Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bye Dana





I just found out last night that, while I've been out cavorting in the snow with stuffed animals for the past few days, a good friend has died. I got the news in the most blunt fashion imaginable: chatting online. I got dumped that way once; hearing about Dana's death by reading words on a screen felt just as cold and impersonal.

I called my friend Jon, who also loved Dana, hoping that the person who told me was mistaken or misinformed, but no. He'd suffered a fatal heart attack on Sunday, the day after Christmas. Thing is, Dana was one of the least likely people I worked with to be a candidate for a coronary. He didn't drink or smoke, wasn't morbidly obese, nor, that I knew of, had a history of heart problems. He was African-American, which I understand has a higher percentage of high blood pressure among its males than other populations, but I'd never heard anything along those lines concerning Dana. Sometimes fate just takes a big, messy crap and people die.

Dana used a wheelchair and one of his arms was pretty much immobile. He was also
a man of very few words. Though capable of speech and expressing his thoughts verbally, more often than not he chose to make his opinions known through humming and grunting. "MMM-MMM" could mean he was happy, "MMM-MMM" could mean he was pissed off, or "MMM-MMM" could mean "I've just stolen your calculator and you're not getting it back."

It was all a matter of context. If you didn't get the context, oh well, that was your problem. Dana didn't give a shit if anyone understood him or not. Because of this, many people underestimated his cognitive abilities and couldn't be bothered trying to puzzle him out. Those of us who did found an amazing individual full of life, humor and above all an astounding sense of personal independence. What I loved about him was that you always knew where you stood. If you were talking to him and he got bored he would turn his head and coolly stare at his fingernails until you shut up or went away. Likewise, if he was enjoying your company he would sneak his arm around your waist and hug you--an act reserved for only a scant few.

When he did use speech, much of it was repeating the same stock phrases over and over. A lot of these were running jokes, his version of comedy catch-phrases and, for me, they never got old. Many people in the developmentally disabled population tend to do this, and most of the time I would think "Goddamnit, if you say that one more time I'm going to jab my eardrums open with a pair of knitting needles." With Dana, somehow, it was different. "You ain't gonna catch me, I'm gonna pull your ears," was hilarious every time. I know. Written down, it's hardly a knee-slapper. You had to be there for the delivery. "I'm going home on the bus. Gonna take my shoes off and go to bed." was another daily ritual that always provided high amusement.

But every now and then, Dana would pull something out of nowhere that slipped and let on that he was far more cerebral than for which a lot of people gave him credit. We worked in a sheltered work environment; a program which provided job opportunities for people with physical and/or mental barriers to standard community employment. Occasionally, the higher-ups in the company would suddenly arrive, unannounced, leading a tour group through the workplace to show off their wonderful, altruistic facility that enabled people with disabilities to work as hard as they could in exchange for wages comparable to a twelve-year-old in a third world shoe factory. The tour leaders and strangers would stand and stare at the people working, clearly moved by this heartwarming state of affairs. I leaned over and whispered to Dana, "Ever feel like a monkey in a zoo?"

Dana: "I don't know WHAT the hell they're looking at."

So he got it. More than the tour leaders, more than the visitors, more than I. Because he had to live it.

He was a serious klepto. If it wasn't nailed down and he wanted it, he would steal it. Pens and calculators were his favorites; those of us who knew him imagined his bedroom at home probably looked like Staples. Sometimes he would go for big-ticket items like cell phones. One woman found her phone missing and called the number. "MMM-MMM! MMM-MMM!" and the line went dead. She drove across town to Dana's place and when the door was opened and he saw it was her, he ran for his bedroom and shut the door. More often, though, at work the missing item would be discovered before he left. The robbed person would approach him, "Dana, did you steal my notebook?" and thus would begin a mad chase, Dana taking off, propelling his wheelchair with one hand down the hall, "MMM-MMM! MMM-MMM!" as fast as he could go. He was smart enough to embrace the one rule if you're going to embark on a life of crime: Deny, deny, deny. "I didn't take it! I didn't take it!" Invariably, the stolen notebook would be discovered as he usually was sitting on it. The owner would retrieve their property out from under him, and of course, Dana only had one thing to say about it. "I didn't take it."

Dana and I spent a lot of time playing catch with a toy stuffed mouse. It is perhaps a telling description of my own athletic ability that the only person with whom I felt comfortable tossing ball was a guy in a wheelchair with one bad arm. We'd sling the mouse back and forth at one another, and over time it developed into a routine where I'd tell him that he wasn't going home on the bus but rather had to work another shift with me.

"I say N-N-NO!" he'd snap, and fling the mouse. On a good day, I'd catch it.
"But I say Y-S-YES!" I'd shout, and fire it back.
"NO!"
"YES!"
"N-N-NO!"

And back and forth it went. When Dana was tired of playing, instead of tossing
the mouse to me or telling me he didn't want to do it anymore, he would fire the toy down the hallway, into another office, where I would have to go and fetch it. By the time I got back, he'd be gone.

Now he's pulled a fast one. He's gone for good.

I'm no stranger to disappearing acts of late. As explained in my post Mr. Puddlewinks Talks About His New Life, I walked away from a lot of people I cared about and who cared about me
in order to fix the parts of me that are damaged. I had to do it before I became broken beyond repair, and while I'm not sure I've explained myself well enough to anyone's satisfaction, there is at least a chance we'll meet up again someday. But Dana, you gimp bastard, you took a permanent hike and screwed it so I'll never have the chance to say goodbye or sorry for walking out on you. The cosmic version of turning your head and staring at your fingernails.

My situation, desperate and ugly as it is, at least spared me the experience of having to look at Jon or Kendra or Cathy and bursting into tears. Because there's nothing more pathetic than watching a bald man weep.

So long, buddy. My only solace is that, if there's anything to Christian mythology, God will have a hard time sorting out the saved from the damned with a missing calculator.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mr. Puddlewinks Pays His Respects



I think I'm done with embedding videos from YouTube directly onto the blog: It crops (more like butchers) the aspect ratio and the resolution is for shit. From here on out if I have a video I'll just put up the link and you can watch it on YouTube in the way it was intended to look.

After the whiny, self-indulgent neuroses of 'Mr. Puddlewinks Talks About His New Life' I wanted to do something completely silly and dumb. So I made a new one, Mr. Puddlewinks Pays His Respects.
Go ahead and click the link to watch it before I tell the rest of the story.

Apparently out here in the sticks people don't call the police; they call the goon squad. In this case it took the form of the burly son-in-law of a new neighbor I've yet to meet. Apparently she looked outside and saw me rolling around in the snow and it scared her.

I was setting up another shot when a truck pulled up at the bottom of the hill. A man rolled down the window and angrily demanded to know what I was doing.

"I'm making a video."
"What kind of video?"
"Just something stupid for YouTube. Just a crazy man running around in the snow."

He then demanded to know where I live so I pointed at the trailer I'm now forced to call home.

"You live with Ray?" he asked. I nodded, and I could see the brain strain show on his face as he struggled to do the homo math. Nothing could be further from the truth, but you know how it goes. "Well my mother-in-law said you were out here screamin' and swingin' a dead cat."

"It's not a dead cat. It's a toy stuffed tiger." Again, I could tell from his expression that a dead cat would be easier for him to understand than a grown man out in the yard playing with stuffed animals.

"She said it was a dead cat," he repeated.

"Nope. Toy tiger. I was pulling it on a thread to make it chase me."

He stared at me for a very long time. "You probably ought to go introduce yourself to the woman who owns the lot," he said.

