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Entries in lowest common denominator (14)


Costco Chronicles

I've been a member of Costco for about a decade or more. There you can find too much of stuff you don't really need and can't possibly use before it all goes bad. But I've derived a bit of humor and blog/gallery fodder from my time at Costco. Here's two things from the most recent visit.

I was standing in line at the pharmacy there and a lesbian couple stood behind me. Their conversation seemed to be about social/political resistance to legalizing gay marriage. Says one to the other, "they should just let gays marry. I mean, everyone should be allowed to be miserable!" I guess that's one way to spend your married life. Sounds like a bummer deal, but hey...

Then, barely five minutes after that, still at the pharmacy (but this time I'm at the register), two men stepped up from two different waiting lines (one for cashier, one for counseling, I guess) when the cashier said "next, please." One was an older man of about 70ish. Another was maybe in his mid 50s and was a guy who looked like he might be a contractor or a shop foreman at a toilet repair business. They both walked up, and the younger guy started with some attitude and insisted he go first. The older man made a vague protest and decided not to make a scene. The younger guy wasn't content, so he got to the cashier and had to make some comment about being next, and he was up, yadda, yadda. The pharmacist told him the line for his window was where the older guy was standing.

I'm at the register with the other guy just a few feet over. His protestations getting ramped up as he felt he had to defend his honor, that HE was in line and HE should get service first. He even walked over to the barrier post (with the sign requiring patient privacy), picked it up and brought it over to the pharmacist, saying, "THIS is the line! SEE THIS?" The pharmacist guy told him to put it down so no one got hurt. This fool was getting dumber looking by the second.

He realizes he's making a scene and people are looking at him. I was sure to focus on him the whole time. My pharamacist guy is trying to work through my order, then toilet repairman guy sees I am staring at him. He tries to gloss over the fact he just made an idiot of himself with "so, how's it going?" I told him it was going pretty well. Right up to the moment he opened his mouth!



Today must be the day when more Michael Jackson music was played in a single 24 hour span than ever before. It was as if a head of state, a pope, or even the King of the World had died, given the overwhelming outpouring of emotion all around the world. It is rather much, eh? The news shows managed to forget about everything else in the world that usually consumed our attention, just to mourn a freak who won't be doing his little song and dance anymore. If you want a distinctly different bit of commentary on his life and legacy, why not read James Howard Kunstler's blog?

I was not a fan of his, but seeing how he was everywhere in my youth and his influence stretched so far and wide into the culture around me, I had no choice but to go along for some of the ride. He has been the butt of more of my jokes than my adulation, to be honest. It occurred to me that I have never heard a single Michael Jackson album all the way through. Odd, considering his enormous stature and influence over pop music in the very same time bracket during which I have listened. Indeed, his name was one of the first I ever heard of back around 1982-83 when I got hooked on AM radio—the Mighty 690 was our local station to which I was glued for a couple years before they changed formats. At that time I had a friend who talked about Michael Jackson, but when I heard the music (I guess it had to be Billy Jean then) I had no knowledge of male falsetto singing voices or any of that so I swore it was a girl singing and thought my friend—a Mexican who logically could have mispronounced the name—meant to say Michelle Jackson. I guess that was good for a chuckle until Jacko became increasingly effeminate over the years. (The same friend did rightly report that a famous rock drummer did lose an appendage, but he got his facts wrong at the time. It wasn't Tommy Lee of Motley Crue who lost just a hand, it was Rick Allen who lost an arm.) A radio commentator talked about the Jacko voice, noting how he came on strong as a kid, with the guts and gravel of a seasoned soul singer at least twice his age, and growing wispy and smooth as time went on.

In this time of economic trouble, it is interesting that one of the most fabulously wealthy guys in the world died in debt to the tune of $400 million or so. He also ironically owned the rights to Beatles music which should have been cause to be richer than sin. There was a song they wrote that he later owned. It was called "Can't Buy Me Love." Maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere?


Jew Repellant

shrimp wrapped in prosciutto bacon, hardly kosherOne restaurant in town obviously isn't interested in attracting or retaining a Jewish clientele.

Shrimp wrapped in prosciutto bacon??? What is less kosher than that? I guess it could be worse if it was all served on the Sabbath and people were made to cook it themselves (work).




Graffiti For The Digital Age

I was perusing various listings on Craigslist and it occurred to me that this is where all the lewdness, crudeness, and idiocy-laden cruelty has moved to now that bathroom stalls are not nearly as viable places to spread such nonsense. Why limit your message to the clientèle of a given restaurant, high school, or public beach bathroom when you can be seen by millions? The messages scrawled on the walls of bathrooms of yesterday seemed kind of twee. Some, like this one from around middle school were sort of poetic and endearing enough to be remembered all this time later.

Here I sit, broken hearted
Tried to shit but only farted
Then one day I took a chance
I tried to fart but shit my pants

That's what I'm talkin' about! Hah. The wonders of the internet(s).


