Archive for April, 2009

Bugs all in my meal and deities all in my reception

Posted in Blog on April 21, 2009 by trevorgregg

Music – R.L. Burnside – Shake’m On Down

We are lately stricken with what certain pussies and whiners have referred to as a heat wave.  Pale and fallow from a life of drinking Racer 5 and smoking cheap cigarettes indoors, the hipsters remove their Humphrey Bogart hats and their Clark Kent glasses to wipe their brows with their tattooed forearms, moaning that they “just can’t take it.”  88 degrees in the sun is not a hellish inferno, wussbags.  You’ve just developed Stockholm syndrome with our unpleasant, endlessly shitty weather.

It might be a little more bearable if you took off your undersized leather jacket or that Siouxsie and the Banshees sweatshirt with the safety pins.

God I fucking hate hipsters.

——

We hit the beach early on Saturday, Ellie carrying our stuff and me followed by a little army of sandy children who were fascinated by the ugly colors of my wrecked leg.  It’s purple and yellow and, in some places, a wretched shade of green.  A total mishmash of disgusting hues and decidedly unfleshy tones.  The sort of monstrous camouflage pattern you’d want on your uniform if you were going to fight the reanimated dead in the underworld.  I move slowly, limping along even more pathetically in the deep sand.  Unable to outpace them, I was forced to curse and intimidate the children.

“Why is it that color?”
“Can I touch it?”
“Why is it purple?”

“Get the fuck out of here, kids.  Don’t your parents teach you not to talk to strangers?”

“How come your leg looks puffy?”
“Where’s your ankle?”

“BEGONE! I have mace!”

They reluctantly dispersed, and we found the rest of the capoeira folks amongst the throngs of beachgoers.

——-

“I can’t believe how hot it is.”
“Nice.”
“What?”
“You mean ‘nice’.”
“It’s hot as hell out!” Lindsey said.  I peered at her over my sunglasses.
“It’s fucking perfect out.  You’re at Ocean Beach without a drysuit and a snow parka, for christ sake! That is the very definition of nice weather.”
“That’s true.  I’ve never been here when there weren’t forty mile an hour winds.”

Ocean Beach, on the three days a year you can go there without earmuffs and a scarf, is an amazing cross section of San Franciscan life.  Most of the rich drive their Audis up north to Baker, or up to Pt. Reyes.  The crackheads don’t go to the beach, because they’re crackheads.  That leaves the Rest of Us which, on a 90 degree day in April, amounts to a god damn lot of people.  Thousands and thousands.

Families, high school kids smoking weed and stealing beers from their neighbors coolers, twenty-somethings playing volleyball, creepy isolated middle-aged dudes with binoculars and wolfish grins… all in all, a great scene.  I watched two ghetto kids, sweating like pigs in their oversized jeans and Giants jerseys, dragging their wheelchair-bound friend through the dunes and up to the water’s edge. I saw a guy on a twenty-thousand dollar ultralight road bike almost crash into a couple Harley-riding lesbians when he was distracted by a passing bikini.  Far up the slope from us, near the parking lot, several overdressed Mission kids sat in clumps or alone.

“What the hell do they do up there?”
“Smoke.  Complain about the heat.  If they’re alone, they write in their journals.”
“Why?”
“They think if they look off meaningfully into the distance and the great blue Pacific, it’ll make their drivel better. Cuz that’s what writers do in the movies.”
“Huh.”
“Maybe if they look mournful and serious enough, God or The Fates or a publisher will recognize what a Serious Artiste they are, and their blog will be optioned and they’ll Really Make It.  Assholes.”

We drank for a few minutes, quietly enjoying the crowds and the sun.

“Wait Trevor… don’t you have a blog?”
“Who the fuck told you that?” I asked derisively.

I got up and hobbled off to play catch with Herbert.

——-

It was too hot to sleep on Friday, so after class we went out to drink and play pool.  Ellie and Molly both had friends staying the weekend, making our apartment a sort of overcrowded youth hostel.  Rather than wait in line for my own bathroom or make smalltalk with the random people hanging out in my kitchen, I stayed out with the AAC crowd despite my aching leg.

“I’m not saying I’d change my vote, I’m just saying he’s doing like a C, maybe C+ job of getting our country out of our current downward fail spiral.”

