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:
   customers of Adult World
Sunday, August 15 2010

location: Ridge Street, Charlottesville, Virginia

I woke up and said goodbye to Jessika, apologizing for the role I'd played in last night's fiasco. And then I got in the Subaru and drove back to Staunton. The fuel system seemed to no longer be leaking, and that wasn't the only bit of sunshine on this my second day of hangover in a row. My father had checked himself out of the nursing home and was back in his favorite chair in my childhood home. He was wearing his checkered shirt and overalls just like the good old days. The only thing that seemed amiss was his hair, which was shiny and clean. He actually seemed to be in reasonably good spirits as he and the rest of the family watched something on the Discovery Channel about mammalian life back in the earlier epochs of the Cenozoic. (I had the feeling that this was my brother's choice.)
And then I started my drive back to Hurley. I'd bought a cup of coffee in Charlottesville but had not yet developed a desire to drink even one sip. And so there it sat in my cup holder, gradually being refrigerated by a blast of air conditioning. Long-distance driving with a hangover isn't fun, but it has its advantages. Because I hadn't drunk any coffee, I remained dehydrated and so never felt a need to urinate. So I was able to drive 250 miles before my first stop, at the Comfort Inn Midway Diner on I-78 near Strausstown, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is always my biggest obstacle between Staunton and Hurley, and as others have pointed out, if you were to take away Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it wouldn't be too different from Mississippi. The part of Pennsylvania where I stopped was in the part that resembles rural Mississippi. I was on the north edge of Amish Country, a region where same sex marriage probably won't enjoy majority support until some time after 2050. What always strikes me about these dusty exits in Red State America is how easy it is to find adult entertainment. There it was, a windowless building beneath a billboard reading "Adult World." A steady stream of vehicles showed up, each disgorging a single grey-haired gentleman, who would then venture into that windowless World. At one point one gentleman showed up just behind another, so the first politely held the door for the second, not like they were walking into Satan's antechamber, but like it was a Cracker Barrel or a hardware store. I found myself wondering what sort of person patronizes an adult entertainment shop here in 2010. Such people are probably America's digital have-nots, disproportionately poor, old, and rural. They're probably mostly from conservative families and are themselves overwhelmingly conservative. But whatever feelings their culture might have instilled about adult entertainment, at some point they just said fuck it and obeyed the dictates of their hormones. And so places like Adult World persist, particularly in the places where Rick Santorum was (and still is) a hero.
The vegan option in the Midway Diner consisted of French fries. If I chose not to think about the batter used for frying them, the onion rings might have been vegan too. So those were the items I ordered for my mid-afternoon lunch, which I ate with a glass of orange juice. I would have preferred a vegan submarine sandwich, a burrito, or perhaps a bowl of spaghetti. But a vegan can't expect to be happy in Real America. I looked around me at the other customers and it was as if they were costume actors for a film set in the 1980s. Cheesy mustaches, protomullets, and even acid washed jeans were on people young enough to know better. I've also seen such collective anachronism in recent Tea Party coverage, so perhaps they were on their way to one of Sarah Palin's Evenings of Hope. My waitress was 50 something and looked like she belonged to a separatist Christian sect, though probably not Amish. I know from growing up in the Shenandoah Valley that there are a lot of such sects. You can tell the women for their dowdy older fashions, regressive hair styles, and the fact that they never wear pants, not when playing basketball nor even when nailing shingles to the roof of a barn. There's something erotic about that sort of repression and submission, though I tend to be skeeved out by the non-Amish superreligious. I think my problem is with their choice of colors and materials for their "fashions," all of which seem to highlight stains or suggest stains that aren't actually there.
I experienced a few patches of rubberneck-induced traffic congestion further on down I-78. But it was clear sailing from there. (Though I'm glad I wasn't southbound on the New York Thruway, which was an 80 mile long parking lot south of New Paltz.) I managed to get to Hurley after seven and a half hours of driving. Knowing I would be hungry and craving quality vegan food, Gretchen had made me a hearty stew of blackeyed peas and homegrown tomatoes (which our tomato patches are now producing in great abundance).

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