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Slow night at the restaurant so it’s easy to accommodate the out of town party. Two couples, a little girl and her grandfather cluster around the table. Easy to seat, you should say, as they send a bottle of sparkling water back for being flat– you taste it and there’s nothing wrong with it at all. Great, slow night and the biggest party are a bunch of yuppie fucks, but that’s part of the job.

The two couples occupy one another leaving the little girl to be entertained by her grandfather. There’s something off about him, you notice, something inherently creepy in his face or bearing. “He looks like a child molester” you tell a co-worker, and it’s true that he does. The little girl, on the other hand, is pretty and precocious and better behaved than the adults who brought her here.

It’s a little surprising when she suddenly comes up to the counter, boxed in by the creepy grandfather. She holds a plate of bread out and the old man says, “Ask the nice lady for some butter”. The girl, obviously articulate enough to ask for butter on her own repeats as she has been told. “Of course, sweetheart,” you say, and pass a dish of butter over. The grandfather, meanwhile, stands behind the girl rubbing her face and hair;

not in an affectionate caress along the cheek as might be expected, but across the face entirely. “Ask the nice lady to spread the butter on the bread” he insists to his grand-daughter. It makes your guts churn, the way he dictates, but worse still is the suffocating pawing. Still, you focus on the girl who deserves the attention, “Of course, sweetheart, I’ll do that for you.” You adorn the bread but all the while you’re distracted by his hands on her face, rubbing. You pass the bread back and the little girl is let down from the counter stool. “That’s a nice lady,” he tells the girl and they return to their table where the couples conversation consumes them.

They don’t stay long. Without any notice being taken by the other adults the grandfather leads the little girl outside. Normal behavior to pacify a fussy child when the food is long in arriving but the little girl’s an angel. Your stomach takes a dive as you see them leave view of the front window. You get shaky, and you can’t swallow. You take the phone and step outside, to make it look like you’re making a call. They aren’t in view anymore, corners equal distance away from the front door. You follow what you hope are their steps, to the corner overlooking a vacant lot, and follow the sidewalk down the dimly-lit street of warehouses and trash and old cars either abandoned or parked and forgotten. Down the block, cast in shadow, you see them. It’s far away and they’re indistinct but it looks as tho the little girl is standing face-first against the wall of a crumbling building, partially obscured by her grandfather and his long coat. It’s too dark and they’re too far away but you’d swear he’s pushing her into the building, pressing her face against the bricks. You’re standing with a phone to your ear straining to see what exactly is happening when the grandfather frees the little girl from the building, and she stands now clear of his body and long coat. He bends down to her height and removes a handkerchief from the recesses of some pocket which he uses to wipe her face. Then he stands upright and propels her further down the street, away from the restaurant. You could swear he’s crossing himself as they walk, forehead, mouth and heart, like when they read the gospel in church.

You go back to work and wait, guts churning, unsure but filled with a horrible sensation and certainty. When the grandfather returns with the little girl she walks in and seats herself at the table, once again consumed by the conversation which has continued unabated. You catch the grandfather’s eye as he walks past and he looks right back at you, then continues on to the bathroom. You tell the waitress that you’re going to the office but to call you when the table’s check is ready. You sit and you don’t know what has happened but you know deep inside exactly what has happened, what is happening, what will happen. You take a drink, you call a trusted friend, you implore them for advice and as you’re talking the office phone rings. The waitress tells you that the table is paying now, and you stand to

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Completely unrelated is this clip of CNN mania from a year or so ago. A story on Richard Cohen, a formerly gay and now converted straight psychotherapist (of sorts) who aids gay men in reclaiming their straightness through unconventional means to say the least. It caps off at almost seven minutes but you should really watch all the way through because the action at the end is really worth it.


