming bowl-o-shit side of my preference scale. I rarely lean that way intentionally.

Still working on my books. The process is fascinating, but I’m trying not to write about it because that’s what the vast majority of writer’s with blogs WRITE about: the process and frustrations of writing. It’s beyond masturbatory and frankly, it makes me grind my teeth.

So I won’t read that last paragraph ever, because it proves my hypocrisy AND it makes me grind my teeth.

I need another happy hour like I need more hair around my asshole. Wait, no, that’s not right…

Christ? Christ!

*POOF*

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Respect Where It's Due -

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The trials of Lycan would be appropriately raucous, booze-fueled, and terse. And that’s just the judge I’m talking about.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lessons can be so Broad.

It’s always better when there are mistakes to make. Lessons available for those who desperately need them. Desperates like us.

It was an hour into “high tide”, that time of night between sleeping and waking for Average Joes, between “last call” and “get the fuck up”. Two to four A.M. The window of opportunity. We climbed through it regularly, without questioning it, as if pre-destined for such things.

The three of us made our way to a rather rough neighborhood, minutes from the hold. This was a neighborhood which, oddly enough, we would have been apprehensive about entering during the light of day. A poorer neighborhood, with all the signs of a rental/transient population: overgrown lawns, fallen mailboxes, sans-wheels-automobiles at the curbs, broken glass in the street, and packs of stray dogs. But thieves will thieve, and thieves thieve from each other. Where better to find a meta-collection of goods than where the thieves sleep? This was the faulty logic of our pursuit.

It was absolutely miserable-hot outside. We were breathing boiling water, suffocating our bodies as we suffocated our souls. And even at two in the morning, I was sweating behind my knees while wearing shorts.

The other two would be doing the run. I was to keep at the wheel, at the ready, at long-range lookout. Kalm was the front man for this venture. He had the skills and the good eye for potential property, so he would spear-head the run. The other, Breaze, was not as polished as Kalm. Breaze had been out of the action for a couple of years, but was really hyped about his return. He really wanted to jump into things, even though he was out of practice. His almost explosive desire to be involved was infectious. So Kalm accepted his excitement as resolution to put in the required effort.

Best of intentions, really.

Three streets in, I found a perfect wait-spot, somewhere near the end of a quarter-mile block. Beneath a broken street lamp. Killed the engine, they exited, and I turned the radio down to a whisper while I settled in to wait. But I was a tad apprehensive about Breaze's re-virginized run.

“You guys got this? Breaze, you alright with watch-out? It’s no joke.”

I was a bit worried that Breaze didn’t completely understand the nature of what it was we were doing. The problems are never with the law. You can talk your way out of that. It’s with bubba-joe-Nguyen and his Gloc. You can’t reason with him, even if you speak the same language, so you NEED to see him coming from a mile away. Having no guns or intention to hurt anyone, we had to avoid anyone who might.

“I got this shit. My eyes work. Let’s do this shit already.”

Rather cavalier, but Kalm didn’t even acknowledge it as he opened the back door and set out onto the wet pavement, without any illumination from the bulb-less interior light. He never bothered to hurry anyone when he set in to work, he just went. And anyone along had to keep up. That was his way. Breaze was never much for other people’s ways, but he silently respected Kalm’s record, and followed with proper step.

I sat in that sauna for a month if it was fifteen minutes. I had never relented my watch-out position to anyone else before, so this was something a bit new to me. The waiting around with top-forty radio crapping out Counting Crows was pride-ruining and ulcerous to me. But Breaze needed the opportunity to stretch a bit, and that was his right. So I silently sweat out the wait, dragging on my Marlboro, imagining what it would feel like to have air conditioning on my greasy face.

After maybe twenty minutes and three smokes, I noted two figures crossing the street behind me, in my rear-view mirror, approximately fifty yards back. They were moving with haste, and I could see Kalm’s bag of tricks in his silhouette. Breaze was close behind. They crossed, headed my way, back into the shadows against the houses on my side of the street.

