Saturday, February 26, 2011

Yesterday was a great day

I saw a few of the old crowd. It was great. Almost like going back 25 years in time. Kev, Eric, Amy, Andrea, Bob, Doug, Jeff............................. I need to get out more.

After all these years, I now know how to tell Doug and Bob apart. Doug is the guy on the left. There are other small differences, I'll get to know them on sight now that I've made a start on it.

The last twins I knew were Mark and Steve. I was told they looked nothing alike, and after I got to know them well, I agreed. Before I knew them well, how did I tell them apart? Steve has one eye which is half green, half brown. Steve is the lawyer, Mark is the doctor. Great friends, I wish I still saw them too.

Pinhead...... I saw him too. He reminded me that I used to tell people that Pinhead, Pinup, and Diaper Pin, used to live in the Pin Cushion. I should give credit where due, Wild Bill (Amy's ex) was the person who named Pin Head's place, The Pin Cushion. Mrs. Pinhead, who I used to refer to as Pinup, had/has a name, since I'd rather not get sued, I'll pass on sharing it, I do remember her name, it has 5 letters. And, I don't think anybody ever referred to Pin's kid as Diaper Pin except me, and only when I was clowning for the tourists. I guess the young man is in high school these days.

Pinhead, as he was yesterday, is by far, the best Pin I've ever encountered. Unlike some people, he has aged really well, and I'd say he's a screaming success at life. I owe the guy a drink. I told him I'd buy him one, but he wasn't ready for one yet, and we went in opposite directions. I'll hunt him up and pay off next week.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I collected my money

Yesterday, I went over to the office and collected my money. All of it. The deposit, $100, was down for 22 1/2 years. The rest of it, a few hundred, was in what they called 'my account'.

Roy didn't think I was very nice. I wasn't. His notion of closure is we both stand there and smile, and think to ourselves, the other guy is a disgusting two faced bastard. This is supposed to be done while being a disgusting two faced bastard. I had no reason to play that bull shit game. He asked how I'd been, and I asked why he'd want to know.

I ran into Bull Frog in the drivers room. Now there's a disgusting man. He hasn't changed much in twenty years. The image of the Bull Frog that will stick in my mind forever is him in the dispatch office telling me and Jim Bob, he's going to call the cops on us if we don't sell him a top we have in a zip lock bag lying on the desk.

It was a beautiful top, picked up at it's day of perfection, in mid summer. It was probably 8" long. It had the good looks to make it onto the cover of High Times. Only, it was like smoking toilet paper. It burned, made you cough, and had none of the desired effect what so ever. It had been impossible to resist picking a top and bringing it to the office. In my entire life, I've never seen a bud or top that's in the same league, looks wise.

Where we got it, was over in Middleton by a pond, where small construction companies had been dumping 'trash' and fill illegally. Let's say you're a sidewalk contractor, you need to remove the old sidewalk, a little dirt, and take it someplace and get rid of it. You tell your guy, take it so and so a place. He does, runs up the box on the dump truck, and it's gone. Cool, you didn't have to pay to get rid of it.

Jim Bob was building a retaining wall, and the same thing was going on. He needed materials, broken pieces of sidewalk (larger than 24"x24"), to make his retaining wall out of. Viola!!!!! Look at all that wonderful broken concrete, just begging to be taken away. It was going to leave the same way it came.

So Jim and I are wrestling large concrete pieces into the back of his pickup, and I keep smelling this strange smell. What is that smell? I know I've smelled it before. What is that smell. Finally I looked up and saw 5 and 7 lobed leaves, saw toothed leaves, bright green leaves. Wow!! Hey, JB, know what this stuff is?!?!?!? We took our concrete, got rid of it, and came back in my car. JB jumped out, ran over and grabbed that top, and ran back to the car, and we took off quick. When we'd driven around in circles for 15 minutes, we figured we were safe.

That was when we broke out a cigarette paper and rolled up a doobie. JB took the first hit. I thought he was going to cough himself to death. He told me to use care. I tried it. It was GOD AWFUL. Another 15 minutes later, it was brutally obvious that it was the worst either of us had ever seen.

Does Bull Frog still indulge? He's supposed to get drug tested, but with so many things, the fix might be in. I wrote the computer program they used for years to pick random groups of drivers to test. It's flawed in a way that would let them cheat and protect particular individuals. They claim they don't do that, and they don't use it any more.

Gee, that's what the Bull Frog claims. He doesn't do that, and doesn't use it any more. What a coincidence.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The end of Xanadu

Xanadu? Yeah, I lived there. Many, sort of wild memories. I loved the place, but I had to leave Ann Arbor, so I had to leave Xanadu too. Many great characters too. And the little intrigues in the house, like the John Adam's Memorial Closet, and the Death Patrol...... Sigh.....

