Monthly Archives: March 2009

Lessons learned

Phoenix is too far to drive to.
Grandma is still a crazy abusive racist and we always forget about it until we’re there.
Mountain biking in Phoenix is still amazingly fun.
I am really out of practice on the trails.
Hannah knows where the cool shit is.
Nipples also knows where the cool shit is.
Justin doesn’t know where the cool shit is, but he’ll pound back beers with you and listen to you insult people.
There is cool shit in central Phoenix now, for some reason.
Tempe is dead.
My sister is a bad traveler.
My sister and I think about things almost identically. We had a long conversation about “words we like” and another about “how sometimes we think about things way too in depth and imagine ourselves being hurt or killed and how it would affect other people”. We also had a long talk about our family history, which was kind of fun.
Grandma is a bit of a shopping addict.
Religious or no, funerals and cemeteries provoke an emotional response. Sami had a bad reaction to the double-wide monuments with just one name. I had a bad reaction to the single headstones with no flowers.
It is hot in Arizona, and dusty. It only took three days there to give me pimples and bloody noses.
Mauna puas are still good but not quite as heavenly as I remember.
Phoenix is now solid houses and Wal-Marts from fucking Avondale to Coolidge. There are enough empty homes there to house everyone in the entire state, and possibly all the Utahns.
Grandma feeds her dog nothing but cuts of roast beef from the deli case. The dog is about 400% too fat.
There is still a certain joy in sitting in the cool of the desert morning, watching the sun turn the sky sapphire.
It still sucks when an hour later the sun is still coming up more and turns the sapphire to pale dusty blue.
I am not good at holding a line on a trail.
I am not good at choosing a line on a trail.
When presented with two lines, my brain farts and I pick the middle, which usually involves some foot high drop onto sand or broken shale.
I am overgood at lightening the front tire.
I am undergood at lightening the rear.
I want a 29’er real bad.
A nonsmoking room in California still just means “a room that you choose not to smoke in but there are ashtrays and shit”.
My sister likes the word “Brick” and reflexive verbs in spanish.
I dream a lot more when I am under stress, or at least I remember them a lot more.
California is sexier at night.
Caffeine is super important if you are sick and usually have some caffeine. You will feel way worse if you are going through withdrawl and a cold at the same time.
Don’t take cold pills on an empty stomach.
If you’re going to drive straight through the night, commit. That five hours of fitful sleep you are gonna get isn’t gonna be worth it.
Apparently, my cousins are both hot as fuck now.
My grandma thinks that I give a shit about my uncle and his wife.
My grandma liked Sarah Palin so much, she was going to vote for McCain (she hated McCain). I believe her alternative plan was to vote for Mitt Romney, or write in Pat Buchanan.
The internet slows WAAAY down on spring break.
Nipples has a little oddball lesbian living with him.
Nipples has a little oddball relationship with Sam. (this is, by the way, HILARIOUS)
My grandma is lonely.
My grandma goes to visit my dad’s parents at the cemetery, and talks to them. And then she tries to steal vases from other headstones to put on theirs, and then speaks poorly of the “jews” in the other part of the cemetery (she mentioned that it was funny that her husband Tom hated jews so much in life but is now right next to them for all eternity).
I can put up with my grandma for exactly five hours at a stretch. Beyond that I start to fantasize about driving into oncoming traffic or off a cliff.
My sister and I both had similar experiences with my dad re: his discussion of our burgeoning sexuality.
My grandma has breast implants (this was a weird one).
Upon arriving in Phoenix, I noticed that the rampant speeding was way down all across the board, it turns out this is because of speed cams on the freeway. I found this out after speeding across town several times. Hopefully I won’t get a ticket.
I saw five highway patrolmen through the entire trip. California’s budget is so fucked I guess they’ve given up on enforcement between cities.
My car is a little trooper, but it lacks the power and aerodynamics to be an effective touring car.
You know when you’ve hit southern California because of the orange bug splatters on your windshield.
Pumping your own gas is easy to get back into but hard to remember to stop when you get back. There was a tense stare off when I got back to Eugene, while a man tried to hypnotically suggest I open my gas tank for him. I eventually realized he was an employee and not a panhandler.

Dream

Dream.

Was attending open air concert at amalgam of McMenamins and Chandler Austin Field with Andre. He walks me to a corner where several people are passing around two large blunts, including Regina Grimes in a sun dress. She leans close when Andre hands me the poorly rolled blut and yells over the din of the concert “Wait, you have to tell him what is in it, you have to explain” and Andre cuts in “What’s in here? It’s a celebration! It’s a delightful blend of twenty three herbs and spices created specifically for joy.” Regina is tickled and begins to laugh uncontrollably. She is desperately trying to extract one of her Virginia Slim Ultra Lights from a box, but she keeps dropping the lighter. I am worried she’s going to offer me one, because my sister is coming soon and I don’t want her to think I’m smoking cigarettes.

