Johnny’s doing a greatest hits tour of our pop music lives. This whistle stop nearly caused me to swallow my tongue.
Having a bit of trouble with WordPress. This is where blogging is a tap-tap-tap test of my patience: I do not care a gold-plated whit for the technical aspects of programmers’ brilliant creations because they absolutely do not matter if I cannot post, dagnabbit! So after two days’ frustration, I’m back at the drawing board. Here, watch this silly video.
Last night, I was futzing around with a post and published it just to see if I was imagining that WordPress was rewriting my code. The phone rang and Miss Sasha sounded panicked.
Miss Sasha: It’s all letters and numbers!
Miss Sasha: Your blogpost! It’s all letters and numbers!
Tata: Not only that, but I haven’t figured out how to delete that! Wait, don’t you have small children, a husband and an indoor petting zoo to feed?
Miss Sasha: Sometimes, they feed each other. Whoops! I love you, bye!
She says, Whoops! I love you, bye! a lot lately. I don’t mind so long as she calls back later and says something like, Well, llamas spit. What’re you gonna do? because how can I argue that?
Today, Trout cleaned out her closets and brought me a big mess o’ yarn for the cat blanket project. That was nice, but what left me speechless was she also brought a DVD of an ambitious group performance piece from 1995 called Wrongs and Rites. Trout had a video tape. Her Significant Other converted it to the current format for me. Just this morning, I was saying to Minstrel Boy how I despise cowardice and this evening, the Universe called my bluff. Johnny:
This week, I bought a pair of Doc Martens for the motorcycle safety course. Did you know 1995 was 15 years ago?
Haven’t you been shouting “TUSK!” at your best friends for decades?
It’s a home movie, without the usual swearing.
A long time ago, far, far away, a friend took a job in Tewksbury, MA, and from distant New Jersey, I saw this for what it was: an opportunity for a scandalous road trip.
Every so often, Siobhan pipes up with tales of another episode from our freewheeling life together that I’ve totally forgotten. Yesterday, she went a step further and produced pictures I evidently captioned by hand. That’s a new twist, even if the words themselves are Johnny’s longtime motto. In any case, I had totally forgotten that the unnamed, over-employed friend on a business trip used my nail polish to paint symbols on his forehead. If Siobhan has pictures of that, that might be a career-ender for our friend. Ah, youthful exuberance! You’re as young as you feel until the cops show up and you hand them an AARP card.
In point of fact, Ivan and I donned those Santa suits at the drop of a hat for years. We bought them for Santacon a bazillion years ago. Come to think of it, I should have mine bronzed. He should have his fumigated.
When Siobhan reminded me of this scurrilous excursion, the only thing I recalled was sitting outside a waffle house on a Sunday morning, all five of us blisteringly hung over and paralyzed while Ivan read us the chapter from Steve Martin’s book Pure Drivel about memory loss. It was obvious to the locals we had not just come from church and our presence was suspicious. Breakfast both saved and imperiled our lives. That, I remember.
Johnny, Poor Impulse Control’s Southwest Bureau Chief, reports from New Mexico:
You’ll enjoy this. My knees are killing me. I go to the rheumatologist. She orders xrays. She says it’s osteonecrosis, where blood flow has somehow been cut off and some sections of bone have died and are presumably rotting. She says I’m too young for knee replacement and cortisone shots won’t help. She says the only thing she can offer is – you guessed it – painkillers. I can’t win.
Dude! Did you tell her you were an addict? Wait, you’ve mentioned osteonecrosis before. Do you have other necrotic joints or did I dream this?
Oh, all my doctors know. I’ll be in trouble if I ever get in a car wreck. They’ll offer me an aspirin.
Actually, about ten years ago, my knees hurt and the MRI showed osteonecrosis. How do you remember these things? I can’t remember what movie we watched last night.
Actually, last night I was playing Embudo Station, up past Espanola, which is a lot like a movie set of a cafe’ by a river in the south of France, especially when we play the CanCan, which I spell the CannesCannes. We’re there every Friday now, except when we’re at the Lucky Bean in Rancho Viejo. I’m making about a hundred bucks a week playing music. I’ve always played just for the honor of playing. I can hardly believe I get given money and dinner now. The burst of pride I feel when I bring home my pay and give it to my wife to buy dog food and paper towels with is monumental, like the Great Wall of China, or at least a Very Good Wall of China. I’ll never be able to repay everything I’ve cost this family in medical bills, but you gotta start somewhere.
Tonight we go see some friends skate in the roller derby. I love our life here. I think we know more gay people than straight, and, like the song, where she makes love to him in his Chevy van, that’s all right with me.
Did I tell you that a month or so ago we were playing the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and about ten guys in full Star Wars stormtrooper costumes walked past us, like it was the most natural thing on the planet, going God knows where? We looked at each other, shrugged, and kept on playing. I think we were in the middle of Czardas, the Israeli national anthem. You think I’m kidding.
