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May 09 1998, Saturday


  woke up late with the usual Saturday morning hangover. I had to mail a couple resumés in order to continue qualifying for unemployment benefits, so off I went on several related missions. First I needed envelopes, so I bought a box of little ones at the JPA Fast Mart (they didn't have any big envelopes). Then I went to Olssen Hall to print out resumés. But wouldn't you know, the printers there were fucked up terribly and printed all kinds of extraneous black smudges and lines on what was supposed to be an impressive-looking document. So I had to continue on to Cocke Hall. The printers were working fine there, but figuring out the most professional way to fold up a 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper to put in a most unprofessional 3.56 by 6.5 inch envelope. I found myself wondering why such envelopes are even made, and why (oh why?) were they the only ones available at the most convenient of local convenience stores?

Rain was threatening as I hurried to deliver my envelopes to the 11th Street post office, but that rain never actually fell at all today.

Zach (background) and Johnny Boom Boom

  drove my Dodge Dart up harrowing 29 North to a Radio Shack and obtained a variety of power connectors with which I might be able to make an AC adapter for my digital camera. When I got home, I found Johnny Boom Boom hanging out with Monster Boy drinking vino. I turned on the oscilloscope for them to watch while I modified one of the power connectors such that it would fit the evidently very non-standard power jack of my camera. This entailed using a power drill to enlarge the internal cylindrical cavity in the business end of the connector.

I drank a little wine, ordered a pizza for Monster Boy and myself, and hung out with Johnny Boom Boom on the porch while he smoked countless cigarettes. The stereo played song after song of Grrl music picked by Monster Boy from my CD collection: Hole and then L7.

People began showing up unexpectedly in unprecedented numbers. First came Angela in her borrowed Dodge Aspen. She was planning on attending a play starring various Tandem people (including a red tights-wearing Sarah Kleiner), and the plan was to have Johnny Boom Boom come along. But Johnny Boom Boom is one of the slowest people on earth when it comes to motivating to do anything (he's much worse than even Jessika), so when Angela finally left with Matthew Hart, Johnny stayed behind.

Meanwhile, Peggy, Zach and the Baboose had shown up. Their car has been experiencing a number of problems possibly related to a clogged fuel filter, and Zach had gone out and purchased a new one, but he couldn't find where on the car the fuel filter is hidden, and he wanted some help. So I eventually found it and made a few preliminary stabs at loosening it up, but there was little I could easily do without jacking it up. By this time Wacky Jen had arrived with Kirstin the Ecoradical and their friend Natural Leslie (how's that for a musings name?). Wacky Jen was wearing a pink skirt with little golden horses on it and Kirstin the Ecoradical was wearing black and white horizontally-striped stockings (seen in the picture), and Johnny Boom Boom soon decided that he wanted both the skirt and the socks. This desire on his part was to crop up repeatedly throughout the rest of the evening.

Joanna Road Rage showed up in her big brown van and Monster Boy, who had no pot of his own, asked Joanna if she had any. Some things never change.

The vino gradually vanished and a couple glasses got smashed by accident. Kirstin performed on cue when I turned the conversation to the subject of dog intercourse, hoping to hear her say "It's not gross, it's just dog sex!" It was also easy to get her to tell about the time the doctors at the free clinic thought she might have Gonorrhea of the Throat (she didn't). Wacky Jen and I were laughing our fool heads off.

Another funny thing revolved around a couple handwritten sheets of home-brewed hip hop lyrics that Kirstin the Ecoradical had discovered. Kirstin and Wacky Jen read aloud from these while I moved my hands to the imagined beat. The lyrics were funny beyond description, full of both sex and violence. Best of all were the imaginative spellings of some of the words. They fit with something I've noticed about hip-hop, the tendency to use flowery language and big multi-syllabic words to describe the most basic of human desires, actions and emotions. Kirstin and Jen plan on reading the lyrics at a coffee house poetry reading sometime.

We slowly made plans to go see the Counselors tonight at the Bomb Shelter. I'd never been to the Bomb Shelter before; every other night I'd ever wanted to go, I'd ended up somewhere else. Wacky Jen and Natural Leslie left before the rest of us because Leslie was adamant about getting in some games of pool before the music began. I didn't know this, but the Bombshelter has a couple of pool tables even while it lacks a liquor license.