“He’s got a lot to handle…”

“No excuse.  We wouldn’t give a Republican that kind of leeway, we shouldn’t give it to Obama either.”  I said.  I was two beers past Indignant, approaching Outraged, but still about four short of Jovial Apathy.  “He hasn’t done shit to fix the underlying problems with our economy, he’s royally screwing the pooch with these DoJ appointments, and he’s straight-up 180ed on this illegal wiretapping shit.  We aren’t talking about the fucking vague intricacies of treaty negotiations or public policy here, these are serious and clear cut fuckups.”

“Oh whatever.”

San Franciscans don’t do well when confronted with the shortcomings of Our Guy, St. Barack the Wise and Multiracial.  They stop short of cussing at you, saying you hate Amurrica and Jesus which is more than you can say for the neocons, but they still get defensive quick.

“Certainly he’s an improvement over our last nightmarish ruler, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold him to some kind of standard.  He’s got the chance to do something more than uphold the Fuck The Citizenry status quo, I expect him to go for it.  And he’s not.”

“He hasn’t been in office that long…” I sighed, and waited to take my shot.  I’m an erratic, totally inconsistent pool player, often terrible and occasionally brilliant.  Alex, my teammate, was thankfully more reliable and we were beating a couple biker dudes handily.

“I realize you can’t put it all on him.” I said, sinking the nine decisively.  “I realize that in reality the government is a gargantuan fucked-up hydra of a thing, and that he can only exert a modicum of influence over certain parts of it. But…”

“But what?”

I scratched, missing the five completely.

“But god dammit, fucking Barack should know better.”

“You should write a letter.”

“Right.”

“Really!”

“Yeah I’ll do that as soon as I get home.  I’ll print out a couple of NY Times articles, take a sharpie and just write ‘WTF bro’ across the top and send it to the Whitehouse. I’ll be America’s catalyst for change.”

“Yep.”

“That’s fucking democracy in action right there.”

“Whose shot is it?”

——

Depressing political shit:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/04/obama-doj-worse-than-bush
http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/04/obama-taps-fift.html

Must be the season of the witch

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , on April 17, 2009 by trevorgregg

Music – 13th Floor Elevators – You’re Going to Miss Me

Bennett’s place is one of those rare Nob Hill apartments with a halfway decent backyard.  Big enough for a barbecue, at least.  The building itself, much like my own apartment, was built about half an hour after the 1906 earthquake and hasn’t seen a lick of maintenance since.  Maybe a paint job half-completed before the painters were drafted for WW2, a fresh lightbulb here and there in the 80s, a wireless router duct-taped to the kitchen ceiling, but not shit else.  It’s obviously been inhabited by ten generations of callous, post-collegiate bachelors who’ve treated it like a fifty-peso hooker.  Layers upon layers of flyers, posters, and stolen roadsigns have accumulated on the walls.  The stacks of Maxims and old New Yorkers have become structural, becoming impromptu reinforcements for the bowed walls and taking the place of various long-snapped table legs and chair backs.  Scraps of rug or possibly old clothes barely cover the naked wood floor.  The interior smells like a Phish tour bus crashed into a Budweiser factory, and there’s a hole the size of a cannonball in the dry-rotted back stairs. The cracked toilets run and a hissing wind blows endlessly through the gaps in the windows. I love apartments like this.  Decades of abuse and neglect give them a wonderful, unique character.  You could cut a cross section of the wall out and, assuming the whole shit didn’t collapse around you and kill you instantly, you could study the layers on it like the rings on an ancient redwood tree.

I tell Bennett I like his place, and start asking him about it.  I’ve only lived here a while, he tells me.  You should talk to that dude Phil, he’s been here the longest, I think.

That’s how these places work.  Leases, if they exist at all, are administered irregularly by somebody named That Dude Phil, who proceeds to collect rent in various forms of specie, drugs and bartered goods before getting arrested or moving away or just disappearing, thus passing the lease on to the next longest term inhabitant, usually The Other Dude Phil who becomes the de-facto house leader.  The current Phil looks like Philip Seymour Hoffman, if Philip Seymour Hoffman were to scalp a rockstar and tape their ratty unwashed hair to his balding head.  He’s too old to be living in a place like this and no doubt owns way too many XXL black tshirts.  He has the uncanny ability to make any female between the ages of 8 and 80 feel creeped out just by being in the room.

We’re sitting around a patio table with a cracked glass top drinking some expensive brownbottle beer Eric brought.  I’ve got my disgusting, swollen cankle propped up on an overturned garbage can and my crutches leaned up against the table.

