Archive for January, 2008

Bells I heard a thousand years before

Posted in Blog on January 30, 2008 by trevorgregg

I had an important conversation with a buddy of mine the other day. I called him on Saturday morning, he told me he was busy, but I went by his place anyway.

I was bored.

Over the course of a couple hours the night before, he’d completely disemboweled his motorcycle and brought its complex innards in to his basement in USPS crates.

I know shit about motorcycles, so I helped by drinking his beer.

I started digging through his CD collection while he dissected some piece of the fuel system.

“You’re a fucking idiot.”

“Hand me that gasket. Why am I an idiot?”

“I don’t know that we have the time to cover that topic thoroughly.”

“YOU SURE BUDDY? This rebuild is gonna take me a couple days. Asshole.”

“Statement stands.”

He banged around and screwed things and wiped oil off of tiny parts. I walked back to his stack of CDs.

“I hope these are stolen.”

“What?”

“If you paid actual money for these CDs I don’t know that we can be friends anymore.”

The whole stack was garbage. And it was a big stack. There were a couple of good albums in there amidst the filth, interspersed, like afterthoughts or accidents, statistical anomalies. Shit taste or not, it’s nigh impossible that any dude in SF isn’t going to own at least one Bob Dylan album, or possibly a tape of Superunknown he got for his 14th birthday. A burned Maxell CD that says Christina’s Best of the Yardbirds Mix that somebody left at his house does not redeem an entire collection of crap, though. It certainly does not make up for the fact that he owns ALL THE FUCKING KORN ALBUMS any more than putting a cherry on a dog turd makes it into a sundae.

I dug deeper, tossing his shit CDs into one of the emptied, greasy postal crates. It filled up quick.

“This is a fucking atrocity. Blink 182? Dashboard Confessional?”

“Oh come on dude. There’s some STP or something in there, it’s not all bad.”

“Which album?

“I don’t remember man…”

“WHICH ALBUM!?”

“God fuck Trevor, I don’t know. You’re such a nutjob about this shit. Calm down. Hold this shit on here while I screw this to the exhaust.”

I held the whatever little thing on to its little bracket while he put the bolts back in, shaking my head in disbelief the entire time.

“Come on. So I like different stuff than you. I like lots of different music. I’m not an elitist.”

“I know this is going to come off sounding kind of personal, or overly critical, but you’re a complete moron.”

“Because I like some variety?”

“BECAUSE ALL OF THIS STUFF IS CRAP MAN. How the fuck do you look yourself in the eye every morning when you know there are two DJ Tiesto albums in your basement. That you own.”

“What’s…”

“Techno, man?! I mean are you kidding me? Are you 15? This is some kind of elaborate joke, some sick, sick prank? I feel like I just came in your basement and found a cache of child porn and a necklace of severed ears dude.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m going to offer you the chance of a lifetime. I’m gonna help you out, man, and get you on the road to recovery. Elevate and educate your pathetic, Live 105 loving ass.”

“While I appreciate your offer to make me as narrow-minded and ivory-tower as you are about shit that doesn’t matter…”

“CLEARCHANNEL HAS POISONED YOUR BRAIN.”

He stared at me blankly.

“Don’t thank me man. Not yet, anyway. You just wait. I’m gonna make you a CD.”

————

So that’s where I got the idea for the Rock and Roll Primer. An 80 minute triumph, a masterpiece.

It had to incorporate everything that is beautiful and righteous about rock. It had to be absolutely god damn amazing.

I got to work immediately. I grabbed a burrito on the way home, figuring mixing it together might take a few hours.

Mistake.

———–

Two weeks later I was crushed and depressed, absolutely despairing at the magnitude of my task. My room, generally an orderly and disciplined place, had transformed into some kind of freakish rock laboratory. Empty beer cans and Saltines boxes covered the floor. All manner of strange shit was set up on every horizontal surface; LPs, CDs, a (nonfunctional) Casio keyboard from about 1988. Page after crumpled page of lists and charts and indecipherable calculations, all written on the backs old PG&E bills. Seriously weird shit that I don’t even recall owning, like a huge, bubbling chemistry set full of green liquid and a deck of fuckin Tarot cards. My filthy, ink-stained beard was repulsive and grey, like somebody stapled dead mice to my cheeks. I scared the hell out of myself every time I walked near the mirror.