"I'll do that," I assured him.

So it seems without having met a soul I already have a reputation. Great. But it could have been worse. If anyone had seen the pentagram I made in the snow by now I might have been charbroiled.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mr. Puddlewinks Talks About His New Life

Mental illness is a lot like standing on the tracks, seeing the train heading straight for you, but being powerless to move. In my case, not only did I not get off the tracks, I started pissing on the third rail.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Soon



It astounds me that even though I haven't written anything since July some of you have been faithfully checking back here time and again on the off chance I might actually put something up. Thank you so much for your support and belief; I am not the best at expressing appreciation but rest assured your visits to my long-dormant blog mean a lot. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Der Spookhaus is not dead--it's just been in a coma. So have I; but I'm coming around. All I can tell you is keep checking back and the whole story will soon be revealed--hopefully on Xmas day. Again, thanks to all of you who cared enough to keep visiting. Be well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hey God, If You Hate Me, The Feeling Is Mutual




I think from the age of six my family knew I was queer as a cat fart. I couldn't catch a ball and was obsessed with puppets and life-sized
animal costumes. How I didn't end up a furrie is anyone's guess. But as long as no one talked about it, other than my Dad calling me homo
when I missed a pass, it was ok.

But puberty hit and masturbation became a full-time hobby; I just had a slightly different spin on it. I would try to get the neighborhood boys to do it with me.
As it turns out, I was wildly successful. I would then broach the subject of doing each other, which again, worked out far more than statistical
averages would allow. Apparently I had an eerie charm that could cloud straight boys' minds. Unless this happens all the time and no one wants to admit it. So then I thought, let's try this mouth thing I've been hearing so much about.

Again, my suck-sess rate boggled the odds.

Thing is, I was a born-again Christian, and homosexuality was a sin against nature. So I spun the concept. I wasn't gay, I was just "fooling around."

"Fooling Around" should be a trademarked term, much like "Bombing the Middle East" where Christians can feel better about themselves for ignoring
biblical mandates ("Thou Shalt Not Kill") in favor of what feels good at the moment. I kept these blinders on for years. I was a total boy-whore and would
do anyone, anytime, while maintaining my self-righteous sense of born-again superiority that because I didn't speak with a lisp and had a lousy fashion
sense I couldn't possibly be gay. I liked dick, but come on, that hardly makes you one of those.

But then came Prom Night. A girl was giving me head and I thought to myself, " God, I could do this so much better." I came off and instead of
swallowing she spat down the side of my parents' car. "Good Lord," I thought, "I would have at least had the decency to...oh...wait...um, there's a
word for this, isn't there?"

Five-Thirty in the morning as I'm hosing down the side of my folks' car in an automated car wash, I realize the word I'm thinking of defines me.
Or, if not defines me, at least describes a certain part of me. A part I liked very much.

My slut-boy tendencies went into overdrive. I had more revolving-door dick than Lindsay Lohan. I could not be more chaste now, but back then I was the good time had by all. How I am not the HIV poster child remains a mystery. Once I realized that I liked what I liked and it wasn't just "fooling around" or making do until the
right girl came around I went cock crazy. In a supreme bad judgment call, I thought, "I know, I'll share this with my mother."

Oh god, that was stupid.

My mother and I, once upon a time, were close. She did crafty, artsy sort of stuff and so did I. Dad wasn't wild about it but we had our shared love of fabric textures and hot glue guns. I think her Christian sensibility liked that part of me as long as I was a sissy boy who had no blood flow to his penis. But dragging
deviant sexuality into the picture was not the wisest way to go. God knows how I thought this, but I had this feeling that she might understand. I forgot, somehow,
that her crazed love of a 2000 year old dead Jew and the words of his followers would matter more than her own son. I was eighteen. She was ironing. I
put it in brute, simple, terms:

"Mom, I'm gay."

She looked up. A tear trickled down her cheek. "I KNEW you stole my panty hose!"

I had to say it. "Get your perversions straight! I'm a queer, not a transvestite!"

And then she said the most horrible thing anyone has ever said to me: "I'd rather you were born dead instead of that."

This is the motherfucking thing about the motherfucking Christians. They've got a magic book, just like every other civiliZation with their own, different magic book.
All of the magic books say the same thing: This is the one true magic book and you are right and they are wrong. My mother's magic book, unfortunately, after
numerous translations before the 1611 one she settled on, had some unflattering things to say about guys who like guys. Therefore, she wished I was dead rather than
living a sinful life. The day I told her I was gay was the day she stopped loving me.

She lived by the scriptures: Slavery? No problem. Shoving a plastic enema up a child's ass as punishment? Hey, spare the rod. Boys who like boys? Death wish.

The weeks that followed were sheer hell for both of us. When the two of us, alone, were home she would burst into my room, waving a bible, raving about abominations.

I would point out that two verses up in Leviticus, cloth made of two different materials was also considered an abomination, making her cotton/polyester blend pantsuit on par with cocksucking. At that point her conviction that the bible was to be interpreted literally flew out the window, but somehow her belief in the queer-hating passages held fast.

One night I poured a glass of orange juice. "That is supposed to be for breakfast!" Mom snapped.
I quoted a television commercial on the air at the time. "Anita Bryant says 'It's not just for breakfast anymore'...'
"Do you believe everything Anita Bryant says?"
"Oh Honey," I said, flipping my wrist, my first and last attempt at camp.


She made me swear that I would never tell my father, my brother, my other brother or anyone in the family what I'd told her. Wrong that it may have been, I kept that
promise. It was our way of meeting halfway. I did check back a few years later just to see if time might have tempered her feelings. No, she made it clear that she still wished I was born dead. Thanks to that, I don't know what love is as relates to family. I'm a confused mess. On one hand, you want to love somebody but
knowing their look-at-me-I'm-right mindset means they wish you were dead instead of who you are puts a serious damper on things.

Mother brought out the big guns. She went on an anti-gay hunger strike and stopped eating. She lost tons of weight and of course Dad noticed. "I don't know what's
going on here but something isn't right!" Meanwhile, he wanted my friend Ron to take off his shirt in front of him and "get some sun". Dad's got some issues, but
apparently calling me queer every other week or so covered them up quite nicely. Mom continued to drop weight and she won. I told her it was a stage I was going
through. "Let's eat," she said.

The next decades were spent in shared denial. I never mentioned girlfriends or boyfriends. As long as she could keep the illusion I was an assexual slug, forever
a little boy yet to hit puberty, we could talk.

My mother died last year. I kept my promise to her but once she croaked I no longer feel the need to hide the things she wanted me to hide. Thing is, I doubt a
single person in the family ever thought of me as straight. My nephew made it clear he got the deal when he was eight years old. I'd brought my boyfriend home for the
holidays (euphemistically refered to as my "roommate".) Todd was gay as a goose and the fact that he and I lived together should have been a big, pink flag for
everyone concerned. Nephew started calling him "Uncle Todd." Mom totally spazzed out, shrieking "That is NOt your uncle!" I think that sort of gave the game away.
Not that us together wouldn't have tripped anyone's gaydar.

I don't have to keep a promise to a dead woman. Certain family members, I'm sure, imagine she is in heaven watching my every move. (No more jerking off for me!) I'm
sorry she's gone, but at the same time feel a relief that I can talk about, as I've said, what is absolutely no surprise to anyone.