“Your leg looks fucking gross dude.” Matt the musician says.  He’s right.  I kicked a guy at capoeira on Friday so hard I thought I’d broken my shin.  Now it’s swollen and full of blood, looking like a mottled honeybaked ham jammed in a black sock.  It hurts like a fuck but I’m drinking through the pain.

“Yep.  Glad it’s not broken though.”

“Hope the other guy was wrecked.”

“No such luck,” I tell them, “fucker was fine.  He was a bigass Swede though, all meat, where as I’m basically a skeleton with hair.  I don’t take hard impact well.”

It feels great to be out of the house.  Being immobile somehow increases my sensitivity to cabin fever a billion percent, so when Alcorn invited me I eagerly crutched myself up the two steep and inconvenient blocks to Bennett’s.

We drink and talk for about an hour, talking about music and unemployment and that girl they found dead in a suitcase in Tracy.

“Half of my office has already been laid off.” Matt the lawyer says.  “I know I’m next.”  This is his paranoia speaking.  He just got done telling us he has self-diagnosed MS and Parkinson’s since he has lost feeling in his pinkie finger.

“You know it’s not that bad.” says Matt the musician, who’s unemployed.  “I’m on unemployment…I get to play a fucking lot of golf… I can go drinking on Tuesdays…”

“My buddy got laid off in January, and his family’s got a cabin in Tahoe. That asshole has been on the slopes every weekday for three months.  Unbelievable.”

“Yeah.”

“I went up and saw him on the weekend, and he wouldn’t stop talking about how shitty and crowded it was.”

“There’s no skiing like Wednesday skiing.” says Alcorn.  It’s true.

“Paul Shandi, you remember that guy?” I say “He’s furloughed two days a week and he spends his free time hustling rich people at the driving range a la White Men Can’t Jump.  Which is uncharacteristically awesome for him.  Funemployment’s doing wonders for that dude.”

Matt the lawyer tells us everyone in his office gets nervous whenever a staff meeting is called.  People are getting desperate, and crazy.

“It’s lean fucking times when lawyers start getting laid off.  You’d think you guys would be in demand right now, helping all these white-collar assholes fight for the scraps.”

“Now you got me worrying.  Laywers getting fired is like vultures dying during a drought.”

We drink some more.  None of the girls have shown up yet, so we talk with the casual offensiveness and black humor we’re forced to hide in polite company.  Eric threatens idly to plan a camping trip.  The Matts and I talk about how much the Pixies rock.  At one point Bennett has to hop the fence and climb his neighbor’s rickety fire escape after realizing the door shut behind him and locked us all out.

I realize, about halfway through beer five, that I’m having a great time in spite of my mangled leg.  I don’t mention it, afraid of spoiling the mood.

We discuss the feasibility of turning to piracy like the Somalis, should things get truly desperate.  Eric and Alcorn have both driven houseboats before, and I’ve shot a gun, and Bennett’s got a skull and crossbones flag, so we decide the capture of an oil tanker en route to the Bay is a feasible and realistic Plan B.

I explain to them my theory that our current economic woes were pre-ordained by Fate, that our generation is particularly well-equipped to handle a severe financial crisis.  Our non-existent work ethic and willingness to waste endless hours drinking and playing videogames makes us perfectly suited to prolonged periods of unemployment.   This is our Vietnam, I say.  We can rise to the challenge, we can all do our part by playing Halo and shooting pool and screwing around on the internet til the situation resolves itself.  Yes we can.

The clouds roll in and it gets bitterly cold by 4pm, because that’s just how things go in San Francisco.
Bennett’s girlfriend shows up, rushing into the back yard to avoid “Sketchy Phil”.

I ask why the two director’s chairs set up around the barbecue have MONASTERY printed on them in big official letters.  Nobody knows, but Bennett pulls out another one that says POISON OAK.  I love your fucking house, I tell him, but I didn’t bring a jacket and it’s time for me to take my leave. I scramble down his front stairs and head home before I get too drunk to work my crutches.

They can put a man on the moon quite easy

Posted in Blog with tags , , , on April 4, 2009 by trevorgregg

Music – The Clash – London Calling

There’s a lost continent in the Pacific.  I read about it a couple of years ago in the paper.  About the size of Rhode Island, the article said.  Far from major shipping lanes.  A solitary oasis of sorts in the world’s largest, bluest desert.

It’s really there.  Look it up.

