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:
   a floozier Gretchen
Saturday, March 10 2001
The latest obsession of my housemate John is dyeing fabric. He only has one color, a sort of bluish grey, and he's dyeing lots of things so that they now have this color. I came home tonight from my Culver City adventures and behold, the dumpster-dived couch was blue grey! Dyeing is a messy process, and blue grey dye is now spattered throughout the kitchen and laundry room. But it's just another one of John's passions and some day it too will pass.

My parents recently mailed me a copy of an article about my father written in a regional environmental paper called the Appalachian Voice. It's a pretty good one-stop source of information about the man. It's in the form of a scanned image because it was just easier that way.

The CTO for the UK site flew back from London this past week and she's been doing what she can to coax her beta site to life in this this new desert development environment that has descended. Most of the work I do for her now I do more or less on the sly.
In the evening the CTO invited me to meet her at an art gallery in Venice on Abbott-Kinney. One of her old boyfriends, a guy named Mike, is married now and the woman he married was showing some of her photographs. I'm all about art openings, so I rode my bicycle down there and immediately made myself comfortable in the crowded back courtyard beneath the gas-powered heater, clear plastic cup of red wine in hand. Most of the people at the opening were young and hip in the way I'm used to seeing in places like Silverlake, accessorizing their expensive black standards with relics from the 70s. Here a faded garish polyester skirt, there an excessively puffy jacket with harsh angular designs faded from primary colors down to a muddy pastel. Everyone wore glasses with retro rims. I have enough of a fetish about girls with cool-rimmed glasses that I'll give one the look for that alone.
Eventually the CTO showed up and we stood around talking, gradually meeting the few people she knew and the few people they knew all while talking about a diversity of topics ranging from what's fucked up at work to my reunion with Gretchen.
After the opening the plan was to go to a karaoke bar in Culver City (to the east of Venice). By now we'd sort of teamed up with three people who knew that the CTO's old boyfriend Mike (still following me here?). In this contingent there was a pudgy little guy with an odd name, his brunette girlfriend with cool-rimmed glasses, and his skanky-cute large-breasted blond sister Gretchen. Yes, that was actually her name. She's only the second person named Gretchen I've ever known. What with her big (probably artificial) breasts and long blond hair, she was a little on the floozy side for my tastes, but I was intrigued once I learned her name.
The CTO has rented so many cars from this one car rental agency that now she's on the frequent driver program, and with her latest vehicle she was "upgraded" for free to a huge ruby-red Dodge Durango SUV. It was the bestowing of the kind of unnecessary largesse that Americans find flattering, but to her British sensibility the vehicle is mostly just an embarrassing monstrosity, and difficult to park to boot.
It was good for one thing though; on the drive to Culver City, I could just throw my bicycle in the back. After we'd done this, though, getting out of our tight little parallel parking spot was tricky. The CTO backed up slowly and, thunk, we hit whatever was behind us. Unfortunately that car's owners happened to be right there and this butchy-looking woman came up and rapped on the window saying (in an anxious European accent) that we'd hit her car and no it was not alright. But really her car was just fine, everyone had to agree, and at last we were on our way.
The karaoke bar was called Backstage. It had a folksy working-class pub feel about it, with sit down tables an comfy chairs. Interspersed amongst the legitimately non-photogenic old timers were a good many hipsters, perhaps people related to the art opening. Hipsters in a club like this are a seemingly benign-enough presence, but they're always the first colonists in a gradual process of gentrification that can ultimately turn any bar into the schtevish over-priced awfulness of a Hard Rock Café. This place was still a long way from such a fate; however. It was still so undercover and unknown that it could flagrantly violate the ban on indoor smoking that applies to all California restaurants.
I figured that if this was a karaoke bar, I might as well dive into it. I'd never done the karaoke thing before, but I'm always game for an opportunity to show off and be class clown, especially when I've been drinking. The Blond Gretchen took an immediate interest in me, repeatedly encouraging me to perform a song. As I skimmed through the karaoke song list book and saw the vast selection, I kept singing sample lyrics, and for each one the Blond Gretchen would say, "yeah, you have to do that one!"
Eventually I got up and performed "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns 'n' Roses, an old favorite of mine dating to the immediate aftermath of my estrangement from the Real Gretchen back in 1989. I really got into the performance, even doing the wide slow left and right sinusoidal pelvic wiggle Axl Rose used to do back in those days. But I hammed it up beyond that, occasionally growling like a death metal singer in places where I knew there was no way I could hit the notes. It was such a rousing performance that a couple of anonymous audience chicks got up on stage to dance beside me.
When I got back to the table, Blond Gretchen was positively in love. She came over and sat right next to me and excitedly encouraged me to do another song, which I would have done (it would have been Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs") but by now the backlog of karaoke performers was far too long.
I didn't talk to the CTO for much of the rest of the time we were in the bar, but one thing she did say to me that really made my day was "Gus, what I like about you is that you don't try to be cool."
Like most brothers of sisters (my housemate John included), Blond Gretchen's brother is somewhat protective, shepherding her away from clearly inappropriate male companions. When you're a natural blond and have huge fake tits on your chest, believe me, there are lots of those to contend with. But for some reason Blond Gretchen's brother thought I was among the safest of all male companions; he was convinced I was gay. His only comment to her about me was a joking, "make sure he likes large dogs."
So then Blond Gretchen asked me if I would mind her bringing her big dog when she moved in with me. It was such a preposterous proposition that all I could say was, "Sure, I don't mind." But then I considered it for a moment and said, "Wait a minute, we haven't even had sex yet!" "Well, we'll do that too of course," she said.
Well, after a bit of conversation like that there's not a whole lot left to doubt. By this point all Blond Gretchen wanted to do was go home with me and get to it. But we were plagued by all sorts of logistical problems. She doesn't live around here; she lives in Northern California and is staying here in Los Angeles with her brother. She'll only be in this part of Los Angeles for a few days and then she'll be staying down in Newport, which is about an hour away. Since she'd ridden here with her brother, she didn't have a car. And neither, of course, did I. "Well, I guess it's the thought that counts," I sighed. "Do you really think that way?" she asked. "Yes," I said. "I do too!" she exclaimed. So we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to try to find each other some time tomorrow if possible. "My housemate's going to be really confused," I told her, adding, "I was just with another girl named Gretchen." I didn't bother to explain to Blond Gretchen that the Real Gretchen is the long lost love of my life who had flown across the continent to reunite with me after 12 years of silence; I didn't want to discourage her.
The CTO drove me all the way home to my house in her gargantuan SUV. "Well, it looks like you had a good night," she declared. "You pulled!" (Evidently "pull" is a British vernacular term for achieving some sort of intimate understanding with a potential sexual partner.)
For all you people who are scandalized that I'd even consider sleeping with someone else in the absence of the Real Gretchen, I'll remind you that our relationship is not a monogamous one and the Real Gretchen is in full-on whore mode. As long as I don't fall in love with anyone else, I'm not violating our arrangement.

A small list of activities that have a proven romance track record for me (in other words, every time I've done them, I've scored - or could have scored - with some brand new chick):

  • Trivial Pursuit (Oberlin, October 19, 1995)
  • Jazzfest (New Orleans, May 3, 1999)
  • Karaoke (Culver City, March 10, 2001)
  • Socializing with chicks named Gretchen (Oberlin, Nov. 27, 1988 & March 10, 2001)

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