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Typical CamWhore

Popular among marketing executives who’ve reached that point in their career where the cocaine and booze can no longer create the necessary plasticity to do their jobs is having adults attempt to use hip-hop slang. This lazy tactic started in the 80’s and quickly spread through pop-culture sending titters through middle America and your parents. It should have died out and never been reborn but, because the gene pools have been diluted beyond repair, the hilarious grey-haired matron talking jive to the kids returns time and time again to sell you cell phones or Sunny Delight or whatever the fuck people buy. “Hahahahah! How clueless is she, that retard, trying to talk slang like she’s down?” thinks shiny happy white people holding remotes.

These commercials always, without fail, cause extreme embarrassment for me. I don’t know why, I’ve never done the market research to unearth what deep-rooted trauma lurks in my past to cause such discomfort when some nameless day-actress says something like “keep it on the DL” on national television. Okay, my mother has probably humiliated me in this fashion but I can’t think of a specific instance except for one wonderful Thanksgiving where she was conversing with a younger cousin and it popped out onto the table and began infesting the Turkey with tapeworm. She wonders why I always loved working holidays.

Well, perhaps my horror at witnessing these displays of out of touch adults is an issue of empathy. I don’t understand many of the popular trends currently corrupting society as a whole and the greatest wormhole of confusion can be found here on the internet. The very fact that within a short period of time computers went from being something that, if you knew how to turn one on, could get you physically attacked and verbally ridiculed to being an indispensable daily asset baffles me; I distinctly recall them as being a very uncool thing that labeled users as insufferable nerds and caused my dad to think I was gay. Now he knows about youtube and rappers have websites and myspace pages. Myspace baffles me. I’ve seen people lurk on it for hours at a time, posting comments and trolling through profiles. There’s people who pimp other people’s myspace pages. This is making me feel very much like a clueless adult.

But the truth depths of modern perversion were, until quite recently, hidden from me. I thought that myspace was the ultimate in hyperactive media saturation until livejournal came into view. Message boards have changed significantly from the times of BBSs, although fundamentally they remain populated by geeky recluses who know that appearing at the local mall will elicit mockery and death by being pelted with pennies or small, hard candies. Yet they’re sleek and snazzy and in color with pictures and wobbling icons and, most horrifying, their own slang. In a way it’s a natural evolution of shorthand. You’re typing and you’re excited about the exchange– you need to relate the thoughts bursting from your head as quickly as possible. OMG has been with us for a long time and most of the western world can understand the implications. Kewl has, blessedly, disappeared entirely from usage.

It goes beyond a simple matter of slang, tho. There’s an entire generation coming up that has successfully integrated the internet into their mannerisms and interests and, unfortunately, their lives. A perfect symbiosis has occurred and millions of little wingnuts the world over have been fucking sold on the concept. Little shits posting video diaries of themselves on youtube capture the attention of nations while disaster, fire and brimstone reign supreme unnoticed. There’s a level of humour solely dedicated to online chat and postings. There’s memes. Imagine being airlifted from your safe hovel where you can walk through the room with no light and not bang your knee and being dropped in the middle of a Krystal Meyers concert. Then replace everyone with computers and give them programs designed to allow their unabashed inflation of personality present itself in technicolor with streaming video and audio.

Fortunately there’s an oasis out there where you can kick back for a spell and follow the links, absorbing the terms and cultural fads which populate this hinterlands we’ve created. Last week at work we were busy speculating as to what this new room across the hall was being used for. Actually, those of us who’ve not been in a coma or terminally stupid know exactly what is going on in there but we were speculating all the same. When they first began using it I taped a picture of an alien autopsy on the window which had, for the sake of privacy, been spray-painted opaque. This did not suffice. They’re growing pot in there, someone said. What is this, the 20’s? It must be something sinister. Someone brought up the fact that all employees in the new room must sign confidentiality waivers. This same someone also invoked the memory of a former owner/manager who had been bought out and removed after incurring repeated accusations of sexual harassment and general leering creepiness, suggesting they were being brought back into the fold to run this new top secret department. That’s right, my friends, they’ve put a production studio in at Amoeba and they’ve begun producing and streaming child porn.

