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Underground Accident

Ever try to do the right thing? Terrible idea because the forces of fate are loathe to permit such acts of responsibility society puts forth as ideal standards. Time and time again the inclinations of would-be do-gooders result in failure, ridicule and winking, “should’ve known better” glances as the viral tales of defeat spread from amused bystanders to friends, family and co-workers.

My own life has been a steady trickle of avoiding situations which require a choice of right or wrong because the fear of retribution and the desire to act in accordance to values promulgated by church and state conspire with handshakes and bank transfers to tear me asunder. I hate the metro stops along the Embarcadero for the simple fact that they have fare boxes at either entry and standing on the platform suggests that the social contract has been signed– you have paid the entry fee and are waiting with evidence of this transaction for your civil chariot.

It may surprise you that I’m at all hesitant to pay for the bus. Okay, it doesn’t surprise the people who think of me as a pauper among misers nor the people who know of my coin jars but it might seem contrary to those who know my opinions on civic infrastructure and transportation: cities should not require the use of a car for the citizens to get to and from home and work and all points between. San Francisco has a far-reaching bus and trolly system which provides ample coverage but has never been able to manage this service in a timely, clean or safe manner. If the bus driver isn’t taking out a stop shelter or if the train isn’t dragging old Chinese women underneath then there’s a lunatic who has spent the past week marinating in their own shit yelling at their invisible friend or some kid with a gun in their backpack in the wrong part of town. All this after you waited for half an hour in the rain and get skipped by the first two busses which are packed closely followed by the third which is only going half the route.

So when you walk up to one of the Proof of Payment (POP) stops you’re subject to trying to ignore the fare cop who’s standing in your personal space shouting in a desperate attempt to raise their voice above your headphones– wearing dark sunglasses helps. But the cops are no where to be seen when you’re standing at the entry eyeing the fare boxes and so the casual observers will see only you paying for no damned reason and thinking you’re the fool for doing so. The only reason is fear of being caught but I always lost in the battle of fears and I always paced nervously around the stop near suffocation. For some reason I never had any problem smoking the whole time which is also liable for a ticket even after a maintenance worker warned me.

The odds are on your side, of course. How many fare cops can there be out there at any given time? There’s seven metro lines with any number of cars on the rails going two different directions. The underground stations are probably where most of the searches take place because tourists are easier to intimidate and not even the fare cops actually wanna ride MUNI. Hell, it’s not that long ago no one even gave a shit about the fare collection. Little kids would stare down bus drivers after running on the back door, bums would wave spent kleenex for fast passes and station attendants, if there was one, were usually too busy talking to someone to notice anyone hopping the stile. Shit, they didn’t even seem to notice anyone opening the wheelchair gate and its piercing alarm. But then they built these new stations out by State and the mall which was a joke. Except to Jay, the only person who was ever busted for fare evasion resulting in the second time he had to go to juvenile court. (more…)

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I sincerely

apologize… It’s been a hell of a month and it seems knowing me was a sure fire way to have some trauma in your life: Three people I know lost loved ones this month, one losing two friends in seperate overdoses. A friend’s grandfather also was admitted to the ICU with a highly elevated white blood cell count but no tests have proven conclusive last I’d heard… My parents’ both lost their cars in one fell swoop. A high speed chase ended in my dad’s van which ended in my mom’s car. Both rear axles were snapped and the insurance company towed the derelict husks away in exchange for a total of five grand which, as you probably know, doesn’t buy a new car let alone two. This instigated a week-long mess for the folks which involved trains to Sacramento, cell phones landing in Salt Lake City needing to be returned, locking keys in cars (on loan) and a faulty oil change dumping everything on the street and leaving the car empty and needing to be towed to a diagnostic by Honda. When I last saw them they were just finishing the paperwork for the accident a week prior and looked pretty worn out. My roommate had a late night collision leaving his bike a little fucked, the car unfucked and some staples in his head. Black eye, swollen face, light concussion ambulance ride and a night in the hospital. After a couple days being cared for by his mom he returned home wearing huge and ugly sunglasses but in a chipper mood. Two friends spent time in psych wards, one brought by the cops and one on their own terms. The spiral of impact these events had on others was enough to wipe me out for a month on their own so luckily they happened within a week of each other smack dab in the middle. One friend decided to check into rehab which I guess is good but also carries a lot of bad into the conversation. The same head-trip as the last paragraph,

