Archive for June, 2008

I am an F. B. I. AGENT.

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2008 by trevorgregg

Music – Weezer – Surf Wax America

“BEHOLD.”

“What? I’m on the phone.”

“BEHOLD MY NEW PLANT.”

“It’s nice.  A little small.”

“IT IS NOT NICE. IT IS POWERFUL. DO NOT JUST LOOK AT IT, BEHOLD IT.”

“Ok, ok…”

“YOU’RE LOOKING, NOT BEHOLDING.  BEHOLD.”

“OK JESUS WOW WHAT A GREAT PLANT.”

“Thank you.” I said. “His name is Yog-Sothoth the All-Devourer.  He is the blackest hunger become flesh.  He knows not mercy nor pity nor satiation.  Look into his endless mouths, and despair.”

“Ok. Yes.  It’s a great Venus fly trap.  Why don’t you go find it some flies.”

“Our fruitfly woes are over.  Yog-Sothoth the All-Devourer is the scourge of…”

“That’s great Trevor.  ON THE PHONE. GO AWAY.”

Yog-Sothoth the All-Devourer and I left to go find him some bugs to eat.

——–

“Will it get enough sun up there?”

“I think so.  It says on the label here that it needs to be kept moist and at a temperature between 65 and 80 degrees.”

“HAH. In this apartment? Better keep it in the oven.”

“Yeah… I think Yog-Sothoth the All-Devourer is tougher than the plant seller realizes, though.  The blood of his vanquished foes will keep him warm through the chilly nights.”

“I’m sure it will.  Has it caught anything yet?”  I got up to check again, in case a fly had snuck in since I last checked six minutes before.  As I had checked ten minutes before that, and ten minutes before that.

“Not yet… Yog-Sothoth the All-Devourer is a subtle and patient killer, though.  I’m sure he’s just lulling the flies into a false sense of security so that his wrath will be that much more cruel when it is finally unleashed.”

Ellie left and I sat there watching Yog-Sothoth the All-Devourer for a few more minutes, hoping for some carnage.  A few flies buzzed around, but steered well clear of his terrifying maws even when I tried to shoo the little fuckers over to his shelf.

I’m not worried, though.  Your time will come, bugs.  And you will rue the fucking day you hatched when you die slowly, locked in the unholy embrace of Yog-Sothoth the All-Devourer.

——–

Friday we went to see Point Break Live, which was unbelievably awesome.  Pure, unadulterated genius.  Our generation’s Hamlet.  Without question.

Go see this play, regardless of cost or inconvenience.  Drink heavily beforehand.  Wear a poncho.

The honest to god director of Point Break the movie, Kathryn Bigelow, stars in the stage version as well, which really helps in preserving the subtle nuances and artistic integrity of the original work in its new medium.

There is this one scene… Johnny Utah / Keanu Reeves, driven to the edge of madness by the capture of his true love and the death of his partner Gary Busey, leaps from a plane without a parachute and latches on to Bodhi / Patrick Swayze in midair.  Utah / Keanu must drop his gun to pull the ripcord on Bodhi’s chute, but if he does that, his quarry will escape.  They scream towards the Earth, locked in a deadly game of chicken.  They shout things at each other over the howling wind, something like

“YOU PULL THE CORD, BODHI.”
“NO YOU.”
“NO, YOU!”
“AAAAAAA!”

I was sprawled out on the floor below the stage, my face smeared with fake blood, my poncho tattered and tangled around me… I had two empty Tecate cans jammed in the pockets of my jeans, and was working on a third… I remember looking up at the actors, suspended from the warehouse roof by cheap rope in place of parachutes, waving popguns and flailing in their boardshorts, and being overcome with the most profound feeling of peace and contentment I’ve ever known.

It was such a sublime transcendence.  It was a brief glimpse of nirvana.

Fuck, what a play.

I swear to god it’s a thing of perfect beauty.

——-

I can not recommend the shit enough.  It’s fucking great.  If you really want to see it the way we saw it on Friday, here’s what we did. Seeing the play in the proper context is important, so follow these simple steps to replicate our entire evening verbatim.

5:30 – Drink four beers at home.  Run around your house having pretend gunfights with your friends.  Tell your friends about how awesome your new Venus flytrap is.

6:00 – Get in a cab.  Make sure the cab driver curses at Kim, refuses to drive you to Hunter’s Point because he’s “afraid of the (inappropriate word for black people)”, and blasts French rap so loud it makes your fillings fall out.

6:05 – Badger the cab driver into taking you to HP despite his fears.  Call him a eurotrash pussbag, and mock his Versace sunglasses.  Tell him soccer is stupid.

6:15 – Get stuck behind motherfuckinghatemylife Critical Mass.  Curse the fuckers vehemently out your window.  Threaten to kill them all and to shit on their shallow mass grave.  Embarrass your girlfriend thoroughly in doing so.

6:20 – Pray to all the deities you know when your cabdriver goes the wrong way down a one-way street at 95 miles an hour to get around the Critical Mass jam.  Laugh uncontrollably when Kim tells the cabdriver to “eat some asshole” for driving so crazy, then mimes it out when he is unable to hear her over the French rap.

6:45 – Arrive at secret warehouse location in Hunter’s Point where they sell 12% ABV beer for 2.50 a pint.  Tell bouncer the password, and gain admittance.

6:45 – 7:30 – Drink heavily and speedily, as the supersecret warehouse closes at 7:30.  Eat a three dollar burrito that tastes like baseball mitt.

7:30 – 8:15 – Wait in vain for the cabs you called to show up.  Assume they were hijacked, stripped, and torched driving through Bayview.

8:15 – Hitch a ride with random roadtripping people from Oregon in a Vanagon who happen to drive by.  Pack 17 people into the van.  Ask for a ride “over near the Ballpark. Or anywhere we can catch a cab.”

8:25 – Get dropped off nowhere fucking near the ballpark, in an empty lot, because Castanos keeps groping the driver and asking her if she “wants some sugaaaaaaaaar”.  Curse the people in the van for being selfish hippy scum.

8:45 – Miraculously catch a cab to the Portrero warehouse where the play is.  Buy many cans of Tecate from the octogenarian working the door and scare the hipsters out of the front row so you get the best seats.

9:00 – Bask in the fucking life-changing glory.  Rethink your life decisions.  Get covered in fake blood despite your poncho.  Know true joy.

——–

Point Break Live: http://www.myspace.com/pointbreaklive

-T.

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I embrace the many-colored beast

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , on June 27, 2008 by trevorgregg

Music – The Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve seen blue sky.  The sun came out briefly yesterday, a creeping red smear above the horizon, barely visible through the smoke.  California is burning, and the fires have left our city shrouded in a foul brown-grey miasma.  You can smell the death of a thousand old-growth forests on the wind.  Everything you eat tastes like ash and embers.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in this city. It’s like the third world.”
“This is no passing calamity, this is a premonition.  This is a glimpse of what our city will be like after another twenty-odd years of Republican environmental policy.  Get used to it.”

Wandering the streets through this fucked up Bladerunner murk messes with your head.  The grime gets in your lungs, your bloodstream, suffusing your body through your pores and your ears and your eyeballs.  It turns high noon to twilight.   Beneath the veil of smoke, men’s minds fill with evil thoughts.

There is nought to do but lock your doors, load your guns, and pray for offshore winds.

——-

We began our search for a replacement roommate yesterday.  Viv’s taking off for greener pastures.  Ellie and I wrote individual ads, planning to combine them after we’d each fleshed out exactly what we were looking for in a roommate.

Hers talked about seeking someone to share our home for $700 a month, someone professional and responsible and clean.  Someone quiet and friendly, male or female.  Mine was a little more detailed, and way better.

reply to MBYMfool@hotmail.com
Date: 2008-06-26, 2:17PM PDT

SUP FOLKZS

LF1M FOR APARTMENT PST.

$1000/mo (+ utilities) for your OWN ROOM in Nob Hill.  Great view, washer/dryer, split bath, TWO (2) couches, many attractive houseplants.

Must like long walks on the beach, and sushi.  Must not steal my stuff.  Haha.

Male or Female OK, but if you’re male you better have a sweet ass fucking flatscreen TV or something.  One of those big HD Sonys with True Black and some crazy ass resolution, where you can count the hairs in Ann Coulter’s mustache when you watch Fox News.  And an XBOX 360 and a Wii wouldn’t hurt.  Or a foosball table.


Must comply with passive-aggressive Post-It notes I leave on your door about washing your fucking dishes.  Must like to clean up after other people.  Must have the courtesy to light matches and open a window after you free the chocolate hostages.  Must help carry me up our three flights of stairs when I come home hammered.  Must not own a Mac or complain about me hanging homoerotic Johnny Depp posters in the common areas.