We needed to do something about it. Posters, we must make posters and cover their door and its opaque window with evidence of our knowledge. But how do you communicate child porn besides writing on a piece of paper, “We make child porn in here”? Why, you find pictures of pedobear on the internet.

Pedobear

WTF? Pedobear is a pedophile bear that crawls through the internet in search of lolis. Pedobear is an unstoppable force lurking in online forums and virtual worlds hunting for underaged girls. Pedobear can be seen on youtube dancing with bananas. Pedobear became the poster child for the new room across the hall from us. I fired the first salvo finding a suitable image and scribbling a clever caption

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underneath and taping the shit out of it all over their door. Some prissy fucktard tore it down. I found a more disturbing image and someone devised an even more clever caption which I taped the shit out of all over their door. Some prissy fucktard tore that down too. Someone realized we had a lot of label paper on hand and soon were were populating whatever surfaced were handy with pedobear stickers. The denizens across the hall tried to fight back by taking our own posters and sticking them on our own door. We were not amused but responded by more posters, more stickers, more clever captions. We totally pwnd them, is what I’m saying.

Yet where did pedobear creep in to our collective consciousness and begin to fondle us inappropriately? Our source material came from The Encyclopedia Dramatica. As the Onion is the cool-kids lampoon of American news, politics and

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general going-ons ED is the internet’s bastion of in-jokes, snideness and being horribly offensive for the lulz. It’s toilet humor for people that are smart enough to see the joke in the fuck you but geeky enough to appreciate painstakingly photoshopped pictures of cartoon bears and young girls. It completely consumed our entire Thursday and left everyone following each random link lustily, laughing hysterically and calling one another to our computers. Friday saw a resurgence of fascination as well as a continued assault on the neighbors. It also saw someone figuring out that you can have animated gifs as your desktop’s background. It’s the perfect distraction for whiling away the idle hours at work, it’s horribly addictive and it may be the greatest summation of today’s internet culture that has been pointed out to me.

Lulz

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The elevators in the thirty-floor building where I work run on a scheme designed to save energy. What this means in practical terms is that there are four elevators with an average ten minute wait. People from my office embrace the universal slacker dodge of the smoke break to stand next to the snack machines and look at “girls”.

Today I received a cheery farewell from my coworker. Last week we had a bit of a dustup. The argument was getting heated, which was frustrating because this was ships passing in the night stuff. Eventually he grew quiet and seemed to be listening to my point of view. A few moments later he expelled a crackling fart from the depths of a deskside nap. When he woke up it was like night and day.

I may fault him on his methods, but results-wise he’s got the golden touch.

They sell beer in the vending machines and I think about it every single time I go to the office.

The heat has been stunning. My collar is a science project and collapse seemed imminent throughout the unairconditioned day.

Once I caught the elevator I tried to explain to another coworker that I was on my way to buy the second half of the sixth season of the Sopranos.


Where are you going?

“Mafia television.”

Uncomfortable grinning.

“I’m going to buy organized crime television, you know?”

You will go home now?

“I’m going to buy mob TV season and then go home.”

Have a nice weekend . . .

Crossing a major traffic artery I noticed trees that had been planted in the past week. Their sudden appearance was explained by an electronic billboard (sponsored by Omega watches OMG!) declaring an even year until the ballyhooed Olympics finally kick off and everyone can start thinking about FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010.

Cumulonimbus clouds stood stacked in a blue sky. Last week at 9pm, every night like clockwork, powerful thunder and lightning storms would appear, followed by a blessed ten minutes of cooling rain. Most people attribute this to the government controlling the weather, including myself. I saw something about local scientists mastering nuclear fusion on TV. “This miniature sun will supply unlimited energy and change human life on earth.” It’s hard to know what to think, however, as folks here open a new coal plant on a daily basis.

A fetid river moves beneath another bridge. A perching club of capped swimmers I can never join are valiantly braving industrial chemicals and horrifying fauna to cool off in the river’s waters. They are resting beneath trees across the river and their laughter laps up at me.

