Monthly Archives: June 2008

Taps: Last Crepe

“Ha, who’s gonna get that one?” Ollie pointed exactly midway between the lone surviving crepe on the table and the new post I was writing on his dinosaur laptop.
“Five was odd number.. and you went first, ‘crepe-o-phage sh’cmo’cha’!” I shot back, hoping for once he’d offer to split it.
“No, I meant the title, Sollie. Your subs are big on Beckett?
“Who’s Beckett?”
I mumbled, trying to concentrate. “I’m just writing my Xanga-eulogy ‘n I thought I’d use this ‘slim-pickins’ breakfast as a.. you know.. as a conceit.”
“Right. ‘Such terrible food… and such small portions, too’.”
Ollie’s perfect imitation of the consummate kvetch made us both laugh.
So what? Your tape just run out, Krappski?
        Ollie and I’d been discussing cyber-malaise the whole way up I-5 to Olympia, which we’d settled on as our next destination, on the strength of his winning “YO, A LIMP?” and my near-miss, “I PLAY?… MOI?”. We’d had enough bucks left for a cheap motel, and after a long night of shadow-puppets decided to stop at the overrated “International House of Pancakes” on Cooper Point Road for crepes.
“I dunno, man. I remember bein’ excited once about Xanga. Thought I’d find intellectual commeraderie.”
“Right on, brother. Thirty-four million comrades.”
Ollie looked at me like a kid just fell off his first bike.
“Ok then, maybe a half-a-dozen, but all of ’em like, supportive and shit, you’know?”
“Viva la revolucion, JS. I usually grab a good stiff drink when I feel that way, and wait till the thought subsides.”
This was O’s first hint that maybe we should see what Washington State could turn into alcohol sometime soon.
“But it’d be so much fun to like, off myself publicly, in a final spit-and-tell episode, name names, ‘je accuse’, the whole uber-drama..”
“Fifteen seconds of infamy, buddy… if you’re lucky. And then what? Crawl back and start posting again?”
“Maybe you right. But what’ll I do with the title then, Ollie?”
I glanced at the plate, which had meanwhile become mysteriously empty.
“There was a title?” O, all innocent.
“Yeah, there was.. ‘Tap’s last crepe’. Genius, I thought.”
“Hey, just write that Tap ate it, an’ he had like ten bucks left, so he went and bought a bottle of Washington State Irish Creme..”
“And split it with his buddy, right?”
I reminded my accomplice.
“Yeah, write that down. Make it, like, a Public Service post. End it with a question, like ‘Would you share your last drink with a neurotic little schlumpfer you could crumple up with one hand if you felt like it, just to get Featured on Xanga?'”

BREAKFAST EPIPHANIES

“Excuse me Ma’am, did I order Eggs Benedict Arnold?” Ollie’s intimidating but ultimately good-natured voice filled the modest breakfast room at the Billy Holiday Inn in Eugene where we’d spent the night. His effortless glance-and-back at his plate as he smiled the question to the waitress was admirably non-threatening, but I still kicked his leg under the table, maybe out of habit as the waitress paged through her order pad and finally answered “No. Says here ‘Over hard’.”
“Yeah, you’re right”,
Ollie half winked, and she turned and continued back through the double kitchen doors.
“Why do you do that?” I grilled him immediately, with as parental a tone as I could muster alongside a giant bear who always made me feel like Woody Allen by comparison.
“Just checking. See, no one was injured..”
“This time..”
I scolded. “Actually, I wish I could be so ..um.. neutral. I keep tryin’ to hurt ’em.”
“You’re getting better, Sol.”
Ollie, now the parent; “That last piece was just about right, they could read it as a story even if they never heard of Tschaikovsky and thought Puskin was some kind of freaking thumb tacks.”
I laughed at that, but then, “What, you read it already, O?”
“Wifi, bro, you heard of it? Whilst you slept… No comments though.”
“Didn’t expect any, it’s over their heads.”
Ollie frowned. “One would think the mental upper crust, the literary well-bred would have risen to the challenge, no?”
“Ahh”,
I paused, and then “…But one would be wrong!” We said in unison. I sighed and checked my own treasonous eggs. Hmm, edible, I concluded.
“So where we goin’next, O?” I changed the subject. We still had his old lap-top to pawn if necessary.
LET’S EAT in SEATTLE?” My accomplice suggested conspiratorially.
“I dunno, I’d like to SPEAK ON SPOKANE I countered. Ollie looked busy in the letter-game as I added “A fervent PAEN’S OK?”
“You lose; It’s ‘PAEAN’, sucka!”
Ollie knew the rules. I tried to cover my position with “An E.S.P. KOAN, then?”
“Too late, dime-store Buddhist.”
Ollie was finishing his coffee. “Save the Right Mind stuff for your Xanga experiment.”
“I am
doing better, O. Just didn’t expect like, everybody who ever heard of Billy Holiday to be…um.. ‘on vacation'” I do hand-pick my subs, you know.”
“Sure, ‘n they be clapping, jus with one hand, Solbird.”
Ollie smiled, killed his last English muffin in one bite, got up, pointed pointedly to the spot where Johnny was supposed to leave a generous tip, and was out the door.

