Friday, August 31, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 50 – VACATIONS ARE FOR WUSSES




“Legally blind” or “bland” strikes again.Vacation for Wusses is what I saw on my friend Andi-Roo’s (SHAMELESS PLUG FOR AND, FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER @theworld4realz) blog post entry for today. As I was contemplating what type of vacation my friend could possibly be planning (Lava skiing on Etna? Shark hunting in the Alps? I hear the saltwater Crocodile roundups are particularly fun this year) I start reading this post about how we need to expose ourselves to the more seedy sides of life. I’m thinking, “Andi, Andi, I should have the immune system of a goat. I LIVE in the seedy side. What in hell does this have to do with vacations?

Oh, VACCINATIONS!!! Now, I get it. Flu shots and stuff. I still have a pretty decent immune system, I worked in a teaching hospital during college. After about 6 months of weird illnesses, I never got sick. Now, of course, I have all kinds of strange crap. I once got typhoid and salmonella. Typhoid? Typhoid Mary, yay. I am my own meme. Geeze. When I worked at the hospital, everytime some chucklehead showed up with the measles or chicken pox, they’d test everyone to see if we had immunities. I’d had the diseases but not the immunities. Then the Virologists and Genticists started showing up for “samples” of my DNA. I decided to pass on playing the donor in “COMA.”  I never could just have anything normal. During my computer science career, I was working in Detroit, programming tool paths and got Legionnaire’s disease. I always wondered if it was from the French Foreign Legion or the American Legion. Whatever.

Sometimes I think we’re going about this the wrong way. Rather than be concerned about vaccinating populations, we should be more concerned with disease vectors themselves. The paths and hosts diseases use to spread are far denser than they were back in the 1300s when the bubonic plague first appeared in Europe. Granted, hygiene is better, but with globalization and swifter travel, diseases and man-made or even weaponized diseases could take terrific tolls before being stopped.

To have a successful killer, it has to be one that allows the host enough time to infect others before dying. This is why Ebola has not been successful, thank God. It kills TOO quickly, so it’s always confined to a rather small group of people. Not happy to think about, but a horrible way to die. This is one of the reasons HIV and AIDS has been so supremely “successful.” What a horrible appellation for a hideous set of diseases.

As Andi-Roo points out, the U.S. doesn’t possess a vaccine to ward off the Bubonic Plague. The cure for it has always been tetracycline; just hope you take it in time. I took tetracycline for my acne in high school, so I should probably be okay. As if, yeah. The plague is also more prevalent in the southwest. The fleas on the squirrels out there carry the bacillus that cause the plague and some of them have Pneumonic plague which I understand is about 99% lethal. The Bubonic kind has a 90% kill rate I understand. Neither one sounds like any picnic.

After the plague was introduced to Europe in 1349, or thereabouts, 75% of Europe died. The economy had actually been stagnating, prior to the great die-off. A decade or so later, the economy started to flourish. Subsequent waves of the plague took fewer and fewer lives as more and more people survived; natural selection at work. Along with the plague however, people were still contracting smallpox and always had been dealing with that scourge.

Smallpox has been a constant in civilization since the dawn of man, but the first recorded epidemic is Athens in 430 BCE during the Peloponnesian Wars, described by Thucydides. Smallpox caused 20 – 60 % casualties, ⅓ of all blindness, and scarring through the years.

In 1796, the process of the smallpox vaccine was first printed by Edward Jenner, who acted upon his observation that milkmaids who had contracted cowpox, did not catch smallpox. Before widespread vaccination, mortality rates to smallpox were high – 35% in some instances.

I’m not going to burp up anymore of wikipedia. The smallpox vaccine was a good thing. The question before us now is, should we be vaccinating our kids willy-nilly when there is evidence that shows higher rates of autism among children who are vaccinated?

Autism is a lot like Parkinson’s, MS, Bipolarity, and many, many other psychological-physical connected conditions. The hell of all these diseases/conditions is this: we are using LABELS on things that defy labels. No two of any of these conditions are alike. My Parkinson’s Disease-Bipolar disorder is nothing like yours. Karens’ son’s Autism is nothing like Cheryl’s Daughter’s Autism. YumaBev’s Parkinson’sDisease (SHAMELESS PLUG FOR MY FRIEND, FOLLOW HERE ON TWITTER AT @yumabev) is not exactly like Muhammad Ali’s Parkinson’s Disease, and not exactly like Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease. They all have it and NO ONE IS FAKING, RUSH LIMBAUGH!!!

The argument about the vaccinations is valid. If people don’t want to vaccinate their children, they shouldn’t HAVE to in order to be able to let them in school. Forget contagion. If a parent’s fears and a parent’s rights aren’t respected, what have we become?



Thursday, August 30, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 49 – TIME FOR FOOTBALL AND MEATBALL STEW





This title is taken from an actual headline I ran across way back in the late ‘70s in one of those best of-worst of books. Imagine if you will, flouring and seasoning or braising a batch of full-sized pigskins, the kind that are used in the NFL and then dumping them into a huge pot of stew sauce with potatoes, carrots and onions. Let’s try replacing the stew sauce with lame sauce, as my Twitter buddy Gabe Zaldivar @gabezal (on Twitter) over at Bleacher Report says. I am just unreasoningly filled with glee at the term “lame sauce.”

Anyway, speaking of, the Buccaneers played the Redskins last night at the ‘Skins stadium last night. So, we were spared any more suckage in the immediate vicinity, for now, thank god. The fact that we’ve had to listen to the Mighty Wind that is Chris Christie with his “I,” “I,” “Me,” “Me,” bullshit and Ann Romney’s delusional drivel was enough batshit insanity. Sweaty and loud commentaries delivered by heretofore seemingly sane announcers just came off as deranged. What is it about huge political events that make everyone act like a houseful of chimpanzees on acid? The one I really chortled over was the dude who said something like “I have met the American Dream and I have shaken his/its hand,” or some shit. By the time he was done, he’d shaken the hand of just about everyone and everything known and unknown. What the hell are these people drinking backstage? Whatever it is, they need to deliver about 40 barrels of it over here on Nebraska Avenue now.

The limos are still out, oozing up and down Nebraska Avenue, sampling the wares. Or maybe they really are conducting straw polls. Mmm, yeah. But I think Tampa missed a bet for true mayhem by not insisting that last night’s last pre-season football game be held at One Buc Plaza, (why do we have a pre-season? Does anyone truly give a shit? All we ever get is a stinky albatross of a shitty record and hurt players. We all know who will produce and who won’t. There are damn few surprises anymore. The players are well-vetted before regular season starts; it’s stupid.) or whatever pretentious bullshit name they’re calling that damned jumbotron holder now. I really liked the “Sombrero.” That was a nice, quaint name. “One Buc Plaza” sounds like a combination office building/shopping mall. What are they? Designer high-fashion executive football players. Gah.

Well, if Tampa had made them play here, we could have doubled our suck quotient. The Sucs, er, Bucs lost 30 to 3. Yup. Up to our old tricks. Last year, we fired Raheem Morris. He was the sacrificial goat, er coach who took over from Jon Gruden, after Gruden got fired. Morris had never held a head coaching position and had just been made defensive coordinator before Gruden was fired, I think. I'm too lazy to look. Morris was brought in to replace Monte Kiffin, and Morris announced he would handle both jobs. Right there is a huge problem in my book. To me this is analogous to having a symphony conductor who is also going to play Principal Second violin. It’s not going to work. There’s an invisible barrier you cannot cross and a hierarchy that cannot be breached. Whether or not Morris is any good as a Coach remains open, even after what happened.

