Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Michael Jackson, History

So I was going through some old folders on the hard drive and found this thing I wrote the night Michael Jackson died. I never posted it because it's self serving garbage, but I re-read it and I kind of like it through the scope of 6 months. So I'm posting it.

Michael Jackson is dead.
That cute as a button kid who danced in front of his brothers and kicked out some funkiest shit known to earth in the 70's, the young man with a scowl, moon-walking in a red leather jacket and studded glove through the 80's, the increasingly pale fellow who started donning masks, married Elvis' daughter, dangled his baby off a balcony, and had painfully uncomfortable encounters with children whether he touched them or not, all those guys are gone.
There is surely an avalanche building as we speak of horror stories that will start coming out over the weeks, months and years to come. Books by those close to him. Lawyers, Doctors, Agents will all have stories about the complexities of this man as well as tales of weirdness on an epic scale.
I mean the stuff that got out while he was alive, like the Jesus juice, the oxygen tanks, and bigger than life Peter Pan complex, was weird enough, but there is surely some buzzard just waiting to expose the dirty secrets of this poor bastard after the initial grieving period is over.
Right now everyone fondly remembers Thriller-era Michael.
Michael Jackson was the 80's just as much as Elvis was the 50's. In the end the King of Rock'n Roll and the King of Pop might have turned out to be a little more alike than originally thought. While Elvis might have been more extroverted, even in his declining years playing shows and making light of his appearance, Michael amidst court cases,controversies and mutations, hid in his ranch/amusement park until the government took it away. Both of them were on top of the world, and indisputably the best, and most innovative in their field in their prime, and both saw their creativity and popularity wane in later years and began showing signs of erratic behavior. Elvis shot television sets and filmed young girls in their underwear having pillow fights, Michael had slumber parties with kids and fed them wine. And of course was accused of other daliances.
So why are there people crying in the streets doing bad accapella versions of his songs? Leaving flowers outside of the Apollo Theater? Why has a cynical bastard like me, who can't remember the last time I even thought about Michael Jackson beyond maybe blasting Billie Jean or Thriller should I hear it on the radio care? (I should also confess that I always really liked The Way You Make Me Feel off Bad too, that would probably be my Top 3 not including Jackson 5 material Michael Jackson songs). Alright maybe I might have done the Thriller Dance (badly) at Halloween parties.

I think some of it comes down to age. I can remember 1984 a little. Not vividly but enough to know that certain things burned themselves into my psyche: Ronald Reagan was President, and Michael Jackson was the biggest musician in the world. It's why, even though I later learned shitty things about Ronald Reagan I felt a little sad when he died. It wasn't so much being sad for the man, maybe just a sick realization of "that was fucking 20 years ago". Some people suggest it might have something to do with a part of your childhood being gone, and I think I bought into that for about 10 minutes, but in the end that is probably just neurtoic armchair psychiatric bullshit. I think I do buy into the "realization of one's own mortality" neurotic armchair psychiatric bullshit much more.
So I don't want to watch the news or any of the entertainment shows that will surely keep this feeding frenzy going for the next 20 years, beating us over the head with unearthed EXLCUSIVES. Surely the following sentence will be uttered in the next week: Michael Jackson "What you didn't know!" And who would be suprised if this turned out to be some kind of elaborate hoax? It won't be long before the "Michael faked his own death and is living as a waffle maker in Belgium" rumors start spinning.
But there's bigger things going on in the world than the death of a pop star. Iran is shooting protesters and North Korea is claiming they want to reign down hellfire on everybody. There's big things going on.
But Michael Jackson was big. Big enough for the networks to clear their schedules for the evening, big enough to block out news that Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon died this week too. I mean the title of this thing is a lyric from a U2 song. That's pretty big.
Ultimately he was a great entertainer who turned into great entertainment. He morphed from the biggest pop star in the world into a rolling punchline for hack comedians and an endless blood supply for vampiric pseudo-journalists and while I'm sorry he died I have no intention of drinking a beer or lighting a candle or spouting some kind of over-earnest sentimental garbage about the man. He was a singer who was also a weird queer who may have had the best of intentions but couldn't help but come off creepy over the last 15 or so years. The real sad thing is that he may have never even realized it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NIc Cage is the Best Medicine

Nicolas Cage is in a new movie called Bad Lieutenant: Port Of New Orleans, or something like that. Now if you've ever seen Bad Lieutenant, with Harvey Kietel you know it was a weird, violent, insane little movie whether you liked it or not. So you can imagine my queasiness at finding out some remake with Cage and his Ghost Rider flame Eva Mendes is about to come out, produced by no less an eternal spring of creative integrity than MTV. Even the fact that Val Kilmer was lending his Jim Morrisoness to the project did little to make me think it was going to be any good.
Well I haven't seen the movie, but I read Ebert's review, and beyond what he thought of the movie (he gave it four stars) he told a few things Cage's character does in the film: namely robbing drug dealers, shooting heroin (I think it was heroin), and raping a suspects girlfriend, which pretty much convinced me that at the very least we weren't dealing with some crisply shot, shoot em' up "This guy is a BAD Lieutenant" remake or reimagining or whatever scummy designation they want to give it to cover up the fact that it's a regurgitation. To be honest I don 't know why they needed to pull the name off Kietel's little gem from almost 20 years ago, but whatever, I'm not here to talk about franchising rights. Maybe there'll be Bad Lieutenant combo meals at Arby's; that's none of my business.

However, it did remind me to a point, this movie that I haven't seen only read a review about, that when he wants to, Nicolas Cage can act. This is a lesson I re-learn every once in a while when I notice the dusty copy of Adaptation sitting in my DVD shelf. "Oh yeah" I'll think as skip right by it and pop in a George Carlin disc yet again.

But whatever, that's not the point either I'm not here to shit on Nicolas Cage or call him a sellout or say he's wasted his talent and has been secretly controlled for the last 12 or 13 years by an alien that lives in his hair piece. Oh no. I'm here to sing his praise and thank him.

Perhaps I should preface this. I've probably written something along these lines before but bear with me. Actually hold on for a minute I have to cancel an appointment with my eye doctor tomorrow morning.

Ok. So I have a whole criteria for movies that can render them a second chance in my life as a "Going to Bed Movie". It took a while for me to find exactly what made a good movie to act as white noise while I drift off into the terrible terrible dreams that haunt my sleep. Early movies that didn't make the cut were films that I really enjoyed "Seven" "Rushmore" "Taxi Driver" "The Royal Tennenbaums" nothing worked. I'd hit a certain point in the film and I'd be hooked.

But then I found the Muhammad Ali of Sleep Movies, Roland Emmerich's beautiful gift to mankind: Independence Day. My comprehension and near obsession with this film could probably be seen as one of the reasons why I usually don't have a girlfriend, but fuck that these things need to be studied and if I have to sacrifice some hoo-hah so that future generations have a better understanding of art, then so be it.

I fucking hated Independence Day when I first saw it. Great they blew up the Empire State building. The Capital and Capitol Records (what devious irony). Will Smith provided a nice, safe black man, a RAPPER, for white children to look up to and emulate. Jeff Goldblum showed how funny Jewish people can be, and as far as I can tell Randy Quaid played himself.