The hour grew late; Matthew Hart and Angela returned from the play. We all fixed ourselves last minute drinks and headed out. Johnny was the most prepared of anyone; he had at least two bottles of Mad Dog and and another of Night Train. He goes for the cheap fake wine whenever his body is in a physiologic climate conducive to drinking.


he Bombshelter is located near the corner of Preston, 10th and Grady, very near the antique store Jessika and I helped to move. It's located in a place that used to be a Chinese restaurant. A little oriental-shaped sign out in front has been painted over with a very crude rendition of a radiation symbol. When we arrived, there were obviously very few people inside (judging from the number of cars out in front). Wacky Jen was there with Natural Leslie, and Natural Leslie's husband was there with a number of his dorky friends (he has some sort of computer-related job). There were also a couple hard core goth dudes, one wearing zillions of spikes and a black skirt. Not really wanting to investigate so lame a scene, we lingered for a long time out on the street, risking our lives as shiny hip-hop-booming cars zipped towards us from out of the 'hood. We were joined by Zach and Wacky Jen, and Zach told us we should definitely not pay. All we'd have to say, he said, was that we "don't feel like paying." As incredible as this sounds, this line worked and we all got in for free. The guy at the door was an overweight gothish sort of guy I often see on the Downtown Mall. He was a little dismayed that we all wanted in for free, but the important thing was that he did let us in.

The inside of the Bombshelter still looks like a restaurant (or actually a diner), and to offset this ambience, the lights had been turned way down low. There was also lots of fancy stage lighting trained on the musicians, including gyrating red lasers, a disco ball and some sort of twirling coloured light thing. I have no idea who pays to keep this place in business; especially with large contingents such as ours getting in for free.

We ate several orders of french fries while waiting for the Counselors to play. There was a band called Uncle Remus on the stage playing, but their sound was so stuck in that all-too-familiar mid-70s southern classic rock genre that the best we could do was smirk in polite appreciation. Wacky Jen says Charlottesville is full of aging musicians who will never transcend the music of their youth.

At nearly midnight, we decided to go on an emergency alcohol run to the nearby Shady Grady convenience store. But we can never do anything to meet a deadline, so of course as we were walking towards the store Deya hollered that it was already too late. Good thing Johnny Boom Boom had Mad Dog and Night Train. "Who was the one thinking?" he mocked us as we passed around his bottles of fake vino.

Utkan showed up (as he always seems to do in the midst of such events), and more of the Counselors came out and talked with us. Johnny Boom Boom stated his discomfort with all the onion grass and red clay to be found in Charlottesville. "Where the hell are the skinheads?" he continued in drunken disgust, "I wanted to kick some ass!"

After awhile we could hear stirring from inside the Bombshelter indicating the bands were changing, so we gradually found our way inside. The audience was still pretty pathetic: just us and those goth boys referred to earlier. The first song was one whose lyrics I'd written: "When Jatasya Got a Lobotomy," although a chorus had been added:

Jatasya got a Lobotomy!
Jatasya got a Lobotomy!

The song was unexpectedly very good. In fact, their whole performance was excellent. The vocal interplay between Zachary (the guitarist and backup vocalist) and Jeff (the lead vocalist) was especially well-developed and made for some catchy punk rock.

But it wasn't just the music that was so fun, it was also the theatre the musicians brought to it. Jeff and Zach (the latter carrying his guitar) ran around in amongst the audience, grabbing people and encouraging them to mosh. And then, between songs, Jeff would further address the audience from behind the microphone. At one point he drew attention to the fact that Johnny Boom Boom wanted Jen's pink skirt and Kirstin's pair of socks, then he walked up to them and tried to trade various of his own clothes for those Johnny wanted. Kirstin wasn't willing to play that game, but Wacky Jen was (of course). She somehow managed to (in public mind you) take off her skirt and replace it with Jeff's pants, and Jeff performed the rest of the show in his boxer shorts. The skirt ended up with Johnny and he clutched it much of the rest of the evening.

