Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If You're Going To San Francisco

"Just moved here? Far out! Well, have a nice day on the planet man!"

A childhood friend just visited California for the first time. She really liked it, but she sent me an email asking about the differences between California and New Jersey. Here's an edited version of my reply:

"Q: What's the Difference between New York and California?

A: When a New Yorker says, "Go Fuck Yourself", he means, "Have a nice day."
When a Californian says "Have a nice day", he means "Go fuck yourself."

The superficial, breezy cheerfulness one encounters among so many Californians is not to be trusted. Californians are constantly competing for a bigger piece of paradise. The place is crowded with people who are looking to get over and chances are they view you as a threat. You're on their beach, buying into their real estate market, crowding their street and taking their table in their restaurant.

While there is relatively little geographic separation into ethnic enclaves, don't let that fool you either. California may be the most segregated place I've ever lived. Traditionally, California was the White Man's Paradise. White people are still relatively privileged and they will do what they have to to retain that privilege. Immigrants and native born minorities know that the system is stacked against them and are just as ruthless in their pursuit of success.

Finally, sociopathic behavior is not uncommon here. In fact, in many circles it's considered cool; the mark of a real man or a strong woman.

Don't get me wrong, phoniness, financial and social competition and criminal mindedness are common everywhere, but they seem to be a little more normal here. Still, most Californians are, all things considered, nice enough. Funny thing is that a lot of Californians can embrace high, if judgmental, idealism right alongside those negative qualities.

I got in a little bit of trouble because I was relatively abrasive, or at least brusque in my conversational style. At the same time, a lot of people considered me naive because I tried to be forthright in my dealings.

Ultimately, I don't know that Californians are any better or worse than anybody else, but there is a California way of doing things that can be quite disconcerting when you first get here. To a new arrival Californians seem to be laid back, open minded and idealistic; the land of flakes, nuts and fruits. That's just "front". You might say that there is a California regional demeanor. New Englanders are a little more formal. Midwesterners are a little more shy and reserved. Southerners are a a little more loud and jovial.

I'd have to say that the California "front" must be working OK because California is an OK place to live. It's not terribly corrupt. There's at least a sizable minority that believes in social fairness. People generally value education. Most people are well traveled and genuinely interested in the rest of the world.

The Schwarznegger/Bush wing of California and national politics has done a lot to damage those traditional values. The real estate bubble made the place just miserable as did the phony dot com boom. A lot of people really have gotten rich quick here and a lot more people think they deserve to get rich quick too. California is all about gold rushes and that mentality, when exploited by the right wrong people can get really ugly.

I've spent about half my life here, but the above is what it looks like from the other half. (A mutual friend) used to complain ceaselessly about California. One day I pointed out to him that he had become a certain kind of Californian. He had become the kind of Californian who moved here twenty years ago and spent the next twenty years complaining that California is not like New York.

Oh, if you're planning on visiting again, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair."

I will always have a soft spot for Grace Slick. Whatever else she was, she was never a bullshitter. Here she is with her first band.

Free Advice- The Great Society (Buy)

A perky new me

Things are a little livelier today.

Hopefully I'll get something done today. I'm up and dressed and everything. Because I appreciate my few readers and my even fewer listeners, here's a wonderful soul tune by William Bell and Judy Clay. I don't remember this song from the sixties but it has really grown on me in recent years. One of my favorite songs.

Private Number- William Bell and Judy Clay (Buy)

My problem, I think, is not so much that I'm crazier than anybody else but that I'm not as good at covering it up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bed Suck

Don't hate the player. Hate the game.

I am stuck to my bed. I have no desire to get up, but I have a vague suspicion that this is not a good thing. I have to earn a living. All sorts of financial predators are knocking at my door, not to mention Buck and Tex, my excellent landlords. I've been sleeping badly, but I've been staying awake just as badly. I was supposed to spend the day mediating between work and doctor's office so that proper paper work could be exchanged. Instead I lay here. I suspect that I am dissociating. Maybe I'm sick but I don't feel particularly sick. I feel a bit depressed, but not consciously so. On the other hand, I woke up last night in a state just below a full on panic attack.

Sorry to have to bare my inner most to strangers here but I don't feel like talking to real people.

Music helps.

Outta Harm's Way- King Khan and the Shrines (Buy)

King Khan and the Shrines and The Satelliters sound really good today.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Two bus loads of drivers attended Chuck Everette's funeral today. It has been my great privilege to work with some fine people.

Speaking of corporate agriculture: Unemployment in Imperial County, California is 30.2 percent. How's capitalism working out for you?

Driving people from defiance to compliance- Noam Chomsky (Buy) (Or don't buy)

It's not a music download but nobody's listening to any of those either. If only you knew how hard I work at this stuff.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Posted elsewhere

As I've said elsewhere, my best stuff shows up on other people's blogs. Mr. Beer N. Hockey posted one of his excellent poems and I just had to mouth off:

"Some neighbors decided to buy some ewes, raise a few lambs and make a couple of bucks. Seemed like a good idea until it was time to separate the lambs from their mothers. The lambs screamed and the ewes screamed back, that lasted all night until the truck came to haul the lambs off. The ewes continued to scream and cry for a couple of days afterwards. The sounds they made were heart rending. I couldn't eat lamb for several years after. Reminded me of the time a calf died in a field near here. The cow stood over the body, rigid with grief, and didn't move for days.