“Sweet…” I thought to myself, “now we can get the fuck out of here and get some coffee. Breaze got to turn something, so he should be…” My thought was interrupted by the appearance of two more figures, perhaps fifty feet behind Kalm and Breaze, also heading my direction, but too far back to note any detail.

“Shit-shit-shit-shit-shit!!!”

I went ahead and started the car, trying to give a subtle hint to my co-conspirators to haul some ass, if they weren’t already aware of the potential pursuers.

Again, there is little that worries the common thief beyond the normal pitfalls of Average Joe living: slipping on wet tile, dropping something heavy on your toe, and paper cuts. But the one thing that scared us more than death itself, was the potential to suffer at the hands of some pack of potentially fuckmental vigilantes. Especially in the kind of neighborhood we were in. Khmer Rouge type shit. I always imagined car batteries attached to the tip of my dick in my daymares.

They didn’t heed my engine running, and just strolled right up all lazy like. Kalm got in the back seat, and immediately asked “why is the car running? It's really loud, man.” Breaze took the front seat, and before he could shut the door, we were floored and forward.

I was a bit upset by the whole thing. “DIDN’T YOU SEE THOSE TWO PEOPLE COMING UP BEHIND YOU?!!! I mean, FUCK!!!”

Breaze was pretty nonplussed. “Nah. Did you see anyone Kalm?”

Kalm seemed to understand my displeasure with the whole thing. “No, I didn’t see anyone, but I wasn’t looking either.” Very matter-of-factly: “That’s the look-out’s job.”

Breaze: "Hm."

I was livid. All the blood in my body rushed to my right foot, to get us the hell out of there.

There was a bit of silence draped around us as we pulled around and through the labyrinth of a neighborhood, pawing our way to an exit. Any exit would do. Screeching around corners, the radio tapped out Utah Saints “Something Good” while I seethed, Kalm probably considered the meaning of life, and Breaze shrugged it all off. The drive home was insufferably quiet.

Mistakes are made in any effort to polish one’s craft. But mistakes in some professions carry a much, much heavier consequence when committed. Such is the line that I was (and still very much am) a little shy to stagger around with any level of careless abandon. Paranoia is a thief’s saving grace. Paranoia in every respect and shape. The more, the safer.

After reaching the hold, without saying much to each other, we set upon organizing, cataloguing, and prepping the garnered goods. Amongst the pile of things we had to rummage through were personal items such as sunglasses, pocket knives, compact discs, lighters and cigarettes. Pretty standard lot for a pull of that size. This particular batch contained a rare find for those times: a pack of Thai Cloves. All the writing on the pack was in Thai, but Kalm knew what they were, and did not communicate that to me or Breaze. He played a bit dumb on what they were.

Perhaps it was his effort to diffuse a potentially friendship-disrupting event, as he could tell how pissed I was at what I felt was reckless carelessness that put us all in the menacing sights of retributive harm (car batteries attached to dicks). I was still fuming over the whole debacle.

So he recommended that we smoke some of the cloves. A pinched Zippo lit a single stick up, which we passed between us for a good twenty minutes (cloves forever-burn like cigars) while we continued to cut and crimp errant wires, documented model numbers and tested functionality of components. Business as usual.

But after that twenty minutes passed, we found ourselves laughing hysterically at the whole thing. We joked that the phantom pursuers were part of a competing crew, that was following us around for sloppy seconds. For the remaining change left in ashtrays. We laughed and laughed, forgetting the previous discomfort that clouded our evening, not but thirty minutes prior.

The next thing I remember is waking up, still on the floor, with a butchered CD player on my chest. Breaze was sitting up, against the wall to my right, still passed out. Kalm was snoring, lightly, in the entryway to the bathroom, tools still in his able hands.

Those cloves are no joke.

We never discussed the grievous error made the night before, ever, in any capacity. But we did discuss the cloves, repeatedly, over the turning years. They seemed to trump the more irritating elements of the evening.

We never smoked Thai Cloves again.

And we never asked Breaze to join us on such expeditions in the future. Eventually we would have to learn that it wasn’t the execution by Breaze, or details such as the brutal effects of Thai Cloves which were the problem. The problem was much broader than that. Broader than our narrow minds could possibly fathom at the time.

