There was little happening at my childhood home of any interest to you or me. I updated some things on my computer (a Mac IIsi) and went to sleep early, to the sounds of my Nirvana In Utero/Sugar Copper Blue tape. I'd made the tape a year before in Oberlin at my friend Erik Von Rippy's House (199 West College Street, Oberlin, Ohio).
In the evening I built a power supply for a little battery-powered Skoal-trademark stopwatch (so I could run it off of my car's power system). This required a large electrolytic capacitor, a single diode, and a resistor voltage divider network. In the diagram you can see how the diode isolates the capacitor from the 12 volts so that a charge in the capacitor is not lost instantly should the car's power supply fail (as it does briefly when the car is started).
Of late Hoagie has been experiencing trouble with the ignition key in her Subaru. Today it was so bad she was forced to abandon her car somewhere in the northern counties where she works. Using a friendly connection at a car dealership, she secured a white 1997 Pontiac Monte Carlo rent free for the night. She came back from her adventures in this car bearing lots of chinese food. The chinese food contained many hot red peppers, one of which she ate inadvertently. Being from blandest New England and very sensitive to such things, she ran around the house howling for several minutes. My brother Don did the same thing and spoke of calling the Poison Control Center. I had one, and it was hot. Very hot, so hot that I didn't eat another. But I didn't complain. And all my dad would do, tough guy that he is, was admit that the peppers were kind of hot.
A dream I had the morning of October 3rd, 1996: I was hanging out with Kurt Cobain at his place, which was sort of a big, old, unkempt and somewhat dilapidated house. He had a number of groupies and co-workers there, though he didn't know many of their names. He knew my name though. He was in a manic state as he charged around the place dealing with realities concerning his soon-to-be-released album, In Utero. He was going to change the lyrics of one of the songs from something sexually explicit to something violent that sounded almost the same. The record company was apparently happier about violent lyrics than sexually explicit lyrics.I wrapped up loose ends: things to type for my Dad, whatever. I'd cut his hair last night (the best hair cut he's ever received, he thought -much better than last time in any case). But I'd never really fixed any fences. The wires in the swamp stream crossing were too hopelessly tangled in driftwood for me to unravel. I was eager to return to Charlottesville, because I was experiencing loneliness. How odd. I feel so put upon and invaded most of the time in Charlottesville. But I get away from it for a single day and I start pining for it. The only periods I both tolerate and crave now are my night shifts at Comet.
Suddenly we saw all these sorority girls, dressed in semi-cheerleader outfits, coming up the street, then pausing outside the house, with some of their hunky boyfriends in tow. But as many of the world's conformists as there were, for some reason there were many more of us, the dissolute alternative youth. Suddenly, I let loose a great growl and we all slowly emerged out of Kurt's house and proceeded down the street, swamping and pushing the conformists ahead of us. We were strong and they were weak.
But our gloating was short lived. A big black jock suddenly popped up over the horizon and shot directly at me. I knew I'd been hit as I fell to my knees. I could feel a weird exhilaration in my head that I knew could only be the result of a bullet. All I could think was that, what with all the things I still have left in me to say, my demise was a great sorry misfortune. That's when I awoke, in the shaque.
In Charlottesville, though, the streets were devoid of those with whom I sought to waste time. So I turned to fixing my car's various burned out bulbs. The left headlight was remarkably dim, and the replacement I bought (at a nearby Fisher's Auto Parts) did not solve the problem. So I searched the wires and found one had been sliced. This I grounded. The headlight then shone brightly.
Later, on a search for a social life, I stumbled into Cecelia the Brazilian Girl and managed to involve her in many of my adventures in the rest of the evening. First, she and I went in the Dart out to Pantop's Revco to pick up my photos of the Warren Wilson trip. As we tooled around, though, my radar detector (originally given to me by the Full Flavour gang out on Fontaine last year at the conclusion of a yard sale) would squawk and make me paranoid that the cops would arrive and either see my expired inspection sticker or else "detect" my radar detector (there are radar detector detectors, I am told). You see, in Virginia it is some sort of crime to be found in possession of a radar detector. Sill, the radar detector added a certain amusing "sense" to my driving that I enjoyed. The adrenaline from all the inputs was unique, harrowing, but ultimately, oddly wonderful.
A small child in the Revco sliced the air with a $4 plastic battle axe while Cecelia and I looked on in amusement. The Warren Wilson pictures were of very low quality. But I knew I could make the best of them with Comet's computer facilities.
At Cecelia's house, nothing too interesting was going on, so I returned to the Corner and drank coffee at the Rising Sun Bakery.
Before too long, though, Cecelia, Jesse, and Cecelia's housemate, Fatima, arrived. Fatima, by the way, is the teenage half-sister of the two much older Durkee sisters Savitri and Shanti. And the Durkee sisters are among the first people I met in Charlottesville back in November of 1994 when I knew no one. Anyway, this crew was very bored and in search of excitement. I had very little money on me, maybe $3, but between them they all had even less. So alcohol wasn't going to cure our boredom problem. The boredom problem might be be improved with $3 worth of alcohol. But not cured. So I went to the Corner Market and bought a 750 mL bottle of Thunderbird, one of those super cheap fake vino concoctions in the tradition of Wild Irish Rose and Mad Dog. This I mostly drank by myself, though Cecelia had a little too. Ray joined our contingent, and with nothing else to do, we all headed back to Cecelia's after first picking up some the Simpsons videotapes from my house.
The greatest thing in the world that could happen to me happened back at Cecelia's. It turned out that Ray had, for some months since the demise of Big Fun, been in possession of the videotape made at the Jehu End of the World Party back in December of 1995. I had asked Ray about this tape on several occasions, and he had always denied having it. But now here it was, in the tiny room he shares with some other slacker in Cecelia's house. I watched large parts of the videotape, especially the memorable performance of Rain Gorgeous. I was awash with ideas about how to include sections of the videotape on the Jehu End of the World Party website.
Cecelia showed me some pictures of her goth friends from back in Curitiba, Brazil. They didn't look very goth, but she insisted they were, going on to say that Charlottesville goths, what with their interest in death metal, are just posers. Can't argue with that, I guess. She knows a lot more about goth than I ever want to.
Jessika arrived quite suddenly in the company of Nemo, Raphael and Ana. When they left, I left with them. We went to Super Fresh for the purpose of shopping. I was drunk from Thunderbird, and, typical for that particular level of intoxication, I wanted more. I had no money and in any case it was well past alcohol purchasing hours. What to do? Well...somehow two 1.5 litre bottles of vino were simply and discretely obtained. One bottle was an expensive one from a Virginia vinyard. It had a cork in it.
I recall little of what else happened. We ended up at Nemo's house. I drank some vino and showed every one my crappy swissesque $3 knife. Zachary came by and drank some vino. I ended up sleeping uncomfortably with Jessika in her tiny bed in her tiny room.
The good life ended dramatically when I tried to correct a few minor difficulties in my Dart's electrical system. It seems that while correcting a dim left headlight yesterday (by grounding a wire) I inadvertently killed off the right turn signal function. The bulbs were still good...but something was killing the signal between the blinker unit and the bulbs on the front and the back. At first I had no idea what the problem was, assuming I had just knocked a wire loose in all the wrangling done with the electrical system yesterday. But this didn't account for a 20 ampere fuse that routinely blew every time I deployed the hazard light. A short had crept into the wires. And there were so many wires too. Some with rotting insulation relic from those dreadful tasteless 70s. As desperation set in, I undid all the hard-won soldering done yesterday (I'd used a cigarette lighter to solder the ground wires, one of which went to the previously too-dim headlight). This cured my problem. But now I had the dim headlight to contend with again. The solution was to ground only the wire that had been sliced and not the bundle of wires it had once attached to. As weird as this might seem, those mass of black wires had served as a ground for the headlight at one time, but to actually ground them resulted in a serious short whenever the right blinker function was deployed! Who can explain these things?
I napped after my Dart was restored to dignity. Upon awaking, I visited Jessika briefly; she was working at the Bakery. Then I went to a variety of art openings on the downtown Mall. I also purchased a Sonic Youth CD at Spencer's unique record store/coffee shop near the corner of 2nd St. NW and Market Street. The CD was Experimental Jet Set, and it was used and cost $8. I'd originally intended to buy another Sugar CD.