I had no idea what a nightmare creating The Primer would be. Eighty minutes is just not enough time. You can barely get fucking started with eighty minutes.

It’s like somebody says “Hey, cram the New Testament onto the paper that comes in a fortune cookie”. Or “Hey, move this ocean. Here’s a bucket.” No joke.

I distinctly recall watching the sun come up drunk after spending six hours trying to fit Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety right into the middle of the Primer without displacing too much other important rock.

Yeah.

Regardless, after two weeks of intense work, it’s time to put The Primer into Public Beta.

I went through about 468 rough drafts. Here’s current list for The Primer.

We’re calling it RC1.

———–

The Primer, RC1

01 – Derek and the Dominos – Crossroads (live)
02 – Canned Heat – I’ve Got My Mojo Working
03 – Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker (live BBC version)
04 – Ted Nugent – Stranglehold (hell yes)
05 – Iggy Pop – Lust for Life
06 – The Who – Young Man Blues
07 – Nirvana – Aneurysm (live)
08 – Metallica – Free Speech For The Dumb
09 – Rolling Stones – Miss You
10 – Jimi Hendrix – Catfish Blues
11 – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Laughing (live)
12 – Beck – Crystal Clear Beer
13 – David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
14 – Radiohead – The Tourist
15 – Arlo Guthrie – The Motorcycle Song
16 – Lou Reed – Heroin

———–

If you’ve read the list and you think “Hey, you forgot The Eagles! And Rush! and maybe that good Killers song!”, you’re an idiot and should probably just die.

Otherwise, by all means, make suggestions.

I dare you.

————

I’ve considered writing out a long, exhaustive explanation of why each song made the cut and which alternatives were thrown away, but fuck it. It needs to stand on its own two legs anyway, not come with a fifteen page annotated dissertation in the liner notes.

Instead, since it’s still in beta, I’ll mention the few weak spots I still see:

Track 8 – I really needed a rough and angry song here, and Metallica is pretty damn canonical when it comes to that… Still, it doesn’t feel right. Too manicured, I guess. I tried “The More I See” in there instead, same results. Sabbath was another possibility, but it stuck out like a black guy in the NHL. I also thought about So What, which was better, but the jump between Hetfield shrieking SO FUCKING WHAT and the Rolling Stones was unbearable.

Track 14 – Meh. Need something appropriately strange and non-traditional to match these last few songs… This is a good song, don’t get me wrong. I’d take Paranoid Android if it wasn’t like fifteen minutes long… or a Pink Floyd song…

Somehow I don’t think that one is gonna make the final release, let’s just say that.

———–

This shit could go on for months so I’m just gonna shut up now and see how it flies in real life. Burning copy #1.

Wish me luck.

-T.

Somebody hand me a number two pencil cuz they testin

Posted in Blog on January 22, 2008 by trevorgregg

Welcome to GoogleChat!
me: hey.
jolenesawyer: hey.
me: you hear about heath ledger? he dead.
jolenesawyer: yeah. my med school friends are in tears.
jolenesawyer: we’re gonna watch Ten Things I Hate About You and light a candle.
me: HAHHAHAAH.
me: too soon.

She says ‘I ain’t good looking, but I take my time’

Posted in Blog on January 21, 2008 by trevorgregg

I am quite the gifted liar.

Dishonesty comes naturally to me, for whatever reason. I can deceive, bold-faced, with grace and ease.

God’s honest truth.

Ask any of my ex-girlfriends.

On rare occasions, like last night, I have used my considerable powers for good. Weeks of whispered phone calls, ciphered notes slipped under unmarked doors, and hushed conversations in dark corridors came to a head and we threw our surprise party for Candace, who has (briefly) returned from Israel.

All the lying worked out, in the end. I told her I was taking her out to dinner, and we stopped by my place to pick up something. As we walked into my front room, ten of Candace’s friends jumped out, shrieking. We live in bleak and terrible times, and spontaneous, joyful moments are few and far between. People should surprise their friends more often. Candace seemed to enjoy the festivities, so we’ll go ahead and say Mission Accomplished.

Hurrah.

——

The party’s over, but I’ve still got two platters full of sandwiches, a thirty pound Costco bag of tortilla chips, and fifty Pacificos sitting in my pantry.

