Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

my hell’s wind staff

my sister left me a message:

Did you know Mom accidentally Tasered herself yesterday when trying to hear what music her 7-year-old student listens to on, what she thought was, his iPod?
I can’t make this shit up. This kid, who was spending the day in in-school suspension, was showing all the other kids some little silver thing. so Mom took it from him thinking it was “an iPod or some music player thing.”
She pressed what she thought was play and shocked herself. When I asked what it felt like, she said, “It felt like I got out of the shower and put my finger in an electrical socket. I’ve never done that, but thats what I imagine it feels like.”

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Bill Brasky

today started out shitty, became mediocre, became pretty cool, became mediocre, and is now OK. it’s 1:45 in the morning. I got home about twenty minutes ago.

I’m at work at 4 pm, readying for this budget meeting we do every day, my cell phone rings. with a weird area code. and I think to myself, Fuck. it’s the landlord.
my landlord has informed me that he wants to know if I’ll be resigning my lease in June. the current lease is a year. so that’s three months on that he wants to know if I’m staying or going. I don’t want to sign for a full year, but I would like to maybe do a smaller one, but I don’t think he’s going to be cool. so I’m avoiding him temporarily.
anyway. I answer and it’s not my landlord. it’s my cousin, Tommy.
Tommy is my dad’s first cousin. so that makes him my second cousin, I think. whatever. Tommy’s the shit. he’s sixty, and a hustler. he lives outside of Gainesville and he sells tropical plants for a living. he’s also worked for the state. and managed an apartment complex in West Palm Beach, which was the kind of place that frequently appears on episodes of COPS. and about a million other things I haven’t even heard about, most of which seem to skirt the obligations of legality. he’s kind of wiry, likes beer, voted for Perot. drives more than any person I’ve ever met in my life. ever. the truck he bought two years ago has 150,000 miles on it. I mean, that’s fucking ridiculous.  

I saw him a couple of years ago at my grandmother’s funeral. before that, though, I stayed at his house near Gainesville for a night, on my way down to the beach. I abused the shit out of my relatives on that trip. it was Galia and I. it kind of sucked. but Tommy’s was legit.
he wasn’t there when we got in at 12:30. he was driving up from Miami, where he worked four nights a week. so his wife let us in and we slept on couches, and we both tried to ignore the giant, excited labrador named Pickles. giant, goofy dog, that goes against Tommy’s demeanor. which made it more funny when I heard Tommy at the door when he came in, whispering, “Pickles, you stupid goddamn dog, get down.”
anyway. Tommy was in Charlottesville selling tropical plants to a couple of local nurseries. this is what he does. traveling plant salesman. and he calls me up, and he’s “at the mall, on the, what, on 29.” like a city block from the newspaper.
so we went and got a burger and I drank beer and took a nearly two-hour lunch break. and now he’s out of here. he had to get to Hagerstown tonight. “up at this Motel 6 I stay at in Hagerstown, they got an Applebee’s across the street, so I can have a few and I don’t have to drive.” then, he’s going to Harrisburg, and then hauling back down to Florida by Friday.

that’s an intense style of living. but it’s all I’ve ever known him to do. I guess, if you find something that you’re good at, something you like, then you do it. how simple.


I just roasted a chicken and made brownies, and the brownies and the chicken are delicious. brownies. 

“once in a lifetime,” Talking Heads.
Spencer and I went to the beach once when we were in like, 8th grade. 8th grade? let’s count: we watched a bunch of World Cup matches. World Cup is every four years. 2006. 02. 98. that means, summer of 1998, I’m, fifteen? so that means the summer between 8th and 9th grade.
this was in Delaware. Delaware. it’s just kind of, you know. it’s Delaware. the place with no sales tax that stops you when you’re on 95 to hit you up for about two bucks. Delaware sucks.
but not entirely. Delaware has some nice, quiet beaches. like Rehoboth Beach, where we stayed. a beach is a beach is a beach.
we were there for about a week, Spencer and I and his mom. who was always very nice to me when I was younger. one night, Spencer’s mom dropped us off down in Maryland, and we saw a movie. “the Truman Show.” and so I was driving home earlier tonight, and this song came on, and I thought about that. Spencer, his mom, “The Truman Show” on the beach.
the first four bars of that song, it sounds like water. it makes me want to do something with my life. right now, I feel like I’m just working on my carpal tunnel syndrome.

