Friday, September 19, 2014

Nurse the Hate: The Some Girls Story

It was obvious from the moment he entered the turn he would not make it.  The sheer weight of the Crown Victoria was roughly that of a World War 2 battleship.  To expect the car to turn sharply on the gravel road was at best optimistic and at the worst foolhardy.  I was sitting in the enormous back seat which was roughly the size of my first apartment.  Of course, I was not wearing a seatbelt.  I don’t even know if Crown Victorias that old had seatbelts as some sort of “Premium Safety Option” package.  This car was built in an age when safety was considered to be for cowards, children routinely hopped around moving vehicles like they were trampolines, and a considerate smoker slightly opened the side wedge window while plowing through a pack of smokes.  I held onto the strap by the window as my ass started to slide across the rich Corinthian leather seat.

The Rolling Stones “Some Girls” cassette was playing on the stereo.  At the time, this was the album favored by gentlemen our age as the line “…black girls just want to get fucked all night” in the title track seemed very edgy and we felt made us seem more worldly.  None of us actually knew if that was a fact regarding the sexual proclivities of African American women, but we assumed that since Mick Jagger said it, it was true.  Maybe that allowed us to think that the suburban white girls in our world didn’t really know what was going on, and their rejection of us had more to do with their poor sexual wiring than our own complete lack of qualities that would interest them.  Ignorance is bliss.  Sing on Mick.

The first couple of trees we knocked over were small.  Larger than saplings to be sure, but offering little resistance to the gigantic steel hulk sliding across scrub.  My eyes made contact with Chris who seemed to look right through me, the whites of the eyes never larger.  He looked like a caricature of himself.  Ron Wood’s tasteful slide guitar offered a nice compliment to the sound of the ground scraping under the car and thuds of objects bouncing off the side quarter panels.  We didn’t appear to be slowing down at all.  The speed we had maintained on the road, aggressive but certainly not beyond reason, seemed suddenly to be insanely reckless.  It’s all context really.  60 mph on the highway is slow, but is eye opening on a boat.

Moments earlier we had been talking over the din of “Some Girls” side one about the party the night before.  Wildly exotic girls had been at Dave’s house.  At this point in life “wildly exotic” meant they had attended a different high school.  A scandal had occurred when Sherry’s younger sister went in the other room with a different boy than expected, this action effectively shuffling the cards on all future potential couplings in the small social circle.  It was such a major event that it took precedence over the boy that had been dry humping Sherry’s even younger sister and had then ejaculated in his pants, the stained front of his jeans a combination of honor and shame.  The seemingly minor events of the evening had been dissected again and again, gone over like the Zapruder film.  This was now all forgotten as the car continued to slide through the woods.

It is interesting the suddenness that ends a car crash.  The long suspension of time through the slide ends as if a switch has been flipped.  The long moments of anxious loss of control give way to the quick inventory of your situation.  OK.  We’re stopped.  Fuck.  OK.  I think I’m OK.  Ow.  My head hurts.  Damn.  That’s going to be a knot on my head.  I think we’re OK though.  Yeah.  We’re OK.

The car had come to a sudden stop after the rear end smacked a large tree.  The back was dented in.  Mud decorated the car with diminishing thickness the higher up from the ground.  The front wheel was pushed in, and now would rotate in a completely off-kilter fashion in the unlikely event the car could be driven away from the accident site.  One of the guys was totally animated, offering an adrenalin fueled status report spiced with heavy profanity.  Chris looked on silently at his car, probably assessing the physical beating that would be inflicted from his stepfather.  “Before They Make Me Run” began inside the car’s stereo.  Keith Richards raspy vocals wafted out as the still running car made unnatural ticks and knocks.

Maybe it was the late afternoon sunlight today, or the unmistakable scent of Fall approaching in the air.  Whatever it was, when the iPod decided to play “Before They Make Me Run” this afternoon my mind went immediately back to that night.  I hadn’t thought about it in years, yet there was the memory like a new movie playing back across my brain.  That’s the power of music really.  It is like a key that unlocks a flood of memories or feelings.  All you have to do is pay attention. 

