Monday, October 31, 2011

Many Thanks


I'm grateful for a lot of things.

There is no way for me to tell who does it, but people do use the Amazon search box you'll find in the right sidebar, and also the various Amazon links I append to entries about this and that. I get a little commission and a stream of income from it, and it doesn't add anything to the price of things purchased.

Of course, I sell the furniture I make over there in the sidebar too, and many of my readers are my best customers. I still make all of it myself, out of raw materials and elbow grease, and am gratified each and every time I sell something. It's especially nice to get emails from hither and yon with some feedback.

  • The new tables are so incredibly beautiful that my whole house now looks tacky. There should be warnings on your website that these consequences might occur! (Diane)
  • Many thanks for a beautiful table!  We will continue to watch your site! (Barry and JJ)
  • The tables you made for us are terrific and work perfectly in our bedroom, we love them!  Thanks so much for making them for us and shipping them to the Vineyard. Beautiful! We love the tiger maple tops with the off white legs. (Judy)
  • I was totally delighted with my purchase from Sippican Cottage Furniture. The proprietor corresponded with me personally to let me know when my item shipped. The item was packaged tightly and securely and arrived in time for the event for which it was purchased, and the product was even more beautiful than pictured on the web site. Definitely a positive experience! (Phoebe)
Lots of people compliment me on the packaging. I think they're used to having things delivered broken. It's more expensive to ship a fully assembled table than flat-pack stuff, of course, but isn't your time worth something? Most people are too busy to put together their own furniture, and nothing put together with a little wrench is likely to last very long. Packaging for mass-produced goods gets whittled down to its barest essence, and often doesn't last the trip. The disappointment of a busted anything coming out of a shipping box exceeds just the money involved. We avoid it like the plague by packaging smart and sturdy. My wife and I do it together. It's as close to a date as we get these days, I guess. 

I especially like it when people send me pictures of the stuff in use, and most especially love the pictures of the youngins using their furniture. Look at Andy's beautiful children, using their Super Ten Finger Stepper to hang their Halloween decorations.


Andy wrote to me along with the picture, prompted by my waxing poetic about getting a muffin and a cup of coffee like I was sitting in the electric chair and the governor called:

What we give to others is precious, indeed. In pursuit of that sentiment, I thought I would update you on the development of your stepper under the care of my children.  It is coming along swimmingly, and shows much promise toward a long existence of cheerful utility.  The darn thing can't help itself from wanting to help everyone else. 

It's the children that remind you what you're trying to do. "It is a meager thing, but mine own."

So thanks, everybody, for reading and commenting and buying my book ,and purchasing my furniture and pressing on my links and being my Interfriends.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Simple Pleasures


The secret to life is to do the same thing over and over again, as long as the thing you're doing is pleasant in the first place.

Every Al Green song sounds more or less the same. That doesn't matter because the first one was so fine. It leaves you wanting more of the same.

"More of the same" is what most people get for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The problem is that you don't really like what you're doing, or seeing, or getting, or listening to in the first place. You feel compelled to do it for myriad reasons, and you hang in there for as long as you can, because you don't want to feel strange or left out or old-fashioned or something. Then you take a handful of pills for breakfast to get through the day. Something's busted.

I get up first in the morning, usually just before the sunrise. I do not have an alarm clock. To sleep until you're done sleeping is a great gift. People assume that since I rise so early that I must have some sort of military regimen. Not so.  The alarm clock is a dread lord and I have beaten it.

I dress in the dark and cold these days. I must make the heat if we are to have any. You might think this an imposition. You could think of it that way. There is an oil tank in our basement. It is a totem of a lost heat civilization that once worshiped in our basement. It holds 275 gallons of fuel oil. That would cost maybe $900 to fill, if you still had at least a puddle left in it. Even if the elderly furnace that was the oil tank's partner in crime still worked, there is no way I'd put that many quarters into the game. So making the heat might be considered an imposition; but the oil tank  is an obscenity.

