Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   old school rock and roll
Saturday, January 27 2001
All the fuss and bother and breakage in the online manifestation of the change of federal administration is kind of like what we were told Y2K was going to be like. It's as if it's the first change in top-level executive leadership since the invention of writing. Is it really so difficult to effect a smooth transition?

Back when John was first considering my place as his residence, one of my big selling points was that I allowed dogs. He intended back then to eventually have his dog Sam shipped from Altoona in the Fall, but one delay led to another and now John's mother has developed a strong emotional attachment to Sam. So now John is looking into other options to satisfy his dog deficit.
One of these options was explored this morning. Last night while on ecstasy, John had tracked down a local animal rescuer using the Lycos search engine. This morning, while John, John's sister Maria and I were all hanging out together, the animal rescuer woman visited with a little dog she'd "rescued." As an "animal rescuer," this woman spends her weekdays and evenings going to animal shelters looking for dogs whose prospects are poor, taking them home and trying to match them up with prospective owners. It was no surprise to me to learn that this trollish woman was also a professional Visual Basic developer; she seemed kind of like an older version of the Community team's old DBA, Laurie. In keeping with her trollish nature, she'd thoroughly researched John on the web, finding something he'd written related to Attention Deficit Disorder. As the little dog hyperactively climbed and jumped from couch to couch, the rescuer woman observed, "This dog will be perfect for you, he has ADD too!" Then, as she looked around our house and interviewed John, she verbally indicated each of the compatibility checks as they occurred to her. The alcohol had been hidden, so we didn't seem like lushes (she didn't mention this one); hardwood floors; John's mentioning of the technique known as "crating"; it's a house, not an apartment. That sort of thing.
What a strange little dog it was. It had a sort of whiskery Benji-type face with one of those spooky white-rimmed eyes (like Fred, my parents' dog). His body was long and thin, like a malnourished Dachshund, but his fur was long and wiry and entirely merl-blue (the color of most Australian Shepherds and Fred, my parents' dog). But his legs were also sort of long and flexible, giving the dog the ability to jump high off the ground or climb almost like a squirrel. His tail was medium-length and curved sharply over his rump. While he was intelligent in the ADD sort of way, he was cute in the ugly sort of way. And was he ever a handful, going from couch to couch to person to person and room to room, always with a big happy smile on his face and often with a big pink erection as well. I thought he was cute and would have done well in John's care, especially now that John has lots of time to train and care for a dog. But after the woman and dog were gone, John didn't seem impressed. "I don't think that dog fits my lifestyle," he observed. "We'd come home and find him curled up in there [the top of the floor lamp] and wonder how the fuck he climbed up there!"
I find it really comic that, though Maria still doesn't know that John and Chun periodically sleep together, there's something in her subconscious that knows what is up and is zeroing in upon it. For example, today Maria was complaining about how she never gets to hang out with John "ever since you started dating Chun. I hope you're happy together!" She doesn't really know that John actually is dating Chun, and she said this as a joke. So John joked back in kind. Referring to the fact that Chun used to go out with his older brother Joe, he said, "I only let her call me Joe when we're sleeping together." I think John and Maria both enjoy the chess game they can play amid the onion-skin layers of deception, counter-deception, and outright admissions cloaked as sarcasm. Of course, the really big deception overwhelming all others is that I haven't told either of them that I'm documenting it all in a way that can be found with a simple and fairly obvious set of web searches.
After Maria left, John read me a bit of prose he'd written the other night documenting all the scars and injuries he's accumulated over a lifetime of hyperactivity. I told him he should make a web site out of it, complete with scans of his scars. Normally John jumps at suggestions like this, getting obsessed for a day or two and cranking out a few things. Unexpectedly, though, he wasn't very enthusiastic about this idea. As he'd been reading, I'd been skimming over a review in Rolling Stone of a new DVD put out by Tool. The most interesting point made by the article was how well Tool has used enigmatic, fetishized imagery to create a feeling of inexplicable mystery to their music. I combined this thought with the thought of John's "catalogue of scars" and decided it would be a great idea for a website. Imagine, if you will, a few artfully-placed festishized images of healed scars on a web page with some copy to lead you into an exploration of scars of all kinds, psychological, emotional and physical. A Catalogue of Scars. It could be a journal, it could be a glossary, it could just be a collection of texts, but the unifying metaphor would be that of permanent injury - the little bits of damage that, like the blown fuses in old PROM chips, program our personalities.
There were a few stories left over from last night that John had to tell me. While I was out with the UK team, he'd been hanging out with some of Fernando's rich Arab friends. One of the guys turned out to be Boutro$-Boutro$ Gha1i's nephew, and, once he was feeling relaxed, he offered everyone ecstasy. It turns out that he's been taking ecstasy for nine years and now, due to damage inflicted upon his brain cells, he must take serotonin-replacement pills. Otherwise he goes to do something and forgets what it is. Hmm, well that didn't sound too reassuring. Consequently John has decided he will limit his ecstasy taking to a "six month binge."
So then I was watching VH1 and they have this new show called Radical Recut where they insert America's Funniest Home Video-style-footage into music videos. So, for example, in the "Ice Ice Baby" video they've inserted clips of horrible hockey fights. In the REM video for "Fall on Me" they've inserted clips of objects falling on people. My favorite, of course, was a severely altered Backstreet Boys video featuring clips of all sorts of animals copulating. This was the stuff they never show you on the Discovery Channel. Some of it was truly shocking, like the scene with the dog fucking the cat and the tiger fucking the rotweiler. I wonder what the Backstreet Boys have to say about this. It's an interesting idea, but I can't say I much go for the way it was done in these examples. It's addictive watching, but it's a very superficial experience.
Then there was another VH1 show, sort of built on the "where are they now?" theme. The one that caught my interest was Lita Ford. I'd forgotten how grating her white trash midwestern accent is, especially when combined with the retarded things she says. She was going on about how "you need balls to play this music," but that, since she didn't have balls between her legs, she figured her balls must be on her chest. Oh my God, that threw a fucked-up envelope of ick around everything she said from then on!