Tonight my band releases another full length.  I hope that just one person takes this record to heart, and it becomes a soundtrack to a moment in their life.  Years from now when whatever their newfangled music storage system plays one of our songs, they will think “I remember that night when I…”  I don’t know if Mick and Keith would care about my particular story, but if someone told that to me about our record, it would be my honor.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nurse the Hate: NFL 2014 Week 2

This morning there is more chatter about the Ray Rice situation, the role of Roger Goodell, and Adrian Peterson somehow being charged by a grand jury because he swatted his kid with a switch.  I remember when football used to be about the actual games.  Granted, that seems like a really long time ago, but it was better then.  I prefer not knowing anything about the players beyond where they played their college ball.  Almost every football player I knew in college or high school was an asshole, so I have always assumed that these NFL guys are assholes too.  I don't need to know how they are raising their kids or about their fucked up relationships.  I just want to know if the guy can play on Sunday.  Is there some kind of Google filter where I can get less information?  Wasn't life somehow better when the players were whoever you thought they were?  I much preferred the smiling fun-loving Willie Mays I had in my mind than the cranky old man I met in Chicago once.  Say Hey Kid my ass...

This morning I woke up much earlier than intended.  I took the bassets on a long walk which should have in theory provided me time to really break down these games today, but instead I altered between thoughtful rumination and yelling "Monty!  Get out of there!".  The gentle breeze provided just enough push for glassy Lake Erie to make gentle "wooshing" sounds as I considered the rhythms of life, my failure to be cuddled up in bed, the changing of the seasons, and the reality that the New England Patriots are only giving three points to the Vikings today.  Life is funny that way.  Just when you think you have it all figured out, something crazy comes along to reconfigure everything that you considered to be order.

Let me take you through my thought process on this.  We know that gambling institutions attempt to manipulate gambling lines to trick the public into getting on the wrong side.  For example, the general public is used to the Patriots being an elite team, so therefore they assume that they will win all the time.    The Patriots are a favorite here, but at a much smaller line than one would expect.  The Vikings have been pretty shitty for years, and this week their best player Adrian Peterson is out.  One would expect that this line would be New England -7 or more.  However, the line still sits at 3.5.  Easy play, right?  Take the Patriots and cash in!  Ah, but what if that is the trick?  What if Vegas knows that even though the Patriots will probably win, they won't win by more than a field goal?  Therefore, the move is to bet on the Vikings, and outsmart the books.  However, doesn't that seem transparent?  It is so obvious that the line should be higher, the fact that it isn't means that is the line manipulation, and by noticing that the big money players will be lured to bet on the always shitty Vikings.  So just as you get ready to bet the Patriots is when you notice that 85% of the public is on the Patriots, which means they can't possibly win.  The Public, as we know, is always wrong.   To summarize, because the Patriots should win this game the move should be to bet on the Patriots but because the line is so low the real move is to bet on the Vikings which in all reality is the double cross trick so the bet now becomes the Patriots except for the fact that 85% of the consensus is on New England so we are now back to the Vikings.  Minnesota +3.5.

I love betting against Cincinnati.  People I know in Cincinnati also like to bet against Cincinnati.  It is not because they are disloyal, it is because they pay attention.  They know that despite having great talent, the team will somehow go 9-7 and maybe worm into the playoffs where they will be waxed by some lesser team.  This is because Marvin Lewis is the type of coach that can take his and lose to yours, or take yours and lose to his.  He can pull defeat out of the jaws of victory at any moment.  If the Brown family wasn't so cheap, they would have fired him and brought in a real coach years ago, but for the fact that Lewis gets paid in Starbucks gift cards they keep him on.  I love Atlanta +5.5 today, not because I think they are a better team necessarily but because Cincinnati will somehow win by three on a shaky late field goal despite dominating all afternoon.