Always broader it seemed. Always.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

San Fran's North Beach - Broadway

When we hit Broadway, looking for some place decent to stay, I was not aware of just how little some things have changed in San Francisco. I had read about the insanity that surrounded the city back when it was in the grips of the opium dragon’s teeth, during mid-to-late 1800’s, but I had assumed that lifestyle had been replaced by technophiles and aging hippies. Eh, not so much.

Broadway in the North Beach district, in year 2000 of the Christians, was definite evidence that the tendency of San Fran to dip into addiction had not been pushed out by internet or hemp developments. Standing on the street, trying to find the storefront of a youth hostel we were told was nearby, I noted a man lying on the sidewalk across the way. To the left of him was a porn theatre, to the right was some closed shop, presumably a liquor store. He was eagle-spread on his back in front of an alley opening, resting his head on the sidewalk curb. He was indeed alive. Well, in some sense he was alive. I could see him squirming a bit, loosening the rope on his trousers so he could piss. While still lying down.

The stream moved its way to the gutter, along and through the dirty cracks of the pavement. Passersby simply stepped over the urine flow, as if they had some sort of auto-sensor for such things. I watched in awe, alone, at how this man was comfortable enough to LAY in the middle of a sidewalk, in front of a public alleyway, as if this was normal and acceptable behavior. And on top of that: he was so relaxed with it all, that whipping out his dick to relieve himself in front of anyone interested to watch was of no concern to him.

Fascinating.

I realize that there is a segment of every population, in every major city, which falls under the definition of “homeless”, and I would guess that this man would fit the requirements. But in every other city I have visited, before and since San Fran, I have never seen one produce any sort of excrement or urine like that without any fanfare, police intervention, or at least some mild scolding from a local business owner. Nothing. He finished pissing all over that little piece of civilization, and rolled over, just slightly, to fish something out from beneath him.

And it was then that I was truly taken aback.

He sat up slowly, stretched out his left arm, and plunged a syringe into it… like, no big deal.

I have a thing with needles. And by “thing” I mean: desperate fear.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Word on Expectations.

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I’ve been struggling with Expectations recently. Specifically, the Expectations that people place on one another, and when/why they are accepted. Of course, I am doing this because I question the validity of many people’s Expectations (of themselves, of others, of me), along with wondering what it is that I expect. More to the point, I wonder why I expect different things from myself than I do other people. On top of that, I wonder why others expect things from me that I simply don’t see as reasonable or obligatory.

It’s probably just a selfish phase I’m going through. But I’m going to barf up the beginnings of my quest for clarification here, just because I can. Kinda long, so feel free not to bother. I don’t expect anyone to read any of this at all. Just so you know.

I believe there are many different levels of expectations, and everyone plays around amongst and between these levels, picking whatever suits their fancy for a particular moment. In an effort to understand why people get frustrated with each other over these expectations, I have decided to list out the varieties of expectation that I have witnessed during my time here.

There are two levels of what I believe are Macro-level Expectations. Ethical and Moral. These are typically spelled out by laws and enforced by threat of punishment, generated and delivered by specific populations.

The first is Ethical Expectations.

These are expectations which I consider to be universal to the vast majority of cultures and populations, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliation. For simplicity’s sake, I will refer to these as Ethical Expectations. To be clear, I believe there are two parts of ethics: one of which transcends all cultural or religious boundaries and is inherent to being human (the desire to procreate and defend humanity in general, as in: against alien invasion\takeover) and then there is morality. Morality is the collection of any subgroup of humanity’s moral tendencies (which differ from group to group, year to year, or between People Magazine issues), better known as Social Mores. One group’s mores may differ wildly from group to group, religion to religion, region to region, all over the board.

I am not talking about morality. That is not near as broad and sweeping as our White House would have us believe. I am speaking of ethics in the Preservation of Your Fellow Man and our Collective Sense of Civilized Behavior. Generally speaking, of course.

Back to Ethical Expectations.