And now that I can talk about it, I realize how truly boring it all is.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Raspberry Vinaigrette Man



Joe, Michelle and I were having dinner at Mac's, a local restaurant that serves great Scottish food. We were seated at a table right next to the door. Suddenly a clattering noise came from the door as an intoxicated street person tried to enter but was having trouble working the door knob and still maintain a grip on his open bottle of malt liquor. He finally wised up and left the bottle outside on the street, then stumbled into the restaurant on shaky legs.

I am a magnet for crazy (they can smell their own) so of course he immediately stumbled over to the head of our table. I was dreading the usual request for a handout but instead he suddenly began to sing. "RAAAAAAAASPERRY VINAIGRETTE!", he belted out in raspy croak then convulsed with laughter. It was so random and so strange that all three of us joined in and started laughing, too. This he took as an invitation, so he pulled up a chair and sat down.

"RAAAAAAAASPERRY VINAIGRETTE!" he sang again, once more busting out into loud, crazed giggling. "You see that commercial? The one on the TV for that salad dressing? They got that song they sing, RAAAAAAAAASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE!"

We were laughing and people were staring. Because the man was loud and clearly shitfaced.

He suddenly turned his attention to Michelle. "Well ain't you something fine! Baby you got it going on..."

Michelle happened to be a lesbian, so I said "I think you're barking up the wrong tree."

He did not get my meaning. Rather, my comment flipped a switch somewhere and he started yelling at me, suddenly every bit as angry as he had been jovial.

"You know what you are?" he screamed, pointing at me, "You are a Penis Head! You are a motherfucking Penis Head and you need to mind your Penis Head business!"

At this point a waiter appeared. He, too, had some advice for me. "Sir, your friend is disturbing the other customers. If your friend can't behave we might have to ask him to leave."

"Penis Head!" Raspberry Vinaigrette Man shouted again.

"Does that really sound like a friend? This man just wandered in, sat down and started raving."

"Just the same, sir, if you can't keep your friend quiet..." the waiter said and prissed away.

Joe, meanwhile, in a moment of cool collectedness worthy of Clint Eastwood, had walked to the door, retrieved Raspberry Vinaigrette Man's bottle of half finished malt liquor, and quietly said, "See this? If you don't leave right away I'm pouring it out."

Worked like magic. He left, although not without a final shout of "Penis Head!"

I've seen Raspberry Vinaigrette man several times since. Once on a bus, where he was causing a very similar disturbance, and later in front of a gay bar where, as patrons would exit he would ask them for a hug and in doing so try and lift their wallets. Later on the street, having no memory of meeting me before, he got in my face with that insufferable ploy of becoming instantly and overly familiar that all street winos try and pull.

"My man! My man!" he said, laughing and high fiving and acting like we were old friends.

(Consumer tip: A good way to nip this in the bud is to say "Dude, if I was your man you'd be home sucking my dick." But I didn't deploy this option at the time.)

He, of course, asked for a hug. "Why sure!" I said, playing the gullible idiot. He wrapped his arms around me and I leaned in and whispered "If you so much as even touch my wallet I will knee you in the balls so hard you won't walk for a week."

He drew back, shocked, and his expression betrayed that it was EXACTLY what he was trying for and was stunned someone called him on his game. "Oh yeah," I said. "All the street people are doing it now; it's this year's version of 'My babies are in the stalled car down the road.' Seriously, give it up, everyone does that one."

I may have robbed a man of his livelihood.

The Not-Quite-As-Hungry-As-He'd-Like-You-To-Think Man



Two friends were sitting outdoors, downtown, sharing a high-end, gourmet pizza. They were full and had about half of it left over. They were approached by a homeless man.

"Look, I'm homeless and I'm starving. Can you give me some money so I can get a bite to eat?"

One of my friends offered to give the man the rest of the pizza.

"Actually," the man said, "I was really more in the mood for a fish sandwich."

The Distant Man



I sat down in front of a young couple on the bus. The girl was crying.

He: Now what's the matter?
She: It's just that you're so...distant.
He: What?
She: Distant.
He: Whatever the fuck that is...

The Pie Man



Another brief tale involving a random street loon.

I was standing on the corner waiting for a bus when I spotted, across the street waiting for another bus, a very large man holding a plastic sack. He whipped away the sack, revealing an entire bakery pie on his palm. He opened the lid of the pie and suddenly burst into song:

"Pie! I love you, piiiiiiiiiiiie!"

With that, he shoved his hand knuckle deep into the center of the pie and began digging out huge handfuls of goo, which he voraciously began shoving into his mouth. He licked his fingers, grunting with near-orgasmic pleasure and kept shoveling bare handfuls of pie into his face. His whole body shook with every bite, slurp and lick.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone enjoy a dessert more.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

From The Crap Heap (Part One)



For every Spookshow In Your Pants song I like, there are a dozen more that just seem stupid. My hard drive is littered with such orphaned attempts and I thought it might be fun to post some of the dumber ones. Plus, what I think sucks someone else might like and vice-versa. So here's round one of my most embarrassing musical moments. Click on the titles to have a listen.

Bye


Come Have Breakfast With Jesus


Corn Curls

Depressatron Two

Gloria/L'Absintheur

Piece of Crap


Sunlight Streaming From Your Butt


You Boys Oughta Take Your Shirts Off And Get Some Sun

You Get Sleepy I Get Creepy

Ok, I have to admit I like the last one. Probably for the memory behind it rather than the song itself. Mortification does a body good.

But seriously, the 2nd worst thing I ever did was so-called "music" for a local audio/video duplication service. Revel and squirm along with me at it's absolute wretchedness:

Audio Video Memories

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Encroaching Man



My fake internet friend David Parr just related an encounter with a random street crazy and it got me to thinking about similar interactions in my own life.

I was waiting for a bus, some years ago, in the dead of winter. It was bitter cold and the ice on the sidewalk had crystallized several times over into Mother Nature's Twister game of death. I sat on the cold steel bench, my butt cheeks frozen into twin, rounded sno-cones. I sat alone, smoking, waiting for the bus.

Another man showed up. He was fairly well-dressed, not like a street bum, but had pop bottle eyeglasses ensconsed in thick, black plastic frames that gave off the aura of well-educated geek. But he started muttering to himself and that changed everything.

Understand I mutter to myself as a matter of routine. But when I do it I am usually singing songs from 70's TV children's programming, talking in funny voices to amuse myself or pretending I'm a ventriloquist. This guy was having a cut and clear argument with at least three other people, all of whom piped up to make their voices known.

He didn't take a seat on the bench, but rather paced back and forth on the icy sidewalk, resulting in several amusing near-pratfalls. He kept up the self-chatter and I kept watching him.

"Oh really?" he would shout.
"Yes, really!" he would shout in another voice.
"You're both crazy if you ask me!" a third voice would proclaim.

I was fricking fascinated. I kept wondering which one it was who would eventually slip and bust their nose. Somehow he kept upright and continued his ranting.

A third (or fifth, depending) person joined us at the bus stop. He too, did not sit in the enclosure but stood outside, watching. This was just an average, beefy Joe Normal who stood there and watched the show for a minute.

I was treated to this wonderful exchange:

Muttering man suddenly whirled about, screaming, and hurled his fury upon the interloper.

"WHY ARE YOU ENCROACHING UPON ME?"

Joe Normal, looking confused but wanting to stand his ground, said "I'm not encroaching upon you; I'm just standing here!"