I am considering taking the Jets +9 at Green Bay later today.  This illustrates why I am, at heart, a fool. I know the Jets cannot provide a winning wager.  I even put it in a lyric of a song in 2004 ("Jesus Walks Beside Me"- The Whiskey Daredevils Greatest Hits).  For a decade or more I have been aware that the New York Jets exist solely to take money from unsuspecting buffoons like myself.  Yet, I sort of think that they might hang in there against Green Bay this afternoon.  Yes, I know Geno Smith will throw a soul crushing interception late in this game to provide the Pack with the easy cover.  It is like I have seen this in a vision.  Yet, it does not matter.  If I break into a bottle of Rhone this afternoon as planned, I will be filled with liquid courage and the euphoria of wine fueled conviction that today is the day the Jets won't let me down.  I would really appreciate it if someone contacts me at 345p this afternoon to talk me down if I try and place this wager.  Jets +9.  Maybe.

2014 season record:  2-1

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nurse the Hate: The Ray Rice Situation

I would not want to be in Ray Rice's shoes right now. Obviously having an incident in your recent past where you knocked out a woman cold with a punch in the face is not good.  No matter how much therapy, Jesus, and anger management Rice manages to cobble together, he will always be "that wife beater dude".  Making matters worse for him, the imagined worst case scenario that people conjured up in their heads thinking of "guy punches woman" can't possibly be as bad as that video tape.  It's about as bad a personal and public relations situation possible.  Ray Rice lost his profession, his endorsement revenue, and is being shown non-stop on every media outlet available at his worst possible moment.  That's bad.  However, what is even worse is that he has now become the lightning rod for domestic violence as a societal issue.  Every special interest organization with striking distance of this incident wants to use it as a soapbox to further their agenda.  People who don’t even know who Ray Rice was a week ago now have him as public enemy #1.  I don’t feel bad for him, but boy did his life take a bad turn after that trip to Atlantic City.

This thing is now like a snowball out of control.  It’s not about Rice knocking out that poor woman anymore.  It is now about organizations seizing the moment to further their agendas.   For example, I saw a quote from Terry O’Neil, the president of the National Organization of Women stating, “"The NFL has lost its way. It doesn't have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem.   The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking within the NFL community and to recommend real and lasting reforms."  Is it just me that finds that conclusion a bit extreme?  Maybe I am out of touch, but I do not perceive that the NFL is “pro-violence on women”.

I do find it amazing when the general public is appalled when very violent men that are provided great reward and a sense of entitlement for hurting other people demonstrate off the field that they are very violent and entitled men.  "Hey, that linebacker that we love watching injure people in slow motion on Sundays just went to a nightclub and beat the crap out of someone!"  No.  You don't say.  That's odd.  I wonder why he behaved violently?  That is so out of character.  To try and compare this tiny percentage of the population with the general population is crazy.  This is a very different collection of cats that live in a world that has nothing to do with the world the rest of us live in.  While that doesn’t excuse their violent behavior, especially in the case of domestic abuse, to think that this behavior is a shock to anyone is ridiculous.  Some of these guys are unhinged. It's why we watch them. 

To suggest that the NFL somehow become a societal judge for the behavior of their employees is absurd.  That's what the courts are for.  A football league that is primarily concerned with providing sports entertainment at great profit cannot be expected to cure the ills of society.  They can be expected to reflect the ills of society, not cure them.  The NFL just wants to sell TV rights and tickets, as well they should.  I don’t need those assholes telling me what to do, just like I don’t need the government telling me what to do.  Everyone knows it is unacceptable to knock a woman out cold with a punch in the face.  The NFL doesn’t want that.  It’s bad business.  However, it shouldn’t be up to the NFL to be the final world on the severity of domestic violence in America.  For example, Ray Rice is facing no criminal charges. Hell, his wife even forgave him and married him.  So why should the NFL be expected to inflict a harsher penalty than the actual legal system?  While the Ravens themselves cut him loose, let's not start thinking they are swell guys in this.  Ray Lewis was involved in a murder while with the team years ago and yet the future Hall of Famer didn't miss a game.  Rice, an almost used up running back still owed millions?  Sorry Ray Rice, hit the bricks...  Your behavior is shocking.  And can you polish the Ray Lewis statute in front of the stadium while you go?  The NFL has always been about winning games while pretending to care about social issues if it was in their best interests. 

