Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Year Day, Coronavirus

This could really be a red-letter day for someone, being the leap year date squeezed into the calendar every four years. It's one of the oddest days there is, so odd there's nothing else quite like it. Maybe your birthday. But they add a second or take away a minute every once in a while when the orbit of the planet goes out of whack or the sun exerts enough extra oomph of gravity to pull us closer to the inferno. And the same thing goes for days.

On that last point, it was just in the news that we had either one or two new moons enter the earth’s orbit, which was or were very small. I saw the headline on a video that one of them was about the size of a volleyball, but on the news they said it was about the size of a Volkswagen bug. Either way, it’s not enough to make my backyard a lot bigger, but it’ll be a bastard if it somehow hits the house. I've always heard that a penny dropped from space could go through your head and continue its path about 3 foot in the ground. Twice as deep as the neighborhood cat that died and I buried.

But enough about the disasters this date might bring. I’m going to focus on the pleasant, the happy, always trying to put a smile on your face whether you deserve it or not. Leap Year Day always reminds me of the one or two kids in school who happened to be born Feb. 29. And these things -- what they were able to say -- didn’t happen very often, obviously, because in another four or eight years we’d be in middle school or high school.

I do remember, though, two kids -- can’t remember who they were -- saying, “I’m only 4” (or 8 or 12.) And giggling like it was a riddle, how’d they do it? what could they possibly mean? I believe scientists knew, but to the rest of us it was mysterious. So ... this one day pops up once in a while like the rare pimple before puberty. Wash your face and maybe it won’t happen again.

I wanted to get to Leap Year Day this year, with the Coronavirus disease, a weird sprouting thing from certain strains of Chinese food, weather, livestock, or something. The Chinese are pretty smart. If you’ve ever seen their parades, they don’t skimp on exactitude. If anyone could come up with a super killer, it’d be them. And in fairness, if they set their mind to it they could come up with something that would benefit us all, like an antidote right now.

So, what if a few of us die on Leap Year Day from the Coronavirus? It might actually be one of the things that would redeem our lives, giving the survivors something to brag about: "Derek’s been dead four years and it’s been a tough year since his passing." They’re like, “What?” It was almost four years, but it’s much fresher because he only died a year ago...

It could be a benefit politically too, which might not be that great. But it’s true. A whole bunch of people die of Coronavirus on Feb. 29, say it’s a million. They could spin it quite easily, “A million, yeah, that’s bad, but it only averages 250,000 a year, typical.” An even better spin would be this: “Look at all the Leap Year Days since the bubonic plague hit big-time in the 14th century -- killing 50 million. There’s been around 570 Leap Year Days since then, so, hell, that’s not even 990,000 a year, next to nothing when you compare it to cigarette deaths. And if people choose to smoke bubonic that’s their business.”

Anyway, Happy Leap Year Day. I hope most of us make it. There’s a few, of course, no matter what day it is, the Twelfth of Never, who'll never make it.

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Big City Over & Out

The Big City
Part 28 of 28

Happy Leap Year tomorrow!
A Whole Additional Day of Life
and You Did Nothing to Deserve It

We’re at the last chapter of our little talks on The Big City. As far as a dedication of the series to someone, that's something I’ve never done but I’ve been encouraged to do so. So I’d just like to commend it to everyone who has feelings whatsoever about the good old cold Big City and the smaller, homier places we all revere so much. And then, more particularly, I want to dedicate it to a guy I met near the interstate the other day, Griff. Griff's a guy who's down on his luck and has a sign asking for whatever you can spare. Griff appears to be a religious guy with many good values, wishing as he does, continually, God's blessings on all who share the interstate with him. It could very well be he's sucking up. If so, at least it proves he knows about the sweet spot of American culture. And proves he's conventional in upbringing whatever his deviance from the norm today. But he's using it as a cudgel against us to loosen the old purse strings. Duplicitous! I don't think I like that. What's he going to be doing tomorrow, waving the American flag? Get this guy in politics. "I'm down and out, I deserve your vote!" Way to go, good Griff -- hope that's your name, something like that, maybe Lief, whatever, love you, Bro. But I don't anything smaller than a dollar, so not today.

OK, enough foolish preliminaries out of the way, this is the last post of the month which, if memory serves, very well could be February 2020:

Personally, and just let me say this simply enough so everyone can understand it, I have a soft place in my heart, at times, more or less equal for Big Cities and little towns. So I have an anecdote today for each place. (Please don't fear if you've already been immunized, no anecdote will be needed.) Then those times come, of course, when I say, “The Big City? I can take it or leave it!” And there’s a variation on rejecting it immediately, abruptly, and forever that's not nearly the tugger of the heart, but sometimes the heart also deals with things by a stern attitude, not just the usual mush.

I’ve had a bunch of significant days in my life in the Big City. Huge profound, significant days, like my first day here, making my first call to the police concerning crime, then having to look at the mugshot books, then while I was there I got to bid on some unclaimed booty.

The Big City gets the greatest crime, naturally, thanks to the gargantuan population, the great amount of things to steal and numerous places to burgle. The other side of that coin is that the general public is wary and getting in some good jabs at criminals with door cameras and boobytrapped boxes and packages that help recycle common body fluids and solids. The devices in the packages are where the real excitement is, how they’re able to start spinning and emitting chemicals, poisons, just totally triggering the device, it's spinning, it's wild!

The littler towns also have had a soft place in my heart many times. I used to live in a small town, several years, and knew the place like I knew my own body, skills I was able to hone further with puberty. I was just thinking of a guy I used to know as a kid, then I saw him one single day as an adult, then he was gone, died sometime shortly after that. I looked him up today to see what he died of, which was, damn! I forget now. It wasn’t a broken heart, of that I’m sure, because it mentioned he had a wife.

What was my theme? I keep forgetting, because I have so much on my mind on every subject; it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. But now as I recall, it was The Big City, my feelings, thoughts, and, yes, insights into The Big City. A place that exists and a place that, like it or not, I call home. And probably will till I'm able to get the hell out.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Mystic Innate Child Of Promise

The Big City
Part 27 of 28

I’m a big believer in the mystic, the innate, the wise words of innocents who “don’t know” in one sense of the word but potentially know it all through some sort of inner sight that’s mysterious to me and other living creatures.

I keep hoping I’ll find that mysterious quality, and maybe I have to a certain extent. I think if you have it, and I’m not saying I do, it’s news to you. Meaning there’s a certain level of complete innocence at play. The actual Messiah might know He or She is the actual Messiah, but they’d know it in some UNknowing way apart from ego drives. Which might be part of the interpretation of the old phrase “A Child Shall Lead Them,” because if it were an adult, and this is not necessarily true, with the adult’s baggage of ego and adult drives -- hubba hubba -- everything might be as corrupt as the very system that needs transformation.

The Big City can’t save itself. Just as the smaller town can’t transform itself into the Big City, not that they should ever want to but they all do. Yes, Podunk City’s out there saying, “We could make the name Podunk City synonymous with Metropolis if we only joined backbone to assbone and got it done.” How hard could it be? First, you believe. Second, you get the Pure Child to lead the way. Third, you get the bastard done!” A dream, settlers, builders, roads, and of course a city landfill where kids can play, throwing bricks through old TV tubes, shooting unwanted vermin with bows and arrows, and all that fun stuff. You’ve never really seen it all till you’ve seen that, at which point you repent.

But I’ll leave the genesis of the Big City from a small town to another day that shall never arrive. And focus only on the Big City of today, which doesn’t have a landfill available to the general public to even see, let alone play in. I’m in the Big City, that’s obvious, and do you think I’ve seen the garbage processing centers and their place of ultimate repose. I certainly have not, but they're out there somewhere, hidden away. That’s why the garbage trucks never show up at a particular time. They’re so busy obscuring the path lest anyone see where they go. Just yesterday I saw a garbage truck on the freeway trying to outrun the snoops. So a word to the wise, don’t even try to follow them. They've got a free run on the town and they can drive all day long and weeks at a time without penalty if they even suspect they’re being tailed.

What about aerial photos? This too they’ve dealt with, because the sky’s an easier thing to monitor than the road. Still, they don’t leave anything to chance, and I’ve seen more than one garbage truck shoot planes out of the sky.