The openings: bozArt featured the bizarre and wonderfully funky works of A. Faith. But those bozArt people have never treated me normally since the infamous A. Faith blackout episode. (See blackout in the Glossary). Gallery Neo...nothing too remarkable there except a lighted sculpture made of illuminated photographic slides. They had good vino there, though, and I hung out for a time with Phil the Rogue Ginini, who seemed pleasantly sad somehow. Maybe it's the coming of Fall. The vino seemed to help his attitude though.
The best works I saw were at the 2nd Street Studio at McGuffey. There were some remarkable, almost symbolist, black and white photographs, taken with infrared film. They were disquieting like Edward Hopper paintings, and I was very moved by them. I noted who'd taken the pictures but I've lost that info. I'll include it when I find it. Eureka! I have found it! Her name is Mary Pencleff. I signed her guest book, a real physical guest book made of paper, with this URL saying I'd mention her.
Nathan and Janine, along with an older friend, were in bozART. Nathan invited me to join them at Miller's for drinks. So I had a Guiness and was occasionally fussed over by Nellie as she bustled to and fro. She was at the time functioning as a waitress (but not ours). Nellie even fetched me a free little doo dee doo sandwich that had gone untouched by some wasteful patron. Our waitress was a certain blond Katherine who I see around the Corner quite often. Nathan demanded to pay for my beer when I left prematurely, but I gave him $2 anyway, insisting that he leave a generous tip for Katherine, who I referred to as "the girl." In retrospect it occurs to me that I was behaving a lot like Farrell.
I visited Jessika for awhile, but that's never too interesting when she's washing dishes at the bakery (as she was doing) so I went off to take a pre-work nap.
There was a very small punk-rock style party happening in the infamous Wertland Apartments at about the time I left the bakery. I saw Morgan Anarchy through the Window dancing to the Dead Kennedys. I went in and drank a couple beers, was rather bored, and then left.
Aaron the SHARP walked by the Rising Sun while I was there. But instead of focusing on me, his declared enemy, he instead said something nasty to Eddie the Ness (an occasional visitor to Big Fun in the past). Then he went some distance away and glared at us across 14th street. I really don't see how the SHARP can hope to ever have any friends when all he does is persist in being boringly mean all the time in this way.
The sun, wherever it was behind the rain clouds of yet another tropical storm, was setting as I went off to Comet to check my e-mail and all of that. Then a very disturbing thing happened, which I will relate in this public forum. Evan, one of my benevolent superiours, said he'd heard a rumour that I wasn't allowed into the Magazine Office (the Office of the magazine Ping), which is one of the offices in the suite of offices in which Comet is situated, upstairs from the Greenskeeper on University Avenue. Now I have my suspicions about the origin of this rumour, and this isn't the first rumour or my first altercation (always through nebulous agents, I might add) with the "higher powers" at Comet. I get along wonderfully with the tech staff, of which I am a member. But there are others, some with considerable power, who apparently do not like me for whatever reason. Such people do not even know me, so they are obviously judging me based on prejudices they have concerning either my appearance (I am sort of punk rock, you know, though not in any extreme way-no mohawk, no nose ring) or the appearance of my friends. Of course, the Big Fun Glossary may also have something to do with it. In any case, these nebulous forces, always unnamed, are given to circulating petty little rumours about me. One such rumour is that I left the markers in the magazine office off and that they all dried up (I would think the many children running around Comet would constitute more likely suspects...). Now comes the rumour, which is naturally unconfirmed, that I am not allowed in the Magazine Office. These rumours come without faces to ask "why?" to. I have an e-mail address for people to send me criticisms if I am in any way doing wrong things, but no one ever sends me any criticisms. "They" prefer to work in this dark, sinister Stalinistic way, and I am left to feel like I am being spied upon and that some sort of axe may fall at any moment. If indeed it is true that I am to be barred from the Magazine office, I will be forced to do my scanning at UVA's electronic text center again, where I, despite having no credentials, am apparently more trusted than I am at my own place of employment. That would have consequences for the exuberant page-creation wave I am riding on. It would also have consequences for my morale, and consequences for my attitude towards Comet, and ultimately it would only hurt Comet.
I was so burned up about this that I considered issuing a two week notice about my employment should it prove that I am barred from the magazine office. I know that sounds extreme, and in retrospect it is extreme. But I am not going to simply take shit from backstabbers who enjoy trifling with my morale. I 'm a dedicated worker and more than willing to do any task assigned to me at Comet. But as compensation for such dedication, I feel I am owed some basic human respect. However this turns out, I must say that Comet has been good to me. I have become fluent in HTML, adept at animated GIF construction, am learning Java, have a thorough understanding of the mechanics of the Internet and know lots of valuable and arcane information about Web search engines. This is all the result of an education provided by many hours left to my own devices at Comet. I am very employable now in ways that I wasn't four months ago. Sure, it would suck having to find a new host for my web pages. But I would survive and ultimately thrive, probably with a considerably larger pay check to show for it. Enough of this ranting for now. I feel better having gotten that off my chest. By the way, I think it adds a lot to my musings that I feel free to talk about such sensitive topics as in-office power plays as they happen.
Because of my bad Comet experience, I was in a dreadful mood as I set off to visit Jessika. I found myself avoiding the usual pleasant small talk I normally exchange with the many people I know as I navigated the streets of Charlottesville. But then, on the Downtown Mall, there was Morgan Anarchy. You just don't dismiss Morgan Anarchy. We were quickly joined by Josh Mustin and Cecelia the Brazilian Girl, and we moved as a wave down to Miller's, where Theresa Venesian was functioning as a waitress. Because of the rain, there were few people at Miller's. The place had the laid-back feel of a cozy living room. Persad, Theresa's boyfriend, was there eating free food and drinking free coffee, which we all found ourselves joining him to do. As I said at the time, "Theresa's good at the free stuff." To be with good friends doing pleasant things did much to improve my mood, but as I continued on to Jessika's place at Nemo's house, I felt the injustice-spawned-rage creeping back.
But at Nemo's house, I was put back at ease. Jessika's presence, it turned out, was soothing during a crisis such as this. As I'd approached her place, I'd actually been wondering if her presence was going be as helpful emotionally as the presence of Morgan, Cecelia, Josh Mustin, Theresa and Persad had just been.
Ana and Nemo were also there. We all hung out in the living room together, listening to vinyl records. One such record was a recording of Disney's version of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. This is a record I recall fondly from my own childhood, and to hear the old songs brought back nostalgic happy memories.
Nemo was being entertaining. I'd never had so much fun with a baby his age (4 months) before. He would smile and watch in fascination as I did tricks with my hands while Jessika held him. He would get so excited he would grab and kiss the back of my hand. Then I did peek-a-boo things around a corner like I do with my cat back at home, the Kitten.
Jessika started playing classic 45 rpm LPs from the 80s. This involved considerable interaction on her part to maintain the music. Then we got involved in a dull conversation about paint mixtures followed by her going off to paint her room. And she wondered why I was leaving so soon when I departed at that point.
I went to Fatima's house because I told Cecelia I'd be going there later. But Cecelia wasn't there. Who was there included Ray, Soiled Little Boy's Underpants, Jesse, Fatima, lots of high school kids, and one very young looking girl. Bad news had just come; everyone was to be evicted because the landlord was receiving too many noise complaints about the overpopulated apartment, which was only supposed to be housing Fatima's mother (who lives elsewhere). I stayed until it was just Fatima and me, hoping Cecelia would come by. Who came by instead was Fatima's mother, telling Fatima that everyone must be out. Since I was the only one there except Fatima, I left. Fatima's mother apologized, saying she didn't want to be a wicked witch.
At my house on Wertland, I drank some vino and hung out with my house mates, very blond Katherine, and her wonderful dog Deeoji.
But as always things became weird or dull or something, so I headed off to the Corner to find some excitement. All day since Comet, I'd been seeking distraction in the form of excitement, you see. I ran across Vanna the increasingly gothic punk rock girl (and very good friend of Cecelia the Brazilian Girl). She wasn't too despondent considering that she was among the people being evicted from Fatima's house. No, she bubbled over with her own unique brand of optimism. She had some beers, so I invited her to drink them at my house. For some reason this resulted in a large contingent of her friends tagging along. A large number of them ended up in my room. We drank the beers and cranked the tunes. I was very drunk by this point, and I passed out in my bed with a beer in my hand.
I awoke wondering where I was, in the middle of the night, soaked from a spilled Heineken. This was the one little catastrophe that finally motivated me to do a laundry. I started a load of white laundry (my beer-soaked sheets and crusty socks) and went back to bed.