He got fired last season. The players stopped respecting him if they ever did, in the first place. You see, he thought he could be their friend and still coach them. They would all go out and have drinkies together. That's a no-no. When (or even if) he tried to discipline them, they turned a deaf ear to him, or so I understand from what I’ve read. Admittedly, I haven’t devoured every scrap written about this situation. I love football and organized sports, but I don’t follow it all that intensely and I am no sportswriter; I leave that to pros, like my buddy Gabe (SHAMELESS PLUG FOR GABE ZALDIVAR AND B/R).

All I can tell you is there has to be that barrier. I never went out and had drinks with a conductor as a professional. I partied plenty with my musician buddies, and I know those players do the same. But the conductor, like a coach is there to correct; to make sure the play is made. So, the Buccaneers are once again, in a “rebuilding” mode.

God, that poor team. I have been witness to some shitty playing. I lived through the Lions in the 70-80s era. We got to .500 and the playoffs one year with Wayne Fontes. You’d think we’d won the Super Bowl. Of course, I remember nothing else about that, so we probably lost in the first round. The Lions are so very bad. Almost as bad as the sandlot-Dilfer years. Now, we're talking swillage-bad.

In 2003, when the Bucs won the Super Bowl, I had to leave for a concert tour the next morning. I was on the plane to Atlanta with my cellist friend Spenser; we both had horrible hangovers. We looked at each other in a stupor. We grinned. “Damn! The Bucs won the Super Bowl!”




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 48 – DOES PROFESSIONALISM MATTER?


I started pondering this question after I got shouted at on FB this morning. I had a mini-meltdown, you see. After the speechifying and bloviating started to wind down at the RNC and Channelside last night, here came the limos. Although I do not live directly on Nebraska Avenue, I can see it. The prosses strut their stuff and lean into the cars to display their wares. The boxes thump that hard rhythm to be heard blocks away. This is where the rich and famous get arrested for picking up 2-dollar whores; think Darryl and Dwight and countless others.

After I heard about “brave” Ann Romney and her cancer-surviving, ms’ing existence and how she is okay with doing away with coverage for pre-existing conditions, I started losing it. I really do not fare well with these things. Just from a logical and financial point of view, how is it going to benefit the country in the long run, if people with pre-existing conditions are denied coverage for their care and medicine? Won’t it end up costing far more than just paying for routine and preventive medical care? We have to fix the broken stuff first.

The fact that Hillsborough county spent 500,000.00 to get me back on my feet and then paid for everything, eye surgery, MRI’s broken bones, EMGs, medicine; I mean EVERYTHING, only to take away every scrap of coverage when I received my Federal SSDI check so I could put a roof over my head and eat points up this lunacy. It got even stupider when I was told by Social Workers, Doctors, and Insurance Agents, “Wait until you’re so sick and go to the ER.” It costs MORE FUCKING MONEY THAN IF I WAS ON A MAINTENANCE PLAN!!! HELLO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!!! HELLO STATE OF FLORIDA AND GOVERNOR CROWBAR!!! I have to incur at least 960.00 every month before Florida Medicaid will cover me. I get 1160.00. If I faithfully pay 959.00 what do I do? Go live under the overpass? Stupid on top of stupid.

But of course, it is not about the money; it is about control. So I had a big hairy bird on FB last night. Witness this:



And someone who has ASS for brains says “"You don't have to like me, but, be professional. Accept those who do well and get off their ass!"  (Emphases are mine.)

Okay, okay. Well, I’m not getting off anyone’s ass anytime soon, that’s not how I roll, but the “professional” got me. Are we all working for FB? What is a “professional?” By my definition and the way I experienced it in my two careers, it was this: “A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and to complete them for a fee.”

FB isn’t paying me and if they are, I’m filing a grievance NOW! I haven’t been paid in four and ½ years by the bastards. When I was paid to play viola, there was none finer. When I was paid to support computer systems and networks I reigned supreme. FB is a place where people post silly pictures of cats and stupid sayings. This is not a professional environment. I can be as professional or as hellish and obnoxious as I want. I don’t have to respect your opinion. You sure as hell aren’t respecting mine. I don’t love you any less, but quit being ASS and think logically; quit feeling.

On that topic, when I was talking about being poor and homeless yesterday, something I really hate is entropy. I have entropy in my head, I will not have it anywhere else that I control. My house and my person are shining examples of that. I am always clean, well-dressed, and well-tended. It may be dollar-store well-tended, but who cares. JC is always clean and he has loads of dress t-shirts. I have a rich, rich life. These poor bastards I see who fumble around the streets, dirty, drunk, disoriented are tragic. It boggles my mind. There used to be this one woman, she always said “hi” to me like I was royalty or something. Her name was Allie and she was a beautiful girl. She was being pimped by this guy named Charles; the same pimp who picked me up when I fell and was so injured. Go figure. Anyway, he’d have her so drugged up, she either didn’t realize or didn’t care that Charles was pimping her. Another blind love.

She’d be sitting on the curb in these shorts that were filthy and a tank top and flip flops. Her hair was dirty. Once she’d even shit herself and here’s Charles pimping her.  Just heartbreaking; he's in prison now and she is in rehab. I hope she makes it; she's a sweet thing, but oh, so ill. I can live amongst this, and gladly. I’m not at all unhappy. JC’s Supplemental insurance guy told me this morning I’m not mentally ill; I’m frustrated, due to my intelligence. I told him that is not the case; I live in my head and the company is fine, but make no mistake I am mentally ill. I just don’t think a bunch of piss-ant politicians and their cheering minions are right and I will continue to call bullshit when I see it. I also don’t think any of this really matters. It’s all man-made.

I digress. I like being here; I fully believe this is where I am meant to be. All the heartbreak, ill health, loss of most of my material goods have made me the person I am and I really like that person. But I have to work hard to keep that likable person. This means I call bullshit on any and all, even myself when I see it. It also means I keep a tidy house. Some may wonder what one has to do with the other, but to me when the house starts getting dirty, or messy, the entropy, the carelessness from outside is seeping in. It’s no coincidence that when I was committed in March, the house was a total wreck and so was I. I hadn’t really cared for myself or done the dishes for almost the whole of February. I understand now when I hear some religions equating their version of Hell with chaos.

Tidy, clean, not necessarily the neatest. Honesty, integrity, love and honor. Celebrate life. Feel and create and think and laugh. Be professional? That’s some petty shit, right there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 47 – A TYPICAL DAY IN TAMPA?


I had to put off writing my 750 words or 80 rows or whatever this is, because I had to go to my psychiatrist’s office today. The fact that I had to do this when I’m not scheduled to see her is a ridiculous story in itself. I take a concoction of stuff that keeps me from weirding out and hurting people. I have been taking some of these drugs for close to two years and they work. The down side, of course, is if you run out, or the assholes of the State of Florida or Big Pharma decide to get pissy and cut you off, there go your meds. You have to continue your regimen or who knows what will happen? In many cases, people become so depressed they become suicidal. In my case, I go nuclear and all hell breaks loose. I’m pretty close to it right now anyway; it’s a continual juggling act. How much meds are not enough and how much are too much. Throw in a bit of Parkinson’s and you all of a sudden have a game changer. So, I have a bipolar cat-fight going on in my head and I’m doing a soft-shoe down to the bus stop.