Free Bier in OREGON

    I laid the gun on the counter. ‘Buddy’ counted the ‘E’s.
Hmm.. three ‘E’s” he said at last.
Yup, a ‘Triple E’, easy to see.” I added, trying not to overwhelm.
    We were in Eugene, Oregon, me’n Negro O, my drummer. At the Buddy Holly Hock Shop on Gore Ave. Buck-less-ness had caught up with us, and pawning the Tripoli Gun seemed to be the difference between sleeping in the car or across the street at the Hillbilly Holiday Inn 
“You Gene?” Buddy-the-Pawnbroker asked Ollie gruffly, looking at the license papers.
“That’s Oliver ‘One-gin’ Eugene to you, buddy!” Negro O answered in that Barry White voice of his. I loved the guy. Me’n him had been tight since the ’60’s, playing together in a string of bands, drinking significantly more than the ‘One gin’ I’d started to call him lately, both of us being.. which is it, I forget: “on the wagon“, or “off the wagon?”
We are not alchoholics“, I’d  told him a while back, “We’re.. um.. ‘wagoneers.” On-again, off-again, and from that grew the nickname ‘Onegin’. Ollie understood the importance of letters. He trusted them almost as much as me.  And now it looked like the pawnshop owner had decided to trust us, possibly because of Ollie’s impressive muscle tone.
I’m like, ‘a black Schwartzenegger’” he loved to say. We took the 5 crumpled up twenties and walked across the street to get a cheap room.
     Although the place looked technically ‘open‘, the door didn’t respond, not to my tentative pull, and suprisingly, not even to O’s patented “Pushkinetics” ™.If you push something long enough and hard enough, it will fall down.” Ollie was fond of announcing to obstacles. I usually preferred the soft approach, like, in this case, reading the crude sign scotch-taped to the window. “See Jean next door for service.”
Next door meant, I guessed, the “Inn” part of the Billy Holiday Complex. A matronly woman at the bar looking out of place with an unreadable name tag eyed us up as we entered.
“You Jean?” I asked, cheerfully enough. She just pointed out the door and took a sip of some thick grey slurpy drink.
“That’s where they put it, last I checked” she laughed. “Eugene, Oregon. You all want some ore-nog?”
“Ore nog?” I asked, wondering whether it was free, as O’s cell phone rang, “Lover Man” suddenly competing with the muzak in the joint,
“Yeah, you heard of egg nog?” Jean was already pouring us each a glass.
“What’s in it?” I needed to know stuff like that for some reason.
“Oh, vodka, kahlua, and… galena.. but you hardly taste it when there’s enough Kahlua.”
A little perplexed I was.. wasn’t that Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife? And why do psychos always have three names? And who the hell was Ollie talking to? I was hearing scraps of conversation, like “…no Gore in Oregon..” and then “..No, Roger, free beer!” Ollie hung up mad, calling the guy an ‘ogre’ either before or after hitting ‘end’, I wasn’t sure. I handed him the drink, which he almost dropped.
“What’s this shit, lead on the rocks?!” He blurted out before slyly changing course when he realized it was a gift from our hotelier/femme de chambre-to-be,
“Sweet” was his comment after finishing it, which he did as usual ,in a heartbeat. Seeing that it wasn’t his last I carefully took a sip myself.
“So who’s the guy on the phone?” I asked, dying to know.
“Some goofball selling ‘golfball insurance..”
“Selling what?”
I set my half-finished drink heavily aside.
“Golfball Insurance, You know ‘just pennies a day and you’re covered in the event you are struck by one of the millions of deadly golfballs flying through the air.. blah, blah.’ If you die you get, get this, a ‘free bier'”
“You sure of that, O?”
I didn’t need to remind him of the potential there for ambiguity.
“Of course, you’re dead, man, what the fuck you gonna do with a ‘free beer'”
“Give it to your next-of-kin?”
I looked up at him mock-adoringly, adding “Dad“.
“You got us a room?” Ollie looked beat, or maybe just ‘over-ore-nogged’.
“Yeah, room 6, first floor, breakfast on the house at 7:00.”
“And a sconce-lamp, and a clear wall across from it?”
Ollie drove a hard bargain for a guy with a half a pocketfull of change to his name.
“Probably, but we ain’t doing that shadow puppet thing again till 4 in the morning, O. I mean, there’s a limit to cheap entertainment.. makes you feel, I dunno, ‘impotent‘ after a while.
“It was your dumb invention, Solbird, went with the ‘free beer’ you was so proud of.”
“Hey, didn’t we agree that refilling beer cans with tap water gives, what, ten, fifteen percent of the real experience at no cost? Hand puppets is down there in the two-to-five range, even if you’re good at it, which I ain’t admitting.”
I was feeling heavy myself from Jean’s odd concoction. She handed me the keys, I gave her a twenty, and we lumbered out the door, out into Eugene, Oregon.