I was full of weird and powerfully creative ideas as I lay there. One was to make a band called "Cum-shot Feminism" with lyrics to one of the songs being
We'll destroy their society todayI guess that would be a punk rock song, huh?
Because they go hear the rapists play
Then I had a wonderfully vivid dream.
It seems my friends and I (including particularly Jessika, along with an anonymous girl, unknown in real life, who was functioning as my casual lover) were being pursued by the security on a College campus. Just like Warren Wilson, we were being all half-assed about our avoidance of security. But they, the security guys, took us very seriously, mobilizing a legion of officers to ensnare us following a dramatic chase. Once cornered, we were all very civil and allowed them to put little mug shot medallions around our necks. This was apparently meant to be a symbol that we were going to all be "taken downtown." But at the last moment, they cordially set us all free, saying we'd be issued tickets by mail for our crime. That's when I awoke.By now I had a serious hangover head ache. After doing more laundry, I went to UVA to do some work in an anonymous environment on these musings.
At Nemo's, no one was there, so I sat on the porch drinking vino, reading a Details magazine article about Joni Mitchell and another about David Geffen, and waiting for the rain to come to a conclusion.
When the rain finally was over, I returned to the Downtown Mall and sat reading the various Mudhouse Journals in the Mudhouse coffeeshop. There's a whole page of comments about me in there, some negative, some positive, all short and to the point. Patrick Reed, for example, stated that I am "a waste of oxygen" and "barely a man" (whatever that means). He hadn't signed it but I recognized his handwriting. Someone else wrote that I am "punk as fuck." It all began with "Gus is really freaking me out" near the top of the page.
I'd purchased a bottle of vodka, and back on the corner on Wertland when I saw a pickup load of goths drive by, I knew right away how it would be drunk. Soon enough, Theresa, Persad, Cecelia the Brazilian Girl, Vanna the increasingly gothic punk rock girl, some random guy and I were at Theresa and Persad's drinking vodka and enjoying other substances. Most of them were also awaiting a scheduled departure on a hallucinogenic voyage.
We ate some chinese food as well. The music was a Sisters of Mercy videotape. I thought the vocalist had a very cool attitude. He sounded like the guy, Robert Hazard, who sang one of my favorite 80s songs, "Escalator of Life."
Theresa and Persad were having some little nascent squabble. I wasn't immediately aware of this. My first clue came by observing their cat, one of the Gemini Kittens. The little wide-face black cat (with a white spot in the style of Senovia) gave them this look that tipped me off instantly that he knew that they were about to have a spat. And sure enough they did. They kicked us out so they could do so in private.
We went to my house and continued drinking the vodka, eventually setting off in my Dart to get another bottle. Josh Mustin, who had shown up by this point and was the least intoxicated, did the driving.
What followed was increasing, spiralling mayhem. Bottles were broken in the street. Someone knocked over a box of laundry detergent in the kitchen and I tried to clean it up with water. Peggy came by and for some reason I kept trying to seduce her in a completely half-assed way. Then I had this big tearful emotional thing with Elizabeth. My last memories featured me trying to vomit in the bathroom.
After a successful bout of typing at UVA, I went downtown on a Jessika search that proved repeatedly fruitless. I left a note to Nemo at his house and continued on to Nathan and Janine's with some Red Hook I had purchased at the Market Street wine shop. Nathan and I discussed the electronics and networking classes he teaches at K-Tech (a local technical high school). He's mostly discouraged with the low levels of ambition he sees in his students. Even his Networking students, who are for the most part brighter than average, mostly prefer to while away the hours not conferring with the flowers but playing video games. We also discussed the sequence of steps by which we'd discovered both the Internet and the World Wide Web. We'd both wondered what Netscape was for the first time we'd seen it (me in the fall of 1994) and hadn't been impressed by it until discovering search engines (me in the spring of 1995). Up until that point most of our contact with the Internet had been for basic services such as e-mail (Nathan) and FTP (both of us).
There is a house guest staying with Nathan and Janine; she is named Helen and she is a co-worker of Janine, dealing with the realities of being new to Charlottesville. She claims to like Aquariuses though I have no clue what her astrological sign is.
I finally rendezvoused with Jessika at her house. She'd been reading these musings and we discussed some of what I'd written, including the evil forces at Comet, possibly inappropriate stuff with Peggy last night (not stuff, mind you) and other things of interest. We seemed to be getting along rather well and I think my confessions in the musings had facilitated this. So I was put in a rather jovial mood, given to laughing and joking, especially with Raphael, to Nemo's amusement. We watched a talk show which featured some trendy hosts simulating (and subtly mocking) house-wife status as they discussed currents in cutting edge fashion before a studio audience comprised mostly of working-class grunts. The show was funny in an unanticipated way. We also watched a big budget but ultimately ridiculous action-thriller about a couple of white women pursued through a bad industrial wasteland by an over-sexed and economically unsavy urban street gang that happened to be led by an evil, cruel, utterly unredeeming psychotic white man with a casual attitude towards the value of human life. Every twist of the action was utterly predictable, right down to the psychotic white guy's last second-rise from an appearance of death (only to require being shot down by one of the heroines who fortuitously appears out of what we'd imagined was an unpopulated shadow).
Such socializing and jovial movie watching lasted until 4am, and I slept uncomfortably on one of Jessika's red couches. It was much less comfortable than her bed had been some days before.
I chatted with Gigi Payne of bozART for awhile in bozART. She says bozART is unraveling from poor communication. There seems to be much concern that people will freak out from all the nude photographs in this month's exhibit; the front door is festooned with warning labels.
I did some more work at UVA again. I really enjoy using the computes in Cocke Hall; they have big-screen Power PC Macs. Unfortunately, though, the only easy way to edit HTML is with Claris Works; I was unable to find any version of BBEdit to download, and all my HTML exceeds the 32 K limit imposed by TeachText/SimpleText. I would like to proclaim here and now to the world that Microsoft Word 6.0X is a complete bloated abomination. Will no one else reveal this dinosaur to be on a path to extinction? One of my beefs with Word 6 (among many) is that, despite such facts as my computer saviness, there is no way that I know of to turn off "smart quotes" since the most obvious way, to uncheck "smart quotes" in the preferences, has no effect whatever. Macintosh smart quotes look like goofy inflected foreign vowels when viewed with a web browser. That's intolerable for me, though it seems to be just fine for the likes of Waldo.
Following some work at Comet (complicated by a massive net-burp (or was it a puke?)), I took a nap at the bare Elliewood offices of Comet. I slept so well that I extended my nap an extra hour when the alarm finally went off at 10pm.
Then it was a return to the streets of Charlottesville. I have to admit that I was embarrassed by the many heroic salutations I was accorded upon my arrival to the front of the Rising Sun Bakery. They, the many assembled, treated me like I was some sort of deity returning to walk among men. That's not how I felt. I was in an unparalleled state of grogginess and only wanted coffee. But I ended up drinking a Haffenreffer instead. I walked around with the beer in a small paper coffee cup. I was in the Espresso Corner with a very drunk Jessica (not to be confused with Jessika) and a few others, mostly waitresses at the College Inn. When Jessica was told that some Wahoo was laughing at her behind her back, she went and pulled up a chair at the Wahoo's table.
Then, on 14th Street, Morgan Anarchy appeared with an anxious tale of violence from some party he'd been attending in the country. Some guy had to be hospitalized after an altercation with a beer bottle that was both broken on his face and twisted into his chest. An agent of anarchy stole some Negro Modelos from the Baja Bean and one was rapidly handed off to me. The police soon arrived to investigate, but the evidence had completely dissolved into unsuspicious pockets such as mine by this time.
note: I have received word that, owing to space limitations, all of my websites (well over 20 megabytes of stuff) will soon have to be relocated to Atlas (http://atlas.comet.net/gus, http://atlas.comet.net/bigfun, etc.) This is going to be a drag initially. But once the transfer has occurred, there will be considerably more freedom concerning space limitations and server-side scripting possibilities, among other things. I'm a little nervous because Atlas is a Unix machine and I have become familiar with the Windows NT machine, Gilgamesh, that has traditionally served my pages. Start getting prepared for the switch; this URL will soon be history!
I hung out for a time with housemates Steve and Elizabeth on the front porch of my house. They both had very interesting tales to tell about childhood "relationships" with the opposite sex. Such "relationships" were characteristically completely non-physical, full of awkward pauses and avoidance of eye contact. But they meant something because, in the case of Steve, his first real "action" (as it were) resulted from a reunion (after a multi-year hiatus) with the girl he used to "go with."