Roger Goodell will probably survive this firestorm.  His employers, the NFL owners, don’t want him to go anywhere.  These are some of the most powerful business owners in the country who have an army of public relations teams and legal shock troops that will quell this situation by next week.  Some sort of token foundation will be set up.  Speeches will be made.  Public service announcements will be created.  Whatever needs to happen to keep the money machine rolling will happen, frankly as it should.  The NFL is a business, and nothing more.  However, if I’m Ray Rice, I head for a cave in Mexico somewhere.  These guys are going to need a sacrificial lamb to placate the mob and it sure is looking like he's The Guy.  He needs to start over, change his name, find that beach at the end of Shawshank and start work sanding a shitty boat.   

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Nurse the Hate: NFL 2014 Week 1

I have built up my coffers over the summer with some well placed MLB wagers and World Cup.  I have positioned myself perfectly to now give that money back by wandering into the wilderness of mirrors that is the NFL.  This is a well worn tradition with me at this point.  I know full well I have no hope of winning money on the NFL.  No one does.  It’s a Fool’s Paradise.  There is no edge to be had anywhere in this over exploited circus.  While you may think you know something because ESPN told you (and 27 billion other people) that Cam Newton might not play against Tampa, the guys that make the lines in Vegas have his X-rays and a team of top physicians evaluating them.   You don’t know anything.  There are a bunch of guys sitting in a windowless room in Las Vegas right now laughing about how much money they are going to rake in by manipulating the Dallas line just enough to get suckers like me to say, “Dallas at home with points?  Oh yeah!”.

It should be noted that I don’t now know anything nor have I ever known anything.  This is a different sort of stupidity though.  With only preseason to cloud my judgement, I have the reasoning ability of a tadpole.  I'm just blindly reacting.  The start of the NFL season is different than week eight.  By week eight I will be operating under the false idea that I know what is going on since I watched a bunch of games and listened to equally small brained sports talk show chatter.  I won’t know anything then and I don’t now.  The key is I am openly telling you that for the most part I have no idea who is good and who isn’t.  Yet, this will not stop what is about to happen.  Despite what I have just told you, I think I know something about a couple of teams though.   This will be my downfall just as it has been for years.   

So what do I think I know?

There is no way the Cowboys are going to beat the 49ers.  The Cowboys had a historically bad defense last year.  That’s actually the good news in Dallas.  The bad news is that they lost their three top players off of that shit defense.  Tony Romo, coming off back surgery, is going to have to lead the offense to score 40 points a game every week.  I would also like to point out that two things that don’t go together are recovering from back surgery and being tackled by 300 pound defensive linemen.  The Dallas Cowboys are one big hit away from Brandon Weeden coming in at quarterback.  I will come clean and say though it makes me a bad person to wish ill health on Tony Romo, the spectre of watching Brandon Weeden play QB for the Cowboys all year is maybe my greatest dream as long as we toss out riding a motorcycle nude in a Mardi Gras parade.  I think Dallas is going to be really bad this year, and San Francisco -4 is something to really load up on.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the New York Jets are going to be pretty good.  I don’t mean “win the Super Bowl and get fellated by models in trendy New York nightclubs” good, but more like “Hey, the fucking Jets won again?” good.  I picture them at 9-7 and maybe getting pasted in the first round of the Playoffs.  So, to go 9-7 you have to beat the Raiders at home, and that’s what they are going to do on Sunday.  I’m a little concerned about giving 5.5 points as Geno Smith is right now planning on how to throw some interceptions deep in his own territory.  However, the Raiders are trotting out a rookie QB who gets to make his debut in New York where Jet fans are going to yell out a lot of things about his mom and cocks and stuff.  I’m on the Jets -5.5.