But let me tell you something, no film, none, has ever felt like a warm blanket protecting me from the evil night like this shit bomb. In the last 5 years I wouldn't be surprised if I've seen this movie, in pieces, at least a hundred times. If they took this show to Broadway, and stayed to true to the source material, I guarantee I could handily win either Robert Loggia's or Judd Hirsch's role over the most seasoned of thespians.

I can fall asleep at any point in the film, however if it's just started I prefer to be out by the time those poor bastards in the helicopter with the flashing lights get blown out of the sky by that menacing turquoise light, because I tend to find myself trying to decipher exactly what those flashing lights could possibly mean.
Otherwise, they could replace every actor, every special effect, every moronic piece of dialogue, with digitally enhanced sheep jumping over a fence because it has the same effect on me, but that is only because I can turn it on at any point and either watch it all the way through, or fall asleep because I know the biggest thrill I'm likely to get out of it is the feeling of an ice cold cringe starting in my ass and shooting to the back of my neck when Randy sacrifices himself to save the dullards who managed to survive and yells "Alrigth you alien assholes, in the words of my generation UP YOURS"

So yes, I'm simultaneously shitting on this movie and praising it, because somehow, Emmerich, who has never before or since shown any capability of doing much of anything, has here managed to make a film that finds the exact balance of something that is just entertainingly shitty enough to pay attention to, and a garbled, cliche-drenched mess that can be ignored.

Independence Day may be the all time heavyweight champion but Nicolas Cage is the pope of sleep movies. His early ground breaking work in this genre would be his late 90's/ early 00's Trilogy of "The Rock" "Con Air" and "Gone in 60 Seconds". Now, I know what you're thinking: No National Treasure? No National Treasure: Book of Secrets? No, no, no my friend, I haven't forgotten about these mud covered diamonds. But I think we all know there will be a third National Treasure, assuming that Helen Mirren didn't smother Nic, and the rest of the heroes to death with her tits at the end of Book of Secrets, since I have yet to make it to the end of that one I can't say for sure. But there's no way that happened. If I even sensed that there was a chance of Mirren-tit I would have hung in there.

So surely National Treasure: The Secret of Thomas Jefferson Bastard Children can't be far off. So I'm not getting into that right now, though they are important films in the Cage Canon.

Yes, it took a 4 day jag in the ICU for me to re-appreciate the original Cage-Trilogy. But being, unnecessarily confined to a bed on a Saturday night, knowing there is a world out there that doesn't include an old man in the next room, who only seemed to wake up at night, yelling "help" in a wheezy gasp, gave me some perspective.

You can imagine my excitement finding out that USA was going CAGE CRAZY (my words not theirs) with all three films, and even though bastardized with edits and commercials I couldn't really ask for more.

Gone in 60 Seconds started it off, this is a movie I would go as far to say I kind of like. Sure it's really nothing more than a group of guys confusing cars for pussy (admittedly "confusing cars for cunts" was a nice alliteration, but I'm trying to be classy here). There is a lot of soft porn dialogue about classic cars, they even name the cars with stripper names, and no less than Angelina JOlie, fresh off an Oscar, and pre-raising a small African Village in West Hollywood, is the only thing not gas powered that can get ol' Nic's dick stiff. But it's even got Robert Duvall, and I have a hard time hating anything he's in. It's kind of a happy little ridiculous movie.

I almost have the same synopsis of the Rock. I saw it in the theater and I liked it. It's completely stupid but I like it. Everyone has a friend that's an idiot and this is mine. I've seen the Rock alot. I owned it on VHS;stolen from West Coast Video in New Milford from the $7.99 bin. But it is a stupid movie. The first scene we meet Cage's Dr. Stanely Goodspeed in he's uber-excited about the $600 original pressing of Meet the Beatles he's ordered and this really sets the tone. He even goes as far to overstate the point when questioned about the lavishness of this purchase: "I ordered it for two reason, 1. Because I am Beatle Maniac and 2. because these (LPs) sound better". This is supposed to make him instantly likable to us. "HEY THIS GUY LIKES THE BEATLES! HE PREFERS LP'S! HE'S AN OLD FASHIONED KIND OF GUY TRYING TO AVOID BEING SWALLOWED UP BY MODERN TECHNOLOGY! I IDENTIFY. I FIND THE MUSIC OF THE BEATLES AUDIBLY PLEASING AS WELL! I AM GOING TO ROOT FOR THIS FELLOW NO MATTER WHERE THIS ADVENTURE TAKES HIM!" Yes, thank God Sean Connery shows up and says things like "Losers try their best, winner's go home and fuck the prom queen". Ed Harris broods for an hour and half before getting his guts blown out and in what I honestly believe must be a Michael Bay penned line passes through the mouth of the man who took home the Best Actor Oscar the year before: "how in the name of Zeus' butthole did you get out of your cell?" Yes. This one is magic. I liked it. Fuck Transformers, fuck Bad Boys and really fuck Armageddon, (it's actually amazing that I haven't included that fucking dumpster sludge of a movie in this conversation, but it isn't really a going to bed movie, I tried to do that twice and both times I stayed up and watched the whole 2 hours plus and listened to Aerosmith cry all over the credits and stayed up the rest of the night questioning life.)

And then there is Con Air. I probably should have started here because I feel like I might have burned myself out. Ok, this might be all I have to say about Con Air: "Why wouldn't you put the bunny down?". Malkovich, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Dave Chappelle. Never before has such talent been assembled for whatever the hell happens here. For starters it's the only movie John Cusack has ever been in that he isn't longing over a woman. He also wears sandals and socks throughout. Steve Busemi plays the voice of reason/child killer and we're supposed to get all happy because he gets away at the end because he managed to cure himself by having a tea party with a little girl without skinning her. I guess I could go on but who gives a shit? The real star of this movie is Nicolas Cage's one-chromosome-short-of-drooling-on-himself slow southern drawl. It wears on you almost immediately, as the opening sequence unfolds he's reading his fucking crayon scribbled letters to his stupid daughter, slinging cliche ridden drivel in his borderline Forrest Gump accent. And the aforementioned bunny line. That was like his tough guy moment? However, the fact that someone watched that and went "Perfect! We got it. Great take Nic" makes me think maybe I'm beng too harsh. Then there is my favorite moment at the end, no not when Cyrus "the Virus" somehow gets thrown from the main drag of Las Vegas to a rock quarry that is apparently somewhere between Cesars and Ballys, no that's perfectly fine, I mean when Cage tells Cusack that "now there's three men I trust" and they shake hands. This is a callback to an earlier scene where Cage tells him there are only two men he trusts: "One's me the other's not you" so now at the end, after all they've been through, there are three men he trusts: Himself, Not John Cusack and John Cusack. I think that about sums it up.

