Tuesday, March 19, 2019

PUnK sUcKKed

The only trend I was right there in the middle of during it's salad days was Punk.  There I was, a musician's girlfriend (not advised) and there was PUNK, and it was what was done if you wanted to be edge and gritty and get gigs.

God I Hated It.

Hated.  It.

I've read stuff, I've listened to music, I've tried, but having been there at ground Zero while it was still pumping fluids the only thing I came away with was the absolute certainty that  Punk Was Horseshit.  A shuck. A bunch of moron kids watching a dirty addict pitch a full blown psychotic break to the sound of bad electronics and no talent, and pretending not to be freaked out.

And let's look at that fashion trend a bit.  It took a hell of a lot of money to look that way.  Even a used Perfecto jacket was going for 200 bucks, and unless you did a lot of shoplifting all those chains, safety pins, handcuffs, Doc Martins and hair products cost cash dollars.  We'd be marching home from a gig, too poor and fucked up to own a car, and we'd pass groups of bright shiny punks with their edge hair and fingerless gloves and Donna Karan dresses worn over slashed long handle underwear and where would they trip on into?  The DISCOS.

We did not see these people at our gigs, not for long. They walked in, established their cred, and off to wriggle to the BeeGees they went.  Our audiences were street kids and confused teenagers and Skinheads a-plenty.  Everyone hated to see them saunter into a venue.  They ruined everything. That's all they did.  They broke bottles and cut people, slam danced like maniacs, just random, idiotic agents of chaos that went from club to club fucking with people.  They weren't about anything, just like the punks I met and knew.

We played with a few 'name' bands, as it turns out.  You wouldn't know it by me. The Rat$, The Wipers, Bad Brains, The Slits, the Screaming Sidewalks, Echo and the Bunnymen to name a few...and they weren't doing anything but cashing in on a trend.  I think it's the soullessness of Punk that repelled me as much as the sheer shittiness of the sound.  It was like a prolonged, unpleasant tantrum that everyone pretended to like.  Sitting in the green room with other bands, nobody was talking about anything but getting paid and getting laid.  They were a characterless group of folks who practiced their snarls in the mirrors and went from Kid You Went To High School With to Snarling Mayhem as soon as they plugged in the equipment.  Everyone was reading Interview With The Vampire and smoking dope.  It was gnawed trash, ragged, ugly, people sharing needles and shitting between parked cars and thousands of flyers so thick on the walls and phone poles that you could set them on fire, which broke up the monotony.

I don't get the connection to Jamaican music either.  No two types of music could be more unalike.  While the Jamaicans had something to say in a manner that drew people in, Punk in America was pure First World Problem Whining that people felt obliged to like because it was being done in Europe.

I don't look back on those days with any kind of fond nostalgia.  There it was, and I put up with it until I smartened up and stopped hanging around with musicians.  It would have been nice to say that there were moments, you know, those golden glimpses you have when you're part of Something That Matters, but the impression I've been left with was one of hopeless stupidity, desperate rage,  police cars, vomiting in alleys and chimps flinging shit.

I loved the clothes, though.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

I'm So Happy I'm Boring

The angrier I am the funnier I am.  Now that's my opinion.  You may not think I'm funny at all, and in that you would be wrong, moan chair, because I am funny as fuck;  but I'm funnier when I'm pissed off and I don't know why that is.

We just watched Ron White's latest routine, and about died laughing about what was actually 45 minutes of sincere self-loathing and misogyny punctuated by cigar smoke.  This guy hates everything, and himself most of all.  And we were in tears laughing, like most of the people in the televised audience were by the end of his set.

I saw John Cleese live, and yes, I am totally bragging here;  and he noted the same thing, with words to the effect of  "The more you tell people how bad things are, and the more accurately you describe it, the louder and longer they laugh!"  Now the thing about Mr. Cleese is that he is a. the man who Should Have Been The Father Of My Children, and b. Chillingly vicious.  Nevertheless, I love this guy.  I want own him.  I want to clean him with my tongue.  Knowing that I wouldn't get a thing back from the man but a snide comment, if that.

Another thing he said, after delivering the observation noted above, was "So what is it exactly that's wrong with you all?"

Good question.

I was funniest when I was angry, and I had a lot to be angry about for a lot of years.  I brought "Paul" (my old blog) back from the dead under the guise of "Steve" (where you are right now, you lucky bastard) to deal with the excess negative energy of a marital crisis, and I wrote some good stuff. Now that things in my life have settled down, I'm writing moody crap.  Some of it's good moody crap, too.  But the point is that I'm not putting down as much humor as I was....but I am reasonably happy.  So where are the laffs? 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Hospitality Industry Will Turn On You Like Gordon Ramsey After A Triple Expresso

...unless you heed a few realities of the trade.  This is the summation of eleven years of my life, folks.  Take heed.