The longest I ever lasted as a vegetarian was about a year. By the end of the year I was dreaming about meat. I thought about it like I thought about sex when I was sixteen. Finally a vegetarian friend told me that I should probably go ahead and eat some meat. By that time I probably could have clubbed a baby seal and eaten it's heart.

These days I eat dead things frequently. I try and remember the animal on the plate but mostly I don't bother.

Twenty some years ago, I spent a few years around big corporate agriculture. I saw all of those factory farms that the animal rights assholes like to talk about. They were pretty bad. Being an animal on one of those farms was about as bad as being a human and working at most human jobs. That's the part that animal rights people miss".

Beer, as usual, offered a good reply:

"When the morning whistle blows, everybody I work with know they are just meat in a grinder.

I too am in favour of free range humans."

Work- Scott H. Biram (Buy)

Work- Maureen Tucker (Buy)

Here's a song about work, not in the Marxist sense, rather what one does with "That Thing".

The Way That You Work- Les Sexareenos (Buy)

Finally a song about a man who has slipped the bonds of labor and everything else.

The Bottomless Hole- The Handsome Family (Buy)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

While we're laying people to rest, RIP Jim Dickinson.


I don't know when I'll get a chance to post anything new. I'm still fighting the nameless virus. I'm very tired. A friend from work was murdered last week. Say a prayer, or if you're not the praying type, think a kind thought for Chuck Everett.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Once again, I blew off church

I did watch Dogma last week. Does that count? It is one of three movies about New Jersey that I don't find depressing. Can you name the other two?

Besides watching Dogma, I listened to Porter Hall Tennessee. More hipster hillbilly gospel music, but I like that kind of thing.

Satan On The Run- Porter Hall Tennessee (buy)

Ola Belle Reed was no hipster, she was the real thing. I've been listening to her too.

Fortunes- Ola Belle Reed (buy)

Speaking of hipster hillbilly music, here's the skinny and talented creator of the Chicken Banjo Uke playing same

Having been pawed at by doctors I am sick and exhausted. I felt OK until the doctors got to me. I am not looking forward to getting truly old and being unable to defend myself from the doctors.

The word for this is Iatrogenesis.

The doctors decided that I have a "sleep disorder". They described a bunch of symptoms. In the interest of being helpful, I pointed out that I do not have any of those symptoms. In the interest of commerce, the doctors insisted that I would have to sleep attached to an expensive machine or two or they would take away my job. Under that threat, I attempted to sleep attached to the machines. Supposedly, I have trouble breathing when I sleep. The machine was supposed to help me with that. In fact, the machines cut off my breathing and made it almost impossible to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. After three nights without sleep I have all of the symptoms of someone with a severe sleep disorder. I fall asleep every time I sit down. I can't read without falling asleep. I can't play music without falling asleep. I can't watch a movie without falling asleep.

I offered to return the machine through the window of the sleep clinic but the nice receptionist negotiated a less dramatic return. Despite the fact that I have medical insurance, here in the country with the "best" or more likely, thirty second best health care in the world, I was forced to find a doctor who does not have a financial interest in the sleep disorder industry. I paid him cash and he examined me and found me fit to work.

This whole business drug on for two months. I am depressed, exhausted and can't shake this cold that has been dragging me down for weeks.

I have often expressed my admiration for Brownfemipower. She has had a few interesting things to say about the disease industry lately. Click here to read an excellent post.

Sunday morning is past, but it's still Sunday so it seems appropriate to post this little tune,

Sunday Morning- Elizabeth Cook (buy)

Elizbeth Cook is married to Tim Carroll, former Gizmo and Indiana punk legend. And yes, the song was written by decadent New York heroin afficionado and Andy Warhol associate, Lou Reed. Ain't life strange? They tell me that Lou is all cleaned up and nice to be around too.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I shall not be vulgarized.

I suppose I could pique your interest if I posted some of John Lennon's little known ukulele tunes.

I notice that nobody seems to like any of the songs I've been posting lately. Your loss. I will not cater to the vulgar masses by posting cornball punk rock reminiscences. Every body hated the stuff I was listening to 35 years ago. Now it's cool and young people think I'm hep. I am not hep you darn young people. You would hate the stuff I listen to now, just like your daddy hated the stuff I listened to then. When I die, people will realize how wonderful I was, just like they did to William Blake. I am a lot like William Blake except, you know, untalented. Man am I tired.

Here's a song I've been partial to since I was a little weasel with an ugly sweater and a borrowed banjo. I've been working up a little ukulele rendition of it. I understand that this is considered a bluegrass standard. This is not the standard version.

Soldier's Joy- Holy Modal Rounders (buy)

Buy everything you can find by the Holy Modal Rounders. Listen to it over and over until you get old listening to it. Keep listening.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The only useful advice I was ever given while drinking in a bar:

"Kid, you gotta be tough. It's a tough world. That's no excuse for being mean."

I saw Gran Torino today. I wasn't sure I'd like it. I was surprised by the ending. I get my Jesus wherever I can. It was better than going to church.

Russian Satellite- Mighty Sparrow (buy)

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