What ever happened to the place? It was sold back into the Greek system. Last time I was home and checked, it was a frat or sorority, I didn't look close enough to determine which. What ever happened to the place? I killed it.

Say what? Luther would tell you the guy at the Detroit paper killed it. It happened at that last house meeting he (the writer) attended. Well, it is true, Luther came up to me after that house meeting and asked me to do something, and I asked him what I was supposed to do. Luther had watched me take the podium and tell the other members that they were doing something they'd really regret, and it is true that Janet Marquart, who was from here, called in March and said, "You were right, everything you said would happen, happened." Sigh..... Being right and three bucks will get you a plain coffee downtown.

What did I really do that was so bad? Why was it me, not the guy from the Detroit paper? I'll tell you: One day in the dining room, Scott Strahl was standing around with some other people, and I complained bitterly to him that Luther was an absolute idiot. Luther was an absolute idiot BECAUSE, if somebody moved out owing the house money, Luther would simply let them go. There would be no significant effort made to collect the money. So, why should anybody pay their rent the last semester they were there? They shouldn't of course! Only a fool would pay money if there was no consequence for not paying.

I knew immediately that I'd screwed up. How many people heard me quoted, and tried it out. And after it was seen to be true, it must have gotten really bad. At first a few people would stiff the house for a few hundred, and the percentage would increase every semester. Bad jig jig, as they'd say here on Fraternity Row.

I made that unfortunate (but true) comment about 3 weeks before I was to leave Ann Arbor forever. I wouldn't be around to apply peer pressure to dead beats. I wouldn't be around to que the office in on special problems so we could cut the loss's. But you always thought I was a bad influence anyway, didn't you Luther?

The only choice the organization would have would be to sell the place back to the Greeks, which is exactly what they did.

God, did I do a stupid thing. Luther do you hear me. And you did just as stupid a thing buddy. Didn't you understand that sooner or later somebody would see it and exploit it. It was just your own laziness, you didn't feel like going and doing the running around required to win the case and judgment you couldn't collect. You could run your own rental property that way, but not an organization with over 600 members.

At the time, Luther was the head salaried administrator of the organization, and he had an office down in the student union. He's long since retired. The Admiral used to do the wiring in his rental properties, so I knew more about him that most of did. Cryptic? You betcha, Xanadu and Bag End are worth an entire other blog, AND do I want to get sued for remembering the truth? No, I'll pass.

PS. Thanks John Jerko for being an honest guy.

PPS. The people, couple, I was complaining about was Tim and Erica. Erica was this little airhead who was, a sophomore or junior. Tim was ten years older than her. Once they started living in the same room, both of them stopped paying. They lived off the money her mom sent every month for her rent and expenses. Tim was supposedly in the comic book publishing business, but he was living off her and doing nothing. I watched them get farther and farther behind. Tim tried to tell me he'd had a heart attack, so he couldn't pay me the money he owed me. I told him that what he owed the house was the house's business, but money owed to me was my business, and he was expected to pay. I was very diplomatic, and he was very....... I don't know... I never mentioned a consequence, but I'm sure he imagined one. He was a pretty wimpy guy. He paid me a week later, I thanked him, and told him to never knock on my door again. An image I will never erase from my memory was Erica looking lovingly at a new blouse in the store dust wrapper, as she cruised through the front door with it. The rest of us paid for that blouse.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gromit went shopping

I must stop by Kinko's again, and put his photo on the web, so I can put it with this posting.

Who is he? He's my dog of course. Gromit Smiley Dog.

Why is he interesting? He took off Monday night, ran off into a blizzard, leaving me standing at the door staring out into the swirling snow. I'll spare you with how I felt.

He wandered over to the grocery store. It's always been a place of treats. Often, I buy a couple of pieces of fried chicken from the deli, and we share. Don't even bother with the, it's not good for him routine. He's always said, he never intended to live forever, and if he dies before I do, that's tough. He doesn't want to spend his old age mourning me in a small kennel with a concrete floor at the humane society, waiting to be euthanized, eating bland 'healthy' dry dog food.

I once asked him if that wasn't kind of cynical, and he told me not at all. He said that if it was a question of me crying for a month straight, or him being on a thin mat on that cold floor for ten days waiting to be executed, he'd much rather be eating fried chicken every day.

He does have an amazing gift for clarity, when it come to describing what really matters in life.

Here's what he did. He took off, and ran toward downtown for a few blocks. Seeing nothing was open, and no people were around, he changed course pretty quick. How do I know this? Somebody saw him on the sidewalk headed east. He got to the grocery store pretty quick. They close at nine, and he got there before they closed. He walked up to that automatic door, it opened, and he went right on inside. One of the customers decided to take the nice doggy who was lost home.

