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Friday
Oct182002

Never Enough Time

I can't seem to take time off and sit still anymore. I took a month off and found myself spending hours on Priceline trying to find a place to run off to last minute. When my 100 dollar bids for Guam and Belize were refused for the 6 or 10th time I gave up and used frequent flyer miles to head back to Rhode Island with the wife for a few days with my brother and his family. 

Global warming or maybe bad timing fucked us out of the foliage - we were early by a week or two - but we did get to carve some pumpkins with the kids and go fishing at Cook's Pond. We even took a day and went over to Martha's Vineyard where I hadn't been since I was 8 or so. We rented bikes and took pictures of the gingerbread cottage that my grandmother owned before she went batty and sold it for less than what you'd for a shitty new car or moderate bail on a first felony, a permanent stain on her memory with the surviving members of the family.

 

My brother has two kids, Sidney and Harry Truman. The girl is 6 and the boy is two and full of bowel problems. He can't shit for some reason and I was regaled with tales of his parents having to reach fingers into his gaping pooper to yank out hard nuggets as he shrieks in agony. I was going to suggest they try blowing him at the same time but they seemed too serious about the subject. Either way, it's nice to go home.

There's never enough time to do everything you want to do back home but there's always time to get shit-pants drunk watching the Patriots lose and then urinate in the middle of a crowded Sunday Wal-Mart parking lot as though it wasn't out of the ordinary. Some next-day memories bring shame and embarrassment but I don't like Wal-Mart sober and I have no feelings of remorse.

My wife played the family game like it was old hat and made a stalker out of the girl child. She helped her with homework, listened to her read, played dress-up and the lot and now the kid calls her on the phone like a spring break one night stand with a bun in the oven. That's the problem with being nice to kids. Then they wanna hang out with you all the time. When you put bugs down their back and assure them that they are soon to be put into Foster care, they don't usually cry when you leave.

 


Now I'm back on the road, still recovering from a Tommy Rocker's gig in Vegas where we abused our open bar tab to unprecedented levels of gluttony. I'm sure Tommy is just glad no one stuffed his microphone up their ass this time. Just the same I had a bunch of friends come out and others that didn't. I ran into a guy I'd met in Florida through a mutual friend years ago. He told me the mutual friend was mad at me because he'd found out I fucked his wife. Funny thing is, last time I'd talked to his wife, she'd called me crying because he was trying to pimp her out. Now I find out he's mad at me all these years later and I don't know if he wants me to apologize or cut him a check. 

So that's the latest and if it sounds like I'm becoming boring and don't put up enough weird stories, then maybe it's because you haven't taken the time to send me a very large sum of money via PayPal. I know you already have the CD's but that money spends too quick anyway. So just go to the merchandise page, click onto PayPal and send me a very large sum of money for no particular reason other than the simple trust that I will do something very odd with it and then tell you about it here. I'll even give you credit for it. I mean, really - what were you gonna do with that money anyway? Now get to it.

 

The most important thing to do otherwise is to go to www.freestateproject.org and join. It's an incredible idea and I think it could work. Spread that link around like Indonesian chlamydia.


Next week is Appleton and then Minneapolis so if you're within 500 miles or so, be sure to come out.

Monday
Sep302002

The Road

The road, when properly used, can have effects like a sensory deprivation chamber. I’m plowing across the desert on two-lanes that appear on the road atlas as numberless gray lines, finding my way from Los Angeles to the desolate interior of Nevada through Death Valley. Renee and I have spent quite a bit of time this year exploring the back roads across the country but this is different. I’m alone and have no schedule or agenda or particular need to go or come back for that matter, save for the wife. Renee is good company on the road but being alone is a completely different trip altogether. The poverty of other voices or eye contact, of any distractions but the occasional wait for a passing lane leaves your brain like a spastic dog let out of its cage. The peripheral daydream

you may have in LA traffic of winning the lottery or killing your landlord turns into an epic adventure in your head when there’s no brake lights to disrupt it.

Mid-September is perfect because it’s still hot but not so stifling that you have to cave in to air conditioning. Air conditioning is for Nancy’s who’d complain about their sinuses regardless. I like the contrast of sweat against the aridity of the desert. It brings out the crows feet and makes me think I’m Clint Eastwood.

There are uncounted bungloads of semi-abandoned ghost towns in Nevada but Goldfield is the one that always stuck out for me and that‘s where I‘m heading now.. I passed through a couple years back but, as usual, I had a gig or some other pressing agenda that didn’t allow me to stop and explore it.