It’s the kind of thing you hear about and forget almost immediately.  It’s an aberration, a thing that seems so untrue your brain refuses to spend resources remembering it.  No way, says your subconscious.  I call bullshit.  For both our sakes, let’s pretend we never heard anything about this obvious fiction. This obvious myth.

Sometimes the truth runs so perfectly perpendicular to one’s understanding of reality that disbelief is only natural.

Reality has little regard for one’s beliefs, however.  And the place is there.

I met someone who’s been there.  Stood on its improbable shores.  My friend Henry’s ex-girlfriend has seen it with her own two eyes.

She mentioned something about it while we were all eating yellow curry at Kennedy’s late one night.  No finer curry to be found at 4 AM on a Thursday, by the way.

I’ve heard of that place, I said. Referring to the lost continent. Not Kennedy’s.

Oh yeah?

Yeah I read an article about it.  I heard it’s the size of Rhode Island.  She laughed, unimpressed.

Try again.

Bigger?

Much.

How big is it?

About twice the size of Texas, depending on the time of year, the weather conditions.

Bullshit, Henry said.  They’d been broken up only a short time at this point, and he tended to disagree with her on principle.  I can’t remember why we were all hanging out that night, but they were still at each other’s throats pretty much constantly.

No bullshit.  I’ve been there.

How come nobody talks about it? Or sees it on satellite photos? I asked.

They do.  In certain circles, it’s a big deal.  Most people don’t care, though.  It’s not exactly hidden, she said.

Henry shook his head, sneering, mumbling something about Google Earth and the space shuttle.  He left to join the others at the pool table.

What’s it like, I asked.

——

She was an oceanography grad student.  Not a lot of opportunity for field work, she told me.  You fight tooth and nail for grants, cheating and threatening your way onto research ships, commercial shipping vessels, rich people’s private yachts.  Anything that will float you where you need to go.

After a year in Hawaii studying climate change, she managed to bribe her way onto a marine biology research ship studying humpback migration patterns in the Pacific.  Most of the crew were grad students were from South America, but the vessel actually belonged to a firm in Mexico City.

I spoke no Spanish, she told me, but I managed to trade the biologists a case of stolen champagne and a bag of crappy weed to take me with them back towards the west coast of North America.  The captain was a grizzled old prospector-looking Mexican who was sick to death of following whales around.  I think he brought me along just to have somebody onboard who didn’t talk about cetacean breeding habits day and night.  Either that or he just wanted to practice his English, which was surprisingly good.

We sighted it about eight days out from Honolulu.  We were zigzagging along some vague route decided moment to moment by the endlessly arguing biologists.  From a distance, it’s very hard to spot.  It’s huge but it’s not particularly tall, and if the sun hadn’t been just right that afternoon, we would have blown right by it.

I convinced the captain to head for it.  I think he and I were the only ones who suspected what it was.  The grad students would never have agreed to turn south, as the sun began to set, had they known what lie ahead.  It is a biologist’s blackest nightmare, after all.  A dead, poisoned place.  Empty and bleak.

That night the Captain and I stayed up late working diligently on the case of champagne, joking and saluting each other as brave explorers of a new land, conquistadors fearless in the face of all danger.

Our new world needs a name, I said.

Indeed! He raised his bottle. Basuraland?

Craplantis?

Montez?

You sure you want a place like that bearing your name for all eternity, Captain?

No, no you’re right, senorita.  Better stay away from that.

I’ve got it, I told him.  New New Jersey.

The Captain laughed so hard he spit up half his champagne.

Haha, Captain! I see you’ve been to New Jersey!  You didn’t tell me you’d braved such hostile shores before.

The shrieking biologists woke us up the next morning.  I had a brutal, brick-to-the-head hangover and was in no mood for howling, hair-pulling Latin hysterics.

POR FAVOR SHUT THE FUCK UP I yelled, to no effect.

The Captain dragged me out on deck a few minutes later despite my protests.  The view quieted me.

——-

So it was big? I asked her.

Endless.  Endless.  It stretched to every horizon, even behind us.  It looks more like a prairie than an ocean, apart from the swell.  The only place you could tell that it was made up of individual pieces is where the hull of the ship cut through it.  It was like very soft ice.  Sickly yellowish ice.

Really?

Yes.  The image you have of it in your head, of this big mishmash of colors and logos… it’s not that.  The sea and the sun turn everything the same soft, ugly yellow.  Like old people’s teeth.  And it’s very uniform.  Not like a landfill.  From more than thirty, forty feet away, you can’t even tell that it’s all garbage, all plastic.