Elizabeth had been at the Crozet Crafts Fair catering with the Rising Sun Bakery today. She'd bought a remarkably beautiful kaleidoscope from Deya's mother (it had been constructed by Deya's father). The contraption looked like something from a Dr. Seuss book, what with its knobby little copper feet and two spinny wheels and weird green side panels.
There was more than a keg of beer left over from some party that had happened on Friday Night at my house (I'd missed the party entirely). Because of the beer, yet another party happened tonight, though it was a really relaxed affair with only a dozen or so attendees at any one time. I woke from my pre-work nap only an hour before work, so it wasn't like I could really participate in any substantial way. As always when I attend parties before work (when I find myself having to repeatedly apologize to new acquaintances about having to leave soon for work), I found myself explaining what exactly it is I do at work. I usually try to give the impression that I do nothing but watch teevee. No one would believe how hard I work on my projects if I were to tell them. And if they did believe me, they'd think I was crazy. They wouldn't understand. So I lie and tell them I am lazy. This reminds me of Doc's predicament in Steinbeck's Cannery Row. In that book, Doc had once walked across country from some place like Michigan all the way to Florida. When he told people that his purpose was to soothe his nerves and see the country (sort of like Waldo??) people thought he was insane and counted their silverwear and brought the children indoors. So Doc started saying he was doing it to win a bet. Then people thought he was a hell of a fine guy, gave him free food and money and even put him up for the night.
Waldo and I exchanged some e-mail. Who knows where he was, somewhere on the ole' AT perhaps? Anyway, he'd of course received all of the Patrick Reed e-mail. Waldo was in agreement with Patrick's contention that the word "dork" means "penis." (This being one of the reasons for Patrick's vitriol concerning his definition.) That may be true historically, but that is never how I hear "dork" used nowadays. It is reserved to describe people who are perhaps intelligent but lacking in social skills. Jatasya and Jesseca have both used this term to describe me, and that is always what they meant by it, clearly.
What to do? Jessika wanted to go and get the bike, and I thought that was our only dignified option at this point. So off we went, Jessika, Matthew Hart and I (the other two were too chicken shit to come along). I knocked on the door and a plump woman and her plump little son, Homeslice, came to the door. I did all the talking, saying, "I have reason to believe that he [indicating Homeslice] has her [indicating Jessika] bike."
The mother looked sternly at her little Homeslice, asking him where he got that bike from. To his denials of culpability, she took us all to a back room and in an embarrassed fashion showed us Jessika's bike. It was in a sorry state in as much as the handlebars, cables, toe clips, and rear derailleur had been removed and the seat had been replaced. The fork tube sticking through the frame had lost its retainer nut and was somewhat dented. There were additional scratches in the blue paint job and the pedals looked liked they'd suffered from numerous klutzy spills at the hands of gleeful destructive larcenous children.
"That's it," Jessika and I had to agree. I gave the kid the seat that didn't belong, and advised him that it wasn't such a good idea to steal from people as close as just one house over. His story was that the bike had been given to him by friends "in the projects." It would be a weird alignment of planets that would put him in the innocent possession of a bike stolen from directly next door, of course, and his mother must not have been buying his story. Oh, and by the way, Jessika had seen him and all of his friends eyeing her bike as she'd locked it the night of its theft.
I told Homeslice's mother that we didn't mean to start trouble, that all we wanted was to have the bike back, and so we left with Jessika's headless bike. One can only imagine what sort of whupping lay in wait for precious Homeslice.
Back at my house, we sat around discussing all of this with one another as we sipped warm beer left over from Friday's kegs.
Jessika intends to put a banana seat and swooping handlebars on the bike (this was a plan she'd made even before the bike's discovery; recently she was offered handlebars and a banana seat and she'd actually been in search of a frame). I shared two thoughts on the subject of the bike's recovery today.
The first was that Homeslice's bringing of the bike back from "the projects" today (foolishly, in broad daylight) indicated to me that it represented the "spoils" that he was allotted from the bike's original theft. The rest of the bike (the handlebars, rear derailleur and chain) had gone to one other conspirator. Either the rest of the bike was considered too "hot" and dumped into the possession of Homeslice as a small token of appreciation for his having provided the opportunity for another homey to obtain the needed parts, or else (more likely, I feel) the bike represented a substantial fraction of the spoils. This would account for its still having its wheels, which are easily removed and are almost completely generic and interchangeable with other bikes. This would make homeslice probably the most active participant in the bike's theft.
The second thought I had regarded Homeslice's mother. Here she is, a black woman with a black son living in an almost completely white university residential area. Her son often has his friends over to her house, and they all look the part of the stereotypical "dangerous black youth." She must be aware of the usual stereotypes and of the probable prejudices of the white people living around (and even above) her. She no doubt imagines the white people's thoughts upon seeing her son and his friends. Such thoughts, she imagines, are those of fear. "Those kids are up to no good. I don't trust them. They're bad little negro boys." That sort of thing. So, as is typical when dealing with stereotype, she wants to go out of her way to prove that her son does not fit these stereotypes, these prejudices. But today the awful truth came flooding in; her son really is a little criminal, exactly along the lines of the stereotype. There is no going back. She probably feels very isolated.
As we discussed this, we saw little Homeslice heading past my window east on Wertland towards "the projects." He was in all likelihood going to complain about losing his fraction of the spoils, and his cohorts were probably going to tease him about his stupidity for wheeling the bike home in the daylight. Whatever happened in "the projects" he returned soon in a state of frustration, flagellating a telephone pole with a stick as he ambled along.
At a certain point I ran across Peggy, and we sort of hung out together, going to the White Spot for amusing greasy food, then, by now with the Swami Rami tagging along, to Theresa and Persad's house, then also the location of Cecelia the Brazilian Girl. We wandered around the Corner, going into the Coyote to chat with Gopahl, one of Theresa and Persad's gothic colleagues from the Swami Satchananananananandanda's Yogaville. There was a really cool toy there that was a jack whose spikes were big latex fingers, complete with seams, wrinkles and fingernails. It was, as the label said, a "genetic disaster!"
Cecelia had to go to work at the C&O, and it was, of all vehicles, my Dart that was to provide the transportation to get her there. But my Dart was inextricably kerplopped in an enigmatic hole in the yard behind my house; Josh Mustin, talented boy that he is, had managed to place it there when he drove it the other day. As it became increasingly evident that my car was never going to move again, I took to cursing Josh Mustin in a remarkably vitriolic fashion. Theresa was amazed, saying she'd never heard me be pissed off before.
We recruited Ches and Andrew, my housemates, in the cause of extracting my car. But we were all too weak to push it out. It looked like tow truck time had come. But then someone, a real genius in retrospect, had the idea that we simply rally our forces in the goal of lifting the right front wheel out of the enigmatic hole. One of us would be too weak for that, but four big strong guys...well, that might do the trick. So Cecelia and Peggy sat on the trunk over the rear left tire while we handsome men all lifted the one most mired corner of the car. Theresa did the driving. Miracle of miracles, it worked, and liberation was ours!
After Cecelia had been let out, we continued to Pan Top's shopping center and bought a fairly big bottle of vodka, which was to be the evening's liquid fun, with the understanding of course that I would have to go to work tonight too.
Petting the Gemini kitten, I suffered from a moderately strong allergic reaction in the manner of my reactions to petting Stink. This leads me to believe that Theresa and Persad's cat is Stink's daughter.
We were all drunk in record time. I know this because shortly into our drinking, Peggy remarked to me that I am a flirt when drunk. At a certain point, Peggy, Theresa and I were rough housing on the couch, and those skinny girls somehow managed to more or less over-power me. They scratched me merciless with their nails, Theresa's mainly. But there are also bite marks on my hands, compatible in appearance with the small size of Peggy's mouth. I was forced to flee or else be beheaded, so it seemed.
Well, so after we became a certain level of intoxicated, we snuck into the old Howard Johnson on the Corner, which is being made into an entirely different chain-hotel and is thus undergoing extreme refurbishing.
Theresa, Persad and I played pool in Orbit, the new billiards place above the Espresso Corner. Theresa and I, by acting like pros with the wine list and by dropping a few names and acting self-important, mutually affectionate and somewhat bored, managed to get her a glass of vino. Persad and Peggy were left out in the cold on this matter, however. I, of course, had an ID. Then we played a few round of pool, which was remarkably fun.
I took a nice little pre-work nap and somehow recovered from my brief little taste of weekend behaviour before heading off to another night at Comet.