See our boy of innocence pointing to the sky? He knows by intuition where the dumps are, but he has more on this mind than trivia. He not only wants to escape the garbage trucks and planes, he wants the life of transcendence that he’ll never know within the Big City. Because the Big City keeps you busy on its own brand of trivia, who’s sleeping with whom and where the garbage trucks go.

The old father used to be the young boy, in his day. But he was sidelined, a terrible thing. It's a terrible thing, too, to be the young boy of promise in your day, only to be sidelined. I could break down right now and cry. I was the child of promise, board-flat naked like that kid and without shame. And now here I am, an old has-been, no longer a child of promise. I spend my day worrying where the garbage trucks go and not that which transcends the Big City and time itself. Grandpa would be ashamed of me. Although I should be ashamed of him too. He was never board-flat naked either. He was a good guy, but I never saw him do the least thing that showed him to be the child of promise.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Every Hideous Siren

The Big City
Part 26 of 28

Wanna know how big the Big City is? This has to do with sirens. OK, say you’re at the south border of the Big City blowing a siren. That’s loud. But if you're a listener at the north border, you won't be able to hear it. That ruffles my feathers a bit, because everyone in town should know: "Help is on the way! 

I come from a much smaller town and there was one huge siren everyone got to hear if there was the slightest problem: Tornado, nuclear attack, shady peddlers in town, discounts at the car wash. The tiniest town on earth, but one huge honking siren. But here in The Big City, they need a whole siren network, and of course they can blow all of them in many different places, because everyone's having an emergency at the same time. Maybe the airport’s on fire or the river’s out of its banks or peddlers are pushing cheap knockoffs, the sirens are much more localized.

Whether they’re localized very often like that is hard to say. Just sitting here with the typical layman’s ear, depending on what the traffic’s like in the neighborhood, I can focus and hear a siren somewhere, a virtually constant thing. There was the weirdest siren I've heard just today somewhere. It appeared that an ambulance was tuning their siren, or maybe clearing a dead duck out of the horn. It was kind of a whining quacking noise. I passed by kind of fast but the attendant definitely looked embarrassed.

I came back into the Big City on Christmas Eve this past year and was thinking, “The holiday, no one should be in an accident tonight.” Which held true for all my travels, until I was literally less than a mile from home. Sirens and particular roads blocked off because of maybe three vehicles that slid on the ice and went boom. Of course I was miffed, being that close. I had to detour around streets that I’m only half familiar with. Fortunately I’d seen most of them when I’d been lost previously, so there were only a few surprises. I played it instinctively, thinking things like, “This road can’t be an alley because it’s wider than an alley.” Then when I caught sight of definite things I always see, I let out a huge sigh of relief. 40 more feet of ice, about a third the size of a football field, and even with that, I could step on it too much and still end up dying. Thanks to these idiots who lost it on the ice; what’s the matter, don't you know how to drive?

Anyway, about the sirens. It’s quite remarkable how many are going off -- one just a minute ago, in fact -- and as often as they are. When I was in the small town before moving to A bigger town, every siren was a subject for discussion. In the bigger town, it was divided into 4, so you only heard every fourth siren. But in the Big City, if my ears can localize a dozen sirens just in my vicinity, you have to multiply that out by all the different vicinities and it’s shocking. There’s something like 1,300 sirens going off in the Big City every day! No wonder geese avoid the place. They're disoriented and end up in Honduras.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sometimes It Takes A Fish

The Big City
Part 25 of 28

If you have a million people in the Big City, imagine how many fish there's gotta be. I've only have old statistics here -- the last official census of fish took place in 1950 -- but the numbers are undoubtedly close enough to at least get a rough idea. In 1950, though, it was established there were 4 million fish for every million people. Which sounds high, but think how that averages out, something like four fish for every person. I'm just gonna pause and take that in ..... Wow .... Plus, fish die fast but they breed like crazy, often times even eating their young, doing their best to keep overpopulation in check. It follows then, every time four fish die, one person goes too.

I myself was a big expert in fish many years ago when I worked at an aquarium store. Among my takeaways in this field, you should buy whatever life insurance is available because fish drop dead pretty much without warning. And eat their young, as just mentioned. But lots of things happen, something goes wrong with the heater, or there’s the least bit of bacteria, or if you turn the light on at night and interrupt their sleep, that alone can kill off half the colony. Anytime you have fish and the majority of them live to see tomorrow, you’ve succeeded. But don’t get too comfortable, because just because they lived to see tomorrow once doesn’t mean they’ll set any records by doing it again.

So, really, the only way to guarantee that you’ll have any fish at all, is to have ten times more than you want. At the aquarium store we had a supplier who I’m sure would give us a few dying fish just to maintain his business. Because it’s impossible to trace, these shysters will do anything, all with a completely innocent face. It’s definitely true, though, that you’re not going to send the bodies in for post-mortems, because the expense outweighs the profit. And it’s always your word against theirs. Making you stop and think, convincing yourself of the impossible, maybe I was a bad owner and that explains the massacre.

Anyway, fish are a pain in the ass, but they’re also good, and a comfort to dwellers in the Big City who may not have other friends. The Big City, of course, has no paucity of people, which is what makes it big. But in the nameless faceless crowds of people there aren’t that many close friends. They’re speeding by, usually with a bad muffler, making a nuisance of themselves. Why would you want them for a friend even if you could? My biggest obstacle to making new friends is the fear that they’ll eventually rob me blind. Whereas back in the small town, sure there’s criminals, but it’s only a fear, nothing to presume.

That leaves pets. Dogs, you have to go out in public so they can poop. Cats, there’s so many wild cats in the Big City, they’re sure to corrupt your own cats. I had a neighbor guy who was stupid when it came to cats, the cat had kittens, which pissed off his landlord (my friend wasn’t actually paying rent but living free as a kind of caretaker of the house to keep out criminals) who didn’t want cats peeing and pooping all over his place. Which happened when the kittens were unfortunately born: I lost my friend because he vanished one night.

What, though, if he would’ve had fish and not a cat? Obviously everything would’ve been different, a more positive outcome. Are you lonely in the Big City of a million other lonely people? Get a fish, it’ll keep you from being thrown out.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Big City Morgue

The Big City
Part 24 of 28

Can you imagine working at the Big City morgue? I can only imagine. You never run into anyone who works there, and never anyone who's been there, so obviously it's hush-hush. Meaning, unless I get a job there, if ever, I’ll can only imagine the craziness, the intrigue it must be. And probably if you tell anyone what it's all about, that's the end of you! You've gone from lab to slab just like that...

But common sense tells us that you’d have new arrivals all the time at the Big City morgue. With enough attendants to keep up with the constant flow, of course. The attendants will occasionally get a newbie attendant and they’re always amused to see the looks on his or her face when the fatalities start piling up around them. To the point, of course, occasionally, where they try to make it look worse than it is, just to keep the newbie on h/h toes. Like on Star Trek, “We can’t take much more of this!” They make it sound like the whole thing’s gonna blow and there'll be body parts strewn everywhere.

I have some idea of what harried Big City morgue employees must go through. Not based on ever having been at the morgue, but from my employment at a fast food pizza joint once and trying to keep up not only with pizzas coming out of the oven but delivering them. I was there a little over a week and it could’ve been the death of me. My funkiest delivery was to the city limits and a guy on a motorcycle waiting there. That went well enough, he had exact change. My most disappointing delivery -- and there were several -- was to a guy in the shower. “I told them to tell you I’d be in the shower and leave the pizza on the table.” Naturally they didn’t tell me any such thing, so how was I to know to walk in and put it on the table? That guy got a free pizza. I’ve tried that a few times myself over the years and the pizza place hasn’t been as understanding.

It would’ve been a good thing, really, if I'd gone into the morgue business, started out on the ground floor, learned about corpses, where to tickle them to see if they’re really dead, etc. By now, with my aptitude -- unmatched -- I could’ve owned a whole fleet off morgues and set up my own rules. A sign on the door, “I’m in the shower. If you’re here with a body, put it on the table.” Then I come out and see a dozen bodies stacked against the wall, strewn about on the sidewalk out front, etc., and think I need to call someone, but I’m the responsible party. Get out there and clean up the sidewalk before that stiff contaminates the whole earth! We only have one planet! (Of course, once they’ve been thoroughly processed with formaldehyed they’re kosher.)