Wow.

Yeah.  Much more like a prairie.  An endless, dead, yellow prairie.

——–

Once the Captain calmed the biologists down, assuring them that the ship was in no danger and explaining what a valuable experience this could be for the ecologically minded, we headed onward.

We traveled slowly, at less than a quarter speed.  I think the Captain was concerned about getting stuff caught in the prop, or hitting some unseen obstacle below all the junk.

For the first day or two, though, we cut through the waste like butter.  The stuff parted around the prow and, except for a small wake, just sealed up behind us.  Out on the edge is mostly bottles.  Two-liters, waterbottles, stuff like that.

On the third day we got into the thick of it.

——-

I can’t believe your captain would drive into it, I said.

I think he wasn’t planning on it, originally, but when we got there it seemed stupid to turn back.  It’s sick, awful in one sense, but really amazing in another.  Very otherworldly, alien almost.

Just the scale of it… I can imagine.

You can’t, really.  Neither could I.  It is beyond immense.  It boggles your fucking mind.  And I think the Captain, and probably even the biologists to some degree, wanted to see what it was like in the center.

——

That second night we could all hear it grinding against the hull.  The scrape got louder, more high-pitched.  From on deck you couldn’t really tell it was getting thicker, but we definitely started slowing down.

Larger chunks started showing up, too.  Huge pieces of styrofoam-ish stuff like they use for docks.  Plastic sheeting, corrugated.  Tarps.  Building materials.

One of the biologists saw an airplane wing.

We were basically dead in the water at the end of the third day.

——

I can’t believe you actually went out on it.  Talk about unsafe.

You’re telling me, she said.  You hear about those people falling into glacial chasms and stuff in the arctic, starving to death at the bottom of a ravine.  I didn’t want to go out like that.  But we were in the heart of it now.  Hundreds of miles from the nearest open water.  I had to try it.

——

We had about one and a half people worth of camping gear.  I had nothing of my own, since oceanography grad students typically don’t plan for backpacking trips, but between the others’ luggage and the boat’s emergency kits we scrounged together enough stuff for three of us to hike in a few miles.

One of the whalewatchers, Manuel, offered to come along.  I was worried the Captain would refuse to leave the safety of his ship, but he seemed eager.  After an hour of threatening the remaining crew with painful, torturous deaths should they touch anything they weren’t supposed to, we dropped ropes over the side.  The students cowered in their cabins, cursing each other, fate, God, and the Captain for bringing them to such a hell on earth.

The Captain touched down first, tentatively probing the “ground” with a long metal rod.

As I let go of the rope, I fully expected the garbage to swallow me whole.  I expected to die out there.

—–

It was sort of a stupid idea.

Yeah, she agreed.  Idiotic.  Probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.  I was young.  Looking back, it was easily the most foolish, reckless thing we could have done under the circumstances.

You made it back, though.

Yeah.  The ground crunched and squealed and twisted, but I didn’t fall through into the abyss.  So we kept going.

——

That first day of hiking, we saw some strange, strange shit.  A full-sized metal cargo container, the kind they put on the back of semi-trucks.  A tool-shed.  A six-pack of unopened Budweiser with pull-tab tops.  Endless, endless packs of Korean cigarettes.  A high-heeled shoe.  A Fiat.  A life-sized plastic T-Rex.  McDonald’s happy meal wrappers with Tagalog writing on them.

And plastic bags.  Holy shit.  The outer hundred miles was mostly bottles, but the interior was where all the bags accumulated.  They’d snag on your feet, grabbing your legs like roots and vines.

Manuel cut his leg when a mound of stuff he was standing on collapsed, and we must have poured a half bottle of rubbing alcohol on him.

It’s silly, in retrospect.  The defining characteristic of the place is its lack of life.  No birds.  No plants.  Nothing.  Probably the most sanitary pile of garbage on Earth.  Manuel was safer cutting himself there than in his own shower.

The stuff doesn’t decay, per se.  It just sort of melts, fusing with stuff around it.  The harshness of the elements kind of bonds things together, like a bag of M&M’s you’ve left in the sun.

We made it far inland enough that night that the “land” was dense enough to mask the swell of the ocean.  It wasn’t like standing on an inflatable raft anymore. It felt like real ground we were sleeping on.  Uncomfortable.  Stable.  Real.  I slept on top of a washing machine that night.

——-

We had enough water and food for about a week, but we didn’t want to push it.  No more than two days in, we agreed.

