Archive for August, 2008

Flash Dance Ass Pants

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , on August 25, 2008 by trevorgregg

Music – The Presidents of the United States of America – Peaches

Not much to do now but wait for the last coat of sealant to dry, so I locked up the Academy around four and walked over to 20th to meet up with a friend for a Sunday beer.  He was at some nameless back-alley bar / cafe hybrid with no sign, a hipster dive with dirty glasses and mismatched furniture.

His name is withheld by request, because apparently the cowardly bastard is afraid to be associated with me even in the internets.

I bought two Sierras and sat down at his table.

“Sup.” I said.

“One of those for me?”

“Fuck no I’m just saving myself a trip.”

“Nice to see you too. Ass.”

I sighed theatrically and passed him a beer.  A brown-haired twenty-something dude with a stupid haircut was singing songs on the jury-rigged stage, plunking along on his beater guitar.

“Haven’t seen you in a while, man.  Where have you been?”

“Shit.  Where haven’t I been. You hear about the academy?” I ask, idly picking flakes of red and yellow interior Behr latex off the back of my arm.

“The what?”

“Some friends I train capoeira with… we got together and rented a place.  We’re starting an academy.  Just up the way.”  He looks at me for a long moment.

“No shit?”

I hold up my paint and adhesive-caked hands by way of proof.

“No shit.”

“Wow, not what I expected when I asked where you’d been. That’s great man, congratulations.”

“Yeah, thanks.  We’re gonna rent space during off-hours to non-capoeira teachers.  Yoga and dance, stuff like that.  We’ve been renovating the place.  I’ve been there every night til one or two the last couple weeks.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah. Craziness. It’s a ton of work, but it’s fun in its own awful way.”

We sat there for a minute, listening to the douchebag Mission kid singing off key, his eyes closed.  He sucks, but is easily ignored.

“And I have motherfucking jury duty.” I say.

“Criminal or civil?”

“Criminal.”

He grimaces and shakes his head in disgust. He knows about the typical month-long SF criminal trial for even the most petty offense.  You can be tried, hanged and buried in most places in the time it takes an SF public defender to agree to a jury selection.

“When they interview you, just say you hate black people. Or gays.  Or any kind of minority, really.”

“Really?”

“Yep.  Works like a charm, even if you say it jokingly.  Either that or just act really intelligent and informed.  I know that’s a stretch for you, but no defense attorney risks having bright people on his jury.”

“Nice.  Good plan.  Cuz fuck having two jobs AND jury duty; something’s gotta give.”

“You’re a busy man nowadays, Trevor. Much in demand.”

I glare at him.

“Apparently.  Oh, and I’m sick as hell.  I had to take a fistful of Dayquil just to get out of bed this morning.  I think caught some kind of hyperflu SARS shit while reporting for jury duty.  That’s my karmic punishment for doing my Civic goddamn Duty.

You ever been to the Hall of Justice? Down on Bryant?  What a shitshow.  It’s this whole filthy hive of cops and crackheads and lawyers and shit.  Screaming and spitting and wrassling around in the corridors.  It’s like a fucking livestock auction, but instead of selling animals they’re selling junkies.  And the 27, the bus you have to ride to get down there? I probably caught forty-six kinds of hepatic super-rabies just setting foot on that foulness.”

“Damn.”

“And, remember that fucking… that cut I got on my foot? When I stepped on the broken glass at houseboats? There’s still a sliver of glass in there, worming its way deeper and deeper towards the bone.  Gonna have to have surgery to get it out.  Hopefully before I get gangrene and die.

I went out to the Richmond and saw this foot doctor, this Russian guy with tattoos on his neck… Really weird, weird dude.  Leave it to Blue Cross to send me to some third-world motherfucker out in the Richmond at 33rd and Boonies.”

“Fuck man.”

“I’ll say. I am unbelievably burned out.”

We drink a while.

“No wonder you’re looking such a raggedy bastard today.”

“I hate you.”