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I suppose: where were you before all this happened and why do you think trying to deal with if after makes up for the neglect and carelessness you showed not being there for people… Ah… Hell, I was declined for the first credit card I ever applied for because I don’t have any references. How do you get references? You have previous credit cards. They offered me a lower limit pre-paid card but frankly I just wanted free airline miles so fuck you and the pigs… Feel like I’m forgetting things and to be honest I probably am since I lost my ability to think about two weeks ago and have only slowly begun to sleep more than six hours at a time and complete sentences again. It wasn’t all bad: a friend of mine found out she was pregnant (which was good news) and two friends just announced today they had birthed a baby girl. Two friends got married (to each other, which is easier to deal with) and I was allowed to watch. A lot of people were in town who I don’t get to see very often and it was great to be able to spend a little bit of time catching up. Then again my friend in from Minneapolis was hung over when we met (we only had an hour due to my dealing with some shit and his previous engagements) and tho he was doing well it did come out that someone we had both worked with and been friends with years back had been killed a couple years ago in an accident. Tho by a bow or a boat I’m still not certain. Anyways, it brought the already quiet and still morning to an even slower speed. Anyways, a pretty polarized month. More eventful then most, to be sure, but I’m not really made for constant activity of the best sort let alone the worst. Again, I’m sure I’ve neglected to write something down so if I’ve missed your personal trauma and you would like an apology just get in touch. If I neglected your happiness remind me of that too unless I just pissed you off… Sorry for another indulgent, off the wrist posting. No pics, no links, no regard for the world outside my head… Shame, for shame! I promise to get the pony started in July with actual research and thinking and cross-references and babies flying out of carriages and shit… Seems like I’m dripping topics from my pants right now. Let’s be safe out there.

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In response to not having a computer I tried to write something in a notebook with the intention of working on whatever ideas landed on the page at a computer later… Instead I had a quickly written rant with no opportunity to tease out ideas or thoughts and the night I thought I might spend a little company time looking around the internet to help flesh things out a bit my manager walked in the room snooping which, obviously, ruined the thought… So instead we have yet another overly emotional, from the hip rant about nothing in particular but transcribed from a notebook and written as quickly as possible on a lunch break in a coffee shop after the girl working there showed me her fucked up wrist she injured in the Odwalla cooler the night before:

Ain’t nothing to do– the traditional rallying cry for bored teenagers, reaction against the frustrations and powerlessness of youth… A million nights of drinking and drugs, thousands of bands, hundreds of fanzines all sprang forth from one shared sensation… We stayed up til’ dawn watching horror movies or playing the same songs over and over again in the motorcycle shop… The Dead Boys beat up hippies and knocked old men down…

In recent weeks I’ve attempted to corrale countless friends into a variety of the traditional activities which were once born from boredom and frustration, but phoned inqueries– what’re y’doing?– no longer find the answer of ‘nothing’… Now people have to wake up early for work, or stay home studying for school or are just too tired to contemplate anything beyond microwaving a meal and watching television… Guess we’ve gotten older and things to do have been found…

Must be a natural progression, through the phases documented by films and books… Hormones run rampant for a couple of years and everyone’s nuts, acting out and picking through their obsessions… Then it’s time to mature, time to go to college and so the band breaks up, the zine doesn’t seem important anymore and another form of acting out and picking through obsessions ensues… By the time we’ve been suitably groomed for entering the work-force the bands and zines have been whittled down to almost nothing, property of the immature and disconnected… Sure, you can set aside a little time on the weekend to pursue your former ambitions or passions or whatever’s less embarassing a term, maybe take a class one night and if you’re up for it you can catch a movie Friday night:

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but these are now hobbies, not what you do… These things no longer define or identify you…

The flexibility is gone, we have our obligations and we have our schedules… If you’re lucky you enjoy your job– there’s a sense of accomplishment and a sense of worth resulting from every eight hour day… Most people find their way to places that aren’t so bad– the work isn’t terribly demanding, the co-workers are nice enough and the money’s pretty good… You get up and you spend an hour getting ready, an hour going to work, an hour for lunch, and hour to go home, an hour dealing with dinner, an hour trying to relax and an hour trying to fall asleep…

Maybe one day you’ll have a family and a 30-year mortgage… A trip to Europe, a family vacation to Disneyland, a big screen TV and a car… Your sense of what’s going on will become informed by product placement and labor day sales at Macy’s or whatever Junior’s demanding for pulling a

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straight B average… Maybe one day while cleaning out the attic you’ll come across an old shoebox with that tape your old band recorded, a copy of that zine you used to do, a reel of Super 8– God how embarassing… Maybe you’ll remember people you haven’t seen or even thought about for years and smile, or feel a little sad, or feel a little angry, or feel a little proud or even a little stupid… But you carefully put the lid back on the box and dig around further looking for the fucking Christmas lights…

Well, there’s always your mid-life crisis to look forward to…

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I hate it when this place becomes my personal venting and blathering space…

I also hate how the little toolbar that allowed me to insert links excessively isn’t around for me to abuse…

But I’m really starting to love television, the

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most revolutionary communications tool devised by man prior to the invention and wide-spread use of the internet… Not just because I can watch Charlie Rose and Spike Lee argue about whose turn it is to talk and what the other one means but because it’s really a good way of keeping up

with community events… For instance, what do you do on Labor Day weekend? May Day has never really caught on in the states as a celebration of the worker bees busy sweeping up Walmart or calling you up at home to tell you about this great new loan you’ve been pre-qualified for but Labor Day is an all-American tribute to the values and traditions held dear by the proletariat such as beer drinking and BBQing and getting paid time off…

To take advantage of this day of introspection and appreciation of our forebearers Golden Gate Fields, the local racetrack over in Berkeley, is having a free towel give-away September 4th… The beach-towel has a wonderful graphic of a horse and jockey in a modernistic style and, on television, is enticingly displayed by a young woman who is apparantly underdressed behind said beach towel… Yes, people do wear clothes with no shoulder straps or other support but I like to think of her as some sort of gambling nymph (I wanted to use succubous but this seems to have a botony definition, not a Greek mythology definition… Anyone who can tell me what the fuck I was thinking wins a free GGF beach towel…) luring the unwary or oversexed to the promised land of debt and alcoholism…

Free towel day is exciting as all hell and certainly more than enough of a good time to BART my ass over and play the ponies, but the Einsteins behind GGFs marketing have doubled down on this event by having the giveaway coincide with family day and beer fest! Mom and dad can get soused and pass out on their beach towel after gambling little Johnny’s future on the third race while the children are happily occupied kicking the shit out of the poor ponies forced to trudge endlessly in their tight circle… Au hasard Balthazar indeed!

Family is important, it’s true… One night wired on copious amounts of amphetemines after Krupted Peasant Farmerz played Gilman a couple of friends and I wandered over to the fields to hung out… Little Johnnies were crawling all over the arcade, stealing toys from the cherry picker and kicking the candy machine while mom and dad were watching the Australian carriage-race simulcast with telling desperation…

Community out-reach is important and hurrah for Golden Gate Fields’ intimate knowledge of their neighbors… Let’s all spend Labor Day at the track– if we’re lucky someone’ll get knifed in the parking lot…

