June 2006

Monthly Archive

Daniella and BarneyOriginally uploaded by kaxline.

As Rob and I sat outside a bar in Baños, Ecuador, the daughter of the tavern’s owner became fascinated with us and attacked us with her stuffed Barney. She was beautiful, but this was not a surprise; almost all the children I encountered in Ecuador were nymph-like in their radiance, even more so in their formal school attire. In fact, the dress of officials such as airport security and army personel in the streets was strikingly discordant with the chaotic backdrops in which these people stood. Everything worked smoothly and without fail — buses and taxis arrived safely at their destinations, no one was thrown from the vehicles or run over — but in every instance a desirable outcome seemed implausible at best, a miracle at worst. Like much of South and Central America, Ecuador to me seems like it was pushed hastily into modernity by Spanish and tourist colonization and then abandonded (and/or oppressed) without proper resources to cope. Socially I found a much warmer climate than anywhere I’ve visited in the U.S. The wall of cynicism, the jadedness, that keeps me at arms length from strangers at home was a distant memory, and instead I was greeted with an immediate intimacy that I envied. But the sense that the culture has one

foot, and its heart, in the

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past, while it’s being dragged to the future by the other foot, never left me. The disparity of wealth is enormous, and tourism seems to be the only main industry other than agriculture. The most problematic issue for me is — and has been since my many trips to Mexico — the lack of varied roles for women. It seems girls are to be very sexual

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and desirable to attract a husband, but then are expected to have as many children as possible right away. Some graffiti I saw in Quito roughly translated to “Sex when I want, pregnant when I choose.” This dovetailed with my sister’s experience at a couple of Planned Parenthood’s in California where South and Central American women lined up for the birth

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procreation before the Catholic influence, but this seems to be a growing point of tension that might boil to the surface if other more pressing problems didn’t take up all the space in the public awareness. As a result, the ubiquitous presence of children in the counry is conspicuous for someone from the abortion-happy north. I just hope the extra numbers will help the next generation tackle the problems they are inheriting.

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Someone said they would love to see me working at Tower, the joke being that I would

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the biggest fucking place I’ve ever spent any real amount of time (save my ‘by my rules’ tenure at the since defunct corporate law office of Broebeck, Phleger & Harrison) and I figured aloud that it couldn’t be that much different. This was greeted with a resounding “hah!” and assurance that, yes, it’s quite different. My employment history was apparantly scarred enough since passing through the hallowed (hollow?) grounds of Epicenter in my wild and wreckless years. This didn’t make is viagra a hormone too much sense to me as I knew two people who worked Epicenter who were paid to work at Tower Records down on Market. They weren’t living in paradise but they couldn’t have been any less fucked-up or misanthropic than me. One thing I knew about Tower was that they would have huge inventory days where everyone had to come in and stay late moving bremo pharmacy product around and counting shit and wishing they were elsewhere watching television. One of my long-time ambitions when at Epicenter was to have a functioning inventory of used product to have more consistant used pricing (and so that the myriad of volunteers felt more comfortable buying used records instead of freaking out and telling me about it later) but the only finished inventory that took place was when we closed the place down and had to tally everything up for liquidation. The records racks went to, I think, Axis Records and Howling Bull which is dead and maybe a couple even ended up at Mission Records, also dead. Amoeba bought the leftover stock and I dropped off Epicenter’s keys (of which there are a million copies) and picked up the deposit from the building’s landlord. There’s an obvious difference between the place where I drank 40oz, smoked cigarettes, blasted The Meatmen to piss off lesbians and counted moths and buttons in the till at the end of the day and the place I walk to four times a week and dutifully work and drink coffee. There’s a lot more money in the tills and I don’t even have to count it. But there’s not as much money as there used to be and so I guess management decided to call a store meeting to discuss matters with whoever answered the call for a couple extra hours on the clock and some free pizza. I just work anyways so there you are. Wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pretty disappointed when I learned from the state elders around me that this wasn’t such the unprecedented event as I’d hoped– they’ve just never bothered to have one while I’ve worked there. Even so I was eager to hear about bleak sales and hard times and cut-backs and maybe some group hugs in the same way it warms my heart when the Dow Jones takes a dive. I don’t have much of an understanding when it comes to business and economics but I know a good time when I see one. It turned out to be a lot of nothing, a flow chart about who you’re supposed to ask for time off west coast university pharmacy and a chat about how no one can do anything about how scummy Haight Street is so stop blaming the junkies and the bums for life’s ailments. Talk on how to improve the cash flow centered on pushing used product which has the profit margin which seems to have been the idea for as long as I’ve been around. Epicenter had little group chats once a month, if only because it was required by law for out not for profit tax status. My ideas were generally outlandish, rude, loud and fueled by the coffee/malt liqour cocktails I used to live on and, as such, were immediately discounted and forgotten. But certainly the lack of stock was a deciding factor in the continued demise of the store, made all the more obvious when, behold, Amoeba moved in and had three copies of every record we should have had with people selling pot outside instead of heroin. We never had pizza but we did sit on the floor. Okay, I didn’t sit on the floor last night but I did pace around close to the pizza boxes and listened intently without making any suggestions, accusations or invitations to violence– at no point did I call anyone a “balding fuck” so vehemently that spit flew across the room. Push used product, be personable, make suggestions. Blah, blah, blah but I got a couple hours time and a half for my attention. The meeting ended and everyone chit chatted finishing their sodas and slices and trickled off in ones and twos and while I stumbled on home thinking about how I shouldn’t have eaten so much it didn’t really seem any different than what they probably do at Tower or probably even Target or, possibly, even places like Broebeck, Phleger & Harrison. My longest running office job was for one of those doomed from the start online money pits called nextmonet.com and they had little group meetings too with crackers and brie and beer and once even scotch. Having been there from before they wen’t online to after they started laying off half their staff I had hundreds of opportunities to sit at the big table and feel apart of viagra vs cialis better the team which seemed to revolve mostly around eating and listening to the CEO or CFO talk about something or, for kicks, listening in as their 401k manager broke down the future riches. I was asked, invited and encouraged to sit in. I usually went and smoked while they had their meetings and chuckled about it to myself afterwards when I scooped in on leftovers. They did make me attend my department meetings which were just as useful to me and, I’m sure, just as grateful for my presence as every other meeting I’ve ever attended except if I spilled my cup of noodles all over the place. I’ve been trying to loop this all into some greater truth or revelation but it’s not really working. Maybe if I’d viagra online pharmacy bothered with writing