So as I lay in my hospital bed, turning down the nurse's offer for a Xanax to help me sleep and trying forget about the insane tab one accumulates while being hooked up to heart monitors and brought drugs every hour you might ask: did I make it through all three? You bet Helen Mirren's sweet tits I didn't.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Somewhere in the Future with Bob Dylan

In the future somewhere, there is a funeral parlor with a closed casket and Bod Dylan's voice creaking over what will likely be an inferior speaker for such an event, while a professional man with a white carnation on his lapel checks his watch to see how much time until he has to start ferrying people out so they can prepare for the next service.
It's all very depressing this death anticipation that tends to grab me from time to time, and it's not in the sense that I was in the hospital for a four day jag, listening to the man in the next room, who only seemed to wake up in the middle of the night to cry out "help" in a dry voice and wondering if all the monitors I was hooked up to would suddenly scramble into some kind of electronic, bleeping anarchy just as the lights fade and all the sounds get warped and whatever happens after that happens. Whether that's an angry, vengeful God waiting there with numchuks to beat me into oblivion for being a skeptic, or some kind of eternal reward, or maybe even the worst: inky, black nothingness, I don't know, and to be quite honest I don't really want to think about that right now.
And I don't really want to think about any of it, but I once again find myself over tired and my "shuffle song" playlist seems to be leaning towards the morbid.
I thought I was over this whole thing, but then "In My Life" kicks on.
Supposedly they played that at Cobain's service, so of course I've insisted in some shoddily written, non-leagally binding will I scribbled down that probably won't be found until 4 years after I'm dead, that it be played at mine.
Anyway, I'm sick of waiting around with nervous energy wondering which internal organ will start spouting blood, or where the tumor is going to pop up, or if my heart is going to slow down or just explode this time. Or you know the insane fear that somehow I'm going to be crushed or trapped, or murdered, or the immediacy of a car accident that leave the steering wheel crushed in your chest. I can hear how that sounds, just the crunch of the metal and plastic bending. It sounds fake, but the next thing you realize once you get your wits is that it actually did happen.
Yeah all that.
All that is never too far from getting prime time slots in the frontal lobe.
Brutal miserable thoughts. The kind of thing miserable teenagers who can't get dates should be thinking about before they go to college and realize they're really good at science.
Well I'm not good at science, so maybe that's why I never shed some of this teen angst bullshit.
Of course, it comes and goes. Other times I don't really give a fuck. Whatever will be will be.
The story gets ugly on all sides. I'm afraid of the future which is stupid because I don't even know if I'm going to be in it.
I'm afraid of living on an overheated rock with the oceans in my living room while President Palin is on television letting me know that she's going to lob some cruise missles all over the globe because being America means doing whatever the fuck you want and never having to say sorry, while dozens of people you see at the super market pump their fists and chant USA, USA. But of course she does it in a cute, folksy way.
It'll be serious times in the future.
They'll be no music, or expression, or fun.
That's what the future looks like to me some days.
That's what it looked like to me today.
I guess there's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

everything quiet on the long trail outside

at 9:30 he decided to stop. he couldn't remember the last time he put this amount of effort into a singular project without blaring distractions about other things pecking away at him. Some jazz quietly waffled across the breeze running through the house. His hands were stained with marker streaks, a bi-product of the drawings he unleashed on the poster boards in front of him. He wasn't an artist, never had any real propensity to draw, or create, but he found the package of poster boards, someone must have left them in the house, and he had the magic markers, and he couldn't think of a whole lot else to do with his time.

The girl would have been proud of him but she was gone now and probably not coming back. Something felt funny about having her around constantly so he started an argument. At first she thought he was kidding when he complained that she must have eaten all the Kosher Dill pickles he enjoyed on his sandwiches. He griped about this for several minutes before he began violently pulling items from the refrigerator and throwing them to the floor in between shouts of calling her "selfish" and a "liar". It didn't take long for the girl to leave, promising to return when he wanted to "call to say he was sorry". As of now he hadn't called and had no intention of doing so. He liked the girl but it seemed like he got more done without her there.

Now that the squeaks of the markers had ceased the silence in the house was in stereo. He peered his eyes back and forth as if to make sure he had been alone the whole time. He looked down at his new works spread out across floor amidst full ashtrays, plates of dried up food and dirty laundry. He was working with three colors, green, black and red. When he'd first started making these lines across the white paper he wasn't sure what he was trying to get, and now that he was done, now that he realized he put such effort, such focus, into it he felt that there must be something to it. He studied the wild lines, the shapes, the circles, the boxes he filled in with vicious streaks. He even looked at the quiet spots on the paper, where nothing was filled in. Maybe all this summed him up in some surreal, abstract way, maybe he was just a bundle of noise trapped inside a box, shooting around trying to get into the quiet. Of course it was equally just as possible that he just needed to get outside for a little while.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

and finally the truth

"So you just came back to me because you realized there was nothing better out there?" she asked.
"Actually no, I realized there is a lot better out there than you but I just can't get any of it."

Friday, October 23, 2009

The New Milford Exploding Sewers

Been that kind of week, where you feel half nuts and scared that whatever shitty mood you're in is going to last the rest of your life. Blood pressure spikes and drops. Old memories stirring the pot. Teenage Angst. Jesus. How fucking old am I?Everyone knows everyone some how, and everyone had it together long before I learned that being a prick was my favorite hat to wear.
Maybe I'm just tired or in failing health, trying to mainline the fall, and build momentum up to some kind of explosively creative breakdown that'll sum up all the shit I've been trying to say for last 20 years. All the God bargains and fresh starts and do overs and new waves of ambition that take you around in long circles until you run back home and try to disappear.
At least there's deep sleep and dreams of fire blasting out of the sewers on the streets of New Milford.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rocktober Rarrives: Las Vegas, The Batman, and a Slew of Self Indulgent Nonsense I Want to Spew if I'm Ever Going to Contribute Anything to Society

Ahh. Thank you October for driving a stake through that rotten Indian Summer we were having. Sure I'll miss the 65-70 days and nights that were so beautiful I'd dedicate significant portions of the evening kicking myself for not thinking of better ways to spend them. But I won't miss those occasional 85 degree blasts during the ass-end of September, long after the air conditioner has been disassembled and I've just gotten used to dressing in my super-hero costume of three or four layers and a sweatshirt zipped up to keep it all tucked in just to find out, no it's going to be warm tonight and you're going to look like a nervous pervert sweating and uncomfortable and probably drunk. Not that I can blame the drunk thing on the weather I guess.

No no no, October came running through the gate with a nice cool blast that seemed to come out of nowhere, like someone just fixed the weather machine. Had it been working we would have eased into this. I love the fucking fall. I love all the peripheral bullshit that comes with it: dead leaves, baseball playoffs, football, layers of clothes and blankets, Halloween all of it. I love everyone's dumb facebook status complaining about how cold it is.