One of the songs performed was written as a mocking tribute to the Charlottesville artsy-fartsy scene. Jeff started out the song by saying "My name is Peter Grieser" (singer for Supertanker) and then he spoke of having had sex with both Nicole Truxell and Jen Fariello (the way he pronounced "Fariello" was especially hilarious). At that point he launched into the song and no one could tell what the hell he was saying. You just can't learn punk rock lyrics by going to shows.

All this showmanship was tarnished near the end when Jeff made a faux pas regarding Johnny Boom Boom. Jeff called Johnny up to the stage and asked in a good-natured way, "So, what's the heroin situation like up in Philadelphia?" Johnny is just out of rehab and he didn't take this well at all. He stormed outside and sat on the steps. Angela ran after him and sat with him and gave him comfort for awhile.

I found my way outside, where various people were eating cream-filled oatmeal cookies from a big wholesale box. Deya was inexplicably emotionally wrapped up in the evening, feeling pain for everyone. She was embarrassed about the heroin comment, feeling bad for Johnny, for Jeff, and being generally disgusted with Matthew and Angela, especially when she saw Matthew periodically and insecurely checking up on the progress of Angela's comforting of Johnny. She was also disappointed by the fact that Matthew and I are no longer friends, that what had gone before in the early days meant nothing now. I hadn't noticed that my friendship with Matthew had really gone through any transformation, and said that it wasn't as though my conversations with him had ever been very deep or meaningful. She found that even more sad. I went further, and said that I don't think my conversations with anyone are very deep. Deya thought that was saddest of all.

Jessika helped the band load their equipment. "Whenever I'm at these buildings, I feel like carrying stuff," she said (in reference to the antique store moving job). Meanwhile, Zachary and others passed around Natural Ice beers. We lingered for a long time in front of the Bombshelter.


hen Wacky Jen announced her intention to leave, I elected to ride with her, Monster Boy, Natural Leslie and Kirstin the Ecoradical, leaving the others to hang out with the Counselors. What started as an excursion to take Leslie home became a long period of hanging out at her house near East High Street. We all drank a little beer and smoked a fair amount of pot, which introduced a great deal of hilarity into our conversation. I had a several marijuana-induced revelations at this point.

Somewhat paranoid, I became aware of a "budget" of eye contact that each of us were dealing to one another. Those who were flirting with each other would deal more eye contact back and forth, while those who were trying to avoid the flirtative advances of others were deliberately not reciprocating with eye contact.

I felt that there was significantly more sexuality in the conversation than normally pervades social situations in which I find myself. Leslie was wishing we had a hot tub, and then thought maybe we should all just soak our feet in a regular tub. I suggested that we just imagine we were in a hot tub, and I wiggled my fingers at chest level and made hot tub noises and twisted my hips to avoid an imaginary jet. It was an easy image to conjour up (certainly easier than imagining being in the center of the Earth), and we all burst into laughter.

Somehow the conversation turned to rednecks living in new trailer park developments with shoddy sewage systems. I lapsed into a hard core Appalachian accent as I described rats running along the water's edge in the cheap underground PVC sewer pipes. Then I had a realization. These rats are part of our civilization every bit as much as we are! They depend on developers to rise from amongst us to build new developments in wild areas, to lay the pipes through which they can run, to bring in people with garbage cans that can provide food. The field mice and other native creatures (the rats' wild cousins - or "Indians" if you will) are driven out so that these more civilized rodents may move in. A whirlwind of thoughts passed through my mind. I realized that the way humans regard the animal world is very much related to what use we get from those animals:

  • domestic creatures- we exploit them, we modify them, we eat them, we enslave them. This is the price they pay for their alliance with our civilization. In return we maintain them in far greater numbers than they could ever exist in nature. We think of them as selflessly devoting themselves to our cause, but we both benefit.

  • pests- they benefit from our civilization but contribute nothing to its survival. The more of us there are, the more of them there are. We hate them; we see them as taking a free ride. Insects are regarded in an especially negative light because they are difficult to domesticate. They are often viewed as a whole class of pests, dismissed categorically as "bugs." At least rats can be upgraded from pest to a form of domestication when used in medical experiments.