good weather

“tumbling dice” by the Stones. I actually just bought Exile on Main Street just about six months ago, so I don’t have anywhere in particular when I think of it. Charlottesville is what I’ll say a few years from now. but no, I love this song. easy my favorite Rolling Stones tune. which I’m sure people could and would agree with.
the part that gets me, it’s just when the song transitions into that annex near the end, they abandon the song structure and build on a riff in the same key. all the parts come out, add back in every four bars. guitar first. backup singers. base, drums, and then Mick Jagger. and piano, and it’s just, it’s perfect.

right now, I’ve got a video on of “bron-yr-aur stomp” by Zeppelin, live. Josh had this on in Chicago a couple of months ago. and then at the end of a six minute jam with a two-minute guitar solo in the middle of it, Robert Plant stands up and points to the fans and says, with authority, “strider.”

so, did anybody hear? Ralph Nader is running for president.
I saw him speak at a rally in 2000. I was 17 during that election and as such, didn’t vote, and even further, didn’t have a political opinion. really. none at all. I went with Ben because it seemed like an interesting way to spend a weeknight, and fuck, Eddie Vedder was gonna play. which he did. and that was cool. I remember watching him speak, and then saying to Ben, we should really stop at Taco Bell on the way home and get some fuckin’ grub, man.

then, after I had landed firmly to the left of center after about a month of college, I saw him speak again in 2004. with Phil and Douglas H. in front of about 200 people at the Union, and he was half an hour late. when he came in, he didn’t have any security. just an aide or two, plus the event organizers. and he was introduced, and he spoke.
and it didn’t really sound like any political stump speech that I had ever heard before, but it was one. and I remember walking back from the Union to my apartment on Fess. Ave., which was a slice of ancient carpet surrounded by cinderblock walls, through which you could hear the sounds of my exotic dancer neighbor humping next door while I’m not getting laid, and …
and back to Nader.  and me and Phil saying, “he’s right. he’s absolutely fucking right, but I’m voting for Kerry.” because that election was too important.
so I voted for Kerry. voted, thinking he’ll be a mediocre executive, but better than Bush. which is a shitty choice to be presented with. two assholes with different-colored ties. sons of influence. American royalty.
ultimately, voting for Ralph Nader is a protest vote. Nader isn’t an idiot. he knows he doesn’t have any chance of winning the election. but even he wouldn’t be so bold to come out and say his campaign is such. so, I think that he expects his supporters to be protest voters. so if you wanna back Nader, then you have to really believe in what you’re protesting. right?

I’m taking that very seriously. I swear to god, I tooled around on Nader’s campaign website tonight at work, and actually thought about applying to work on the campaign. even paid positions. but that’s gonna require, cough, a bit more thought. I’m not sure if I’m ready to dive completely into my sneering fuck-you Nader supporter mode just yet. that’s a full-time job in itself.

guess who’s coming to dinner


you know you want it.

now here’s a motherfucker that I like talking about. the Ralph Nader debate is one that I have a firm opinion on. oh yes; I have taken a side.
the debate I talk about is whether or not, you know, Nader is to blame for George Bush winning the election in 2000. because he siphoned votes from Al Gore.
which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. there are few things in American politics more infuriating than a liberal who hates Ralph Nader because of his presidential campaigns.

something is happening

there are sirens all over Charlottesville right now. there must have been a pretty wicked accident; it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m about to go to sleep, but lights are flashing and horns howling all past the thoroughfare out my window. no other noise. just sirens. somewhere toward Avon St. extended. 

today when I heard on the radio that Obama got the Teamsters endorsement, I thought, that’s it. he’s got it. he’s just been stomping a mudhole in Clinton and he’s young and vital enough to beat the re-animated corpse of John McCain. so I’m calling it now. I called Romney, and I was obviously very wrong, but I’ve got a one in three chance here. so I’m calling it for  Obama. the wee hours of Feb. 21st.