That was the plan.

——-

On the evening of the second day, we saw mountains.  Or what we thought were mountains.  Topography of some kind.

My God, I said.

Hills.  Valleys.  Plateaus.  Depressions.

Three days in and it started to look like a real place.  A real world.  An undiscovered country of corroded plastic.

A continent born not of stone and erosion and tectonic disturbance, but of consumption and waste and the folly of progress.  Six billion people’s trash thrown down six billion stormdrains, and it all ends up here, out in the Pacific at the end of the world.  A trillion tons of shit Frankensteined together by the sun and the sea into a new world.

It was unbelievable.

—–

The Captain broke his leg on the fourth morning, climbing a hill to plant a little Mexican flag he’d brought along.  Mount Montez! He shouted.  I claim this land in the name of the Mexican Empire.  All it needs now is a soccer team.

He poked the little flag into a bottle, started climbing back down the slope, and promptly busted his femur falling into a partially-covered dumpster.

It took Manuel and I a good forty five minutes to get him out.  We piled junk in around him to stand on while we eased him up, but we were clumsy, and caused him much pain.

I put on my calm, independent, American-girl voice when I talked to him.

Again I was sure we were going to die.

——-

Manuel built a little sled out of corrugated siding and some mangled rebar he found.  The sled was as heavy as the Captain himself, but at least we could drag it rather than fireman carry the old man.

The Captain moaned while we moved him, and passed out at one point.

He might be bleeding internally, I thought.

I didn’t mention this to Manuel.  Neither one of us could do anything about it if he was.  So we just dragged him, following our GPS directions back the way we had come.

It rained hard on us that day.

At least we can refill our bottles, I said.

Manuel shrugged.  He didn’t speak any English.

——-

I worried constantly while we dragged him along, slowly working our way around obstacles.  Tires.  Computer cases.  Stuffed bears.  Little, lifeless bogs and pools of rain water.

What if the ship leaves us.  What if the Captain dies and we can’t get ourselves out when we get back.  What if Manuel’s cut gets infected.  What if there’s a storm.

I’m a pessimist by nature, and from the moment I heard the Captain shout, I began mentally preparing myself for the craziest, most Donner Party death scenario my twisted mind could come up with.

It helped to pass the time.

Without birds, or plants, or life, the island is pretty boring.  It’s just sky and plastic.  Forever.

——–

We made it back to the boat.  Manuel and I hadn’t eaten for two days.  The remaining crew, apparently having overcome their terror and anger, had set up a makeshift volleyball net on the “shore” next to the boat.

Great, I thought.  I’m preparing myself for cannibalism and death and these guys are playing volleyball.

They helped us get the now-delirious Captain aboard.  One of the students had some medical training, and did what she could for his leg.

Manuel and I worked on turning the ship around.

——

There are a surprising amount of controls on a boat.  And it is very much unlike a car.  It took the two of us an hour just to get the engines started; and we were terrified to ever shut them down lest we be unable to repeat the arcane and arbitrary set of steps we went through to start them the first time.

We figured out how to reverse, and with a horrible grnding sound, we pulled backwards through the waste.

And we didn’t die.

——-

Were there any other people out there?

Not that we saw.  I’ve heard rumors of people skirting the edges, studying its size or just coming near it to marvel at its hideousness like rubberneckers at a car wreck.  Some eco-hippy wanted to go live there, some kind of misguided protest or whatever.  Even started a website to try and get sponsors and media coverage.  But he got arrested in Tempe the week before he was supposed to leave, got busted buying booze for some high school girls.

Fuckin hippies.

Yeah.

That’s an amazing story, I told her.  She nodded.  I think I’d like to see it some day.

You don’t, she said, suddenly serious.

No?

No.  It’s a blight.  A shame.  It does terrible things to your mind, going to a place like that.  Better to never experience it at all.

I thought about it a while.  She left to go get another pitcher of beer.  They serve late at Kennedy’s, as long as the cops aren’t around and nobody asks too many questions.

—–

Your ex just told me some crazy shit, I told Henry.  She’s been to some strange places.

Whatever. Fuck that.

No, really.

Did she tell you she slept with some dude named Manuel while she was on that boat?  Dude didn’t even speak English?

No, but that wasn’t really the point of the story.

Fuck it, Henry said.  This a fucked up world when your girlfriend cheats on you with some Mexican dude she met on the world’s biggest pile of garbage.

Which is true, I suppose.