Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nazz Nomad and the Ecstasy of the Squares

Fans of Poetry is for Assholes should be following the tormented artistry of Nazz Nomad at Bleedin' Out.  In addition to being a family man, a native New Yorker and the bane of Brooklyn Hipsterdom, Nazz is also a salesman for a large concern. What the fuck were they thinking?

I've been following Nazz for at least a couple of years now. We've gone so far as to share our secrets in personal emails. I've come to like the guy so, when he told me he was coming to Reno I decided I would have to drive over the hill and check him out in person.

Nazz it seems, was visiting Reno for some sort of business related convention. He was going to try and have "fun" while he was in town. Here he is pictured having "fun".  You can read his impressions of fun in Reno at his blog. I had my own opinions.

I have never liked Reno, or Nevada or casinos. They give me horrible headaches. By they I mean all of the aforementioned three, Reno, Nevada and casinos.

As fate would have it, Nazz was in Reno on the high holy day of the lunatic right, the happiest day on the Teabagger's calendar, September 11th. This year September 11th didn't just fall on the 11th of September, it was also the tenth time in a row that it was September 11th. Tell it to the fuckin' Chileans you flag waving phonies.

I had to respond to Nazz' comments on his tour of Virginia Street. Here's what I had to say.

"Comrade, our differences are slight but I did reach a somewhat different conclusion based on my own experiences in Reno. 
My conclusion is that I am the worlds biggest fuckin' hippy. You know, I live in the heart of the hippy beast. You really can hear conversations here like, 
"How you been man?"

"Not so good man. I'm really missing Jerry, man." 

That's an actual conversation. 

Everyone here claims to be a Buddhist and everyone here meditates and they all own hacky sacks made from recycled organic hemp and they all go to Reggae on the River and catch hepatitis A and dysentery, just like the '60's. They all drive Volvo station wagons and I DRIVE A FUCKIN' VOLVO STATION WAGON. Let's call that clue number one. I live in a town where the McDonalds and the KFC went out of business because no one would be caught dead eating corporate food but they will sit in their Volvos for an hour in hopes of getting a parking spot at Whole Foods Market. Everyone here has opinions on farming and agribusiness. Everyone here also has opinions on wine. I didn't have an opinion on wine even when I drank but people really have opinions as to what would go well with a nice seitan, quinoa and arugula salad. 

Are you beginning to get a picture? Let's not consider the other, invisible everybodies who bus tables, drive old Buicks, pick grapes and live 7 families in 7 rooms. See that's why I mostly dislike the local hippies. They are completely oblivious to the presence of a massive underclass that exists only to serve their phony Buddhist asses. 

Ok, so in my heart I am a Moslem. In my heart I am an American artist but at heart, when I'm home here in racist hippy liberalville, I am no fuckin' hippy. 

That is until you transfer me to Reno, fuckin', Nevada. Jesus Christ, that place is some kind of heaven for the creepiest squares in existence. I am all in favor of excess but I mean the kind of excess represented by The Cramps or the kind of excess that leads to William Blake's palace of wisdom but Reno's excess is an extra jumbo large deluxe economy size can of spray cheeze food. It is an excess of bosco chocolaty flavored syrup mixed with vodka from a plastic bottle and served as a cocktail for people so hopelessly dull they imagine that they are jaded. 

People work hard and save their money so they can come to Reno and enjoy hideous, square fun which essentially involves squandering their pathetically diminished wages on shit that no one in their right mind would want if it was free.

Fuckin' squares. I can't fuckin' stand them. Alright, that's a bit of an overstatement but I don't much like them and I don't share their enthusiasms.

Which leads me to my conclusion, the synthesis of ideas originally introduced in my opening thesis. I will freely admit that, by local standards, I am not any sort of hippy. However, by the standards of much of my native land, America, the beautiful- And here I must point out that we were celebrating, communally, all of us gathered in Reno, the ascension to martyrdom of the only innocents every to die in an act of war. That highest of holy days. The date, that by it's mere invocation, acts as a license for the shittiest political behavior in the history of our short lived and soon doomed nation- by those standards which a certain class of fuckin' moron would call 'American', I am such a fukcin' hippy that people wretch at the excess of patchouli stink that wafts their way as I amble by missing Jerry.

So Nazz, Rico, dude, you were there at the 2cnd tier regional magazine publisher's convention and awards dinner but I've got one question for you: ARE YOU GONNA BE THERE AT THE LOVE IN? I know I am.

Now If you'll excuse me, I've gotta go tie dye everything I own. It really was fun driving over the mountains to meet you. Next time meet me in the fucking parking lot and I'll get you a little ways out of squaresville. You were, after all wallowing in marshmallows and polychlorinated biphenyls in the shadow of John Muir and Ansel Adams' "range of light". 
Art and beauty everywhere you look. 

A world of pleasure for the connoisseur 

As Johnny Paycheck once said,  "Splendor, Lord you've got it wall to wall.