Early last week, when I called the Psychiatrist’s office to find out if my Cymbalta had been sent in for Lilly, she snapped, “You probably didn’t get approved. Just because you got it last year, doesn’t mean you’ll get it this year!” and she hangs up the phone. $%)@#$(@ What the fuck was that? So, I call the other number and get the main office and find that in fact, the paperwork was sent late but it’s okay. I had given this to them in plenty of time so I wouldn’t run out of my homicide pills. Great. Now, I have about 10 days of medicine left and my next appointment isn’t until September 27. Beheadings will ensue if I don’t get my Cymbalta. Fortunately, Kelly tells me that she will be in the office I go to (there are 5 and mine is closest to me, natch) on August 28 from 1 to 5 pm and I can get 6 weeks worth then.

Of course, all this conversation occurs before Isaac decided to come to town and then stand us up at the altar. So, I head out today to the bus stop on Nebraska Ave. I no sooner get to the bus stop and what do I see? A stretch limousine passes me, oozing north, checking out… constituents? Votes? I’m guessing he’s not there to take a straw poll. I figure by tonight it’s going to look like a Hollywood Premiere; bumper-to-bumper stretch limos. This is the place to be seen and get arrested. Darryl Strawberry got picked up around here somewhere. So did Dwight Gooden, either for drug possession and/or prostitution.

Weirdness. I have become my own meme or something. I was playing around on Twitter last night and @dceiver (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG-FOLLOW HIM; HE'S A HOOT!) tweeted something about the great, friendly bartenders with a link. I tweeted back, "are you here for the convention, or in N.O. for the hurricane?" He tweeted back, “I’m in Tampa, wish I were in N.O.” I clicked on his link for the bar he was currently visiting. He was 7 blocks from me at the time. The world is closing in and we don’t always realize it.

So, back on earth, here I am waiting for the bus and here comes white Will, the drug dealer, not to be confused with Willie on a bike, black Willie and the 100 other Wills and Willies who push dope in 4 square blocks. I really don’t understand the economics of this. How in the hell can anyone make a dime? What do they do, sell crack to each other? I see a bunch of hand signals between Will and some dude on a bike across the street. Another happy customer. Will tells me, apropos of nothing, “I’m going home now.” We are acquainted through the homeless shelter. Will still looks homeless. He may be for all I know. People tend to be vague around here, usually by design.

So, off we ride to MLK Boulevard, where I change buses. I have to wait for quite a while. Isaac has seen fit to grace us with a few gentle showers, interspersed with sponge-like heat. The bus is about 57 years late because of all this RNC bullshit. There are also stealth, or counterfeit buses out here and they’re pissing me off. About 700 of these huge double-decker white jobs with their lights on keep trundling by. I keep thinking they’re HART buses and they’re these damned convention buses. Go die, buses. A truck keeps running up and down MLK. I have dubbed it the ROMNEY NOMO Mobile. It’s basically just a flatbed truck with “Romney Go Away” stuff on it. I flash the guy a thumbs-up the first 50 times he cruises up and down. Now, he’s boring. Go away Romney mobile.

Oh, look. They’re letting the homeless sell their newspapers today. Probably Tampa wants to show the RNC how much of a damn it gives about the homeless. I dodge traffic to get to a little lady who’s in the median, sweating trying to sell her newspaper. The papers are a dollar each. This way, they can earn some money. I give her two dollars and tell her to sell the rest of her papers. They only get so many to sell; panhandling is illegal. I tell her I was homeless and how it sucked. I smile. She smiles back and it’s a huge, wide smile.

Oh shit, here comes the bus; I dodge traffic, and run back and hop on the bus. No further adventures, with the exception of me telling Kelly in the Psychiatrist’s office that they have a lot of nerve hiring a receptionist with a personality disorder to work in a doctor’s office that specializes in personality disorders. Kelly agrees that this is problematic. But Kelly is very nice and knows I’m not angry with her. She brings me my medicine to tide me over until I have my next appointment.

On the way home, I stop at Sweet Bay and pick up a few things. I click-clack my way with whackamole out to the bus and at the bus shelter, there’s a wheelchair and a guy who is sitting on the shelter bench beside his wheelchair. He looks unconscious. He’s also unkempt, filthy and I can smell him from where I’m standing, which is a good 5 feet away. I raise my voice. “Hey. Are you all right?” Eye blink. Mumble. “No.” “Well, what’s wrong with you?” He’s going to start a litany, I can tell. “Well, I got this broken foot.” Me, “Well, are you drunk? On drugs? Are you dying? Well, we’re all going to die some day, I mean, are you dying right now? Do you want me to call somebody?” Eyes wide. Mumble Me, “What?” Him, “Be careful.” Me. “No, THEY need to be careful of me and they know it. I will beat people to death and I’ve been Baker-acted.” 2 other people are watching and not sure what to make of this. I say, “You need to take care. I’m fine.”

The bus comes, I get on and see white Will, again. Apparently, he was tired of sitting at home. I don't ask. I ride to my last stop. I’m thinking about what it means to be poor and homeless and live in poverty. Just because I became homeless, didn’t mean I had to stay that way. I am one who used the system the way it was designed to be used. That is what public assistance is for. It is also for families to be able to feed their children nutritious food, not for welfare mothers to fritter away money for tattoos or drugs, or for men to buy their crack. I understand that part of the argument. What I don’t understand is the driving need to cut every last red cent from all of these programs that can help make us a stronger country and help people get educations, jobs and back on their feet. It is through the Federal and States’ own laxness and carelessness that money goes where it isn’t needed, so rather than really care and spend time to fix it, let’s just throw it all out. What happens to the fabric of our society it that occurs? It will be shredded.

The last encounter of the day as I was returning home; a “friend” of my former roommate, a drunk, a player and a user named Tony was going to “help” me carry my few groceries home. I cannot stand this man. My former roommate loved him and she never understood or cared to see how little he regarded her. I told him today as he tried to take my packages, “No. Tony, you are not my friend. You were never my friend. I hated the way you treated Opal. You lied to her, took her money.” Tony, drunk, stood there dumbfounded. “What did I do to you?” I said, “Nothing, it’s what you did to Opal.” I turned and left him there.


Monday, August 27, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 46 – SUNDAY/MONDAY, AUGUST 27 2012 CHECK IN - STORM WARNING


Tropical Storm Isaac as seen from Key West, Florida

The fact that I’m writing this on Monday and you’re reading it sometime after, tells us that this wasn’t written on Sunday, August 26, in the year of our Lord 2012. Thank you, Dr. Watson. It wasn’t that I blew it off, or didn’t have anything to say, although I was in a state of mental muddle. Usually when I triangulate on a subject, it’s pretty clear; lightning in a bottle. Bolt out of the blue; a spark and my brain takes off, up and down many alleys. In and out of the labyrinth.

Am I the only one who has this visual image of a brain, trailing its little cortex tail, on a pair of squeaky, little tricycle wheels, zipping up and down endless, immense DOD aisles, chumming around for trivia, ideas, inspirations, all while humming “March to the Scaffold,” by Hector Berlioz? Yeah, me neither.

Well, my little bean was busy or not busy doing other stuff on Sunday. First, we needed to kind of spruce up the house a bit. I was going to cook some ribs and make potato salad and corn on the cob last week, but no. I had a visit from the Nuclear Flu instead. That left by itself without medical intervention, and I’m tickled by that. I usually end up in the ER at the very least. Once, I got a dandy case of pleurisy, 2 broken ribs from coughing and pneumonia while flu-ridden. It took me 3 months to recover. The fact that I lived very near to the University of Michigan hospital didn’t hurt a bit.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling better; getting over the flu, but the whole Bipolar-PD thing has just run right off the rails. I have this huge cat fight going on in my head and body. It’s bizarre. It hurts, then it doesn’t. I can feel everything intensely, and then I can’t. My visual disturbances (this is different than my blindness) are on my left side, where they’re normally on my right. This is the best part. Being bipolar? I just want to go, go, go. I don’t care where, let’s just go somewhere.