The bus came and the two gave each other very nervous looks until one of them got off first.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Someone Wrote A Song About Me



Krista and I kinda loved one another then kinda hated one another. We went close to a decade without speaking. What I didn't know was during this time she wrote a song about how, despite our differences, she missed me. I'd written and recorded some songs about her, too, but mine were far more bitchy and probably won't ever see public release.

We mended our fences, finally, and one night she sang the song she'd written back in the day and it moved me to tears. I know, "just an old softie" is not usually associated with the Puddlewinks camp. But she re-vamped this same song for her CD "Thanks, But No" and it rocks out and I think I might like it even if it wasn't all about me. But I'm sure that helps.

Click on the title to hear it. Or go here to buy the CD which has a number of other songs I quite like.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Maybe, Maybe Not



Okay, so maybe I had a little freakout the other night. It happens. At the time I wanted to close down the show but no, I think I was just in a bad place. I'm frustrated about so many things right now it's hard for me to think straight.

I guess I'm saying ignore the last one no matter what happens.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Switch It Off Now



Been a while, hasn't it?

No easy explanation. Creatively, I'm blank as a fart. Nothing to say.

It's just the way it goes. I have many obsessions, hobbies, outlets and whatnot but none can be counted on to have exclusive staying power. I get hopped up on one thing for a while and then it dries up and goes away. It always comes back, someday, but in the interim other things take its importance in the scheme of my life. I think I've had a good run with this blog (certainly not based on popular response but rather my own fun with it) but I just haven't been motivated for a while and other things are occupying my mind. I haven't done any Spookshow In Your Pants stuff for a couple of years now, but I'm certain someday I will again. So it goes with Der Spookhaus. The stuff filling my mind these days I just don't feel like writing about for everyone to see. Or maybe I just don't feel like writing, period.

Maybe I just want to take a Summer Vacation. I don't know. But my heart's not in it these days. So I think this is going to be goodbye, for now, but certainly not permanently. I have had enough experience to know that something wacky just might happen tomorrow and jump-start the Muse so that I'm off pell-mell for another few months. The shit I'm into and extremes in terms of interest swings back and forth so wildly there's no way I can predict what I want to be doing from one day to the next.
On the other hand, I might just walk away from it all and never look back. It really could go either way and I have no perceptible sense of what's gonna happen.

Shit, I might restart Der Spookhaus in YouTube format. I have some ideas but so far nothing worth writing home about. Brute honestly, right now, I don't want to create; I just want to be entertained by others for the moment. But keep checking back. Like I say, who knows when I'll get a second wind.

I've enjoyed doing this immensely. Just not for now. I think the earliest posts, with the stories and music and all, were the best and when the blog turned into the standard daily diary type of stuff was when it went to shit. I just haven't taken the time to write-and-rewrite-and-rewrite-and-rewrite, which it what it takes to make a good story, for a while now. The music vids and the vintage video are fun--and trust me, everything posted in those categories means something to me, it's just I probably should be crafting a decent story instead of farting out stuff about jerking off into tube socks.

Click on the title if you want to hear the theme music to this post. The song references, I think, Heroin addiction which is NOT what's cluttering up my mind these days, but still is an apt metaphor for how I'm feeling at the moment.

Still, I think you should always leave 'em laughing, so I'll close for now by telling my favorite joke of all time.

Little Billy was sitting in class and the girl behind him tapped him on the shoulder. "Ask the teacher what a 'Purple Poodle' is," she asked, as the class was too young to understand the importance of not ending a sentence with a preposition.

Billy raised his hand.

"Yes, Billy?"

"What's a 'Purple Poodle'?

The teacher could not hide her shocked reaction and screamed, "That does it, Billy! You're going to Mr. Yodelbeans' office!"

"What?"

"Go to the principal's office! Now!"

Billy made the long trek down the hall. The principal was extremely surprised to see him. "Billy," he exclaimed, "What are you doing here?"

"Teacher said I had to come and see you."

"But you've always been a model student! What could you have possibly done to make her send you here for punishment?"

"All I did..." Billy stammered, "...All I did was ask her what was a 'Purple Poodle'."

Mr. Yodelbeans spluttered, his face changed several sets of colors, he slammed his fist on his desk and finally raged, "GET OUT! You are expelled from this elementary school! You sick, sick child! We won't have you infecting the other students! GO!"

Billy walked home in the middle of the morning. His mother greeted him at the door. "Billy! What are you doing home from school this early?"

"I got expelled."

"Expelled? You? How? Why?"

Billy tearfully explained to his mother that all he did was ask the teacher the definition of a 'Purple Poodle.'

She burst into tears; howling, racking sobs the likes of which Billy had never seen come out of her. "Go upstairs," the woman commanded through her hysterics, "and stay there until your Father gets home!"

Billy spent the day in his room, listening to the muffled sounds of his mother crying for hours and hours. Finally he heard his father's car pull up in the drive, the door slam shut, then hushed, hysterical whispering below. He heard the clomp, clomp, clomp of heavy work boots ascending the stairs and suddenly his bedroom door was wrenched open, his father standing there, glowering.

"What's this I hear about you gettin' kicked out of school?"

"All I did," Billy said, "Was ask the teacher what in the world is a 'Purple Poodle'?"

"YOU ARE NO SON OF MINE!" Billy's father shouted. "DO NOT EVEN THINK OF DARKENING THE DOORWAY OF THIS HOME AGAIN!" He was roaring, frothing at the mouth. "YOU ARE A SICK, SINFUL, PERVERT AND TO KNOW IT AT YOUR TENDER AGE IS A SIGN THAT THE DEVIL HAS INFESTED YOUR VERY SOUL! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, YOU FILTH! YOU ABOMINATION!"

So Billy left.

He walked up the off-ramp to the interstate and walked along the highway. A trucker pulled up beside him and stopped. TCH-TCHSSSS! went the brakes.

"Hey kid, need a lift?" asked the trucker.

Billy climbed into the cab. "Shouldn't you be in school?" the trucker scowled.

"Yeah. But I got expelled."

"Expelled? Do your parents know this?"

"They kicked me out of the house."

"Son, what exactly did you do?"

Billy again explained, "All I did was try to find out the meaning of 'Purple Poodle'."

The truck driver slammed on his brakes, again with a loud TCH-TCHSSS!

"Son, I been in truck stops all over this land of ours and heard a lot of filthy talk but I never, never, never, EVER heard anything as disgusting as that. I think I'd like you to get out now."

Billy put his head in his hands and started sobbing.

"BUT," the trucker added, "Oncet you leave I think I can help ya. If you really, really want to know about the 'Purple Poodle' you have to do this: Find your way to 3rd Street. Walk around until you reach 333 3rd Street. It's a hotel. Go in, git in the elevator and press the button marked 3. That'll take ya to the 3rd floor. Get off and find room 33. Go inside. You'll see a chest of drawers. Open the 3rd drawer and I think you'll find what you're looking for. Now get the fuck out of my truck, you freak."

Billy found 3rd Street. He wandered up and down until he found the address marked 333, and sure enough it was a hotel. He got in the elevator, got off on the 3rd floor and sure enough there was a room 33. He twisted the doorknob and it was open. Inside the room was totally bare. No bed, no TV, no lamps, just a big bureau drawer set pushed against the wall.

Billy opened the third drawer down. A HUGE poodle, painted purple, leaped out of the drawer and ran out the open door. Billy chased it, and the poodle ran for the open stairwell and ran down three flights of stairs, the boy in hot pursuit. The purple poodle ran across the lobby and ran out the open door of 333 3rd Street. Billy was so close he could feel the wisps off its puffy tail against his fingers, but not quite enough to catch it. Chasing the lavender beast, it ran straight out into 3rd Street, into oncoming traffic, and SMACK! Billy was instantly struck by a car and killed dead on the spot.