I take a deep toke and pass the blunt off to (someone whose name I cannot recall). Andre says something to me that I don’t hear, and instead of exhaling smoke, I have to spit out an entire mouthful of something flaky into the grass. I sit down so I can spit it inconspicuously. A large green chunk of whatever it is falls into the grass and I look up and mug a little bit at Regina and Andre.

When I am done, I look down just in time to see someone filling up some small plastic cups with a hazy orange-brown liquid.

Presumably this is mushroom tea.

Marketing – For @paigedestroy

@paigedestroy – Is marketing a tool for manipulation or merely a reaction to consumer needs and wants?

I think marketing started purely as a tool for manipulation and has evolved into a reaction to consumer needs and wants. Consider a hypothetical casino barker, he doesn’t care if his message is TRUE, just that it gets heard. “Loosest slots in town, strongest drinks on the strip”. His initial goal is to manipulate your opinion of his establishment prior to you judging for yourself.

It has evolved, though, over time, to include consumer information. I _want_ to know if a toilet paper is made out of recycled postconsumer waste. Strict jewish folks WANT to know if a hot dog is kosher. These info blurbs were a reaction to customer desires. You take enough calls about what is in your McNuggets, and pretty soon you go ahead and throw it on the box. “100% white meat chicken”.

And this is, again, another form of manipulation. Is white meat chicken better than dark meat? How “green” does a product have to be to have a recycled logo on it? This is again trying to prep your brain to receive their product in the best possible way. If they talk about how clean the building is (White Castle) you don’t necessarily notice that the food is kind of horrible for you. Your mind was prepped with the “Cleanest Fast Food” message, and it marks that data as “double verified” because not only did you see it was clean, you also heard it was clean.

On the AIG thing…

While I have been contemplating all the horrible decisions in my life that led up to this hangover, I have been kind of perusing some of the mess that is the world economy right now. Brad made a really good point I kind of want to expand upon here.

The problem here isn’t that AIG received a gigantic bailout and they spent it on hookers and gold toilets. The problem is, WE LET THEM. We did. We gave a gigantic blank check to the kind of businessmen who would gladly step over a screaming child to chase a dollar and we’re acting all surprised that they decided to pat themselves on the back with a fat wad of our tax money?

What, Congress? Did you not think they were greedy? Did you go “Well, assuredly these men whose poor risk management is bankrupting a generation while at the same time stuffing their assholes with diamonds and gold are the sort of honest, upstanding men who are going to understand the implied responsibility that our tax money comes with.” ? Was that what you were thinking? Because me, being the sort of pragmatist I am, would have gone ahead and had a fucking lawyer look over the contract you signed and made sure there was no way for them to squirrelfuck every dime of that money off into their own pockets. I mean, you’re in DC. There’s a couple law school guys there, right? Just go ask them to peek at it, see if there’s a back door through which, say, $363 BILLION DOLLARS can be coerced. Because apparently, there is.

And that brings me right around to the front of this fucking travesty. Regulation.

Brad: i mean this is sort of like… one of the tenets behind capitalism is it not
Brad: we try to make sure the game is fair
Brad: and then everyone goes at it hard as possible

The point of my argument is that we failed at making sure the game was fair. We deregulated banking, and insurance, and just a tiny bit of every element of the financial world, and the entire world has shit on it’s own porch because of it. We’ve got bankrupt cities in Norway and more shipping containers than we can possibly store being left on boats we can’t afford to sail. We have enough unsold cars to GIVE one to every family on the continent. We have half-finished gated communities so far from anything resembling a real town that they’re only good for coyote waypoints, and even THAT industry isn’t doing well now that construction jobs have dried up.

We all fucked up here. We forgot the Golden Rule, and that is “THEY ARE ALL OUT TO RAPE YOU”. We drank the Kool Aid, we thought that CEOs were our buddies and we listened to the talking heads on the teevee reflect our own stupid belief that somehow we had figured out a machine to make money without having to work for it. We forgot that money doesn’t come from nowhere, we didn’t even do the simple math, so the complicated math escaped us completely. Every step we take from here on out, if we’re not cautious and calculating, we will pay for in dollars and dreams.

In which I attempt to harness the power of this hangover for good…

Or at least for comedy.

OK, so I am not feeling great today because I decided to celebrate the rich cultural history of Ireland by drinking until my liver feels like a livid bruise deep inside me, and my trigger is a little short today. I have been unpleasant to a couple people and have, at other times, bloviated about utter trivialities. I have also engaged in my most common pastime – Scouring Craigslist.

I don’t know why I do it, it’s not like I’m in the market for a car, or a bicycle, or a handjob from a “straight guy”, or a prostitute to live in my front yard, but sometimes I will spend hours simply generating queries and putting them to Craigslist. How many trucks are there for sale for under $750? What kind of bicycle parts are for sale at midnight? And recently, the speed limitations of my car have come into sharp focus, so I have been searching for turbocharged cars for under $5000. (again no clue why, I’m not gonna buy any of these).