Damn. Where are the homeless when you need them?

——

We had all gone out to breakfast in the Marina and, as I was on foot, I figured I’d just walk down by Traitor Joe’s on Bay and carry a case of wine home.

Mistake.

I had no damn idea how heavy a case of wine is. Jesus Christ.

Carrying it up to the checker, straining, I began to worry.

“Shit man,” I said to myself, “this bastard’s heavier than I expected. This might get rough. Oh well, it’s only two miles.”

Only two miles. Fucking idiot. I hate me.

Six blocks later I hit the bottom of the Hyde street hill near the cable car turn around, gasping and coughing, the wine resting on my shoulder. To call Hyde a ‘hill’ down there is misleading; it’s more like a paved cliff. I started to despair, looking up from the base of that evil damn mountain. Pride alone kept me going. Pride and a faint hope of catching the fourth quarter of the Chargers – Patriots clusterfuck.

Twenty hellish minutes later I crested the hill and collapsed in a heap, legs spasming, lines of bloody drool running down from my mouth. Several of the people taking pictures of Lombard’s famous curves turned their cameras on me. One lady leaned out from the cable car.

“HEY HONEY LET’S GO TO THAT GUY’S HOUSE HAHA. HE’S GOT A WHOLE CASE OF WINE! HAHA.”

She clapped and laughed, immensely pleased with her own wit, as the cable car pulled away.

“fuckyoutouristbitch *GASP*” I moaned from the pavement. “fuckingthingweighs*GASP*agoddamntonso*GASP*shutup.”

*GASP*

Two Japanese tourists came up, cameras at the ready, and stood over my twitching body. I waved my hand feebly in a vague gesture.

“can’tbelievethisfuckinghill.”

*WHEEZE* *COUGH*

“steepestfuckinghilli’ve*GASP*evergoddamnseenshit”

I regained my feet after a few moments and stumbled on, my Herculean task half done.

Other pedestrians continued to point and smile as I hobbled along, my awkward burden held down in front of me like some gigantic, unbearable pregnancy. I don’t know why it brought strangers such joy to see me laboring and sweating for booze, but they were god damn thrilled. I got many thumbs-ups and big grins. They loved it.

“fuckershateyou” I hissed at them.
*GASP*
“don’tfuckingsmileatmefuckinghelp”
*WHEEZE*

At Greenwich, I saw a good-looking redhead unlocking the door to her apartment. I threw the wine up on my shoulder again, and straightened my back with poorly feigned ease. I walked up, the picture of nonchalance.

“Hi there.” She said, smiling.
“heyhowsitgoing” *COUGH*
What girl says hi to random, sweating strangers? I should carry this awful fucking box around all the time. It’s god damn magical.
“Is that heavy?”
“notsobadjustalittleunwieldy” *POORLY HIDDEN GASP*
“Cool. Have a good party!” Smile.
“yeahyoutoothankslater”

Her door closed and I slumped down into her flower bed, dry-heaving, my Charles Shaw crushing her petunias. I lay there for several minutes, coughing and shaking.

“suchamorontrevorfuckingthingweighsaton”

A mile later and my door was in sight. I set the box on a fire hydrant and leaned back against some scaffolding, cursing my burning lungs and exhausted arms. A guy and his girlfriend walked by.

“Whoa, did you carry that all the way from Trader Joe’s?”

Must be a local. He knows these wicked hills.

“yeahmanfucking”
*GASP*
*DEEP BREATH*
“worstmistakeofmylife”
*SPIT* *DRY HEAVE*
“That’s rough bro.”
“weighsseriouslyeightyfuckingpoundsman”

His girlfriend gave me a thumbs up and they walked on.

——-

We ended up only drinking two and a half bottles.

Fuck.

-T.

Going back to Memphis, babe, where I had much better luck

Posted in Blog on January 16, 2008 by trevorgregg

Sick as hell and going stir crazy.

As it seems to every couple of months, my pathetic immune system has failed me again and I’ve voluntarily quarantined myself.

“You OK in there Trevor?” Concerned voices ask through the crack under the door.

*hack, cough* “Yeah just great.” *cough*

I’m pretty sure it’s SARS or the Bird Flu. Possibly drug-resistant TB brought back by that nutjob from Greece I heard about on the radio. In a city this big, with such a pantheon of germs, it could be any damn thing.