  • wild nature- these creatures suffer as we expand into their habitat, or as we (like pests) exploit them without providing any benefits in return. We have mixed views about nature. For the most part, we simply feel sorry for them.

As we were headed out the door, we saw a long-legged cricket on the floor and got to talking about him. I thought he looked like a little alien life form; this is something that frequently goes through my mind when I'm stoned and come upon an insect. Leslie asked if I liked insects, and when I said I did she wanted to show me her insect collection. She had a bunch of dead invertebrates stuck on pins in a framed case. This might sound kind of macabre or perversely disgusting, but it's the way museums store examples of insects. In fact, as a young would-be naturalist (approximately age 13), I too maintained a collection of insects impaled on pins. At the time, I thought that was the way "science" was done. I'm more enlightened now, and perhaps Leslie is too. Indeed, I think people who kill and collect nature (Audubon, Teddy Roosevelt, etc.) are showing their immature, gradually developing love for it. It's a phase of nature worship that must be allowed to pass, just like my fascination with guns came and went at the onset of puberty.

Next stop was Monster Boy's apartment near K-Mart, but we were only there for a moment.


s Wacky Jen drove up Observatory Avenue, we beheld a strange sight: Deya and Johnny Boom Boom only just struggling home from a Yellow Journal party at the Haunted House. Johnny was still interested in Kirstin's stockings, but he was drunk and easily distracted.

Back inside Kappa Mutha Fucka, I came upon Jessika and Mike Wortella, or "the Vitaman," the lead singer from the Vitamen, that punk rock band that existed contemporary with Big Fun. The Vitaman used to date Amy from Memphis, by the way. He was very happy to see me, and seemingly happy in general, in a drunken, goofy, unfocused, "let's fuck shit up!" kind of way. They decided to return with me and Johnny Boom Boom to the Haunted House, just so I could see what was going on there. Wacky Jen drove us the short distance back to the bottom of Observatory and headed back home.

The Yellow Journal party was in its final death throes. The only people there (with the exception of Jessika) were a bunch of guys, so it definitely constituted a sausage party. Most of the old Curious Digit guys were there, including Josh and Jimmy, and John Arnold from Blond House was there too. There were also a group of somewhat older guys there, all of whom seemed to be fed up with the antics of Johnny Boom Boom. Johnny kept insulting them, acting like he wanted to fight them, and they kept trying to kick him out. Whenever tensions would grow beyond comfortable, I'd try to change the conversation by loudly talking about how we were all being screwed over by "the man." That was a point upon which we could all agree, and every time I said this, tension vanished briefly (only to gradually build again). Johnny wasn't being too nice to anyone except me and Jessika. At one point he accused Mike Wortella of being "the Man, the VITAMAN," using the most sneering tone of voice you can imagine.

There was still plenty of liquor, so I had a margarita. I also chatted with Curious Digit Jimmy about how I spend my time. Jessika had earlier been spreading the rumour that I've been trying to attach a computer to my brain, so I spun this long complex story about how I'm building a brain-computer interface, but that it's not even in the prototype phase yet, "just a few flowcharts is all."

Eventually the various guys who Johnny had been pissing off managed to escort us out the door.


arlier I'd been telling Johnny that if he really wanted to find a skinhead, I knew of one living with Ray Snabley, that in fact this skinhead had impregnated Ray's sister. Johnny, it bears mentioning, has never been a big fan of Ray Snabley, and news that Ray and a skinhead could be found at the same street address fanned internal flames. As we mingled outside the Haunted House, Johnny suggested we go pay Ray and his skinhead buddy a visit. "Skabley-Skinhead hybrid! Skabley-Skinhead hybrid!" Jessika and I began to chant. But I thought better of it (I wasn't really very drunk, you see) and decided I just wanted to go home. Jessika was telling me I needed to confront "this issue" head on, but she was almost in blackout and her judgment was impaired.

I left Jimmy, Jessika, Johnny and the Vitaman on JPA and headed home to bed. They all stayed up until something like 11:30 am, shooting BB guns at little toy soldiers. Then they slept at the Haunted House, ironically enough.

one year ago
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