It makes no sense to me that the Houston Texans are -3 to Washington.  As I recall, the Texans had the worst record in the league last year.  Meanwhile Washington has the RG3 fella running around like he does in those soft drink ads.  Washington also has three big time receivers and a legit running game.  This seems like one of those games where the public will load up on the Redskins because when you get down to it, no one is even sure who is on the Texans team.  Washington and RG3 get so much media coverage, it makes you forget that RG3 kind of sucks now and Cousins is probably a better QB.  Meanwhile, the Texans had 117 injuries last year and are only a year removed from being a playoff team.  I think their D-line is going to kick the crap out of Washington’s o-line.  I also think every schmo on the planet is going Washington with the points, which is why I am doing the opposite and taking Houston -3.  I’ll bet by the time this game goes off, it will be Houston -1 or pick ‘em.   Bet close to kickoff on this one.   

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate Skydiving

I had decided to go skydiving.  Almost no one in my life is interested or supportive of that decision.  It's hard to say if that is because there is a vague concern for my well being or an overriding boredom in the activity itself.  When you hit your forties there is really little debate if you are the type of person that can deal with heights and risk taking pursuits or not.  I am not aware of many librarians that suddenly say, "This James Joyce novel needs to get put away, but first let's fuck and hang glide off that cliff.".  Whatever niche you are in at this point is your niche.  As I am not about to take up accounting or camping, I think it is reasonable that I accept that my local friend base is not going to suddenly sprout an interest in skydiving when none has germinated in the past.  This was my white whale alone.

When deciding on a skydiving facility, I think we can all agree that safety is the highest priority.  I think we can also agree that if a skydiving facility has had a fatality and has somehow remained in business, the chance of them trumpeting that fatality on their website is probably pretty low.  This creates a situation in choosing a facility based on the quality of the website appearance and location.  This led me to Aerohio in Rittman OH.  For those of you like myself that were previously unaware of the sprawling community of Rittman, imagine a nice pocket of Kansas about 45 minutes from a major US city.  There are cornfields, dirty kids riding four wheelers, gravel roads, and a large freshly cut hayfield that has a plane take off and lets people jump out of it.  That appears to be the long and short of Rittman.

When I arrived at the facility I checked in.  What "checking in" means is that I filled out a 74 page document that words and re-words statements like "skydiving is a risk taking activity and you could die, however if that does happen you promise not to sue us.  Oh, and you also promise that anyone you know won't sue us since you'll be dead."  With the amount of litigation in this country, frankly it is amazing that like minded people like these haven't been prevented from doing this by some type of governmental committee.  There is probably a frumpy woman in an ugly suit trying to stop this type of fun right now "for the good of the children".  I initialed a mind numbing number of boxes and declarations that undoubtedly an enormous team of lawyers built to prevent an equally enormous team of personal injury lawyers from penetrating.  The funny part is in the end you would be suing Aerohio to win a small plane, two sheds, a trailer, a couple picnic pavilions, two porta johns, and a hayfield.  That probably wouldn't offer much compensation in the event of a horrific skydiving disaster.  The last time I went to the doctor for a sinus infection it cost more than the entire facility of Aerohio would lock, stock, and barrel.  My guess is "crushed spine" is more costly than the re-sale value of a used porta john.

I just wanted to have the experience of a free fall and not do a lot of mucking around so I paid for a tandem jump.  This means I would be strapped to another dude like I was an eleven year old girl.  It's hard to imagine a more submissive position, unless of course I was in assless pink leather chaps.  Still, I was willing to put up with the concept of having this strange man strapped to me if it meant my avoiding 5 hours of classes.  I just wanted to know what it was like to jump out of a plane.  I don't want to know how to deploy the emergency chute or untangle lines.  I just want to see what it was like to dive out into the sky.

I was called into the gear hut to get outfitted.  Before I was given my harness, I was shown a video hosted by a very strange looking man with a wild long beard.  This is a video that was part of the air tight legal defense.  Why they made the video hosted by a cross between a member of ZZ Top and a Civil War general, I don't have a clue.  This guy is supposed to be the patron saint of skydiving, and he spent most of the time on the video telling me that I could die and I shouldn't sue anyone if I was touched in a way that I felt was inappropriate.  This must be a big issue for these facilities now.  Every sixth box on the forms was about not freaking out because someone from the skydiving place was touching the harness around your crotch, and it was sort of important that it was adjusted so you didn't fall out of the parachute and die.  I viewed being groped in the nutsack as a small price to pay for a safe landing, but I can see how attractive women might run into a situation where they have extremely safe crotches and breasts after the dudes from the facility make really, really, really sure that the harness is adjusted.