You appreciate things more if you know the true value of them. What is lost, what is gained. We cannot do everything ourselves, of course. But what we give to others is precious to us, and so we tend to have an appreciation for what we get in return, more than if we were swimming in money, instead of the last decade's septic tank.

My wife rises a little later than I do, and I know she's awake because the ancient water meter under my floor goes tick tick tick. She comes five minutes later with two cups of coffee for us to share in my snug little office, and we wait for the sound of the little one's feet hitting the floor above us.

Today she was late, and came with pumpkin muffins, too, warm from the oven. I could do this every day forever and ever.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Muzak For The Elevator To The Nice Part Of Hell



Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. --Mark Twain

Hell is a half-filled auditorium. --Robert Frost

An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.  --Victor Hugo

Every man is his own hell.  --H.L. Mencken

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.  --Aldous Huxley

Hell is full of musical amateurs. --George Bernard Shaw

Hell is empty and all the devils are here. --Bill Shakespeare

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It Is Not That It's Done Well. It's Amazing Enough It Was Even Attempted


Old Skool, yo.

Of course, it helps he chose my favorite song to record. If he'd chosen something annoying, like Die Meistersinger,  it would have gotten tedious right quick. But it illustrates a rule of thumb I like to employ: Compared to what?

It's a bad recording, it's true. But look what an inquisitive person can accomplish with next to nothing. It is the only yardstick I will allow anyone to use on me: Compared to what? What have you accomplished on your own? What can you do with meager supplies and not much help? What are you daring enough to attempt? Are you successful? Compared to what?

There are children gone a little long in the tooth already demanding that everything be made easy and presented to them as a gift while they loudly sit on a tuffet and search for peas with their gluteals. They seem immensely old to me. Like the elderly in a rest home demanding double rations of prune juice. Laissez Faire are dirty words to them. "To let to do" is the literal translation, I believe. No one seems to want to be let to do much of anything. It was the only thing I've ever wanted in my life, to be allowed to try, so I am of little use to the Doc Martens and iPhones in a Patagonia tent contingent. They wish to be paid to be constrained from doing anything. It's good work when you can get it, kids, but there are only so many State Senator jobs to go around.

Let's play "compared to what" with them: you've been given every advantage and you're useless ciphers, incapable of any useful activity except complaining that you'd like to change the dictionary definition of useful activity. The dictionary will likely be immune to your depredations, as dictionaries are not allowed into the schools you attended for twenty-odd years. Even if they did debase the dictionary further on your behalf, other forms of reality are waiting in the dark with a cosh to knock some sense into you the hard way. Luckily for all of us, you're just a very loud minority. Most people get on with their lives, and help others get on with theirs, too. The squares out in the sticks might seem like Morlocks to the beautiful people, but at least Morlocks can mine a bit. What can you do? No fair trying to call yourself a Morlock when the dinner bell is rung. You're a Morlock? Compared to what?

Your college bookstore was full of clothes, the library was for sleeping it off and surfing porn and stealing MP3s, and all the money's gone and you've been Blutarskyed out of the ivy nest with nothing but a sneaking suspicion that fifty large is a big nut to pay for four-plus years of Keystone and cable. I think of what I could accomplish, right now, with fifty grand, four years, and a library card. Hell, I'll take two out of three of those things and build a very small empire with them. You got an education? Compared to what?

You're right to be angry. You were robbed. Unfortunately, you worship the robbers. Saint Jobs of Cupertino comes to mind. There is no caramel-colored interactive button to press repeatedly to get your kibble; and no matter what Sesame Street told you, the alphabet does not get up and dance to keep you amused. You are not an audience anymore. You're supposed to make the alphabet dance now, and it keeps tripping on all the apostrophes you scatter around willy-nilly. You're mad at the audience for leaving while you're still sorting out who will paint the scenery on the stage instead of performing. Someone must know how to open the paint cans. It's a plebeian job, not worth your while, but important in a way you barely understand. You're useful? Compared to what? You think if you agitate hard enough you'll be in charge of the mess that follows opening the paint cans with an ax and a shotgun. I have my doubts. The company store has very high prices, a lot of customers, but precious few clerks.

