Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Free-Floating Hostility

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a little free-floating hostility.

I’ve been thinking about a few things lately that annoy the shit out of me. But I believe that giving them vent will go a long way towards giving me peace. (I should also mention my debt to the late Mr. George Carlin—the greatest comic who ever lived—for inspiring the title of this offering.)


I was listening to the radio the other day and the DJ just went babbling on like the dopiest of brooks extolling the world-changing position Nirvana holds in rock music history. I hear this silly shit all the time. Nirvana was warmed over Neil Young with a splash of ‘70s punk and a few obnoxious guitar effects. I will give Kurt and his gang credit for one thing: they are almost wholly responsible for the incessant goddamn bitching and whimpering you hear in rock music these days. “You lied to me! You don’t like me! I’m a miserable toe-rag! But I just loves me some heroin!” Oh, wah wah wah. Fucking grow up. Here’s the thing: the best thing that happened to rock music in the 1990s was the day Cobain tongue-kissed the business end of that shotgun. Huzzah.

The British Invented Punk Rock

This myth has been running rampant for nearly two decades. The British didn’t have jack to do with the invention of punk. They offered some material to the catalogue, sure. But, aside from perhaps the Clash, the Isles produced not one seminal punk-rock band (and the Clash’s first, and best, album, was nothing more than a ham-fisted rip-off of the Ramones). Most of what Britain provided to the music was cosmetic—goofy-ass mohawks, safety pins, in-concert spittle, and that goddamn stupid “pogoing” they were so fond of, which, incidentally, we brought to its fullest and most perfect expression, in the form of the mosh pit. In a search for punk’s precursors, the Brits can point to a couple of songs by the Kinks, and that’s about it. We have the Velvet Underground. We have the MC5 and the New York Dolls. We have Iggy and the Stooges. And most importantly, we have the Ramones. When Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee first toured the UK in the mid-‘70s, members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols were in attendance. Johnny Rotten wanted to get backstage to meet the boys, but was frightened that they might beat the shit out of him. That’s right. Mr. Anarchist Tough Guy cringed like a little girl. Ding-ding! Ding-ding! The Brits lose. We win. Case closed.

Bicycle Pads

I am so tired of seeing kids out on their bikes wearing enough padding to play middle linebacker for the Denver Broncos. Haven’t we taken kid protection about as far as it needs to go? Exactly how long are parents supposed to keep their offspring swaddled in plate mail—both physical and mental—before allowing them a peek at the real world. When I was a kid we rode around barefoot in nothing but swim trunks. (I was much skinnier then so the sight wasn’t quite as horrific as it sounds.) And, yes, sometimes we fell off our bikes and broke our faces. That’s the whole point to being a kid. It’s how we learn. You tried to jump that canal ditch, but shorted it and broke your face? Well, maybe you won’t be in a hurry to try it again, or you’ll build a better ramp…or talk your little brother into doing it. The world is dangerous. Insulating kids from it too stringently is, in my humble opinion, one of the main reasons our young people are, too often, pampered, mewling little shitbags. Let ‘em ride without armor, for God’s sake. Let ‘em break their faces. They’ll heal. They’re tougher than they are generally given credit for being.

Fortune Cookies

Why don’t they make fortune cookies anymore? My most recent cookie contained this: “You are intelligent and people like you.” That’s not a fortune, that’s an aphorism. And sometimes they aren’t even directed at a person. “A smile is a rose on a rainy day.” Really? Fuck you! I want a fortune. Used to be, you got a fortune every time, a pithy little prediction of what your future might hold. Not these days. And I want to know why. Can it be that there is a world-wide fortune shortage that has so far gone unreported by the major news outlets? Shit, if there is I’m here to help. Try this on: “You will find out the hard way that Sarah Palin has teeth in her honey-hole.” Not pretty, but at least it gives you some idea of what might be careening down the highway at you. And besides, who says a fortune should be all sweetness and light? Can’t they just as well be weird and disquieting? For instance: “In the spirit of unalloyed wantonness, you will run over a chicken.” Gives you something to watch out for while motoring. In closing, I’d like to say this: the last honest-to-Nostradamus fortune I can remember finding in my luncheon cookie fucked me up for three goddamn days. I got it on September 12th, 2001. It read: “You will own one of the tallest buildings in New York City.”

Now that’s a motherfucking fortune, man.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Freak Magnet

I have a Freak Magnet. My whole adult life, if there are freaks in the vicinity, they will, according to some fucked up law of nature I can’t even begin to fathom, make a bee-line right at my personal space, and then subject me to a full and uncensored display of their freakishness. And I am continually flabbergasted at the ratio of Freaks to Non-Freaks, here in my little Oklahoma town. They run the gamut from run-of-the-reality-show freaks, to full-on, radioactive psychos, as I hope to demonstrate with the following samples of my recent life, here in Freak Central.