Pretty basic expectation leveled from one person to another (or between a population and its individual constituents). Do not injure or kill another person without agreement of population. Do not steal another person’s shit (husband, house, loose property, dog, whatever) without agreement of population. Do not make contracts (marriage, sale/purchase, etc…) with others if you do not intend to see them through, unless you have the agreement of the population. Do not blah-blah unless you have the agreement of the population. These pretty much follow the general code of civilized society which everyone EXPECTS of each other in order for the society to outlast its membership (again, the definition, but not necessarily the examples, is universal, as what constitutes “property” in one place might not be in another, and vice versa). Note that the constant exception to every EXPECTATION involves getting approval from everyone else. You can kill whoever you want, provided “everyone else” is behind your doing so (declaration of war, death sentence, crime of passion, “well, retarded kids just kinda do that sometimes”, whatever – this is another topic for another post though, because I’m blabbing about expectations here, not the general hypocrisy one lives with in order to function properly in a civilized society).

So that’s the top level of what is expected of me, you, and everyone around you. Umbrella-style.

Drilling down a bit further, I find what I call Moral Expectations.

These are the ever-changing rules that are applied across a population that codify and compartmentalize certain behaviors, pointing out (specifically) what is INAPPROPRIATE to do in a more discrete and local sense. Farting in a court of law. Cursing at an agent of government. Punching the face of a child as a form of discipline. Women showing skin in public. Men shaving their beards. Yelling out “God is a fraud!” on a public train. Running a stop sign. And on, and on.

These social mores are more related to manners, honestly. They are always couched by the intent to protect the general welfare of a society as a whole, but really, they’re just the codified preferences of a specific population. One group’s effort to get everyone to follow patterns of some sort.

For example. Not all countries have the egalitarian notion of stop signs in traffic (bigger vehicles have right-of-way, or royalty/wealthy always have right-of-way, whatever), making it more of a manner, or preference of the population. Most western (westernized) countries have adopted the use of stop signs either for their simplicity or because they all share the same notion of manners.

So, Moral Expectations are far more regional, and certainly more abstract than the Ethical Expectations.

As a slight, but pertinent aside… Depending on the culture in question, there is another layer of Expectations which I have come across in my life. In most Western countries/societies, there is a Consumption Expectation which is not necessarily written into law, but is definitely there. In a roundabout sense, it is defended by the execution of certain laws which protect or promote capitalism (especially in tax law). In Barter Economies, Fiefdoms, Bedouin Markets, etc… the responsibility to consume may be downplayed to the point where it really only exists as a slight part of Moral Expectations (when paying tribute with a goat in exchange for bails of wheat or protection, said goat must be proven fertile enough to provide milk, or some shit like that) because it is not the focal purpose of that population. But in pure market economies such as those we live within in Western countries, there is a RESPONSIBILITY to consume. If you aren’t consuming, then you are supposed to be saving so that some entity which is producing things to be consumed, can borrow your savings to make shit for you to consume once you’ve stopped saving and re-started your expected consumption. It’s a very strange system of expectations, driven by the need for positive investment growth, fueled by the promises of investment return, and jolted around by the (somewhat contrived yet never challenged) volatile business cycle. But the idea of Consumption Expectations, in Western countries specifically, blend themselves through and amongst almost all the lower levels of expectations, listed below.

Even further down the line, I run into an even more convoluted expectation set: Chivalrous Expectations.

These are the sad remains of a time and place where men and women had very specific roles to play in Western society. I am not familiar with the Eastern equivalent to chivalry, as these things are not readily advertised. I do, however, assume that there is a roughly equivalent set of expectations leveled upon a Sudanese man on how he should properly treat and/or court a lady (along with what would be acceptable responses from her) as compared to those of the Western world. But for now, I’m going to plead ignorance of such things, and breeze over the Western set.

Chivalry is a quaint idea, from a much, much more brutal time where proof of ability to protect and secure was a chief burden of men who wanted to woo a gentile woman (read: NOT a laborer or woman of the lower castes, who probably received little to nothing in return for their services as wife). Times are much more kind, and even more complicated in today’s world. Chivalry is the buggy whip of modern interaction. Those who desperately hold on to it because it is an expectation, rather than just plain thoughtful, are not only unnecessarily complicating an already complicated existence, they are also being insufferable pains in the ass. If you want to hold the door open for a someone (male, female, shemale) because you want it to be seen as a gesture of respect, then feel free to do so. To get mad at others because they do not make efforts to display respect by using uncreative door-holding, which inevitably makes things awkward for all the strangers trying to pass in front and behind you, is a waste of time.