You should try making something with what's at hand instead of demanding that things be made for you. The results might be a meager thing, but it will be thine own. And then you can say, "Meager? Compared to what?"


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Boston Museum



The wands from the buses grind and spark on the electric nets like a welder gone mad running down the street. There's a screech as the wheels attempt to negotiate the turn. It is the shriek of a negotiator losing an argument. I can smell only metal in the air. I don't know if it's possible; it just is, like praying to Jesus. The faint tang of electricity, of power, of life and death on the wind. One man's trolley is another man's electric chair. The city is an idea held together with dirt. Leaves of newspaper crabwalk across the cobbles and spidered asphalt, looking for rest, like the people in the ink on their pages. Neither seems to find a place to stick and so wander endlessly and fitfully up and down the streets. There is no rest in a city; only the grave. The stalls were full of flowers ready for last rites, and consumptive vegetables. The cold kept the heaps from warning the unwary with a whiff of truth in the nose. What good is a nose in the winter in the city anyway? We stood on the platform and the wrong trains rushed by and everyone has the expression of a dog hard by a stain on a carpet. We rocked with the wind of the cars going by, while you decided whether you were inhaling or exhaling just then, because neither suits just now. Your lungs start up again like a tug on a rope to pull a flywheel. The city has a kind of cold I don't know how to describe. It is a robber. It takes the warmth out of your pocket when you're not paying attention. It's gone and you pat yourself looking for it on your person somewhere. Like a fool. My father's hand was cold, but warmer than mine. He's warm enough for us both.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Give The Real World A Pass


I ain't ashamed. A fella's gotta make up his mind what he's tryin' to do, and do it. Save the hangdog expression for confession and the judge. I put mine on like an off-the rack suit that one time. The weepy frown kept ridin' up in the back, and I put it back in the closet forever. Man's gotta order his affairs better'n that.

Who do you gotta kill to get a drink in this bucket of blood, anyway? Bad enough you hafta park your own car. The hatcheck girl looked like she should be ringin' a bell in a tower. You can always tell when the owner of one of these joints is a schlub. You can't give them your money.

We're supposed to have made this deal already. I know the amateurs think a loud place is how it's done, but this is ridiculous. They never learn that if the cops are even interested in listening, you're already doing it wrong. Man should be able to stand up in a dump like this here and grab the mike from the greasy emcee and tell everyone in the joint what you're doing, so what. Half are pisspant civilians and the other half are in on it somehow in any place you oughta show your face. Smart man gives the real world a pass.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Up For Anything


There are certain musicians you encounter over the years that are "up for anything." If you couched the offer in the correct terms, you could get them to try drug abuse, orgiastic exhibitionism, competitive eating, garroting, transfixion, cannibalism, voting Republican -- pretty much the compass of human depravity. They'd never show up for rehearsal, often pawned their instruments to get tequila money, and lived in a hallway, but infuriatingly always seemed to be able to play and sing better than the kids who practiced. And they always knew what to do when the audience showed up. Exhibit A: Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.
Bestest guitar solo ever.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back When Driving And Drinking Was An Activity



The Flying Burrito Brothers. I could write all sorts of tidbits from Wikipedia and my foggy memory about them, but all you really need to know is that there's a chain of Mexican restaurants in New Zealand named after them. Do you have a chain of Mexican restaurants in New Zealand named after you?

I didn't think so.


Six Days On The Road

Well, I pulled out of Pittsburgh,
Rollin' down the Eastern Seaboard.
I've got my diesel wound up,
And she's running like never before.
There's a speed zone ahead, all right,
I don't see a cop in sight.
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.

I got ten forward gears,
And a Georgia overdrive.
I'm taking little white pills,
And my eyes are open wide.
I just passed a 'Jimmy' and a 'White':
I've been passin' everything in sight.
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.

Well, it seems like a month,
Since I kissed my baby good-bye.
I could have a lot of women,
But I'm not like some other guys.
I could find one to hold me tight,
But I could never believe that it's right.
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.

I.C.C. is checking on down the line.
I'm a little overweight and my log's three days behind.
But nothing bothers me tonight.
I can dodge all the scales all right,
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.