“At least you’ve got your POSITIVE FUCKIN OUTLOOK, man.”

I laugh.  “That’s just because I’m high on paint and varnish fumes.”

“Whatever it takes to get your head in the right place.”

The bar, the neighborhood is quiet today, and abnormally empty.  Even for a Sunday afternoon.  One day is indistinguishable from the next for the hipster vermin that live down here in the lowlands.  Without the boundaries created by jobs or school or serious concerns, the Mission hipster inhabits a perpetual weekend, unconcerned with the passage of time.

My mental metaphor for them is a retard tracing lines on a paper Moebius strip.

“Where is everyone today?”  I ask, looking out the door in to the sunny alley.

He shrugs.

“Probably the concert in the park.”

“Ahh, yeah.  I heard they gave up checking tickets after the first three hours on Friday, so I’m sure half the city’s crashed the party by now.”

I’ve run in to several friends returning from various stages of the Outside Lands fiasco over in Golden Gate Park.  A couple hundred-thousand people in a muddy park with laughable sanitation facilities and ZERO public transportation? For three days? What could go wrong?

My roommate, Molly, came back around four AM the night before, cursing and furious and bleeding from a gash on her leg.  She told me horrid tales of destruction and chaos, of towering mountains of loose garbage and human waste.  The fences were torn down in the first five minutes, she says.  Eighty-five bucks and she could have walked in for free once the walls fell.

Probably the first time Radiohead has ever played a prison riot.

I fully expect them to cut their losses and just napalm  everything west of Stanyan by tomorrow morning.

“Yeah, makes for a quiet afternoon down here in the Mish.  Just us and the Mexicans. And this assbag on stage.”

“That’s beautiful. You’re a fucking poet, man. Cheers to that.” I say, raising my glass.

—————

We drink a while and tell stories.  It feels good just to sit down for a bit, even though I’m sick and exhausted.  This whole life of full-tilt craziness sort of snuck up on me, and I’m still adjusting.

I tell him a story from my friend Lindsey, a teacher, who recently saw her vice principal arrested on the six o’clock news for ‘pimping’.  The story, though stupefying and seemingly unbelievable, is the kind of thing you become accustomed to living in this freako cesspit ruin of a city.  I hear about a high school vice principal going to jail for pimping, and the only thing that makes my jaw drop, that leaves me completely incredulous is that they actually use the word ‘pimping’.  In a press conference.

I can’t believe that is the actual legal term for… you know… pimping.  The fact the verb ‘pimp’ is a cognate between modern American English and Orthodox Lawyerese cracks my shit up.

I chuckle now just thinking about it.

My buddy’s roommate shows up for a while, and mentions something about the recent wave of armed robberies of restaurants in Oakland.  In this age of identity theft and imbezzlement and white-collar corruption, I find it strangely comforting that there are still places you can go in Oakland to have a gun waved in your face and your wallet snatched while eating pizza.

Masked gunmen. Holdups. It seems traditional. All-American.  Almost quaint.

“They fucked up now though.” I say.  “They hit some fancy place in Piedmont, some ritzy spot full of Cal alumni and Prius drivers.”

They nod.

“That’s true.  You can get away with robbing people downtown for months on end, but you start scaring the Berkeley Gentry and they’ll hunt you down and kill you in the street, like a dog.  Oakland police know who signs their paychecks. You don’t fuck with that tax bracket.”

We talk about our lives for a while, each secretly pondering a career change to Baretta-toting restaurant bandit.

I bitch for a while about the particulars of academy business, and they politely listen.  Contracts and work orders and meeting agendas… Strange, ugly, adult words pour out of me. They grate against my sensitive ears, and I keep shaking my head, finding my own worries and tribulations reprehensible, mundane.

I suppose that’s the devil’s due for endeavors like our academy.

It’s a dirty lie that fortune favors the bold; in truth, the jealous bitch smites them with paperwork, drowns them in minutae, and crucifies them with responsibilities.