Then I moved on to the problems that afflict my Dodge Dart. The horn's not working is the most pressing, should I ever get an opportunity to actually get it inspected (not that that really seems likely in this town; a couple weeks back my "inspection mission" led me all the way to Ivy without satisfaction; I guess you need to get an appointment or something). The horn had been acting like there was a short in the post-relay circuit. But today the horn was working fine...
Then I turned my attention to the leaks around the windows, one of which causes leaking into my stereo in the glove compartment. I used this black silicone gasket compound which came out as a thin acrid black syrup from a tube, releasing vapours that stung my lungs and eyes. At first I kept it off my hands, but then critical subtle techniques required finger action and that shit ended up on my fingers, from which it was subsequently very difficult to extricate. And my fingers were left with that acrid smell and an unnerving raw feeling. But I did "seal" (or at least seemed to) long sections around the front and back windows in a manner similar to the way someone else had obviously done some back. The next tropical storm will be the real test...
I found Deya at the Rising Sun Bakery, where I ate some soup. But she was soon whisked off to "back from College fun" by her mother and father. I was left with a relatively eventless evening, which I took advantage of mostly by hours of catching up on any possible sleep deficit I might have accumulated over the past week.
The meeting had been called by the two other downstairs kids, Ches and Andrew, on the subject of upstairs people (Elizabeth, Penley, John and Steve) being insensitive of our peace and quiet needs, particularly as related to the teevee (Matthew Hart's old teevee, which had been Big Fun's teevee). The meeting wasn't too interesting of course. It didn't have any of the melodrama that made Harkness house meetings so much fun. Furthermore, everyone smoked a lot and I hate smoke. Deya, who does not smoke, showed up and that was a welcome relief from the meeting. We spent the rest of the evening together.
I have been rather prolific of late, finally linking in the Big Fun Glossary's
Epitaph -er- I mean Epilogue. Also, my heroin page now contains all the
stuff I learned recently about the heroin trade in Philadelphia. Check these pages
out; it's worth the trip(s).
I was only in Staunton awhile before I commenced sleeping.
In the evening I picked up some Kentucky Fried Heart Attack for my brother, father and myself. Then I worked on my Warren Wilson, Invaded Website.
Today's experience was no different than usual for such get-togethers in the past. We drank Milwaukee's Best, smoked a little pot (which, uniquely at Josh's, always makes me reflect anxiously about my social behaviour back in the Charlottesville environment), and played some music. I was rather experimental in my use of scales, which often as not, I made up on the spot and then somehow stuck to long enough for a consistent several minutes. My coordination and speed did not appear to have suffered much from my lack of practice of late. Indeed, Josh's pseudo-Stratocaster was much easier to play than my Martin Stinger has been of late. It also had newer strings (all six of 'em), which made the more subtle things I do stand out better against the ample tonal mud I am guilty of mixing. I am fast, though. Very fast. I far outrun Josh's meagre playing, though I weave around him in a way that his lumbering motion somehow coincides with me. At one point when we fell into 3/3 and 3/9 time, we meshed incredibly well; I was amazed by the tape we'd made when, under the influence of marijuana, I heard it some minutes later.
We also watched a live Slayer videotape called Live Intrusion. Those guys really are amazing, but I kept being alarmed at how brutal and -frankly- pointlessly sick their lyrics are. What does it say about America that the best musicians here advocate mutilation, torture and murder in their lyrics?
At 2pm I went to the Augusta Farm Bureau on an ill-fated mission to get my Dart inspected. I'd never noticed, but the Dart's tailpipe is completely rotted away. Along with the noisy power steering system (fixed with a little power steering fluid, however) and a missing front marker light (a legacy of an accident at the hands of the original owner), I failed inspection, and received a sticker that allows me to drive the car for fifteen more days. However, if I fix these things, I will pass...
So I went to Fisher Auto Parts and bought a new tailpipe for $33. Then I went out east on US 250 to a junkyard within the Staunton city limits (giving a hitch hiker, a dish washer at Rosa's Cantina, a ride to the eastern city limits in the process) and got a light from a junked Dart. It cost $8, which was a little excessive, but I was relieved to somehow manage to get a replacement.
At Josh's, we played a little more, until I was bored. So, in his yard, I installed my new front marker light and attempted to remove the old rotten tailpipe. It almost doesn't bear stating that all the relevant nuts were welded by twenty one years of rust and there was no moving them. All I could do was rip out some of the old tailpipe using Cro-Magnon brute-force techniques.
Back at the Shaque, I finished typing an especially long and boring chapter in my Dad's non-book that no one is supposed to know about (leak leak, watch me leaking the news to all you who could care less).
Then, in a hurry, I returned to Charlottesville. But before Stuarts Draft, I realized I'd forgotten to grab the all-important latest and greatest version of the Warren Wilson, Invaded Website. So I turned around, went back and got it.
The situation was dull in Charlottesville, so I went spelunking in obsessive-compulsive schizophrenia.
Here I am at Cocke, working on the musings. I just got some e-mail from Diana the Redhead:
Subject: diana the redhead is bored in new york city Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 13:03:43 -0400 From: Diana Welch [WelchD01@newschool.edu] To: email@example.com who would of thought that i'd be bored in the big apple? I miss you kids, even though i hear youre causing quite a ruckus down south. How about coming up here and getting thrown out of my college? I need some obnoxious punks to spice up the place. actually, im moving out of my lame ass dorn and into a phat pad. (notice my hip new york lingo) so come up and see me. Bring your friends and some carlo. hi everybody. hey, how do you find the glossary on this stupid internet thing? I heard i've got a definition that remarks pointedly about my breats. hmmm, should be interesting. I can't belive im on this crazy information freeway or what ever it is . i like freeway better. Even though it's hard to find your way around.. thay should give you a map. and there should be rest stops. bye.I accomplished a minor victory in my battle to remove the old rusted tailpipe from my Dart today. I parked the car on the edge of Wertland such that the left side was up on the curb (on some boards too) to give me enough clearance to climb under and saw the old hardware with a hacksaw. This was very tricky and rather brutal on my muscles. But I did get through, snapping the final metal with a rotation of a pair of channel-locking pliers. A beautiful orange spark glamourized the breaking of the 21 year old steel-u-bolt. But getting the sleeve of the tailpipe off the muffler, what with all the rust, proved an impossibility. Later I will use some WD-40 and see if that makes any ground.
In the evening I hung out with my housemates mostly in the living room that we share. They all smoked of course, and smoke in my throat always make me feel unhealthy. And perceptions are everything when it comes to health; the placebo effect teaches us this. Recently, I have been so sensitive to smoke that its dilute presence even in my own room with the door shut (presumably having drifted in through small cracks) has irked and troubled me. As is always the case with smoke, however, I have absolutely no recourse. No one ever does when faced with an addiction, especially the addiction of another. If you think quitting your own addiction is difficult, try quitting the addiction of someone else! It reminds me too much of heroin. Deya came over and hung out with us too.
I slept some hours after I got off work, then hung out with the house mates again. I've been relating well to Elizabeth lately, even discovering subtle previously unknown things about her that I really like. They're subtle, so don't expect a list. In summary: she's really very cool.
At night at Comet I finally wrangled all my websites onto Atlas, the secondary web server (which runs Unix). This was complicated by the rigourous case sensitivity of Unix. In many of my sites, see, I had inconsistent capitalization of file names (infuriatingly encouraged by the very nature of Microsoft Windows: yet more reason to hate those fuckers; and Netscape Gold also encourages and even facilitates inconsistent capitalization). Capitalization inconsistencies were fine on Gilgamesh, the NT server. But in Unix, they are a sure recipe for bad links. Another problem was Fetch's numerous annoying defaults, such as the way it tries to send JPEG images through as text, only to completely reduce them to uselessness. Through all of this I learned a great deal, and improved my web sites as well. But at times I was on the verge of tears. Andria is sort of the web master for Atlas, and she'd helped a lot by extending the Atlas server to recognize NT-style .htm endings and default pages. But I still had to do a lot of small-data handling in the cause of consistent capitalization, particularly in my art web site.
I then went about submitting all my fresh new URLs to Altavista and Infoseek Ultra, as well as Excite. Lycos was acting up, however. I have just about given up on Yahoo ever visiting my site, but what the hell, I submitted to them as well.
Come on..what did I do? Oh well, I met Elizabeth's cadaveresque step mother, Fran, and her Jim Arnettesque father (Jim Arnette owns Comet...). Her father had just bought her a genuine UVA sweat shirt. He wants her to "live with GIRLS next year."