Donner summit. I'd rather eat you than spend another minute in Reno

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Living on the beach.

Peter Fonda, Jane's brother, rides out of Venice back when Venice was slummy and the living was easy.

My good friend, Ib, posted something about gentrification and Venice Beach. Ib is in Glasgow and I'm not altogether sure what he makes of Venice. Better to read what he wrote, here.

I'm kind of unmotivated on my own. Somebody has to inspire me but when they do, I don't know when it will stop. I ended up writing this as a comment on Ib's blog post.

"It's necessary that we recognize the realities of the market. In the case of mutts like ourselves the reality is that the market is a bunch of rich hoodlums wrecking our lives just 'cause they can.

I live in terror of real estate developers. I was nearly driven out of my little California hidey hole and forced to live someplace so squalid it failed to attract their attention. California was becoming unlivable as all anyone ever talked about was equity. As in "How much equity you got in that place?".
I'm so fucking glad the real estate market went to shit. I feel sorry for a few friends who bet their lives on the equity fairy dust but the truth is that my life has been vastly improved by the collapse of the real estate market. Bad for my friends who work in the construction industry too, and I know a lot of those guys, but I could tell them stories about industrial collapse that would almost make them grateful for what they've hung on to. 

I spent a winter, drunk on my ass in an apartment on Venice Beach. I had just turned 21 and I stopped off there on my way from the collapse of Detroit to the gentrification of Oakland. Actually, I was wandering back and forth from Echo Park to Venice while I waited a couple of months for a check to arrive in the mail. My Echo Park hosts were cranky old (like 30 years old man) Trotskyists who were content to leave me starving and lonely in abject misery. Periodically I would find a few quarters under a cushion then I would walk down the hill to Burrito King where I would gorge on plain bean burritos. Nothing in them but beans and lard. I longed to be able to afford the bean and cheese burrito. 
That was the longest I have ever gone without eating; about three days as I recall. I was very depressed. Periodically my hosts, senior comrades, would look up from their reading (The philosophic and economic manuscripts of 1905- VI Lenin) and scowl at me. "Stop looking so goddam pathetic would you!". I don't recall them ever offering to feed me. 

This was all part of some Trotskyist factional intrigue. I was supposed to infiltrate this other, equally tiny and irrelevant, group and report back to my scowling hosts in secret. They hatched this plan when I showed up, unannounced to them, from Detroit. I had been told by the senior comrades (also about 30) in Detroit that my coming would be announced in advance and that I would be welcomed in Los Angeles by friends who would be only too happy to help me to anything I needed. Instead I was met with suspicion and indifference that only let up a little when phone inquiries had been made to Detroit and New York. 
The infiltration plot was hatched when the elderly Bolsheviks of Echo Park found out I had high school friends living in Venice. I would be shipped off to Venice where I would intercept the hated enemy faction and become part of their circle, reporting back in secret to the wise elders of Echo Park. 

Does this sound fucked up? Yeah, well it was. 

So off I was sent for a multi hour long ride across Los Angeles on the LARTD. It takes most of a day to get from Downtown to the beach by bus, stopping every block. I'm sure the senior comrades would have given me a ride but they had some important documents to review preparatory to the next faction fight. 
My Venice Beach hosts were two goofy friends from high school. They had moved to Los Angeles with the intention of attending film school. They had gotten as far as renting an apartment when their ambition ran out. One of them was working nights in a donut shop while the other survived off checks from mom and dad in New Jersey. 

They were happy to see me. They fed me donuts and introduced me to avocados. We bought bags of cheap produce that we stir fried in corn oil and washed down with quantities of real cheap beer. Brew 102 and Lucky Lager were our favorites. "It's Lucky When You Live In the West". 

The only furniture in the apartment was a card table, a folding chair and a tiny portable TV. We slept on the floor. The walls were decorated with front page headlines from the LA Herald Tribune. "BANANA KING LEAPS TO DEATH" was a favorite. An executive from United Fruit had committed suicide.
 During the day we tended to stay inside. We were from New Jersey. The Venice Beach scene weirded us out. Sometimes we would walk up and down from Muscle Beach to the Santa Monica pier. It looked just like TV and we had absolutely no ability to relate to the muscle freaks, roller girls and drug creeps we ran into.
 When we were thoroughly drunk, the night belonged to us. The surf was experiencing an episode of bioluminescence. We would stagger into the glowing waves and marvel as our footprints lit up in the wet sand. That was as close as I felt to happy during that dismal time.

I was allowed one friend in Santa Monica but what a friend he was. He was a comrade in our little cult who has gone on to become a public figure in Los Angeles. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. 
Max, as I'll call him, had started the original FM underground rock show in Cleveland. He was a hero of the '60's Cleveland music scene. He had come west to make a name for himself in broadcasting. He ended up as one of Wolfman Jack's writers on The Midnight Special TV show.                                                               

That's right, the Wolfman did not spontaneously quip, "Outta sight baby" between acts on the show. Max and a crack team of LA writers had to confer and come up with that shit. Los Angeles. Show biz. What a pile of crap.