classes instead of chopping onions and bellpeppers but I didn’t now you’re stuck with it. Meanwhile it’s been a pretty lonely excursion every week and the less and less that gets posted just makes these random little musings all that more noticeable to anyone who might accidentally happen by and God, what are they gonna think? C’mon people, if you can’t make me look good at least make me look less obvious.

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-B …who really ought to think about this before he shows up at the library… Â

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Events continue to interrupt my attempts at an ostrich-like existence sitting inside and reading or listening to records. Maybe I should just stick to the book when I decide my stomach hurts because it requires a sandwich, not because I’ve been drinking coffee for several hours and not burning any of it off, but the usual practice is to watch a little television for the ten minutes or so I dedicate towards nourishment. Now, I’ve been off the grid and out of the loop for a good while now which causes a strange sense of deprivation to descend during these five minute intervals of cultural barrage. I’ve usually been the one that was up on the news, read the paper, watched the reports and even if I didn’t have anything insightful or interesting to add I could at least keep up with the conversation. Now I feel

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pretty lucky when I catch Jeopardy and pretty stupid when I get things wrong. I still try and catch my English broadcasts of DW-TV and earlier I was even around for the News Hour on PBS but typically these only serve to show the extant of my ignorance as to what the fuck is going on around here. I’d heard somehow about the NSA data-mining a while back and it didn’t really strike much of a chord emotionally or anything. I mean, what else did you expect, free ice-cream? It helps, of course, that I’m hardly anyone’s idea of a terrorist and if my scant phone conversations warrant any attention by way of keywords it’s only me and my friend down in Phoenix talking about how he works for the Taliban which really just means the coffee shop run by a couple Egyptian guys. I’m not prone to long distance calls, let alone international ones, so the Taliban thing probably just floats around in a tank full of ones and zeros. That’s not the point– I’m supposed to care about things even when they’ve got fuck all to do with me. Racial profiling? Bad shit, even if it’s never going to be an issue for me personally because I’m as white looking as an Alabama Protestant. Immigration reform? I’m not immigrating anywhere but I’ve still my little opinions about the matter. So when the US government is collecting phone conversations (indescriminantly or not) I’m supposed to be incensed and I am when I remember that I’m supposed to be incensed. That’s all well and good and now a bunch of middle-class college kids are fighting the man and eventually the spooks can go back to spying on people without it being a topic of discussion just like it’s always been. What irritates me more than the fact that people have to file suits against the government to have the matter out in the open is that I learned of that while reading MRR on the pot. So I sit and eat this rissoto I’ve just spent an hour and then some making flavorless on the stove and the news has a newzbite about ATT, the company paired with the NSA in the data-mining lunacy, selling actual phone calls to major companies like my bank to have the data, eh, mined for (I assume) marketing purposes. Let’s imagine that ATT is a single entity as is the NSA and big bad Mr. NSA comes and asks a favor. ATT’s a little nervous about it because ATT knows full well this is not gonna make ATT a very popular kid on the block. Big bad Mr. NSA could probably beat the shit out of ATT and get whatever he wants but being a class act who happens to wish to remain nameless instead introduces ATT to some other single entities like BofA, Merril-Lynch or whoever the fuck and suggests everyone make a deal. Did that make sense? I don’t have time to edit or check facts or even really thing at the library here but it makes me a little suspicious that the NSA coerced ATT by promising that the collected data could be sold to other companies for more American activities like calling me about my fucking mortgage. I suppose Safeway kinda does the same thing when I use my mom’s club card to get fifteen sense off that brick of cheese and that jar of pickles but they’ve never bothered calling about anything. Some people don’t trust the government and invest their faith in free market business while others don’t trust free market business and invest faith in the government while most people, I would hope, can’t really tell the difference and spend their days reading and listening

