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June 26 1998, Friday



t had been nice being completely withdrawn from the world in a monastic way, but I had a number of things I needed to do with real live humans. The security deposit needed to be split up, I needed to collect for some Web work I've done, and, quite possibly, I needed something resembling exercise.

First, though, I had to make myself presentable. I grabbed a small bottle of complimentary hotel shampoo and a handful of old disposable razors (there's always one more shave left in a razor, but my beard seemed likely to present the same sort of challenges the Kappa Mutha Fucka lawn presented as we prepared to hand it back over to the landlord) and headed down to the stream. As all of us familiar with the Second Law of Thermodynamics know, an organism must continually cast entropy off into the universe in order to maintain its own order and integrity. In several different ways, then, I cast off my entropy, emerging from the stream fresh, clean, shaved, and wet.

The day was incredibly hot, only a few degrees short of 100 Fahrenheit (something like 38 degrees Celsius), and as I drove towards Charlottesville, I was dismayed by how quickly the Dodge's heat gauge rose towards the middle of the dial. I know from experience that the radiator boils over when the gauge goes beyond the middle, and as I climbed Afton Mountain from the west (the easier of the two sides to climb), I resorted to the L2 gear and didn't go more than 45 miles per hour. I think, however, that the radiator did boil over just a bit at the top of the mountain. It was just a burp, so I kept going, allowing the long downhill grade to cool the engine. If I was to ever (God forbid) start driving a new car, I don't know what I'd find to write about, except perhaps the crush of monthly multi-hundred-dollar bill payments.




collecting old debts with mixed success



he first stop in Charlottesville was at the landlord's place. He still owes me money, you know. We overpayed the last month's rent by giving him $750 when we should have only payed for 26/31 of $750 (about $630). I talked to one of the Godfrey brothers and he said to talk to his secretary, Beth, when she gets in on Monday.

At around 3:00pm as I drove past the University grounds, I saw Joanna Road Rage and Jessika passing me in Joanna's brown van. They were just then leaving for Malvernia, no doubt having originally planned to leave early this morning. They didn't notice me at all.

I parked the Dart at the Wertland Mansion and headed directly to the Corner's Nations Bank to deal with an accumulation of five checks, ranging in size from $12.34 (thanks again JohnnyX!) to $750 (but you owe me more, Mr. Godfrey!). They know me pretty well at that bank, since I keep a pretty good balance and go there often.

For the rest of my errands, I used my bike (which I left in Charlottesville for whenever I visit). There was a ZIP disk that needed to be mailed to Nancy Firedrake, then I needed to pick up a payment for a website promotion I did for Oesch Environmental Designs (woah, I probably should ask for another check, huh?). While I was at Fred's office, he introduced me to another client who needs website promotion. It looks like I can make money this way, guys! Fred also showed me a series of pictures he took of Jessika down at the Schuyler soapstone mines. They were really very spectacular. She was wearing a red dress and a red wig or (at times) red pipecleaners in her hair, and the red in all the photographs was just so very red. Beyond that, though, Jessika had this unearthly calm about her. She didn't look especially posed as she tangled with the soapstone and ancient iron mining equipment, though she couldn't help but look glamourous. Jessika really makes an excellent photographic model; I would have liked to have one of those pictures, but of course I thought it impolite to ask.

I tried to find Jen Fariello, but no one was at the Downtown Artspace. Instead I ran across Farrell yucking it up in front of Millers with his arm around one of the sexy waitresses. He claimed (as always) that he had to run but said he was happy to see me and that "we must talk some time." According to the Farrell-obsessed C-ville Weekly, he's not much better off than I am these days, since returning from an ill-fated stint in Asheville, North Carolina. Currently he has no home, no job and no girlfriend, but he's still the same guy, perpetually overdressed in jacket and bow tie, even on a scorching day like this one. How very intriguing he is, especially if you happen to be a leggy Millers waitress.

On the way back to the Wertland Mansion, I bought a half gallon of cheap vodka at the Main Street liquor store. I'd reconciled myself to the fact that I'd be drinking tonight for the first time in nearly a week and a half. But it would be calm, collected drinking, probably just with Deya, since she's the only person I really know well enough to hang out with in this town this weekend.





drinking and chicken



eya was the same as ever, except without Jessika around to keep the conversation going, there were much bigger periods of silence. But I think Deya and I communicate about as well as she communciates with anyone, and she had stories to tell. Here they are, in that wonderful HTML form, the unordered list:

  • The other day, "the girls" were in the K-Mart when they randomly ran across Krazy Thom. He was especially krazy that day; perhaps from lack of sleep. "He doesn't sleep much," Deya observed. Deya hypothesized that Krazy Thom's kraziness is mostly the result of a strange skin condition that causes him to itch. He has to constantly stay in motion so as not to focus on his discomfort. The itching makes it difficult for him to sleep, and without sleep, he experiences all sorts of strange psychological phenomena. Anyway, the moment Thom caught site of the girls, he decided to give them Swing Dancing lessons right there in the store.