free beer



ADD: I asked Ollie at breakfast if I oughta write something like “OREGON=NO GORE=NEGRO ‘O’” or “EUGENE= EEE GUN“, he just held his phone in my face with the new ringtone: Billy Holiday, ‘Don’t Explain’. “Pushkinetics, but sometimes you just gotta let it fall over of its own weight.”

Primordial ‘Ooh’s

ABSTRACT: This post examines in concrete terms the impact of exiting the U.S.A with its pluses and the occasional minus, and returning to what has (maybe unfairly) been called ‘a shitty little middle eastern country’. I’ll use bullet points, having been for the last week kinda drawn to firepower as the quickest solution to the unique problems of this sucking wound of a nation.
Booze: Two bucks gets a smart shopper in the U.S. 3 beers; here you’re lucky to score one, and it’ll most likely be the local inebriated-grey-water creation brewed mainly for the tone-deaf market.
Coos: Yes we do have lots of birds: pigeons and doves, but also hawks, parrots, owls, gulls, and now, famously, the ‘ducky-fat’, the newly-elected Israeli National Bird, whose election I missed in my absence. Oh well, my vote woulda been wasted on its rival, the oddly-named “Bul-bul” (penis-bird). Long live the Ducky-fat!
Do’s: And so I return to the same infuriating 250 decibel religious muzak blasting in my ears from the neighboring Sin-agog, a trick they learned from the Arabs, I guess. “Thou shalt go deaf.”Their spiritual leader still walks the streets in his absurd raccoon-brim hat, gaberdine panty-hose, polyester purple heringbone raincoat and hair dangling out of his ears. Just like Moses or somebody told him to dress, I have to assume.
Fuse: Mine’s a little longer now, actually, since I started to actually pity most of these creatures. Or maybe remember that I’m just here to visit; no need to fix everything. I did go semi-postal when the nearby makolet-owner told me I needed to bring back, on my bicycle, the flimsy liter bag of rotten milk I bought there, before I could get a supposedly fresh one as a replacement. Nobody trusts anybody here, which is just local common sense in a Village of Liars.
Hues: Viewed from the air at 3000 feet on approach to BGN airport in early June, the place looks like a trash dump where they plowed a clear stretch through the middle to accomodate incoming jumbo jets. Get a little closer to home though, and you see that with courage, you can grow an amazing variety of really exciting plants. Exotic specimens. Not like the US wallflower stock-in-hand, which are mostly just ..well..’green’.
Jews: A real chicken and the egg’ problem: Is the place screwed up so abysmally because there are so many of us in one place and all our neighbors in every direction hate us, or does the egg come first? I won’t elaborate.
Clues? No, we don’t have any, thanks for asking. Half the government’s under investigation for fraud of one sort or another. Tell me, is it so tough to spend four years or so being prime minister without stealing money from the public coffer, or to harmlessly represent your people as President for a couple years without trying to rape your secretary? I think I could do it, but who knows…
U-Lose: What happened when I took a thousand dollars that I laughingly thought were worth something and changed them into shekels. Bought a small pizza-no toppings and a stick of gum. We’ll go into this horror show next post.
Muse: Your Correspondent is Not Amused here; He’s B-mused. Funny, you know, they’re not the same thing. Amusement is generally a pleasant enough experience, except for the long lines in the hot sun for the good rides, but ‘Bemusement Parks’ never quite caught on. When you spend half the time wondering whether the label ‘Homo sapiens’ is broad enough to include your neighbors… dat’s ‘be-mused’.
Mews: Yeah, I missed cats like crazy. Came back and was covered head to toe within minutes by furry felines with a serious petting debt. Put that in the plus list.
News: People come here to solve the Crisis in the Mideast. They have an ‘encouraging’ or frank’ round of talks. They propose a Plan. They go home, tired but happy. Film at eleven.
     That’s probably enough primordial alphabet soup for now. Just wanted y’all to know I landed safely… and that a $50 dollar car battery in the States costs $333 here… if you ‘chew’ the guy down. Stay tuned for more on that nonesense/ JS

I Pledge my Legions to The Untied Snakes of Amnesia

Finally got to put something/anything in that annoying Windows XP ‘My Snakes’ folder.It’s been sitting there saying ‘Folder is empty’ ever since I decided to try to get used to the new operating system.