Must not bogart the shelves in the medicine cabinet.  Must be hella quiet when I’m taking a nap.

Must not think Dane Cook is funny.

Street parking only, and good fucking luck with THAT shit.

No felons, junkies, hipsters, conservatives, communists, Christians, poor people, vegans, short people, fixie riders, artists, “bloggers”, Gypsies or lawyers.

Exotic dancers, gourmet chefs, and celebrities welcome.

Must not be weird or ugly.  Or old.

No pets.

it is NOT ok to contact this poster with services or commercial interests.

—–

“Ok I sent you my craigslist ad.” I told Ellie.
“Yeah.”
“Did you read it?”
“I did.”
“Well?”
“We’re using mine.”
“WHAT? What’s wrong with mine?!”
“You’re an idiot.  I refuse to put my name on an ad asking for a gourmet cooking stripper with a plasma screen TV, a foosball table, and an Xbox.”
I shook my head in disbelief.
“Why not, that’s the god damn perfect roommate?!”
“And why the hell are you asking for a thousand when the room’s only 700?”
“Oh, did I… did I put the wrong price down? My… my bad…”

Dammit, she notices every little fucking thing.  Fuck.  That extra three hundo was going to get donated to my favorite charity, the Trevor Needs A Sweet Jetski Fund.

Don’t shake your head at me.  Take a little extra from one roommate… don’t tell the other… that’s just how this game is played.

1000 – 700 = MAD CASHFLOW, SON.

That’s called math, folks.

-T.

West of the Jordan, East of the Rock of Gibraltar

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , on June 18, 2008 by trevorgregg

Music – The Toadies – Possum Kingdom

We watched the Lakers barely beat the Celtics, at a bar downtown.  I don’t know thing one about basketball, but even to my untrained eye, the players looked amateurish, sloppy.  It was unpleasant to watch, especially when you despise both Los Angeles and Boston.

Knowing that the game was fixed only makes it more unbearable.  It’s a complete farce.  The NBA is one step up from pro wrestling at this point.

We were there with a bunch of Alex and Ken’s friends I didn’t know.  Introductions were made, of course, but I can’t remember names for shit.  The Castanos twins left early, but when the game was over Alcorn said ‘Let’s go out’.

So what if it’s a Thursday.

Fuck it.

You’re only young once.

Right?

———

People kept dropping, and by 10:30 there were four of us left, at Swig. A great bar, if you like overpriced, shitty drinks and a strong odor of piss and regret.

It was me, Ken, Alcorn, and some girl who had taken eight shots of vodka during the game.  She could barely stay on her stool.

“You want another whiskey?”
“Yeah why not.”
“We should go to that other party, it’s a block away.”
I looked around, unimpressed.  Swig sucked even for a weeknight.  The stool girl was trying to wink at a bald guy in a business suit across the room, but was too hammered to coordinate the muscles on her face properly. She looked like she was having a stroke.

Sigh.

“Yeah. This place is a graveyard.  Who’s party is it?”

“Maneesh is there; he can get us in for free. It’s at Ruby Sky.” Cue the chorus of groans.  “…and it’s the Obama victory celebration.”

I almost dropped my glass.

“… are you fucking serious?”  I slumped lower in my chair, banging my head against the bar in despair.

Alcorn nodded.

“An Obama afterparty at Ruby Sky.  That sounds like a whole new level of nightmare.  Previously uncharted territories of suck.  I can’t believe Ruby Sky may have found a way to attract an even more awful crowd than their usual scum.  What kind of fucking dbags go to an Obama party?  Fuck, man.  Worst Idea Ever.”  I said, shaking my head, watching the ice melt in my Jameson.

We sat in silence for a minute.

“I seriously hate Ruby Sky.” I said.
“So you wanna go?”
“Fuck it yeah let’s go.”

We left.  Ken carried the drunk chick.

———

The place was sickeningly bright.  Clubs are dark for a reason.  It helps you forget how dingy and foul the floor and the people and your lives are.

The walls were covered with those freaky Soviet-propaganda motif Obama posters, monochrome portraits that make him look like a half-black Nosferatu.

Shitty techno blared.

Some giddy, grinning UC Davis Poly Sci grad bounced up to me, trying to stab a pin into my shirt and take my email address for their mailing list.  God help you if you ever get on a Democrat’s spam list, friends. It’s an e-death sentence.

“Get to fuck, lady.” I hissed, waving my hands dangerously, “I’m not one of you people. BEGONE.”

“I’m gonna shit a cinderblock if I see anyone I know here.  Yahweh, if you’re real and you give a particular shit about us lowly sinners you will NOT let me run into someone I know tonight. Or be photographed here.”

Ken laughed. “I thought you voted for Obama?”

“I did.”

“So?”

“So these people are fucks, Ken. Look around you.”

“They just look like people.”

“No man, no.  Not people.  Fucks.  When you say ‘space’, what do they think? They think ‘gallery’.  We think ‘place full of stars and aliens’.  When you say ‘piece’, they think ‘work of poetry’, we think ‘handgun’.

It’s not just a matter of fucking vocabulary though.  It’s about world perspective.

Do you get what the fuck I’m trying to communicate to you here Ken? About why these people suck?”

“Not really.”

“Well shit. You’ll have to take it on faith.”

The drunk chick stumbled away into a crowd, and Ken followed her, protecting and fussing like a mother hen, apologizing to the people she bumped into.

———-

We hung around for about an hour, drinking.  Maneesh brought over a round.  I was in the middle of explaining things to Ken, at length.

“… basically been drunk since March, man.  B2B, Houseboats, Carnaval…  Hell this weekend, guess how many parties are lined up?”

Ken yawned.  “I dunno, three?”

“SEVEN.  In two days! That’s fucking unheard of.  Completely unprecedented.  I’m not talking about little bullshit parties either, not some assbag third-degree friend’s sister’s birthday at Chevy’s or anything.  The Cal Train Pub Crawl?  The White Party?  Samba at La Pena?  Even Claire and them are having a party.  The fucking list goes on.”

I took a drink, and spread my arms wide.

“Gentlemen, we’re right in the fucking heart of it.  The epicenter.”

“What’s he going on about?” Maneesh whispered to Ken.  I ignored the rude interruption.  Ken shrugged.

“FUCKING LISTEN.  I’m talking about a full on Renaissance of Immaturity.  Can’t you feel the momentum?  We’ve collectively managed to turn the tide.  Instead of getting older and suckier and more boring, we’re fucking…. it’s like once every ten million years, the Earth’s fucking magnetic field reverses, and South becomes North and all the fucking birds die because they can’t navigate…. It’s fucking science man…”

I turned mid-speech to look at Alcorn, and gasped in horror.  The taste of bile filled my mouth.  He was making out with the drunk stool chick.

“Jesus god, that is not right .” said Maneesh.
“I… I mean come on man, W T F.”
“I’m supposed to watch out for her tonight, too.” said Ken, shaking his head.  “I’m not supposed to let her do anything bad.”
“Does that count?”
He wasn’t sure.

——

Alcorn stumbled up to the table a moment later, leaving the girl slumped against a pillar.

“I think I need to get wasted if this is going to work.” he said.

I looked at the girl.  “You’ve got a LOT of drinking to do, dude.  Overlooking how drunk she is, haven’t you noticed she looks like a cross between Nancy Reagan and a rotting stump?”

“She does kinda have this… Clydesdale thing going on…” Maneesh said, peering at her across the dance floor.

“You know there are actual cute girls here.  Political groupies and whatnot?”

He shook his head.  “But why not go for the Sure Thing?”

“Cuz the fucking Sure Thing looks like Steve Buscemi’s gap-toothed older sister.”

“Hahaha oh jesus christ dude, she’s not even white, she’s Asian.”

“How the hell can you tell?”

We all laughed, soulless, judgmental motherfuckers that we are.

Then Ken said “She’s also engaged.”

We all went silent, wide-eyed.

We all looked at each other.  None of us knew how to react.  A minute passed.

“Yeah ok man go for it!”  I shouted.
“I’ll go buy you some drinks!”  Maneesh hollered, running off towards the bar.

Ken just stood there, shaking his head.  Unbelievable.  Stern posters of Barack Obama looked on, unblinking, judging, condemning.

Soulless motherfuckers indeed.

———–

We lost track of them around three, in a brick alleyway somewhere in Cow Hollow.  She had ripped Alcorn’s polo in half in the car ride over, throwing the pieces out the window.  She thought it was funny.

Ken and I caught a cab back up the hill.

I sat in my living room drinking one last beer.  Gotta get up for work tomorrow.  I waited for the sun to come up.