I just finished “The Road.” it’s a very bleak. and, you know, it’s a little much at times. just a little ridiculous, his style of writing. so very serious, that it becomes laughable. but when it’s on – and McCarthy treads a fine line between verbose and poetic – it’s on. like the following passage, which was one of my favorite of the book. kind of sums up the environment, the setting. 

They began to come upon from time to time small cairns of rock by the roadside. They were signs in gypsy language, lost patterans. The first he’d seen in some while, common in the north, leading out of the looted and exhausted cities, hopeless messages to loved ones lost and dead. By then all stores of food had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land. The world soon to be largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes and the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell. The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes. Out on the roads, the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond.

ooh, creepy. I felt that in my swimsuit area. it’s a good book. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. it’s apparently a Pullitzer winner, also. for what that’s worth.

ok. I’m exhausted.

this one is kind of half-assed

“ball and biscuit” by the White Stripes. I listen to this song an awful lot, so it doesn’t work to assign just one place to it. but, that’s kind of the point of all of this, so.
I remember this song from that drive out to Las Vegas a few years ago. I was on the big Navajo reservation in Arizona. it was March, so it was kind of chilly. but sunny, kind of the way it was today in town, with large clouds and all.

I had an OK day today.
I didn’t do anything, really. but I got a few things done. if only a few. if you have nothing to do some day, and you really do nothing, like barely get off the couch, the day will suck.
but I, what, I got groceries, did laundry and rearranged furniture, which means it’s kind of clean. kind of … if you don’t know this, I’m a fucking slob. telling you, it’s awful.

but tomorrow. tomorrow I’m hunting this book down. “the Gulf War did not take place” by Jean Baudrillard. good stuff, I hear. and Charlottesville has a couple of bookstores I haven’t gone through. Barnes & Noble doesn’t count. and I’m rearranging more furniture. and I’m dropping off a bunch of clothes at the Salvation Army. and I’m not sleeping through my alarm.

bad emails

I got a couple of more songs.

“no rain” by Blind Melon. I was, what, 10, when this song was popular. the summer after my parents divorced and dad had custody of us while he worked, me and Mar were under the watchful eye of an ex neighbor. it sucked, if I remember correctly. but she had a 17-year-old niece from Roanoke who was living with her, and the 17-year-old niece used to play it, all the time.

“sleeping lessons,” the Shins. I think of two places.

in 2007 I interviewed at the North County Times, a decent-sized Suburban paper north of San Diego. I drove the 90 minutes up to Escondido, and was late. it was just an unbelievably beautiful day. it was the kind of day that makes southern California is worth it.
anyway, the interview kind of sucked – since this paper is a group of local editions, I was grilled by a committee of regional editors. and the guy with the most pressing need to fill a spot was in Temecula, which is farther up north along the highway, back in Riverside County, and inland. and I wanted to live in Oceanside. because how bomb-ass awesome would that have been? so I was polite and shook hands, hit the road, and eventually stopped answering the guy’s phone calls. I felt Temecula, as opposed to Escondido or Oceanside, would have been awful.
but I digress. after I left, I had to drive back to El Centro, which is like the wild fucking west compared to places like Escondido, and I listened to this on the Interstate. the one between El Centro and San Diego, in the mountains. mountains are pretty in Southern California. the scenery goes from serious desert to Mediterranean very quickly.

the other instance was driving into this Mexican resort town with Greg.