Well my rig's a little old,
But that don't mean she's slow.
There's a flame from her stack,
And the smoke's rolling black as coal.
My hometown's coming in sight,
If you think I'm happy your right.
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.
Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.

(Dave Dudley)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Spot On The Calendar When A Nation Of Can-Do Morphed In A Nation Of Co-Pay



Off our rockers, actin' crazy
With the right medication we won't be lazy
Doin' the old folks boogie
Down on the farm
Wheelchairs, they was locked arm in arm
Paired off pacemakers with matchin' alarms
Gives us jus' one more chance
To spin one more yarn
And you know that you're over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill
Doin' the old folks boogie
And boogie we will
'Cause to us the thought's as good as a thrill
Back at the home,
No time is your own,
Facillities there, they're all out on loan
The bank foreclose, and your bankruptcy shows
And your credit creeps to an all-time low
So you know, that you're over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill
Try and get a rise from an atrophied muscle,
And the nerves in your thigh just quivers and fizzles
So you know, that you're over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stories



My wrists and ankles were always on display. That was the tell. The current kid's legs tapered down to a kind of wide stump. There was enough sleeve for five noses. They had hair for three sisters. We had Sears jeans.

The city was our Roanoke. We went back after a long, hungry hejira and looked for signs of a lost life. The wardheeler Powhatans had finished their work. There is a look to a brick building with no windows. An accusation in it. Why did you rake the clay from its slumber in the river in the first place? Force it into a heartless mould and fire it, to sit one on top of another, chained together, to reach for the wan sunshine, now just a monument to entropy. For what? For this?

The women decorating the doorways slouched like squid but looked hard as hydrants somehow. Their eyes competed for attention with the empty windowholes in the triple-deckers. I was certain if I looked right at them I'd lose my soul. I had a soul. They gave it to me on Sunday. I wasn't using it just then and so it was ripe for the taking. I looked at my shoes and walked on.

The staircases all canted into the well. The railings all had ideas of their own about how much you should depend on them, so you hugged the spidered walls. The wallpaper was entirely made from the scrolls of a dead civilization, glued to the wall with hope and held on now by sheer stubbornness. Just like the people.

Friday, October 14, 2011

One Doesn't Read "The Social Evil And The Social Good." One Reads Lord Byron


HERE be none of Beauty's daughters
With a magic like Thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charm├ęd ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming:
And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o'er the deep,
Whose breast is gently heaving
As an infant's asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer's ocean.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Kids Are Playing Rock Band Right Now, And The Bigger One Is Using A Real Guitar



My wife and I go out for a walk at lunchtime sometimes. First I eat at the computer while working a little on emails and such, then I give my young son a drum lesson as part of his schooling, and if it's not raining we walk around the neighborhood for fifteen minutes. The time together is one of those precious mundane things you don't appreciate until they're gone, I imagine.

We homeschool our two children. Mostly my wife does, I mean. I give them music lessons. I'm having trouble with the drum lessons for the little fellow. It sometimes takes me longer to demonstrate the sticking in the first place than it does for him to execute it. He has a tendency to look all around the room while I'm trying to figure it out, and I scold him for not paying attention but then he sits down and plays it, first time, to make me feel silly.

Our computers are a joke. The little one's runs Windows 98 and isn't Intertunnel connected. Mine's an ancient Pentium running XP. It can't run a YouTube video on hi-def without the video card seizing up like a defendant with a light pointed at them. But it has Intertunnel so he's always keen to get a crack at it. All the children in the public school are given an expensive Apple laptop that is completely useless for any sort of real work, and simply use it to update their Facebook pages and play games while they're in class. We'd kill for a laptop, but since we save the town around twenty-two large by keeping our kids home we get nothing.

When we returned from our walk yesterday, this was on my screen, drawn in MS Paint:


I didn't know what it was for a good while, then I figured it out. It's a neon atom. He forgot to put the lower-case "e" after the N. But there are ten protons, ten neutrons, and ten electrons. He's even got the isotope number appended on there. I looked it up. I had to look it up:



I went and asked him about it. He was building a model of it with K'Nex plastic dross, and explained it to me. Ten protons gives it its atomic number, dad.