————

Now I don’t want you guys to get the idea that this chick was victimized.  Far from it.  I found out through a friend’s girlfriend the next day that this had been her plot all along. Can you imagine that shit? She had thought the whole scenario up during the fucking Laker game. They talked about it in the bathroom.  Planned it out like a fucking covert operation.

The deviousness of women never, ever ceases to amaze me.  They’re like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park, but with boobs.

The only real victim here is whatever fool guy greased up a ring and squeezed it on to her pudgy, squirming sausage-finger, thinking he could make an honest woman out of her.

That poor bastard fails at life.

———–

I woke early Friday and knew I had to get out.

The phone was ringing.  People demanding attention and attendance. Friends, strangers, and people in between.

I had three voicemails from a guy named Claude who seemed to know me, though I certainly didn’t know him.  Ten messages in my inbox from somebody named Hovell throwing a party at the Gentrification Station. BYO Electric Guitar, it said.

What?

Who the fuck is Hovell?

You spend too much time in this city and it starts to become the world.  A self-contained 7×7 universe you inhabit, with nothing beyond the borders but empty black nothingness. Everyone you know lives here, every circle you run in.  It’s like a terrarium.  Spruce it up with expensive plants and heated rocks and little plastic treasure chests, but in the end it’s still just a fancy cage.

I returned some calls, read the news briefly.  R Kelly acquitted! That’s hilarious.  Our generation gets its OJ.  I sent Claire an email apologizing for flaking out on her R. Kelly Acquittal Celebration, ccing all of her other party invitees, most of whom are gradeschool teachers, sociology grad students, and people from Back East.  People with, you know, sensibilities.

From: MyNameIsTADOW
Subject: FUCK DEM HATERZ

TOTALLY brokehearted I can’t make yo spizecial cizelebration this evening.  Thank Jesus and Johnny Cochrane our man R. is in the free and clear once again.  “Acquittal” is my new favorite word.  It used to be “Bulldoggin.”

I seen them evidence tapes, and couldn’t a jury on this earth convict R. of nothing more than poor taste.  Minor or not, that girl was a whole lotta woman, you know what I’m saying?

Throw back a Seven and Seven for me, homegirl.

I got business in the mountains.

-T.

Never got a response, somehow…

Fuck it. Never look back.

“Forget all these fuckin people.”
“What?” Ellie asked.

“Let’s get out of town. I’m inviting myself on your backpacking trip.”

“Good. You can carry the tent.  You know my mom’s coming, right?”

“Sweet.”

“Shut up.” she said, amiably.

——-

Pinecrest itself is crowded, more a suburb than a mountain sanctuary.  Still, there are trees, and a lake, and no sirens or murders or junkies.  Ellie’s family has a cabin there, a place they’ve owned since the twenties.

Saturday morning we picked up wilderness permits and hiked six miles out from a place called Crabtree.  We had to cross several creeks and one serious river, portaging our packs across the roaring falls.  There were small bogs in the low spots, miniature swamps formed by the melting snow, filled with bugs and birds.

Once over the ridge, around 8500 feet, we stopped next to a frigid lake and set up camp on one of the flatter granite slabs.

——-

It was an idyllic couple of days, you know? Other than the swarms of mosquitoes.  It was sunny, and warm despite lingering patches of snow.  Doused in Jungle Juice and sunscreen, life was easy.

The water was freezing cold.  I got in for a minute or two, and came out blue and shaking even at high noon.  So cold it made your bones hurt, but it was a good, clean kind of pain.

Ellie wouldn’t go any deeper than her knees.

We hadn’t brought nearly enough food, and no alcohol.  We built a fire and listened to Ellie’s mom talk about birds.  I told as many mom-friendly jokes as I could muster.

It was good to be out of the city.

You can always count on nature to help you get your head straight.

——–

I headed out alone around 5pm, heading west on 108 through a whole string of impoverished mountain villages.  Jamestown.  Strawberry.  Soulesbyville.

Anybody who’s spent any time there will agree that the lower Sierras are the Appalachia of the West. They fairly teem with degenerates and savages, the inbred hillbilly offspring of miners and whores and Civil War deserters who moved here during the gold rush.  People whose great-grandparents lacked the gold or good sense to move the fuck away when the mines stopped producing.

Normally, nothing short of a military roadblock could get me to stop in one of these shit towns, but the cold mountain air and three days of near-starvation had made me bold, and foolhardy.  I stopped for pizza and a beer at place called Merv’s Shack, in Twain Harte.

I swung the door open cautiously, peering into the late afternoon gloom.  Red-eyed, wild faces stared back at me over their warm beers.  Ugly, angry men, all locals from the hills.  Unshowered, unshaven, dusty and sunscorched as I was, I still looked a hell of a lot healthier and saner than the creepy fucks I saw lurking in the dark of that dingy ass place.

I squared my shoulders and marched in.  Fuck it, I’m an American. I’ve got as much right to a piece of pizza as these backwoods beardos.

What’s the worst that could happen?

——-

Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in a booth surrounded by three of the ugliest and burliest of the ugly, burly dudes hanging around the bar.  They didn’t get much ‘new blood’ in the place, and wanted to ‘see what folks outside these parts was up to’.

I told them I lived in the City, and the fuckers thought I meant Sonora.

Hah.

“No, no, I mean San Francisco.”
“Wow.  The big city.  You know, we don’t typically take kindly to city-folk around here.”  said Wilbur, the fat one.

“Well Wilbur, I’ll tell you what, you’re the first person I’ve ever heard say ‘take kindly to’ out loud.”
His buddies thought that was hilarious.  They guffawed, spilling beer on their stained, foul overalls and pointing at Wilbur.

That’s good, Trevor, keep them laughing.  People who think you’re funny are much less likely to drag you to death behind a pickup truck and set your corpse on fire.

“It sure is hot up here.” I said.  It really was.  Even at five in the afternoon, the temperature in Oakdale and Escalon was approximately eighty billion degrees.  It was an awful, soulsucking heat, a heat that drains the moisture out of everything on the hillsides except the stubborn oak trees.

“Oh you wait till July, son, if you think it’s hot now.”

“Living in San Francisco, I forget summer even exists.  It seems like a myth, like fucking unicorns, or leprechauns.  It was 46 fuckin degrees on Wednesday.  In JUNE.  No joke.”

“Last August, old Silas here had two horses go crazy from the heat.  They ran theyselves straight into some barbwire and flailed around till they was strangled.”

“That’s awful.” I said, aghast.

They paused for a moment, then started laughing uproariously.

“THEM STUPID HORSES HAW HAW!”
“THEIR BRAINS COOKED AND THEY KILLED THEYSELVES HAW”

“You guys are fucking crazy!” I said, adding a smile to hide the panic in my voice. That made them laugh even harder.

I’m going to fucking die in this place, I thought to myself.

Going
to
die.

I drank some more of my warm beer.

———

“Silas, Wilbur, Everett… Let me ask you gentlemen something, if I may.”

I had told them every dead baby joke I knew.  They loved them, and by now we were the Best of Friends.  I wanted to leave, to flee the dim and grimey bar, but I pressed my luck.  What can I say, the freaks fascinated me.  How often do you get to spend time with honest-to-goodness inbred sociopaths in the mountains?

“Ask away, city boy.”

“What the fuck do you guys do?”

“Whadya mean?”

“Like for jobs. Or money, or whatever.”

“Haw I gotcha.  Well Silas here is a ranch-hand for sheepherders, when he’s sober.”
“Sure am.”

and Everett there was in Gulf War One long enough to shoot hisself in the ankle, so he gets government checks every month…”
“Sure do.”

“…and me?” The beardo leaned in conspiratorially, whispering.

“Me, well every six months or so my sons Harley and Winchester,” he pointed to two other, non-descript freaks sitting at the bar, who waved back, “and me, we hijack us a bus of Oriental tourists going in to Yosemite out near Groveland.”

“You what?”

“We take two old trucks and blockade the road there at the turnoff, and when the bus has to stop we charge the bastards with our huntin’ rifles.  We sell all their fancy Oriental electronics to some folks down in Modesto, and ransom the tourists back to China or wherever the hell.”

“No way.  I’d have heard about it on the news by now if buses were getting hijacked in Yosemite.”

“I ain’t lying, boy.  The rangers keep it hushed up cuz all their money comes from them tourists.  We’s always real careful, too.  Only had to kill five or six total in the last twelve years.”

I sat dumbfounded.  They were waiting for me to say something.  Say the wrong thing, Trevor, they’ll feed your ass to the turkey vultures.

I took a deep breath.