But enough of that shit. This whole thing was to purge all the rottenness that's been building up the last month or so. So let's get into some random bullshit and see what sticks to the wall. Starting with:

-I don't know if I like the Germs. I'm listening to them right now, and I'm wondering if that movie "What We Do Is Secret" kind of ruined them for me. I was never huge on them to begin with, but that movie seemed to be doing the same douchey thing they did in the Doors movie with the "Wow man, that is so amazing. It's like you copied your lyrics off God's tongue". You know making the dead guy look like some prophet who just couldn't handle the fame, he just wanted people to like his words. And maybe that's true for all I know, but that doesn't mean it makes a good movie. Of course having said that I loved the Doors movie when I was in my teens and probably even ruined a few bands and friendships by doing stupid drunk shit because I thought Jim Morrison would have done it. But I never claimed that I wasn't a fucking moron. Maybe the Germs cult following will blow up and in 10 years they'll be on Classic Rock radio once an hour, but I kind of doubt it. Anyway the song is over now and I kind of don't care anymore.

-Speaking of Classic Rock Radio and what not I kind of am having a rekindling of my love affair with the Rolling Stones. This happens about once every two years where I listen to Exile on Main St. and for some reason get surprised at how good it is. Or maybe listen to Goat's Head Soup or Some Girls or any of those 70's records and want to start looking for plutonium or try harnessing a bolt of lightning to take my Pontiac back to 1973. Sticky Fingers, however remains the money Stones album in my opinion.

Moving along.

- I am desperately trying to beat this fucking Batman Arkham Asylum game. It's doing serious damage to my psyche, beyond the fact that I'm a 31 year old man, well past his prime, staring at screen for three hours, cursing the batteries in my controller once every 10 minutes, trying to outsmart the fucking Riddler. I will solve all of his puzzles and I'm at the point where I'll use the online walkthroughs if I have to because he must stopped and, perhaps more importantly, I have to stop playing this game. I sometimes find myself unable to sleep wondering what I would have to do to set up my own crimefighting operation here in Brick. The safest town in New Jersey. Of course you never can be too safe can you? I mean I already have a black car and a back entrance to my house. I have a lot of black clothes, and even though I'm far too fat to be taking out 'city criminals' I'm sure I could handle whatever lowball crimials pollute Brick. Especially if I'm sneaking up on them in the dark. I guess I'll have to give it some thought. Either that or beat the game and hopefully never think of it again.

-Las Vegas. The show. NBC ran it for several years this decade, it starred James Caan and bunch of models most who had an acting range that went from smile for "happy" and furrowed brow for angry, confused, or anything that falls under "not happy". The premise of the show is kind of a take off of Casino but trying to look like Oceans 11. It's a pretty terrible show, it's a sexed-up Love Boat in a casino with ridiculous storylines, mostly lame guest stars and shitty effects. James Caan beats the shit out of someone every episode and all the models take turns fucking each other. It's become the preferred show around dinner time in the ol' McGann homestead and having said everything I just did I really can't stop watching it. It's not good, it doesn't get better, I don't particularly like any of the characters, though Vanessa Marecel's "Sam" is getting close to melting my ice-heart, I don't give a shit what happens but I can't stop watching it. Part of this is surely just laziness on my part, another part of this is that I know it got cancelled so I'm somewhat curious to see if it actually got worse, or maybe it started getting good and alienated the audience. And the other reason I watch is that one day, and I know it will happen, when somehow the show comes up in conversation and someone goes: "Oh my God I used to LOVE that show" I have a carefully researched opinion to politely argue the other side with.

What else is bothering me.
Writers' block.
Career
women
life
$$$
Yeah all that shit I guess
but that's nothing new.
I feel better actually.
Purged.
Thanks Blogger page that no one reads.

Friday, September 11, 2009

everything weird/quiet

There's an alien coming out of the speakers. It sounds like it anyway.
I'm trying to figure out if two characters are going to fuck.
I say fuck not to cheapen it or whatever, if you're more comfortable with terms like "making love" then you're probably an asshole but that's besides the point, because if these two were to have sex it would be fucking, there would no love involved, it would be dirty and very little emotion at all with the possible exception of mutual disgust.
But while I'm trying to figure this out there's an alien crawling through the speaker.
It's actually not your run of the mill slimy, green, wide eyed alien, it's just a sound. My alien is a sound. And it's in the speaker and it wants out.
I think I figured out my little "fucking" problem.
It's coming out weird because it is weird.
There are aliens in the room.
No more shadow faced maniacs grabbing at the doorknobs.
Just weird sounds.
Just aliens.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The ever-evolving funeral setlist

Stevie Ray Vaughan- Little Wing
Nothing against Hendrix's version but this one is longer and instrumental. There's live ones that Hendrix and Vaughan did that would certainly qualify, but they're mostly bootlegged stuff and this is after all a formal session here. I don't want some hackey-low-fi copy burned off Limewire hissing during MY thing.

Here's a few that I really don't feel like I have to say anything about; just kind of dark songs, and you know, it'll be a funeral not a FUNeral. Well maybe it'll be a FUNeral, but there must be a proper amount of misery or hauntings will happen.

Rolling Stones-Moonlight Mile
George Harrison Isn't It a Pity?
Alice in Chains- Nutshell/Rotten Apple
Tom Waits -Anywhere I Lay my Head
Nick Cave-hmmmmm-Lay Me Low? ehhhhhh, nah, how bout Hold Onto Yourself

Radiohead- Life in a Glasshouse
There are probably better examples of songs that sound like a funeral march and kind of get a little eye wink in there about it actually being a funeral but I don't give a fuck. To me this is particularly forceful and should drag some tears out of some of you pricks, especially the second time through the refrain at the end.

U2-Exit
Well maybe just the intro section. Not that there's anything wrong with the rest of it, but it's a little too U2 80's for a funeral, I will not encourage random bursts of standing and clapping and call and response at my fucking funeral.
well maybe I will.

Pearl Jam-Oceans It was kind of between this and Release and then I remembered something.....

Pearl Jam-Release it's my fucking funeral and I can have as much Eddie Vedder as I want. In fact...

Pearl Jam-Yellow Ledbetter 6/26/08 MSG well maybe the studio version would be better, this was from a show I went to with Blumes and while it was really great and all the national anthem at the end is a little not my speed for a death march. I mean I wasn't in the military or anything.

Nirvana-hmmm I guess All Apologies It's kind of a cliche, and maybe I'll think of something better or, RARER so I can show off my Cobain-IQ but album-wise I guess it would be easier to pick something off the Unplugged, maybe Oh Me but that's not even a Nirvana song and I always remember it from one of those weird tribute videos. Ditto for Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam. Where Did You Sleep Last Night was always my favorite from that show by a mile but that's a little, I don't know, I guess lets go with.....

Nirvana-Where Did you Sleep Last Night? but you can keep the In Utero All Apologies in there too.

I feel like I'm getting a little too easy here.
What's next The End?
When the Music's OVer? (maybe)

The Doors-Shaman's Blues Now this song starts off with the line "there will never be another one like you" and well that might come off as some kind of self gratifying bullshit, but I don't want it because of that, it's just a cool dark-ish Doors kind of song. Probably one of the last ones that they got right with that vibe.