My roommates, wearing rubber gloves, swim goggles, and face masks, warily pass me a box of supplies through the door each morning. I spend my day wheezing and groaning, like some dying animal. A half-pint of warmed whiskey with four packets of Theraflu for lunch. Just what the doctor ordered.

————

Despite my sordid condition, I ate a fistful of dayquil and gunned it out to a bonfire on Saturday night for Meredith’s birthday. The prospect of fresh air and open flame was too enticing, especially now that winter has decided to stop sucking for at least a few days.

Ocean beach is pretty much a complete piece of shit as beaches go, but it’s close at least. I’d never been there at night, and was prepared for the worst, but conditions were shockingly mild. No wind, low tide, big fire…

Packs of chattering teenagers were out, burning their families’ Christmas trees in big, festive pyres. The more ambitious would get three or four going at a time, setting them up vertically so they looked like effigies. The whole beach would light up in two bursts, the first orange as the dry trees flared up, the second white as fifteen or twenty digital cameras wielded by fifteen or twenty highschool-aged Chinese kids went off. Take lots of pictures, kids, lest you forget what a damn fire looks like.

We had been there for all of eleven minutes, being introduced to Meredith’s strange hipster (read: non-capoeira) friends when the first of the fuckin Pine Swine rolled up.

Little did I know that, on any given night, forty to fifty percent of San Francisco’s on-duty cops hang out at Ocean Beach. It’s far and away the most heavily policed area in San Francisco. Possibly in Northern California. Rangers, state troopers, city police, sheriffs… I think I even saw a fucking FBI agent or two, but maybe they were just random white dudes with suits on.

They crept right the hell up on us, flashlights off. Nine of them. Literally nine. I counted. No bullshit. There were probably eleven of us dangerous criminals sitting around a small fire, listening to Melvin with the long bangs and tight jeans talk about how concerned he is for the people of Sudan.

“ALRIGHT FOLKS NOBODY MOVE.”

Nine maglights click on in unison. Great.

“Hey… officers…”

The hipsters cowered, openly fearful at the appearance of Loud Authority. Several of them clung to each other or hid their PBRs in their hoodies. Ellie and I sipped our beers.

“Have I come and talked to you about alcohol tonight folks?”

“What?”

“I SAID DID ANYONE COME THROUGH AND SPEAK TO YOU AB”

“No man, we just got here.”

“There’s no alcohol allowed on the beach.”

“Ok.”

“No glass containers allowed on the beach.”

Aww yeah. I sipped my (glass) bottle of Fat Tire, sticking it to the man TWO TIMES for the price of one. God I’m hardcore. Officer Shitcakes continued his speech.

“All this alcohol needs to disappear.”

“Ok.”

“Also, there’s no burning of Christmas trees.”

Wouldn’t want to have it fall out of the fire pit and catch the fucking sand on fire.

“And pick up all this litter and you can’t burn anything that has nails in it.”

He stood watching us for a moment, seeing if we’d react. A couple folks made the appropriate bustling movements towards the beer and wine, which satisfied the battalion of SF’s finest. They moved off to the next fire, where they proceeded to handcuff and arrest some kid after searching his backpack and finding a bag of weed the size of a Hershey Kiss. Protecting and serving. (For you non-San Franciscans who might not know, busting somebody for having a tiny bag of weed is completely, completely unheard of here. We were shocked; in SF, this is the equivalent of seeing a cop mace and taser a jaywalker, as far as overreaction goes.)

That set the tone for the night. Every 45 minutes or so at regular intervals for the next four hours, a ranger, cop, or trooper would march up to our fire, shine the light in everyone’s eyes, look for alcohol, and then wander off after saying something suitably stern and condescending. Fucking assholes. Go die.

I mean you can’t blame them, right. If I were a cop, I sure as shit wouldn’t want to be down in the TL or Hunter’s Point at midnight. There’s all kinds of thieves and murderers and crackheads out there. Criminals! That shit’s dangerous. I’d probably come out here and hassle the christ out of completely harmless twenty-somethings, where it’s safe. Better than having to break up a fight between two transvestites trying to stab each other with their dirty heroine needles.