But before you can own a chain of morgues you have to gain experience at the actual task. I actually might have enough experience. A great number of my own family have gone on to their reward. In fact, every single relative I’ve ever had that was born before the 1930s is dead, which ranges in the hundreds, thousands, and even millions. If I have that kind of experience going so far back, imagine what I could contribute today. Get that on my resume and I might take the Big City morgue system by storm. There's been so much death in my family there’s nothing about it I don’t know.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Skunk Security For Break-Ins

The Big City
Part 23 of 28

It’s official! According to Skunk Security, I’m averaging a higher than average break-in rate at my place in The Big City. Which is a mixed blessing when you think about it. One, I'd rather not have any break-ins, but, Two, At least I’m getting my money’s worth … and more.

But it's kind of weird because some of the other houses in the neighborhood don't get this kind of traffic and most of them don’t even have a security system. You'd think they’d be hit harder, but I can't complain, I'm getting great service with Skunk; they’re always here within the hour, and the police generally show up at some point.

I was at a movie the first time and it was a big shock to get the message that my alarm had gone off. Just what I feared! As soon as you put a security sign in your yard it’s the same as saying you have something worth stealing. Most of the neighbors don’t spring for a security system and they’re doing all right. About the worst thing I heard of was a few grudge break-ins, people who know the neighbors and have something against them. There’s a family up the street whose daughter was dating the guy who shot up the liquor store a few months ago. He’s been in the area and shot up their mailbox.

But back to me: You don’t forget the first time you’re broken into, no matter if they took something or not. The first time they got an old VCR and a video camera I had since the ‘80s.The second break-in I was actually at home but in the basement. The security system didn’t go off since I was home. I went upstairs and didn’t see anyone. I flagged down a neighbor and he helped me search the house. I hoped the perp was already gone, but there he was, like vermin, in my closet! He got up, creeping toward the living room, not wanting to make a big deal about it. Then he made a dive through the window and ran up the road. I gave chase but couldn’t keep up.

Some of the other break-ins were probably by friends of his, even though you'd think he would've told them I ain't got crap worth stealing. A lot of sentimental stuff, Grandma’s picture, some things from Grandpa, a Univac computer from the ‘50s that’s not good for anything but I'm still hoping to power it up if I can find the right nuclear power plugs. Then, more sentimental and irreplaceable, I have Grandpa's toupee, which still has the original masking tape on the underside. Otherwise it's in terrible shape. My dog was shaking it one day, but as long as there’s even one hair left, the damned thing stays! And thank God the cops came back with it, dangling it on a stick like they were afraid to touch it. The bullet holes bore mute testimony of their confusion.

And, I can’t even remember the other break-ins. The alarm took care of them, I vacated the premises, with the worst part being I came this close to tripping over a white ‘possum scurrying up the neighbor’s drive-way! About scared me to death, truly. I’d like to sic it on the thieves; they’d never come back. Trade in my Skunk for a Possum, that’d show ‘em.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Big City Local Action Weather

The Big City
Part 22 of 28

It doesn’t take a long time living in the Big City before you know certain truths that are so unambiguously true that at some level you already know it. Remember books like “Everything I Ever Knew I Learned On My Own” or something. The way I took it was that everyone already knows everything and that the ultimate cause of school, etc., is merely to bring out this innate knowledge. That was Plato, maybe, which if it’s true it's something at some level I’ve never forgotten. If only I’d known this or realized all my innate knowledge when it was time for the final test, I wouldn’t have ended up with a grade-point average equal to the population of the typical ghost town.

One of the most obvious truths in the Big City is this, that the most respected guys in town are meteorologists. I upchucked this innate knowledge one day while watching the news. I watched their demeanor, the way they constantly referred to their next report “in two minutes” with the “latest updates” of “life-threatening storms” and “critical information.” After a while of watching the news, that’s all I could focus on, how well-respected, all-powerful, and righteously situated these guys are. They’ve got it going on, they know they do, and they’re riding it all the way to the bank. They've got a rare thing happening for them, to be the most respected people in town and know it and deserve it.

And everyone plays favorites, which is critical for the stations. Because I’m new to the Big City I didn’t get a bit of guidance from Mom or Dad or Grandma on the best weather guys. I merely watched, liked their smile, their dress, the demeanor of various ones. Then in my private time I assimilated all the information and charted it out, the one I liked the absolute best. That’s the only one I watch now. And if he ever dies I’ll just have to look out the window and see what the weather is. But doing it that way it could be too late, since it takes me some time to get my bottom sat on the top step and inch my way to the basement. It’s a scary process, because some basement urchin could crawl in my pants if I’m too slow and bite the crap out of me and my precious privates, used mostly now only for the most innocent purposes.

But the weather’s a terrible thing to mess with, of course, so I'd have to pick someone. And hope the new guy's cut from the same cloth, or I might turn to trusted friends for their advice. I don’t want anyone too close to retirement, so age is a factor. But I don’t want too much of a newbie, because experience counts for a lot. I would probably cut corners on the auditioning and do a search for the highest rated, most respected, etc. My only hang-up on that would be the teaching I got as a kid not to follow crowds. Although crowds are wiser than my parents gave them credit for. If they’re stampeding a particular direction, there’s always a good reason. You can corrupt a few people, and that’s a crowd you don’t want to follow. But when the crowd’s in the millions, and they’ve survived every storm the Big City’s thrown against them, they didn’t just do it on their own. They had the help, the gracious assistance of meteorologists, and that’s good enough for me.

We Buy Houses

The Big City
Part 21 of 28

I grew up in a house. As far as I know my parents bought it legitimately. They didn’t confide with me a single thing about it. It just happened that one day we moved from the old house to a different one, in a different town, and that’s where I grew up. These days, with there seeming to be some shenanigans about buying houses -- I don’t know the ins and outs -- I should consider myself lucky to have that experience, and how secure I felt.

I’m thinking I was very lucky because there appears to be a thing going on about mass-buying of houses and I have no idea why. Every pole in the Big City at one time or another has the offer to buy your house. Some of them are professionally made signs, stamped out at a rate of a hundred a second, obviously by someone either desperate to find a place or combined interests cornering the market or with some other motive. I can think of bad motives, but I’d hate to nail it with a haphazard guess and find myself in court, brought up on Disparagement and Malice with Malicious Intent, which could get me 5 to 10 in the Big House, which incidentally is up for sale.

O, if I could just gain entrance to the meetings of these people who want to buy every house in town! A fly on the wall, a seemingly mentally-off maintenance guy, or bugging them in their very lair, which might not be up to code. Then I’d find out the real skinny, and be able to swoop in (to the extent that there is malice and justice-doers who would reasonably do justice). But it could be something as malevolent as wanting to tie people up in knots, where they think they’re selling their house when they’re really obligated to pay you consulting fees till the 100th generation. I hope it’s not that bad.

Or, I suppose, it could all be quite legitimate. They’ve examined the market and figured out that if you buy every house in town, eventually people will need to come to you if they want a house. And having cornered the market, whatever price you name is by necessity the best they can get. Unless they go the old route, just buying an empty lot and building their own house. It’s tough for most of us to do that, whether it’s the first big problem, the expense, or the other problems, being so suspicious of everyone that we know that if we tried it the builder would have hidden cameras throughout the place filming us as we showered.

These days you can’t be too careful. I’ve been watching some videos of guys who build contraptions and putting them on their porch like they were a delivery. Someone else comes and steals them fair and square and are later surprised when they explode and saturate their environs with glitter as far as the eye can see. So there’s always someone up to no good. In fact I’ve learned to be so suspicious of everyone and everything, I ask for ID when I see myself in the mirror. And only realize a few minutes later that it was me and my ID’s with me in my back pocket. I look at it and dismiss the case.

Why are all these people -- and it could be the same seven or eight every time, and it just seems like the whole world’s gone house-crazy -- snapping up houses, and lots of crap ones at that?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Big City Nude Parties

The Big City
Part 20 of 28

As the friendly narrator here, I know my place is always to be the voice of conventional morality and decry any slippage from the straight and narrow, basically defined as at least an average life of fair-play, respect for others, and personal and societal reserve. Yes, I can comment on murders but not condone it. I can fawn over newborns but not advocate for them to reject their parents and go rogue. And naturally I can feature hedonists at their parties, groping one another, sucking down the hootch, and getting so “friendly” with each other that they're buck naked, but … what the hell, why can't that be me! But at this point in my life, I'm sure I'd cover my frailty out of embarrassment.