In My Life-The Beatles Just because. It's a cliche but then again so are funerals.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

tHERE iS nOTHING i wANT TO sAY tO yOU (sUNDAY)

So let's wind this shit down shall we? Sunday came like a hangover. I couldn't sleep Saturday night, things felt good, outdoors in the middle of a strange town, smoking cigarettes in a parking lot overlooking a dimly lit parking lot. It was a nice scene for some 16 year old over-hormoned and neurotic. I was wired all night, I got home and felt like writing a book or an opera or just doing something, anything to keep the weird rush of energy I had going.
But I eventually just watched the Doors movie on TBS and got really depressed and fell asleep just before the sun came up.
Sunday was a bigger show, the biggest show as far as I was concerned, The St. Joseph's elementary Battle of the Bands.
This event had been going on the last few years and always had a pretty enormous turn out. Some youth organization ran it and did a great job promoting it.
Battle of the bands, if you don't know are pretty much just a bullshit way to get you to beg as many of your friends to come out to a show. Any organized Battle of the Bands I've ever been involved in the organizer has always said: "remember the more people you get out the more likely you are to win" which is kind of a defeatist attitude to go in with; like you won't convert anyone. Everyone is coming here to see their friends bands and even if you whip out some kind of wizardry not yet known to this planet it won't make any difference because they're not here to see you.
This was different. Apparently there were judges. I never figured out who they were and maybe that was the point, but they were the governing body as far as who won.
And what do you win?
Well normally it would be something like a free hour at whatever rehearsal studio was sponsoring the event. Or maybe a free package of Blue Steel guitar strings. Nice, helpful things to have, but not exactly a gold medal.
The St. Joe's thing was giving away $200, which seemed a lot better.

A few years back when I was probably 12 or 13 I remember very vividly being a giddy as a the schoolboy I was when the last band that played finished off with Enter Sandman. By the time the next year rolled around, I was kind off Metallica and got really into the second to last band who looked more like a reality show than a band. One kid had a mohwak and was punked out like it was 1976 London. The singer looked like 90's Bon Jovi. The girl playing bass looked like she probably took piano lessons. The Drummer might have been in Slayer orginally. They even had someone playing trombone.
I'll call them "Daft" for the simple reason that I'm taking a few liberties with their personnel and I don't want to eat shit on the details. So now they've been fictionalized, and with this comes a new name.
So Daft comes out and they are great, for what I knew at that age they were the best thing I ever saw in my life. They were weird and funny and scary and loud it was everything you want when you're wallowing around unfuckable and awkward in the muck of early teen angst. They played for a about a half an hour and every one was stomping around in half assed attempts at mosh pits while getting dirty looks from the off duty police that volunteered to help.
At the end of the night Daft didn't win the competition, that distinction went to a band that did a fairly terrible version of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Well we weren't going to stand for that and we booed those bastards and started a little "Daft" chant. It was a nice little moment.
But fuck them now. They were back, and likely had the biggest audience in the place. There were only four bands this year which was down from the two times I'd already been there.
It was a weird night over all.
I just realized I can't really finish the story.
I fucked up.
I wasn't in this band the day before this show.
I was going to the show to see Zack's band play, and to be honest I was jealous, but as luck would have it Zack's bass player had to study for his SAT's and wasn't allowed to attend the show. This became my short term gain, he eventually went on to a lucrative career and I think lives in Miami, while I sit in a basement and scratch stories off my Swiss cheese memory.
So I was in, but I didn't know any of the songs.
I had to make notes on the back of the setlist so I knew what to play for which songs.
I was learning how to play half the set on the playground in the back while the other bands played or smoked cigarettes with pretty impressionable girls.
So we played.
And I think it went pretty ok.
Zack went nuts, jumped on my back and brought me down.
There was also a guitar swinging incident in which he swung a guitar at someone in one of the other bands.
There is a video of all of this somewhere but I never felt much like watching it because I'd hate to be disappointed if the reality of it wasn't as vivid as I remember it.
So anyway, Daft won.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

wHEN aLL tHEY hAVE IS mENTHOL (sATURDAY)