As if. Let’s recap. Legally blind? (or "Legally Bland." I just thought of that; patent pending. I want business cards, or a web site with that as my logo) Check; I use a cane, (canne de Combat, anyone?) Balance, walking problems. Not so much anymore. Sensory problems. Check. Problems with motor control. Yes. Mental problems. YES! Impulse control/decision making problems? You betcha. The two things that still work well are my speed and strength. This is not a recipe for happy when mixed up with either the RNC or some of the fruit loops that will be protesting. I once got in trouble in Ann Arbor for throwing rocks at the KKK. I could end up biting some Romney/Ryan/Akin lover.

Okay, now we are talking! This sounds like my idea of a good time. I really am my mother’s daughter. Once, when asked what her party affiliation was she said “If I’m in a good mood, I’m an anarchist. Piss me off, and I throw bombs.” I can relate. So, let’s take a bus and ride downtown to the RNC. That will calm me right down! Not happening. My happy ass would find the inside of a jail cell at Orient Road in 2 minutes. I’d sit there and holler about my Americans with Disabilities Acts being violated. I’d be sitting there with all the deaf people. I’d make gestures at them, although I know not one word of ASL. An aside, JC is fluent in ASL. I could have him teach my bad words before I get arrested. After an exchange of gestures, meaningless on my part, small items would begin to fly. 

A riot would break out at the Jail. Yippee. First, the deaf peeps, ‘bangers, tat girls, led by me, begin making noise by rubbing our tin cups up and down the jail bar cells. All the big bads are for me, ‘cause the sheriff’s deputy*, not at all the what-we-have-here-is-a-failure-to-communicate type of sheriff’s deputy*, but more the polyester-pants-one-size-too-small-wadded-up-his-bunghole type has deprived me of whackamole and the big bads are bissed, er, pissed. So me, being the opportunistic and heedless sort that I am, start whining about how I need my "binkie." Any excuse for fuckery will do at the Jail and I am always ready for that; it starts with tin mugs and rapidly moves to barricades made from table and chairs thrown. The Red Side v. the Blue Side numbers are fluid. Hostages come and go, combatants change sides and sheriff’s deputies* are trying to get all of us hooligans to calm down.

Usually the sheriff’s deputies* don’t give a good Goddamned if the prisoners brain each other because it means less paperwork for them. And, boy are they tired. Instead of just the usual gang of idiots, there’s a whole bunch of out-of-town idiots that are locked up in the cell next door. They are wearing suits and ties. At least the boy ones are, although some of them may be girls. Androgyny is no stranger to that crowd. It’s some of the GOP. They are looking rather askance at the goings-on with the bangers, deafies, and whores, and who’s that evil-looking bitch in dark glasses, and what is she screeching hellishly in Urdu? Some of the suited types are a bit worse for the wear. Ties askew; broken glasses. One guy looks like a Picasso print; a starred lens on the left side. The right is at a 45° angle to his nose.

Gah! At this point, my postis going nowhere. I think I’m going to take author DaveBarry’s sage, but extremely lazy, literary advice and end this gracefully: “And suddenly, they were all run over by a truck!”

There! It’s all fixed now.

*I know several members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies and Tampa Police Department. These are some of the finest men and women I have ever met and they know how I feel about them. This is all in fun. They know I’m silly.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 45 – WHY SO SERIOUS?




A typical day of me at the Bus Stop. If you add dark glasses and lose the mustache. Hair would be good, too. Hair. Please.

I know I have a tendency to get hold of one thing or group of ideas and wear it or them out, as it were. The sense of not being able to let go is not so much one of being afraid of the unknown is just being sure that the horse has been dead and beaten, never to rise again. In spite of the title, this is not a serious topic at all. Quite the opposite. This is actually picking up where I left off with my post “Unnatural Disasters” a few days ago, with our intrepid hero Nic Cage, doing his damnedest to look like a complete waldo in a crappy bear suit in that fine opus, “The Wicker Man.” I would say. “Well done, Nic. Mission accomplished!” The fact that the movie is howlingly bad is just another one of those extra-special things that I appreciated about reading that whole Cracked.com post.

Not one to leave the well alone, I went back yesterday and I think I broke my laugh. Seriously. I ran across something that over 24 hours later, I can still barely talk about this, without breaking out into this calliope-like wheeze, that is at once, cacophonous and sad; it sort of dies out. I fire it up again with bad air and regrets. I fire up those bitches called lungs and give a few more emphysematous yaps. I jest. You will all probably think, no, well, skip that. You all know I’ve been committed. That was my Drama Queen moment. On we go. 

Before I go into this, understand that for all the "high-powered things" I supposedly think or have thought or have done, or did, or do, I rank having a laugh, or having fun my number one priority. Make no mistake. It has to be a certain kind of fun. Anything cruel, mean, ill-intentioned, that kind of thing, no.That is not fun and is to be crushed out. Anything else, especially, anything that contains oddities, weirdness, is bizarre, or outré, is in general my cup of tea.

I’ve always enjoyed the strange lists in the books the Wallachinskys. My father and I spent hours poring over them. One of my favorite factoids: “King Charles II of England liked to roll around in mummy dust because he liked the ‘feel of ancient greatness.’” I love stuff like that. It’s so bizarre and odd enough to be true. He was king during the Restoration and I can see it. So, weird, odd, huh? Yes, it’s for me.


Cracked put out this article called, “15 Old Photographs That Proved the World Used to Be Insane.” Okay, fine. It starts out staidly enough. It shows old, almost daguerreotype pictures of what look like 2 gentlemen in suits wielding canes and very large mustaches. The article goes on to show how they practiced “Canne de combat” alá Jackie Chan. Cute, I do this already with the folks at the bus stop; this doesn’t prove we were insane. Anyone with a cane and who is Bipolar knows this; doesn't prove we're insane. Whoops; who was committed? Scroll, scroll.

We get to some felons who are getting the Hollywood treatment. But these guys aren’t like Bonnie and Clyde. They’re more like Stanley, and Bill and Syd. It’s not that these guys did anything spectacularly bad. Still, when you look at these pictures, they’re framed and shot in such a way that the men look chilling. I’d put these guys up against any of these crazies out in the hood. That says something too, because I’ll take on the ‘hood. I’d leave Stanley, Bill and Syd be; I’d cut them a wide berth.

Well, shit. Just when I think Cracked is letting me down, it’s on to page 2 and “Auto Polo.” Oh my. That just perked me right up. Bodies, hammers, flying autos. Wow! This is stupendous. Not just any kind of hammers. Flying hammers, it is pointed out, by the author, a Mr. Robert Brockway, who is doing a superb job with the pacing. What I find really hilarious is his parsing of this first auto polo picture. “There he is, currently flailing through the air. Now look at the other man -- the one with a giant smile on his face, waiting to smack said crash victim with a comically oversized mallet before he hits the ground. Everybody in that image either died immediately after it was taken or were promptly investigated for suspected Highlanderism. But that was auto polo.
Read more: 15 Old Photographs That Prove theWorld Used to  Be Insane  

I have no idea if Mr. Brockway is correct in his assumption everyone died immediately after the photo was taken, not that it made one whit of difference. They would have been dead of old age by now anyway. I proceeded to laugh on.