And the moral to this story is:

Look both ways before crossing the street.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Card Tricks



This is a weird one and aimed at a splinter group of my friends who happen to be magicians. If you're not a magician, that's cool, because you'll be very important in the comment section if you decide to respond.

Certain people will kill me for exposing this, but a popular theory concerning card tricks is that certain ones work owing to psychological principles. The card trick inventor invariably says, when publishing his or her card trick,
that the spectator will think this, this and this and that is why said card trick is the greatest thing since sliced monkey meat.

I happen to think this is horseshit.

All we know is this: you do a card trick and the spectator does not point out the exact methodology. It's not necessarily a win.

A favorable response does not at all mean the person watching was fooled in the slightest. Given the best case scenario, the spectator exclaims "Oh good lord allmighthy, how in the living fuck did you do that?" Magicians leap to the most favorable mise en scene imaginable: taking these words to be gospel, literal, and an absolute representation of what went down.

But consider other social obligations. Your friend shows up with a gawdawful haircut. "How do you like my hair?" they ask. "Oh it's nice," you say, meanwhile thinking it looks like the back of a skunk's ass. If you're going to say this to people you know, concerning what you know to be an integral part of their self-identity, do you not think folks are going to politely lie involving something as trivial as a card trick?

Professional performers cum all over themselves thinking they've fooled the mythological "paying public" just because no one bothered to cal them out on how they did their shit. These magicians go home smelling of fried clams and think they've reached the pinnacle of magical success, just like my neighbor's sixteen-year-old kid who also works in a restaurant.

But really, who is more likely to step up and push you to the wall: random strangers at family hamburger night or your friends and family who have spent their whole lives trying to make you look stupid? I just don't buy that people who don't know you and all your flaws are the tougher audience.

So you do a card trick. Here are the possible reactions:

1) You present it as a 'Hey, look what I can do that you can't do' thing with flourishy Sybil cuts, one-hand shuffles and stuff where the subtext is nothing more than 'Dig me, I am awesome.' To which the spectator will most likely think, "Yeah, nice juggling. But I went on actual dates in High School."

2) You present it as an experiment in either ESP or psychological manipulation. To which the spectator will most likely think, "Card trick."

3) You present it as a card trick. To which the spectator will also think, 'Card trick' but instantly be bored out of their skull

4) The cards are fake-aged to appear ancient and you spin a twenty minute yarn about turn-of-the-century gamblers and a witch they met. "Still a frigging card trick." No wait, it's Tarot cards. "Same fucking thing."

So essentially the spectator responses are these:

"It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen, oh, and by the way, I am borderline retarded."

"It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen and I am politlely lying just to keep from seeming an asswipe.'

" I know exactly how you did that but hope my silence will be taken as total mystification."

"I am fooled, but seriously, couldn't give a shit. It's a goddamn card trick."
.
"I'm sorry, I was so bored when you brought out the cards I wasn't paying much attention so now that I'm fooled it's no big surprise."

So those of you who are magiciains, reply and agree or disagree, and those of you who aren't who have had to suffer through card tricks (including mine) respond as well. Oh wait, I forgot. Card tricks are not a topic of conversation for those
who don't do them. Unlike what the dealer's ads say.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Middle of the Night Memory



Fell asleep about an hour ago, woke up and am obsessed with a memory of something that happened years ago when I was a teenager. O Morpheus, thank you so much for reviving me from my slumber so I can spend this valuable time thinking of monkeys.

My parents and I were somewhere on vacation, I have no idea where, but we encountered an organ grinder and his monkey, whom the patrons were encouraged to feed peanuts. The monkey, not the fifty year old alcoholic whose only career option was turning a crank. So I gave the monkey a peanut and my Dad did as well. When my mother tried the mangy beast in a strap-on fez latched onto her finger with its teeth and would not let go. My Mom howled, the organ grinder panicked and Dad and I shared a rare bonding moment convulsing in laughter. The organ grinder used both hands to pry the monkey's face off my mother's finger and we left without having to tip.

Okay, now that it's out there maybe I can go back to sleep.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hellsnake



My friend Tor had a bad laundry day.

Clothes in the dryer; he's falling asleep and is brought out of his near-slumber by a loud Ca-chunk-a-chunk sound and then total silence. Shit, he thinks, the clothes dryer has given up the ghost and tells himself he will deal with it tomorrow. He allows himself to drift into sleep and no doubt dreams of naked boys and girls with
pudding-smeared nipples and panda masks paddling one another.

Next morning: Wife goes to work and Tor is forced to deal with the dryer situation. He presses the buttons but nothing happens. He thinks to himself that perhaps the lint blower outlet is clogged and detatches it. He scoops out a few mounds of fluff and sees, of all things, a live snake. It's gasping and writhing and not in good spirits.

Tor just so happens to have a pair of snake tongs on hand, owing to his years of keeping them as pets, a splendid note of happenstance much on the order of my encountering an emergency requiring the use of hand puppets.

He uses the tongs to grasp the snake and pulls it free from the ribbed, polyethurane dryer hose. The animal has a hole in its abdomen, through which Tor can see missing flesh, missing vertebrae and in fact would be clean through were it not for
the transluscent layer of skin on the other side. Holding it to the light, it's the reptilian version of a View-Master.

So Tor has a disassembeled dryer, holding aloft a gutted, living snake in some tongs. He realizes the Ca-chunk-a-chunk sound he heard the night before was a snake getting disemboweled by whirring dryer parts. Apparently the snake crawled through the outdoor dryer vent, slithered into the actual machinery and had its midsection hacked out for its trouble.

Tor loves the crazy serpents, as do I. I kept them as pets in junior high, earning me the nickname of "Snake", so much that other kids would call and ask for me as that, a fact my mother couldn't abide. "His name is NOT Snake!" she would hiss, not getting the irony. Of course, me being saddled with the monicker 'Snake' was on par with Adam Lambert being known as 'Cold Steel Fury'. But I kept snakes as pets and loved them, perhaps because I could identify with nature's most misunderstood creatures.

Tor, being the same kind of guy, is filled with remorse at what happened to the snake in his dryer. I mean, if you met someone with a huge honking hole in their stomach, so much so that the only thing you could see was the skin running down their back on the other side, wouldn't you want to help them in any way you could?

So Tor fills a bucket with ice and water. He drops the snake into it. The snake thrashes around a bit, then deliberately swims to the bottom of the bucket. It stays there, on purpose, and drowns.

Nature knows when it's time is up.

The suicidal part of me knows this, too. Stop, quit. I ain't gonna off myself cause I wanna stick around and see what happens. Get your finger off the 911. But still, just to go out when you know you're done is a thing of beauty.

Man, I envy that snake.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's The Worst Thing You've Ever Done?




Good question, isn't it?

It's not one most people would answer publicly but I think I want to do this.

Some people say that confession is good for the soul and they might be right. I don't put the supernatural spin on it and think that if I lay bare my worst secret an invisble man in the sky is going to be appeased and and my guilt will be absolved, but still, yeah, sometimes letting it out can free you up. I think I've told a total of three friends about this but the time feels right to tell everybody I know and a bunch of total strangers. I'm not expecting a magic cure for feeling bad about it, in fact in some quarters it might prove problematic in that I will seem more insane than I already do. I just feel like talking about it tonight, so
I will, and whoever listens can do so and pass judgement in their own fashion.