Pictures of me today in my bedroom.

Linda invited me to come out with her tonight to see some old school rock and roll at the Troubadour, another "world famous" venue in West Hollywood. It sounded like something to do, so I said sure. She came over at 6pm and spent some time checking her Yahoo email while I finished up a couple loads of laundry I was doing.
Then we drove to Park LaBrea, touching briefly along the way upon whatever it is that pornography did to damage her at an early age. The irony of this is that now Linda wants to put her pornographic collages on the web but she wants to do it in such a way that kids can't blindly stumble into it. I told her that I am personally opposed to warning screens that make people lie and say they're 18 when everyone knows that such screens are a joke, a lie. The more I see this lie perpetuated in public, the angrier I become. I'm not really against warnings, mind you. I for one would rather not stumble upon a picture of post-Nirvana Kurt Cobain and would like some warning if you plan to put a picture of this on your web page. But that's very different from asking me to confirm that I'm an adult when it's obvious I would only ever answer that question in a way that allows me to see what it is you have hidden.

I think I know what's wrong with my friendship with Linda and Julian. I'm just never very comfortable when I'm visiting them. For one, Julian often treats me as though we're still at work, occasionally even interrogating me about things related to the UK site. Then there's Linda, a really confused collection of feelings and emotions and it seems best to just stay out of her way physically and emotionally. Because of this, the only real fun I had was with Julian's friend Dan, who is visiting from San Jose. Dan's work is related to efficiency planning and when he's doing his job effectively, other people are losing theirs. It's a grim business, but he seemed fairly cheerful. Little things seemed to cause him endless wonder, like the fact that these days you can turn on your radio and hear really highly-produced punk rock. It's not punk rock, but then again it is. Or is it? When Julian and Linda went off to pick up some Indian food they'd ordered, I put on a Cardigans CD. "There's something about those Swedes," Dan observed, "they can pull off American-sounding music and even fool you, not like the Japanese." Indeed. How is it that the Swedes can take a rock and roll cliché and subtly make it sound as if it is no longer cliché?