Anyway, how do you even get in with a crowd like that? That’s always the question I have, on the off chance it came to anything. It comes down to this, basically, you need to be born there, or be there a long time, or just insinuate yourself as best as you can. For me, I was already born where I was, with particular people of some fixed morality, so I can’t go back and do much there. As for my lifespan, being so old, I could legitimately live another 20 years, probably, and learn to insinuate myself with some good old fashioned hedonists. But never forget, to insinuate yourself you have to be very bold. I can see you can ease into it by imitation -- looking to a friend with an in -- with the proviso that you might be evicted with the first bold move. Because it's not your natural turf.

Thinking it over a little more, I think I could have two sets of profligate friends. I meet the first set and learn the basics of their lifestyle, but do not insinuate myself. Then I take my findings to the second set, and without waiting to see what they do, merely launch into the behavior, sidling in, nonchalantly making myself at home, etc. First guy with his zipper down! The group might wonder about me but once they've assumed I'm friends with someone, my directness would yield good results. I'm swimming naked in the pool and I'm all hands!

My quick recommendation for others, if you have all the time in the world, look for a natural way of sidling up and becoming accepted. But if you’re old and could die at any minute, just get in there and let the chips fall where they may. Because, well ... there’s lots of reasons. The fullness of life isn’t for the meek. Life’s a banquet, a buffet, and buffets are free-for-alls. Everyone has a lifespan to worry about, but set it aside and make yourself at home. I’ve got two hands, baby, and they’re not doing anything! We’re back in ancient Rome and no one’s going to know! I’ve seen the history books and the authorities barely touch the average guy.

One other observation on the graphic. That’s the Big City “on a slow night”! Picture, then, the average night, or the night that blows the average out of the water, the other extreme. You’ll have stories for the ages, stories you dare not tell. Just don’t catch anything, that’s number one. And if you’re out of good names, name the little hellion after me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Rush Hour: A Biggest Curse

The Big City
Part 19 of 28

I never once in my life thought I’d plan my day based on rush hour. But I never lived anywhere else crazy enough to go crazy every morning and afternoon like clockwork. Which is the way of life in the Big City, and no one’s thought of a way to fix it.

Maybe no one else sees it as a problem. Which is a legitimate solution to the problem if there isn't a problem, just deny it. I had a friend who had lots of girlfriends and some of them weren’t good for his health. And he didn't see it as a problem. He kept denying that the constant itching of his junk was indicative of something requiring at least a doctor look-see. And then once it began creeping north of the belt-line, it was too late. Sexual fungus finally ate his head off and made a mess of his torso; it's tragic to say, what remained was suddenly of little value. The good times were but a memory, and he died somewhere in the vicinity of his head being eaten and his torso becoming a mess.

But back to rush hour. Even the word we use for it tells the trouble. We’ve legitimized it: “That’s just the way it is,” with city planners sitting helplessly on their ass, throwing up their hands and saying, “Don’t look at us!” Or they speak some foreign lingo, pretending that it’s impossible to be engaged on the subject, when obviously they’re guilty as sin. I’d love to get every one of these scoundrels on the carpet and dress them down with indignation: “You did this, and you are hereby banished to some unpopulated wilderness where there’s two intersecting roads, and the only thing besides an occasional stagecoach are the skulls of those who've fallen by the wayside." That place could use a little more traffic, just nothing like what we’re dealing with now.

The honest to God truth is -- take those guys of the old west -- they’re a lot like the city planners we have today. Completely irresponsible. Have you ever tried to talk to one of them? Whatever problem there is was done by XYZ, someone on the scene 10 to 50 years before they showed up. Or it was in a neighborhood that they claim that they've never heard of. Or, or, or, you name the excuse. They’re certainly creative enough to escape responsibility, you’d think their so-called city planning "skills" would allow for a little more thought! (That's gotta hurt!)

I know it’s too late to go back now and do it right. You’ve have to tear down everything and start from scratch, which at this point would only make traffic jams worse than what we face now, if that’s possible. But if we could redo it, we’d have some decent roads with 50 nicely-paved lanes and the ones we know now would barely be used. We’d just leave them rough like cow-paths, as a sad reminder of having done it all wrong.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Big City, Twilight State

The Big City
Part 18 of 28

Let’s establish a hypothetical situation. You’ve read this far enduring my many pleas for caution; I’m on my knees, listen to me now. Be cautious not to make the same mistakes I made and move to the Big City. My situation was very specific, I didn’t do anything rashly. The city fathers of my little town wanted me out. They led me to the city limits by gunpoint. They were vigilant, blocking every path back. Grandma’s house went down the drain after a few years of bad income and brutal weather. She herself was deceased, old and dead, her eyes wouldn’t open, her heart was shot. It barely worked when she was alive, imagine the rot after her passing...

Yes, it’s true -- setting aside her carcass -- weather can really take a toll on a house. You start thinking, How can I ever overcome these terrible conditions and feel better? What can I do to change my pathetic circumstances? A guy could, of course, learn building skills. Which is hard and not as foolproof as they think. Or I could've changed my outlook on things, mind over matter. No matter how things rot away to nothing, it doesn't have to affect you quite as much. My path was to train my mind to go into what is called The Twilight State. Crossing your eyes, locking your arms at the chest, nodding quickly, and briefly holding your breath. Goodbye cruel world, hello Twilight State!

However -- and this is important, the basic key to failure -- not everyone takes to alt consciousness quite as easily. And the techniques, like most secret techniques, come with strict rules about sharing them. That's an ironclad thing a guy vows to uphold. I took that vow. But, you know, what the hell… They didn't give me a choice, so to hell with them.

I will say, though, that everything here is “For Entertainment Purposes Only,” and any materializing and de-materializing that may happen around or to you is at your own risk. If you become a vapor and evaporate before your time, I cannot be held responsible. This is precisely the point where a friend of mine, Maha Raymond, gave up the ghost in the Himalayas and became an immortal. To give you some idea of such an achievement, it’s like winning a third place ribbon when showing cattle. It’s huge.

And with that, with only two more days of semi-strenuous practice -- grunting is encouraged -- you may encounter the deadliest, most dangerous passages. If that happens, the directions are essentially, “Feel your way.” Anyone incapable of feeling their way is immediately terminated, which is always hard for loved ones. The few who manage to feel their way -- and I saw a family of 12 halfwits make it so don’t tell me it can’t be done -- are deemed immortal with all the advantages pertaining thereunto, including gold merit badges up the yin yang and a ceremonial kiss from the only blonde in them thar hills.

But remember this truth: Mountains aren’t just there, they grow incrementally through extremely slow tectonic movement. Similarly, we advance quickly to the heights, by leaps and bounds, so be patient, stick with it because it’s definitely worth it. Breathe in, breathe out, let it happen. And there you have it, the Twilight State is now yours, and now you can spend the rest of your life mastering it.

For mastery, your purpose must be righteous. Your purpose cannot be to enter the Twilight State willy-nilly or for trivial purposes. If it’s not something righteous and something massive -- a purpose for the ages -- then most of your hopes, however sincere, will be for naught. You seriously need a righteous purpose. One such purpose, completely good, is merely because you moved to the Big City and need something more to help you cope. You’ve heard of the devil? The devil is a metaphor for Big City life, so it takes something bigger and bigger yet to transcend such an obstacle. Try your damnedest, on your word of honor, and see how it goes.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Big City Gets Negative Verdict

The Big City
Part 17 of 28 - My favorite

Of course it’s easy for me to sit here day after day railing against The Big City. You know I make a lot of good points. And this isn't something I’d lie about. I actually live in The Big City -- a guaranteed fact -- so everyday I'm mulling it over. Between watching TV, feeding the dog, and doing laundry along with a bunch of other chores. So it’s not like I’d be unfairly biased against it when it's now my whole life.

So that validates some of my opinions if not the bulk of them, and perhaps all of them. But no one can be right all the time. Whereas the less you say, naturally the better your opinions are and the more squarely they'll hit the bullseye of the public’s sense. I make that claim for myself, and statistically it’s borne out, I'm either always right or close, hitting the sweet spot on most of my statements and beliefs.