Kevin Gilbert Rolls In His Grave

Oh, just fine. All we need now is Sheryl Crow chiming in on how to be good environmental stewards. Makes me think of Kevin Gilbert's finest song, Goodness Gracious...

Goodness Gracious!
My gramma used to say
The world's a scary place now
Things were different in her day
What horrors will be commonplace
When my hair starts to gray?

Maybe Sheryl should just keep making her sucky ass songs without Kevin. Compared to her sense of how to help the environment, lame songwriting might be her calling after all.


Jesus Camp

the apocalypse now poster. a custom thing with intense explosive imagery and mangled shapes seemingly stemming from a nuclear explosion. all with the dorky face of George W. Bush looking like he just pressed the red button in a bunker somewhere.Kelli and I just watched this movie and thought it was pretty much scarier than anything Hollywood can come up with, particularly with its implications for the future of our nation. Consolation comes in the form of my reading of American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips, who said that no European empire of the last 500 years or so has successfully withstood the religio-nationalistic partnership of church and state (speaking of the experience of the Dutch, Spanish, and British) without collapsing, followed by the church hemorrhaging membership because of all the broken promises of "God on our side" sorts of sentiments. It is hard to get enthusiastic about the solution to all our problems because Phillips also speaks of the other death knells of failing and failed empires: movement from a manufacturing economy into one built on increasingly abstract financial manipulations; the inability of an empire built on one energy source to move successfully to another energy source and carry on as before, and finally, the religious and nationalistic fervor mentioned above.

So, here we are today in America. The housing bubble is blowing out partially because it made loans to people who have no business getting them; we have an economy that is founded more and more on information and service (on the whole, not making anything of real worth); we have peak oil and no real prospects for an alternative to oil, but war mongering to capture access to the remaining supplies is now our primary national export product; and then, the utter nutjobbery of what this film portrays. Raising kids to believe in creationism at the expense of scientific education, to idolize George Bush and his project of deconstructing the classic liberal (in the true sense of the word—free minded) American beliefs and progressive policies that helped more people enjoy liberty, at least socially. This generation of kids and others of that mind will be the ones who strip America of its essence and replace it with reckless and narrow minded policies meant to exclude and limit. I agree with Bill Moyers that it wouldn't be so scary if they were the fringe, but they have growing power behind their mission to "claim back America for Jesus", and are driven to gain actual political power, media power, cultural sway. How can you argue that the world should be preserved when they think they are doing right by Jesus, driving the world to chaos so that the end times will be put into motion? I find it disgusting. Phillips' book reminds us that religion never had the power it once had in Holland after that empire collapsed, or after the Spanish Inquisition, or after Britain finally retreated from its claim of being the empire over which the sun never set. I guess we can hope that this religious radicalism will be brought to an end and put in its context. The problem with wishing for such a thing is that it will mean the end of the nation as we know it. But maybe that is just growing up.



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The Gamble—Losing To Win

Last weekend I did a gig as monitor mixer for a Vietnamese concert out at Barona Casino east of San Diego. The nature of the event was so that the casino could woo some Vietnamese high rollers into the casino, and to urge them to bring their friends. I'm told this sort of thing happens a lot—casinos will butter anyone up to get them to come play. Gotcha. I just never found it myself, being staunchly anti-gambling. Anyhow, here are some reflections.

As you approach Barona, after a few miles driving in the mountainous region that surrounds the valley, you see the casino in all its glory. In the valley, it appears just outsized and huge, almost like a cartoon image drawn into a picture. All around its periphery is a white ranch fence, gleamingly pure. The campus is sprawling—it has a hotel which grabs your eye first, and a casino, and a convention center, as well as several outbuildings. And the parking garage? Oh, the parking garage—bound to be nearly useless within a few years as people lose their love of driving due to skyrocketing gas prices, and furthermore as they lose any money they would have to gamble, unless of course, they gambled with more determination because its their last hope for getting something for nothing in America! At any rate, the garage is huge, maybe five levels tall, and could not be more out of place in that valley.

I have long joked that the wealth of the white man was once the wealth of the Indian (native American, of course), and now the greed of the white man, once the destroyer of the Indian, will now be the Indian's best hope for restoring any of their previous prestige and control over the affairs of this land. Yup, Barona is one instrument of such a transfer of wealth back to the Indian population. But the Indian tribes have to adopt the European-modeled ways. And it appears that some of them put them at cross-odds with their own history!

Back to the fence. First off, wasn't it the natives that had no idea of enclosure of the commons? The land could not be owned, only revered and shared? Figure A here in my commentary is this: the fence surely is a white person's creation, especially this design—post after post, with 3 levels of horizontal slats ringing the whole place! And, to deepen the irony, the fence itself is made of plastic! And, going even further, on the inside of the white fence is a barbed wire fence! Two fences to protect the private property of the native American tribe? Whatever happened to the commons?