And really, a lot of the seemingly-draconian rules make sense:

No glass on the beach – Nobody wants to cut their foot on a broken bottle. Keeping people from bringing glass on to Ocean Beach allows the general populous to run around happily cutting their feet on the absolutely prolific rusted bedsprings and folded sheetmetal and ancient Volkswagen bumpers instead.

No parking in the beach lot after 10 – This prevents people’s cars from being broken into, since you have to drive them a mile into Golden Gate park and leave them. As a bonus, you can be raped and stabbed in the bushes when you walk back to your ride at 2 AM. There won’t be any cops to help you, of course, because they’re all at the fucking beach.

No alcohol – This is the most important rule. Drinking impairs judgment. You never know when you might get tipsy, and the beach starts looking more and more beautiful in the moonlight… You forget about the piles of garbage everywhere, or the rotting kelp and dog shit, and the beach just looks better and better… and then maybe you tell the beach how pretty it is, and maybe you tell it how soft its sand feels, and maybe you end up having sex with the beach and never calling it, because you wake up with it the next day and realize how fucking hideous it is in direct sunlight… And that’s just not fair to the beach.

No burning Christmas trees – This is one’s a multi-faceted rule. First of all, we’re talking about a state beach. That means it’s government property. That means no religious symbols. Only non-denominational trees may be burned. That’s in the Constitution, folks.

Also, if your tree were to fall out of the gigantic cement fire pit and into the sand, it might somehow start burning at 2500 degrees Fahrenheit which would melt the sand, thus turning it in to glass and violating rule number one.

————-

Despite how absolutely ridiculous the po were, we had a good time. We filled up somebody’s camelback with wine and Patrick came through with a handle of whiskey miraculously shaped like an Aunt Jemima syrup bottle.

————-

The next day, I found out Mark “I’m Thirty And I Still Play Magic: The Gathering And Love Strongbad” Shick’s wife is pregnant. He’s going to be a dad.

This shocked me only slightly less than when Couevas told me his wife was pregnant. I had always sort of assumed he’d die of rabies he caught from a stripper in Mexico City or some shit before he’d have the chance to breed, but I guess not.

Life sure is funny sometimes!

You can taste it, but it will not form.

Posted in Blog on January 11, 2008 by trevorgregg

The air is thick, damp, awful with it. That sickly-sweet, rotten musk. This filthy smell, permeating the air from coast to coast, can only mean one thing:

Election season.

It’s a wondrous time, when a small fraction of America’s moronic masses spill into elementary schools and public libraries to exercise their franchise. Some do it out of a misguided sense of civic duty, some do it to get an hour or two off of work. They gather to pick their poison. The citizenry flock to pick the lesser evil, the new captain of the Titanic.

They fill in their dots and make their choices, satisfied and empowered by the blind conviction that they, The People, are leading The Nation.

Fucking idiots.

The vast, vast, vast majority of people build their politics based on two equally fucking terrible foundations: their feelings and cable news. Until recently, I had no idea how pervasive this was. I, like most, thought in terms of Us and Them. It was Us versus the feeb horde, the mindless red-state vermin. We voted with our heads, They voted with their shriveled, black, fundamentalist hearts.

Then I started talking to friends, people I know well and at least marginally respect.

“Oh, you’re voting for Hillary? Why?”
“You know, I think it would be good to have a woman president.”
“What about her war policy and stuff??
“What’s a war policy?”

Wait a second.

“What about you, Ms. San Francisco Whole Foods Shopping Prius Driving Peacenick?”
“Go Obama baby!”
“Right on. Why?”
“Go Obama baby!”

You’re joking. You’re telling me that people on MY side are shooting just as blind as that legion of shitbags we call the Middle West?

And behold, it was true.

If by some miracle we get a president that’s worth more than two farts in a windstorm, it won’t be because they were chosen by a functioning, intelligent democracy. They will be elected by the same principle that allows 250 million monkeys on 250 million typewriters to eventually write a novel that outsells Harry Potter. Of course at this point, we could put a tie on James Brown’s exhumed corpse, swear it in, and it’d still do a better job in the White House than Bush has.

That’s the beautiful part of hitting rock fucking bottom. There’s nowhere to go but up.