In other news I was at Safeway last night buying soap and mayonaise and a couple other essentials… The baskets usually found by the door were gone and scattered throughout the store but since I only needed a couple of things I figured I would be alright… I’m usually wrong and this ws achingly clear as I stood in line burdened with bags of bread and 24 rolls of toilet paper– boy I can’t wait for my turn to dump this shit on the fucking conveyer belt… First I had to chase the spotted old bastard off who thought that hugging the asses of those ahead was the proper way to stand in line, but in order to whisper sweet nothings in his ear I had to cross the throughway and huddle up as well which, with the spotty old bastard behind me, caused all sorts of people squeezing by and having to shift around and, at some point, getting bumped by the spotty old man and having to wonder angrily if he was trying to start some shit or just decrepit and clueless…

Anyways, three douche-bags ahead of me buying a box of Safeway bakery cookies and the last of their party has his arm stretched across the conveyer while engaged in their petty conversation… The cookies advance towards the register, the arm remains in place… There’s enough of a beachhead to begin unloading my burden and perhaps readjust so that my wrist isn’t twisted around and bent back trying to keep the mayonaise from causing an embarassing incident but I’m trying to give dickhead the opportunity to, as the cookies advance, notice life on Mars… This doesn’t happen so I nibble on his ear a little with an excuse me and try to indicate, by beginning to put shit on the counter, that the ample space provided might enjoy company other than his arm… He turns to look at me in a languid fashion and pauses… for a moment… before moving his arm and continuing the petty conversation…

Their cookies cost $5 and change, an event which warranted excited “dude!” and would have resulted in high-fives except it’s not traditionally cool to high-five after a certain age…
-wow, this home computing shit is nice– I’m making beans right this moment…

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Go on, throw it...I’m rarely incited to genuine anger over media biases, at least not the kind that everyone in the media seems to think I should be upset about. Here’s a good example of the kind of bias that actually bothers me.

So, this mom basically can’t take a joke, goes apeshit over her fucked up cars – all in the name of being a rolemodel for her kids – and now some douchey high schoolers are facing felony vandalism charges. The subtext of this article is that this mom’s a hero, and oh my, isn’t it great that Mrs. Housewife took matters into her own hands and found those obviously evil adolescents. By the end of the article, we’re supposed to be jumping up from our seats calling for the blood of these little assholes.

Whoever has TP’d someone’s house in high school raise your hand. Wasn’t

it great? I’m not going to sit here and bemoan the end of a Golden Age of toothless suburban vandalism, but things have taken a turn for the worse.

First, I know this is on par for the immovable ‘slice of life’ category of articles. It will always be around as long as there’s war and suffering to make us look for something a bit lighter from our daily news. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

What really totums my scrotum is the celebration of a vengeful property owner amidst a dirth of publicized civic activism. Where’s the story about a mom investigating where all the money went that used to go to her kids’ music and art programs at school? Is it going towards a media blitz during her kids’ cartoons trying to preen them for future military service? I guess not, since all the recent cuts for student loans won’t really leave them much of a choice. Or whatever the parallel would be for this news turd. (This one’s just for fun)

I know, even I’m bored at the idea of reading that story. But there’s got to be a better way. The pleasure of reading the original article is the American Beauty syndrome, where the routine of not having much to worry about is broken by someone breaking their mold and people feel empowered to do something that’s not expected of them. The image of a regular old mom, or any denizen of normalization, going through security footage at her local grocery store is just too seductive to bear.

This is activist journalism for the economically wronged. It’s condoning vigilanteism as long as a quantifyable crime has been executed against your estate. Most papers try to adopt the neutrality of silence on most boringly relevant issues facing their community, taking a pro-economy stance on everything else. When a civic issue is raised, no matter what the angle, they’re immediately condemned for taking sides.

I think it’s sad that the mom took things to the police and pressed charges. Finding out who the culprits were is one thing, calling for the heads of kids from your community is another. I think these things are possible because no one really thinks of it as a community. Suburbia’s adopted the facelessness of big cities without the excuse of social overload. People are pulling back from the terror of uncontrolled interactions, building castles on the hill, and releasing the boiling oil on anyone who knocks on the door. Meanwhile the anger of isolation just builds and builds, waiting for that first fateful roll of butt-rag to be lobbed through the bare branches of their favorite tree.

Let’s all just get to know our neighbors and try to calm down a little.

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