I started working in motels and hotels back in the 1970’s.  Did you ever see the movie “Boogie Nights?”  If you have, that should give you a vague glimpse of the kind of thing I had to clean up after when I first started housekeeping, down in the hot-sheet places, the ones that will rent by the half-day.  And the kind of decor I had to put up with while doing so. It was bad. Really bad. Just like most of what you’re going to read.   

Everyone in the 1970’s was doing the nasty just as much as they could with everyone in sight.  Aids was a distant rumor.  All venereal diseases could be cleared up with a shot of penicillin and a hearty handshake.  Motel rooms were primarily places where people went to “git down.” For an 18 - year - old - just out of the suburbs,  this amounted to the creepy sex version of a “Just throw ‘em into the water and let ‘em figure it out” swimming lesson.  

My first week on the job I was finding cheap handcuffs, lengths of clothesline, wastebaskets filled with used condoms, beds like slaughterhouses, and manly substances squirted into all kinds of unlikely and rude places (like the telephone receiver, the air conditioner, and the bathroom heater, to name a few.)  

And dildos. Lots and lots of dildos.  One was still buzzing.  Yes.  That’s how I found the thing.  They’d turned it on and stuffed it under the mattress to mess with me.  It worked.  And it stuck to the mattress, too.

Bearing that in mind, yes, your room will be very clean more often than not, but it has been used by people before you.  If you find a bobby pin beneath a huge couch in a dark corner, stop and think how your housekeeper,  someone who works like a dog for minimum wage and has 17 similar rooms to clean every day, could have missed lifting up the sofa on her travels. 

If you find a severed finger, though?  You probably should inform the management about that. While it’s still fresh. Preferably.  Don’t wait until it looks like a pepperoni stick with a fingernail.  That’s icky.

Most maids, however, are very diligent, and that’s because the learning curve is so steep.  A lot of people alone in a strange place with time on their hands become sick, sick animals who will take the cover off the overhead light fixture, crap in it and then replace the thing, just  for laughs.  You simply don’t go in expecting to find something like that until it happens.  You’ll get to clean it out and replace it, though.  That’s why Sartre said “Hell is other people”, and why “other people” are called “strangers.”  Strange doesn’t even begin.

People will stick used baby diapers to the wall, like Hell’s butterfly collection. They will cover the windows with lipstick and use hamburgers as tub toys.  They will wipe unholy substances under the edges of things. They will paint the walls using squeeze packets of ketchup.  And they will flop bare ass anywhere there’s a surface that will hold them up, too, so while you’re writing that postcard to your Mom there at the desk, consider that fact.  Every horizontal element of that area has supported human junk in its native state.  The only areas that haven’t would be inside the drawers.  Why? 

Because that’s where you blow your nose.  Duh.  

Those curtains have been used for more than blocking out the light, folks, and yes, we’re back to the subject of ass.  The carpet? Is vacuumed every day, yes, but is not shampooed after every customer.  Use common sense. Go in as you’d go into any other public situation, making reasonable allowances for minor failings, and have a clear idea of what’s appropriate.  Like what you should and should not lick, for example. Each other?  Go for it!  The phone?  No. The mirrors? No.  The headboard? No. Please no. 

I worked my way up the ladder over the course of eleven years, and what I found out is that the only difference between a penthouse suite and a no-tell motel is that you get a better class of creep in the former; and honestly, the  more expensive and exclusive the place, the less inclined the customers are to act like little ladies and gentlemen.  Other people have been cleaning their skid marks off the curtains for them all their lives.  You’re just another servant to them, and you’ll be treated as such.  In fact, you’ll be treated worse, because you have to stay there and work; they’ll be long gone down the road by the time you find that used tampon in the nightstand.  

As a side note, a weird thing I’ve noticed over the years about your typical wealthy man is that they A. Powder their bathing suit regions profusely and then sit splat on the vinyl chairs, which leaves a distinct and unique print, B. Urinate in the garbage cans, and  C. Use the washcloths as toilet paper. This is true nine times out of ten.  No - well, not no shit, but, you know where I'm going with this.     

There.  I’ve ripped on the customers.  Now I have to let down the side.  

As the head of housekeeping I was often told to go through a customers belongings.  Sometimes the police will contact the manager and ask him to have a look through a given person’s room, which is illegal, and happens everywhere, and the manager sure in the hell isn’t going to do that.  You, the housekeeper.  You do that.  You check for guns and drugs and, say, stolen bicycles, bricks of coke, and stray underage girls, to give a few examples.  I tell you what, the first time I eased open a suitcase and found myself staring at five handguns and multiple boxes of ammo, I stopped a moment to squeeze back an immanent bout of explosive incontinence, and to wonder “are the tips really worth this?”  

The fact is, you are the front line.  You as a housekeeper are the person who is closest to the customer, and if you’re 18 and need the job and your manager tells you to toss a room, you pull on your gloves, memorize the original position of every object and toss that room, every suitcase, every drawer, right down to the paint on the walls.  (Message to all the men out there who like to huff ladies panties out of a plastic bag:  You have more contemporaries than you think you do.)  