Oh, you have the audacity to create something cool and beautiful and pure? asks Life, with contempt.  Here, fill out these forty-six forms in triplicate.  Make twelve trips a day to Home Depot.  Leave voicemails with these ten-thousand eternally unreachable petty bureaucrat assholes, begging pitifully for their blessing and signature.

Jump day after day through these endless fucking hoops.

“So what have you learned, so far?  In this whole academy business?”

I think for a moment.  A million glib answers pop into my head, followed by one absolute truth.

“I’ve learned I never want to pick up another goddamn paintbrush.”

“A life lesson duly earned.”

———

Two pitchers later and we’re seriously riled up, full of cheap beer and anti-Missionite (missionary?) sentiments.  My friends have spent the last half hour discussing the logistics of putting bumperstickers that say ‘The Environment is Gay’ on every bike from Duboce to Silver in the course of one night.  It’ll never happen, I tell them.  That’s some unrealistic shit.  It’d require mythical Santa Claus-like delivery speed to cover so much territory in one night.

Our too-tight hoody-wearing pouty-faced entertainer moans out one last tune.  This song is about Valencia street, about the warm light and the smell of foreign cooking and the lively nights.  All kinds of unbearable sentamentalist crap. It makes me wince.

The singer gets down off the stage a few minutes later, walking awkwardly through the thin audience.  Nobody applauds.

He walks by our table.

“Hey dude, sit down a second.”

He looks at us, wide-eyed, but too conditioned to obedience to ignore an authoritative voice.

“Listen man, can I give you some advice?”

“…Sure.”

“You seriously suck.” His face is expressionless.  I continue. “Now I know that doesn’t really sound like advice, in the traditional sense, but it is.”

“…Ok.”

“When you go back home, back East to whatever liberal arts college town you come from, you can sing that song.  And it’s fine, and I hope it gets you laid.  But seriously, here? Come on man. Go outside. Tell me what you smell.

“What?”

“If you go out this door and into the alley, you do not smell fresh empanadas cooking, or chilis and garlic roasting, or any of that.  You know what you smell?”

“… I don’t know…” He says, looking down at the table, his fingers clamped and white with tension on his guitar neck.

“You smell junkie piss.  Now I like the Mission as much as the next guy, except for the people, but honestly… I mean you have to admit, it does smell like piss.”

My friends nod.  “Junkie piss.” The roommate corrects me.

“See?”

We stare at him, and he nods nervously when he realizes we’re waiting for a sign of understanding.  He tips his head forward, trying to hide behind his stupid bangs.

God I loathe hipsters.  However, I feel I may have crossed the line in torturing this poor timid little shitbird. And I am not, by nature, a cruel man. Especially not on this warm Sunday afternoon.

“I’m sorry for the harsh words. But you can totally redeem yourself, man.  You’ve got potential.  Just stop going to the fucking Hotel Utah or whatever and doing Open Mic Night with those whackjobs.  That’s a dead end.  Go home and learn to rock, then write some awesome songs and get rich selling them on iTunes.” I say, sloshing my beer around emphatically.

“It’s Just. That. Easy.” My friend adds.

“You can start tomorrow!” I shout.

“While the rest of us are at work! At our jobs!”

I offer the guy a beer of reconciliation, which he declines before rushing out into the alley.

“You know what I really do love about the Mission?” My friend asks.

“The smell of junkie piss and fresh pupusas?”

“No.  That your skinny ass can be so wonderfully honest, you know, with a stranger, and have no fear of getting in to a fight because of it.”

“Hard to fight in those tight jeans.”

“Don’t I know it.  You see a guy like that, a guy in need of some serious fuckin…” He waves his hands around, trying to jump-start his somewhat drunken thought process, “fuckin… peer guidance. Peer guidance, and you can offer it to them.  In friendship.”

“I see what you mean.  You can tell some guy he sucks. Constructively, of course.”

“Exactly. And what’s he gonna do about it?”

“Probably go write about it on his stupid blog.”

We all laugh.

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