Actually, I think Ha Tikva is the Israeli national anthem and Czardas is Hungary’s. Why do I know that when I can’t remember the name of the woman who sits next to me at work? And who knew I’d feel underdressed without a roller derby?
Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, is off the sauce.
I’m putting weight on. My upper body is filling back out again. I feel stronger. Despite the aches and pains, it feels good to live in a body. Quantum physics says I don’t have one, that there’s no such thing as matter, that I’m more of a cloud of potential dispositions of energy, that my body only really exists when I touch another object, that then the particles squeeze together into what we think of as matter only in the section of me that’s touching the object, but that I don’t actually touch the object, that when my particles squeeze together tight like that, that compression creates an energy field that repels the other object, so that in fact I don’t ever really touch it. I wish I had known that when I got in all those car accidents. But then I’d probably still be driving that brown Volvo station wagon with no heat or air conditioning. And that wouldn’t be good.
In the course of the holiday season, I heard more about substance abuse and abusers than I have at any time since I quit hanging out at that bar I don’t mention anymore. But really. Half my friends were hooked on something. I think this is a symptom.
Callers reach the counselors at 800-854-7771 for free. It’s the same number Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa firmly and clearly broadcasted, after the murder-suicide of seven people Tuesday in the working class neighborhood of Wilmington.
Erwin Lupoe and his wife, Ana, had been fired from their jobs a week before the Wilmington tragedy. But whether job loss stems from a firing or a layoff, the effects are traumatic.
“I don’t think it’s ever been this bad. Not in my tenure,” [Elizabeth] Gore said. “Because the people that we’re dealing with now, they have always had [money]. They went to school, they were able to get jobs. Now the jobs are not even out there.”
Supervisors at the call-in center say many of these calls are not strictly about mental-health issues, but deal with lapsed medical insurance, foreclosure, bank problems and unemployment benefits.
Oh boy. This week, House Democrats sold women – particularly poor women, but really all women – down the river when they removed family planning from the stimulus package. It’s health care and they removed it to get Republican votes the package was never going to get in the first place. Sad. The Democrats look like patsies. Poor women get shafted AGAIN. The Republicans look like Lucy van Pelt holding a football. Our economic situation is so serious we should really expect believers in a disastrous, failed ideology to demonstrate some humility, but no. Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, life as we know it has been falling apart for some time now.
There are 12 parking lots across Santa Barbara that have been set up to accommodate the growing middle-class homelessness. These lots are believed to be part of the first program of its kind in the United States, according to organizers.
The lots open at 7 p.m. and close at 7 a.m. and are run by New Beginnings Counseling Center, a homeless outreach organization.
It is illegal for people in California to sleep in their cars on streets. New Beginnings worked with the city to allow the parking lots as a safe place for the homeless to sleep in their vehicles without being harassed by people on the streets or ticketed by police.
Harvey stays at the city’s only parking lot for women. “This is very safe, and that’s why I feel very comfortable,” she said.
Nancy Kapp, the New Beginnings parking lot coordinator, said the group began seeing a need for the lots in recent months as California’s foreclosure crisis hit the city hard. She said a growing number of senior citizens, women and lower- and middle-class families live on the streets.
I am tired of calculation and bad faith negotiating. I’m tired of cowardice and coersion. Though I try to live peacefully, I find myself longing for the song of the guillotine and for our own Bastille Day. What does Johnny say?
Pop Tarts rock.
Heaven help us if they discover the wah wah pedal.
Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, reports from the house of his father-in-law’s swift decline.
Jesus! You’ve started to believe. The things they say of you. You really do believe. This talk of God is true!
We were sitting around, deafened, going through motions. I sat in his chair to keep it from sitting empty and becoming the ghost at the feast. We turned on the teevee, just to do something, and what was on OnDemand but Jesus Christ Superstar. Because it had Jesus in it, that’s what she wanted to watch. The Crucifixion was a bit much, under the circumstances, but it comforted her to know that he was in the arms of Jesus. It struck me as it never did, of course, when I was a child and still somewhat Jesus-centric in my thinking, that the show was about Jesus only peripherally, that Jesus here is spoiled and given to tantrums, that Judas is the star and by far the more interesting character, that Christ’s agony in the garden was as nothing next to his, that Judas was crucified as surely as Jesus was. It also struck me what a parody the seventies were of themselves. The show is set in the modern day of its time, but even then it seems like they’re spoofing some earlier generation’s excesses, like sychronized swimming movies.
What then to do about this Jesusmania? How do we deal with a carpenter king? Where do we start with a man who is bigger than John was when John did his baptism thing?
I can’t get the songs out of my head now, of course. I’m going to have to get the record on half.com and listen to it two hundred times in a row to get it out of my head, like I do with ABBA and Tony Orlando and Dawn when I fixate on them.