  • Now firmly ensconced in the basement apartment of the big house atop Carter's Mountain, Matthew Hart and Angela feel free to carry on as they like. They've evidently had a number of outrageous fights, thinking that no one can hear them. But during one such fight the upstairs neighbor decided to call authorities. This drew attention to all the houses up on Carter's Mountain, including the abandoned one being used as a squat by "the drunk boys" (Jesse, Morgan and Johnny Two Boom), and they were all evicted. This proves, yet again, that Matthew and Angela's fighting is not just a private issue between them, but something that inevitably leads to big problems for their friends as well.

  • Nicholas the Cat continues apace with his extroverted friend-making. He has a number of good friends among the local cat population now, and he continues to spend much of his human-socializing-time hanging out with the preppy housemates. Nicholas has also constructed a little nest for himself in one of the bushes in the front yard. It's a special little place where he can go when he doesn't want to deal with people at all.

  • When Deya and I got around to breaking up the security deposit money, we decided to give $50 to Matthew and $25 to Jessika. That left us each with a $150 bonus for the work we did making Kappa Mutha Fucka worthy to be handed back over to the landlord.


hen we were watching a the Simpsons rerun, various advertisements featured fried chicken prominently. It had the desired effect, making us both crave chicken. But, unfortunately for the advertisers, the chicken we craved was Kentucky Fried Chicken, not (for example) the Chicken McNuggets we'd seen being slowly torn apart in vivid 24 bit colour.

We decided to go to the Cherry Avenue KFC. It's in the middle of a low-income black neighborhood, and we figured going there would be a good way to broaden our usual lily-white experience (and I mean this in only the most patronizing way, so don't ask). We ordered way too much food, but since breaking up the security deposit, neither of us has felt especially impoverished.



The view outside the Cherry Avenue KFC.
Note the dreary projects in the right background.



Outside, the hot streets were alive with Friday night activity. Black boys sat in a row along the edge of the Avenue, and even after they departed, one lingered behind and occasionally made telephone calls and chatted with passing motorists. When a paddy wagon drove by, he waved an enthusiastic hello at the policeman driving it.

Several guys tooled around on extremely shiny motor scooters, the sort never seen in Whitey-ville, and one of these even had a built-in stereo system with huge speakers blaring soulful love ballads somewhat inappropriate to the heat.

We had lots of leftovers for the Wertland Mansion refrigerator when we were done with dinner.


uring the many long quiet periods, I found myself reading whole articles in Spin Magazine and Teevee Guide. When I'm in the Shaque, I'm largely isolated from popular culture, except for the songs that the rock and roll radio station has decided to pound into my head. I'm really upset that the only way I can hear "We Can Be Heroes" in my head is the way it's done by those insipid Wallflowers. I really wish Bob Dylan had been doing a lot more drugs back during his reproductive phase.

There was an article in Spin Magazine about the decline of Modern Rock radio. The article's main gist was something that's been well established for years: as underground elements are accepted into the mainstream, they're inevitably gutted and commodified in the process, so as to be better marketed to the "average consumer." Sure, grunge rock was once a subversive underground phenomenon, but now that everyone wants to sound like Eddie Vedder and write love songs more about rejection than studliness, it's become a new sort of formula, a new, increasing dull, paradigm. And what's more, the music is also being gradually watered down and neutered, with the blandest bands of the Modern Rock being promoted heaviest by advertiser-sensitive radio stations. The harshness of distorted guitars has been gradually de-emphasized in the mix-down, and now mostly what you hear is drums and vocals, same as the eighties, same as the seventies, same as it ever was. The new boss, same as the old boss, but "we won't get fooled again." Music revolution, like all revolution, needs to happen regularly in order for conditions to keep from becoming oppressively stale.