Greg and I had a good time. we smoked Raleigh cigarettes. the Mexican resort town looked like this:


also, Josh pointed this out to me. about the McCain campaign calling out Barack Obama for pledging to use public funding if his Republican opponent does. which McCain would do, to kick the legs out of Obama’s fundraising juggernaut and level the playing field.

nice little dig at the nuts there, McCain, I’ll give it to you. the general election is going to be hysterical. it’s going to be Obama, probably, against the stodgiest cracker in a field of ramrod-straight Republican candidates. I swear to god, McCain looks like he could explode or collapse at any moment. so if has a heart attack from getting too angry during a debate, then I called it here first.

take the volume out

I’ve got “The Lost Patrol” on, the ancient John Ford movie. it’s this or “Death Wish” as I sit here and type this, and I think Bronson is just too much for me right now. on the other hand, “The Lost Patrol” would be a million times better without the music. and Bors Karloff was one creepy son of a bitch.

my mom sent me a lot of shit for Valentine’s Day. like, an excuse to send a care package in an envelope.
so, contents of mom’s valentine’s day package:
a copy of Jan. 18’s Indiana Daily Student.
recipes on kitchen cards for grilled ham and cheese, meat loaf, beef stew, chicken and rice, stir fry and omelets.
an IDS article from Feb. 8 about the Indiana win over Illinois.
a Feb. 6 Northwest Indiana Times article about how Valparaiso blew a huge-upset win against Butler. at home. I watched that game, it was brutal.
three photos, one of Smith, Andrew and myself; one of Mar and I; and a third of Mar, myself and the dog.
tax forms from El Centro.
twenty bucks.
a column by the Times’ Al Hamnik, about how Knight is a douche. 
a letter from my grandmother in longhand.
taco seasoning.
an editorial cartoon printed in the Times from the Indy Star that mocks Bob Knight’s retirement.
a Times article about Knight’s retirement as told by a local jackass who played on Knight’s undefeated IU team in ’76 but had a falling out with the coach.
a 3×5 Valentine’s Day card featuring stick figures drawn by Crayola markers illustrated by mom. the stick figures are me, doing my ‘favorite things.’

I went up to DC and stayed at my brother’s for the last day or two. going up, I was in a bad mood. coming back, not so bad. it out to be a great two days.

went to a Georgetown game on Monday night, against Villanova, at the Verizon Center. it’s a cool place to see a game, and that place was humming by the end of it. kind of exhilarating. home team won, dramatically, at the end. during the game we ran into my brother’s friend, who is an interesting motherfucker. his name is Adrian, he makes for good company.

on Tuesday I ate a bunch of brownies and went to Dupont Cricle. at that bookstore that’s just outside the Metro stop on Connecticut I bought “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. then I read about ninety pages of it at a Starbucks.
and then I met Spencer and he humored the shit out of me and we talked and drank beer for about four hours. Spencer got me to thinking, whether he meant to or not, about my current situation, and it did me good.
I’ve been kind of in the dumps recently, but I’m really very tired of moping. it’s fucking draining to mope. to be drag-ass depressing is exhausting and it slows time down, in a bad way, so I’m ready to be done. whether or not I stop, we’ll see. I hope so. 

but that’s only kind of the point. the other half is: I don’t really like my job all that much. but I don’t hate the people I work with; they’re generally okay. if only for a few hours at work each day. I just think I need a change. I’m not hating on Charlottesville, but I’m not sure I want to put down roots here if I’m not at the newspaper. it’s a small town.
and, I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m kicking around a few cans. if any will come to fruition, we’ll see, but I think they’re all not completely unbelievable. they’re grad school, Chicago, and overseas work, probably as an English teacher. but I have a little while to think about it; I’m not in a huge rush. at least a couple of months to think on this.

ok. that’s everything. I’m cracking “The Road.” it’s got me hooked. cannibals, man! in a post-apocalyptic Tennessee! nice!

so when I’m gone, you’ll know what I did in high school

I’m drinking tea and watching “Wag the Dog.” truth is, I just feel like writing.