Not long ago, I was complimented for a particular door-opening act of supposed chivalry. I didn’t even notice I was doing it, because I didn’t consider it chivalrous or extraordinary. There were three of us passing through some door, so I opened it, and then held it open while they went through. No big deal. I’ve held doors open for dudes, friends, girlfriends, old folks, toddlers, and other people’s pets. One time, I held the door open at Pier One Imports so that these two crazy Nigerian dudes could steel a big-ass piece of table glass. I had no idea it was a heist. So much for random kindness. Another time, I got stuck holding a door at Grand Central Station for what felt like fifteen minutes because I opened it for a lady and the masses just kept…on…streaming though that fucker. My random “chivalry” quickly turned to thoughts of random violence on people I had never met, when really, they were doing me a favor. That strange woman took it for granted that I would be holding that door open, as did EVERYONE else, as soon as she saw me approach all chivalry-ish. So, unless I want to hold all doors open for all people, all of whom are perfectly capable of doing so themselves, then I am wasting my time by doing it even once. It’s an empty gesture in today’s world, as are most all acts of chivalry, when they are done only for chivalry’s sake. If you want to be nice and carry some burden for someone else (which is what chivalry really is), then do so. But expecting it from others is nothing less than rude and selfish, the same thing most chivalry ignorers get accused of.

Think about it.

Below the aged-beyond-prime Chivalry Expectations, comes Common Courtesy Expectations.

These are the most rudimentary of Expectation sets, and just like Morality Expectations, are conditioned on the basis of region/historical era. I’ll only discuss what I believe are the standard Common Courtesy Expectations set forth in the regions in which I have lived or have been long enough to gather decent information. Because these are so specific and many times completely esoteric in origin (and ironic, since they are referred to as “Common”), they are the most interesting of the Expectation sets to me (even more interesting than the Consumption Expectation, which is more frustrating than interesting, because it is so two-dimensional in nature).

As examples:

When on public transport (or anywhere, really), it is expected, as a Common Courtesy to give up your seat if an elderly person, individual with mobility issues, or a parent with children hanging off them, happens upon you (if it’s a young, healthy woman and you cede your seat, then you are acting out of Chivalry, not Common Courtesy, to correct what I believe to be a common misnomer). This act of Common Courtesy is expected because everyone has a right to sit, but others have a more pressing NEED to sit. This example is intrinsic and obvious, not convoluted or based on long-forgotten rules of public interaction. It is more a question of efficient economy of comfort.

A more esoteric Common Courtesy Expectation involves the formation and adherence to lines (or queues, as the Brits prefer). In some regions of the world, lines form naturally. People look for them, and follow or form them when necessary. This isn’t the case everywhere, as it is not a question of Ethics, Morality, or Chivalry. Even within the same region, one might fall into a line at a fast food restaurant but then leave there for a bar where it becomes “every man for himself” to get a drink order filled. The need for lines is fairly obvious when they work properly: orderly movement toward access to something that is apparently scarce (food, merging traffic into a single lane, entrance into a stairwell during a fire drill, whatever). But not always, and certainly not in all places.

To take the merging traffic example: In some cities (towns, more often) it is expected that all who are involved in the merging of two lanes into one will do so in an organized fashion. A one-to-one car blend, because that is the Common Courtesy that is expected amongst and between people who probably know each other. In Houston, there is no such Expectation applied to such situations. In the anonymous gridlock of Houston traffic, no one is expected to signal for a lane change, let alone file in an organized manner through merging lanes. In fact, no line is expected at all. What is expected is that everyone around you is trying to get theirs, and lots of honking will be involved (maybe some middle fingers, maybe some retaliatory gun shots).