It was a little bit overcast the other day when I decided to go out on the town (procuring the weekly Rolaids supply from Wal-Mart), but I had my shades on anyway, just because…I dunno…that’s how I roll. In any event, I’m walking across the parking lot at Chez Wal and there’s this guy sitting on the hood of his car staring at me. He’s wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, combat pants, a cap advertizing a local mud-logging concern, and smoking a cigarette. As I walk by he says:

“Hey! Don’t’cha think it’s a little dark for sunglasses?”

“I don’t know,” I answered, with a sigh. “Is it?”

“It’s too dark for sunglasses.”

The tone of his voice suggested that he was as sure of this fact as he was that the Earth is flat. I don’t often have smart-assed responses ready to go on the instant, and I didn’t really this time, but I took a crack at it anyhow.

“You know?” I said. “I was hoping the Guy Sitting on his Car at Wal-Mart would bestow upon me each and every one of his clever thoughts concerning my wardrobe. My sleep tonight will be dreamless. Thanks. You SO totally rock.” He looked at me like a dog eye-balling a page of differential equations, and went back to smoking.

OK. Not too freakish, right? Sure, but read on. The freaks are only getting warmed up.

Two nights ago, I damn near got into it with another freaky douchebag, this time at my job. I work as a projectionist at the local movie theatre, and sometimes, on a particularly busy night, I get roped into helping out at the concession stand. I was pouring sodas for a couple, but, since my sketchy past has left me with the attention span of a fruit fly, I’d forgotten what they ordered and needed clarification.

“That was a root beer, and was it a Coke or a Diet Coke?” I asked.

“Coke,” the lady said.

I’d just started pouring the drinks when the male half of the duo says:

“Sounds like somebody’s calling somebody fat.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Sounds like somebody’s calling her fat.”

“Whoa, dude,” I said. “You’re gonna get me in trouble for something I didn’t say.”

Diet Coke? Sounds like somebody thinks she’s fat.”

“Man, that’s not even what I was talking about.” I looked at the lady. “You know that’s not what I meant, right?”

“I know. Don’t listen to him.”

The guy glared at her, little volcanoes in his eyes. “Shut up.”

“Look at me,” I said. “I’m the last guy should be calling anyone fat.”

“Same with him,” the lady said. “If he stepped back from the counter, you’d see.”

The guy snatched one of the sodas and shoved it into the woman’s chest.

“Here,” he said. Then he gave her a little shove toward the auditorium, adding, in a voice that oozed chivalry and good will: “Move your ass.”

It’s not like I want my little town to be invaded by platoons of metrosexuals, stinkin’ the joint up with their CK-1 and their ennui, but come on… Let’s at least try for 1960, huh?

And here’s a tale of freakiness perpetrated not just on me, but on anybody who happened to come into contact with it. Call it anonymous freakiness.

I’m once again in the local Wal-Mart, lookin’ for pants. Find a pair in my size and head for the changing cells. Inside, I kick off my shoes, drop trow, and start unhooking the new pair from the hanger. About that time I glanced over at the mirror. And then glanced again to make sure my first glance hadn’t glanced off something and gotten me confused. But no. No confusion.

There on the glass was a foot-long smear of blood.

A clothes-changing mishap had befallen someone, and the fucking gargoyle had wiped his coppery discharge on the mirror. I mean, what the hell is that?

I decided Wal-Mart could keep their pants and, after checking to make sure I hadn’t sat in anything exciting, handed them over to the dressing room lady. I also mentioned that she might want to get in there with some 405 and a rag, and explained why. She gave me a skeptical look, had a peek for herself, and came out shrugging.

“Huh,” she said, as if commenting on the price of plums, “it is blood.”

And now, to close this missive, here’s a story of freakishness that goes beyond. Way beyond.

I was recently set up on a blind date of sorts. “Of sorts” because I sort of knew the lady and so wasn’t entirely blind to the sitch, if you see what I mean. In any event, we met at a local steak place and had a pretty nice meal, along with a couple of drinks and a bottle of wine.

Now, you’ve all been on dates, yes? And so you know that a moment arrives at some point over the course of any first date—the make-or-break moment, where you think to yourself, “Yes, I could see this person again,” or “No, I’d prefer not to.”

My make-or-break moment arrived just about the same time as the check, when my date demurely turned away from me, removed her upper dentures…

…and proceeded to blow food from them into a napkin.

Then she popped the plate back in, secured it with some solid thumb pressure, and turned back to me.

I was home eleven minutes later. And my dreams, friends, were troubled.

So, can there be any doubt as to the existence of my Freak Magnet? Oh, I think not. See, all of the above proofs happened within a mere eight-day span of time. I shudder to think what next week might have to offer.