I spent about 20 minutes with my instructor Nate telling me what to do during the process.  To be honest, I have no real idea if Nate had any qualifications at all.  He could have learned how to do this yesterday.  I just assumed that since the other kinda wacky guys in the shed seemed to think it was OK that I strapped onto Nate and jumped out of a plane that it was OK too.  I think that is what is referred to as "blind trust".  He seemed like a cool guy, and he didn't mess around with my nutsack too much so I was fine with how everything was coming together.

I figured I would be really nervous since jumping out of a plane at 9000 feet is pretty fucking scary.  For whatever reason, I was really calm.  The die had been cast and this thing was going to happen now.  I walked over to the plane with about eight other skydivers.  I was the only first timer.  The rest of the group was a hodge podge of dudes.  Three of them were going to jump out and do some sort of formation.  Two of them were in flying suits, like they were enormous flying squirrels.  One of them was slipping into the suit as I was getting into my harness.  He said, "There's only two stupid things you can do involving a flying suit."  What's that?  "For one, die in it."  OK, what's #2?  "Buy it in the first place."

I had bought the package with a guy filming me as I did it.  It seemed like wise decision as no one was with me, and I think I would face some skepticism that I had actually left work at 3pm to jump out of a plane instead of doing something suburban like going golfing.  Plus, between you and me, I was looking forward to looking at myself on video to see if I looked like Keanu Reeves in "Point Break".  I also bleakly suspect I look more like a paunchy middle aged guy having a midlife crisis that is strapped to another dude like a prison bitch.  The decision to film meant that I would be the second guy out of the plane after my camera guy and his Mohawk helmet went first.

The plane was really small.  I sat by the "door".  Door is a bit of a misnomer as it was actually a piece of plastic velcroed across an opening in the side of the plane.  I had never had the experience of taking off while sitting between another man's legs while also being three inches from falling out of the airplane.  Now I had.  We slowly worked up to altitude.  I was really comfortable.  Once again, I cannot explain why.  There was a real camaraderie amongst the guys on the plane as we all did the dude fist bump thing as we started to get really close to the jump zone.  The camera guy got up and started to unzip the door. Cold wind blew in.  Shit.  This is really going to happen.  I put my goggles on.

The plan is you sit with your legs out of the door.  You rock back and forth and on three you fall forward while arching your back and keeping your head up.  I didn't wear a jumpsuit.  I was wearing what all serious skydivers wear, Chuck Taylors, Lucky brand shorts, and a skull and crossbones t-shirt. At 9000 feet, it's pretty cold on your legs.  It's also rather counter intuitive to put your legs outside of a moving airplane.  One... Two...  And suddenly we are falling...

It sort of reminded me of diving into the ocean with scuba gear.  There is the sudden confusion of trying to make sense of your new surroundings while also having the sudden shift of the bulky gear you had on land no longer being bulky because gravity changed.  There was a twist and a turn then suddenly we are dropping in the familiar skydive position that you've seen in every action movie.  It's loud as shit with the wind roaring in your ears.  There is the sensation of great speed, yet it's hard to pinpoint exactly how fast because there is not much to provide context.  The camera guy is smiling at me while filming.  I am trying to think of something cool to do, but I've got nothing.  I lamely make a Judas Priest devil's horn sign.  Damn.  That's going to look bad.  Mostly I'm trying to just take it in.  It's a massive rush of sensory overload.  This moment is why those oddball guys get in the plane and do this.  It is an awesome experience that isn't like anything else.  I loved it.