But no matter where you stay, if you check in to hired lodgings frequently, your luggage will eventually be tossed just for shits and giggles, your clothing will be searched, your day planner read, your laptop trawled and the drawers of your room gone through.  Not every time you visit, and not by every maid, but it will happen. And we will take pictures of it on our phones and tell everyone what we found and laugh at you, too.  That’s the best case scenario. Theft happens. Please keep your valuables - including your recreational drugs - in the room or hotel safe, on your person, or just leave them at home.  If you take Schedule A prescription drugs for any condition and you leave those pill bottles out on the night table?  You’re going to come up a few missing.  Did you rent a room with a refrigerator?  Chances are that bottle of Wild Goose you put in there to chill will have a slug or two taken out of it.  And if you’re stupid enough to leave a bag of weed out in the open, you get what you deserve.  

And here, finally, is the truly down and dirty. 

 If you stay in a room for an extended period of time, you are not allowed to hole up and stack up trash to the ceiling, nor are you allowed to sleep in the same nasty sheets and use the same stiff, funky disgusting towels for a month. You are not allowed to stick baby diapers all over the walls (see above) or use the kitchenette for making meth.  You are NOT ALLOWED TO BRING IN A ST. BERNARD AND NEVER TAKE IT OUT FOR A WALK. 

This is not your home.  It is a business.  That kind of thing causes destructive wear and tear on our facility, not to mention setting up a toxic situation for the housekeepers,  so forget your whining and complaining and marching out in a huff when management, or the head of housekeeping, tells you that we absolutely must go into you room every other day. Them’s the rules. It has to happen. 

If you are a long-term visitor and you treat the maids poorly we WILL get back at you in all kinds of nasty, sneaky, godless ways.  We know how.  We’ve learned from the best - our customers.  And you will not be able to prove a damn thing, because our job is cleaning up all traces of human occupation.  The ball is in our court, folks. Don’t forget it. 

Someone might unscrew the bottle of nasal spray you use and squirt a little spray cleaner in there.  Got open wine bottles?  Did you just shriek yourself crimson at the maid because she emptied your garbage cans before they were full?  Is your palate sophisticated enough to discern the soupcon of pee that was added to your Merlot?  I bet it isn’t. 

Staying in a hotel does not elevate you to Royal status.  Don’t shout at the help and wipe your boogers on the wall next to the bed like Henry the VIII.  (I’m making an assumption here, but I bet I’m not wrong.)  You are not King Henry the VIII.  You are someone who might get “kittied”.  That translates as “I wonder why my pillow smells like tuna?” 

We’re all working stiffs. You work for a living, so do I. The fact that I clean rooms does not make me a lesser life form, nor does it mean that my intimate personal favors come along with the price of the room.  Besides making up rooms, which means I deal with every bodily distillation imaginable, multiple times, every single day,  I also move furniture, run errands, hang curtains, schlep 50 lbs of sheets up and down three flights of stairs at a run, lend you an ear, find your baby’s lost binkie, clean ovens, set up cribs for your kids, and feed your pet.  All I ask is to be treated politely. So stay as long as you like. You don’t have to be chummy. Just be reasonable. Be polite. If your housekeeper does a good job, flip that person a few bucks (or more;  we’re open to large sums, particularly around the holidays.) Yes, this means you too, long term guest, and it means daily in your case.  A couple bucks every day will make your halo shine.  You give us that much,  and chances are good you won’t end up with, oh, say...water dipped out of your unflushed toilet mixed in your hair conditioner.  

Or a suitcase full of tuna-shirts.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hammer Time!!!

This is a story ripped from the gritty front pages of 1989's most savage news!

If you have allergies, then you need to check your tampon more often than you think.

Now, don’t buy into the corporate bullshit.  You do not need five differently configured

 You do not need to open up a goddamn map of Europe and plan your every movement
for the next week using little colored flags and those pool cue things. Just carry extras,
and duck into every bathroom you come across one, and check the fuse.

Don’t wait until you sneeze.   

I was picking my daughter up from grade school.  At the time I was driving a 1963
Ford Falcon, full trim package.  It was Energy blue, with patches of grey primer, and the
word “WOW” spray-painted on the drivers side door.  Unmatched colorful chandelier
crystals hung all around the edge of the headliner.

I was wearing Hammer pants that day. Oh yes, I was; and they were a bright red-cerise
not found in nature and covered in minute, multicolored paisleys, because I didn’t stand
out enough.  
I looked AWESOME.  

The school was a pleasantly landscaped facility surrounded by blossoming chestnut

I stepped out of my car, took one breath and sneezed so hard my well-soaked tampon
blasted down my pantleg like a bullet.

I was not expecting this.  

A glance down told me that the only tell-tale was a somewhat darker area down near my
ankle, where the pants nipped in and clutched the lower leg. Remember those pants?
 From the knee down they were skin tight. But it had been one gut-busting hell of a sneeze.
 The only thing keeping the little darling off the sidewalk was the tight ankle of the pant and
the cuff of my sock.