To my left I pass once again the Embassy of the Republic of Iran and a moment later a street walker with all her womanly arms bared. She’s shapely, walks like a baseball player in his uniform, and though pretty, looks like she’s taken a few punches in her day. I wear a backpack, so working girls generally take me as too poor to be worth their time. Next come a beer house, an auto mechanic and now the low rent embassies of countries like Bolivia, stacked tightly within something resembling a housing project apartment building.

Men with mustaches and brief cases and bad skin and the weight of open state secrets officially cross the street. There is a buzzing evading bugging and its peaks and valleys describe plans to end AIDS and end lives, start companies and wars, cooperate and develop. Cicadas shriek from the trees and the river keeps

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rolling.

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After a difficult internal debate the votes were tabulated and it was decided that attendence was unavoidable. The walk down Townsend, left on 4th, right on Bryant was made, ending in a small doorway concealed from the street by a small sickly tree. Two windows on either side, choked with neon lights looking more like fire hazards then enticing adverts. Inside the darkness that only real despair can achieve– a dim sallow light accenting the filth and decay instead of chasing it from the room. An odd place for a company holiday party, but then again it

was an odd company.

It was a small bar that never felt full. The door leads to a short bar on one side,one bathroom and a wall directly across. Three beers draft but one was Beamish and since there were drinks already paid for (for the first hour) and they didn’t seem interested in how old I was Beamish was the drink. A jukebox past the bar in the corner hanging off a partition had been plugged full of quarters and Myrna, the company founder, had selected every Eagles and Bee Gees song she unearthed. This was not irony, it was sad. In quieter times the jukebox was cheaper than most but the selection reflected this and many times the same songs were played.

Past the jukebox, behind the partition it hung from, was a small raised platform with a couple dartboards and a couple small tables making a game of darts impossible. They had a sushi spread that day, pizza showed up later, and the writing staff held viagracanada-onlinerx.com court looking down their noses at the tech staff who seemed to dress in the dark every day. Across from the platform was the pool table, cheaper than most, about a foot shorter than most. Five or so booths stretched back from the table to the end of the room, two more dartboards hung amidst Budweiser banners and sad little pennants. free viagra or cialis

So

we sat, milled about, talked about work or the latest internet gossip. Myrna wittled away her sobriety and staggered thought the proceedings with flushed face and began singing along to the soundtrack. I sat at the bar with two of the bitter tech staff talking shit. The bartender seemed bewildered by this flood of people and tried cialis from canada her best but her ability to work in such a fast paced environment was not quite enough to make her seem comfortable.

This place was great, even crowded with the social retards and fashion wannabees I worked with at the time. Bars were never places I wanted to be but this wasn’t a bar so much as a clubhouse for people that had been kicked out of the more reputable clubs. On a normal night you may find a couple quiet drunks at the bar watching TV, whatever game might be on, or talking their non-conversations with the bartender. Occasionally is cialis from canada safe a pool game, occasionally a couple at a booth playing Scrabble. It was a neighborhood bar in a part of town that was predominantly commercial and industrial, a part of town that was desolate at night except for the periodic rattling of a shopping cart or roar of a rice rocket headed towards the freeway. It was a half hour walk from my house but one I made eagerly.

A friend used to universal kits cialis work swing shift and I would swing by when the crew got off. Everyone would caravan down Bryant as fast as possible and order two or three drinks upon arrival. The bartender passed out makeshift ashtrays and wandered around the motley collection trading jokes or just milling about. She would make last call at two and seemed to appreciate the business if not the company. Of course it was just as likely to be closed on any given night, without warning and eriacta vs viagra often without any indication it had been closed forever.

It’s been closed forever, gutted and gone. No more Eagles Drift In Lounge. Just another casualty.