It was a 40 second free fall.  It seemed like it was about 3 seconds.  The parachute deployed and I saw why those harness straps on your crotch needed to be well adjusted.  I would not recommend to any male reader that they mistakenly have one of their testicles slip into the area between the strap and leg.  This would make a 90 mph fastball to the cup seem like a bowl of candy corn.  We floated down and it wasn't until we got close to the drop zone that I realized how fast we had been falling, even with the parachute.  We landed perfectly as I skidded on my ass.  If I could have, I would have hopped right back in that plane and done it again.  And again.

While I was bullshitting with the guys in the gear shed prior to the jump, a couple of them remarked "You would fit in really well around here."  There is some validity in that statement.  I could see myself really getting into it.  I would, of course, keep jumping until I tired of just doing that and bought the flying suit.  Then I would be doing halo jumps with a bunch of equally stupid guys.  That would lead to me really breaking through into a whole new thing as I would skydive with my scuba gear into a dive site, and then emerge from the water to my trusty sea kayak.  This "Sky-Scuba" subculture would become my whole life, and I would bore everyone within earshot with my enthusiasm for this new discipline.

Ultimately I just climbed in my car and drive home.  The gravel crunched under the tires as I started the long drive.  My DVD from the skydive hadn't downloaded yet and I didn't want to wait.  It had been as good of an experience as I had hoped.  I did it.  I was really excited about the experience.  As I quickly found out, no one else really cared.  This was my thing I wanted to do and the significance was mine alone.  I'll finish typing this and let that be the end of it.  It was just something that happened.  Still, I will watch the DVD when it shows up in my mailbox.  I hope I look just a little like Johnny Utah.                          

Friday, August 22, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate Night Driving

I was confused.  It was wet outside with the gray smear of a recently passed storm.  Cars hissed by on the nearby city street.  I had been sleeping behind the wheel of the van.  I had pulled into a CVS parking lot at 5:15 am, unable to drive any further.  I looked at my watch.  My eyes wouldn’t work.  It was as if someone had replaced my eyeballs with two raisins.  My contact lenses had fused onto my eyes somehow, the surface of my eyes shockingly dry.  I didn’t know it then, but blood vessels in my eyes instantly burst as I struggled to see.  7:00 am.  My neck was cramping.  Holy hell.  I had been passed out for nearly two hours.

There is a real skill in overnight driving.  Everyone has driven while tired, but to break through the threshold of when the challenges of the road aren’t so much the minor twists and turns of the highway but the hallucinations…  Now that’s driving!  In my case I had to ignore what appeared to be large bullfrogs that would periodically hop from the side of the road and attempt to cross in front of the unrelenting tires of the van.  Maybe this was homage from my subconscious to the video game “Frogger”, or maybe it was an actual frog I had seen gamely trying to make his crossing that just replayed over and over and over.  It’s really hard to say. 

I can never fall into a fitful sleep while others in the band are driving.  If I begin to drift off, my brain always sends a red alert in the form of an image of the van flying off the side of a cliff while Leo sleeps with his mouth open behind the wheel.  How I have not been claimed as collateral damage in the Leo Lifestyle is really a testament to the merciful side of The Lord.  One must maintain a certain vigilance to maintain a safe distance from a man that is primarily dedicated to “partying”, or in plain language “using all available intoxicants in his sphere until no one else wants to participate”.

No one else in the band appears to have this defense mechanism (or affliction depending on your point of view).  They all slept like baby lamb as I drove us from The Middle of Nowhere to Just Past The Middle of Nowhere without even a visible thought.  At 4:18 in the morning, a country road with construction cones can be pretty confounding.  A driver must keep his cool when he realizes he has been driving 50 mph on the wrong side of the cones and needs to swiftly pop over to the other side of the divide before driving off a sudden stop in his side of concrete.  A quick swerve.  A spinning cone spat out by a tire.  It’s all back on track.

We’ve made some horrifying drives in the past.  Bellingham WA to Cleveland OH is no picnic.  Austin TX to Lakewood OH in one shot is nothing to be scoffed at.  However, the late night suicide runs are the ones that will get you.  The only people on the road at 3:50am are amphetamine freaks, drunks, and degenerates.  Pull off at a Pilot truck stop anywhere in America at that time and see what the lowest form of humanity looks like.  That’s when you notice your own reflection in the mirror and realize that you are one of them too.  Barely classifiable as a human being.  More like a filthy ape.