It was very warm.

And I kept on sneezing as I stood there, per regulation, waiting for my little school girl to
come out.  With all the other mommies and daddies. Slowly soaking my vast, screaming
red pants in explosive blasts with every sneeze.

Not one single soul noticed.

Once she hopped into the car I was gone. I ran stoplights.  I split lanes. I made illegal turns,
passed cars, exceeded the speed limit and somehow, somehow, I was not stopped by
the police, who would have been mightily impressed by my whole thing going on, I’m sure,
particularly the 7 year old kid in back singing Madonnas “Like A Prayer”.

I don’t even remember parking, just running to the shower.  

Did I leave a trail?  Yes. Yes, I did.

And did the shower stall look like I’d slaughtered a pig in it ?  

Oh my goodness yes.  

And I kept sneezing. I’m rinsing and squeezing and rinsing my pants and socks and every
time I thought I had things under control, I’d sneeze again, so I was holding them at chest
height, which was awkward and unpleasant.

Pants and socks rinsed,  I grabbed a roll of toilet paper to stem the tide and a bath sheet to
wrap up in, dumped my clothes in the washer, got that under way and then duck-walked,
dripping wet and barefoot, wrapped in a huge towel, 409 in hand,  back through the house,
pushing a dishrag with one foot, mopping up the scene of the crime.

All the way out to the car.

Every time I sneezed, I could feel the toilet roll hanging on for dear life. I kept it in place by
invoking the kind of sheer emergency telekinetic power that mothers manifest when lifting
a freight car off an infant.

The only lasting answer was a drastic measure.  

And so once I was finished mopping up what looked like an axe murder, I rolled up a bath
towel, saddled up, then pulled a pair of my husbands underwear over the works, and threw
a big old hippie dress on top of it all.

Wherever you are, in whatever you do, God bless you, M.C. Hammer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Wombat Facts You Should Know

There are many facts about the wombat. You should know these facts so that if you ever meet up with one in a dark bar you will be able to make intelligent conversation. Many of them are quite reserved at first, but once the ice is broken they make universally sought after partners in dance competitions (See Marquese Scott, Alfonso Ribiero, Soulja Boy) So sit back and enjoy this excursion into the wom-world!

1. Wombats will lie to you.
They will totally lie to you if they feel like you're an anthropologist or you have a cultural superiority-type attitude.  You have to go in pure of heart.  Many of the interviews that have been published in the past are full of wombat "in" jokes, or are pure fabrication on the part of the interviewee.

2. Most wombats like to live in holes.
Wombat holes vary in quality.  This is the reason that wombats have evolved a keratin helmet thing over their whole entire ass because it makes it so they can use their ass as an armored hole door.  Yes!

3.  Wombats have pride.
They turn their backs on their enemies.  Hence the helmet ass.  That's pretty hardcore.  Do not take a stick and rap on the wom-butt once he's down there guarding his wom-burrow, though.  It is in poor taste.

4. Wombats do not care.
If you have a problem, do not take it to a wombat.  Wombats have busy lives.  They do wombat things.  Your dumbass problems mean nothing to them, unless your problems are connected to an issue related to wombat preferences, activities, or lifestyles.

5. Some wombats are famous.
Liv Tyler is a wombat who had earned great international acclaim for her work both on and off the screen.   Ed Sheeran, pop artist, donates half his annual earnings to Wombat charities.  Kim Jong-il has dodged direct statements concerning his rumored wombat heritage, but candid photographs reveal that the tell-tale helmet butt formation is present.  Famous wombats in history include Pico Della Mirandola, Herbert Hoover, William Howard Taft and the reknowned American E-Sports Faze Clan members   FaZe Housecat (now renamed as Timid)  FaZe ClipZ and FaZe Resistance.

6.Wombats accidentally landed a plane in Israel in the early 1960s.  The matter gave rise to numerous conspiracy theories.

7.  A favorite vacation destination of wombats is Dubai, where some have elected to take up residence as replacements for the children traditionally used as jockeys in camel racing.

8.   Wombats.

9.  Wombats pass cube-shaped poos.  Great care is taken by Australians in the know not to mistake this substance for spilled bouillion cubes, although each year some 300-400 cases of square wombat poo ingestion are treated in hospitals.  The victims are usually elderly vegetarians.

9. Wombats are marsupials with a difference - an upside-down pouch!  As they spend the majority of their time on all fours this presents little difficulty for the young, and serves to prevent the pouch from being filled with lsd, opals, syringes, coal, peyote buttons and other elements found in the rugged Outback soil.  Wombat young complain most commonly about the "Dutch Oven" effect on their early childhood.

10. Wombats will whip up on you.  Broken legs and puncture wounds are most commonly reported by people hapless enough to disturb the "wisdom" or group of wombats during their nocturnal rituals.  No deaths have been reported, giving rise to numerous conspiracy theories.