Most people have their bad secrets and generally they happen in college or shortly after. The stuff they don't want their wife, children or whoever to know because of being messed up on booze or drugs or simply sowing the wild oats. Me, the worst thing I ever did happened when I was in fourth grade. Yes. I am Damien, spawn of Satan.

For real though. Not that I haven't done things I'm ashamed of as an adult, but this thing I did when I was eight has stuck with me and messed with me for most of my life. I'm guessing this post is not going to be a particularly funny one (not that I won't try.)

So in fourth grade I was taking swimming lessons at the local YMCA. It was structured so that you had free time in the game and vending room, the swimming lesson would commence and then you had more free time to socialize before your
parents would come to pick you up. I spent this latter time exploring and managed to discover the YMCA boiler room.

It was very dark and only lit by the amber glow of the lighted dials on all the heating equipment. Pretty much pitch black, but if you stood in front of a furnace you could see a few feet in front of you from the pilot light and the backlit gagues until you moved on to the next one. It was creepy and fun. Plus, this basement was also a storage facility for all the junk the YMCA had no other place to put and was stacked along the walls.

I couldn't keep my discovery to myself. I approaced an older boy in the swim class (who might well have been chosen because he was very good looking--I can remember his face and body to this very day, not just for that but for things that will be made
clear very shortly) and told him I'd found something really incredible. He wanted to see it, so I led him to the underground boiler room. He thought it was cool too, and we slowly made our way in the nearly non-existent light.

It was so dark it was spooky. So I thought I'd play a little joke. I jumped out, screamed at the top of my lungs and grabbed him by the sides. On instinct, he screamed and leapt away. He landed not on or by but through a stack of plate glass leaning against the wall. It shattered. He was cut to ribbons all over. I pulled him out and could tell even in the dim light he was bleeding all over. He wasn't crying. He wasn't screaming. He just said, "I think I got cut pretty bad."

I led him out of the basement and back to the well-lit stairs leading to the YMCA proper. His assessment was correct.

I remember the blood streaming out of his wounds, so much that it left puddles on the stairs. At the top of the staircase I held back and peeped through a crack in the door, watching him hobble to the lobby, the person behind the desk start screaming
and someone else phoning for an ambulance. I stayed there, out of sight, watching. They led him to a chair, blood was pouring from the slashes in his shirtless chest, bare legs, feet and arms and being tracked all over the lobby. The ambulance arrived. They took him away.

He never once mentioned my name.

I went back to the game room to await the arrival of my Mom to drive me home. I have no memory of my state of mind at the time. I'm sure I was filled with fear of discovery and guilt over what I'd--even accidentally--done but this is only a guess.

On the way home I told my mother I didn't want to take swimming lessons any more.

I guess my parents bought it because I don't remember going back. Nothing ever happened. No calls from anyone wanting to know my
involvement. Ever.

But somewhere a kid, who became a young man, and who now is older than me most likely has permanent scars on his body because I chose to play boogeyman and leap out at him in the dark. He totally should have sold me out. I've felt sick about this for decades.

Yeah, I get the one idea: Kids playing, who knew, accidents happen. But it doesn't change the way things turned out. And I hate it.

The very worst thing of all is I can't for the life of me remember his name.

See? There's more stuck inside this head of mine than dick and fart jokes.

So does anyone else want to play? What's the worst thing YOU'VE done? Post in the comments. Do it anonymously if you feel inclined.

Monday, May 31, 2010

NBC4 Follows the AIDS Story With Some Funny Monkeys



I did this song years and years ago when Spookshow was in the clunky drum machine phase and I forget what I originally called it. I re-named it after a friend started working for a local network affiliate and became aware of just what whores local TV stations really are. They try to present themselves as "Ooh, we care so much about the community" when in fact the only thing they really give a shit about is ratings. They just want you to suck the glass tit and pretend they actually care about your health, your children and your neighborhood when, in fact, if you die in a public place, your kids get raped or your block gets firebombed they will be there with cameras to intrude on your most private, horrible moments.

So the same friend once set this music to video of monkeys at the zoo and it struck me as being absolutely the sort of thing any TV news outlet would do for filler shit. "Woman bashed in the head with bolt cutters; coming up next: Kitties!"

So around that time I changed the name of the music. It's not a great song but it sounds absolutely like what your local news outlet would put behind stock footage in order to suggest they give a crap about you and your neighborhood. Click on the title and pretend I care as well.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Apparently, Sly Is An Asshole



Just got off the phone with my very own oldest brother, who from 1969 to 1972 was the stage manager at Convention Hall in Wildwood, New Jersey.

This was the premiere hangout for all the hippies who never made it to Oregon or San Francisco.

I continually pump him (ok, just because we were born in West Virginia doesn't mean in THAT way) for information about this time of his life because it just seems fascinating. He was setting up for and hanging out with the most recognized musicians of the day and I'm forever pressing him to spill the details because I'm such a fame whore.

"Who were the coolest bands, in terms of just being people, you met?," I ask.

"Jethro Tull. Would hang out and talk to anyone, no matter who you were."

"Who else?"

"Alice Cooper. As a person. But in his stage show he set off these cannons that blew feathers all over the audience. We were picking feathers out of the carpet three years later."

"Who were the assholes? Prima Donnas?"

"Sly Stone. The biggest prick of them all."

"Why?"

"Well first of all he didn't show up until hours later after he was supposed to be there. We had a crowd of thousands of black people expecting what we promised and Sly was a no-show."

"What did you do?"

"I went out on-stage with my guitar."

(Hysterical laughter on my part) "Right. ***** ******* (real name omitted by request,) the most obvious replacement for Sly Stone. What did you play?"

"Neil Young's Heart of Gold"

Me: "If that's not funk I don't know what is."

Brother: "It didn't go over. But he finally showed up. At ten minutes to twelve. The town had an ordinance that no concert could go on after midnight."

"So you had a ten minute show on your hands?"

"Yeah, and he was drunk and took to the microphone and instead of playing music started cussing out his wife, his manager, all of New Jersey and anyone he could see at the moment."

"That's not good."

"Oh, it only got worse. The sheriff of Wildwood suddenly walked onstage and informed Sly Stone he only had one minute to play before midnight fell down and he was no longer legally allowed to appear before an audience. Meanwhile, other police were appearing backstage with the rest of us. They told us we'd best take off our shirts embroidered with the Convention Hall logo if we wanted to live. Cause people paying big-ticket prices for a one-minute concert would probably not be interested in our continued good health."

"So what did he do?

"He started playing and he was so drunk he sucked."

"How did the crowd react?"

"They reacted like he sucked. But my friend Glen, a part time cop who worked security, pulled the sheriff off-stage and let him know that if the concert wasn't allowed to go on past the legal time limit he'd have a full-scale race riot on his hands."

"What happened?"

"Wildwood, New Jersey got to see the most horrible, drunken, illegal concert they were ever treated to."

Things I Say To My Cat



I was talking to a friend at work the other day and let it slip that my evening plans included the wildly adventurous, madcap way to pass the time of downing some beers and talking to my cat. She gave me that look which instantly communicates that I had strayed past the point of romantic, arty isolation and into the realm of the truly pathetic.

“Mmm,” she grunted, “How does that usually go?”
“Kinda one-sided,” I had to admit.

Because, yes, while Kitty is pretty vocal, sometimes to the point of annoyance; she’s not the best of conversationalists. If she’s in the mood she will purr and rub her head against me but, aside from that, there’s not all that much give and take. Thinking about it, I realized she can only offer what she’s been taught by example and it dawned on me that I, myself, had not exactly been keeping up my end of the dialogue either.