And that’s when I came upon this.

Doubtless this ad will be gone by the time some of you read it, so I will explain. It is a 1992 Saab 9000, and not just any Saab 9000, this one is a “Griffin Edition”, being sold for $1800. I will dissect the copy in a moment, but let us look at this car first.

This thing is, to put it gently… pug ugly. That’s not quite right. Pugs are pretty cute, in an ugly way. This is just.. horrible. Saabs are notoriously foul looking, but this is really shit.

This is a Griffin Edition car, number 100 of 400 ever made.

They stopped at 400 because nobody was going to go out of their way to buy a special fancy Saab which is visually identical to every other Saab 9000 that rolled out of the plant from 1982 to 2001.

This was a optionless car, came with every option available, including: leather interior, sport suspension, aero body kit, 16″ rims, power seats, and more.

Yes, it has every option except “good looks”. And what is aerodynamic about that body? From here it looks to have all the aerodynamics of a wheeled brick, or something that a mongoloid carved from a block of wood. I guess it has lateral symmetry which I suppose we should all be grateful for.

Is it just me, or does it look a little like the bastard child of an early Honda Civic and the 6000 SUX?

You be the judge.

(also I have just noticed that I said my trigger was short, which doesn’t mean anything. I guess I was trying to say my fuse was short? Or that I had a hair trigger? Either way I am going to go eat some ibuprophen and stand in a shower wishing I were dead)

Passwords? We don’t need no stinking passwords!

The password protected post that some of you saw in your RSS feed is just a post I was writing that will be posted somewhere else. As soon as it’s up, I’ll link it, and if it’s OK with them, I’ll unprotect the post here and then we can all be happy. But for now, it will have to remain a sexy, sexy mystery. Because I like lording power over people, and I will take what I can get.

The Free Bus

Going to college is a free pass to reinvent yourself. You’re no longer bound by the same social scene that remembers your Garfield lunchbox or that horrible bowl cut you inflicted upon yourself. This is an entire campus full of people who don’t know what skeletons are in your closet; they don’t know a thing about you. This could be, I suppose, interpreted as a freeing situation, each moment full to the brim with potential.

I, on the other hand, found the entire idea terrifying. I visited a college in my junior year – Caltech, to visit my girlfriend, and I was immediately intimidated by the open-ended, open-scheduled, chaotic blur of it all. We meandered through a dormitory filled with broken furniture and forgotten takeout containers and made our way onto the free shuttle bus into Pasadena proper. A guy my age wandered onto the bus, brown corduroy jacket, porkpie hat, briefcase, and looked at the two of us holding hands over the top of his tiny ornamental sunglasses. He made a casual pass at my girlfriend and then implied something about narcotics before skipping off the bus to god knows where.

The entire experience unnerved me. This was college, the uncharted waters beyond the edges of my map and, quite clearly, here there were monsters.

I stepped into my own dorm room a year later, with enough canned goods to feed a small village, palms clammy as I cross the threshold. I spent most of those first months with friends from high school, staying in their dorm rooms, safe and sound. Each time I returned to my dorm there was some new terror, someone wanted to know my name, to smoke a cigarette, to get to know me. I spent this time studiously avoiding any parties, any social contact outside that of living in the same apartment as other people. I spent each night on the internet, emailing my friends from high school who had gone to other colleges or wishing that I had more homework to do. I read ravenously everything I could find, doing little more than grumbling a reply when anybody tried to ask what I was up to. Sometimes I would go to the library and get a private study room, just to sit in.

I mostly came back to my dorm room to make food for myself, and my roommates would comment on what I was cooking. I’d sweat bullets each time one asked me to go do something. They were built for this, and I wasn’t. I was no party animal, I was no social butterfly. I wasn’t cool or interesting, I wasn’t fun. I turned down invitations, but I knew eventually, I’d have to go. I’d have to “let my hair down.”

Finally, I had enough of this agonizing anticipation. I wanted to be done with it, rip that Band-Aid off. I’d swim with the sharks for a while and then maybe they’d be happy. Yes, terrifyingly charismatic guy from Chicago, I will go to your party tonight. Yes, I do want a bong hit (and yes, I will pretend like I have done this before). Yes, I do want to do a keg-stand. Yes, I will make crude comments to that girl. Yes, I would love to do this again tomorrow night. Yes, I will make out with you for a few hours. Yes, I do want to drive down to Mexico and get so painfully drunk that I’ll throw up four times my own body weight. Yes, this party has somehow turned into a three day event. Yes, I would like to shower with the two of you.

And then one day I woke up, realizing it had been a month since I’d seen anybody I knew from high school. My hair was bleached white and standing out like straw, the back of my hand still smudged with the stamp of a booze buffet in Nogales, a pair of women’s sunglasses perched inexplicably atop my head, and eight digits of what looked like a phone number were scrawled down my arm. I looked up into the mirror and laughed out loud at what looked back at me.

I was in the uncharted waters, off the edges of my map, and here there were monsters.