I'd bookmarked a Khan Academy website, thinking my older son might be able to use it. But my younger son sneaks into my office when I'm out or at the tablesaw, and he's watched at least four of the chemistry lectures. They're college courses. He's eight.

Little boys like to know things about the way the world works. They like lists. They like dinosaurs and atoms and planets and Lego sets and army men, and man do six-year-olds like lists of presidents.
There are lots of videos on YouTube of people who think their kids are geniuses because they've memorized something. The education and rearing of children has become so degraded and mysterious that people don't even recognize what comes naturally to children, especially male children, anymore. You have to beat the love of learning out of children. This has been totally accomplished, at least as far as boys are concerned in the public schools.

I couldn't sleep the other night, and went back to the desk at 1:30AM to write a little. I heard my older son murmuring, through the floor, up in his room. His friend had Skyped him for help with his Physics homework. Our son had already finished all his schoolwork for the next morning -- he does it at night the day before it's assigned almost without exception -- but his friend will be rousted out of bed like a vagrant and put on a bus a few hours after I heard them. He's just as bright as my son, but his teacher has dyslexia and can't explain anything properly to him. Nothing can trump social engineering in public school.

Mark my words. There is a day coming. It is not on the horizon yet, but it is not far over it. Prospective employers are going to look at your children's resume, and if it refers to any sort of "public school" on it, they're going to roundfile it without hesitation, and they're going to call HR and ask them to find another homeschooled kid. Maybe they'll settle for an expensive privately schooled kid if there's no "non-socialized" kids available.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Can A Man Explain The Phlorescent Leech And Eddie To His Son? I'd Rather Have The Sex Talk. There's Less Perversion In It


Turtles! 1968. You try working "et cetera" into a pop song.

You got a thing about you
I just can't live without you
I really want you, Elenore, near me
Your looks intoxicate me
Even though your folks hate me
There's no one like you, Elenore, really

Elenore, gee I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

I really think you're groovy
Let's go out to a movie
What do you say, now, Elenore, can we?
They'll turn the lights way down low
Maybe we won't watch the show
I think I love you, Elenore, love me

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Doubt The Blanket Has Smallpox On It

Every once in a great while, something comes into your line of sight that renews your faith in humanity, at least a little, for a little while.

I'm forced to read the local newspapers. They are uniformly and intensely stupid and useless, written by illiterates, edited by dullards, and read by... well, me, now. Yikes. I'm constantly amazed that my fellow citizens read the newspaper or watch the television and think it's hard information. It has no more fellowship with information than a ransom note assembled out of words clipped from a magazine resembles a novel, and has much the same purpose: A demand for money by lowbrow losers for holding a hostage for a short period. The hostage in this case is a siamese twin consisting of you and whatever they're writing about.

When I read a newspaper, I don't believe the writers would tell the truth if they knew it, wouldn't recognize the truth if it bit them on the leg, and don't know how to read and write well enough to accurately portray facts in a useful format anyway. But other than that, you can find out all sorts of things from the newspapers. I found out there are still people in this world that are kind to one another, even at some risk and inconvenience to themselves, and despite the fact that the object of their kindness might need kindness a lot more than they deserve it.

FARMINGTON — A resident of Spruce Lane called police early Sunday to report a man sleeping in the foyer of their house, police officer Wayne Drake said.
The resident was concerned for his safety and covered him with a blanket as he slept, Drake said.
Drake added that when he arrived the man was still intoxicated. The man had also been in a fight the night before and had a black-eye and a ripped T-shirt. He didn't remember entering the residents' house or the fight, Drake said. (Farmington Homeowner Issues Blanket Pardon To Intruder from The Rumford Meteor)

The homeowner didn't want the police to arrest the fellow, and they didn't. They drove him home.