She called the cops from her house. If she hadn't taken him home, I might have found him, but I don't blame her for taking him home. I can only speculate if there was some, 'can we keep him' going on, and that husband who was at home said no way, look at the size of him, he'll eat us out of house and home, and we'll need a wheelbarrow to haul away the dog shit.

Did I sleep at all Monday night? Of course not. I did get pretty well versed on 'lost dogs', which might be worth the ordeal, but I'll only know that if the time comes. I mentally accepted being single, and I only cried a little.

It costs about $75 bucks to get your dog out of dog jail. Toss in the fuel for running around, and the other little details, and you've pretty near got a C-note. I could get ten - 8 piece fried chicken for that money. Do you hear me pup?

What a guy.... He just opened an eye from his nap, and spoke in that single word language of his, hmmmmmm, and said, "8 piece? Are you kidding? You never even buy those for yourself, let alone buy them for me. Once a month maybe, if I'm lucky, do we share one. So I should care?"

He closed his eye, and now he's twitching in his sleep again, chasing something out there in the woods. I'll bet it's a wood chuck, he likes chasing those things.

Last night, Tuesday night, with him beside me again, I got the best nights sleep I can ever remember getting.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another story - and what is narcissism?

I was looking at a commentary about something unrelated and came on this stuff about narcissism. My immediate reaction was, do I suffer (excessively) from that. Do I suffer at all from it?

Good question. I can only say that the most upset I've gotten a doctor in the last 20 years was the way I filled out his 'new patient' questionnaire. Guy was into Jesus, and he was looking for some kind of 'god put me here to do his bidding' answer to the question, "Why are you here:". I answered it, "Nothing has killed me yet." Then he wanted to argue about it, and I said, "Nothing has killed me yet, I'll be around until something does, and not one minute longer." He really didn't like that.

I believe that guy was losing his mind. All of a sudden, I'm real critical of a lot of older people losing their minds. There were a few in my life. My Finnish grandmother used to say she wanted to be allowed to wander out on the ice and freeze to death someday. Her grandmother who took care of her when she was a tot was 'elderly-crazy', infected her with it, and in spite of it not being a biological pathogen, I really think she was doomed from the time she was four to screw up every life she would touch for the entire rest of her life.

When I was in my mid 30's and a non traditional college student, my mother said she was going to put my grandmother (her mother), into a loony bin. I told her grandma was harmless, and to send her out here, she could live with me. My mother asked me what would happen if Jesus told my grandmother to kill me? I told my mother, that was such an absurd comment that I should dismiss it out of hand. Now, I wouldn't. Now, 25 years later, after she's dead, I have to admit, "Yeah Ma, people like Grandma are capable of doing things like that, only I'm way too hard to kill. I'll take the chance, not because it couldn't happen, but because she couldn't pull it off." Now, ESPECIALLY now that I'm getting up there in age, I know how bad you can hurt from head to toe, just moving around, and even if Grandma did out weigh me by more than 50 pounds she was totally incapable of holding a pillow over my head, awake or asleep.

Where was I............ oh yeah, the Jesus freak doctor. Well, that guy poisoned me, about 100 weeks ago. Why would he do that? So, I'd be broken financially, and out of desperation I'd have to seek out Jesus. Sick, right? Regrettably, I'm absolutely certain that's what went down. Would I offer his name or the details? (do I want to get sued? ah, no) Was his sick relationship with Jesus a lot like my own grandmother's? Unfortunately. Yes, Ma, I should have listened to you. Historians note that when Nazi Germany was falling, a huge number of people found god. Take away an old person's warm place to live, food, booze if they're a drinker, and... it figures.

It never ceases to amaze me how many screwed up people are running around out there. In the 'perfect' world we had 2,000 years ago, there was no societal support system to keep propping people up. So, 2,000 years ago, we didn't have supermarkets, TV's, or many elderly who were crazy.

When that guy (the doctor) was 55, which isn't that old, the rest of the medical community stripped him of everything but his license to practice. He was no longer a surgeon. I understand why now.

(Please, if that kind of thing ever happens to me, let me wander off into the cold. The thought of being that fucked up is really repulsive)

The fictional character Olivia Soprano has really struck a nerve, and I really see Virginia McPhee in her. (the name on my mothers high school diploma)

Oh, yeah......... The other story. Here goes: Years ago, when I was in college I met this guy who grew up out in the plains, became the all American success story, and was hiding something totally unacceptable from his family, the people he grew up with, the professionals he worked with as a young adult, the people of his small home town, the people he worked with while learning his craft............. Everybody! AND, if my hunch is correct, the driving force that made him such a screaming success, was precisely the reason he can't ever go back to his home town to live. Strange isn't it? Add memory of Dave Dixon to material to work with.