I was in need of materials for an outfit for tonight's "Halloween/hour from God" party. I'd resolved to be a chicken...
So, after driving the Dart up to MJ designs on Barracks road, I went looking for materials. What I bought was to two enormous plastic scissors. These, along with tape, I later combined to forge a beak. On the way back to the Corner, I went though the Taco Bell drive in and got myself a Burrito Supreme (I have a new-found appreciation for Taco Bell ever since the road trip to and from Philadelphia recently, when Taco Bell was a perpetual goal that made the miserable driving seem to have a point). Some high-school-age girls in the Taco Bell were looking at me through the window as I waited in line for my burrito. They gave me a hearty thumbs up (presumably for the Dart). Then they saw my big plastic scissors and they started bobbing around wildly. In contrast with the Punch Buggy Green, the Dart is hardly something to draw attention, but these girls were fanatics. I half expected them to come chasing after me.
I made my scissor beak, which I spray painted yellow. I combined it with a feathery mask dumpster dived this summer from the Salvation Army, a shaggy white rug, multiple ties hanging in a tail from my butt, and rings of tape around my legs to make myself into a sort of egret. I also invested considerable effort into cleaning my room so it could be opened up for party traffic. Deya came by as I worked; she and Elizabeth put up butcher paper on the walls and we all drew goofy Halloween-theme drawings on them in charcoal. Penley and Ches contributed drawings as well. I made a tape outline of Deya on my floor, like a dead body had been there. It turned out better than expected.
As always happens when I help to prepare for a party, I ended up being exhausted and aggravated. So I took a coffee break at the Rising Sun Bakery. Meanwhile Shantal (one of the cute counter girls) and an intoxicated yet manic Indian guy named Gopahl were conversing endlessly. Gopahl, who paid for my coffee as a gesture of good will, later came to the Halloween party at my house, dressed, he said, as a lunatic (summer clothes in the winter).
The party was like all such parties, except I was one of the hosts. In addition to
beer there was much food provided. Some of the costumes:
A band of UVA students named Vegan Death performed live music. They were really quite good. They had a death metal/punk/gothic sound that really set Vanna the increasingly gothic punk rock girl to stomping. The rumbing from our party disturbed the yellow-Geo-driving yuppy couple that lives in the basement; Connie of that couple (in pristine white tennis shoes) came wading as an undigested coin through the bowels of our party to complain that "things are falling off my walls." But we didn' change our behaviour at all. At the time I was taking a great deal of pride in the fact that at our parties we have the best live music in Charlottesville. Anyone walking by on the street had to know we were the coolest cats in town. Silly, I know, but...
After the live music, some DJ'd show was played on the radios. I was a rebel against this, though, choosing instead to play Morgan Anarchy's copy of Slayer's Undisputed Attitude. This resulted in two different people discussing with me their mutual fondness for Slayer.
The "hour from God" came as we switched back to standard time. But the tap would yield us no "keg from god" and so the party wound down in the midst of the wee hours.
Deya left for Warren Wilson today. Her ride, the same hippie girls who had brought her up, picked her up this afternoon from the Rising Sun Bakery while she and I chatted with Elizabeth, Vanna the increasingly gothic punk rock girl, and Peggy. Peggy had a disturbing tale to tell about the end of her train ride from her most recent trip to Philadelphia.
It seems that when Peggy got off the Amtrack at the ramshackled Charlottesville train depot (midway between the Corner and the Downtown Mall), she endured a long wait before suddenly Raphæl came streaking in (as he always does) in his black diesel-powered Volvo. With him was Zachary. They all stood around discussing the trip and all of that until two sharp dressed men showed up, held up badges, and said they were with a drug interdiction program, and could they search Peggy's belongings. She had nothing to hide and said (as I wouldn't have) "Sure." Much to their dissatisfaction, however, they found nothing. The handmade soap from Peggy's mother was suspicious...but it was clearly nothing more than soap. Not to be trumped by such shady figures as Big Funsters, however, they went on to search Raphæl's Volvo and Zachary's pockets! Now, presumably if their job was to interdict drugs, they might have some reason to every now and then ask to inspect a passenger's baggage. But what motive did they have for moving on to the people picking Peggy up? They were just frustrated that someone who "should be" carrying drugs had none at all. This tale infuriates me. That's the only thing I can think of that makes me want to take up a heroin addiction. If morons such as these are what keeps drugs from flowing, then drugs must really be cool. I was left to wonder if there was any connection between my heroin web writings and the suspicion aimed at Peggy. After all, the powers that be could have known from her ticket that she was coming from Philadelphia and from my website that some of my unspecified friends are heroin addicts. Perhaps an investigation is under way of a possible (and let me assure you non-existent) drug smuggling operation connecting Philadelphia to Charlottesville. I do think it's nice not to have heroin in this town. But I want my basic rights and dignity preserved and I expect my friends to receive that as well. Consequently, powers that be, this violation of the dignity of my cohorts shall not go unavenged! And don't think these musings are going to help you...
I did much work at Cocke Hall at UVA. I tried to edit the musings with EMACS and Telnet, but I didn't quite know enough. It is possible to do, and EMACS even provides HTML assistance. But that'll have to wait until I know basics like how to quit and save files in EMACS. By the way, I was very familiar with whatever version of EMACS was current in 1986 when I did much UNIX work on a Vax 750 at Oberlin College.
I cleaned up the beer, cigarette butts and such in my room. Then I napped until very nearly time to work. Leah, the girl who went with me and Matthew to Philly, sent me the following e-mail:
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 01:41:17 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Leah Hale)
Somehow Gus I found myself on the internet at one of your many sites trying to find the story about your visit to warren wilson when I ran across your commentary on our trip to Philadelphia together. And I realized that the stronger my desire to hit you solidly over the head with a bottle the better I like you. Not that I didn't appreciate your comments on my immature punching matches with Mathew, because I've been told and don't mind being retold that my persistent desire to punch people is aggravating particularly when it occurs in my dorm with drunken bryn mawr girls. Actually, what made me laugh the most and remember riding to Philadelphia with you is that you thought your arguments about selective littering were so persuasive. I think that our whole concept of littering is ridiculous the decision to or not to litter is based wholly on aesthetics if you're approaching the situation as some self-identified environmentalist than taking litter and sticking it in a pit where it will never disentegrate is the worst idea imaginable instead just leave the shit out in the open. Anyhow it was good reading better than the ever popular butch-femme reader!
I also got an e-mail from a Dan Kappus of Warren Wilson college, whose website I consulted prior to Deya's heading off to attend that fine institution. Here it is:
Subject: Re: journal
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 07:57:05 -0500 (EST)
From: email@example.com (Karl D. Kappus)
[WHAT I WROTE TO HIM]
-Hi. I like your journal and pages. They were useful in preparing me
-for my trip to Warren Wilson to visit my friend Deya
-The account of my trip to Warren Wilson is at
-I have linked to your page at:
hey studboy yeah I heard about the house nifty shit.
I'm glad you found my drivel at the very least, amusing. i will be updating it
further in the next few weeks.
Deya rocks. She's
Your page was a thrill. Can I come visit this upcoming weekend?
----------------"God has not genitalia."- Ed Loring-------------------------
Dan Kappus firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
------------I like kids, but I wouldn't want to eat one.--------------------
So I sent him a quick and dirty map (in text characters) for how to get to my
I forced Elizabeth to play my latest Guided By Voices CD at the bakery, and I kept going back to hear "The Official Ironmen Rally Song" which was my instant favourite (I'd heard it on WNRN, the local non-commercial alternative rock station and wanted to buy the album then and there).
I chatted with Nellie some as well, and even invited myself to her house tomorrow. I'm glad I just reminded myself of that; though I told her if she stood me up I wouldn't care.
I continued hearing the "Official Ironmen Rally Song" back at my house on my little CD player until the batteries had been expended (I've yet to build a power supply for it).