“Well, I’ll be honest with you Wilbur,” I said, “that’s fucking awesome.”  He grinned his rotten, snaggletoothed, hillbilly smile.  “I know for a fact that banditry as a profession has a long and proud history in these hills, and it warms my heart to hear you fellas are keeping the dream alive.”

“HAW HAW THAT’S GOD’S HONEST TRUTH RIGHT THERE HAW.”

They patted me on the back, and declared me a True American.

Jesus fucking christ, I really am gonna die here.

——-

“So you guys don’t have internet access?  No phones?  Nothing?”  I kept checking my cellphone, praying for a connection, for any kind of errant signal from the outside world I could use to call for help.

“No sir.  Some fella from Sonora came up one time in a telephone company truck, but Silas’ neighbor Humphrey shot’im right off the pole. Haw haw.”

“Thought he were a Russian Communist sent to put spy cameras on our power lines.  Old Humphrey sure is crazy sometimes HAW.” Silas snickered.  He pointed up into the gloom above the bar, and mounted between two stuffed deer heads was a Verizon hardhat with a gaping bullethole in the back.

“Let me ask you something.”  Wilbur said.  “Is you… Saved?”

Primitive though they were, I knew these Sierra folks had little use for organized religion.  Inherently distrustful of authority, books, and each other, their deeply rooted paranoia kept them away from churches.  Cults, on the other hand…  I had no idea what kind of freaky human sacrifice shit they had going on.  There was no right answer here.

Cannibalism, ritual mutilation, who knows.  They might even be Baptists.

I decided to go with the truth. Fuck it. When in doubt, be honest, I suppose.

“Well, I hate to break it to you, but I’m an atheist.”

They went silent.

Every mouth in the bar gaped.  I heard a fly buzz lazily through the evening heat. Now I really am fucked, I thought.

“A… a atheist?” Wilbur stammered.

“Yes.”

“Like… from that movie?” I had no idea what movie he was talking about.

“I suppose so.”

Their eyes just got wider.  The bartender slipped silently out the backdoor, a look of abject terror on his face.

“Can… Can you move things? With your brain?”
What the fuck?

“Uhhh…”

“Can you turn invisible? Do you have claws, and a admantangerine skeleton?”  Silas managed.

“No…”

“What about flying? Can you fly?”

I thought for a minute.

“Yes. Yes I can.  I can also burn things, with my mind.”

“WITH YOUR MIND?!”

“Yes.”

They stood, slowly creeping away from me, nearly paralyzed with fear and awe.

“Great Jesus God In Heaven, a real atheist!”
I leapt up on to the bench, then the table.

“I WAS SENT HERE BY THE ORIENTA… err… by the ASIAN COMMUNITY TO ENSURE YOU NEVER INTERFERE WITH THEIR VACATIONS AGAIN.”

“JESUS CHRIST!” Wilbur shouted, cowering.  Everett dove under a nearby table, while Silas wet himself, silent, mouth agape.

I roared, and did an au sem mau from the top of the table, the only remotely impressive capoeira flip I can do with any kind of consistency.

That really scared the hell out of them.  They shrieked in fear, and scrambled for the back door.

“LEAVE THE ASIANS ALONE, OR I WILL SET YOU ALL ON FIRE. WITH MY MIND.”

The screen door slammed behind them.  I finished my beer, and took an extra slice of stale pizza, baked during the Carter administration no doubt, for the road.

——

“I have no idea how they mixed up ‘atheist’ with ‘mutant’, or with the X-Men in particular.” I told Ellie later, recounting my near-death experience over the phone.  She and her mom were staying in Pinecrest for the rest of the week, enjoying the weather and the clean air.

“You are so full of shit Trevor.”

“NO I’M SERIOUS! It all happened. Seriously.  Fucking Twain Harte man. It’s a crazy, crazy town.”

“Whatever.  I’ll see you in a few days.”

“Fine, don’t believe me.  It happened.”

Ellie hung up.

It totally happened, though.

Seriously.

Would I lie to you?

-T.

Birthdays was the worst days

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , on June 9, 2008 by trevorgregg

Music – Lou Reed – Perfect Day

“Did you vote?” my friend asked me.
“Sort of.”
“How can you ‘sort of’ vote?”
“I mean I went down to the polling place and voted no on the stupid anti-rent control crap, prop 98, but I didn’t vote for any of the candidates.”
“Why not?”
“They’re all vermin.  Fucking scum of the earth.  It’s like voting for which incurable disease you want to die of, so I didn’t even bother.  Every damn day for the last three weeks I’ve gotten a fistful of fliers printed on non-recyclable cardstock telling me how ‘green’ the candidates are.”
“Yeah… that’s ridiculous.”
“I could shingle my fucking roof with them, I’ve gotten so many.” I sigh.  “I mean yeah, I despise Hillary and McCain and the rest of those scum, but shit, the farther down you go on the food chain, the worse things get.  The Senate is like Arkham Asylum half the time, the HoR is even worse.  Crooks and perverts, to a man. By the time you get down to local politicians, you’re talking about some serious degenerates.  People you wouldn’t let take care of your goldfish while you were on vacation.  Forget fucking integrity, or honesty; these people are barely mammals.”
“I hear you.”
“Remember that guy Ed Jew?  He ran his district like a fiefdom.  Literally.  And it’s not like that was a recent development, he’d been doing it for a decade.  The other supes are just as bad; the only reason he got the boot is that he pissed off the wrong people. Extortion and bribery are so ubiquitous in this city they’re considered standard operating procedure.”

“I heard from a friend of mine who works construction that they literally account for the cost of paying off inspectors and purchasing permits when they bid for jobs in SF.”
I slam my hands on the table, startling the people next to us.
“That’s exactly the shit I’m talking about, man.  And these fuckers get re-elected year after year. By us.”
“I hear you.  We’re basically a third world country, with way more money.”
“If I wasn’t so busy at work, I would totally revolt.”

——–

Day after day, the shit gets worse.  It builds up around you, getting in your eyes and your pores, infecting you, suffocating you.  Our farcical horseshit democracy.

I try not to read the news, or watch TV, or communicate with other humans.  Any one of the three is likely to turn me into a jabbering, profane, ultra-violent freakshow.  Just yesterday, on the bus, I heard someone talking on their cellphone about how sorry they felt for the Governator, what with his current budget ‘pickle’.  Like it was a random piece of bad luck, like he hadn’t brought it on himself with his own stupid ass politics.  I started frothing at the mouth, seizing, and might have beaten him to death with my laptop if some good samaritans hadn’t restrained me.  As it was, I called him a “steaming, worm-ridden heap of dumbshit”, and frightened him badly.  Some days the hatred, the disgust sits so close to the surface that the slightest disturbance can set me off.

Last night, overcome with insomnia, I plowed through a week’s worth of aggregated news. I figured a few nightmares, and perhaps some indigestion was a small price to pay, when the alternative was unrestrained violence and cursing if I read up during daylight hours.

Boy were there some fucking gems last week.

WELCOME TO THE FEEBFEST, BOYS AND GIRLS.

http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Proposed_US_ACTA_multi-lateral_intellectual_property_trade_agreement_(2007)

Rather than go through the normal process of crafting and ratifying a multinational treaty like this, which involves all this pesky “public input” and “oversight”, or heaven forbid actually LEGISLATING it, the content producers are backdooring this shit so they can start prosecuting before the fucking ink is dry.  Why risk delay or defeat when they can circumvent the democratic process all together?

Fuck you assholes for trying to force the genie back in to the bottle.  Grow the fuck up.  Technology exists, deal with it.  This is like buggy-whip makers outlawing internal combustion, but worse.  This is fucking hunter-gatherers trying to outlaw agriculture.   I don’t give a particular purple shit if every fucking record company goes broke or Tom Cruise has to panhandle.  Sacrificing things like freedom of speech or, worse, the fucking TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS OUR ECONOMY RELIES ON TO MAINTAIN OUR (MY) FUCKING EXTRAVAGANT LIFESTYLES for the sake of these fuckwads’ status quo paychecks is an abomination.

And guess who’s at the heart of this fucking nightmare?  Everybody’s favorite corporate puppet, a true douchebag among douchebags, Rep. Howard Berman D-CA, one of the scummiest Californians money can buy.  Fuck this guy with rusty rebar, folks.  His campaign contributions would be hilarious if they didn’t

MAKE
ME
WANT
TO
DIE.

Howard Berman:
Top four campaign contributions for 2006:

Time Warner $21,000
News Corp $15,000
Sony Corp of America $14,000
Walt Disney Co $13,550

Top two Industries:

TV/Movies/Music $181,050
Lawyers/Law Firms $114,200

AND HE’S A DEMOCRAT FROM CALIFORNIA!