———

Here is the Tragedy of the Informed:

The infinitesimal fraction of people in the U.S. who actually pay attention and know What The Fuck Is Up are so disheartened and enraged that they either give up on The Rest all together or scream their heads off, sounding like psychotics and paranoiacs. Many go insane, making pipe bombs, murdering their families, or voting for Ralph Nader.

The remainder, who are sane enough to know and crazy enough to care, we are too few to balance out all the rest of you fucks. And it breaks our hearts.

———–

You, statistically speaking, are probably unaware of just how bad things are in the United States today. You can’t be blamed for not noticing. You still get a paycheck and you can still go to Nordstrom’s to buy shoes and you can still watch the Patriots in the Superbowl. It’s easy for the little things like ceaseless war and economic collapse to slip by unnoticed in a land of such distraction.

For instance:

Voter fraud is widespread in every state of the union, on such a scale that it can easily choose the leader of our nation.

No shit.

This fraud is easily hidden because, even if we could count on everyone being honest, our system is so screwed up there would still be massive errors in counting. No other “modern” democracy in the world uses closed-source electronic voting machines with so few safeguards. Entire groups of people, be they blacks voting democratic in Florida or Republicans voting Christian in the New Hampshire Primary are discounted. In error, in deceit, it’s all the same.

In Australia, you can be fined for not voting.

In many European democracies, voting day is a holiday. Amazing how many people show up to the polls.

Against all predictions and polls, Hillary beat Obama in New Hampshire.

Obama won by the predicted margin in every district where votes were counted by hand.

Hillary won by a 5% margin in districts counted by machine.

Interesting.

———–

Let me be serious for a moment.

The occupation of Iraq is a far bigger disaster for the United States than Vietnam ever was.

The dollar is weaker now than it has been since the Civil War.

Corporations guide our policies across the board; anti-trust laws are not enforced. This is a huge deal.

Your government will probably invade Iran within the next five years.

Your protection from illegal search and seizure as spelled out in the Bill of Rights no longer exists.

Habeas corpus is suspended. You probably forget what that means, but it’s a huge deal too.

The decisions and precedents your elected government has put into place in the last 10 years will be the ruin of the USA as we know.

No shit.

———-

Ignorance is the costliest of luxuries. All this stuff, all the bad things we let slip every day, all the evils and deceptions and atrocities we turn our blind eyes to, they have consequences.

Remember that.

———

I don’t see a way out.

That’s the worst part.

Tonight, I cannot but know the truth of our nation, and despair.

——–

“You’re so negative.” She said, shaking her head. “Why do you even vote. Why not just give up.”

“You really want to know why I vote?”

“Yes.”

“The sticker.”

-T.

——

Get Informed, for fuck’s sake.

http://thinkprogress.org/
http://www.inthesetimes.com/
Why We Fight (Documentary)
No End In Sight (Documentary)
http://poe-news.com/
Rolling Stone Archives
http://www.csmonitor.com/

Serve me right to suffer

Posted in Blog on January 8, 2008 by trevorgregg

I woke to the sound of Ellie and Vivian pounding on my door. The walls were shaking. Outside, a deep and constant roar.

Oh god. This is why I hate mornings.

Be cool.

“Trevor!” they shouted.

Being the man of the house, as it were, I feel paternal, protective of my roommates. Old-fashioned as it sounds, I’m honor bound to meet any apartment-wide crises head on, with poise and courage.

I pull on my jeans and peer out the window as the girls open the door.

“Trevor did you look outside?!”

“We’re all seriously going to die holy fuck!” I calmly shrieked.

“Can you believe this storm.” Ellie said. “It’s shaking the whole building!”

I valiantly crawled back into bed and put my head under a pillow.

“Let’s go look out the front.”

“Mufflemufflemuffle.”

“I can’t hear you with that pillow over your face Trevor.”

“I SAID DON’T FUCKING LEAVE I can’t die alone. Seriously stay here. Or if you do leave bring me some beers when you come back. I especially can’t die sober.”

“Let’s go up on the roof.”

“You girls are insane. You can’t go on the god damn roof to watch the apocalypse.”

Two feet of standing water on Polk street. 180 mph winds. Ball lightning, hail shaped like daggers. Probably tsunamis and locusts. Serious Old Testament-style weather, shit that hasn’t been seen since the last ice age. I had the radio on for a while, but it depressed me. Scattered, staticky reports of bridge closures and rising death tolls. Six hundred thousand without electricity.