The tedious imbeciles that put out the Lewiston Sun Urinal, the original home of the story, don't know how to connect any dots but imaginary ones, so I will; in the not-too-distant past an elderly woman was murdered in a home invasion in Farmington. It was in their own paper so they probably didn't read it. I know by the spelling and homonym warts I regularly see sprinkled about their paper the editors don't read it. Or more amusingly, maybe they do, and it starts out even worse than it ends up.

For the most part, there isn't much in the way of crime in Maine. The murder of a stranger is a very rare item around here. An unsolved one is even rarer. But someone in Farmington saw a very disreputable-looking person asleep in their foyer in the middle of the night and was kind to them, because they looked like they needed it.

Maine is not like Massachusetts, where I moved from. I am trying to get the hang of living around here still. You can walk into the Wal-Mart here with nothing but a little cash and buy a shotgun, for instance, something I couldn't do in Massachusetts. One aisle over is blankets. People here have both, and use both, as the situation warrants.

I think I like it here.

(Read The Meteor, or you won't know what it says)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Colon Day 2011

I remember Columbus Day because I used to play music in a hundred and one bands anyone that would have me and try to make money to eat and get cigarettes and I don't smoke and there still was never enough money and I played at a tee-totaling biker association party for two members' wedding not gay a man and a woman that arrived on a motorcycle with the woman I think wearing a white wedding dress and no helmet and we played for one hundred sober bikers and ninety-nine of them were like accountants and one was like a serial murderer but they all looked exactly the same so you had to assume they all would kill you if they got the chance instead of the more likely thing that they'd do your taxes if you asked nice and I never played Born To Be Wild for a wedding song before and the bride's father was in jail I think so she had to dance with the groom twice and the whole thing was held at the Italian-American Club on Gano Street in Providence but everybody calls it Guano Street for a joke haha and it's a real long time ago but it might have been the Portuguese-American Club I don't remember but I do remember it was Columbus Day and I went into the bar to get away from the sober biker accountants and that one serial murderer that were in the function room and it didn't matter if it was the Italian-American Club or the Portuguese-American Club or the Knights Of Columbus Hall haha that would be funny but I don't really remember but I distinctly remember a guy with a knife a real knife not a just a knife a dagger that came to a perfect point and didn't fold or look like you could do anything wholesome with it it just looked one hundred percent like it was designed and made to gut a bass player and that guy held that knife right under my chin and explained to me in Portuguese that Cristobal Colon was Portuguese and don't you forget it and my Spanish was very sketchy and Portuguese sounds like Russian to me not Spanish anyway but believe me I understood every damn word he said and I advise you all to answer the question did you know Cristobal Colon was Portuguese in the affirmative at all times.

The end.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Rape! Murder! It's Just A Shot (And A Beer) Away

Reader Charles Schneider sent me a link with a handful of "Worst Band Performances Ever."

I hate to disagree with my readers. I'm constantly doing it, though, and it brings me nothing but grief. But how can I sit still, and allow the South Bay Surfers (on MySpace, natch) to be lumped in there with all that execrable stuff? This aggression must not stand, man. They're not "bad." They're not "the worst." They are sublime. We must take a minute to consider the sublime when we encounter it.
 


There's plenty of bad stuff on that webpage, don't get me wrong. But YouTube is a cornucopia of bad stuff. It is the Miss America Pageant of Meh and the Nobel Prize Committee of STFU. You're going to have to be a lot worse than that to get a rise out of me. But even YouTube isn't big enough to hold every abominable noise, every obnoxious attitude, every atrocious waste of time, every repellent theme, every nauseating worldview -- each and every aspect of the self-absorbed caterwauling that the American garage, filled with the fetid and festering innards of a disemboweled Guitar Center and engorged with wannabe rock stars, can produce. It exceeds the Gross National Product of Perdition. It's too vast to get a handle on, although you'd like to get a shovel handle on it, wouldn't you?

Out of that morass, out of that septic tank of pre-adolescent hopes and dreams, washed up like dead things on the shore of no talent, hard by the smoldering caldera of suck, a champion can appear. One that has bathed so fully in the fetid essence of insipid rock music that they have become immune to it; they ride it like a hobbled stallion, a gelded centaur with emphysema; surfing it like a slow roller in a sewage treatment plant.