By this time, of course, JC knows I’ve found something on the internet of amusement and am off on one of my “fits.” Were we just going to hang around “Auto Polo” that would have been amusement enough, however, there was an added bonus, and this is where I believe I may have injured myself. I just hope I am not out for the season. I think it’s just a strained hamstring, or rotator cuff injury.

After the glories of “Auto Polo,” I was still laughing and scrolling. Alas, “Auto Polo” was banned after a lot of carping and crying by the survivors apparently, so I guess they were still bored and decided to make do with:

Lion Drome


Oh, help me. I’m laughing just typing that bitch. “Lion Drome” is exactly what it sounds like. Let’s see what Mr. Brockway has to say on the subject of Lion Dromes. Quite a bit actually. But the part that put me into a state of total melt-down, all-circuits-overloaded, Defcon5 apoplexy was this phrase, “It was like going to the matinee now, only instead of watching Jeremy Renner pout in front of a shaky camera, you had the kids stick their unshielded little faces out over a bowl of automotive trauma and told them to inhale the heady fumes of gasoline and jungle predator.”

Read more: 15 Old Photographs That Prove the World Used to Be Insane | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/blog/15-old-photographs-that-prove-world-used-to-be-insane_p2/#ixzz24VgdS3Ga

Why oh why I didn’t have a stroke I will never know. The laugh gods were looking over me or something.This is without doubt just one of the funniest things I have ever chortled over. Chortled, hell. I made a complete gibbering, drooling, idiot out of myself. This has to be better than the best drugs in the universe; that combination of oddity, weirdity, what-the-fuckity, I’m just thunder-struck. I so love the imagination and inspiration that goes into these concoctions.  I really celebrate the tomfoolery of this. As stupid as it is, the bravery is earth-shaking. The icing on the cake? Check out the look on this lion’s face. He’s not all jungle predator. He’s more like a nine-to-fiver lion; an executive lion. Priceless.


I WONDER IF I ATE MY BRIEFCASE?

My thanks and very, very deep appreciation go out to Mr. Robert Brockway, Cracked.com and this post: http://www.cracked.com/blog/15-old-photographs-that-prove-world-used-to-be-insane Mr. Brockway is a wonderful writer. I enjoy his posts and this post is no fluke.

I don't normally do "housekeeping" anymore, per se, although I have a house. I am in Tampa,  soon to be witness to the RNC and Isaac. In my usual patented Mary-plan-not-a-thing, I've deliberated for all of 2 minutes and decided I'm going to pretend to "live" Tweet and blog from Channelside or the St. Pete Times Forum. As you can see, I am so interested, I don't even know where these jokers are meeting. Plus, I would have to ride a bus. They probably won't let me and whackamole within 16 city blocks of Romney, although I'm already in place, hee hee.

Anyway, after all the back and forth, I'm going to do pretty much what every one else does, sit here and make shit up, just like I always do. Follow me on Twitter, @Violafulry, #lolgop and prolly some other hashy-type marks, too.

Friday, August 24, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 44 – A PERFECT STORM



Business As Usual on the TECO - Ex-HART Line White Elephant

Well, I guess we’re ramping up to the RNC. This little charmer was in my email this morning: The Streetcar has extended hours until next week! Oh goody! Now I can ride nowhere longer. The fact that TECO, or Tampa Electric Company, (those Robber Barons) have annexed what used to be an expensive tax-payer funded, white elephant for the Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit Authority and slapped their name on the cleverly painted purple and yellow street cars in a flat city, no less, has not lowered my electric bill, nor has it lowered the price of a bus ticket, nor has it made Tampa any prettier or shinier. And the fucker still rides around the town empty, going nowhere. There's a metaphor in here, but I don't care.

We still have the same batch of rapscallions, drama queens, grandstanders, gladhanders, and backstabbers in the local government and City Council, as always. Our mayor, Bob Buckhorn, a Republican, I believe is really trying to do a decent job, for a GOP'er. He took office after our beloved Mayor Pam (Iorio) by law could not run for another term. During the2000 presidential election recount, she was the president of the State Association of County Elections Supervisors propelling her into the role of spokesperson.  

I personally became pro-Bob Buckhorn when he told the head Gasparilla Pirate to “go to hell” when the guy asked for the keys to Tampa during Gasparilla days this year. This had never happened before. I believe I recounted then that I thought this whole thing is kind of a Mardi-Gras want to be thing and stupid. Ma told me about Gasparilla when I first moved here; I thought it was one of her usual deranged stories. It wasn’t. So, imagine my glee when I heard Head Pirate had to fum-faw, pick up his dentures, mutter to himself and go off with his merry band of geriatric rich people, get drunk and “sack” Tampa sans keys. I’m certain the ceremony where the Pirates give the keys back, or the Mayor takes them back was one Dumb Show and awkward, unless they were drunk. Maybe they were drunk and awkward. I would have paid to see that.

Anyway, now we have some REAL pirates coming to town. Pin-stripes and all, but not a scimitar, parrot, peg leg or eye patch between them. Maybe some monkeys, lots of doubloons and I’m sure a Smee or three in the crew. Lots of misogynistic, antagonistic and bombastic behavior and this is only between the party members. Did anyone mention party? As in unity?

What got me a rantin’ so early, is this: there are freaking black helicopters in pairs flying low overhead. The damned things woke me up before the crack of noon, so I’m already cranky. We’re less than a mile from Ground Zero Convention Central, so of course the cosmic stick is already stirring the anthill. The buses are already loused up. Usually by Friday, they’re so off schedule that the every-20-minute number 2 bus is every-30 to 45-minutes. I haven’t seen one yet, because the drivers are probably all at the Marion Transfer Center gawking at the helicopters, parked across the street.  

Do you know how animals, especially cats act when the barometric pressure starts dropping, or when there is an impending earthquake? They tend to become agitated. They may dart around, or dig holes, climb trees. The behavior is mostly purposeful, but not necessarily fearful. I feel rather like that. I have to go out. I don’t normally do this. I went out on Wednesday for groceries; not usually “my” chore, but JC and I cover for one another. He has an infected big toe and could not go to class and store as he usually does. I am beyond terrified and he is going to his doctor today. I am going back to the store for staples: another case of water, a few more canned goods. We are pretty well set if Isaac does hit us head on. I’m terrified of that toe. I want him to go NOW. If something were to happen, and we can't get him to TGH and they can't get to us because of Isaac, I shudder, so he goes NOW. He's my dear. He's 65, has had a horrid life and so richly deserves a loving, kind, fun life. This is my goal, my passion. Moving on from Precious Moments; I mist up.

The fact that my PD leaves me with my strength and speed, just very little motor control illustrates to me how weird an experience this disease can seem. While I had the flu, I had more sensory issues than normal. Touch and taste were weirder than normal. With the abatement of my flu symptoms, back came the tremors and the pains. The pains are just unbelievable. They’re like a crystalline needle in an arm, for a split second. Or they can be for 5 minutes. Now, they are in a toe, a foot, eye, cheek, my inner ear, or the back of my leg, or skull. Now, they’re all at once, or just a few places. The pains are distracting and weird, and of different durations. In between all that, I get numb patches. Now we’re having fun! But, they won’t kill me.

So, on Wednesday, I’m hauling this cart around in the store and I’m hoofing it. People were staying out of my way for a change. That, or word is getting around about the cane and the poor impulse control. I stopped to get a couple of cases of drinking water. @$%(^ I have the one cart in the store that has no lower rack. I grab one of the cases of water that has 24 15.9 oz bottles and, thinking it’s going to be a chore, steel myself to clean and jerk it up into the basket of the cart… and I throw it right over the top of the cart to the other side. Thank God there weren’t any small children playing; they would have been crushed. It took no effort whatsoever.