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The first job I ever had was washing dishes at the local pizza place, something I landed after

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stopping by several times a week and pestering the lanky, awkward looking manager. Through highschool I worked a couple days a week, weekends and after school, and eventually started working on the floor and finally as a prep cook. It was a small place with a limited menu but a considerably loyal following. We didn’t do delivery service when I first started

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working there. You could say that’s because it was too small but really it was because a good portion of the neighborhood is made up of projects and when you deliver in San Francisco you’re not legally allowed to discriminate about where you’ll go. However, loopholes are everywhere and it was found that limited deliveries for big orders could be done without offending the law. Flyers were made and distributed to businesses in the immediate area. Once in a while I ended up having to ride with the lanky, awkward manager in the company pick-up to deliver the goods. I always insisted that I got to bring tapes along and smoke out the window so even tho it was a chore that prolonged my shifts (because I couldn’t chop onions in the truck) I was happy enough doing it.

Kozmo.com

We made a stop once at a new office building on the outskirts of the neighborhood where the Hill and the Mission converged in a collection of warehouses and the skeletons of what would become loft developments. An abandoned brewery (Hamms, I wanna say, but Schlitz might be right) had recently been purchased and converted and in the belly lay the most fashionable lobby I’d ever seen. Designer chairs and exotic plants, track lighting and neo-industrial touches. I have no idea what this company did but it was due to the internet. This was early on when AOL was just eclipsing Prodigy and funny little businesses had just begun to crop up here and there. Wired was just a small office on 2nd Street and Multimedia Gulch still caught most of the buzz. It didn’t really make sense to me at the time, that an office would have a lobby more appropriate for a Hollywood hotel, but then suddenly what didn’t make sense became what it was all about. Kozmo? Are you serious? Yes, they were, and they opened up shop on this coast as well. Little drop boxes appeared in coffee shops all around town. I landed a mediocre position at another brilliant outpost of consumerism in the South of Market and listened to the

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staff talk excitedly about the latest launches. I stood in absolute awe once on Townsend watching a huge crane slowly lower cars through the roof of a five or six story warehouse. That company, if I remember correctly, amassed a fleet of PT Cruisers to make deliveries in. No passengers, just courier service. Of course reality came back from vacation and they laid off all the writers, half the production staff and finally me. I’d built the office (Ikea furniture, natch) up from the pre-live days to the peak, then broke it all down again after the company went through a merger. Kozmo ate shit, the PT Cruisers disappeared and while no one got the big slap in the face they deserved you could tell the pot was at least simmering down. But, like old scars, the lofts remain and the neighborhoods have undergone changes that can never be restored. San Francisco came out of it a richer and whiter town then ever before, as though the whole dot.com bubble was a civic debutante’s ball. A popular theme in sci/fi and fantasy is the fabric of reality– you stretch it too thin and things from the other side break through. The fabric in SF was always closer

to cheese-cloth than wool, it didn’t take much for the moths to shred it entirely. Whenever I go to see my parents I walk down 14th an cut behind Best Buy. For months there was a warehouse behind Rainbow being worked on which I stopped paying attention to until, one evening headed home, I noticed that there were two spotlights out on the corner announcing the grand opening of whatever chic restaurant had been installed. I always walk home down Division and this atrocity was not enough to tempt my investigation.

Wag Hotel

I was wrong, it’s not a restaurant. The next time I went to my parents I noticed that a very small, one car drive-up built into the building. There was a security guard. There were two people checking into the hotel, a one-story former warehouse hotel. For real. I thought it was odd and I didn’t understand why it was called the Wag Hotel until I continued on past the huge display windows occupying the rest of the building. It’s the Wag Hotel gift shop. There’s huge pictures of dogs and cats sitting on chairs and surfing or whatever. There’s expensive imported food. There’s expensive toys. There’s expensive dishes. There was a cute girl closing up the register with a dumb, dyed punk-rock haircut but I couldn’t be bothered to focus. So next time you leave town you can leave your animal companion in style. Three different rates based on size give a small private room, two daily meals, classical music and playgroup time. There’s also suites for a little more room or for two animals, luxury suites which come with furniture, paintings and plasma screen TVs and, of course, the Cattery where felines lounge in condos watching the aquarium all day. There’s also daily services for locals like bringing your dog to go swimming or get walked and premium services for guests like, eh, massages… Go-go-economy!

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