The Troubadour is segmented in such a way that it's possible to escape the music and hang out in a quieter, less-hectic bar area whose quaintly wood-paneled walls rather reminded me of a mid-70s suburban basement hangout. Then there was the stage area, with its particularly impressive lighting and sound scaffold. I'd joked from the line outside that the first act playing sounded like a "fine reggæ band." But they were actually reasonably good in a sort of folksy late-60s psychedelic way (with perhaps only a trace of post-90s irony). I kept thinking I saw Beck walking around but then I'd see someone else who looked even more like Beck and I gradually came to realize they were all just Beck look-alikes (because that was the scene here tonight).
When the first band was done I joined Julian, Linda and a few of their friends in a booth in the cozy bar area. I never really think of Linda and Julian as having very many friends because it just seems to me that they act like they don't really know anybody in this city. But this impression is not well-founded. They both seemed to know a lot of people here tonight, to the extent that they would join us at our table. Part of this was related to the fact that Smallstone, the second-to-the-last band playing tonight, featured Dan's younger brother as its bass player. Judging from all the reflexive hugging going on, it seemed the connections ran even deeper than that. I could tell, though, that I was going to have to do better ingratiating myself with this crowd than telling a few jokes built around the main characters of famous urban legends. For example, when I was left alone briefly with some guy's much older (and somewhat flirtatious) girlfriend, she asked me whether I knew about tonight's show on my own or if I was just invited by Linda and Julian. After I said it was a case of the latter and not the former and that, though I do like this sort of music, I don't really pay attention to "what's happening," she pretty much ignored me for the rest of the evening (when she wasn't passing visible judgment at my appalling choice of shoes).
I suppose it was the second-to-the-last band, Smallstone, that we'd really come to see. Their front man was a little guy with a mischievously serious face, an American flag stocking-cap and a late-70s retro winter coat, complete with faded-but-still-garish color patches. To his right was this blond girl playing keyboards and singing backup vocals. She was this flawless angel of beauty, and her presence definitely added something important to the performance. When music looks like it's being sung by angels it's really difficult to not allow yourself to be deluded into thinking that there can be nothing more transcendent. I figured out that all the songs they were singing were anthems, or, because of their length and scale, microanthems. I'm a big fan of DYI anthemic music, so this was good thing. Microanthems have a number of key traits, just so that we know what I'm writing about here: they're cigarette-lighter-waving slow, yet uplifting, with lyrics often comprised of declarative sentences. They are never played on a blues scale.
The last band, the Pink Fairies, were a bit more old school and they had more trouble avoiding the pitfalls of the blues scale. But this is not to say they didn't rock. Their front man was probably in his 50s but still wore a leather jacket and an earring, and his stage antics included plenty of pelvic thrusts and handfuls of glitter. The big long-haired guitarist dude was more of a Ted Kaczinski figure, developing a sneaky, diabolical expression before every chord change as if to say "now I'll hit 'em with this!" Meanwhile the big beefy boyish drummer was a nonstop Uranium atom of quivering states and nuanced timing complexities.
The first song sounded almost like the Ramones, but later songs stuck mostly to the blues-based hard rock sound, including their signature tune:

The call me the fairy
I don't care what people think
They call me the fairy
I'm going to paint the whole town pink.

My favorite of their songs came at more of a gallop and consisted only of two interleaved choruses:

I'm going to get you with my automobile
I'm going to get you with my automobile
I'm going to get you with my automobile
Get you with my automobile

Do you remember when you were crazy?
Do you remember when you were crazy?
Do you remember when you were crazy?

The great thing about a song like that is that your whole audience knows the words only about a minute into it.
As always happens on these nights when Linda takes me to a show, my old Charlottesville chum Nikolai was there in all his usual glory. After the show, as all the alterna-kids milled around wondering what to do next (and as I unwittingly prepared to abandon my credit card at the bar), Nikolai introduced me to a friend, an attractive young woman with an unpronounceable name. Though originally from France, upon first arriving in the United States she had gone directly to Charlottesville, Virginia. That was our common past. When Nikolai invited me to the same party that Julian and Linda were planning to take me to, I felt like I might actually be part of this scene.
On the ride to the party I was telling the others about my method for going through life: to always take "the first thing that comes along." Behold:

  • I went to the first college that sent me a glossy brochure.
  • When I was seeking to escape from Charlottesville, I moved in with the first girl who showed any interest in me.
  • I took the first job I was offered in San Diego.
  • I only applied for one job before moving to Los Angeles.
  • If I'd been my housemate John, I would have adopted that ugly little dog that we met this morning.

Obviously, this method is not without risks and occasional setbacks, but it has definitely pulled me along through a rich and varied life.

The party was up in the Hollywood Hills near the Hollywood Reservoir in a house belonging to a guy who looked exactly like John Travolta (but his name was really something like Robert Hunter). Nothing much was happening: just a whole lot of alterna-indie kids milling around looking bored. These are kids who program themselves to look bored even when they're really excited; just imagine how bored they look when they really are bored.
In terms of refreshments, there were some Cerveza Sols floating around, including the one in my hand. The only things to look at were a collection of Kiss action figures in a display case and a couple of conditionally-cuddly cats underfoot.
I found my way to a back room where Nikolai and his friend were hanging out smoking pot. There were a few other people there rooting around through a CD collection trying to find rock and roll dance music to liven things up. Let's see, what did they find? "Mississippi Queen," "Drivin' That Train, High On Cocaine," something by the Beatles, I forget what. In my stoned state it all sounded like variations on the same song, like drums of varying 4:4 funkiness in combination with a blues scale. Nikolai looked over at me in disgust and said, "You know, in a way it's like we never left Charlottesville." Still, after smoking some pot, I couldn't really help myself and got up to dance for a song or two. All music sounds good when you're stoned and drunk.
[REDACTED] I got up to find Linda and Julian in the next room, hoping they hadn't deserted me. They were sitting around talking to the same people they'd been sitting around talking to back at the Troubadour. I smoked from the joint being passed around and slowly became bored.
I guess it says something about Linda's desire to hang out with me that she's willing to pick me up and take me home whenever we go out together. Still, I've noticed that she's giving me more space and freedom during the time we spend together. We've stopped the nonsense of hugging every time we meet and depart. And tonight, for the first time ever, I didn't have to field questions as to where I'd been at the conclusion of every separation.

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