All you high and mighty turdcakes that think the red-staters are ruining our country need to wake the fuck up and learn that UGLY GREED KNOWS NO PARTY LINES.  The Democrats are just as fucking despicable and corrupt as the Republicans are.  It’s two sides of the same filthy, shit-smeared coin.  The only reason I vote for them is that they are often, by the narrowest curly backhair of a margin, the lesser of the two evils.

If you live in the LA area and you voted for this guy Berman, my recommendation is you go out and set yourself on fire.

Let’s see what’s up next!

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/06/mccains-ties-to.html

AMNESTY FOR THE TELECOMS.  Now this is beautiful.  Defeated by the HoR, after making it through the cesspool that is the United States Senate, McCain has started championing this horseshit once again.

‘I’m a bad citizen and an idiot, Trevor, and have not KEPT ABREAST OF THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE BECAUSE I SUCK AT LIFE. What exactly is amnesty for the telecoms?’ you ask?

Well, it’s like this.  Companies like AT&T and Verizon are only supposed to allow wiretaps when a warrant exists.  Bush and his homeboys find things like ‘laws’ and ‘the Bill of Rights’ to be kind of a hassle, so when they decided to spy on Americans without any kind of due process, they just went for it.  I imagine their conversation went something like this:

“Hi AT&T.”
“Hi Mr. President.”
“We want to have wiretaps on anybody we want at any time, with no probable cause.”
“Do you have a warrant?”
“No.”
“Hmm… Well that is against the law, and we could be sued into oblivion if Americans ever found out… But what the hell, right? Come on over.”
“Sweet, thanks bro.  Don’t worry, if it gets out, we’ll go ahead and make our ILLEGAL AS FUCK DOMESTIC SPYING PROGRAM retroactively legal, ok?”
“Right on.”
“High-five.”

And so now that we all know about this domestic spying crap, people in the pay of the telecoms are trying to get this patently illegal shit made legal before the lawsuits start.

People like, though certainly not limited to, McCain.

And, since by some miracle the HoR managed pull its warty, balding head out of its ass long enough to shoot the Amnesty bill down, they’re working on circumventing the fucking democratic process as well, to get the amnesty enacted behind closed doors.

Die
in a
fire.

What other god-awful crap have you dug up for us this week, Trevor?  Other than the fact that we’re getting ready to bomb Iran?

How about this one:

http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=37179

It about speaks for itself. Jesus wept, friends.

FAIL.

———–

What people don’t understand about our royally fucked-up country is that the only way we stay afloat is with a system of checks and balances.

I know in school they teach you about Checks and Balances and the Three Branches of Government or some fucking shit, but that’s all a bunch of crap.  The teachers are in on it, too.  There are really only two branches of government, which are Lobbyists, representing corporations and the rich, and Bureaucrats, representing themselves and their bank accounts.

The REAL checks and balances that exist are between the two driving forces of American Democracy: Greed and Incompetence.

These are the pillars which support the weight of our fair nation.  These are our bread and butter.  All of you shaking your heads with pity in your eyes can just shut the christ up right now, because I am not, in fact, a cynic.  The thin line between a cynic and a realist ceased to exist a long, long time ago, before I was even born.

To be informed is to be cynical.

To be optimistic is to be braindead.

So Greed and Incompetence.  The greed moves things forward, at every level, from $300 a year library budgets in Nowhere, Nebraska to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Greed for money, power, whatever, is behind every redistricting, every single proposition on the latest ballot.  All the wiretapping shit, the ACTA treaty, the endless fucking disaster of campaign finance, Greed is behind all of it.

But never fear, Greed does not go unopposed.  The yin to Greed’s yang is just as widespread.  Incompetence.  Few Americans have any idea of the scope of our bureaucracy.  There are more politicians, more civil servants, more cogs in the machine than you can possibly fucking imagine.  Our self-perpetuating, all-devouring bureaucracy is huge. Huge and slow.  Especially in California, where every fucking flyspeck of minutae is managed by committee, and we have social programs out our proverbial ass.  And all but maybe 10% of the soldiers in this giant army of suits (and skirts) are totally incompetent.  Totally inept.  It takes twice as long, five times the manpower, and twenty times the money to get something done by the government than by the private sector.  Because government employees can’t be fired.  Because there’s no motivation for efficiency.  Because nobody gives a particular fuck about the money they waste.  About the lives they ruin.

These two forces are diametrically opposed.  Thankfully.  It’s only their eternal struggle that keeps America livable.  The greedy, the Cheneys and Roves and Dalys of the world, have the monumental task of spurring our incompetent, monolithic bureaucracy to action in order to have their greedy plans enacted.  It’s taken the better part of a decade for our administration’s fucking crack team of supervillains and sociopaths to turn Iraq in to the second most expensive war in the history of the human race.  Imagine what they could have accomplished if the bloated, corpulent beast they rode in to battle was faster, or more agile.  KBR would be even richer than it is, Exxon would be realizing even MORE record-setting profits than it already is, and the wholesale murder of harmless foreigners would be even more thorough and systematic.  We’d REALLY be fucked.

The incalculable inertia of our government as a whole, and when I say government I mean everybody from the fucking transit authority to the IRS to the NSA to the supreme court, prevents any one petty tyrant from doing too much harm.  They run out of terms or money or just up and die of Alzheimer’s before they get a chance to realize the fullness of their black, bloody dreams.  This is as true in every city council, every committee, every board, as it is in the White House.

Greed and incompetence, friends.  They’re all that keeps our collective head above the water.

What about the innocent, the idealistic, the champions of truth and justice that come out of the woodwork every once in a while?  How do they figure in to my fucked up scheme?

On the rare, rare occasion one becomes a threat to the Establishment, Greed and Incompetence team up, kill the bastard with baseball bats and bury him or her in a field.  Sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally.

Thus does the American Dream endure.

-T.

When you can’t bear to see

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2008 by trevorgregg

Music – Louis Armstrong – A Kiss to Build a Dream On

I shudder in the night. Fevered dreams and half-memories swirl about me, blurring the faint line between reality and nightmare.  I cringe from even the dimmest light or faintest sound.  My graying hair comes out in clumps.  My yellowed, twitching eyes can’t focus for more than a few moments.  I have cuts, gashes all up my arms.

My hand shakes uncontrollably, and it’s all I can do to put pen to paper tonight.

Even so, I find myself with a wolf’s grin, joyous and mad merely to be alive.  I’ve cheated death again.

Malaria?  Dementia?  Leprosy?

No.

Houseboats.

——-

As one prone to… exaggeration, or at least mild hyperbole, it’s hard for me to describe the houseboating experience accurately without coming off like a lying sack of shit, or a lunatic.  No way could the things you say be true, Trevor.  That stuff doesn’t happen in the first world. You’re just making shit up again.

And it’s my fault, I understand, for having blown things so out of proportion in the past.  I’ve nerfed my own credibility beyond all repair.

But honestly if I were to have gone to houseboats before Bay to Breakers, the B2B entry would have read something like:

“had a couple chill beers and went for a walk with some friends, and a table.”

as opposed to the bloated, profanity-littered monster it is.

The gap, the fucking GAPING BOTTOMLESS CHASM between the two back to back fiascoes… Jesus.

Bay to Breakers, with 100,000 drunk be-costumed retards marching around, is small motherfucking potatoes.  It’s bush-league.  Comparing B2B to houseboating on Shasta is like comparing a snowball fight at your grandma’s cabin to World War 1-era trench warfare.

No shit.

——

So much about houseboats I can’t put down on paper.  Some I can’t remember.  Some I won’t.  I’ve seen things… Horrible things… Things I can’t unsee.  And it would be wrong, immoral of me to pass that on to you unsuspecting bastards.  The burden of memory is my own.

Hell, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t relate the events in any kind of traditional chronological narrative.  We were fucking wasted for four days straight, without sleep or respite or refueling.  Trying to piece together a chronicle out of my own twisted fucking recollections and the four hundred digital photos on my hard drive would be a god damn herculean task.  I’d need a team of psychic investigators, satellite photos, the cast of CSI and at least one of the fucking Hardy boys just to figure out what we did on Friday night. Fuck that.

Plus everybody I ratted out for hooking up or smoking out or waving their unmentionables at passersby would probably be really pissed.

So you’ll have to settle for anecdotes, without context or continuity. Thank your lucky fucking stars.

——

It’s so easy to lose things, up on the lake.

Peter lost his sunglasses.

Mo lost her sandals.

Thousands lost their dignity, their self-respect, their innocence.

I lost my voice, and my faith in a just universe.

Yeah, it’s that kind of party.