“I want you to want me” by Cheap Trick. how fitting. anyway, the live version, I think it’s in Japan. reminds me of the back of Jeff Green’s Oldsmobile on the way to play paintball in high school. Jeff’s back seat was full of garbage. lots of empty Milk Chugs.
I sucked at paintball. I can’t remember ever actually shooting anyone. but I was shot. constantly.
thing is, you need dough to play paintball. those guns cost money, and you have to work to keep them up, clean them regularly. improve it. buy new barrels and tanks and hoppers and triggers and all sorts of bullshit, and I never had any money. I bought a gun with some cash I saved up from my after-school job, but it was a cut-rate one and that was about all I could afford.
Jeff had dough, though. his dad owned the biggest towing service in Valparaiso, which kept Jeff flush. hs gun was nitrogen-powered. nitrogen, for fuck’s sake. it was called an Autococker, which sounds awfully gay now that I think about it. the Autococker was like a tiny-machine gun and it was perfect for Jeff. he’s a big person, doesn’t move very well. he could just stake out a place on the field and hammer away from a distance. 
anyway. Jeff now has two kids and manages a Buffalo Wild Wings in Lake County, I believe. I held his first daughter at a kegger in Bloomington once. I remember feeling bad about that.

“blackbird,” the Beatles. Indianapolis, a July evening. on my way home.

my job in high school. I worked at a movie theater, poorly, with Smith, who got me the job. and later, with Josh, who I initially didn’t like cause I loaned him a Fu Manchu album and he gave it back to me with the jewel case cracked. but we’ve grown past that. 
I was an usher, which is what you did if the theater manager thought you were too stupid to work behind the concession stand. I swept the floor, cleaned theaters. I don’t know why I was so bad at that job; it was pretty straightforward. just a bunch of menial tasks for me to do, but I fucked off constantly. I would float theaters – meaning, go into a theater once the movie’s begun, make sure no one’s causing a ruckus, and check to make sure the emergency exit was closed – and instead of doing it quickly, I’d sit down in the back for about twenty minutes and watch whatever was on. doing this, I’ve seen “Meet the Parents” all the way through in fifteen-minute segments. 
I fell asleep once, was in there for a solid hour. I remember our boss, Dixie, was pissed.  which reminds me.

the three adults who worked there, were memorable enough to actually recount. there was Dixie the manager, who was about five and a half feet tall and 300 lbs. she drove a minivan, and would send one of her lackeys out to Burger King for her daily lunchtime Whopper. cut in halves. no tomatoes, I think.
there was JD, the projectionist. being a projectionist is a great job if you shun daylight and human contact. insomniacs are built for this work. you’d never see JD outside of the projection room upstairs. the projection room was as long as the theater, housed all of the reels, and when you got all of the machines films running, that place was deafening.
as it was a projectionist’s booth, it was always dark. no lights. maybe a reading lamp here and there, but that’s about it. JD had an upholstered chair up there where he would chill when he wasn’t changing reels, but I never saw him using it. I remember I’d come across it, and think, signs of life. someone has been here. like I was on safari, hunting dangerous game. I didn’t like that room.
also, JD smoked a lot of reefer on the roof. so I’m told.
Jerry, the part-time security guard. my memory of this dude is a little spotty. he had to have been an ex-cop or something. he only worked on Friday nights as crowd control, which was ridiculous, cause he was never really needed; I mean, it was Valparaiso, for god’s sake. what the hell was going to happen?
he had a full beard, wore a security guard’s uniform, was always very serious, and carried a loaded gun on his hip. I believe he owned a waterbed store in Merrillville. which sounds about right.

“heard it through the grapevine” by CCR. Nebraska highway, summertime, at night. think no cars and wide-open spaces.