11.  While the name "Wombat" would seem to refer to the animals relation to bats, the binomial name of at least one variant, Vombatus ursinus, translates roughly into "Wombatbear".  This terrifying interation of the species is thought to be extinct, although Amelia Earhart described a "heavy, digging animal with a motorized saw" in her last transmissions.  Most scientists dismiss her words as a psychological manifestation of altitude sickness, although her fractured account of "broad bat wings, huge things with horrible, pulsing, venous structures easily discerned due to the transparent nature of the encompassing tissue" and a "little head facing out its bottom, signalling as though in distress" is eagerly grasped by cryptozoologists as evidence that could point to the cause of her disappearance.

12. Many wombats are incapable of driving a car, flying a plane or operating a cuisinart successfully. Scientists attribute this to their widespread abuse of salvia divinorum, bath salts and detergent pods.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Aretha Franklin

I have always needed music.  It's the way I'm wired.  I can put up with a lot of grief and trouble, but if I don't have good music I can go to, things will get bad.

It's the usual bullshit...depression, ADHD, PTSD, a whole bunch of other things that come and go like special features.

I genuinely do want to live more than I want to die.  Sometimes, though, no reason, despair just sinks its claws into my head.  But if I can get to my music and play something, it'll give me a few moments of being out of myself and away from the shit.  I don't know why.  I can honestly say that I owe my life to certain songs.

 But this isn't about that.  This is about love.  This is about what another person would call grace, or spirit.  This is about Aretha Franklin

When I was seven years old I was shopping with my mother in a temporary Mexican imports store on 2nd Avenue, downtown Portland Oregon, the first time I ever heard 'Respect' sung by Aretha Franklin.

At that age I was a true blue Beatles fan, with Jethro Tull just over the horizon.  Just a little kid.  I never went though an Osmonds phase, or a David Cassidy stage, although I enjoyed a few years' happy relationship with the works of Messrs. Taupin and Dwight around puberty, for which I can be reasonably forgiven.

I remember standing there in the middle of the store, among the sheet plywood tables covered with pottery and lamps and dolls and ollas.  Large and open, the room was high ceilinged  to draw up the heat, so near the Willamette river that there was bar of granite across the threshold that you stepped up and then over and down into the store, being too close to the river not to use a precaution like that to block the floodwater in a town that posted the high water marks in bronze on the buildings.

The old transom-style row windows were open, lined overhead atop the storefront glass, and they let out the stale heat while the open doorway let in the deeply river rank, river-scented air, and the two front doors were held open with  cinder blocks.

My mother went methodically up and down the rows at a slow measured stroll, shopping and weighing and occasionally examining without breaking the saunter.  Somewhere in Heaven yet she is not paying retail, but taking a mental balance of the items on offer and placing them in strict order linked by a whole web of subsets, blissful and acquisitive.

Me, I was listening to the music. Uninterested in the objects, wandering.

It was the station that only reached as far as the rough  boundaries of the city of Roses, at an obscure place on the radio dial.  I don't remember the call numbers.  I do remember that the station always put out music that grabbed my ear.  You never heard it anywhere else, the really good music like this.  The station played all the music that was out there and new.  It was the only one that did, and that was a damned shame.   Us out in the woods only heard Casey Kasems' Top 40 Hits once a week.  Our only contemporary station was KISN.  "97.1 Good Guy Territory On Your Dial!"   Beatles and Beach Boys?  Sure.

 Blue Cheer? Humble Pie?

Listen.  Far away.  You can hear the crickets chirp.

But wait.  I am standing here and I am seven, listening to this music for the first time. Stock still.

I already liked the swoops and leaps of the gospel convention, all the improvised runs of inserted notes between the spaces of the melody, with the instruments, and the time signatures that were divided into precise fractions, but free like wings, that voice singing.

The radio station was playing. I drifted away.

This woman singing had a different voice than the other gospel singers I'd heard late or early on Sunday  t.v.  Their voices were rich and heartfelt, full of style and ornament and velvet, but they were singing about.

Not because.

What I was hearing in this moment was a declaration, not a story.

This was an adult woman, singing as an adult woman about being an adult woman.

The little Catholic girl stopped short.  I'm laughing thinking about that moment.

I recognized her voice; she'd already been on television.  I'd probably even heard the song before.  But minus distractions, I was hearing Aretha Franklin.  Full on.   And telling you.

 I knew it was like gospel, but with a wake-up slank beat walking toward you like a gunfighter.

 This stuff I was hearing now talked with the woman in me.

The song Ms. Franklin was singing was "Respect".

I starving needed this song like food in me.

That summer day all the stores near the waterfront had their doors open, the old glass storefronts, survivors of the earliest days, shining tall fronts made of sheet rolled glass and still intact, filling all the muntins, facing east and turning the interiors into ovens as the sun passed just above the buildings of the further side.  Rents were low on a east-facing storefront in Oregon.