All that said -- which alone would prove my point -- I was still willing to put my opinions to the ultimate test by arranging a completely random interview with an individual, with all the safeguards and controls that go into it to keep the statistical hounds at bay regardless of other factors. Like it or not, I definitely went the entire extra mile, a lot farther than most guys go to show good faith.

OK, here's how it went: First, I took the time and expense to assemble a focus group, and they seemed fully prepared to judge the case. But  I detected bias with one guy saying it was a good day to be alive, which tainted the pool. I abruptly dismissed nearly the entire session with severe prejudice. I spared just one guy of the group, the same guy who thought it was a good day to be alive! The others were out, not only being tainted, but they were also either pessimistic or suicidal. It was this other guy's optimistic spirit that made me optimistic that he’d see it my way about the Big City.

This, however, was a sensitive moment. I had to keep him from bias, so I asked him not to speak again but to signal his verdict on The Big City solely by facial gestures. So we shall proceed to the questions and his facial answers:

Question number 1: Do you like sticking it to the man? A smiling UP, with eyes decidedly closed. For me, this was a big positive, saying he was more than happy to stick it to the man. I figured the survey would be a slam dunk against the Big City, but we still had quite a ways to go.

Question number 2: Is the Big City a good idea for children and other living things? Instead of his big smile just seconds before, he became like a wounded animal at the very thought of it. He gave it a firm DOWN. His answer strengthened my stance that the Big City is anathema for living things, being a negative gesture. 1-1.

Question number 3: Would you like to date the mayor of the Big City? A quick scrunchy-face DOWN. Which was a big surprise for me, because the mayor’s really quite an attractive guy. But it's probably just a case of him not swinging that way. Suddenly we were DOWN 2-1.

Question number 4: I was hoping this wouldn’t be a DOWN, because with only one question left there would be no way for the Big City to possibly eek out a victory. But I asked anyway: “What is your favorite thing about the Big City?" Since he could use only facial gestures, he seemed disappointed and would've preferred to give an oral answer. That gave us a DOWN, 3-1, with no favorite thing. Now the only way of climbing out of the hole being for the last question to be UP along with something underhanded. I could've gleaned that he'd rather marry the mayor than merely date him. But we didn't go there.

Question number 5: In what way is the Big City like lemons? He did what everyone does when they think of lemons, puckered up in a positive way -- making it an UP vote -- rounding out an otherwise disappointing total for the Big City at 3-2 DOWN.

So it was a negative result for the Big City, justifying my original negative take. Reflecting back on the interview, I thought it over, and realized how close it actually was. Clearly, the interpretation of the answers might’ve been jimmied if I were that kind of guy, a Big City shyster. But instead I played it fair and square all the way.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Bow To Big City Dictates


The Big City
Part 16 of 28

Once again, the Big City takes us to a dark place. At least it's kind of dark, the shadows creeping everywhere. The barest light is sooner or later extinguished, with what little bit of light that remains flickering with promise, but the promise is next to nothing, then it’s gone. Everything is fairly dark, with moneyed interests and the way they’re forever greasing each other's palms, winking, signalling the separation of groups into those on top and the rest of us. The supposed new day begins, then it’s immediately dark, and that’s all the light we see.

How everything goes to hell like this -- which is my go-to sociological theory no matter where I live -- is a thing both to rue and celebrate, though darkly. Certainly ruing it is warranted, because the response to every injustice ought to be a stand against it. But because this response is never welcome with the powers-that-be, it’s tough to sustain, and is usually met in one of two ways: 1) A passive/aggressive affirming of their stance, then quietly tabling it once you’ve been sidelined; and, 2) An overt rejection, threats, mental/physical harassment, browbeating, criticism both to your face and subversive, or strangulation, or telling you the so-called parable of the Good and Bad Eggs, how the Good Egg sits unmolested in the refrigerator till it’s eventually retired to the dumpster, whereas the Bad Egg is immediately killed and eaten, although not digested but brought again to public shame with heaving and hacking, and all of it with severe prejudice. Ho hum.

But, my friends -- and my expertise in Big City sociology is more or less something I picked up on the fly with minimal experience; I’m a fast learner -- they can’t hide the truth forever. From the great unwashed masses, yes, they can hide it in a sense. Those unwashed masses are happy to live their pathetic unwashed lives constricted like this. It’s the old line about bread and circuses, keep them sedated, docile, and distracted -- mentally stymied, socially sidelined, forever in the vain pursuit of being Top Dog or what have you. Step by step, then -- and there’s lots of baby steps here -- they're finally kept in their place only apparently by force. Once inured, they maintain their station at the bottom rung by a sort of sleepy forgetfulness, knowing next to nothing of their lives. What an objective person would see as constriction, they see as freedom.

Just going over the more cheerful aspects as I have, I also see it as a negative thing. Which is only made worse by our own complicity, failing to keep our minds fresh and free, basically what’s common in the small town setting. There are, however, in the small town the Big City wanna-bes. Cheerful on the outside, but conniving behind the scenes, they want to emulate the Big City, and bit by bit to exercise power toward that end. Example: “Let’s build a spouting fountain in the park!” The unusual unwashed masses think that “sounds good.” In the interest of time, I’ll leave out some of the social progression here. But a couple months later you’ve got your precious fountain, then suddenly the town is the Fourth Reich and in deep. They may as well have moved to the Big City when they had the chance and forgotten the middle man!

It's all so typical, I almost regret boring you with the same old run-of-the-mill details. But the Big City is an octopus with its tentacles around the so-called Master’s legs. And the Master and the others are sooner or later, inevitably, dragged down to their demise.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Coping With Big City Life

The Big City
Part 15 of 28

Going from the small town -- with all the great small town values, such as leaving our car jacked up all night and still having most of the tires in the morning -- to the Big City can be a daunting thing. Very challenging, and I don't like challenges. Make it the simple life for me, next to no effort.

I actually was practicing the simple life back home -- the problems with the house were so horrendous, I had little alternative but to ignore them -- then I heard it from both sides, the city and the county, that I needed to vacate the now-vacant lot that once was Grandma's. The house was shot and, believe it or not, so was I. A few family members said, “Come live with us,” etc., but I’ve never been one to live by half measures and so I said no. No doubt they were crossing their fingers behind the back that I wouldn't. So I left and chose a life guaranteed to be the complete opposite of everything I'd known, finding myself within days in The Big City.

Now it’s going on two years and I have a history to look back on, how I coped with it and what’s still to be done. A lot of guys in my situation, having grown up with a terrible fear of the Big City, would stay in and keep the doors locked tight. I actually do that now, except for taking the dog out and a few other chores. But right away I got out of the house and started coping with it.

It actually helped that money was tighter in those earliest days. Because I made a friend and got together with him and went scrounging for aluminum cans. Doing that, almost everyone I ran into assumed I was a Big City guy, since historically small town immigrants stay in and keep their doors locked. But there I was, digging through garbage cans, hiding sacks of cans in the woods for safe keeping, etc. Then when I had enough cans, of course, I walked or rode my bike to the salvage place.

By the time the year was finished and when the next summer began I was totally out of that and comfortable enough to keep a low profile. The friend had moved away, disappeared one night after his cat gave birth to kittens and pissed off the landlord. The second summer, if I saw a can somewhere, I just left it alone, on the off chance that maybe there was a new small town guy trying to get his footing, who might wonder where all the cans were if I picked 'em up.

One of the weird things about my senses in the Big City is I’ve had a terrible time remembering which direction is which. And it doesn't help if you're riding a bike. It’s easier in a car because you’re turning more often. So just fitting in was my project for the first year, and now getting down the directions has been my second year goal. In the last month I’ve been proud to realize that I’m getting the direction SOUTH down very well. Sometimes I still have to manually reorient myself on the other directions based on south but it’s all getting easier.

One of my weirdest moments in the first year -- another thing to cope with -- was I met a prostitute on a dead end road. Just me and her. I can’t remember what we talked about, but I wasn’t looking for a prostitute, not with my germophobia. It actually didn’t even occur to me that she was one. I just asked her nice questions because maybe she was in trouble. It looked like she'd been crying. Then she asked if I wanted “a date,” and I graciously said no and got the hell out of there.