Nonetheless it paid the rent on a pleasant apartment in Santa Monica. At that time Jane Fonda was married to Tom Hayden and they were radically slumming it by living in a huge house in Santa Monica. It so happened that Max's apartment was right next door. I spent hours on the front porch, hoping to catch a glimpse of Ms. Fonda. It turned out she was out of town the whole time I was there. I never saw Tom either but it takes an enormous staff to be famous in LA. People were coming and going from that place all the time.

Max had a great record collection, a fantastic stereo and part time custody of a charming little boy named Martin. I got to babysit Martin a few times. I really enjoyed my time with him. He thought it was incredibly cool that I knew how to drive a city bus and he would ask me about bus driving. He was a great kid.
Max has gone on to become a well loved figure on LA Public radio and Martin has had success as a character actor. He specializes in playing creepy little guys. His most memorable roles were in "Drugstore Cowboy" and "Gummo". 

Finally, the time came for me to begin the planned infiltration of the enemy sect. I was put on yet another bus where I was driven across interminable miles of Los Angeles to some sort of radical event where I wandered up and introduced myself to the enemy youth group. They were, not surprisingly, a geeky, enthusiastic crew almost exactly the same as the young people in my own little cult. I ended up spending a day or two with them. I don't remember. I didn't learn any secrets. I doubt there were any to be learned. I did have one of my many brushes with fame when I was introduced to a cute young comrade, Susan. She was bright, energetic and insanely seductive. For a second there I thought we were going to start taking each other's clothes off, just by way of saying hello. Then she walked away. Man do I wish there was more to tell but there isn't. 

Years later I came across the name Susie Bright. I love that woman, and I love her writing. One day I was reading her account of her time in a tiny Trotskyist youth group in Los Angeles. I realized that she was the Susan I'd met years before. I was impressed. Maybe you aren't.

About that time my overdue check arrived from New Jersey. I treated my friends to drinks in a phony English Pub that sat in a haze of smog between two freeways. I think I did anyhow.

I reported back to Echo Park and the wise elders determined that it was time to send me on to Oakland. For once they were nice to me. They drove me to the airport where I stood in line to board a bizarre California institution, the first come first served Midnight Special flight from LA to San Francisco. You showed up early and stood in line at the gate. When the gates opened you handed over ten or twenty dollars (I can't remember now) cash only to the man at the gate. The line filed on to the plane until all the seats were taken at which time the plane took off. Drinks were served, cash only, from take off to landing and I arrived, somewhat drunk in San Francisco. That's another story."

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I am getting restless as hell. I'm not feeling like a wage slave. I'm not hanging with wage slaves. My part time hippie bus job is about to end for the season and I'm wanting to see the big world. The great Madame Pamita just did a reading for me and she assures me that love and adventure await me on the road.
I do not have a plan. I am not that good at plans. I am not going to do anything desperate like give up my house but if anyone would like to rent a room here at the Super Secret Pony Ranch arrangements might be made. My hot rod friend, Nic, has dubbed this place Jon's Super Secret Pony Ranch and I like the name. Rent would be around $450 a month but it's a really small room in a pretty small place. The location can't be beat and you will have the place to yourself for good chunks of time.
Initial plans call for a foray into the great Pacific Northwest, possibly as far a north as Abbottsford, BC, home of the great Mr. Beer N. Hockey.
If that's successful there might be a journey to the east coast in my future. Far off Brooklyn, the home of The Cahokian, beckons. There are still a few folks there I'd like to see and there are a great many demons I'd like to slay in my people's short lived homeland of New Jersey, or, as I like to call it, 'The scene of the crime'. I'd really like to see this hip new version of Brooklyn that the young people talk about. Brooklyn, for me, is the place where we visited Grandma and watched the relatives drink and complain about, "The goddam Puerto Ricans".
If money was no object I'd love to visit North Carolina for the annual performance of the Neil Diamond Allstars. I have a standing invitation and I'd love to honor it.
Then there's the friends all over the middle of North America. There's a chamber of commerce president I'd love to see in Joplin a tattoo artist in Detroit and a survivalist in Colorado.
There's a good chance I'll get seriously off the tracks I have beaten and go to Austin and I might even make it as far as Anniston, Alabama but I dunno. I am a yankee to the fuckin' bone. They might chase me back home.
So really, this is mostly a shopping list. If anybody would like a moody houseguest who snores but does put the toilet seat down, let me know. If you're interested in a temporary residence in a trailer on the edge of hippieville let me know.
Some of this is going to happen.
I never drove a Freighliner but I have driven a Road Commander. That was back before the short nosed conventionals that have become standard today. Me and the road, boy. I can go away but I can't stay away.
Steve Earle- White Freightliner Blues (Buy) 

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