mysnake  

This fellow is waiting to get big enough to eat the white rat who ‘adopted’ me a few days ago. The rat’s busy eating bird seed, and butterflies of all persuasions follow him around waiting to dine on rat-shit; Oof, a real Gordian food chain I got going here.
   And all I need now is a new carry-on bag. The one I arrived with suffers from what a deviant luggage engineer would call in the jargon, ‘through-put’. You put stuff in and it falls out through the bottom. It must’ve gotten carried-away and carried-on a bit ‘too hard’, this carry-over from yesteryear’s fashion concept. (Ok, I found it on the sidewalk.)  I no longer fly decked out to attract annonymous soul mates, and I may even replace it with a shopping bag if the price is right. 
   Kinda busy with other matters right now, awaiting extradition, which is what this return distinctly feels like. I just itemized my pre-flight ‘issues’, if anyone’s feeling sympathetic: 
Last List:
Laced yer shoes? later…
Lust? No time for that
Passports and ticket, Lest I forget..again(!)
At least $5 to rent bicycle at airport
Loosed the fateful lightning of my terribly swift sword? Ha, I wish.
Favorite shirt de-loused? Why bother.
Out of vowels? looks that way. *trudges forward into the past*

Foreign Exchange Mad-ness

I’m pissed.

The US Dollar, busily losing ground against the Euro, the Pound and the Yen has, while I slept, lost its shirt in the dirt vis-a-vis the mighty Israeli Shekel, lately become the strongest currency in the known world. Thanks alot, guys. Seems like while I was away my whole 7-million-passenger mini-country broke off its historic love affair with the redwhite-and-blue greenback, and forgot to SMS me. Ok, I could have checked the Bank o’ Israel website, it was just more comfortable to multiply my modest assets by 4.2, or five if I needed a lift…

    I’ve now spent the last two days multiplying by 3.26 (!).. oh, and weeping. At least I have a wheel-barrow (tire needs pumped) to carry my worthless bucks to the edge of a landfill, where the newly-homeless will burn truckloads of it to keep warm come winter.The worst part is that I keep fading in and out of understanding, on like.. really basic points. Needing to ‘hear it out-loud’, I chant:
“A hundred shekels an hour is now… um… thirty four bucks an hour?” I guess that’s the Good News; if I make the money in Israel and bring it to the Untied Snakes ‘le vaz’bez’ (funny how the hebrew for ‘to spend’ money is the same word as ‘to waste’.) I’ll do well.

The other direction, though, is a disaster. The quite reasonable rental agreement I signed with my perfect new tenants now looks like a drunken giveaway party  from my home country’s perspective. A month’s rent on a four bedroom house in the States will get you a couple bags of groceries and a cheap beer or two in Israel, and if the trend continues, you might just have to walk the beer back to the refrigerator and apologize to the checkout girl.
Theoretically, prices in Israel should be dropping commensurately, in view of the increased import purchasing power of the raging Shekel. But they are not; in fact inflation is in the 3 to 4% range, confounding the experts.
   All I really know is that the few dollars I have to return home with may need to be jettisoned to save weight in my luggage. Not worth the space they take up…  Unlike a ten-shekel coin I found in the wash here, a trifle, looking like a wannabe quarter, it is worth $3.33 today. I may just hold it in my hot little hand till I get home.

Family discussion

A whole bevy of us, huh? You bet. The lower three were shot one day in June of ’52,
back when my Grandfather was about my age. No one was injured. Confused? So am I…

reincarnation

.. The debate continues…and these three are (half) my fault: Captions?.

more

ADD: Thanks to a nice talk with one of my precocious nephews I may just have The Clue as to why the Xangalumpen whose adoration I so misguidedly crave here fail day after day to show their faces. They’re scared. They “know something’s happening, but they don’t know what it is“, as Dylan said. Faced with tongue-in-cheek creative pieces, they fear looking foolish and therfore abstain from commenting. Oh well…
   In my too-intensive travels I’ve discovered many other writers who just pour out the juice to zero acclaim. It’s almost the rule, actually. I make a point of giving feedback on almost every post they write. Probably hold the Xanga record for being the only commenter on more sites than any one else.
But back to the hordes of stay-aways. I wouldn’t think one would have to be too brave to toss out, for example, “Oh no, more Solbergs!” or something even less charitable on this little photo-essay… And it’s been viewed, in theory at least, by a hundred or so subs.Unless they really are dead, God-forbid. I really can’t have it both ways, it seems, and so I’ll trudge on with my attempt to sell sophisticated soap to the great un-washed. Not a lot of money in it, I’ll admit. (See Banner). And sincere thanks to the personable souls who do take the time to read and comment