 

Goldfield, Nevada is about 175 miles north of Las Vegas and about 30 miles from the nearest gas pump or smiling face. It was once the biggest town in Nevada - around 30,000 at the turn of the century - until they ran out of gold and then, like the MC Hammer story, everyone kind of disappeared. About 300 people still live there and they aren’t exactly what you’d call ‘warm’. There’s one motel in town with four rooms attached to the Santa Fe Saloon, one of the 4 bars in town. I got the last room. The few people who notice me at the bar view me with suspicion and rightfully so. It’s suspicious for anyone to come here for no reason. The rest of the people I see are mostly old rancher guys who talk in bumpersticker clichés.

“Oh, here comes trouble.” says the hard-looking barmaid every time an old regular walks in as though she’d never used that one before.

Even the bathroom at the Santa Fe had the most old school graffiti, including but not limited to - “Here I sit broken hearted…” and “He who writes on shithouse walls…”, etc, etc.

Someday cunts from the civilized world will come here, spot the intrinsic unscarred beauty of this place and proceed to tear it down and rebuild it exactly the way it is only with logos and up-to-code electrical and then hire an artist to write those same epitaphs on the bathroom wall.

The town itself is tricky to explore if you’re a paranoid like me. Most of the buildings are abandoned but all of them look like they’re abandoned so you don’t really know if your about to poke through ancient archives of days past or the current digs of an ex-felon just waiting for an excuse. So I’d drive around and gawk from my car window and then go back to one of the bars. When the bar got boring, I’d go back to my room. Moments later, back to gawking. This was interesting for about two hours. Actually, one hour. The second hour I played along out of respect for the 6 hour drive.

The Mozart is the bar that has food. The only one. Until 8pm. After that, eat a dick. So I ate there. Before 8. Then I got into a drunken grudge match with a poker machine that wouldn’t pay. I’ve had these fights before and I’ve yet to win. I hit a wall in Goldfield because my wallet only held so much money and the only ATM in town closed at 8pm while I was eating. Call it a draw in their favor.

The next morning I woke up early and it took a few minutes for the guilt and reality to set in from the night before. There is no worse hangover than the gambling hangover, especially the silly gambling hangover. Losing it all in a high pressure poker hand, losing to a straight flush with four fives has a hint of romance. Plugging quarters into a video game that makes Pac Man sounds when you win until your fingers are black is only a half-step better than being hunched over a scroll of scratch tickets at a 7-11 counter.

So now it’s 7:30 am and I’m broke, miserable and filled with self-hatred and mostly hungry but the ATM doesn’t open until noon so I decide it would be a lovely drive 30 miles north to Tonapah where cash flows 24 hours a day. On the way into town I see a wooden sign that for the Tonapah Speedway. It’s the place to be Saturday nights at 7:30, it tells me and I believe them. I know I’m never gambling again so I figure when not spend some time tonite with the dregs of the dregs of back roads Nevada.

 

In the meanwhile, its back to Goldfield for the day. I really want to find some dirt cheap semi-abandoned rental property to have a UnaBomber retreat where I can dump my shit and write my novel or at least death threats to John Leguizamo. The dream sounded perfect in my head and grew to wonderous proportions on the drive here but is rapidly losing it’s luster every second I spend here looking into the steely weather-beaten stares of the locals who’d had the same bad idea years ago and are now stuck with it.

 

 

I don’t find any rental property and the visit to the graveyard only killed about ten minutes. I figured I’d catch some desert sun and just take a moment to reflect on life but there’s really no place to sit outside and there’s certainly no pool so I have no choice but go back to the bar to drink and put quarters in that fucking machine.

Fashionably late is the protocol for the Tonapah Speedway and I’m twenty minutes early. Not that there’s no pre-game entertainment. A crackling loudspeaker plays “Freebird” intercut with audio cuts of the announcers of the Dale Earnhart death race.

“If I leeeave here tomooooorow…”

“That’s a pretty bad crash. We hope Dale’s alright down there…”

“…would you still remember meeeee…”

It went on and on until a song parody about Jeff Gordon being a fag kicked in to add some levity to the situation. The races were your usual mix of street stocks, jalopy and dwarf car races. Personally I couldn’t tell the difference between the stocks and the jalopy cars but I guess they couldn’t say “shitbox” over the PA system with so many children in the crowd, mostly in diapers with no pants, sitting in cold dirt and eating garbage. The dwarfs stood out and partially because I remember when they were called midgets. And so it goes.

There were some really brutal crashes but it was evident that no one would die and make a proper evening of it so I headed back to Goldfield where, at 10:45 pm on a Saturday night you couldn’t find bathtub gin or a tumbleweed that would let you fuck it.

(No, baby - I didn’t go to Nevada to fuck tumbleweeds. It just sounds funny.)