Beelzebub shat a Faberge egg. Attention must be paid. 

Friday, October 07, 2011

Need To Update My Out Paradin' Music


Of course the instrumental version of Keep on Truckin' by Eddie Kendricks has held me in good stead for many a day when I'm out paradin'. I have bearers holding a portable music device of some sort -- one to hold it and one to pay out the extension cords -- who parade behind me while I truck and truckle with the passersby. I usually have a few extra out front to shove the uncool into the gutter and clear the decks. Of course when I'm in my sedan chair, I simply mount the Realistic speakers to the roof and keep my Onkyo dual cassette deck and a Marantz receiver inside with me, and alternate between a pope wave and a queen wave at the windows, with an occasional "two left hands" Egyptian motion with horizontal head bob thrown in.

But time marches, or parades, on, and I feel I need to refresh my peripatetic shimmy shanty. I'm thinking of swapping over to Uncle Rico music instead:

So unless you guys have a better idea, you best step aside when you hear that Uncle Rico train a'comin'. A woodworker is approaching.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mrs. Mamet Captures The Essence Of The Thing


Show, don't tell. Dem's the rules. Alone in the big city, with a happy, somewhat wistful hope to be together soon. The song will do the work for you if you let it.

Always hated the Beach Men. I was forced to play "Surfin' USA" about eleventy hundred times. No matter.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Captain Tammany H. Plutocrat Real Estate And Bill Collection, Inc.


(Author's Note: There is no editor. Maybe I'll hire one if you buy a goddamn book

That rapscallion Bird Dog over to Maggie's Farm linked to one of those titanic bits of news that apparently only warrants a mention on the last page of the Internet, while a few dozen well-to-do hipster doofuses have a hissy fit on the first fifty pages of all the newspapers.

NEW YORK -- The largest transfer of wealth from the public to private sector is about to begin. The federal government will be bulk-selling the massive portfolio of foreclosed homes now owned by HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private investors -- vulture funds.

These homes, which are now the property of the U.S. government, the U.S. taxpayer, U.S. citizens collectively, are going to be sold to private investor conglomerates at extraordinarily large discounts to real value.

You and I will not be allowed to participate. These investors will come from the private-equity and hedge-fund community, Goldman Sachs and its derivatives, as well as foreign sovereign wealth funds that can bring a billion dollars or more to each transaction.
In the process, these investors will instantaneously become the largest improved real estate owners and landlords in the world. The U.S. taxpayer will get pennies on the dollar for these homes and then be allowed to rent them back at market rates.


Hmmm. The government is giving away all those practically free foreclosed houses you've been waiting and saving to purchase, to rapacious investors. Who'da thunkit? I mean, besides me, a year ago:

A “foreclosed house” is not a house. The jots and tittles have to be filled in by the lawyers and clerks –who owes and owns what, what’s required to call the house complete and safe for habitation -- just like you do before you dig the cellar hole. It is only a potential house. Think of them as housing starts for future years, because the vast majority of them won’t be ready to be sold for years. And since practically no one is building any new houses, and household creation plugs along, unspectacular but inexorable, those foreclosed houses are not going to be sold for peanuts in the future, because they’re going to represent the only game in town. Buy them or rent them, they’re going to cost you real money.

Banks, especially big, national banks, are not realtors. They’re not property managers. They have nothing in place to handle owning and selling the property they have on their hands. They will never use a retail approach to unloading them. They will sell them in huge blocks to investors, unload them on the government –who will unload them on favored investors -- or demolish them. These investors will be risking a great deal by buying real estate, and they’re going to demand an enormous return on that investment. They are going to make the most rapacious developers that built the houses in the first place look like Pollyanna.
The people who are currently living in the foreclosed houses “rent-free” while the bank’s lawyer scratches his head in front of a judge saying: “I know that deed is around here somewhere” are actually doing the bank a favor. They are of no use to the bank as paying customers anymore, and the bank has already written them off, but they will serve as a kind of disreputable housesitter for a year, maybe two, saving the bank from paying someone to mow the lawn or otherwise look after the place. By then the banks will have their foreclosure ducks in a row, and out in the street they’ll go, and into the now nascent, but soon to be gigantic foreclosure machine the house will go.
I'll tell you something else. All those people who thought they were going to walk away from those houses and give them back to the banks? The banks are going to figure out the difference between the mortgage and what the house is sold for, which will be huge, sell those debts to lawyers --who'll make the mafia or a first wife look reasonable -- and they'll use the court system as their own private strong-arm collectors, and hound those people to kingdom come. 