Zack Thompson knew what he was doing. He still does. He was probably would have been more comfortable a few decades earlier when instead of starting a band he would have been "breaking into show business".
Zack played guitar and piano and dabbled with a few other instruments. He was 'really good' maybe not a virtuoso type, he couldn't break out some solo he'd spent four and a half hours learning like Kevin could, but that was mainly because it wouldn't occur to him to do something like that. He rather spend the time writing new songs.
He also managed to get shows and have decent equipment, he was however one of us, so we'd never let him know any of this was impressive.
We'd rehearse in the music room after school since he was in the good graces with the music director, constantly offering up guitars, piano, or vocals for any school function.
Things were different in Zack's band, the Delinquents, if you didn't know what you were playing he'd tell you, and if you didn't know after that he'd let you know that not only were you playing it wrong but that you were also a fucking asshole.
But the songs were easy, catchy, hook-y, poppy even. They were pop songs drenched in distortion. So sooner or later everyone kind of got everything and it clicked.
Zack got us on a show in Ridgefield Park at the Elks Club.
Now, the Elks shows were a little bit of an institution, or least had the reputation as such probably due to the high volume of fliers that seemed to find their ways into school. There were always stacks of poorly photo-copied pictures on colorful paper going around in the hallways or lunchroom, so this particular show seemed to have some extra prestige attached to it.
Zack told us we had 40 minutes and wanted to throw a few in a cover amongst the originals, but it had to be the perfect cover song. Not something that would be on the radio after you packed up and left the place. No, this had to be something rare, something that the regular bands at this show would hear and go "whoa, who are these guys, how do they know this song?" Or maybe it was to have a song that no one was quite sure was ours or not. Hard to say.
The song we wound up settling on was Spank Thru by Nirvana, which was hardly an unknown song in our little group of friends since it was on an import compilation that Zack started taking orders for every time he went to the Red, White, and Blue in Paterson.
But that was the song. And we were all into it and thought it would probably go over well if these shows were anything like we heard they were.
We pulled into the lot at dusk. Steven,the drummer, convinced his father to let us load everything into his van. His father was an electrician or something of the like and was what can only be described as "super-encouraging".
"Alright right guys, you guys are going to rock tonight right?" he'd say in his smooth jazz radio voice.
"Yes sir, we plan to rock," I didn't know him well so I just kind of mumbled whatever I could get out.
Zack on the other hand had been around the Grace household for a long time had no such hang ups: "That's right Mr. Grace, you bet."
We hopped out and quickly noticed the familiar sight of the pack of smokers, dressed mostly in black, most of them with their heads slung to the ground, and of course some of them, not really smoking at all, just puffing.
It was comforting to know that at least there were some people there already, it was early. Zack's girlfriend Jess (not her actual name yet again, I did know several Jess' in this era, but she wasn't one of them) decked out in her ripped jeans and Doc Marten's was a weird image to adjust to after getting used to seeing her in the standard Catholic school uniform.
We hung out in the front of the place for a few minutes, smoking, I bummed one off of Jess who, unfortunately, only smoked Newports. I could swear I felt the menthol tearing out sections of my throat on the way to my lungs. I figured I had an hour or so before I started coughing up blood.
An hour later there was no blood, and perhaps of more concern, there weren't very many people either. We were ready to go on, second behind some other band we felt very confident we were much better than.
We set our gear up and were pretty much ready to go. The hall was dark, and there were a few regulars of the Club, old grizzled men smoking cigarettes and pipes, looking at the television aggravated they couldn't hear what was going on.
The stage was an empty section of the bar with the dull bluish neon the only thing lighting us besides the TV and whatever glow was coming in through the windows from the flood lights outside.
I was set up right against the deep brown panelling and just below the plaque with gold plastic elk antlers sticking, out for Joe Trulugio, the Elks President from 1973-1975. Old Joe looked uncomfortable in his picture; stuffed into a tuxedo with tinted glasses and oily black hair that was starting to gray a little in the front. He a thick black moustache, and his smile showed off his impressive set of choppers. I wondered if maybe Joe was sitting at the bar smoking a pipe, I played a little scene out in my mind where somehow I wound up knocking off the plaque somehow, violating an ancient Elk law and was beaten unmercifully by a bored group of drunk war vetrans who were pissed off they couldn't listen to the World Series because a bunch of high school brats were giving them a few hundred dollars to rent out the hall on a Saturday Night.
I should also probably mention that we did have a tendency to dabble with some make-up. Nothing serious, I mean we weren't fucking Kiss or anything like that, but it wouldn't be uncommon for some, or all of us, to throw on some eye-liner, or maybe even some nail polish every once in a while. In fact, somewhere in the universe there is a video tape, probably buried in a box in someones garage, or hopefully disintegrating at the bottom of some Bergen dump, that contains footage of Zack, Elliot and I performing for probably close to an hour in dollar store house dresses Zack picked up for us at his beloved Red, White and Blue. If memory serves there was also an impromptu wrestling match that took place afterwards, as well as some bonus footage of Elliot and Zack getting tossed from the Bergen Mall. That will all be on the Special Features section once the tape is recovered and converted for a Fall 2011 DVD release.
Anyway, yeah, so I had some eye liner on. Not much, just enough to look kind of silly. Well, I say silly, I think the guys sitting at the bar had some other words for it, but they, for the most part kept it to themselves.
We started the set, some of the kids from outside started to filter in. Now you had about 25 or 30 kids crowding around us. They started bumping into each other a little, just kind of swaying, and then slowly it started to build until a few kids in the middle were throwing hockey checks. Well that was it for the bartender.
"HEY! YOU TELL THOSE GUYS TO KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF OR YOU'RE ALL OUTTA HERE!" he yelled in our general direction.
We kind of looked up for a minute.
Zack, always the professional took charge; "Hey guys, just be cool, no need to knock each other over or anything let's just have a good time."
Well, the guy freaking out might have startled a few of them and they headed out for another cigarette, since of course they weren't allowed near the bar to smoke, and after that probably wouldn't be interested in going anywhere near it even if they were. So the audience had thinned out a little when we broke into what was supposed to be our show stopper. Zack started the first few chords to Spank Thru, which, is a cute little song about the end of a relationship and the act that the American Heritage Dictionary (Third Edition) describes as "exciting oneself or another's genitals by means other than intercourse".
Needless to say the folks at the bar didn't really take kindly to the song even with Zack warbling up some of the lyrics.
So this on top of the makeup and the junior grade mosh pit did not put us in the best of regards with the proprietors.
We ended the show early, after the Nirvana song, and quickly tore down our gear and stacked it outside. Most of the kids were still there, in fact it looked like more had shown up for the next band. We talked a little while and most of them knew that the guys inside were miserable old codgers, but for some reason they kept agreeing to let them rent the hall out each month. I asked one of them for a cigarette. Another menthol. It was that kind of show.

Monday, July 13, 2009

i CAN'T REMEBER IF IT WAS aWESOME (fRIDAY)

I have fond memories of a weekend in 1996, though I kind of prefer to think of it as 1995 so that I'm a little younger when it happened, and to be honest it probably wasn't a weekend, it was probably a few random weekends over the span of a year and half or maybe even more, but for the sake of this nonsense, let's just say it was a weekend in 1995 and let's agree that it happened in a cool autumn setting of early October.
There were shows back then, I mean there are shows now and there have been the whole time, but nobody really gives a fuck anymore. Occasionally you run into a good, or dare I say great one, but for the most part you know what you're going to get, and it's really more about having a night out with some friends as opposed to congregating with a similarly fashioned pack of brats clustering themselves together and seeing no reason why the rest of their lives won't be spent like this.
But to be honest we always hated those people anyway. Anyone who was too up on the idea of a scene, impressed with the numbers of leather jackets and lit Marlboro's dangling out of pierced lips in front of Paramus Park was probably a social class elitist and likely just wasn't any good at sports or else they would have been flipping over cafeteria trays and demanding lunch money. The more people hanging around the more likely little sub-groups of a certain snobbery will pop up dictating who gets to sit at the cool kids table.
Of course I may just be looking back with bitter eyes because no one ever bothered to ask me to sit at said table and thus splintered off into a group of hateful little bastards.

But enough on the evolutionary theory of social groups eating their own, we're back in 1995 and there were shows and they used to feel like a big deal. Even if there was one every week or three crammed into a weekend, they all felt like a big deal and occasionally they were.
Now, to protect the identity of anyone who may not want to associate themselves with my spouting off at the mouth on a late night caffeine fixed tirade I'll take some precautions with bending people's names since I've already decided to cram a few events that I feel very certain did happen, into one little weekend during October 1995 even though I know that's not when they happened. If they even happened, which you know, I'm pretty sure that they did.