Did your family get into Superstar? In mine it was dynamite. We played the record and acted out the parts by the hour, wrapping a towel around our shoulders to play Pontius Pilate, whose name always confused me when I was a kid because I didn’t think they had airplanes then. My mom was in love with Ted Neely. My cousin Bubba’s high school put on a production, lip-synching to the record. I’ll bet they couldn’t believe their good luck that they had a black dude to play Judas! I didn’t of course put two and two together all at once that, as the song goes, He’s just a man (and I’ve had so many men before, in very many ways!), but it struck me even as a child that until then all the nuns and the priests ever told us about Judas was that he got up one day and sold Jesus for thirty pieces of eight. I can’t claim I was so wise that I figured out then I was being had. But the bomb started to tick in the back of my brain that the greatest story ever told wasn’t the whole story.
When I was in seventh or eighth grade, a few seasons before Johnny and I met, a traveling theater group did Superstar at my school and we were invited to be the crowd. During the crucifixion scene, my feet grew roots and I forgot myself, there in the aisle of the auditorium. I suddenly understood why people prayed, even if I couldn’t buy the to whom. Someone put arms around my shoulders and walked me through a door, which I could not have done myself. Sometimes, the light shines through me, but I don’t know from where.
Ted Neely? Ian Gillan. Yes, that Ian Gillan. All other Jesuses just don’t do it for me.
The play has its faults, but its treatment of Judas is what makes me love Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s human and heartbroken, loved and betrayed himself. The stakes are unbelievably high for Judas; it is truly important to observe and understand: Jesus is not Jesus without Judas. Judas must love Jesus more than life itself. There can be no Christianity without Judas.
In all the commotion Johnny has forgotten I have this tattooed across my back.
After a brief vacation, hiking in the Great Outdoors, Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief reports:
Unintended side effect of trip: work feels like an unforgivably criminal waste of human potential. I’m positive that I am the only person who has ever felt this way. Really. You betcha.
Less than an hour later, Johnny wrote to say that since the hospital in which he labored was bought yesterday by a Christian healthcare conglomerate anxious to remove abortion from the list of possible services, perhaps updating the old resume was an excellent use of time.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “Art therapy is on the way!”
‘Passive Aggressive Anger Release Machine’ is an interactive sculpture by Yarisal and Kublitz. Experience the most satisfying feeling when a piece of China breaks into million pieces . All you have to do is insert a coin, and a piece of China will Slowly move forwards and fall into the bottom of the machine, breaking, and leaving you happy and relieved of anger.
[Sic, sic, sic.] My favorite thing about that image is the chalkboard to the right and the words Canadian food.
You see, art school is not just for dirty hippies. No, it takes real talent and insight into human nature to divine that somewhere a Christian healthcare conglomerate is buying up hospitals and women are going to die, which might create just a little stress on the staff. Inserting a coin and smashing a Chinese kitty into a million easily contained pieces might help, but I’d go for the positively tragic romantic couple figurine. Hope the condom didn’t break for the little lovers! Just add money and schadenfreude and someone’s going to crash.
As I run around the family store during a town-wide street fair, Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, sends this report, disguised as a plea for assistance:
I don’t know much about history. I don’t know much trigonometry, starting with for example what it even is. And I’ll tell you another thing I don’t know. I do not know nor can I begin to understand why in this day and age you can open up an art magazine and see that an art critic, like my brother, has written about a painter, like my other brother, who has made a painting of some pieces of fruit. I understand that in past centuries it was a mark of class, a status symbol, to own paintings, and an equal if not superior mark of sophistication to be able to afford art lessons for your kids and to display their paintings of pieces of fruit on the wall the same way we stick them with magnets onto the refrigerator today. But it’s two thousand eight. Two thousand and eight years since those guys killed that other guy. Who, I ask you, in this day and age, goes to art school, graduates, moves out of their dorm and gets an apartment, buys a bed, sleeps in it, then wakes up in the morning, brushes their teeth, possibly even with Rembrandt, the famous Dutch toothpaste, goes to the art store, buys a canvas and some paints and a brush, goes home and opens up the fridge and takes out some pieces of fruit and arranges them on the table and says yeah. There are many beautiful landscapes and cityscapes out there. There are many beautiful people and some lovely animals too. There’s a world full of things I can choose to paint that will allow me to reach out and try to capture in my own small way the beauty and the grandeur of creation, the humming current of life, of love, of holiness that surges through the natural world. Furthermore, it being two thousand eight and our having abstract art now, I’m not even confined to expressing that beauty by painting images of things that actually exist. But what I’m going to choose, what I’m going to decide is going to be a really meaningful and significant experience for me to paint and for other people to subsequently look at, is this small pile of pieces of fucking fruit. Someone explain to me, please, who are these people? Somebody help me understand!
P.S. By the same token, some people look at a dog and see not a worthy subject for a portrait but an as yet uncooked entree.