I meandered up near the wide open doors.  It was one of those old fashioned inset doorways, so you could get a front and a side view of the items  being displayed before you entered, which I thought was kind of touching, like asking 'Are you sure? Take another look, now...' and then you might or might not put your hand on the door handle, cast in bronze or brass acanthus or kilned porcelain stamped with advertising.

I stepped juuuuust a bit outside.

All the stores were playing the same station and all the doors and windows were open.

Her voice was there.  All up and down 2nd Street nearly bare of other people because of the sun and the light, the same song was inside and outside on the still August air, in the humidity, one solid sound from College Hill, down along past the river and on through the wrecking yards and factories off Nickerson Avenue, going north.

Aretha was singing "Respect".  I glanced back at my mother - she was oblivious - and then looked right back away.  Ignore the kid, mom, keep shopping.

But I was blushing! I was blushing!  I had boy cousins!  And there were boys in the neighborhood, and I went to school in the blue collar/logger/stock car suburbs and I knew what this lady was singing about, and I'd never heard any one, any woman, say or think or -  hell no! - sing words like this!

I could not believe this was even on the radio! How on earth did this go out over those airways back then?

And it was catchy, and happy, and it had a laughing kind of confrontation in the tone like a protest song.  But not a grim shrill one.  It was a statement. Who I am, what I want, and what I expect.

And this woman wanted to be done right by.

At seven I already had a feel for the language and the ways it was used. I'd been reading fluently for three years.  I was fascinated by the many different meanings of one word, and I was already good friends with the Websters' Dictionary,  and how words could disguise meanings, and how lies could mean truth, and humor disguise rage, and aphorisms made of acceptable words display their rebel meaning right out in the open, flying like a huge flag, but in a way that the timid could hide behind.

Back in 1967, not very many people in Portland, Oregon, were going to admit to being anything but agreeable. But that was the same year back in Portland that all that bullshit  began to change for good, in flames.

I got all the 'code' and the euphemisms.  I mean please, let's be obvious.  Nothing in her tone said anything but what I heard.  She was using tried and true allusions I'd already heard in rock music and blues and even country music.  And oh, her amazing, laughing attitude was stripping away all doubt.

It was so excellent.  It was so cool!  I had to hide my reaction to it, though, and the fact that I was listening.

I mentioned earlier here that I'd seen her on the television.  I knew she was a pretty lady with big wigs and false eyelashes and sheath dresses with sequins who sang as a one-act on the variety shows my parents liked.  She was always dressed like a formal lady, with high heels and her hair and makeup done up to go to a party, like that, and she looked like all the moms I knew in their clothes style from the last decade there.

But that voice.
And those words.
And what she said.

There was no way I was going to glance at the owner and his buddy, way over at the cash register. I didn't want them to see me know what this song was about.

I know.  Here I'm telling you about my feelings and all the things I saw and felt and the sounds,  that all happened in the space of a 2:29 time frame back in 1967.

I stepped out just past the entry alcove and onto the sidewalk.  I  heard her voice all around me, that beautiful soaring swallows' dive and glide of notes around the melody, all that huge beautifulness filling the street on a hot afternoon in August, down near the river.  I could smell the hot pavement and the dank exhalations from the iron grids that vented the secret underground part of 2nd Avenue, the humidity like a full elevator, and Aretha Franklin was telling you that she would have respect.

She was telling a man what was going to happen.   When, how,  and what she meant when she said "respect".  Try me and you'll find out in no uncertain terms what 'Respect' means to me. Oh, it meant respect. But it was a word with lots of meanings;  not the kind of talk that nice people admitted they understood, and ever since,  people tried to keep that smashed in a box labelled 'Feminist Anthem' and 'Civil Rights'.

Oh yes indeed, it meant those things too, but it meant more. It stood on top of that stuff and stated the facts of the matter.

She tore open the skies, so unimaginably regal that nobody could see her or understand that she wasn't asking for a damn thing.

She was stating her due.

I didn't have any idea what I was hearing was called Soul.

Aretha Franklin told me what a grown woman was about.

I am not normal.  People don't like that. They sure in hell didn't like the way I did it or the fact that I was so little and little children are not mentally ill, they're being bad. It was like that in 1967.

You can be killed by an attitude.  You can be killed by an opinion.

When you were young and mentally ill and sickly with asthma like I was, well, your death is expected, or it was in those days, and I wasn't supposed to know that all the adult people around me were waiting for me to choke out while they denied to my face that anything was wrong with me but being spoiled and pretending to be sick.  I knew words and I could hear lies.  I learned real young who was afraid I was going to die, and who wanted me to get it over with so they could have their lives back.

But me.  I had this one strong, strong retort planted in me in 1967, on an afternoon with my mother, killing time until our bus came, wasting these two guys' time in this case-lot temporary store.

Aretha Franklin, I thought.  I wondered why is only this one lady singing like this?