 

I woke up again Sunday at 7:30 am and contemplated staying another day and really trying to slow down and enjoy the tranquility here. By 7:39 I was showered, packed and doing 85 south for Vegas. Football season, you know. And plenty more of those goddamned poker machines. I need to settle down. I need to find roots and a place for my shit that has more room than this studio confinement that keeps me and the wife with our heads lodged up each others brown parts. But it doesn’t look like Goldfield is gonna be the place.

Wednesday
Sep112002

You Can't Keep America Down

 

One year ago today some 3,000 people, many of them heroes or other people with moustaches, perished in terrorist attacks on America. According to the powers of information, the terrorists assumed this would break the American spirit (which differs from human nature in some unexplained way). To prove this theory incorrect, Americans stood united today and had American Idol grand prize winner Kelly Clarkson sing the National Anthem at the Lincoln Memorial. Seismologists stood along side others with heads bowed, unable to detect any possible spinning of graves.

“We should never forget” says nearly every telecast or other public memorial and if you stayed in your fallout shelter, syphilis-blind with carpet glue in your ears trying against the forces of nature to forget -they’d kick in your door to remind you. The anniversary events have also been conducted as though this was something that hasn’t been beaten into your head every hour of every day since it happened. No one has forgotten, even those who’s own personal tragedies and trials have made it a trivial footnote.

If there’s one thing that makes me feel sympathy for the victims’ families it’s that they aren’t being allowed to forget for even a second. My father died last year and I can’t imagine what it would be like if he was publicly remembered in the same way. I open up the paper every day for a year and one story or another screams “Hey, don’t forget your Dad’s dead!“. I sit in traffic on my way to work behind bumper stickers saying “Don‘t forget your Dad‘s dead!” and used car dealers have cheesy letter board signs declaring that they remember my dead Dad. After a week I’m ready to punch someone in the eye so I go to a Springsteen concert to hear Born to Run but instead he has a whole new album about my dead Dad. George Bush and the God Squad run ads on television warning the good citizens that “If you do drugs, you killed Doug’s Dad!”. I’d watch in horror as GW used my dead Dad’s name to garner support to invade Iraq only to turn the channel to a football game where they are opening with “God Bless America” being sung by the brave surgeon who tried to cut the cancer out of dead Dad’s ass. I think that might irritate the fuck out of me, not just the drama junkies of the world free-hitching on my grief wagon but also because I bet on football and would probably find weeping halftime footage of my Dad’s colon along with wandering shots of folks wearing awareness ribbons in the stands to be some kind of jinx.I wish there were some family members out there who would speak out against a government that is using their lost loved one as a poster child to further their own agenda of bad ideas. If only one widow of a New York firefighter to come out and talk about great times she had doing drugs with her husband. Out of 343 rescue workers who died, I’m sure roughly shitloads of them did drugs on occasion. Maybe GW could clarify for their families whether they were heroes or terrorists. The stories are out there but you’re unlikely to hear them. You are less likely to hear someone tell you that any of the 3,000 victims was an asshole, at least not in public. That’s my problem with memorials to people I don’t know. For every person who dies there’s someone out there who is really glad they are dead and I’d rather not take sides.

When I die there will be plenty of people who will be dancing like helmeted spastics and I can’t say they’d be out of line. Let them piss on my grave and curse the gods for taking so long to eradicate my existence. But if I die in such an enormous public spectacle that Celine Dion feels compelled to eulogize me through song, please dig me up and run me around town on a pole like Weekend at Bernie’s until she believes that I’ve been brought back to life and returns home.

Like bad tuna, you can’t keep America down.

*********************************************

Speaking of, we were packing up the car to leave Colorado Springs a couple weeks back when Sean Rouse, the feature act, started complaining of stomach pains. We’d drank enough all week to chalk it up to a hangover but decided that I’d drive him back towards LA while Renee drove my car. We spent the night at her parents house in the mountains and the next day he was no better so I kept driving to Vegas, where he got really bad but - fuck - we’re in Vegas and it’ll have to wait. Renee and I rambled and drank and frolicked like happy remedial school retards while Sean stayed in the room holding his guts and sweating thru every stabbing pain. On morning three we all got back to LA and Renee dropped him at the emergency room at Cedar-Sinai.

 

Sean Rouse, eluding yet another attempt on his life by God (not pictured).

In Colorado Springs, Renee had stopped at Big Lots and, among other things, bought me a Starkist Travel Tuna Kit because she loves me and knows I love tuna and crackers on the road and that I don’t mind eating discontinued dollar store canned warehouse seafood. Unfortunately Sean got to it first and spent two days in Cedar Sinai with salmonella poisoning

 

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Thanks to the folks in Charlotte at the Perch. Always a good time. Tell the Passmore’s that Renee says thanks for the candles. I’m still picking wax out of my ass hairs.

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You are either on my mailing list or on the side of the terrorists. There is no middle ground.

stanhope