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May 23 1998, Saturday



he yard sale happened this morning despite rain and unusually chilly weather. I'd never been part of a successful yard sale in my life. In Oberlin several years ago, my girlfriend Leslie Montalto, her two lesbian housemates and I tried to have a yard sale, but almost no one turned up and I believe nothing was sold. Of course, that time we'd only staffed it for about two hours, grown bored, and headed to our favourite bar, leaving all our wares beneath a sign that read "help yourself," with an honour-system donation can.

This time, though, there was surprisingly much greater motivation among those interested in the yard sale. Someone, Deya probably, had thought ahead and put up a sign on the heavily-traveled JPA. Bright and early at the ungodly hour of 9am, there came a knocking on our front door and some stranger, some yard sale fanatic, shouting, "You're not gonna make any money staying in bed!" It was a miserable day for a yard sale. Temperatures were down in the fifties and an even, soaking rain was falling from dismal grey skies. But the die hard lawn salers were out in force: Mexicans with enormous mullets, simple white trash housewives with kids in tow, and a chatty black guy who was very interested in an air conditioning unit Matthew Hart had left on our front porch. One guy even decided to pay a dollar for a plexiglas window pane I'd stolen a few nights ago (foolishly thinking it would fit our front door). It seem that a fair percentage of people who came did so with a goal in mind: find something to purchase. Too bad we'd thrown out Angela's couch; that would have sold easily. Things that didn't sell at all included books and clothes.

Deya's mother Marianne had shown up to help out with the yard sale and general household clean-up, packing and carrying. After the peak period of yard saling had passed (well before noon), this is mostly what we were doing. I played the Carpenters' Greatest Hits, which seemed appropriate with its sappy nostalgic quality. Even Johnny Boom Boom was singing along.


t a certain point, I rode off to mail my resumés and such. My hangover from last night's excessive drinking started catching up with me at about this point. I've noticed that my hangovers always peak in intensity 18 hours or so after my last drink.


ack home, I continued with the tidying of my humble abode, mostly filling holes and painting trim. The major mistake I made at this point was that I painted the around the front door. No one was downstairs at the time, but immediately after I was done, all kinds of people began showing up: Shonin and Wacky Jen, then Johnny Boom Boom and Jessika (who had been upstairs fighting on and off in a distractingly show-offish manner reminiscent of Matthew Hart and Angela) came downstairs. All these people quickly came in contact with my wet paint.

Shonin and I discussed amputation, a medical procedure with which he's familiar since he works as an equipment sterilizer at the University Hospital. Shonin says that only the most juniour surgeons do amputations, since they are considered among the most simple surgical procedures, and even if you screw up, you can always back up and cut off a little more.

Wacky Jen joined us for a little scandalous gossip session, which I know better than to elaborate upon.


he clouds gradually cleared, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and temperatures rapidly rose towards the 70s. Maybe there was more to make of this day than just dreary packing and cleaning.

Jessika found some black and orange Halloween streamer paper in some debris that Deya's mother had brought to be taken away with our trash. Jessika decided to decorate her and my bicycles with the stuff. Shonin helped out, but he didn't have a bike so he couldn't join us as we prepared to set out. Beyond that, Shonin admitted that he'd never even learned how to ride a bike, and, for that matter, only learned to tie a knot a year or so ago. He still feels a certain dread creeping over him in situations where he fears he might have to tie one. Evidently, he says, there were lapses in his basic education as he was growing up. All of us have suffered at the hands of such lapses, I suppose. For example, my parents failed to expose me to musical instruments when I was a kid, even though I clearly demonstrated a hungry appetite for musical self-education.

Suddenly Morgan Anarchy, the Boy Jesse and Kirstin the Ecoradical all showed up; they'd spent last night up at the water tower and all of today at Jesse's house watching teevee with Jesse's father, who, like Jesse, is also an understated maniac (turn your back to him for a moment and he's either sneaking up behind you or setting fire to the back forty).

Jessika and I took off on our bikes, streamers flying in the breeze or getting caught in the chain. We were a little dissatisfied that they superficially looked to be UVA's colours (blue and orange), as if we were just another set of celebrating graduates, but we rode off anyway, humming the tune from the Wizard of Oz during which the wicked witch is riding upon her broom.

We went on a dumpster diving mission, but something kind of bad happened so we had to make like Uranium 235.


ack at the house, we were all dragged inexorably towards another situation suspiciously resembling a party. Johnny went off to get his xth bottle of Wild Irish Rose, Shonin got a 32 ounce Mickeys, Morgan got some other form of alcohol. Someone fired up the barbecue grill. Gradually our cleaning wound down to a complete halt. We sat around on the porch discussing various topics, including the local radical environmental scene, familiar to me and Kirstin but not to the others. When Kirstin told about a logging blockade, Morgan's anarchistic tendencies were momentarily excited, but his idea of a valid protest was, he suggested, "Chaining myself to a liquor store."

Deya drove Jessika and me up to Barracks Road shopping center on a cardboard box/milk crate stealing mission. I'm sure others would have liked to come along, but we really only had room for us and what we intended to steal. We also managed to get some old expired bread along with the milk crates, though some of it had been soaked by the morning rains.

We stopped at Farmer Jack and picked up a bunch of groceries, many of them intended to be grilled tonight on the barbecue. Hotdogs are a pretty cheap way to feed your friends.


ack at Kappa Mutha Fucka, we grilled up several varieties of vegan meat-substitute burgers as well as carnivorous hotdogs and squash. Kirstin the Ecoradical would occasionally remind us not to let the hotdogs touch the veggie burgers, but it was pretty much a lost cause.