It’s been many years since I could do anything at all like that. Two years ago, I couldn’t walk I was so weak. I not only can walk, I can do a pretty mean jog. There was a physical therapist at Tampa General Hospital who was convinced that I wouldn’t walk again. That I would stay weak, if not die. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to live under those conditions. The funny thing is, I never had that epiphany or that “Let’s win one for the Gipper” speech with myself. I just kind of did it. Kind of glad I did. I wouldn’t be here wasting your time, now would I? Hmmm?

SELF-IMPORTANT BLOWHARD NOTICE: LIVE-BLOGGING FROM TAMPA
(translation: SITTING HERE DOING THE SAME SHIT I DO EVERYDAY!)



Thursday, August 23, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 43 – UNNATURAL DISASTERS I HAVE LOVED


I’m not sure if this is going to be about the unnatural disasters outside or the ones inside of my own head. However, instead of trying to Think Profound Thoughts and Bore You All to Death with them, I do believe it’s time for a bit of levity. Enough seriousness. Life and death is always there. As you can tell, Ma raised the second Einstein. Anyway, I decided to at least start out in the general direction of natural disasters because apparently we have a visitor on his way and his name is Isaac. I do not yet know if he’s a kosher hurricane or treyf? The fact that I even know there’s a hurricane I blame on the GOP.

Normally, I have no clue as to what’s going on and don’t much care about the weather. Here’s a secret. In times of weather, DO NOT EVACUATE! Ever! Here’s why; the one time I got caught up in an evacuation, it was an accidental evacuation and that was during the No Name Storm, or the Storm Who Shall Not Be Named, The Storm Who Shall Be Obeyed or whatever in hell the damned thing was called. And that’s another thing. What marketing genius is behind these names? If you are going to name a storm, why not name it something nasty like Hurricane Stalin? Hurricane Beelzebub? Lilith? Pol Pot? But Isaac? What are we doing here, going to a blues festival by way of Temple? Idiots.

In 2004, within about 6 weeks, we had Hurricanes Charley, Danielle, Frances and Ivan. Where I was living at the time, we were affected by all 4, in some fashion. We never evacuated. We had bad flooding at some point, but weathered through it. We had neighbors who did evacuate. Many of them ended up stuck in their cars. Many were gone for weeks. It’s not easy to evacuate in Florida. Generally, the road systems here rudimentary; one lane or two lanes. So, I stay put.

Now, we have Tropical Storm Isaac that is scheduled to show up somewhere in the neighborhood around Monday, August 23, 2012 around 8 AM. I’m wondering if Isaac is a Republican and if he is part of Team Romney. It wouldn’t surprise me if Isaac is on the GOP payroll in another attempt to perform some type of Republican fuckery against the old Romster himself. Ryan apparently backfired and the idiots of the GOP are thinking Ryan’s pretty swell with his caveman ethics regarding women, babies, gene pool-ism and all.

Since they put Ryan on the ticket, there’s been an actual uptick in support in the polls. Paul Ryan’s the only person I’ve ever seen who actually smiles upside down; is he even FROM this universe? Even outing Grandpa Munster as a financial backer didn’t slow down the Merry Pranksters of the Romney Arkham Asylum Annex. They continue unabated. The best, most ironical-est was when Romney started playing all “Enemy Within” where he basically battles himself, alá Capt. Kirk. What was up with that? It wasn’t enough to sacrifice Andrea Saul to Baal I presume, so Romney had to resort to soul-eating. Or is that self-eating? Maybe he doesn’t have a soul? Maybe I should shut up now.

On to stupider stuff. As if. I was reading some stuff on Cracked.com yesterday. Call me a kid. Call me a juvenile. Call me whatever you want. That shit is just plain funny. One of the funniest, funniest articles I read was last Sunday about how awful some of the stuff in San Francisco is, and how it has to be experienced. My favorite quote:KFC uses flour and stray pets shipped in from Third World countries to make delicious fried chicken,”


when describing how disparate ingredients go on to make yummy delicious tastes. Mr. Adam Tod Brown goes on to say, “That doesn't happen, though. It's just beef, doughnut, cheese and bacon fighting for attention in your mouth. Eat a bacon cheeseburger, but first, drown it in syrup. That's what a doughnut burger tastes like.

Read more: 5 Reasons San Francisco is the Worst Awesome City in America | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-san-francisco-worst-awesome-city-in-america_p2/#ixzz24O4ou4A8


Cracked, or Mr. Brown rather, is talking about a doughnut, bacon, cheeseburger in syrup. That shit doesn’t even sound good. Meanwhile, I don’t care what it sounds like. I’m so busy having apoplexy and trying to breathe. Every synapse and nerve ending is firing like mad. My eyeballs feel like they’re frying. My hands and feet are tingling and I’m rolling on the floor having a fit. This is some funny shit.

So. Yesterday. I run across this gem. I have to preface this by saying I love Nicolas Cage. One of the things I love about him most is the fact that he as absolutely one of the finest and probably the most fearless and fierce of actors I’ve ever witnessed. The fact that I’ve known his grand-uncles and been associated with the family for over 25 years (oh, THAT Coppola) means nothing. That man will do anything to drive a point across in front of a camera and when it works, it works. He has had some astounding moments and I truly get what he’s trying to do. He’s successful more often then he isn’t. But when he isn’t, you get some spectacular shit. Shit like this:

cracked.com (go to #4)

THE WICKER MAN



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 42 – WEDNESDAY AUGUST 22, 2012 CHECK IN THE GODMOTHER


“Get out!” This was me. Hollering in my sleep. Again. JC told me I yelled this shortly before waking, this morning. The fact that I didn’t wake up with a gun, or a blue moon in my eyes (Sopranos/Alabama3 reference for those playing along at home) made not one whit of difference. I regularly wake up shouting at whoever to get the hell out. This morning, I was some kind of godmother to a drug kingpin, at least that was my general feeling of “it-ness,” or “being-ness.” You know how it is in dreams. You just understand the zeitgeist immediately. So, this kid or little person is sitting on my Victorian couch and proceeds to light up a huge stogie.

I tell him in no uncertain terms that if he’s going to smoke he needs to “Get out!” He snarls back. “If that is so, how come you live across the street from the Bank of England, hmm?” Unimpressed, and clearly on my own turf and backed up by shadowy underworld-type beings of indeterminate strength and parentage, I purr back, “Be that as it may, however,” my voice rises, “you are in MY house, and I SAY, no smoking! Now, GET THE HELL OUT!” and I wake up. Shit.

I have dreams like this about every night. The fact that we do live in a world that is cheek by jowl with so much casual violence and we are rather immersed in it does desensitize us to it. I have written about this before. By the very fact that we are all here now I think also speaks to our own willingness to commit whatever random acts of violence or non-violence it takes to survive. Baldly stated, Survival of the fittest. We mitigate that savagery by the grace we show one another and I truly believe that is also inherent in us as a species, but make no mistake. That grace has to be revered, nurtured, celebrated and exercised constantly. It is easy to kill.