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to records in hopes of avoiding having to deal with either. So my little head has had its normally scheduled programming interrupted for a contextually raw news item and when I try to lock the world out by watching a movie I land in The China Syndrome which is a cute little chick-flick about a nuclear power plant, a nearly catastrophic event and how big money attempts to usher in shit under the noses of the feds and make bigger money at the risk of making Southern California even more uninhabitable than it already is. Despite some poorly made choices pandering to the action oriented appeal of such movies it was pretty good and I would recommend it if you ever wonder what it must have been like when Three Mile Island had a little melt-down imediately after theatrical release. Which also made me think about the book “Toxic Sludge is Good for You“, specifically the chapter about infiltration into anti-nuke groups by industry spies. The point I recall is that the government has to subsidize the insurance at plants because no one else will and that’s tax money. Then you pay for power and pray you don’t die, I guess. -Q&D

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The details, such as may actually be know, are scant and it’s nothing I would really pursue doggedly like the intrepid reporter I might like to aspire or even pretend to be when the reins on my brain have been let loose to wander. My assumption is that sometime on Sunday night or early Monday morning Jesse Huestis chose to end her life. My phone was being pointedly ignored so that I could flit through my day without human contact but, like television viewing or standing on the roof smoking while watching the locals go about their lives on Haight Street, my voyeuristic tendencies compelled me to up the volume a bit to listen in. It was my roommate who I also work with and there’s little precedent for such a call, especially after only having left the apartment a couple of hours ago. “Have you talked to anyone at work today?”

-What’s wrong.

It’s not quite like some months back when similar news had spread about another coworker’s death. Late in the evening on my way to the timeclock and what amounts to freedom in my world I was stopped by a manager; heart-attack. Someone I knew but had little contact with beyond a polite nod whenever paths were crossed. Perhaps more importantly there was no questions– people have heart-attacks. It was sad, regardless of how well you knew him, but it wasn’t anything beyond that.

When I started working Jesse was gone, a ghost that people mentioned, that flyers advertised benefits for on every wall. I didn’t attend– didn’t know her and hadn’t made friends to hang out with yet– but you could tell she was revered amongst my co-workers. No one ever went into details about what the benefits were about but you heard vague mention of illness. You figure it’s cancer.

Her return was along the lines of Jesus’ entry of Jerusalem and soon she was seen here and there, moving about in the distance and always in the company of someone. She’s pass my little work station and at some point one of us introduced ourselves to the other but it was nothing special. But since she was cute I eventually managed to bother her outside one evening when we were both smoking and we would, whenever chance would have it, have little conversations from time to time afterwards. One night I stood outside while she clutched a bundle of boxes to her waiting on a cab. She was moving in with her sister and she seemed enthusiastic about it. Whatever hardships she’d stared down in the past were being left behind, it seemed, and life was slowly getting back on track.

She disappeared again suddenly and no one ever talked about it within earshot of me but by this time I’d been “promoted” to an self-contained department and

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wasn’t privy to all the store gossip. I took it for granted that she was back dealing with her illness, whatever that may have been. When she returned the second time it didn’t seem to be quite the celebration as it had been before, but maybe that’s just because now I was working with her.

Consequently we slowly began to get to know one another a little better. Her time away wasn’t quite what I expected– after a falling out with her sister she’d moved back in with her mother and had broken up with her boyfriend. I didn’t really know what to say to that beyond sorry because I didn’t know her well enough to say anything beyond that. Don’t really know why this news came to me at all but as she’d said once before, “I don’t know why I’m telling you my life’s story” so maybe it’s just my open face, eh? She told me how she had, since her second return, been put through the ringer trying to resume her old responsibilities, having to basically prove her worth all over again and argue with the front office about what she did at work. I felt bad because I knew a little more about that than her personal life, but all I could say was sorry again.

Regardless of what could only be considered a serious shit-storm she still seemed upbeat and normal, at least to me. She still wandered around and talked to her friends, still talked on the phone and made plans, laughed and talked alongside the rest of us up in our little attic office. We developed a relationship of gentle bickering and put-downs and seemed to get along alright.