My homeboy called me and told me a schoolbus full of low-income fourth-graders from Hunter’s Point blew off the Golden Gate bridge while on a field trip.

“Nobody knows, man. Newsom and the CIA are covering that shit up. Forty dead minority kids, nobody wants that on a Chronicle front page during an election year. But I saw that shit. I SAW it.”

I believe it too. Hell, I saw a thirty foot tall god damn oak tree, uprooted, blowing end over end up Jackson. I saw hobos tying themselves to lampposts just to survive, then flapping around like little pee-stained windsocks as the gale got worse. Horrors, man. Horrors.

It lasted two and a half days.

———–

I didn’t know what to do but wait it out. Terrified and freezing, the ceaseless winds battering the house from all sides, I hunkered down in my room. By 4 PM I found myself in a little fort made out of furniture, reading Livy’s “Early History of Rome” by candlelight and listening to Stranglehold by Ted Nugent, over and over. I guess that’s all us atheists can do in times of dire need. The rest of you pray, or contemplate the hereafter. We listen to The Nuge.

That night Ellie and I drank a whole bottle of Japanese whiskey Jolene had stolen from a Trader Joe’s the year before and watched the entire Planet Earth Special Edition DVD set. Cover to cover.

“I think I’m drunk Trevor. Oh my god look at all those birds. Absamazing. That’s more birds than I thought were on… like… the whole earth. Put together. Right there.”

“I KNOW RIGHT! Fuck. And then that crocodile just shredded that wildebeest. God, so gnargnar. Like a weedwhacker versus a kleenex box. Let’s have another drink. Fucking nature, man. Fucking Africa. So crazy.”

————

I went outside today, just to see the state of things. To reconnoiter. I walked over to the Fillmore. Not many people out, just a few brave souls, stumbling around, wide-eyed. Most of them smiling, surprised to be alive.

The City is thrashed. You’d think a storm like that would be cleansing, purifying, but no. Litter, junk that’s been wedged in every tiny orifice of the street was all blown back out into the open. Filthy, sopping wads of newspaper line the sidewalk like papier-mache dogturds. Pepsi cans with pull tabs, at least ten years older than I am, are jammed into the cable car tracks. Broken branches and mangled street signs everywhere. An overturned Buick at Leavenworth and Broadway. What a nightmare.

At least Tahoe got something like forty seven feet of fresh powder, so all the yuppie snowboarder toolbags will be out of town this weekend.

Viva los silver linings.

-T.

Azas vermelhas

Posted in Blog on January 6, 2008 by trevorgregg

Where the hell was I?

New Year’s Eve.

Portland is a strange and wild town. The population, at least in our beloved demographic, is about 75% male. I’ve never seen such a knobfarm in my life. Packs of tattooed beardos ride rampant through the streets on direct-drive bikes called ‘fixies’. No doubt driven mad by that terrible combination of plentiful alcohol and scarce women, they roam the neighborhoods shrieking and howling, looking for Californians to scalp.

“There are two keys to getting laid in Portland:” Nate confided, “Go vegetarian and ride a fixie.”

“The only thing I like more than eating meat is driving.” I replied.

“Well then you’re shit out of luck. Unless you go to law school. That works too.”

Why anyone would ever ride a god damn direct drive bike is completely beyond me. They’re on par with those giant-wheeled monstrosities you see in reprinted French advertisements from the turn of the century, as far as efficiency goes. No brakes. No coasting. No gears.

No way, son.

I thought SF was the most freakishly bike-obsessed city in the West; many are the times I’ve wished painful and slow deaths on the goofy, feebleminded hordes of Critical fucking Mass. Portland’s got us beat, though, in their weird bike fanaticism. Beat handily.

They also have this… thing… with miniature plastic horses. Apparently there’s some cult that puts out these tiny plastic horses in random places throughout the city, attaching them to huge iron brackets sunk in to the sidewalk. Idols to some lesser forest god, no doubt. I can just see it: a whole mob of these pagan freaks, dressed in black robes, dancing around a huge bonfire out in the woods before cruising off into the night on their little bikes to distribute miniature plastic horses to the farthest corners of the Portland metropolitan area.