Barring a sea change in governance, five years from now there will be nothing left to do but piss in the hole where the American housing industry once stood. It'll still be smouldering from a subsidized public/private arson fire initiative, so even that might seem like a blessing when they're done with it.


Monday, October 03, 2011

OPINIONS


It is not my fault I notice things.

I've felt compelled to say that a great deal in my life. I had a sort of knack for ruining amusements for my acquaintances. I'd offer a mordant observation about something --offhandedly, usually -- and somehow I was the bad guy because it rang true to the hearer's ear and ruined their enjoyment of some pop song or TV show or whatever. They'd get mad at me for speaking the truth without malice. I found it very curious. It's not my fault that Bruce Springsteen can't sing or play his instrument, even after four decades of trying, and is a lame lamebrain in the bargain. It's not my fault for noticing that, either.

People don't like to consider, never mind admit, that they're susceptible to conditioning and appeals to their cupidity and herd instincts. That's why they bristle if you don't like what they like. Their affection for things assigns an importance to them that cannot be challenged. It doesn't matter to them that their affection for things was likely manipulated in the first place. They'll get mad if you even broach the subject, and tellingly call you a sheeple on a good day, or much, much worse if they think you're gaining traction. They think they like Apple computers because they're smart and smart people like Apple computers and not simply because a rapacious creep got every school in the country to use the useless things to the exclusion of all else and now having the close button in the wrong place is all they know. Me? I've more important things to care about. Like what you like.

"Like what you like," is likewise a common thing for me to say. I made money playing a comic version of a Bruce Springsteen song, and smiled while I did it. I try not to assign ponderous importance to trivial things. But most people aren't like that. A vicious narcissism rules the age. People will fight with fists over the primacy of Katy Perry over Lady Gaga. People want to write their condiment preferences into the Constitution. They believe that their love for things, however acquired, places the imprimatur of importance and goodness and intelligence on the objects of their affections. You can get shot for wearing the wrong laundry at a football stadium. People have OPINIONS now, not the lower-case kind.

Personality cults abound in a world of unbridled, crabby partiality of course. Politicians and businessmen are made into messiahs, not functionaries. If you oppose them, or are even ambivalent about them, you're evil. Of course anti-personality cults appear, to associate odd, cookie duster moustaches and stiff-armed salutes to innocuous, if venal, persons. Everyone's both a bohemian corporal and John the Baptist at the same time, depending who you ask.

It's getting especially tiresome here in no-man's land between those trenches. One side adores people and things you find tiresome or useless, and there's no rest from it, either, as the other side does nothing but talk about the same persons and things all day long. One cannot notice that both opinions are held by persons who are immune from the results of both their own and the competing worldviews. You all count coup in an effeminate set-piece, while a loaded pistol is in the nose of the rest of us.

You can both claim it's friendly fire, but the mortar shells all fall in the same place -- nearby, thanks. It's not my fault I notice that.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Put Your Back Into It



I don't know what tomorrow brings,
But I made just eight cents today;
Shouldered wheels at many things,
And danced and sang a cabaret.

Thousands looked upon my wares,
And sat upon their lumps of gelt;
They mimicked all they couldn't steal
To plop on their conveyor belts.

Electrocution is my fate;
Before, they sound a little tone.
But I don't dare recriminate
In hopes they'll throw a little bone.

There's little left for me to hope,
I will not steal, I cannot borrow,
But if I feed my zoetrope,
Perhaps I'll earn nine cents tomorrow.