A whole bunch more people came: first it was Sarah Kleiner and Esther the Triplet, then later came the "involved Triplets": Naomi with her Susan Powteresque girlfriend and Hannah with her curly-haired boyfriend. Hannah and boyfriend kept up a fairly nauseating display pretty much the whole time they were here, pawing each other like they'd just hooked up yesterday or something.

Everyone partook of the products of the barbecue. There were a few beers going around, but nothing excessive (except for Johnny Boom Boom and Sarah Kleiner who, suckling on that bottle of "the Rose"; were themselves getting awfully coochy-coo).

Hannah, Naomi and their lovers all left, but the rest of us (ten people) prepared to set off to explore an abandoned burned-out warehouse down in the Woolen Mills area of Charlottesville (the quaint southeastern district wherein lies the abandoned factory, among other things). Wacky Jen, Shonin and Johnny Boom Boom had been to the warehouse earlier, during the daylight, whimsically considering the place as a possible no-rent squatter domicile for Morgan Anarchy and Johnny Boom Boom (not, mind you, that Johnny Boom Boom would make for a good squatter; he takes two showers each day and likes to do his laundry on a regular basis). Though we were all drunk and rowdy at the time, we knew we'd have to be quiet and settled before we departed, since the warehouse is in one of those neighborhoods populated by alert citizens all-too-ready to report suspicious activity to the police. In an effort to calm everyone down, I took the Black Sabbath off the turntable and replaced it with the Carpenters, "Rainy Days and Mondays." At this point the vast bulk of our numbers moaned in disgust and loaded up in one of the two cars we were taking.

We parked far away from the warehouse and approached quietly in the darkness. I'd brought a swivel chair, sort of a symbolic token of our intent to move into the warehouse.

The building was a big corrugated metal monstrosity arranged as two horizontal half-cylinders. We approached it on the loading dock side, and to this dock the burned-out husk of a tractor trailer was parked. We'd brought flashlights so we could see what was going on, and inside the warehouse we found all kinds of things. The smaller things were burned and covered with rubble, but bigger things (such as at least three automobiles) were identifiable despite their pathetic state. The most interesting of all was a series of ceramic moulds, most of which were designed to cast images of angels. Among the rubble somewhere Morgan Anarchy found the creepy bulk of what remained of a big old ceramic piggy bank.


ohnny and Sarah Kleiner disappeared into the darkness for a long time, I suppose they were invading each others' faces or something goopy like that. You could tell where they were by the everpresent glow of Johnny's cigarette. Not surprisingly, Kirstin the Ecoradical seemed to be disgusted with the whole affair. She'd been getting kind of close to Johnny for the last couple weeks, coming over obviously to hang out with him, and then everything changed and Sarah Kleiner started coming over a lot. He's been stringing Kirstin along during this time, being friendly enough to her that she comes to believe he likes her, but not conclusively so. Even tonight, as he cuddled on his right side with Sarah, he called for Kirstin to come sit on his left side. But she wouldn't let herself be humiliated so easily, no matter how Johnny whined and pleaded.

Johnny thrives on constant attention, the more the merrier. His ideal situation would be to be surrounded by nubile maidens all fawning over him as if he was some sort of helpless rock star, at the ready to perform his every bidding. His manner of attracting women seems to consist largely of infantile whining behaviour in concert with a humourous ethnic-urban schtick. There's a certain kind of girl out there who falls for this routine. Such girls tend to be lavish motherly types; Peggy and Angela come particularly to mind. They see Johnny as helplessly loveable and rush in to care for him. It's no wonder Matthew Hart looked up (and still looks up) to Johnny as some sort of hero. Their overall behaviour is strikingly similar, although Johnny has it honed to a sociopathic perfection.

As we left the warehouse, I was in a giddy, joking mood. I began to sing. Before I tell you the song I was singing, it's important that I first give a little background. Kirstin's friend, Natural Leslie, gets kind of crazy when she's drunk. Frequently in this state she flashes people or does other sexually-loaded things. The other day, while evidently drunk, she spontaneously grabbed Johnny Boom Boom's crotch (or, in the language of Malvernia, his "stuff"). It seems Johnny delights in telling this story, even though he words it like just another of his many complaints. What's more, Leslie wants somebody she knows to move into the basement apartment of her house, and she thinks John would make for a perfect housemate. Referring to all these things, in my usual slyly mocking way, I broke into song (sing in the manner of a Country-Western ballad),

    I'm a stuff-grabbing hippie
    Will you be my friend? [this line contributed by Shonin]
    Won't you live in my basement
    'Till the end?

On hearing this, Johnny became surly and said, "You're a really funny guy, Gus." Then lapsed into this oddly familiar tough guy body language (which is only a slight variation of Johnny's normal bad-posture swagger). I don't know to what extent Johnny was kidding (much of the time he seems to be viewing the world as if it were the funny papers). But suddenly he snapped out of it and gave a life-affirming chuckle and shook his head to himself.


ur two car loads were separated on the way back to Kappa Mutha Fucka. Morgan took Johnny, Sarah, Esther and the Boy Jesse into Hot Tomatoes, the gourmet pizza joint on the Corner, and got his buddy who works there to whip up some free sandwiches. Meanwhile, those who had ridden in Deya's car: Jessika, Deya, Kirstin, Shonin and I made it back to the house and sat around for a long time shooting the shit, talking mostly about Johnny Boom Boom's behaviour visà vis the tender gender. Oh god, what a horrible phrase I have just birthed; it's worse than a one-legged no-armed eyeless child afflicted with Elephant Man disease!


one year ago
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