Friday afternoon she asked me to come outside for a cigarette. She’d just told one of our little crew about a minor fuck-up and was concerned that it wasn’t “her place” to do so. Meanwhile I felt bad that I left it up in the air for her to do after I figured out who’d fucked up. I told her she’d done nothing wrong, she hadn’t risen above her status and she’s acted appropriately. No one could have possibly been offended by her pointing out the error. I think she felt a little better about it.

“I had a brain tumor” she tells me and I’m not sure how we’ve even gotten here. She tells me how her right leg is still fucked up from treatment, a procedure which extracted most of a tumor from her head, even after intensive therapy. “I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom by myself”, and still there was problems remembering things and thinking straight. Does sorry cut it? I tried one out but it just hung in the air about as worthwhile as an umbrella in a hurricane. So I asked her about it, how treatment was going. Going well, she thought, her last MRI had been clear and slowly, after brain surgery and six months of not being able to walk and having to deal with one of the scariest illnesses ever. The worst part was feeling helpless afterwards, still feeling helpless, still having problems with her leg. “I just want you to know that I’m not stupid, just gimpy.” I told her about my own history of not being able to walk and we joked about the gimp club. We could have meetings, I suggested. “But no one would ever show up… We’ll all be too busy gimping around.” Who has brain surgery and jokes about it afterwards?

I beat her out the door Friday and patted her on the head as I passed. See you.

Work yesterday was a strange affair. If I hadn’t know– if it hadn’t happened– I wonder if you could have seen the difference. Apparantly Monday was rife with sobbing but Tuesday just had a pall cast over it. I avoided the attic office not eager to talk to anyone. What can you say? Sorry? Eventually I had a talk with the manager up there, who had known Jesse since they started the store up. “Can you imagine someone that’s in so much pain they choose to end their own life?”

That’s the crux, of course. This wasn’t a heart-attack but a decision. This was someone who pretty much endured some of the worst that life can throw at you and survived, a little gimpy but still ready to give you shit for a laugh… All that to give up in the end…

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I’d like to address what I feel is a complete lack of perspective by the Democratic party, of respect for the bible belt by the media, and of what we call cajones south cialis for daily use maximum dose of the fiercely guarded border, by canadian pharmacy discount drugs any charismatic viagra generic leader smart enough to read the paper every day. Specifically, the information documented in this (I hate to cite the rag but nothing means anything anymore so whatever, right?) Rolling Stone article and a recent analysis of Democratic strategy by the New Yorker. People can get lost in the details. People can also completely ignore the details and still make the right decision. Most of us have been burned by the former and the people who rely on the latter enough to make any sort of decision feel genericcialis-onlineed like your in the rat maze of some 13 year old with a cattle prod. That’s why we have leaders who have a knack for finding a path through all the hmming and hahing. The Democratic party doesn’t need to find the right concoction of issues to cater to a middle majority that they treat as some Damien child that can make or break their campaign on a whim. It’s a pandering without any real respect for the people whose votes you want so desperately. Anyone who’s tried to court a member of the opposite sex who knows she’s attractive can tell you how appetizing desparation smells. The DNC is paying a third-party company a bunch of money to tell them how to speak to this foreign and flighty demographic, handing out pamphlets that sound like instructions written for robots on how to care for animals. The impression this gives is that the DNC views the middle as an alien other with incredible power, which right now is true. Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi are making murderous and embarrassing invectives against enemies of the U.S. in an effort to change the perception of Dems as soft on national security. As the New Yorker article observes, if you have to say you’re tough, you’re not. Not only is this all very bile boiling, it’s just poor strategy. Everyone can see the insincerity, the calculations, it’s just that the loyal left – like me – agree with the ends and so continue to cross their fingers and hope for the best. I’m betting the amount of money being poured into think tanks and strategists for both parties would solve many poor countries’ infrastructure problems. So what to do? At this point it’s difficult for the DNC to come off as having some core ideals that they didn’t just cobble together from polls. They need to pick a single voice, no matter how imperfect because they’re all imperfect, go after the incredible amounts of buy generic cialis online corruption (of which I suspect we’ve barely scratched the surface), and stop the media speculation about what the strategy will be for fall. We’re going to win, next question. Even the New Yorker is ashamed of the bickering messages being bandied about. And most importantly, despite the media veil that says otherwise, keep in mind that Kerry didn’t really fuck up. Whether or not you think that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is full of shit, I think it’s important to note that if the same discrepancy between exit polls and actual numbers happened in a third world country, everyone would’ve called BS. Part

of it is the comfort I feel in thinking that the country that I live in wouldn’t have elected an obvious liar (no matter what his politics) but I think the biggest fumbling of the trump card the Dems have been handed by way of lies and corruption would be to cater to voters who don’t want to be catered to, they want to be lead.

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