Going inside, into the casino and further into the buffet, rather hungry after the hours of work on each night, I got another idea of how the Indian adopted the white man just enough to separate him from his money, but in doing so sold out his own cultural values again. In the buffet restaurant, there are all sorts of old timey signs and advertisements that pretty much date from about 1880-1920 or so—the heyday of Americans closing the gap between the coasts, expanding west and pressing the natives out of the land, giving them these little postage stamp sized reservations, such as Barona has now. All these ads glorify the white man's work in agriculture, domestic conveniences, automobiles, and other things that were the hallmark of the time. They had farm and forestry implements hung on the wall (a huge two man saw for cutting down old growth forests), and more such instances which declared the white man's arrival on Indian land, and the submission that resulted. And, the buffet itself is contrary to the communal and conservative (in the real sense of the word—to ensure sustainability) ethic that governed life before the white men arrived—eat as much as possible until you explode and don't worry about how it will be provided in the future. Just think about how much energy and land it takes to ensure that just one casino can keep providing all-you-can-eat food for thousands of people each day. It's hardly the economics of "enough" that indigenous people have to live by when their resources are few and dear. It doesn't even retain an echo of the ethic of concern for how future generations would live.

So the Indian tribes now adopt the white man's corporate style of enclosing property, declaring it as owned and worthy of fences, security cameras and guards. They buy machines from the white men so that they might let the white men's greed fuel their attempts to preserve their culture. They adopt parking garages with no aesthetic appeal and let them be placed next to buildings that clearly come from the design sensibilities of the white man. They allow themselves to forget the sustainable ethic by having enough food to feed already fat people, and yet there is so much that gets thrown away still. They sacrificed their reverence for the natural world by laying down acres of asphalt to park on and widening roads to drive on.

Who then is really making the ultimate gamble? The white men who are going on as being white men, with their rampant lust for cheap gains? Or the natives who had to play by the white man's rules, even when they did so to ostensibly do damage control to limit the earlier damage of centuries past? What will become of the natives when their best hope for being autonomous and culturally relevant again means they must play by the white man's rules, and to be more cutthroat while doing so? And then of course, what is their economy going to amount to when their land has been paved over, their people trained in the ways of white economics models, and then the corporate/industrialized white world finally sputters out due to the centuries of greed and exploitation that will finally bring everyone down with the decline of reliable energy and resources? Unless the Indian populations are bracing for the fall of the economic infrastructure of the white man's world, they are in the same boat! Right now, they depend on greed for their economic power. Same as the white man. It reminds me of the end of Animal Farm when the pigs and the humans could not be told from one another because the pigs learned how to walk on two legs, like humans, once their sworn enemies, a far cry from when the motto of the farm was "four legs good, two legs bad!!!"


Driving In Hell-A

I happened to be doing a truck driving gig for Yahoo Music in Hollywood on the night of the Grammys. About 11 pm I went in search of some chow, having just been told that my gig was extended for something like three hours beyond the stated time on the gig sheet. Now, I was in the biggest vehicle I routinely drive for work, a 16' bobtail truck. It's called a "city van" and is among the more nimble of the trucking family. Still, it's a pig to drive. The hotel I was at during the gig was quite a challenge as it was (with a tremendously tight driveway on a busy street, leading into two narrow spaces side by side with one truck in the near space and a wall to the other side and cars behind it all once pulled in) and it was easy to decide that I would not drive any more than I needed to in Hollywood on that mad busy day. Good thing. By the end of the gig, I was frazzled enough.

Anyhow, after arriving at the venue at the appointed time of 11 pm and being told the gig was striking "after 2 am, but maybe later", I drove about looking for some grub. I turned into an In-N-Out nearby partially because there was what appeared to be ample space to park in an actual lot instead of hellish street parking. I was behind this slick SUV with the stereotypical boob-enhanced and fashion model wannabe Los Angelite on the cell phone who turned into a space and a half that I was going for since the parking was tight and one space would not do. There are some cars behind me too, backing up as I sit in an almost parked position about 3/4 into the space, with this SUV woman on the phone and making it just impossible to actually get into the space. So I honk and get no response. Honk again. No response. Honk once more and finally she got out and said she was reserving a space for her limo drivers. I'm sitting there in this fucking truck, blocking three cars now, and finding that I have to try to justify getting this space I am already in. Lady, my options are kinda limited here, you see?

Then just as this exchange starts to take off, some In-N-Out dweeb comes by and starts telling me I have to move, that these spaces are being held for someone (presumably some pompous asshole with a shiny big car). I exclaim, 'where the hell am I supposed to park this thing?' To which he pretty much shrugs his shoulders and just says I can't stay there.

So I say, 'Oh, so you don't want my money then? You don't need my money? WTF?'

I gave up without much more hassle because I decided I didn't really want a burger anyway, but I had a mind to just spite the guy and go across the lot where I could have parked across five spaces and really torqued his jaw. I ended up going across the street to the IHOP and had an overpriced breakfast—in the middle of the night.

Then once the gig did end, after 2 am or so, it took another four hours to get it struck, drive to the shop and finally get to bed. What fucking hell it is in Hollywood. The only star I saw was David Spayd. If only I actually cared about such shit.