Here, then, is the entire list of things I have said to my cat for nearly a decade and a half:

“Good Kitty.”
“Sweet Kitty.”
“I love you Kitty.”
“Shut the fuck up! You have food in your bowl! Walk the five feet and take a look!”

Of course, the one thing I’ve told her most often is, “Jesus Christ, it’s not a goddamn race!” This one is reserved for every single time I try to go downstairs to pee. The cat insists on getting there first, usually by darting between my legs in such a way I am someday bound to wind up at the bottom of the stairs with a splintered neck. Her fascination with watching me urinate is only trumped by the way that my taking a crap—call me crazy for considering this the ultimate private moment—has for her become a bonding experience on par with a father and son going fishing. I plant myself on the throne and she’s right there, swishing back and forth on the tub ledge and attempting to rub her every body part on my bare thighs while purring loud enough to rival a riding lawnmower. I know. It’s a cat. It doesn’t get the same social boundaries when it comes to pooping as, say, a roommate. But when I’m straining to expel half a log that’s hung up like a breach pregnancy and some animal chooses THAT moment to become most affectionate, I get a little twitchy. Mostly because I imagine that if I allow it I am part and parcel to some strange, inter-species scat scene you can’t even find on the internet. So I pick her up and throw her out and slam the bathroom door. Always, she starts scratching on it and howling like she’s starving and I’m in there shitting Meow Mix.

That’s mostly it, but there’s a few more:

“What the hell’s the matter with you?”
“NO!”
“Git! Git! Git!” (This is when I am trying to touch myself and she’s staring at me like Kinsey with a clipboard.)

I do vary the wording, just to make it seem like I have more to say:

“Pretty cat.”
“Sweet cat.”
“I love you cat.”
“Shut the fuck up! It’s a goddamn bird!”

There is one recent development. After years of cuddling the cat has taken to instead crawling out from under the covers and sleeping on top of my legs. I wake in the middle of the night, unable to move them, and start screaming that I am paralyzed and need help. Technically, this one is directed at the neighbors. Thus far they have reacted in the same fashion as my cat to everything I’ve ever told her: complete and utter indifference.

Final Destination 2: Car Crash Scene

I've watched this movie bunches of times and the car crash always freaks me out way more than the supernatural hijinx to follow. I hydroplaned all the way down an off ramp once, repeatedly smashing the guard rail as the car uncontrollably spun in circles. The car was totaled but I walked away without a scratch. This might have something to do with why the clip gets on my nerves. Or it might be the graphic depiction of teenagers who can afford a vehicle costing more than I make in a year.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Music Is Magic

Troy Palmer is a fake internet friend I've never met in real life. But we share a common bond in that we often enjoy the same type of music, movies and art. Plus dude is fond of wearing makeup and who can't love that? (Oh, I remember, my entire family when I went through my goth phase.)

But Troy wrote the most amazing rant. He pretty much explained how one's musical appreciation defined one's self. I gotta agree. The songs who shaped who I am, laid out in chronological order, tell the tale way better than I can in words.

Okay, I'm four years old and I'm listening to the radio. Tommy Roe's 'Dizzy' speaks to me so much that I beg my older brother to go and buy me the 45. (Yes, I am that fucking old.) He does and I am forever thankful. Jump cut eons later; someone has taken this very song and fused it with Disney cartoons on the Internet:



Call me crazy, but when a four-year-old relates to lyrics: "My head is spinning/it's like a whirlpool/it never ends" this might be a big, red flag.

My next music memory was the theme song to The Banana Splits. I enjoyed the music but even moreso I enjoyed life-sized puppet costumes. Why I am not a Furrie remains a mystery. Here are The Dickies doing the song I loved so much:



Life progressed and so did Saturday morning TV. I was a kid eating cereal in front of the television,watching Lidsville. While, again, the life-size puppets caught my fancy there was something, something about the bridge to the theme song that made sense to me in a pure audio format. My older brothers played Steppenwolf and Jesus Christ, Superstar but somehow this middle section, featuring maniacal laughter and total psychedelia clamped onto my soul and made me more a hippie than they ever were (aside from my lack of recreational drugs.) When Butch Patrick fell into the hat, the sonic onslaught showed me music didn't have to be what was on the radio.



Music was pretty boring compared to that. But some years later I discovered ELO's 'Fire on High' which wasn't like the shit on the radio but more like the middle bridge to the Lidsville theme:



I'd discovered sypmphonic rock. Three chords and the truth just didn't do it for me. I wanted bombastic, out there, larger than life spectacle. Which of course led me to Queen:



There was something about that Freddie that was damn appealing I just couldn't put my finger on.

A couple years rolled on and I found this cat named Gary Numan:



Wow. Some straight guy playing the part of an android queer helped me get my shit together.

So after that I suppose in order to seem cool and all I'm not supposed to mention this chapter of my life. But I liked it and, god help me, I still do:



So really, if you were this really strange band but were able to sell out because of your pretty boy looks and reinvent yourself as a teen sensation and make millions, wouldn't you do it? I would. Marketing savvy made them seem lame but the music was always ok. Least I think so. But in addition to the top-40 stuff I'd also discovered the import bin at the local mall record store and was starting to find some really cool stuff:



What was strange was that stuff that was absolutely American, red white and blue music ended up in the "import" bin just because it wasn't played on the radio.
This was where I discovered The Meatmen. Here they are doing a Gary Glitter cover:



The Meatmen used to play Columbus then go hang out at the local gay bar. They weren't gay; I think it was their way of being able to go out after a show and get shitfaced without people bugging them. Well, except for me. But they were all funny and decent and very friendly to the one guy who knew who they were. Of course, Tesco walking around shirtless got them more attention than they bargained for and it had nothing to do with fame.

So I looked like a punk at the time but actually enjoyed many types of music. I discovered Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark and quickly became a huge fan, at least before John Hughes convinced them they should be pop stars.



I became a fan of what at the time was called "progressive music", yet another term
for what young people are listening to in order to distance themselves from what
their parents and older brothers like. The terminology changes every five years or
so but always serves the same purpose. My favorite band to fill this need at the time was Xymox:



Then Skinny Puppy came along and took me and everyone to a whole other world.



Industrial music was the name of the game. So many good bands and tunes:





But Industrial wasn't my everything. I just liked anyone doing music who did their own strange thing. Pop music could be damned strange, too, I noticed.





Right around this time I discovered Edward Kaspel and the Legendary Pink Dots. They never fit into any category because they're always changing. I imagine this is a big part of the whole appeal.





I listened to old CDs and music for me got kind of stale. Then a short-lived scene called shoegazing came around and sounded like the inside of my head:







Right about this time I started making my own music. I read an interview with
someone, I forget who, in a magazine and they said if you want to find out what
someone's music sounds like, ask them their five favorite bands. I hope more than
anything this sounds like Gary Numan, Chapterhouse, Pink Floyd, The Meatmen and LPD were stuffed in a studio together and forced to play nice:

Spookshow In Your Pants--Warm Feelings

Music started to accelerate, though, thanks to the internet. Some Japanese kid doing stuff in his bedroom is better than anything on the radio or for sale. Everyone who's always taken pride in loving music has become an instant idiot just because there's too much out there for any one person to keep track of. You can't know it all and contrast and compare anymore. Sure, you can do this with stuff on the radio and supposedly obscure indie magazines...but if it's in a magazine it's hardly obscure, since no doubt some guitar geek on YouTube you've never heard of has racked up half a million hits.