I mostly have a couple of snippet length images in my memory of the guy, and 'his story', but I'm seeing a lot of potential in it. Why?

Well, I was the opposite. There is nothing about education I could not have handled. I like reading. I like problem solving. There are specific things I don't do well, but you don't have to do those things well. I've never done Physics or Chemistry labs well, because I ran out of time perpetually. Solution, avoid those two areas, I did, and it wasn't a problem. With enough burning desire to be a chemist I could have done those labs, but can everybody be top 2 percentile in every thing? Not really. How did I actually do? 1.88 grade point average in high school. Passing grades in college, but how well you score in college is in large part a function of how well prepared you were when you walked in the door, and I wasn't. (prepared, that is)

I was acceptable to my father, and his theory was if he pounded the shit out of me enough, I'd be even better. The guy I thought of, got along great with his father. In large part, his burning drive to achieve was solely to avoid letting that father who thought so highly of him, see who he really was. Did his father ever see who he really was/is? I doubt it. Shame isn't it?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Soprano's

I acquired the first 3 seasons, and I've been watching them. That's where I was exposed to the term 'vig'. I hadn't heard it in at least twenty years. The quality of the the story, continues to amaze me. Part of me wonders if presented in novel form would it would be mediocre? Some of the details of family's they're able to weave through it are really really good. And I love the shrink, I'm almost tempted to go talk to the guy I used to talk to, to see what he thinks of some of the stuff in the story.

Tony's mother and wife are particularly great characters. His mother because she's such a monster, much more dangerous and evil than Tony, and his wife because she's always there in Tony's shadow, being the strongest character in the story.

Tony's mother tries to get him wacked. She tries to get her brother in law, Tony's uncle to do it. Then she tries to get Artie, the restaurant owner to do it. The shrink is reticent to say, "Well, Tony, your mom is your worst enemy, and she'll kill you if she gets the chance." Tony wants to be a good son, and take care of/respect his mother. Being a good son, nearly gets Tony killed.

I see so much of my family in The Soprano's, especially my mother. When I was a kid, I wanted to be in my dad's business, and he screwed me over until I moved away from southern Michigan. But my mother....... And she had 2 sons, one she loved without qualification. Brother Eric flushed everything my mother had when she was in her mid fifties. Those of us who are over fifty can appreciate how bad an act that is. He was a rotten kid, he was a rotten man.

My mother's father, our grandfather didn't approve of my brothers behavior when he was a kid or an adult. I can remember being about 12, and my mother coming to me and saying that my brother had over heard my grandparents talking and they'd said I was their favorite, and it hurt Eric's feelings. What was I supposed to do about that? Was it true, or one of my mothers made up facts, which she would swear on her soul was true? I think she was lying, but what was the object, why? Was I supposed to go to grandma and say, 'You need to love Eric more.' What 12 year old is supposed to do something like that.

My mother's mother also has a link to Tony's mother. She was raised as a small child by her grandmother. She spoke of her grandmother as a religious saint. She grew up in a small log shack a few miles south of Lake Superior, in the sticks of the UP. I have to wonder if a lot of her behavior as a middle aged to old adult was the result of having a real sick (alzhimers or something similar) real elderly person exclusively taking care of her when she was real small. I'll never know. I only know, I didn't accept her crazy act, and when people wouldn't tolerate it, she got lucid and sane pretty quick.

When my brother was thirty, if there was life insurance on me or some other current profit, would my mother have wanted to see me dead, so she could give Eric even more money to flush? God, I love that Olivia Soprano character. And I love the shrink saying things like, 'well I was reluctant to call a spade a spade but your mom might be out to do you real serious harm..........'

Tony Soprano gives me questions about my own father. Tony is very real. Vito Corleone is more make believe. I can picture Tony being someone I run into from time to time. Tony is a very real character. My dad didn't want me in his business, road building, and why is anybody's question. Was it because my dad didn't make his money honestly? Good question. I will say this, he owned a vice cop. How did he get to know that cop that well in the first place? Why would that cop screw around with some random Joe-Blow if there was no profit in it? Were there cops like that in my hometown? Sure, that was before their modern age of great wealth.................... And does their modern great wealth make them above reproach? If you believe it does, I have a swamp in Arizona I'd like to sell you. I wish my dad was around so I could ask him about a lot of this stuff, and I wish he trusted me enough to answer me.

Did my dad hang around in a 'coffee shop', back in the day? Yes he did. It was a bacon and eggs joint called Fowlers, which was on the corner of Stadium and Liberty. If he wasn't home, my mother would tell people, to look for him there, just like Carmella would tell people to look for Tony at Badda Bing.

Sigh...................... Great fiction, really is.