I over slept! I thought my alarm would go off, but of course it didn't or else I killed it in my sleep. So I was an hour late to Comet. No one was there, except an e-mail from Ken, my supervisor. It had been sent several hours before and concerned, among other things, laziness and such at Comet (as obviously perceived by a certain mysterious over"lord" who I have only occasionally met, certainly not Ken). The word is that now if we don't have enough work to do more will be given us! That's all well and good, but I really don't see the pay checks getting any bigger. For our levels of skill here, we are vastly underpaid, particularly the day staff (Bn (I know), and probably Andria, Steve and Stefan as well), who have relatively stressful phone responsibilities and must do installs at other places. But all of us techs are not getting half of what we could get elsewhere. I made $12/hr as a temp tech at UVA this winter! The benefit has been, of course, that the workload is light and conditions are informal. We don't have to show up precisely on time (though I try to and, except for today, almost always do) and we can even walk around barefoot if we want. I love this job and really don't need a raise. But if I am expected to bust ass (as I pretty much did doing Ping's HTML programming on Friday) I expect compensation. So anyway, I fired back with a somewhat vitriolic letter to the Techs saying we are underpaid and that talk of us being lazy is intolerable and demoralizing, and that if we are left alone, Comet won't have to constantly change its locks (as happened when the Ping staff resigned in disgust this summer). It was soothing to point this out in such a straightforward manner. I was left with a calm feeling for the balance of the shift. Oh...now there's word none of us techs can use the magazine office without permission from the Ping folks and Dave the artist. It sounds like this decree is from the same source as the anti-laziness manifesto. So I asked Dave and Matthew (a Ping guy) via e-mail if I could have blanket approval to do occasional scanning late at night. There's a work around to all this office bullshit. But I will not be complacent about ridiculousness that I see when I see it. It's in my genes, it's in my blood. Both of my parents have a long history of trouble with superiours. We don't let people crap on us, and the payback is that we don't suffer from cardiac disease and we sleep well at night (or, in my case, during the day).
I'm starting to be happy with my satirical Lobster Liberation Front homepage once again. It was in a state of limbo since this summer, stymied by stuff I didn't know about HTML and JPEGS. But that is all over now; I have it looking good again with only a little effort. There isn't much there yet, but it is a good framework.
I attempted to do some computer work at various places at UVA with demoralizing setbacks one after another. Firstly, the Cocke computer lab (where in some respects I can be more productive than even Comet, what with its population of anonymous strangers) closed at 5 just as I was setting to work there. So I went to the engineering library and tried to use a number of computers there. They appeared to be on very slow modem links and were in any case grossly under-stocked with software useful to me. The windows machines had no text editor and no FTP, rendering them useless (until I learn how to use EMACS on Telnet, something for which Andria sent me a document to study). And the Mac only had teachtext and its dreaded 32K limit. I could download BBEdit Lite with Fetch, but in the crippled version of the Finder I wasn't allowed to create folders, which made any expansion of downloaded software impossible. It frustrated me to verbal outbursts. I managed to get a little work done at Gilmer 109, the big Windows 3.1 lab, but then at 7pm a class met there and we not in the class were kicked out, most unlike Warren Wilson.
I saw an energetic figure in the hallway as I approached my house. He was heard to loudly shout, "Let's DO DIS!" -the latest Johnny Boom Boomism. I knew instantly it must be none other than the infamous Matthew Hart. Oh and the things he had done...
Around him were the smiling faces of Seth Alecka (a noted Charlottesville personality), one his Higher Grounds cool guy friends, and Elizabeth, all hoisting up different obscure expensive brews to their faces. They had "come into" the beers, it would seem. "This time the beer is on God." Matthew explained. I won't go into details for fear of implicating them in something I didn't see them do.
With one of the last of these beers in my hands, I solved a temporary sock crisis (a sock crisis results from when all your socks are dirty and the cleanest one is just too dirty to wear), and then we all hung out in my room. It's cool to have a group of people hang out in your room...it really hasn't happened to me since 1989 in Oberlin! I'm always at someone else's place. But since the party my room has been clean and appealing. I even have tunes now...lots of Guided by Voices CDs, which I inflicted with impunity on those hanging out, which by now included two of Elizabeth's friends from the Rising Sun Bakery. We also smoked some pot, and for me it was good. It made me notice the profound difference mix-wise between Alien Lanes and UTBUTS.
By the way, knowledge of GBV is very sparse even in well-informed social circles. Matthew Hart and Elizabeth, for example, have never heard of them. I recall Jessika's co-worker, Jonathan Hayward (contributor of many Big Fun Glossary photographs) playing GBV, but he's apparently very well informed. I first heard Guided by Voices on WXJM, the James Madison University college radio station, in Spring, 1995, and liked them instantly. In Oberlin in the May of 1995, I'd lost the original tape I'd made off the radio; my recent CD purchasing is clearly an effort to rebuild that collection.
Back to the subject of the musical predilections of my friends. The interesting thing that I've noticed is that with a few exceptions, people get fixed on the musical interests they had at the age of sixteen. New music beyond that is routinely ignored or judged inferiour. This appears to be the case with most of my housemates and even people like Jessika. There is no groping among these people to find out what good music is coming out. There are exceptions, though. Jonathan Hayward is probably more than forty, so his liking the Pixies and GBV is obviously something that cannot have been his choice at the age of sixteen! My friend Rippy in Oberlin is 38, and he likes Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains (of course, he was making discordant post-punk when Michæl Jackson was on the top ten with Thriller). Musicians themselves seem frozen in their musical interests; does Billy Joel sound like he's ever heard Pavement? Does Aerosmith get any influences from Slayer? What has happened to Paul McCartney? Of course, late Judas Priest was clearly reshaped by speed metal, and even Van Halen steals from Pantera now. Some famous examples of celebrities liking new music from outside their adolescence: Robert Plant's early appreciation of REM, GBV's fondness for Pavement, and Clint Eastwood's fondness for Guns 'n Roses.
Now back to the issue at hand. Elizabeth was in heaven...free good beer, someone else's pot, and merry entertaining company. Too bad I wasn't playing Tom Waits too.
Matthew Hart shared with us a depressing story from Arkansas. It seems when he was there a week or more ago with Malvernians Forrest and Joanna, he shoplifted some cold medicine from a drug store, took it to the bathroom, ate the pills, and threw the rest in the trash. He was grabbed by store security on the way out of the john; they recovered what he'd thrown away as evidence. Next time he'll flush he says. Matthew puts his motivation this way: "I was sick. I took the pills. If the store was sick, it could have had my pills." When he was released into the Ozarks, he had to take a bus home (a $100 ticket, but he had to haggle since that was the only money he had). Now, he has to go back to Arkansas by Monday for a court date!. If he doesn't go, his Dad loses $500 he posted as Matthew's bail. All for pills costing less than $4.
We 'd run out of beers, so now it was time for vino. Elizabeth did the driving in
her car, and Matthew and I were her only passengers. We got a 3 litre bottle of
Cribari Chablis, which has been a recent favourite (it costs about $8 with tax).
Then, to keep my "date" with Nellie made last night, we went to find her place near
the Downtown Mall. For some reason I thought she lived on Market street. But there
are no appropriate buildings at 115 Market Street. It turned out to be High
Street...but of course she wasn't there. This was what I expected, and of course I'd
told her she could stand me up and I wouldn't care. And it wasn't like this was
going to be romantic or anything, especially given my entourage. To overstate things
vastly and to insinuate lots of things that don't exist (while simultaneously using a
dreadful and perhaps meaningless baseball metaphor), I have something like a
strike-strike- strike-out-strike-strike dating relationship with Nellie.
And I can't imagine it ever being any other way. It's all big good fun.
Back at my house, we drank a little vino, and then Elizabeth went to bed. Everyone else was gone, leaving Matthew and I to amuse ourselves somehow. So we headed for the Corner on foot.
Trying to use my old expired ID to get a beer at the orbit proved a doomed cause. The bartender, I think his name is Joel (he's a friend-of-Farrell's (FoF)) said simply, "that's his ID" indicating me.
So we went to Elliewood Ave.'s Coup DeVilles, a rowdy bar catering to the underage UVA scene (presumably it has a reputation for lax ID checking). Sure enough the bouncer accepted Matthew's ID with a knowing smile.
We sat near Shantal, the Rising Sun Bakery counter girl, who was with a couple friends. I invested in a $6 pitcher and this we drank matter-of-factly. Things were kind of dull.
The band playing out in the rear patio was Andy Rolland's "The Secret" which is a jazzy sort of outfit. They sound a little Dave Matthewsesque, I suppose, and as such are rather popular. During a break in their play, I played bass while someone played guitar. One of the Secret guys came up and said he wanted to "catch up" (meaning take over) but I would have none of that. When the Secret was entirely there, though, I relinquished the bass and rejoined the beer drinking revelers.