Living in the here and now, I still like what I'm told is pop culture, even though I don't buy it.







It just goes on. The music reflects me. I don't find it. It finds me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hellzapoppin




Honeypot Christian Cagigal clued me into this one.

I love movies from this era, but Hellzapoppin is something way beyond stupid puns and slapstick. I mean, it's that, but it's also Stanley Elkin put onscreen some thirty years before he exploited metafiction. This 1941 movie self-referenced itself so much that South Park seems a pale imitation in terms of making fun of making fun of pop culture. Just watch the opening few minutes:



The rest of the movie just collapses upon itself and has less to do with storyline than a pointed statement that dumb people will line up to watch anything. If, like me, you just like stupid comedy jokes this movie is hilarious. But if you think we live in an idiot world where we're sucking on the tit of the entertainment industry to keep us distracted from what those in power don't want us to see you'll really find it funny--and of course more sad than you can bear. You weren't allowed to say this outright back when this was filmed but Hellzapoppin absolutely gets this point across in subtle, at-the-time subversive ways and points out that society will watch goddamn anything at the expense of thinking, some fifty years before American Idol.

You can find this on Amazon. Buy it, laugh your ass off and learn we really haven't come that far.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chrithmath Memory



After posting the Spookshow In Your Pants holiday album, I still like the idea of having Christmas in May. So I think
I'll share one of my favorite (and by that I mean completely mortifying) Christmas memories.

This happened probably a decade or so ago. I'd realized that mall shopping made me absolutely batshit and decided to do
that year's holiday obligation by trolling up and down High Street, near where I live. Unique, weirdo gift shops were far easier to deal with than chain stores that had "JUST HEAR THOSE SLEIGH BELLS JINGLING, JING JING JINGLING, OOOH"
blaring over loudspeakers to the point I wanted to shove a potato peeler through my eardrums to make it stop.

It ended up being a nice night. It was cold, but not horribly freezing, and the fat snowflakes drifting down were pretty to look at. I found some stuff I thought was cool to give as gifts. Would my family appreciate them? Whatever. I don't know them and they don't know me. But once a year we fake like we're on the same page and pretend that commercialism brings us closer. But this particular year I kinda felt like, maybe, I'd gotten it, if not right, at least close.

I had bags full of stuff. I settled in at the bus stop waiting for the ride to take me home.

Some kid was there, probably eighteen or nineteen and was obviously gay as the Easter Parade. I love gay kids, given that they get to be what I was but never could express without being killed, most likely by a family member.

"Merry Chrithmas!" he shouted.

"Merry Christmas to you, too," I said. We started talking. The moonlight flashing on the new-fallen snow was nothing compared to the way it glinted off the silver stud through his tongue.

"Have you been doing thome thopping?" he asked.

"Yes," I said, doing my best to not make it sound like yeth.

"Chrithmath is awethome!" he said. I could not disagree more, but sometimes cuteness gets to win.

I am still a bastard at heart, though, and no matter how endearing his Drew Barrymore in E.T schtick happened to be, I was determined to call him on his affectations and resulting peculiar speech.

"New tongue piercing?" I asked.

"No, I've had this for two years. But I've always had a lithp."

AWKWARD!

It's Tricky

Man, this takes me back. Just re-watched the video for the first time in years and found myself grinning like a loon all the way through.

In 2006 The Knack filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement, claiming Run-DMC stole the riff from 'My Sharona.' Seriously. It took them that long to notice?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Eclipse



Christopher Hoffman put out a gospel album entitled 'The Road'. On it, he explores his faith and his relationship with Jesus Christ. There's just one problem, at least as where Evangelicals are concerned: He's gay as a picnic basket.

I love the idea of anybody who feels no need to thump their chest and proclaim how their brand of faith is The One True Message in order to make them feel superior in the here and now. Christopher simply details the road he's traveled, spiritually, and isn't out to convert anyone. But were his sexuality not enough to piss off the people who think they hold a copyright on the words of Jesus Christ, he also strongly identifies with the Wiccan faith. Myself, I'll quote from The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra: "I'm a scientist. I don't believe in anything." But Chris is a Christian Wiccan, or a Wiccan Christian, depending. I recently told him, "Hey, if you're going to be a person of faith, why settle for just one?"

After a years-long struggle, he and his partner, Jake, have finally adopted two kids (again, a major difference of opinion in that I think NOT breeding is the major perk of homosexuality) and are, finally a real family. He's ready to record again.

And he's asked me to produce. My first return to audio in years and I'm working on a fucking gospel album. Okay, granted, a queer, witchy gospel album from a guy with sleeve tats featuring tarot cards and Harry Potter characters, but still. What's next? I get a call from Alan Jackson?

If you click on Christopher's name at the beginning of this post you can hear samples from his last album. This is not at all the sort of thing I generally listen to, but because of our shared love of penises and Italian horror movies we ended up friends.

There's one song on the album, Eclipse, that has nothing to do with faith but rather his struggle with bi-polar disorder. It's sheer hell to suddenly find yourself miserable for no real reason. You know it's biochemical, but that does nothing to relieve the sheer physical and mental torture you're going through. Chris wrote a song comparing this to planetary motion and I thought the analogy was brilliant. Again, click on his name to hear a sample from it. Even though I'm not a fan of the arrangements on the album, there's no disputing the boy has pipes and can belt them out. Just for fun and just for him, I did a remix of this song:

Christopher Hoffman--Eclipse (Spookshow In Your Pants Prozac Remix)

So now he wants to do something true to his beliefs but sounding freaky and weird. The ancient Chinese had a curse: May you live in interesting times.

Second Guessing




This is how I learned about abortion:

I attended a private, Christian school and when I was in 7th grade our teacher passed out sealed manilia envelopes with the edict we were NOT to open them until further instructed. He carried on about how the less wholesome segment of society were planning to murder babies, detailing in very specific ways just how it was done, then let us open our packets containing color photos of teency dismembered arms and legs and crushed skulls swimming in a sea of gore. At that point we were dismissed for lunch.

Naturally, the cafeteria served spaghetti.

At thirteen I found this ludicrous, obvious propoganda. It didn't slow me down in the slightest when it came to my appetite; no more than when they served ravioli after making us watch 'Red Asphalt', the gory safe-driving movie. I like food. Just because I'd recently seen pictures of chopped up babies was not going to deter me from a zesty tomato sauce.

They had a point. The stuff in the photos were easily recognized body parts and putting the 'fetus' spin on things didn't detract from the fact that what was going on was no less brutal than putting a premie in a blender. It wasn't a zygote, or some other clinically detatched term for shoving the surgical equivalent of a weed-whacker up a woman's womb and chopping her kid into bits. Abortion is, absolutely, murder.

But so is sending teenage kids into another part of the wold to die in the name of patriotism. That is murder as well. And if you're going to see one as a-ok then you better see the other as kosher as well. Oh sure, trot out your blah-blah-blah "innocent" life schtick. Call me crazy, but a kid at nineteen is no more prepared to be dropped in another part of the world where people want to kill he or she than a crack-whore's baby being aborted instead of plopped out in a toilet bowl. You call war "neccessary" murder? That's what I call abortion in some cases. Okay, most cases, given that children in general are vile to be around.

At last, both sides of this highly volitale argument can come together in the shared hatred of a common enemy: me. 'Cause I think you're both nuts.