Since then I've more or less been a hermit, going out when I need to -- the dog's bathroom breaks -- and I do go to the grocery store, then after that I eat a lot of leftovers.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Big City, Sleepless Nights

The Big City
Part 14 of 28

O! What I wouldn’t give for one decent night, my brain settled, nerves calm, adjusted, without rancor, instead of this persistent, nagging, uncomfortable, infernal inflammation! All the time with the nerves. They're like explosions, brain eruptions. Plus, not only have I wet the bed by tossing and turning, I've managed somehow to wet the pillow, the curtains, and towels in the drawer. What'd I ever do to deserve this? I'm also screaming, shrieking ... Where'd my precious life go with the sleepless nights? To sleep is nearly impossible, excluding my delirious daydreams through the day.

(I'm currently in the process of changing doctors, leaving our dear old family doctor for someone closer at hand in the Big City. I'm sure she's seen everything, but I'm still afraid I'll scare her off when I list my symptoms, the Big City driving me mad. But I'll try to soften the blow.

So I stand before you, my bitter cry giving real testimony to the indescribable absurdities and troubling realities of what the Big City can do to a person’s life, his possibilities and shattered nerves. I’ll hold my hand out. Look at it shake. I’m not “just doing that,” but my hands have a life of their own. And when I do sleep, I’m blubbering through the night, with whatever sleep so unsettled it feels like I'm awake. With tossing and turning, calling out to the saints to preserve us. I've bargained with the Powers That Be to take me, just give me one night of actual rest to redeem myself at long last from this horrible place.

O! What I wouldn’t give for one decent night, my brain settled and quiet, my nerves calm, adjusted, dependable, without rancor, instead of this inflammation. All the time with the inflammation! What'd I ever do to deserve this? Again, I say, I scream, I shriek, where'd my precious life go with the sleepless nights? I bet I haven’t slept in a year. To sleep is nearly impossible.

I stand before you, then, my bitter cry giving mute testimony to the indescribable absurdities and troubling (though unbelievable) realities of what the Big City can do to a person’s life, possibilities, and shattered nerves. I hold my hand out. Look at it shake! I’m not “just doing that,” the SOB at this point has a life of its own. And when I do sleep, they say I’ve been blubbering, with sleep so unsettled it’s like not sleeping at all; instead, I’m tossing and turning, calling out to the saints to preserve us, and I've been bargaining with the Powers That Be to take me, just give me one night’s sleep to fulfill a devil's deal.

I swear on Grandma’s heart that I've never had this level of difficulty back in the small town, where the biggest impediment to a good night’s sleep was the occasional squeakiness of the outhouse door. Just the slightest breeze might set it off, but just an ordinary brick from the foundation would prop it in the mud in such a way that it didn’t budge for years. That was reliability, a standard I had, and recommended to neighbors many times. I’d tell people how truthful I was like this: dependable as an outhouse brick in the mud, baby, an outhouse brick in the mud.
Now look at me, a full blown toilet just down the hall, shared with eight others who come and go at all hours of the night. Two or three old ones die off and two or three new ones sign the lease. What they died of, whether they deserved it or not -- and probably they did -- these are things no one speaks of. Who do you trust? As long as they’re not blaming me, I’m OK. I keep on living, don’t think they've missed that, and one of these nights it could be me, apparently shaving when I'm suddenly sliced ear to ear.

It’s tough to sleep no matter how you cut it. And then the furnace will die, and someone will have “borrowed” a blanket, and unknown friends will be illegally sleeping in the basement. And there's a crazy guy down there who can’t sleep so he’s beating the pipes, trying to jump start the heat; you can hear it three houses over. This Big City life is not real life in the truest sense of the word.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Freeways Are Terrible

The Big City
Part 13 of 28

During my time in the Big City and all the traveling I have to do, I’ve gone from the greenest blushing newbie to something of a critic, and since then to fancying myself a city planner. I could show 'em how to do it! That’s sounds like a lot of boasting, but expertise works like that; the expertise bug hits this guy, this guy, and sometimes even me. Really, though, how hard would it have been to install some decent way of killing road-hogs?

There actually are a lot of good ideas from those of us with the city planning gene, with the biggest drawback being there’s a lot of stuff set firmly in place, and that looks like how it’s going to remain for decades; they say we just can’t change. Now, I have nothing against my fellow city planners from 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 25 years ago, or even those from the last few years. Yes, they failed miserably, but they gave it their all, and now thanks to their great failure we’re that much more behind the eight ball and in the ditch.

Do I take responsibility for any of this? I actually don't, and if you find someone who takes responsibility, those are the ones you should never listen to. The rest of us can dissect the situation, carefully making the incision, gently anesthetizing the patient and opening the various folds of fat around the carcass, looking for problems wherever they're found. And later, we'll sew it all back up and either throw our hands up in desperation, cashing in our chips because nothing can be done or working our healing magic, making things right that have been askew for decades.

The only responsibility I take is to admit the fact that had I been there, these various traffic jams on the freeway would’ve never happened. I would’ve recommended a wider road where bottlenecks are constant. Or a narrower road where hardly anyone goes. There's a mall or two where hoodlums hang out; I'd close those ramps entirely. If you can't keep your nose clean, we don't want to deal with you. The fact is, I can see the whole situation, not just half of it like so many of our uninformed city planners. I know what they say, with the gift of hindsight everyone’s a critic. But I'd just brush that off and take it a step further, fining the families of city planners from the past, or at the very least herding them together and banishing them from town, if there's an open lane for their deportation.

A lot of the freeway problems we have -- more cars 'round the clock than there’s room to keep them -- were put in place by functionaries at the highest level, the Feds. And the best you can say about them is “Cookie cutter!” They found a pattern that worked in one place, where basically five cars was a busy day, and foisted it off in various places around cities destined to have 10 times that. So now we’re bogged down in endless traffic jams, stacked like dominoes, just waiting to be tipped over and destroyed. I'm not sure what the penalty should be for them, although continuing to live in polite society is not among the options. So take your pick, banishment or death, whichever is most economical.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Big City Car Chases

The Big City
Part 12 of 28

Just a glimpse at my browsing history shows how I was briefly interested in car chases, but am now pretty much fed up with them. It started out I was watching every action-packed minute, then I started fast-forwarding through the many lulls in the action, then finally I was fast-forwarding through everything from start to finish to see how they met their fate.

Along the way I picked up a bit of trivia -- and I’m not sure of either sourcing or accuracy -- that a full 18% of car chase perps get away with it. Strangely, of all the chases I saw, 100% were captured, but they say a lot of chases are called off because of the greater danger to the public in pursuing it. In the ones I saw, there was no hope of escape. You would need the earth to open up and swallow the police, and so far that's never happened. But in real life, if you play it right and become a real public nuisance -- where it's more hazardous to chase the perp than letting him or her go -- that's all it takes to get away with it. (Although they still take down your license number and catch you in the early morning hours.)

Still, quite the lesson! I might not have ever been in trouble in school if I only knew how to maximize my wrongdoing. “You may as well let me dip your pigtails in the inkwell because if you don’t … Let’s just assume you appreciate having hair.” Pretty good lesson, the bigger the nuisance you are the more likely you’ll get away with it. Of course, it’s still hard to get away with it. And there's always the midnight knock on the door, a quick cuffing, taking you out in your jammies, how ya like THIS ride?

One of the benefits of watching car chases -- if you’re new to the Big City, and I’m relatively new -- is it teaches me the geography of the place. Plus, I’ve seen exits and ramps, twists and turns, that I haven’t got time to pay attention to when driving. The freeways are always clogged up pretty badly and if you take your eyes off the road for too long, you’re dead. Making any shortcuts you might find a moot point. Just the other day I saw a chase that ended in a neighborhood I have business in. It was great to see some familiar sights and a few shortcuts. I just don’t want to show up the same time as that guy, because he was badly lax with the standard road signals and rules.

There’s one compelling video on YouTube, and there’s no reason giving you the link because if you’re watching car chases it pops up so often that you’re tripping over it. A guy was in a chase, then got off the main drag but continued on, finding himself in the end blocked in a tiny parking lot that was also a dead end. This is the time for any reasonable person to say, “Clearly I’m not among the 18% who will get away. I’ll give up and try again some other day.” But that wasn’t his choice. He tried to squeeze past the last obstacles in his way, the fence and a police vehicle. When out popped the guns and the cops cut him down in his tracks. There aren’t a lot of shoot-outs to the death in chase videos, but this guy managed it. Sympathy to his family, if warranted. I hate seeing that one pop up all the time because I’ve already seen it three or four times. Warning, you can eat a whole bag of popcorn just watching this stuff.