Meanwhile, Matthew Hart had joined a group of strangers who were celebrating the birthday of one (a Scorpio, of course) in their midst. The birthday boy was having trouble drinking more, and his cohorts were encouraging him to get completely plowed. Matthew Hart had encouragements of his own, shouting "DRINK!...and if you throw up, do it in the pitcher and I'll drank that!" So the drunk birthday boy retorted, "DRINK! and if you throw up...I'll laugh at you. And not missing a beat, Matthew downed the Manhattan Ice Tea. When his new friends left him, a waitress offered to take the pitchers and drinks from Matthew's table. Matthew assured the waitress his friends would be back, and once alone, he made rapid progress on his free alcohol. He figured he should find me so I could help him partake.
But as I came back from playing bass, a bouncer grabbed me and said I was sneaking in, that I would have to go around to the front door. I assured the bouncer I was NOT sneaking in, and with an annoyed visage, continued on my way. The bouncer would have none of that; he grabbed me and soon had me in a head-lock, which I slowly extricated myself from as we careened into tables. I may have socked him a few times, too...
Other bouncers joined in, then came Matthew Hart. Oddly, the moment there were two of us, we were not, in effect, badly outnumbered; we managed to hold our own for awhile as more mayhem and destruction built around us. Finally, they pushed us through a narrow break in the outdoor patio's fence. Since my dignity was being challenged, I was by now highly enraged, and I started shouting "This place BURNS!" while ripping down the patio fence. That's when a bouncer socked me an incredibly hard blow to the right cheekbone, knocking me down. My cheekbones are high and sharp, and I would venture to guess that the bouncer's hand was not much better off than my face, which began to throb as I, face down on the asphalt, used my arms to shield myself from further blows. The fight wound down to nothing at this point, and I found my way to my feet, muttering about how my cheek felt like it was loose in my face. It wasn't, though. Skulls are very tough. And mine is built like a tank. My hand had enthusiastically renewed the bleeding it had done earlier today.
Then a surreal thing happened. Andy Rolland's current girlfriend came up to us and expressed her apologies for what had just happened. To the thoroughly entertained customers of Coup-Devil's, this must have seemed very odd, since we'd probably been construed to be two ruffians without any support whatsoever, let alone the support of the girlfriend of the band's kingpin . I was already in magnanimous mode, downplaying my feelings on all issues involved. In truth, I was already having fond memories of the little scuffle. Oh the tales I would tell...
We were light as frizbees as we walked back to my house. Wow! We'd actually fought the bouncers at the CoupDevil!
Yes, Jessika proved to be still alive. I'd more or less come to the conclusion that I would never see her again. She'd apparently been sucked back into Malvernia like a long string of spaghetti. But no, at 9pm today she got off the train from Philly and Raphael picked her up in his glorious volvo.
Meanwhile, I'd been hanging out with Matthew Hart (once he found me at the Rising Sun). We made a purchase of vodka and went to Nemo's house to see Jessika and tell the tales. I passed out on a couch, but not before, in a state of semi-consciousness, I muttered to Jessika, "Aerosmith spoons" and then caught myself..."wait, what did I just say?" Too much GBV, I suppose.
Matthew and I went in the Dart to Nemo's house and then went walking around Belmont with Jessika. We bought a number of malt liquors at Jessika's new favourite grocery store, a rustic "Pickwick" on the street that connects High to Little High Street down the hill from Nemo's. We bought the only two "Haffenreffer Ice" 40s there, giddy with the prospect of its unmatched percentage of alcohol: EIGHT!
Naturally we went to Nathan VanHooser's house. But neither he nor Janine were there. So we sat on the astro-turf-covered deck and drank our forties.
A couple youthful (young teenage) boys walked by, and, seeing us, decided to chat. We gave 'em sips of our forties and snapped pictures with yet another disposable camera we'd come into last night. It was almost sickening how cool the kids thought we were, even though we claimed to not smoke pot. One kid came up with an elaborate story of how he'd smoked pot at a friend's funeral. The point: I am sooo cool that I have friends who die young, and, even in grief, I smoke the chronic. They intended to be gangstas for halloween. Matthew was so annoyed, with their pretentions of coolness that he carried through on a classic the Gus technique...the false self-deprecating tale...in this case how his mother gives him oral sex.
We drove to my house to get stuff with which to dress ourselves for halloween. At Nemo's house, Ana, Nemo, Zachary and Peggy all joined our contingent. We went to Pan Tops for vodka and Taco Bell.
While Jessika was taking at least an hour to do her eyes, Bad Beef arrived! His giggly presence haunted us the rest of Halloween.
Matthew Hart and I became dead business men, wearing sharp clothes and sporting slick hair...Matthew's a latex Elvis Wig and me with Canola oil in my hair. We all put white grease paint on our faces. Since Zachary has a shaved head, he whitened the top of his head as well. He'd already spray painted his jacket brilliant silver. We all walked to Nathan VanHooser's like this.
We hung out for awhile and were amazed by how few social skills Bad Beef really has, for example, when he loudly asked "so, where's the stuff to mix with this? -he he he he heh heh hehm hem hem em em m m m m" while approaching the Nathan/Janine refrigerator (we were all drinking vodka, but not our gracious hosts). Matthew Hart and Jessika independently expressed a desire to kill Bad Beef. Nathan was in concurrence on this.
Matthew Hart was trying to get Nathan to let him move in to the attic for a few weeks. But, unfortunately, the attic is very unfinished. It has, among other problems, no floor.
We, by now also with Raphael, all drove to the Tokyo Rose and to watch a punk rock band play. We'd brought my Pentel set watercolour marker set so we could have a hand stamp for free in any colour necessary. Zachary did reconnaissance and determined that the stamp was a black dragon. This we did our best to emulate with draftsmanship and smudging. And all of us got in. But then systematically we were all thrown out. Except Matthew, who used his charm on the hand stamper girl. She would have none of my charm, complaining "this is a business."
So we rocked out in Belmont, at a little practice studio that Zach and Raphael rent. I sang and Zach and Raphael did guitar and drum shifts. I was inspired for some reason and ruined my voice singing, among other things, covers of "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "Kookabarra Sits in the Old Gum Tree."
My house mates had spoken of a party at SERP, a big Fraternity in Fratville. So this is where we went, mostly in my Dart, still dogged by Bad Beef. After a rough parking job, we piled out and attempted entrance of SERP. Despite seeing the likes of housemates Elizabeth and John within, we were barred entrance by the heavies at the door for lack of written invitations. Zachary started being rude instantly, and ended up getting shoved down the stairs. This elicited a reaction from Peggy, and when she was even touched, every Big Funster leapt to her defense. We arrayed as two facing lines across the yard in front of SERP. One team of Big Funsters and another of frat boys. This was all a formality really, necessary for the dignity of both sides. Much like in times of war, it was completely depersonalized. I had nothing against the particular frat boy I faced. He asked me to "put down that handle" (referring to a large bottle of vodka). So I reassured him that the bottle was made of plastic. Jessika, however, mocked her opponent, even trying to convince him she was a boy so he would hit her. About this time I discovered I no longer had my keys.
Panic set in as it became clear that my keys were nowhere to be found. The search launched was extensive, and both Matthew Hart and an extremely drunk Peggy assisted me. Even given the darkness, it was clear that the keys had not been simply dropped. So we were stranded. I started hammering apart my ignition in a desperate attempt to get it to work. That may seem stupid to you. But to me; well, I had more confidence in my ability to break my car into obedience than I did in ever seeing my keys again. I was beset with misery, occasionally making gratuitous suicidal comments. I was even too sad to cry. Zachary was very understanding, saying "I love you, man" and occasionally even giving me hugs (something he isn't famous for doing). All the while Bad Beef shadowed me like an unwanted Family Circle cartoon, knowing sooner or later Jessika would show up. She periodically did. But she's not enough of a masochist to hang out with me when I'm in a mood like that; she and Matthew Hart went off to another Frat House, convincing a Reggæ band to play ska, thus riling one unchivalrous frat boy into attempting to strangle Jessika.
We deserted my Dart in Fratville. Zachary drove me like a maniac to my house in "Zach and I's car" and I was forced to make entrance via a window. I kept wishing this night was just a bad dream I would awake from. It had been the worse night of my life.
In retrospect it seems that my life must be pretty okay if something this minor yielded the most miserable night of my life. Sure, my love life has more or less evaporated, I overwork myself, I'm hung over a lot. I have a nasty black eye. I have problems at work. But I'm mostly happy. I'm going somewhere for the first real time in my life.
How was that for October?