So Simon had a car. He was older than us but he was dating a girl we all knew from school, Kelly Foster. (Again not her real name cause God knows what she would think if she was bored at work one day and Googled herself only to find her name tangled up in this mess.) Kelly was the prototypical cool girl, she was so cool in fact that you kind of didn't even realize how pretty she was. She was kind of tomboyish and she hung around all the timeand she was dating Simon for as long as we knew her so maybe that's why it was easy not pay attention to her, because we were all impressed with her boyfriend who was both driving and in a band that actually got shows and had pretty decent equipment. So to a select few of us he might as well have been a rock star.
Simon told us we could open up for him at a showcase his band was having at Backstage Studios.
I should also probably mention since I'm having a little fun with the timeline here that I was in two bands at the time. Sometimes I wasn't but there was definitely a period of overlap. That was the curse of playing the bass. Everyone played guitar, and there were certainly a few drummers out there, but the only bass player I knew when I got to high school kept getting sent to Bergen Pines and eventually got tossed out of school. So there was a void, a vacuum if you will, and I figured that it would be better to suck at something almost nobody else did then suck at something every schmuck was doing.
So there was the metal band and the punk band or at least that's how I categorized it in my early-mid teen ignorance. The metal band included Kevin Riley on guitar and vocals and the great Eliot Krause on drums. Elliot actually was the utility drummer for a while and he and I were the rhythm section for both bands for a few weeks. We played covers; mostly Metallica and Pantera with some Alice in Chains and Nirvana sprinkled in probably to keep me happy. Kevin wrote songs but they were epics and he only brought one song to practice which was about 10 minutes long, so with that pace we stuck mostly to the covers.
And to be honest I didn't know what the fuck I was playing half the time. He had books and magazines with guitar tabs and would lend me them but most of the time I would just try to play what he was playing. I was probably a mile away from the drums and who knows if the notes were right but I thought I knew what I was doing so it all seemed to make sense. I mean we weren't' playing funk, the whole thing probably sounded like a loud glob of unmixed noise but most of your friends at that age don't really have a rigid grading scale. They're just impressed hearing something that sounds like a song they might know coming out something you're doing.
So anyway, Simon got us a show opening for his band in West Paterson at a rehearsal studio in West Paterson.
Elliot's mother drove us to the show because her car was big enough to fit all our stuff. When we got there the usual platoon of smokers were camped outside. We didn't know any of them and immediately nerves crept up our teen aged spines. "What if we really suck? Are these guys going to beat us up?" Kevin was already there with Simon and he was on the stage tuning his guitar.
"You guys are late"
We weren't but we played along.
"Oh sorry". We set up quickly. Simon's bass player was hanging around onstage convinced that there must be an automatic camaraderie between us he asked me a technical question.
"What kind of rig you got man?"
I know nothing about gear, at all. To this day I still know very little. This particular amp I got because it was big and loud and affordable for someone who might just be dabbling in music on his way to a long career in the US Congress.
"Um, a Peavy" I answered somewhat dim-wittedly. He looked at me and immediately sized up that this would not be the tech savvy sparring session he had craved so he just nodded and started scanning the rest of the stage.
"Hey man, you want your amps miked up? Guys? We miking the drums and the amps tonight?" this slick sounding son of a bitch in casual goth regalia jumped up onto the stage with a bunch of laminates dangling from around his neck (just in case anyone doubted his access to all areas) and a white knuckle grip on some cables he was just dying to run into or out of something.
"Sure," I answered but I immediately wasn't so sure "We're miking the drums right?"
Yeah. Sure. We're miking the drums right? Because I've done this a thousand times.
"Yeah," Elliot answered as if he actually had done this a thousand times.
"Cool you got it," he disappeared like a gnome doing invisible silent work.

I plugged in my $10 tuner that very clearly had BASS written on it lest I become confused, and fiddled with my rusting strings until the needle lined up on all them.
Then the most important piece of equipment was the last to add: The Setlist.
We all knew what we were playing, we only had five songs we could do because three of them were 7 minutes but every band has set lists taped down amongst a nest of wires and speakers and why should we be any different, this was after all a professional rehearsal studio.
I carefully wrote out all the songs with a big black marker and handed them out to the other two. While that was going on the room, which if I was any good I would have already described as long and narrow, started filling up. There were couches and a few old upholstered chairs randomly scattered and the lights were down except for a bright red glow that came off a few of the gel lights from the stage.
I felt like an asshole. We were standing there and we could hear everyone talking but could only see a few people and we had no idea if we should just start. We stared at each other for a moment waiting for someone to maybe introduce us, and then decided to just let Elliot count us off. Which he eventually did and BAM the drums were fucking miked. And wow. Miked drums were incredible. Loud. Loud. Loud.
Every hit sounded crisp and perfect. Elliot could have been playing a different song than us but it wouldn't have mattered because the drums sounded so cool to us that we would have taken the blame for not following him.
About half way through the first song the effect kind of wore off on me though and I started getting flushed with nerves. First I thought maybe I was too loud. I couldn't hear Kevin's guitar at all, and what if I was drowning him out, so I turned down a little. But who the hell could hear anything over the drums? Then I started thinking "fuck that I practiced these fucking songs I want to be heard even if I am fucking them up". So I turned up the volume on the bass. Once we got to the Nirvana song, which I think was Drain You, I felt pretty confident and even went over to the amp and turned up, when I swung around with a smirk I caught the face of Simon's bass player huddled in the corner making a face like he just noticed he had shit in his mouth and he made the universal sign for "turn down" while shaking his head "no". But it didn't look he was only saying "no" it looked like he was saying "Oh Lord please destroy whatever that horrible inhuman frequency is at the source".
There is nothing like a disgusted look telling you you're doing something wrong that you thought was right to instantly deflate a freshly ballooned ego. I turned way down and played the rest of the show in full shoe-gazer mode letting my self go deaf at Elliot cracking his China Boy cymbal a dozen or so times.
After we finished the last song a stereo kicked in and Simon's band seemed to jump onstage in unison to get their gear set up. We quickly unplugged and dragged our amps and drums off to the side, occasionally stopping for the ol': "hey you guys were good" slap on the back. At that point I knew it was probably bullshit but at that point in my life self delusion wasn't a problem I realized I had, so I kind of figured these were good honest folk and that we had in fact just rocked.

my eyes are turning to glass and other lines from old Irish ballads

It's kind of quiet outside for all demonic shadows crawling all over the ground.
Oh how I wish it was a decade ago so I could light a cigarette and enjoy this little moment.
But it's not and now I only inhale the warm moisture drenched breeze and listen to some sad Irish bastard sing some ballad about a faraway girl.
And what the hell does he know?
They're all faraway.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Should Have Met You in Virginia

Yeah it's too bad you're gone now, but I guess it's better than wondering if there'll be any more purple drenched nights waiting to see what you're in the mood to do. Playing around in some speed-driven game of head chess that I'm no good at.
I'm out of motives and other things like sincerity.
But I guess most of all interest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

to watch what the hell I was doing from a different set of eyes

I couldn't think of anything else to do.
There was no sleep on the horizon, but it wasnt' late anyway.
Who really wants to go to bed?
There's a pool hall down the street, I haven't been in a pool hall in six years.
I used to go with my girlfriend once or twice a week. We'd enter hands clapsed, and warm eyed at each other, and somehow we'd be in some kind of competitive hellfire by the end of the night.
I have to stop to think for a minute or two if we broke up over a pool game.
I don't think so.
It was probably something else, but she's gone now. Off into some other movie just a foggy memory in things I'm not even sure really happened.
But here's this pool hall, and it sounds great. a low hum of chatter and a juke box creeking out some loud saxaphone.
I wish I knew more jazz off the top of my head. I used to get haunted by old, grainy footage of black and white jazz artists, but I've since moved on to other highly irrational fears.
And that's part of the reason why I'm at this pool hall shooting a game by myself finding out how bad I really am at this game.
I can't hang around waiting for every magnificent blend of neurosis to creep into my head, waiting to be acknowledged for ten minutes so that I can form some kind of super cock tail of crazy.
No thanks. I'd rather scratch on an 8 ball in public for a few hours until I can't see straight.
The jazz is over and someone put on Public Enemy.
That's cool with me.
I like to fancy myself a bit of a late 80's early 90's hip hop afficianado.
Even though I'm probably not.
I wish I knew how to play pool well.
I can play a little.
Occasionally I'll hit a shot, very loud, very convincingly, and glide across the table to the next one that I'll pretend I have some natural ability to see before the other player does. But in the end I'm not very good, and that's too bad because the life of a pool hall hustler, or at least a pool hall hustler in the movies, appeals to me.
If I won at this point, I probably wouldn't be able to supress a grin, and the next thing I'd know is I was getting my head cracked open with a stick or a cue-loaded fist.
And before I can sink my last ball the lights come up and to let us know that the night is over.
At least for billiards.