——–

Friday afternoon, the sixteen of us hit Slaughterhouse Island for the first time.  Literally.  We come in at about 15 knots, with our inexperienced and frantic captain Sandy at the helm.

Not that getting on the island is any kind of small feat.  I certainly wouldn’t have taken her place.  Twenty mile an hour winds, a rough cross current, and she’s got to park a 22 foot wide floating building in a 25 foot wide spot.  The fucking thing steers like a blind autistic donkey even on glassy open water.

“There’s no way to do this gracefully.” I tell Sandy, who I keep calling Cindy because I’m retarded.  “No hesitation, no going in slow or we’ll blow right into the boat next to us.  We’ll swing around and grind our prop down to a god damn nub in the mud and probably kill fifteen people in the process. Not to freak you out.”

“Wait let me back up and line up again…”

“NO!” Justin shouts, waving his Bud around angrily.  “JUST FUCKING DO IT.”

Sandy looks close to tears.

“He’s right Cindy.” I say, soothing.  I hand her the pirate hat, for luck.  “Listen, sweetie.  You’re gonna line up with the spot, you’re gonna slam on the throttle, and we’re gonna Normandy this bitch.  Soon as you hit the sand, Peter and Blake will stake us in and we’re home free.”

She curses, and chews her lip.  “Ok.”

“HERE WE GO.” Vroom.

We hit the beach going way too fucking fast. A way, way over-eager Blake leaps from the second story down to the rocky shore and lands in a twisted heap.  So much for the docking crew. I laugh myself stupid.

“Is he dead?” Kim asks.
“NICE ONE BRO.” I hear Justin shout from the sun deck. “SWEET FUCKIN JUMP.”

Peter shoves his way past me as I writhe around, laughing, gasping.  “Good job Sandy. Let’s go stake in.”

——-

Peter, Justin and I wander the Slaughterhouse beach to reconnoiter while the others make dinner.  Neither of them have been here before, and have no idea what to expect.  Already, on Friday afternoon, several hundred boats full of riotous Oregon-staters are moored along the north shore.

“Look at all these fucking people.”
“This is nothing.  Wait till tomorrow. It’ll double, at least.”
Four dudes in oversized sombreros walk by us, each carrying two bags of wine. We scramble up the rocky, muddy slope and look down on the teeming horde below.  Down below us, I watch a chubby girl in a black bikini fall face first off the front of her boat into the shallow water, breaking her nose.

Justin walks up a few more feet, to the treeline.  The lake is so low that the trees we moored to in 2006 are more than a hundred yards up the hill from the current waterline.

“OH SHIT.”
“What?”
“THERE ARE TWO PEOPLE UP THERE FUCKING IN THE BUSHES!”

Sure enough, there were.

“Well, welcome to Slaughterhouse, fellas.  Let’s go meet our neighbors.”

——-

I find Alcorn and Lilley talking to a good looking but bitchy-voiced brunette downstairs.  They’re passing around a handle of tequila, and Alcorn is pouring some of every bottle he can get his hands on into a big ass blender.  It looks and smells like a chemistry experiment.

There’s a dude I don’t know wearing an eyepatch curled up under our table, passed out.

“Sup folks.”

They nod.

I wander up on deck and find Peter and Mo in the hot tub.

“Are y’all having a moment? Cuz that’s awesome and I’ll leave.”

“Nope, come on in.”

“Where’s everyone else?”

“Sandy and Kim and them went off to some neighbor’s boat.  I haven’t seen Becca or Blake for a quite a while.”
Eyebrows raise.
“Here Trevor, have some of this margarita.”
I take a swig.
“This is god awful.”
“I KNOW!” Mo claps her hands and smiles. “It’s so shitty.  Here, have some more.”

We three watch the sun go down behind the clouds, and we hear the blare of fifty conflicting stereos in the distance.  Our first night on Slaughterhouse begins.

——

Ranjit and I are passing the guitar back and forth, taking turns rocking the fuck out.  The girls sing along, except for Sandie and Becca who have passed out clutching empty cans of Coors Light.  They sit, slumped over like discarded puppets.  I have no idea what time it is.  Three AM, at least.

Two dudes in SOU shirts climb up our gangplank, asking us if we’ve seen their girlfriends.  We laugh.

Boozed out and howling, we butcher 90’s hit after 90’s hit.  Our neighbors are so young, they wouldn’t recognize most of these songs.  Even if we didn’t sound like shit.

But it’s good times.

Outside, the party rages.  Shouting, beats, shrieks, all the sounds of youth and chaos, fighting and fucking through the rain and dark.

I vaguely remember jumping off the kitchen table, guitar in hand, roaring out the chorus of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.

Then, black.

——-

I wake to silence.  The party has miraculously exhausted itself, and a brief quiet rests on the lake.  It’s maybe a half-hour before dawn. I hear the waves against the hull.

I look at my left hand, which is burned, and throbs.  I  wonder how that happened.

WHAM.

What the fuck was that?

WHAM DRAG.

“Peter, wake the fuck up.”  I shake him.  “PETER.”

WHAM DRAG.

“Somebody’s on the roof or something.”  Peter doesn’t stir.  I kick him. No effect. “Fucker.”

A pair of legs appear on the stairwell, wobbling.  “Justin? Blake?” I hiss out the front door. No response.

Fucking beer thief!  I grab my maglite and creep out under the stairs.  It’s cold as hell, but the rain has stopped.

The thief lurches down the stairs, one leg at a time.  He’s so wasted he can barely move.  I turn my maglite off.  He makes it to the gangplank, and stops for a breather.  I wait, shivering, unsure of what to do.

After a minute or so, he lets go of the deck and takes a wobbly step forward onto the gangplank.  Unable to maintain his balance, he pitches forward and faceplants hard in the red, gravelly mud.

“Oh shit!” I hiss, hand over mouth.  He struggles to his feet, tries to take a step forward, and tips backwards on to the gangplank, which rings like a gong when his head cracks on the aluminum.

“OH SHIT!”

He lays there, unmoving, spread eagle on our plank.

“Oh shit he’s dead. He fucking died.”  After ten seconds of beer-addled thought, my brain convinces me that we’re all going to jail for this.  Don’t ask me why.  Paranoia and cheap gin are a bad combination, I guess.

I silently slide the glass door open.  “Peter! Get the fuck up man I need you to help me hide a body!” Peter moans and rolls over. “MOTHERFUCKING PETER SERIOUSLY WAKE UP.” I shout, and shake him. I backhand him across the face. Doesn’t fucking stir. “Worthless.”

I go back outside to examine the body.  I creep close.  There’s no noise, except the creaking of the boats and the lapping of the water.

Inch by inch I approach the corpse.  It seems much colder out here, now.

“Muuaaargh!”  The corpse moans, and sits up.
“HOLY SMOKEY BEAR CHRIST.”  I screech, and jump back about ten feet.  “Oh fuck!”  The corpse ignores me, and struggles to its mudcaked feet.  I see two cans of Coors in the front pocket of its sweatshirt, both burst and frothing from the fall.  So much for the stolen beer.

The ghoul lurches forward, creeping on all fours along the shoreline towards the other boats. I dash inside and bar the door.  I grab a bottle of rum and curl up under the table.

“Did you say something dude?” Peter asks, in the dark.

“There might be a zombie outside.”

“Ok.” He goes back to sleep.

———

I wake again an hour later, at dawn.  Still very drunk.  Alcorn is up as well, fussing with buttons and trying to start the boat.

“What the hell time is it?”
“About 6:15.”

I hear the frat guys on the boat next door counting, shouting, doing keg stands.  I stand up slowly.

“Wake Peter up man, we have to get off the island.” Alcorn says.  He’s obviously several sheets to the wind himself, and he can only keep one eye open at a time.
“What for?”
“The cops come at seven. We have to get off the island.”
“Wait…”

Rusted, protesting gears start turning in my brain.  Sparks fly, pistons grind.  I remember. Then, panic.

“OH SHIT you’re right! I totally forgot about that, from last time.  We have to get out of here.”

The cops, ruthless backwoods sherriffs with shotguns and riot helmets, blockade the island with their little cruisers at seven.  Anyone unlucky enough to get caught in the net gets rounded up and put to work cleaning up the island.  I look out at the shore, at the piles of solo cups and broken bottles and ripped bikini tops.

“Fuck that shit. Get us started, we’re peacing the fuck out.”

Ten minutes later, with no small amount of punches to the head and shouting, I’ve got Pete out of bed.  I can see the Sherriff’s boats in the distance, motoring in at high speed across the cold water. We hit the shore and start prying the fifty pound stakes free.

“Faster faster faster, I’m not spending my whole day on some slave detail!”