Are you out there on the road? Keep your nose clean. Obey the rules. Don’t mistake the freeways for a playground. The rest of us want to live. The life you save might be mine. If you’re driving on your rims because you’re too stupid to pull over, you might want to look into life insurance. And so on and so forth. Don’t be stupid, because it’s obvious you are. The Big City hates you (1) but thanks you for the entertainment (2). It’s terrible to get any degree of pleasure in someone's wrongdoing, which is why I’m cutting back if I can.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

I Fear Molestation

The Big City
Part 11 of 28

There’s nothing funny about the fear of molestation. As far as bad-ass crimes go, it’s classified with the hardest to overcome. Just the thought of it gives us the shakes. In part thanks to our upbringing, but of course thanks to our instincts for survival and avoiding pain; we know it has to be a bastard. And it's not just in the Big City, but the same fears are in the small town -- because anyone could jump out and do something and then it’s done. But the Big City has it over the small town, usually, because the threat’s always there, one molester after another.

My usual thought about everything is 'I’ll be OK.' Which I’m reluctant to sketch out, because it'll certainly put me in a bad light for being at my most calculating: ‘Please, if you're going to molest someone, take the next guy, but let an old burnt-out cinder like me pass.’ This is actually one of the glories of old age. By comparison, I am a has-been cinder, burnt out, too old to cut the mustard, and if anyone has choices to make, I’m obviously good for nothing and a reluctant last resort, like if you’re a molester and you’re dying and you simply have to fit in one more before arriving in Hell.

The wrench in the machine, though, is we have to go by the Big City standard. So you could be as old as the hills like me, and crustier than I ever expect to be, and if the perp is hopped up on the wrong combination of uppers, downers, and neutral substances -- vegging out can also put you in this frame of mind -- any creature would be susceptible to victimization. As unbelievable as it is, there’s still the possibility the molester would want me. I'd certainly be good enough if he were already delirious or in the death throes.

The main thing is, whatever it is, to be ready, and that’s why an in depth study of the Big City is so critical. Literally everywhere you go there's someone else you don’t know. Big, little, ugly, uglier. Demented, senseless, wasted, hopeless, ready for anything, rolling up a score, in some jaded state getting it on because he's not himself, and if he were it might be worse.

I'm presenting some good teachable moments in the graphic, which boils down to your stance. “I stand before you hopelessly inexperienced, a virtual innocent, never having pleased a single soul, more often than not given to uselessness, and if the truth be told, if you’re after me, it's bad news, because you’ve fallen low, you have no standards. What a remarkable past you may have had, that even this late in your life -- don’t think of yourself as a has-been, more like still a great person, only confused -- you have the ambition for socializing, but with what? A limp rag like me? You could stand here and do better in mere minutes and be proud of yourself, rather than lower yourself to my level -- a guy not proud but a loser."

OK, somehow I escaped that dreadful fate. But the Big City’s not always so easily swayed. You might have a strong self-image. Get rid of it. It’s better if you look like disease on two wobbly feet, if you want to escape, get on with your life, and share your favors elsewhere in a more gratifying, consensual way.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Twisting Toward Murder

The Big City
Part 10 of 28

All the characters are gathered for this perennial drama. They may have come from far away, even the ends of the earth. Or they may have come from right around here, the Big City. I’ll be direct and say that is where came from, right here in the Big City, because unless they’re missing several key chromosomes, there's very few characters like them back in the small town. Thank goodness, but now here I sit in the Big City, and this is what I’m surrounded with!? Right now there's a siren outside, maybe arson, maybe murder, could be mail fraud for all I know.

When I see a newborn baby, there’s something about that that gets me all sentimental, with a kind of warm feeling leading to optimism. Of course I know I won’t be around to change the child’s diapers and tend to cuts and bruises and steer that precious one straight down the primrose path. But in most cases, just being generous, he or she will turn out exactly like me, an honored member of society, someone who contributes, whether it’s a dime here or there to a worthy cause or some great societal legacy like this blog. But of course that doesn’t always happen.

I hate to dig into the sociology of it too much because there’s often a lot of tragedy involved. The FBI’s Top Ten Wanted List, they all started out young, too, and now what? They’re animals, hunted down like the vicious SOBs they are. Even they had a childhood. And had they only been born gorillas, they might’ve turned out halfway sane. Swinging from tree to tree, peeling bananas, mating in the veldt, beating their chest and protecting their turf. Which you don’t really have to be a gorilla to do, but you can get in trouble if those trees are in someone else's yard.

The way life works, I’ll give you two images, the blender and the mixmaster. Sort of the same, but blenders get a household job done fast and mixmasters (roads) are inert, depending only on the motorist to figure out the key to it and the key to success. Mixmasters in the Big City can be extremely complicated. When you first see a bunch of them stacked up with no clear rhyme or reason, you pull your hair out. But if you lived there, you’d have it down in no time. Then there’s blenders, put the fruit in and three seconds later it’s yogurt. Quite the contrast.

So what’s the cause of going from a bundle of joy to a glowering murderer standing over his prey with the smoking gun declaring his guilt? It’s a three-pronged thing, with the Big City constituting a sort of super prong. Something in his head is askew, something in his environment is askew, and no one taught him never to point a gun at another person in anger unless you’re prepared to use it. Which I guess he was prepared, but still it’s a situation askew. This is when the average perp runs, which is the best thing he can do. His chances of not being caught are slim, but they’re not none.

But I think the real lesson for a successful life has to be, Don’t be born in the Big City.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bonnie & Clyde Types

The Big City
Part 9 of 28

Here we have a car that I likely would’ve given away, with all those bullet holes. As much as I'd love a car like it, it obviously saw its day, and had better days, like the day they drove it off the showroom floor. When they said, “This one's a beauty, a real nice model. Let's keep it in tiptop condition, and someday when it’s collectable, we’ll put it in a barn and only take it out to warm the engine, then back it goes. It’ll be worth a lot of money if the hood doesn’t fly up someday and ruin it. Which it won’t!”

Then it turned out to belong to Bonnie and Clyde -- making it eventually collectable anyway -- who got it so shot full of holes that their main goal wasn't to preserve it but to run for their lives. Of course Bonnie and Clyde lived in a time when you could get away (a relatively long time) robbing banks and shooting people. These days they would’ve been nailed five minutes after the first job.

But here in the Big City there's a lot of criminals who do get away with it for a long time. But they’re not as blatant and in the open as Bonnie & Clyde were. They’re holed away in an office, pulling the strings for a series of jobs by low-level thugs, criminal wanna-bes, and they’re doing jobs that spread their realm out like many tentacles. That’s how I picture the drug business. It’s not just one guy but a network, and you fit in the network -- a secretary, a guy who buys plastic bags, or a mule -- or you don’t. If you fit in, you prosper. If you don’t, skritch, the noose takes another guy by the neck. And they find you hanging from a tree, your DNA telling a mute but plain tale, this guy was a crook.

At this point in my life I’m not trying to be a crook and I’m not trying to be a hero. But the Big City’s obviously so completely rife with crime of every caliber that we could use a dozen super hero do-gooders out there cracking a few skulls. That'd be a good life, to be the hero. But I can see both sides. If it’s not hurting anyone, and in some cases actually helping people with glacoma eye pain, what’s the harm? And if the crimes are more or less technical, they themselves could be a crime against nature. Which is no good. But society has come along with certain dictates and, whether relevant to anything or not, we’re stuck with them. Say no more, I know. Mum’s the word. Let them shoot it out at city hall and every block from there to here, I’ll just sink out of sight and mind my own business.

My recommendation, for your own good avoid every criminal influence, whether genetic or not, and if you didn't avoid it, please go straight before it’s too late.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Big City Criminals' Backstory

The Big City
Part 8 of 28

This one has great interest to me because it’s rare to get in on the ground-loor of people’s lives. Usually when we get to them, whether in prison or old age, we have no idea what they went through. What was their journey? How'd they arrive as they did on death row, with a hideous smile and the vain hopes to carve just one swastika on the warden's back? What's the backstory?