The fact that I underscore this so vehemently is that I have a very vital fear. It is my worst nightmare and probably the only fear that I possess. I suspect I am not the only one that has this dread. We immerse ourselves as a culture in trades of casual atrocities as if we were at a swap meet. How can we have such an outpouring of sympathy and outrage over the slaughter in Aurora, Colorado when this is now being so casually observed daily in Syria? Is state-sanctioned slaughter not just as horrifying, as the DIY kind? Maybe I observe this with a particularly jaundiced eye because I am a true aficionado of this “Batman” franchise by Christopher Nolan. Beautifully rendered, Nolan spot-on captures the ultimate darkness of the Dystopian Gotham. Unfortunately, art clashed violently with the real-world; this is horror writ large. Make no mistake. Nightmares beyond eldritch beget the Old Ones. I Have No Mouth & I MustScream*. We've gone way beyond Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," in my estimation.

Maybe that is my fear. We walk with this every day. The fact that we dabble in this artistically is good. It is healthy. The fact that we feel these impulses, is also good. The instincts are what have propelled us into this age. They continue to propel us to Mars and beyond. The fact that they are also ruinous are something we struggle with and will continue to; it’s a duality. I myself am Catholic. I really am at a loss to explain what I think happens once our corporeal selves die, but I lean towards the astronomical, sub-atomic plane theory; we don’t go away. We transmogrify.

I digress; wildly. I was talking about our violent ways and how comfortable we are as supposedly civilized beings. We may have civilized veneers. We might be soccer dads and moms, paint pictures, cook for a living or program. But underneath us, I think there lurk the hearts of, in some cases, lions or lionesses; in others, demons or imps. Some of us are pure, but ferocious, others of us are black in our intent. In most cases, we know what we intend. Witness the man in Aurora, Colorado and more recently, the white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. They knew what they were intending. I will not use their names. By expunging their names, I expunge them from any memory. I erase them. They deserve no less. They are anathema. They are cast out and excommunicate. Let them be damned to eternal darkness.

In so doing, I hope to try and preserve the purity, the spirit of us. The humanity. It’s okay to be lions and lionesses. The lions and lionesses usually act to save the weak, the cubs. That’s what it means to have “the heart of a lion.” I’ve always loved them. Now I know why.



*Harlan Ellison, March 1967

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 41 – NORTH OF THE CROSSROADS


Now that we’ve made the deal at the Crossroads with ol’ Scratch himself, I guess it’s never too soon to admit that here is about where we’re most comfortable. By “where” I mean the “the not day side.” By “we’re” I mean, “I.” I’m fully aware that most folks are not all cozy over at “the not day side.” I am. I have never been easy in a world of sunny optimism. Cheery ambience does not soothe me. Sunny choirs of angels singing softly in A or D Major even do not lull me. They pretty much irritate me. At the very least they bore me. Bring on the chaos, or at least a little confusion and some missed connections. Hilarity at the very least should ensue.

“Some people are more comfortable in Hell.” – Tony Almeida to Audrey Heller, about Jack Bauer, Episode 13 of Season 4 of “24.” With those bad ass words ringing in my head last night, I decided to play my favorite game of death and destruction, Runescape. Usually, I’m on the giving end. Tonight, something a little different happened and I can honestly say I should have kept my big trap shut. One of my dimmer friends actually went along with my suggestion of our killing dragons. The problem with our killing dragons, is that this has to be done in the Wilderness, north of the “Wilderness Ditch,” or “Ditch of Stupidity,“ it’s more proper name to be sure. Once you’re north of the DoS, you’re fair game for any other Player to kill. There are Players who do nothing, but KILL other players. WE are not those players. We just wanted to kill dragons.

Right off the bat, we’re in trouble. Why? Because ViolaFury forgot! Forgot! Mind you, her Dragon shield! She is a Dragon Slayer! But! She forgot her Dragon Shield. We should have taken that as an omen and gone home right then. The fact that I did not realize I had forgotten my shield and my anti-fire potions until I was being crisped by this stupid dragon after walking north for ½ an hour did not bode well for either of us Einsteins.

So, being the hero that I am, I turn around and walk south. For ½ an hour… and bam! Get maged by some 11-year old and die. And lose my stuff, Except for my whip and dragon boots and my dragon skirt. Big deal. Hell on a Harley. Derrick gets killed by some doof and loses EVERYTHING. All his dragon skins, which we had gone to kill the beasts for. So much for being comfortable in Hell.

Along the way, we’re jabbering about this idiot game. Derrick lives in Surprise, Arizona, which I’ve actually driven through. It’s like, “Surprise!” Arizona. I still laugh, every time I think about it. Derrick says, “what are you doing, oh yeah, what are you killing?” I say, “lava guys on wheels.”
He says, “Watch out, they scream and they get the big ones to help.” “I know,” I say. I sometimes can’t believe this shit. I try to imagine my folks doing this crap at my age. They might have.

I remember back, when Zezima played. He was fletching an arrow or something in a bank. There were like 157 people bunched around watching him, including me. Unreal. A bunch of 45-year old strangers, pixels, no less, watching the most famous Runescape guy, who’s pixels, make pixels in a make-believe pixel world. Yeah, my folks would totally get behind that. And then probably have a debate over who was the better god, Sara or Zammy, or should Guthix rule? Would you like toasted batwings with your yummy delicious elven ale?

The fact that we, as a civilization have different ways of passing the time, different hobbies, arts, modes of expression now, in no way negates the forms or the instruments we use to express ourselves. For years, I had to listen to the arguments about electronic music being worse than acoustical instruments. At the risk of sounding heretical, I dispute that completely. They are both valid. Without being obvious or patronizing the sounds from a stringed instrument are unique to it. I’ve worked with electronic keyboardists and other synthesizers to know that they have validity and sounds that cannot be reproduced by other instruments.

How we choose to amuse ourselves and expand our horizons has changed as well. Instead of Etch-a-Sketch and cut out dolls, we have the electronic equivalent now. The fact that my father used to build and hang his beloved model airplanes for hours and hours as a grown man tells me he’d probably be in one of those furball flying games now on the PC. He did do rudimentary BETA computer games before he died. He was funnier than the games, believe me. I really went far afield today. You must forgive me. I had a massive PD attack in the midst of this. Boo Hiss. Give me an Etch-a-Sketch; this could be epic!


Monday, August 20, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 40 – MARY AT THE CROSSROADS


I find myself at a juncture artistically, but not ethically, (I hope) as it were. I hesitate to even include mention “artistic” and “myself” in the same sentence. I don’t feel that what I do is artistic in any sense of the word. Not in the sense as I applied it to viola playing. That was true artistry for me. A combination of skill and black arts at times. One never truly masters a non-fretted instrument and I daresay that artists of Clapton’s and Buddy Guy’s stature would argue the same. What we do is exploit our virtues and learn to mask, or better yet, exploit our flaws.

The fact that I can play disgustingly long phrases brings raptures to folks who love Rachmaninoff and Barber. The Katchaturian amphetamine crowd thinks that shit in 1 could be a bit brisker; I’ve learned to think ahead of the beat, at great cost to my sanity. I revel in the robustness of Richard Strauss, and could really do without the anemia of Wolfgang Amadeus, thank you very much. I am a rock and roll, electric  and blues violist. For years, I yearned to be Robert Johnson at the crossroads, then realized I didn’t need to; I had already given my soul to my art.

For anyone who doesn’t know the story, Robert Johnson was a 27 year-old man in 1930’s Louisiana. He played guitar with Son House and some others in these old Juke Joints. He played pretty badly. The story goes that he went off for 6 months and came back and played very well. Supposedly, he made a deal with the Devil at the Crossroads; he sold his soul. He also got poisoned for messing around with some Juke Joint owner’s woman, and died about 2 days later; badly, it’s assumed. I don’t think one dies goodly from poison.