I could go further with the Common Courtesy Expectations, but there are an infinite number of them, and they tend to be so regional that I have trouble discussing them in a universal way.

Damn. I didn’t expect it to take me so many words to describe what feels so simple in my mind. What a mess…

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Morning Chill and the Pavlovian.

We’re in the 80’s here in Texas, temp wise. That’s a 20 degree drop, over night. Sweet Jesus, I might sleep outside tonight. On my front lawn. I might even be sober this time. Huh? Right.

This cooler (seriously, 80 degrees is COOLER) weather kicks my long-term memory up a bit. Extreme changes in temperature do that to me. Odd little (pointless, yet fascinating to me) fact about Craig: when I’m in the shower (no this isn’t filthy), if I turn up the heat to steaming and hang my head under the faucet so that the water beats the back of my neck and head, I get crazy flashback memories. Of my childhood. Weird situations that have no bigger story, they’re just… “as of” situations. Or views. The most common flashback I get is of the view looking out a bay window into the backyard of some woman’s house. I was probably three or four years old, and we only went to this woman’s house once. She was some acquaintance of my mother, possibly through church. I don’t really know. But I must have stared out that bay window, cataloguing her fence line and crape myrtle trees for an eternity, because the image is crazy vivid.

Yeah. It’s pretty fucked up. I can’t remember the name of someone standing in front of me who I’ve known for over three years yet I remember how those myrtles listed silently dancing in unison against a rain-ravaged fence amidst a St. Augustine lawn that desperately needed some serious trimming. My brain very well may never work properly, and I’m okay with that. We all have our issues.

So, the memory that was triggered by my brain this morning was from way back. Back from my elementary school days. Back then, as soon as we hit autumn in Alief, all the kids would run outside and play some random sport. Baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, and of course: football. I was around seven at the time, so I was not yet aware of how little I cared about all of these sports, save for basketball. Back then, all the boys in the neighborhood would meet down the street at the Winkler’s house to play whatever the game-o-the-day was. This particular day, it was football. Fucking football. Oh, glory be.

The leaves had just started to fall off of some trees (like, two trees, because all the others were pine trees, or evergreens), and you could smell a hint of winter in the air (someone burning garbage somewhere, probably). It had to have been mid to late October, because it wasn’t winter enough to warrant long sleeves (no need for a “coat” in Houston, except for style). So the grand ol’ sport of organized gang-warfare had hit the Monday night lineup, and football was being pumped into all the delicate little brains of all the little boys in the neighborhood. Well, a couple were saved from this poison by being the frontrunners of the pale-skinned, ADD riddled “Nintendo Generation”, but we barely saw those joystick jockeys outside. They were almost a suburban myth at that time.

Anyhow. Friendly neighborhood game of football.

None of us really knew how to play this game, but we tried anyway. Again, I was seven, so I was just getting good at tying my shoes without parental aide. “Downs”, “hikes”, and “runs” described various diseases in my little world, not elements to a street game. We also had no concept of the “touch” or “flag” variations of football. We went “full contact”. Knowing of those variations probably would not have mattered since the organizers of these games, I believe, to this day, very well may have been questioning their own sexuality at the time. There would be much contact, much rubbing, and half of the guys involved would probably end up shirtless by the end of it all. The pre-confusion of pre-puberty is awesome like that. Regardless, we were small kids with no clue what we were trying to accomplish as far as the game went. So when this group of middle school boys showed up (with their sideline heckling girlfriends, no less), we got broke-the-fuck-down with a quickness. They were HUGE to us. Gargantuan creatures with fuzzy faces and volcanic acne. They scared the hell out of me with their high-fiving and cracking-voiced grunts. They talked mad shit to each other, and to us. That’s right. These dudes were about twice my age, and felt the need to talk shit [I’m gonna fuckin’ OWN you kid] as we lined up for plays.