But then there’s the rare case where you have not only the resources but the clearance to really get in there and study the quick disintegration that life sometimes manages -- evolution in hyper-drive -- that drops the whole enchilada, from juvvy hall all the way to the electric chair. For which I guess we can only thank the gods above, who know all but tell little. In this case they’ve shown plenty…

I will, however, cover it somewhat with a veil, because the families are still out there, ashamed as they rightly should be, for having raised two pea-brains like Dirk and Dingbat. And even by unleashing them among the other goofy-assed SOBs in the Big City we have, at least in a roundabout way, condemned their family as well. Because it’s true that no matter how bad you are there’s a back story, a system that failed you along the way. The idea that we’re always wholly responsible for our outcome is crap. Show me a thoroughbred and I’ll show you a breeder and trainer. And the same goes for every pernicious runt.

Dirk and Dingbat had their run of the Big City. Their story has been told a thousand times, not always with the same names. But it always essentially boils down to the same conclusion. Neither one was any good, but put together they were twice as bad. It would’ve been enough if each had acted on his own, Dirk without Dingbat or, if you prefer, Dingbat without Dirk. The only change I see is neither would’ve had the same bad influence of the other, and without a strong influence the situation might’ve been entirely different.

Let’s think how it might’ve been. Dirk with his obvious advantages might’ve gone in for his kindergarten physical. And instead of being drawn as he was later to a life of crime, have been inspired by the kindly physician and set an early goal for himself that he too would be a doctor. It’s true, doctors come from somewhere. They don’t just get old and pop into a fully blossomed doctor. I was talking with a doctor literally just yesterday about my downhill slide, being a few years older than the average person. And I had to think, a doctor, there but for the devil that could’ve been me. I wouldn’t have minded getting rich mapping veins or whatever he does. And cheerful, too! But forget about me, that could’ve been Dr. Dirk.

Then there’s Dingbat, a little green around the gills, with severe disadvantages, the other kids berating him mercilessly as Baby Hulk, etc., the kind of nasty nicknames we hate hearing. But when you’re a kid it seems to come with the territory. Again, thinking of me, I might’ve been Dr. Dingbat but for my lack of green skin and the fact that no one encouraged me to look into doctoring. They didn’t exactly say I’d never amount to anything. Whatever, it had to be even worse for the actual Dingbat.

Both were obviously disciplined, as seen in the graphic. The full extent of that, I guess we’ll never know, but we know the influence toward crime was even greater. This sad state of affairs led to a sad conclusion, as they became the terror of the Big City, and ended up, not vein-mapping doctors, but rock-pounding criminals, and took their place among the goofy-assed SOBs who do those sorts of things and end up tragically, slamming a wrench on someone's head or worse.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Dear Grandma Therapy Letter

The Big City
Part 7 of 28

The same thing happened to me that's happenedd to small town immigrants to the Big City through the ages. I got down in a funk, and had to go to one of the raging hyenas who sit in their ivory palace mental clinics just waiting for easy prey, a quick buck, from supposedly "counseling" us, tamping down our desires toward a popular uprising because we’re so desperate for the old ways.

And, yes, my eyes were closed to the situation, that’s how desperate I was. Then, like sheep to the slaughter -- They still slaughter sheep, right? I haven’t had a sheep and biscuit breakfast in 30 years -- the guy had me with the teary-eyed Big City therapy exercise of “writing home.” In dark moments of life like that I don’t fight back as I should. I wish I would’ve seen through it immediately and literally gone "full terrorist" on that guy’s office, which you can do and get away with it. Counselors love bragging to other counselors about clients who completely erupt and destroy their office. The main problem is that there’s very little you can do to piss off a counselor, so they win.

Anyway, the dude roped me into the simplest, stupidest technique -- what am I paying the guy for when I had to write my own letter -- the Dear Grandma letter they make you write. Since she was the main authority figure in my upbringing. And who could win me over, back to sanity, any more than Grandma? See what the Big City does? I sort of support the idea of writing to Grandma, but the idea that these worms forced me still rankles.

“Just pour out your heart and spirit,” the counselor went on, his straining weasel voice giving me the creeps, like someone or something that just slithered out of Eden, a snake from central casting if I ever met one. Yet with all that, the wool was still pulled over my eyes somewhat. It was a battle royale, really, as I saw the truth that I should reject The Big City, but I also knew that under the circumstances, Grandma’s house being moldy, pulled down and hauled to the dump, I had very little choice. “Go along to get along.” So I did my best, putting the letter in my own words, not copying out of a book:

"Dear Grandma, This is your old sonny boy here, hoping you haven’t forgotten me during your stay in the heavenly palaces. You probably haven’t. You may know more about me than I know about myself, from your perch above, so I’ll tell the truth. The counselor has narrowed down most of my trauma to the loss of our house. Remember, it was already very old. And the construction seemed to be a jumble. Starting like a small shed, then being built on over the years, whenever the mood struck our ancestors. It was always a patchwork. Weird cracks between pieces, and the wind would blow and separate everything even if just slightly. Those places where the roof didn’t join perfectly then took on water. Drizzle was no big deal to the better houses, but in your house it was Public Enemy No. 1. Then you and Grandpa gave up the ghost, leaving me as the caretaker/resident. On a limited income and with no knowledge of maintenance beyond patching the obvious. Which over time can be hard to catch up on. Well, eventually, the city came by and shut the place down, and came in with a court decree that I vacate, and finally carted it off to the dump wall by wall, everything from the floor to the roof, in that order.” My last tender words over the rubble were, 'It was nice while it lasted.' Which was a tribute to you and Gramps. Who probably could've done a better job maintaining the place when it was new."

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Beware of The Big City

 The Big City
Part 6 of 28

I don’t give a lot of advice. Of course I’ve done it, but it’s never been anything too intrusive. Mostly just everyday advice that everyone should already know, so I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that if someone missed the basics of life. Plus, they’re just regular no-nothing people who are always happy to be taken by the hand and led down the primrose path.

There’s actually a lot of people who fall into that category that I’ll never meet. I think of that sometimes and worry how they'll make it. But I also see wisdom in just keeping my mouth shut. I can’t save everyone, so why should the others get advice and have their lives changed for the better? How's that fair to the ones I’ve never attempted to guide? Is life really just a matter of the luck of the draw? Those who happen to meet me are helped, but that extremely unlucky few are doomed. You’d think there'd be a better system.

Of course I am always happy to help. Ever since I was little I’ve had a helpful spirit. “Grandma," I said, "Grandpa said don’t stick your finger in the socket, it’ll kill you.” And she never did, however she did die a natural death later that try as I might I couldn’t steer her clear of. A guy can be very helpful and still not manage to save everyone. Which honestly is not really a mission of mine. I’ve been staying at a place just a little ways from the freeway, and I hate like hell hearing the tires squealing, cars flying silently over the embankment, and coming to a quick collision with people and buildings in the area. True story, first day I was in the Big City, someone collided midair with a guy’s shed.

I would’ve loved to sit down and discuss the near future with that driver. But again, I can’t be everywhere at once. If you’re reading this, though, that’s good, because I could very well be being used right now by the powers above to save your life. Which puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. What do you think? Your life is even now in my loving hands. And whether you believe me, that’s something I can only hope to be convincing enough to make happen.

Let me explore the case a little more. Let’s say you’re the average guy, clean-living, you love your family, but you’re in the small town and feel like you need to stretch out a bit, get some “leg-room” in life, be on your own, make your own decisions, and maybe pick up a few thrills along the way. I hope you don’t. I sincerely hope you decide for yourself to forget the thrills and merely live a good boring long life. (Just now I'm hearing a siren speed by, so somebody loves thrills.)

May I be more direct? Thrills aside, sir. If you come to the Big City, you will die from that decision. This is no joke. You believe I can’t call it like that? I will narrow the actual situation down before you. If you move to the Big City you will -- WILL -- die on the ninth day that you’re here, or sometime between the eighth day and a tenth day you'll never see. So if you come to the Big City, I implore you, leave sometime before the ninth day. I'd probably leave before the seventh day, because I might be off a couple days. And it'd be smarter to leave the fifth day just to be on the safe side, leave a little buffer. Though the third day, too, would be ideal, or even the second, or simply don’t come. You’d ultimately be better off if you just forgot it all together.

Beware, beware, beware of the Big City. It's so big that literally anything can go wrong. The sad truth of the matter is no one should live here. Right now everything's bigger and farther away, but if no one lived here that'd help shrink things and make it safer.