Another article in Spin Magazine concerned the planning for the mission to put a man on Mars. Apart from the obvious technical hurdles that must first be overcome, there are the sociological and emotional hurdles, and it was this subject upon which the article focused. Depressingly interestingly, though, NASA has never viewed such human-centered issues as worthy of intensive investigation. Traditionally, NASA has been staffed by people with the forever-irritating macho-man can-do spirit. People weigh a certain amount, need a certain amount of food, water and oxygen, and generate so and so number of kilograms of waste, end of discussion. But when you put four to six people in tin can and expect them to hang out there together for six months and never see another person for two and half years, all of a sudden you're forced to focus on what intangibles we humans need to stay functional. Just imagine, if you will, what would happen if one of the members of the crew went completely insane four months into the voyage from Earth? What could be done with this person? Imprisonment? Execution? It brings up all sorts of intriguingly thorny issues, and from the Spin Magazine article, it doesn't sound like NASA is all that interested in addressing them. One example of their short-sightedness regards matters of sexual behaviour among space travelers (reflecting, of course, the insane American preoccupation/denial of sex as a primary human motivator). According to the article, there have been no studies or plans for studies on the effects of sex or lack of sex on a group of mixed-gender space travelers expected to spend months isolated together in the bleak emptiness of space.

Other things I read:

  • A long article about Hanson, the kid pop musicians.
  • An account of a free Metallica concert in Philadelphia. "Am I evil?" "Yes I am!" The reviewer didn't think the Metallica dudes looked so evil with their Modern Rock haircuts. But has everyone forgotten that horrible middle stage James Hetfield went through for a time, when he sported a genuine mullet?
  • A book about Gutav Klimt. I've been much inspired by Klimt's mix of the human figure and abstract decoration. Deya and I discussed Klimt for awhile as we sipped various vodka-containing concoctions.

Meanwhile Pavement was on the stereo, but Deya also played a lot of old time Swing. We discussed how certain kinds of retro-music tap into their inherent anachronicity for the tension that keeps them interesting. Hearing the Cherry Popping Daddies use obscenities or make casual reference to drug use is just one example. And then, when Pavement (which always sounds sort of like the Velvet Underground to me) drops an irritated reference to the Stone Temple Pilots, it has the same effect.

Deya's rat, Francis, has grown into a fairly big rodent. Tonight he was being rather entertaining, scurrying around in the couch, and coming out to expore and sip vodka with us. He was more playful than I'd imagined rats could be, acting almost like a cat at times, pouncing on us and then darting back into the couch to turn around to see our reaction from cover. He was very quick and energetic.





adult contemporary renaissance



ot to be completely pathetic on this Friday Night, Deya wanted to get out and find something "going on." We ended up driving around in her car, going past all the places where people we know live. Nothing was happening anywhere, not at the Haunted House, not at the Bombshelter, not even at the house of Krazy Thom, Elizabeth & Franz. Deya tells me there's a new place, much like the old Horrid Crash Pad, run by Lanky Ben, and instead of lots of beer drinking, mostly what people do when they hang out there is drop acid and play videogames on a big-screen Nintendo 64. But we didn't go to Lanky Ben's; we ended up at the Tokyo Rose.

We both paid our $5 cover charges and went down to the basement to see the music. But the scene down there tonight was, well, lame. Only a few people were there, and the band playing was the one named (and fronted by) Raphæl. Don't get me wrong, Raphæl is a talented, energetic musician, but I'm not especially happy with the new turn he's taken musically. As Dave Sickmen pointed out recently, Raphæl is rapidly becoming "Adult Contemporary." Tonight he had no drummer at all, but he had a stand-up bass guy, a banjo guy, and a fiddler (Jatasya's former or current boyfriend, minus his cat-turd dreadlocks). The music sounded like some sort of Dave Matthews/Ani DiFranco hybrid, but without a drummer, it sloshed around numbingly arhythmically. As I joked to Shawn and Jeff, the two wacky Counselors who were running lights and sound, "Adult Contemporary is experiencing a renaissance here in Charlottesville." They had a good laugh about that one. When the show was finally, mercifully, over, Jeff and Shawn put their latest EP over the P.A. Ah, punk rock, that's more like it. The EP even contains a version of the song "Jatasya," the one I wrote about her supposed lobotomy (with chorus added by Zachary).

Raphæl was actually just supposed to be the opening act for a female musician (one of the other members of the incestuous Supertanker music clique that appears to have taken over Charlottesville's "alternative" scene in the absence of such luminaries as Dave Sickmen and Nikolai). But the female musician, Alexa somebody, had played first for some reason and we'd entirely missed her.

There wasn't much fun to do except make snide comments with the goofy Counselor boys as they screwed around with knobs, switches and dials, trying to look busy.


  ended up sleeping in Jessika's bed. I dreamed that I was at some meeting that was also attended by Buck of the Meyhem Project. He looked exactly like his photographs on his web pages and he treated me pretty much like he does online, that is, as if I wasn't even there.



one year ago
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