It made me look for the answer.  I wanted to know the answer to this question, because it was so stark, you see?  That song was so in opposition to something that I didn't realize needed to be opposed until that nascent epiphany, out listening to her sing in the empty street and out up past the buildings in the sky.  I, said this song,  have a human life, and I am going to live a whole human life in full voice and ignore your approval  because I don't need it.

That couple of minutes and a few seconds changed me. The very first time that ever happened.  I didn't know how to contain it and I was quiet for hours afterward. 

 But I was pointed in the right direction. I looked for more music like that, and I had to stay up until 2:am to hear it, when the other stations went off the air.

Time went by and I started in and did what I wanted, what I was not supposed to do or be, and I drowned out your neglect and and dislike and antipathy and approval with my interests and the things I chose to read and hear and say that made me feel valuable and important and smart.  I was a hitch in your plan, I was a barrier to your will, I was a thorn in your side;  and you won't make me die  even though you will refuse to take me to the doctors and you will call me a stark liar despite the obvious, and I'll not only live, I'll make you feed me and house me and educate me and clothe me for the next eleven motherfucking years and you'll take it and like it or not, but you goddamn well will do it.

So many things are out there that can get inside you, overwhelming things that can turn you, words and sights that make you into different shapes when you are a little kid.  The whole world is vivid almost to the point of terror.  Often to the point of terror if I'm going to tell you the truth about my life, because of the way I am and the way I was.

 I had no way of not being influenced by something that strong.  It was the first time I'd ever heard a woman singing being an adult, and this was Aretha, and Aretha was an empress.  I had never, ever heard anything like this song, this woman, that way of thinking about yourself and being a woman.

There are not enough wonderful things I can offer you or try to say about you in a way that will look and read as magnificently and as miraculously and as deeply as the impression that your song and your voice had on me in that short time.  I am not anywhere near up to that task. I said this, though, and it's true.

I love you, Aretha.

Friday, August 17, 2018

How Not To Garden Like a Dumbshit 4


Everyone knows someone who claims to have the 411 on garden pests.  These people are, largely, dipshits trying to face.

Number ONE in our hit parade is the 'Cat Deterrent' folks.

People will tell you this total bullshit about sprinkling chili pepper all around on your garden.  It supposedly deters cats from digging because magic, or I don't know  What I do know is that this is utter horsehockey. I've tried it!  Cats dug!  They shit!  They laid down and had a snooze all up in the chili pepper I spent 7 bucks on!   Cats don't care, people!  You ever seen a cat lick it's own ass?  They don't care!

Number TWO:  capscasin oil and chili powder does not do a damn thing but lie there and be expensive and useless in the temperate zone garden (LOOK IT UP LUIGI.)  It doesn't repel pests and it doesn't kill anything.  It just costs you money.

HOWEVER:  Now if you live in Chili territory - USDA zones 8, 9 , 10 and Hell,  ground chili and capscasin could very well wipe out every pest it touches.  In that climate, on the pests adapted to those conditions?  Sure. I can see how that would make sense.  I don't know if it does.  The only thing I do know is that here in the PNW, it just doesn't work.  At all.

Number THREE:  Juices of garlic, onions, tomato leaves, that shit simply does nothing whatsoever.  It doesn't kill pests and doesn't repel deer, dogs, cats, Batman or armadillos.  Similarly eggshells (WTF?), Irish Spring soap and things like 'Deer B Gone'?   They don't work.

Number FOUR:  Deer proofing:  THERE IS NO SUCH THING.

Like Purgatory and the Cottingly Fairies, kids, it's all crap.  There is no deer-proof plant.  Or scent. Anywhere in the world.  Fawns and milking does do the majority of the damage in the springtime  - does, because they are desperate to make milk, and fawns, because they have to learn this shit for themselves.  They'll chew a plant down to the ground before they realize they hate the way  it tastes.

Now, deer wandering around at large among human habitations at night?   Those adorable Bambi critters that look so pretty and graceful? And chew up your garden (How to tell?  The leaves will look like they've been cut with pinking shears.)   Your visiting deer are smelling Buck B Bad and Doe B Ready.  Those deer have other things on their minds. They're going to do the deed in your back yard, at night, and if they want a snack they'll take a bite or six of whatever's on hand.


I am not here to lie to you.  I am here to dispel the bullshit.  If you have a belligerent Basset Hound, excellent.  If you have a Bernese Mountain Dog or an Irish Wolf Hound? You may also potentially have venison for dinner.  No shit.  Any dog that is super territorial and alpha will keep ruminants and other animals out of your garden, or at least take them on so they'll remember.  Even a chihuahua - those little shits will flat whip up on anything.  They don't care.  They're the hummingbirds of the dog world.  Too quick to catch, too mean to avoid!  Dogs are flat out awesome that way.  They work in every environment on every intruder.  Unless they hate you.