Oh, the “plays”. Right. In the wonderful world of seventh grade-dom, every boy thinks he’s the star. There is no teamwork, only highlight reels of savagery committed by one man-boy against everyone else (this goes for soccer, basketball, cricket, dominos, and tic-tac-toe). Especially when the opposing team is comprised of kids half your size and age. It’s survival of the most ruthless ball-hogger. So, these dudes just took turns as quarterback and simply RAN US DOWN. No passing, no blocking, no strategy. They’d hike the ball, and whoever got it would run STRAIGHT AT US with the intention of breaking all our limbs. We were the pins and they were the bowling ball. Elbows to the shoulders, fists to the face, kicks to the chest. It was mad brutal. No one even bothered to keep score. After the third grass-stain to my face, I started to wonder why the hell I was bothering to play with these cats. It certainly was not fun. Well, of course, they were enjoying themselves thoroughly. They were having a blast trying to crack the collar bones of second graders in order to impress their head-banging, Aqua-net addict girlfriends sitting on the sideline. I really hope one of them earned a handjob out of that disaster. Something for our pain. Something, anything.

So there I was, getting battered and then immediately standing back in line for more. Like a moron lemming. Silently, I was questioning the point of the whole game, but no one else on our team was pussing out. You could see it in their faces. Resolute to beat these guys, against all odds, without a clue as to how. No one was willing to back down. Even in the face of an absolute and utterly embarrassing slaughter, none of them had the notion to just say “fuck this shit, I’m gonna go play Frogger” except me. Well, I couldn’t let them down and just sulk my way back home. Even at seven, I had a fleeting understanding of the code of brotherhood (which is total bullshit, for the most part, by the way) and refused to abandon my post. Yet, I was getting a bit weary from these assholes and their repeated efforts to loosen all my teeth.

On the next play, this particularly big fellow planned to run the ball at us. Blond, wearing a fairy-ass half-shirt, gym shorts and fucking football cleats. Football cleats? I was probably barefoot for this particular game. He even pointed at me to let me know I was his target. What a sweetheart. They hiked the pigskin to him and he leaned forward with his right arm straight out, like a jousting lance of bone and meat, kicking up lawn as he barreled right at me, other seven year-olds bouncing off his thighs. I was seriously tempted to turn around and just run my broken ass home, but I’m pretty sure he would have kept up and eventually ran right over me and my ruptured spleen. In my living room, if need be. So what did I do? I curled up into a ball, like the complete pussy I am, covering my head with my hands, and prepared to be punted, if not worse. I braced for the impact…

Apparently, this particular tactic was (and is still) not very popular in Football. Some might say it is a sissy move. Whatever. All I know is that beefcake had no clue as to how to handle the situation and tried to hurdle me instead. His leg caught the arch of my back, and hit the grass like a fat person, with no hands out to catch himself. The ball popped out and was picked up by a fellow second grader who quickly ran it down to other side and scored our first and only point of the game.

A small victory amongst a crushing defeat, sure, but it was much more than that in our minds. Suddenly, we were using all kinds of tactics to stop them. Ganging up, punching dicks, kicking knees, we’d try anything outside the standard rules (which had us being beaten like slaves earlier in the game). Things got interesting. They started having to run plays, which were very successful, but at least we weren’t being punched in the ears anymore. We felt like we were actually playing the game instead of being played by it. It was fun, for a few plays anyhow.

It all came to an end for me when, that same missing-link motherfucker got a hand off and ran straight at me again. I tried to trick him with the whole “duck-and-cover” routine but his ID-driven mind knew enough not to repeat that mistake. He picked me up by my right arm as he ran by, dragged me maybe five feet, and slammed me into a pine tree on his way to score another point. That might have been the first of many minor concussions I’ve earned so far in life. I don’t remember the trip home, but I certainly left soon after that play.

Awesome.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere. Something about ingenuity, perseverance, or not letting your children out of the house before they’re thirty years old, but I didn’t really glean too much from it. You lose some, you lose some more. Perhaps I should have learned to cut my losses, abandon hopeless situations, or only play games that I completely understand. But even now, many moons later, I still haven’t learned any of that for sure. I honestly haven’t been able to make a discernable pattern after lacing together similar situations throughout my life. It’s more chaotic than that, apparently. Not so hard-and-fast. [love that phrase!]

Besides, it’s just a memory, triggered by the cool weather, on my way to work. Right? Right. Coffee time.