The boat next to us, engine roaring, drags itself backwards off the beach, to freedom.  A shortish, black-haired naked guy sprints down the beach, shouting WAIT WAIT WAIT.  His friends laugh as he swims desperately out against the tide, trying to catch his boat.

Waist deep, shaking in the frigid water, we struggle with the stakes and knots.  Nothing sobers you up faster, at six in the morning.

We get the huge iron pieces out of the clinging mud and pull the plank in.  We wait in the red, murky water for Alcorn to get the boat started. A young man approaches us along beach.

He shakes, uncontrollably.  He takes slow steps towards us, moving one foot up and then placing the other next to it, like an old man.  He’s soaking wet.

He comes within a few steps of Peter and me, and we stare at each other.  He’s shivering so hard he can barely stand.  Red mud stains his ripped shorts and shirt.

“H-h-h-hey.”
“Hey.” I say.  Peter says nothing.
“C-c-can I sleep on your boat? I need a place to s-s-s-sleep.”

It dawns on me how fucked up this guy is.  Drunk and alone, abandoned by his friends, no doubt he passed out up in the trees somewhere and nearly died of exposure, out in the rain.  No exaggeration.  This kid doesn’t need a cup of coffee he needs a doctor.  The morning gets colder, and Peter and I look at each other.  Fuck.

“We’re shoving off right now, as soon as the boat starts. I’m sorry man.”

He’s awake. He’s standing.  Those are good signs.  If he was going to die, he would have died during the night, not now when he’s up around.

The sun’s even coming out.

He’s going to be all right. Right?

Right?

Fuck man.

The next boat down the beach is quiet.  They must not know the cops are coming. Must be first-timers. Their door is open.

“Here man, let’s go to our neighbor’s. You can rest there, but you need to stay awake and keep moving.  No drinking, no sleeping ok?”

I can’t believe how much he’s shaking. He can barely walk.  His body, betrayed by his dumbass freshman mind and its poor decisions, now refuses to obey his commands. His arms are non-functional, his legs in open revolt.

He doesn’t speak as we lead him next door.

That’s the last we saw of him.

———-

By the time we got back, Alcorn had the boat started.  We shoved off, Peter and I pushing the big floating box we call home, up to our necks in the cold lake.  We clambered back on board as the boat pulled clear.  On shore, the sherriffs had come over the hill, brandishing shotguns and bullhorns.  Pathetic chain gangs of hungover kids in boardshorts and bikinis picked their way along the shore, gathering trash.  Alcorn throttled up and we pulled around out of the cove, free.

We didn’t talk any more about the kid we’d seen. It started to rain, heavily.

Nicola woke up a few minutes later and made us all bloody marys.  We were drunk again by 7:30.

———–

Everyone was up and around by 8 or so, and we got into some heavy drinking.  Cold and exhausted from the night before, we really laid into that morning, playing round after round of dunk the Duchess and sipping tequila. There was nothing else for it.  Blake lost several rounds of Duchess, and decided to swim the half mile to shore.  We fished him out before he drowned.

I felt alright, considering.  At least until I drank a glass of water.  My internals, suddenly reminded that severe dehydration is not the natural state of things, cried out a protest, in chorus.

“Aaaaaah!” I moaned, “This water’s making me hung over, what the hell?!”

“Why are you drinking water?” Lilley asked. Blake, soaked and shaking from his recent attempt to drown himself, grabbed my shoulder and looked me deep in the eyes, as though preparing to dispense some sage advice.

“Why hang over when you can hang on?”  He handed me a beer.

Things went downhill from there.

———-

I tried to keep track, for a while, of how many beers we drank and how many hours of sleep I got.  After the second day, I was up to four hours of sleep and had long lost count on the drinks.

The world becomes distorted after a while.  I remember dancing up on the deck.  I remember backflipping off the waterslide.  There was a crash, at some point… with another boat… Eric cut his foot to the bone, somehow, and we sat around watching it bleed…

I remember watching a guy in flipflops fall out of a tree, somewhere. Possibly on Slaughterhouse.  We called him a dipshit, then offered him a bagel.

———

I woke up in the hot tub.  The water was filthy, and low, barely above my hips.  It was twilight.  Dawn or dusk, I’m not sure.  I was wearing a pair of oversized Gucci sunglasses and a captain’s hat.  I sat in the foul water for a while.  My mind was empty.  Kim came up on deck.

“Hey there.”
“Hey Kim.”
“What’s up?”
“Where are we?”
“I don’t know.  Everyone else is downstairs playing Kings.”

I looked around for a minute.

“I think I have scurvy.  Can you get scurvy in three days?”

“Probably.”

“I think I may die.”

“Maybe.  I’ll go make you a screwdriver.  That has vitamin C.”

“Yes.”

She went below.  I watched the horizon, looking for the sun behind the clouds, trying to figure out what time of day it was.

“Why don’t you get out of the hot tub?” Somebody asked.
“I lost my towel, and it’s cold out there.”

I planned to stay in the hot tub till we docked on Monday.  Kim came back with a screwdriver so strong it could have killed a draft horse.

“Hey Kim, did we eat yesterday? Like, food?”
“I think so.”
“Good.”

I passed out again.

——-

I woke up again on the couch downstairs.  We were back on the island.  Becca was wearing my hat.

“Why the fuck are you wearing my hat?”
“Is it yours?”
“Yes, and its good luck. Take care of it.”

I looked outside.  Out on the bow, Peter was shaking Ranjit like a rag doll, shouting at him.

“WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT TIME TRAVEL?!”
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT PETER.”
“WHAT’S A PARADOX? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?”

Peter’s lost it.  He’s gone fucking crazy.  I can’t deal with this.

I buried my head under an inflatable orca and blacked out.

——–

We were in somebody else’s boat, Justin and Mo and Sandy and me, and ten or so boat kids.

I have no idea what day it was.  I was drinking white port and lemon juice out of a coffee mug while the others talked.  I think it was night time.  I had my red pants on.

There was a familiar guy with a sombrero I half-recognized.

“What school do you guys go to? Any Greek?”
“Oh, we’re graduated. We live in San Francisco.”
“Graduated? Wait, how old are you guys?”
“26.”
“Holy shit, you guys are old.  Good for you guys, still out partying hearty.  I hope I still come here when I’m 26! Haha!”

Everyone laughed politely. Except for me.

“DON’T TALK TO US ABOUT PARTYING, SON.” I shouted.  I leaped up and grabbed him by his UCD sweatshirt.  Everything went red.  The kid looked terrified.

“Don’t mind him… He’s just…” Sandy started to apologize.

“I WAS TAKING SHOTS OF ABSINTHE IN THE JUNGLE BACK WHEN YOU WERE WATCHING BLUE’S CLUES! BITCH!” I shouted.  Fucking uppity kids trying to talk to us about partying, fuck that.  Goddamn rookies.

“I didn’t mean…”

“DID YOU KNOW THAT MY GENERATION, ME AND MY VENERABLE FRIENDS HERE, INVENTED THE WORD ‘PARTY’?”

He looked at me, wide-eyed.

“We invented beirut and flipcup and turned the word ‘party’ into a verb, motherfucker.”

Silence.  He stared at me with the vacant eyes of a reptile, or an econ major.

“YOU KNOW WHAT A FUCKING VERB IS?!”

“Kind of…”

“WELL GOD DAMMIT, BEFORE US ‘PARTY’ WAS A NOUN, NOT AN ACTION.  All you could do was ‘attend a party’ or ‘host a party’. Now, thanks to US… THANKS TO ME, YOU CAN ‘PARTY’.”

Mo was shaking her head, looking down at the floor. Justin was edging his way toward the door, ready to flee if the bottles started flying.

I whipped out a handle of Smirnoff I had filled up with plain water for just such an occasion, and pounded half of it without breaking eye contact.  His jaw dropped.

“THAT’S FUCKING RIGHT.  THEY USED TO SAY ‘ATTEND A PARTY LIKE A ROCKSTAR’.  YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING RETARDED THAT SOUNDS?”

My voice cracked. I was shouting myself hoarse.  The boat was silent. None answered.

“FUCKING REALLY RETARDED.”

I let go of his hoodie and took a couple of steps back.

“Now you kids need to learn to respect your elders.  Mo here alone could drink you all into rehab without a second thought.”  I started backing towards the door, picking up a box of oreos on my way out.  The kids stared, speechless.

I stepped out the door, Mo right behind me.

I stepped back in.

“WE WERE GETTING IN KNIFE FIGHTS AT STRIP CLUBS WHEN YOU GREENHORN MOTHERFU…”
“TIME TO LEAVE, TREVOR.”  Mo yanked me bodily out on to the deck, and marched me down on to the shore.