Number FIVE:  Now that having been said, I have heard reliable reports that concentrated scents -  Cougar, Coyote, Lynx, Wolf or Bear - will chase cats, dogs, various other critters, and deer.  You can buy it in any sporting good store.  And Wal Mart. And grocery stores.  In fact it's a little odd how easily you can come by Piss of Random Animal.  Some of the urines on offer will freak you out.  Turkey?  Raptor? Gator?  How in the name of Eleanor Roosevelt Winfrey do they collect that?

You're going to go through a few bottles of the stuff.  You put it on little pieces of fabric that you tie to a good 2 ft.tall stick and let flutter so that the wind blows it around.  You have to use a lot of these stick-and-fabric odor flags all over your property, and you have to keep renewing it from it's little squeeze bottle.  This does work, but be more aggressive with it than other sources might suggest.

If you live in suburban Los Angeles, go ahead.  Use actual 'Shits-in-the-woods' Bear whiz.  Any large, predator whiz.   No worries.

 If you live in a rural area, I'd think twice.  Nothing will ruin your day like a facefull of cougar when you totter out to get your newspaper in the morning.  Not to mention a wolf.  Wolves bring their friends to share in the fun.  That scenario will not end up pretty.  Coyote ditto.

I have heard that Zoo Doo, in particular Lion shit, will chase anything out there.  I tend to believe this.  You'll pay a premium for this if your local zoo even sells it., and you'll have to turn it into a slurry to activate it's stinky spell, but when your neighborhood tom cat catches scent of that action it will leave town.  I've seen dogs react to it like they were having a sudden seizure - leap twisting into the air and hit the ground running, straight out away.  It's kind of impressive.  Portland, Oregon rose gardeners swear by it.  It's used with abandon in the Portland Rose Test Gardens, in fact.  I've been there.  You don't smell lion pee.  You smell Heaven.  And all the plants are pristine, even though the Rose Test Gardens are way up near Forest Park, which is 5200 acres of WILD FUCKING WOODLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN PORTLAND. 

This isn't no managed bullshit like Central Park in New York.  This is wild-ass forest with a full foresty compliment of forest creatures, including woods-dwelling winos.  Black Bears live there, and they go down into town to raid dumpsters and eat homeless people down by the river. 

Portland has a resident downtown population of deer up into the hundreds.  No shit.  I lived there for 20 years.  I seen 'em.  I seen 'em walking straight down the goddamn middle of West Burnside, sniffing around for dumpsters and bedding plants.  It's a strange and beautiful sight at 3 in the morning, in the fog.  People will run out of their apartments or businesses and chase the deer out of the street so they don't get run over, so instead the deer wander into the residential side streets.

 Portland is basically the coolest town on the planet.

You have to remember, though, that animals have memories.  Eventually they'll realize that what they're smelling isn't living in the neighborhood, because they haven't smelled any kill sites.  Your pesty four-legged neighbors will eventually come back.  If your problem with dogs and cats is that bad, it's time to start live-trapping Fluffy or Fido and delivering them to their homes (or to the shelter.)  Drive them home, and knock on the door and hand the owner their animal and explain kindly and gently that their beloved pet is ruining your garden.  I have actually done this.  It works really well.  I only had one problem with a return dog, so I washed him really thoroughly and gave him a flea bath and brushed him out and got him all nice and clean and lovely, and then returned him home, which creeped out his owners so bad that they kept him in their yard from that moment on.

Ya do what you gotta do.

Number SIX:  If you live in an area where four-legged predators are common, don't use urines specific to your location because it will ATTRACT them.  Nobody wants a  goddamn bear in their back yard (Ursid, not hominid.) OK.  Bear whiz will chase lesser predators.  But it will attract OTHER BEARS.  You see what I'm getting at with this?  In my rural area, I would NOT use Bear whiz because Black Bear visit frequently and I don't want them at my door pretending to sell Girl Scout Cookies.  I would choose something exotic, and evil, and unknown.  If I could get Tyrannosaurus Piss, I'd go with that.  But sadly, I cannot obtain such an elixir.  Harry Potter could, but me, no. 

You know what works?  Butch Husband Piss.  Man, this stuff is so good it chases the JW's.  Dogs?  Get your Butch Biker Husband to piss waaaay up high on a nearby telephone pole, or tree.  Just soak it down.  Your problems are finished.  This is all due to something called pheromones.  This is an ingredient in male pee that says I WILL KILL YOUR ASS AND EAT YOUR YOUNG AND CLAIM YOUR MATE AS MY OWN.  The higher up it's applied, the bigger the inquisitive noses will assume the Butch Biker to be. Gone baby gone.

I am dead serious.  Human male pheromones are the bomb.  Your petunias are safe. If you do not have a Butch Biker Husband,  flag a passing biker down and explain your issue.  Buy him a six.  He'll be happy to oblige all your urine needs.

I have tried my own brand.  It doesn't seem to work.  Now, at a 1: 5 dilution at the root of your roses, you will have roses on roses on roses, happy, smiling, friendly, spotless and beautiful roses.  But human bitch piss doesn't seem to chase anything away, no matter how angry you are at the time of urination.  It's just the way it is.