Last weekend we drove back from a festival that primarily offered camping as accommodations.  I’m not much of a camper, and do so only in the most dire of emergencies.  My last two camping experiences both involved band dates in places so remote there was a real fear of a late night buffalo stampede.  At one of them we attempted to set up a tent in the pitch black and woke the next morning to find what we thought of as a “satisfactory” job was closer to “poor to very poor”.  Imagine if fabric was spread haphazardly with the highest point being 10 inches above ground.  The other time Krusty and I quietly lay in the flimsy tent while listening to Leo struggling to figure out how to open the tent and enter.  We wisely didn’t offer any help as he was fucked up beyond belief.  Leo later found shelter that had been offered by a very friendly homosexual man with romantic designs .  That did briefly fill us with some guilt.  After a very uncomfortable incident, they were able to work out a platonic solution.  I suppose all’s well that ends well.  The combination of both of these experiences did sour me on future camping trips though.

A man of my age and experience should not find himself waking up in a beat up van at 7:00 am.  While not “rock bottom”, this is in the general neighborhood.  When you are in Rock Bottom, you certainly don’t want the neighbors waving at you in recognition.  This is a place you want to look at from afar while shaking your head and saying, “How does someone let themselves wind up like that?”.  It really was a bit of a wakeup call.  It means that I now have to become more tolerant of off-kilter country roadside motels that look like they exist only to murder prostitutes inside, or become more adept at camping.  While neither is particularly of interest to me, I think I can sleep through the screams at the motel.  It’s got to be better than camping.  


Friday, August 15, 2014

Nurse the Hate: American Friday Afternoon

He sat in the chair somewhat defeated.  Slumped at the shoulders, he checked his phone more by habit than with the hope that anything of interest had arrived in his various electronic receptacles .  All around him in the restaurant others were doing the same thing as if the quiet whispered temptation of the phone offered something more interesting and genuine than the actual reality of this moment itself.  He expertly flicked his finger across the screen moving deftly from his email to his work email to his Facebook messages to his text messages to his Twitter to his Instagram to his Linked In.  There were messages, many of them screaming urgency with a red “!”, but he was unable to decipher what any of the alleged emergencies meant.  He ignored it all.  It was all noise.   

He ate a tasteless turkey sandwich staring at the TV replaying yesterday’s sports highlights in an endless loop.  He checked his phone repeatedly as if magically some message would arrive to give his life meaning and purpose.  He paid the bill, walked out to his car, and checked his phone again to make sure that nothing important had arrived on Facebook, Linked In, Work Email, Personal Email, Twitter, Instagram or text.  Nothing.  He started the car and talk radio washed over him.  He merged into traffic as a dented Honda Civic swerved dangerously close to the side of his car.  The driver, a young woman aggressively smoking a cigarette, was staring down at her lap undoubtedly in the act of sending an email/text/Instagram.  The Buick in front of her began to brake.  He saw she had not yet looked up as he passed.  A screech of brakes announced itself over the radio ad for “a guaranteed way to consolidate credit card debt”.  Disaster averted.

He parked his car and walked into the drab two story building.  He checked his phone during the walk.  Social media had alerted him to the fact that someone he barely knew was at Cedar Point, someone else was sad about a dead celebrity, a video clip of the band Killing Joke was “badass”, a woman gloated over recent weight loss, another was excited about her cat, a picture of a bowl of soup, kids in Little League outfits, invitations to events he would never attend, and multiple inspirational quotes which he found to be neither worthy of quote or inspiring.  He lifted his head at the traffic light.  Red.  To his right perched on the roof of the abandoned fast food restaurant was a large black bird.  They stared at one another.  The bird moved its weight to the right and then left, leaned forward and flew off.  He watched for a moment.  The light changed color.  He crossed and checked his phone.