“MUCH LOVE, YOUNGSTERS! THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS! GOD BLESS THE CHILDREN!”

We were both laughing hysterically by the time we reached the bonfire.

We ate the Oreos and I met a guy from Corvallis who had DOUCHEBAG written on his cheeks in permanent marker.

He seemed like a nice guy. We talked about baseball.

———

We made a solemn pact to play Duchess at noon, every day, no matter what.

We did, and it nearly killed us.  On the second to last day, I found Alcorn hiding behind sleeping bags in a cupboard.

“THERE YOU ARE. It’s Duchess time dude.”
“No. Noooooooo. My everything hurts.  Just need a sleep for like ten minutes, maybe… lets wash a movie or see. You know?”

“You’re talking jibberish, brother.  Get the fuck up. The Duchess waits for no man.”

“I have to find some pants.  Any pants.  Ask if there are pants somewhere.  Oh jesus ok let’s go see alright go.”  Justin carried him up on deck, delicate and gentle, like a doting father.

He fucking played it through, though. Didn’t miss a round.  Like a man.

I’ll give him that.

———

It became a routine.  Wake up.  Run from the cops.  Drink.  Drink.  Drink.

Drink.

The tilt of the boat, the rocking, it becomes a part of you.  Such prolongued, relentless exposure to it all, the booze and the cold and the noise, and you get to expect it. To need it. To love it. You get back on land, you dry out, you get a decent amount of sleep and suddenly you feel like something’s missing.

I mean yeah, Slaughterhouse is a nightmare.  It’s a never-ending shitstorm.  People are crazy and out of control and awful.  It walks the line between stupid and dangerous.

Granted.

But in its own horrible, undignified, unbearable pathetic sort of way, it’s fun.  Like a car accident where by sheer fucking luck nobody gets hurt.

———

Near the center of the strip of boats on the island, some impetuous, well-funded fraternity set up 15 or so club speakers and a DJ station.  They brought big plywood dance floors, and long boxes for people to stand on.  They had lights, and a spotlight.

All night every night they blasted trashy hip hop and house.  The dance floors were filled with stumbling, gyrating people, spilling their beer and trying to dance themselves warm in the rain.

Mo and Justin had shoved their way up on to one of the boxes, a plywood and 2×4 monster about 15 feet long and 5 feet wide.  I was standing beside it, dancing with some girl in a white bikini.  She had been dancing with Alcorn, but he’d run off to piss and had given me a long, meaningful stare that said “Babysit this girl till I get back.”  Already the meatheads were circling like vultures around a carcass.  Angry glares would only keep them off for so long.

There must have been a sound.  A creak or a snap or something.  None of us could hear it over the music, though.

The box, soggy and unsafe and stressed far beyond its capacity, gave way.  I looked on in horror.  The girl in the white danced on, eyes closed, in intoxicated revelry.

Twenty odd people, each drunker than the last, dropped four feet onto the rocks below.

Visions of gore and carnage, or mangled limbs and twisted necks entered my head.  They’re all fucking dead.  I knew it, in my heart of hearts.

But then they were all standing, in the same positions they had been mere seconds before.  A little closer to the ground, but unhurt.  Not a scratch on any of them, Mo or Justin or anyone else.

Those that were sober enough to understand what had just happened, to grasp their luck, gave a cheer and kept on dancing.

All in the matter of a few moments.

A guy in a white pinstripe suit and neon yellow flipflops leaned over and shouted in to my ear.

“JUST GOES TO SHOW MAN, IF YOU’RE GONNA BE DUMB, BE LUCKY.”

Truer fucking words were never spoken.

Mo tossed me an unmarked bottle of some purple shit, and I drank deeply.  I took the girl in the white bikini by the arm and solemnly said “GOD HAS A SPECIAL PLACE IN HIS HEART FOR YOU DUMBSHIT KIDS ON THIS HERE ISLAND.”

Yeah, never saw her again either.

——–

The stage collapse must have been on our last night on the island.  Looking back through these photos, that seems right.  That night was so out of control… it was a crescendo of sorts, so it makes sense that it was the final night.

I remember Blake and Kim running past us, at some point. Kim was in tears, and said they’d been attacked by a lumberjack.  I didn’t even ask what the hell was behind that story.

Some time around dawn, Ranjit got it into his head that he wanted to take a picture of his own ass on Blake’s disposable camera.  He did it right in front of the sliding glass door.  I wasn’t there, but apparently several hundred saw, and applauded.

Peter and I got separated from Justin and Mo.  Justin had gone to try and climb up the boat with the speakers.  He told me he had an important speech he wanted to give.  He told me it was important to our nation.

Peter gave away a pair of tacky two dollar children’s sunglasses to some girl named Ramona, or Melinda or something, and realizing several hours later that his kindness was not in fact going to get him laid, he became furious.  He stormed from boat to boat, throwing elbows, trying to find ‘that greedy bitch that took my shades’.

Peter is generally mild-mannered, but when the sleeping giant awakes, and has had a few jaeger bombs… I think he finally caught up with her, but she’d lost the glasses, and Peter settled for throwing her boat’s couch into the lake and calling her a ‘two-faced hose beast’ and a ‘no-account floozy slut’.  I don’t even think they were his sunglasses, to be honest.

We also found a bag of weed the size of a god damn softball near the tree line.  I wanted to throw it in a bonfire, but I think Blake traded it to the murderous lumberjack for a keg of High Life.

I remember running through the night, being chased by some fat girl I’d spilled a drink on.  She fell down in the rocks every third step. I escaped with ease.

I remember telling Becca about it later.  “Listen honey, I’ve been training capoeira for near a decade now.  I might not be able to do a side flip, or beat up Kimbo Slice, but I’ve got the equilibrium of a god damn Olympic gymnast.  I haven’t fallen down once this trip.”

“That’s great.”

“I know.  You should have seen me out there.  I’m like a fucking mountain goat.  You seen Planet Earth? Fuckin just like that.”

She leaned over the edge of the boat and puked at that point.  So I left.

——-

Slaughterhouse is a little slice of hell.  God knows why people come.  Three thousand kids tie up to this crap island full of jagged rocks, quicksand, and red bogs.  It’s got mosquitos and cops and every thorny fucking shrub imaginable.  People swarm all over it, like ants, bleeding and pissing and screwing in the poison oak.  It’s awful.

It’s an unholy place, like the pet cemetary, or a concentration camp. You can smell the despair and the regret for miles, down-wind. When the water’s low it’s even uglier.

Never go there.

——–

I woke up at dawn and spent a half hour getting a piece of broken glass out of my foot with a kitchen knife.  The shore out front was littered with cups and beers and corpses and paper plates.

“Peter.”
“What.”
“This place is fucking crazy.”
“Yeah.”

I walked along the shore later, as the boats started shoving off.  The cops didn’t bother coming that morning, for whatever reason.  I didn’t question it. The methods and madness of those Redding swine aren’t worthy of contemplation.

The early light is unforgiving, and the people, the boats, the island itself all looked fouled, tainted.

Peter and I ran into a girl with a Save Darfur shirt on, in the middle of it all.  This struck me as infinitely absurd.

I told her she was perfect, and that she should never change.  She took it as a compliment.  I could barely speak as she walked away.

“That’s great.” said Peter.
“Mrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”
“What?”
I stared at the lake for a long moment, and looked back at the girl.
“Fuck Pete.  Seeing that girl… I think my brain just divided by zero.”
“Yeah. Let’s go get a beer.”

We walked together back to the boat.

“You know what?”
“What?”
“I’ve been so drunk for so long, I don’t think I can remember my social security number.”
“Yeah.  I don’t speak Spanish any more. I tried this morning.”
“Fuck.”

———

And so here I am. Back at home.  I’ve partied two, possibly three years off my life.  Without exaggeration.

Without remorse.

The older I get, the more I find I do not have the constitution for these things.  The other folks fair better.  Mo can be in a bikini and a pirate hat for five days, consume nothing but Molson Ice and trail mix, and be ready for work on Tuesday with nary a thought.

Not me.

I pay for every drop, for every moment, in blood.  I am weary to my bones.  I convulse.  My breathing is shallow.  I may not last the week.

Still, it’s beautiful to be somewhere without keys or a cellphone or a wallet or a shirt or a care for five days.  To cast off the evil rusty iron barbed shackles of adult life.

So what if Ranjit took pictures of his own ass?
So what if I may have mooned every boat that drove by, maybe screaming ‘You’re gay for looking!’?
So what if Sandy cougared herself a 19 year old whose name she’ll never know?

It happens to the best of us.

Fuck it, you know?

Who wants to live forever?

See you fuckers next year.

-T.

photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/trevorgregg/Houseboats02