Monday, June 15, 2009

and you get so worked up you can hardly see straight.

Motion detector lights are what finally snapped me in the end. The sting of failures in life and love and goals and horrible memories amplified and magnified through various vices, that all was manageable. But a few motion detector lights burning bright shadows across my back yard are what finally sent me spinning into a nervous frenzy hoping that the loony bin wasn't booked up for the summer.

Initially a few lights getting set off in dark isn't a big deal. No, there are stray cats and various woodland creatures scurrying around, not to mention the water a few yards down the road. Maybe some missing-link-type-mutant pulled itself out of the water and crawled its way into my back yard looking for the nearest WaWa so it could pull the classified section and look for employment or reasonable rents.

Most of this is my own fault; I was reading a string of "real crime" books, that delved into the horrible, gruesome murders by serial killers and mobsters. Ritualistic and random, all the kind of details that get your mind gears spinning in the middle of the night and wonder what kind of weapons you could stave off an attack by some 9ft hooded phantom.

This was all elevated by the dreaded "Horn Incident" of early 2009. To explain this properly would require a knowledge of automobiles that I just don't possess but suffice to say, through various incidents of road rage that resulted in my fist being pounded into the steering wheel apparently damaged the interior circuitry of the horn, the full extent of which revealed itself just after midnight on a cold February night while I was engaged in one of my eerie murder books. The unrelenting, constant whale of a car horn is unsettling enough, but when you don't realize why it's happening your brain gets flooded with panic.

My first thought was that it was a neighbors car, then I realized the sound was too loud to be far away, my next thought was the maniac who'd been stalking the back yard was revealing himself; ready for a showdown, holding the horn down until I came out, startled and unready to meet this demon head on.

Well I wasn't ready. And there was no demon. Just a broken car horn which required a flash light, and the frantic yanking of fuses, while the deafening siren began to erode my hearing. Finally, the right fuse was pulled and the horn was gone, but the ringing was still there, it felt like every nerve was vibrating, and I couldn't quite shake the feeling that somebody was snickering out there in the dark watching me turn into a nervous, trembling pile of jelly.

A few months passed by and the lights stayed off, and my paranoia levelled off. Must have been a stray cat or some rabid possum. Then the warmer weather came and the light started going back on. I played this off, it's spring and things are popping up and exploring. Then a week straight of lights going off. Just once a night. But at the same time every night. Those old creaky paranoid gears started turning again. It was time for some serious action.

I decided a stake out was in order. I'd sit outside in the daylight, and then go prone after the sun had gone down. I had on all black, even the ski mask I pulled over my face once I got into my "combat ready" position. I was armed with a roll of quarters I'd forgotten to take to the bank and a slightly dull knife that I'd found in an old tackle box. I took my position with the vigilance that a man protecting his home must have. I was determined to find out the cause of the disturbance even if it was something as silly as a cat, or a squirrel, or even the wind.

Unfortunately I underestimated the amount of patience one must possess in order to be successful in such an operation. Self doubt began to creep in. "This is awfully silly" I thought to myself.

I headed back inside and threw the ski mask to the ground, I turned around and out of my peripheral I caught the image of the light stabbing my eyes with its shine. That was it. Now I was just being mocked, I flew out the door, towards the light, and started covering every possible route someone could have taken, but there was nothing. No answers. No small animal scurrying away, no missing link mutant, no long gusts of wind, no weapon wielding maniac. But it didn't matter anymore. I'd had enough. All I would be thinking about now is whether or not that fucking light would go off again.

I packed my bags and headed to the Ocean County Medical Center. In Bergen County they used to have a place like this called Bergen Pines. I don't live in Bergen County anymore but when I did I didn't worry about random maniacs kicking open my door. Or maybe I did and I've just blocked it out since. I asked before admitting myself for "chronic fatigue": "You guys have a security system right? Like in case anyone tries to break in?" The nurse looked at me somewhat puzzled,"uh, yeah we've got that".
"Good," I thought, "now it's their problem."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Painfully Long Rant to Rid Myself of whatever

Well, a nice little rush of nerves, or blood pressure has seemed to putter out already and I feel like I have nothing left to say. WHich may be true, and lucky you if it is, because all I really feel like doing is pissing all over this lovely October weather we're having in middle of May. And I mean that. I'll take whatever cold gusts of wind I can get before the air gets thick with mosquitoes and the smell of sweat from every vacationing ninny in the tri-state area.
Oh the boardwalk just ain't what it used to be, I used to like the warning signs of summer but now kicking around the seaside just seems like some sad old re-run, the soundtrack to a nightmare I keep thinking I'm going to have where I run into my seven year old self and have to force a smile through some "don't worry everything will be fine" kind of speech.
And fuck him for asking.
But no, summer doesn't hold any kind of mystery anymore, it just means it's going to get hot and the girls will be drunker and the police will be cracking down on any reports of fun breaking out. A good time to stay indoors and crank the air conditioning until the power goes out and catch up on some kind of self improving endeavor. See you in the fall.
But of course it never works out like that aye? No no no, there's always one last shot up north or trip to some club where they eye you up a little more each time: "You sure you want to come in here?"
"Well, no friend I'm not, but this is where the few people who still go out on school nights seem to be so I may as well wander through it so I can get drunk and aggravated and bitch about how much I hate places like this. Here's my $10."
Long gone are the days of Craig Porr busting my door down with bootlegged movies, pizzas, and fresh supplies of cheap beer and probably for the best, I'd probably call the police on the poor bastard if he tried that shit today.
And then there is that old California Dreamin that gets in my spine every once in a while. Those commericals where Arnold beckons you to come out and party with the movie stars. And that all sounds great, and really Arnold I do want to stop by out there but I just don't think, financially we'd be running in the same circles. No I'd probably be in the roach infested two-room that smelled like stale, leaking water, while I hid under thin sheets at night praying not be home-invaded.
We're only a few weeks away from stories of crime being on the rise, since the economy is shit. That tends to go hand in hand and I can't imagine it not becoming a story sooner or later. I'll have to start arming the house from predators, these motion detector lights won't scare them off for long. No. We're going to need some serious security measures, even here in safe old Brick Township. Don't let the coast line fool you folks, five miles inland Central Jersey might as well be North Virginia. Shooting ranges are everywhere, Gun clubs, and the recent alarming trend of bumper stickers that say "Bricktucky" I've been spotting on pick ups. Whatever the fuck that means. That's not even clever.
The box is closing in. It might be time to set the Pontiac on fire and drive west with Benny and Jets crackling through the stereo on a loop and see how far I can get before the whole thing shoots into a fireball. Pretty soon I'll be surrounded by gun nuts, home invaders and vacationing yuppies sucking up the thick summer air and taking all the parking spots while they blast their dumb sub-woofers, and I sink further into the fist-shaking, get-off-my-lawn curmudgeon I knew I'd always be.