Weird bastards.

————

We regrouped at Nate’s place to start the pre-bar drinking. White Russians and scotch straight up, telling dirty jokes in Portuguese and trying to figure out a plan for the rest of the evening.

The last night of 2007 and things were bound to get out of hand. We were all strangely quiet while we waited for the girls to get ready, drinking steadily and speaking only in hushed tones. Steeling ourselves for the night ahead.

9:00 PM

We arrived at a place called Calypso, a quiet corner joint near Nate’s. We stormed in, ordering six pitchers and four bottles of wine in the first three minutes. As a test of man(and woman)hood, we ordered a plate of Devil’s Balls, some kind of hateful fried habanero… things.

Mistake.

Ten minutes later, our kindly waitress was bringing us cup after cup of melted vanilla icecream, the only thing that seems to ease the agony. Paulo and Cass were dry heaving in the back of the bar while I chewed an entire pack of Trident.

Things went downhill from there.

10:30

Shak’s left us for another table and is busy chatting up a very visibly pregnant lady. I look over at him, bleary eyed, and he gives me a wink and a thumbs up. Fucking weirdo.

Cass and Henry are up dancing, the only people in the place, and I’m playing Dunk the Duchess with Nate and our terrible, terrible DJ, a late-forties black guy named Raymond.

“Ray, buddy, do you have any Tower of Power?”

“No man no. I don’t know their work. You don’t like Madonna? Everyone likes Madonna.”

He was playing terrible, random funk, R&B, and pop. Bobby Brown and Bel Biv DeVoe and The B-52’s, all mixed together in the most abrasive and inept fashion. Even when he’d play good songs, which was rare, he’d move in and out of them so jarringly that the entire effect was ruined. It was like taking a bite out of a delicious sandwich and finding a gangrenous thumb in it. He was good people, though, and that goes a long way in life.

“Ray it’s your turn.”

Ray poured a little beer in to the floating tumbler, the Duchess, while Nate and I kicked furiously at the table legs. I think one of the reasons Nate and I get along so well is that we’re both more than willing to cheat at anything, remorselessly.

“You sunk your battleship, Raysauce. Drink up.”

The record began skipping and Ray leaped up from our table, spilling his beer and dashing for his Technics.

“Man he fuckin’ sucks.”
“Yeah. I just don’t have the heart to tell him.”
“Yep.”

Shak came back with a plate full of raw oysters and Ouzo shots, celebrating a valiant if unsuccessful attempt with the prego.

It was just that kind of night.

11:55

Nate and Sara, wasted beyond all hope, slip out the back and go home. The rest of us head to another bar, this one full of chain-smoking hags and bald bikers.

A 6’7” lumberjack with an eyepatch checks my ID at the door, giving me a hard, hateful, cyclopean stare when he sees my state of origin.

“What are we doing here, dude.” I ask of no one in particular.

“These are the kind of people we were warned about. They’ll hear my California accent and take us all out back and beat us to death with chains and garbage cans. That’s how these people operate. They’d love a nice murder to ring in the new year.”

“Who are you talking to?” Cass asks me as she hands me another shot of Jim Beam.

“It’s not important. Don’t you worry. When you see them come for me, you just run for the exit. Don’t look back, no matter what. You and Henry go have some beautiful kids and name one after me.”

“Sara was right, you are weird.”

“Cheers to that, sister.”

————

Back at the pad, we get into some serious fireworks. Shooting bottlerockets at each other and at other drunken pedestrians, a huge cloud of smoke begins to build around the house. A neighbor, some bug-eyed shitheel named Dawn or something, brings down a box of mortars, which we detonate with childlike glee, deafening ourselves and terrifying the locals. Nate manages to jam a Black Cat down the front of my coat, blasting a huge, black hole in my nicest shirt. It would have cost me a nipple if I hadn’t had thirteen layers on in defense against the cold.

“I’m gonna throw a half stick of dynamite into your bed at sunrise tomorrow morning. My vengeance will be terrible and swift, you shit!” I shout before falling over the deck railing and into the ivy below.

“Long live the Entropeneurs!” Somebody yells.

Howling and explosions and the sound of hundred thousand Oregonians cheering the stroke of midnight is the last thing I hear before I pass out in the frozen mud.