Anyway, I think he just went off and practiced guitar like mad for 6 months and Clarence “Gatemouth”Brown thought so, too. I loved ol’ “Gatemouth.” For those who haven’t heard this gem, he was a Blues guitarist, violinist, and violist from Louisiana. He was also generous with his time, and kind to me. One night, he was playing at Skipper’s Smokehouse out here on Skipper Road in Tampa. I was drunk and got very enthusiastic when he picked up his viola; he got ready to rip into a blues tune. I jumped up on a table and yelled “VIOLAS RULE!” He yelled back, “DON’T HURT YOURSELF!”

I am a middling writer. I yearn to be more. To write as I read. I read Seanan McGuire’s short story, “Sparrow Hill Road” over the weekend and came away slack-jawed. The wedding of her ideas with her prose is nothing less than artful to the point of pain. Her idea of the “daylight” America and the “midnight” Americas that “outnumber them a thousand-fold” is so compelling and simple. It turns back on itself in such an elegant way towards the end of the story. I give nothing away by saying that what starts as a horror story, ends as a profoundly moving and loving tribute to time and the journey itself. Beautiful stuff.

Where I’m going with all of this is I am going to have to do the gut-work. All the shit I did when I first learned to play the viola and when I got my Computer Science degree. Work and write and write and write and sometimes I wonder if I have the patience and fortitude for that. I don’t even know what direction I want to take or what I want to write about half the time. I need to go back and do all the scut work and go to writing classes and network with writers and I have to figure out how to do that. I know I can; am I willing. I think it’s worth it. I just don’t know if I have a worthy voice or something to say.

All I really have is clarity and honesty, and on that note, I have to make an amend. When I wrote
REQUIESCATIN PACE, WADE” I mentioned that Wade and Ray were alone, and that it was possible that Ray left Wade unattended, when Wade fell. Ray came to our house which was odd by itself, to ask us to a wake for Wade. He mentioned at the time that his (Ray’s) girlfriend Jackie had administered CPR to Wade when he fell. So, I accept this. As I have said before and let me be clear, my mother raised me, and it took me many years to learn to be, as scrupulously honest as I can. I have to be as clear and fair as I wish everyone around me to be. If we all tried, it might be a happier world.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 39 – SUNDAY AUGUST 19, CHECK IN ROAD TRIP PSYCHOSES


I mentioned a few posts back that I am an awesome driver. I am also an awesome traveler, except for planes. The whole flying thing just sucks, in my book. This going up, then down thing, does not one whit for me. The fact that I have done so much of it does not familiarize me with the process and soothe me. No, I am certain we are going straight into the ground like a lawn dart on the next take off. I leave that shit alone. The fact that my parents were both pilots just speaks to their particular derangements when it came to any type of travel at all. I’ve already mentioned my mother’s spectacular driving abilities. Well, my father was no slouch either. Between the two of them, they produced a driver of epic proportions; a true Cossack, a veritable Taras Bulba. All I lacked were Mongol Hordes. Alack, and alas.

Such epicness is not solely born; it is inculcated over years. One of my earliest memories is a strange and deranged car trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to visit my Mad Scientist Uncle, who worked at Area 51. The trip was supposed to take 4 hours. It may have taken 4 minutes, or 40 hours. Time had no meaning on this trip. I was about 9 years old and it was late fall, or early winter, as I remember. The tumbleweeds had dried up and were racing along the road, pretty much keeping pace with my father as he drove. He was driving about 55 miles per hour. Actually, knowing him, it was probably more like 85 miles per hour, so the tumble weeds were a tumblin’ along. Keeping pace with the car. One of those Santa Anas, in reverse, I guess.

My mother starts to make up one of her “stories.” My mother was a huge Harlan Ellison fan. She pretty much mainlined him. “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” was one of her favorites. The fact that I had read that book at the age of 8 doesn’t really say much for my folks’ sense of what was considered “age-appropriate.” I also read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” before I was 11 and had regularly read James Thurber, so I was pretty prepared for all the shenanigans that my parents conceived and performed.

Ma doesn’t disappoint. “Okay, so, there’s this little innocent tumbleweed tumbling down the road. It’s a cute little tumbleweed. All the cars are driving by. The kids are pointing and laughing and enjoying this sweet tumbleweed.” My father joins in, “Pretty soon, some teenage tumbleweeds join in. They’re a little bigger and they’re like D.J. tumbleweeds; they have duckbill haircuts and camel cigarettes and stuff. The kids in the cars don’t think this is so funny.” Well, we’ve been down this road before, literally and metaphorically. It doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure out that by the end of this story, there is one giant tumbleweed that has eaten all the cars at the terminus of this freeway and the kids are all bloody and broken. But the thing that to this day just cracks me up. My parents. The glee. The hellish, screechy laughter. You would think you had Lilith and Beelzebub in the front seat. Beyond hilarious. Broaden your horizons with reading.

Well, so some of my most amusing times were had in cars and while driving. I had my mom in the passenger seat once on the way from Tampa to Detroit. I was bringing her up for a visit. I had a concert, and I had driven down to get her, so she could visit me in my environs. The afore mentioned flying thing wasn’t happening and I had some extra time. I also loved, loved, loved to drive. Serious road trips. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people that gets behind the wheel and drives from point A to point B, non-stop. We were somewhere in Georgia and just kind of cruising along. The weather was overcast, kind of misting and mysterious, but pleasant. A sign said “Unadilla, blah-blah miles.” Ma launches into this story, “Once, there was this Armadillo. Now you know armadillos always have 4 babies, but this one only had 1 baby, so, they named the town Unadilla.” I said, “Okay, that was sweet.” She continues, “But, did you know that there is this other town, farther on, they named it Quadradilla, for all the other unsung armadillos that had 4 babies?” I said, “What the fuck, Ma?”

She was getting dozy. She wasn’t in the greatest of health at the time. I asked her if she wanted to take a rest. She said, “No, let’s ride a ways.” She dozed off. I drove on for about an hour, lulled by the road. It was peaceful. No distractions. No music. It’s calm and quiet. The sun has set. It’s still misting and the mountains are pretty. All of a sudden, she lurches up out of her sleep and barks at me “Pink socks!” I almost drove off the damned mountain.

She was so embarrassed, for all of about 2 seconds and then just thought that was hilarious. It was. Of course, that went right into the family annals.

Ma liked to “navigate.” It was preferable to her driving, but was still not the best of options. Once, back in August, 1987, shortly after my father died, she came to take a “tour” of Michigan, as she called it. She was living in California at the time. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years, and I think she just wanted to make sure I was doing well. Our “tour” ended up being the “Iliad”, or the “Odyssey,” I’m not sure which. It seemed we were gone that long and we went to some strange places. It was during my summer break. At one point, we decided to visit some old friends who might, or might not have still lived or didn’t live in the Upper Peninsula. I wouldn’t let her drive. At the time, I was driving an old Datsun B-210 that had a suspect manual tranny. 4 gears, 2 of which were really iffy, those being 2nd and 3rd, which meant, neither of them worked. As a matter of fact, I think the whole electrical system died in it during this trip, and she and I had to sleep on a train trestle at some point, but that’s not the story I’m going to tell.

No, the story I’m going to tell is the one where she had the map. We had crossed the Mackinac Bridge and were looking for US2 to go west. I’m driving and she keeps telling me I haven’t gone far enough. She keeps staring at that map. I finally look over. The mitten is pointing downward. “Gimme that goddamned map! No more navigating for you!” I yell, and snatch it from her and throw it out the window. I make a U-turn in the median on I-75 and hot-foot it south to US2. She starts to laugh.