The Tale of Brendan

Neighbors came and went with the seasons at Maple Ridge Apartments and during the spring of 2000 a white pick-up truck backed up to a door and started unloading furniture. A few days later I heard a woman calling out my name in the parking lot and I saw someone I recognized but didn’t know, although she acted like she knew me. Karen was a cashier at the Meijer grocery store I worked for in high school. Two years later one of those cashiers was my new neighbor. Karen was ten years older than me with dark straight stringy hair, a thin face, and a bad attitude. This was the first time she had tried to be nice to me. In the two years I worked with her I could not recall anyone liking this woman. Then I met her husband.
Brendan was close to my age. A young decent looking guy who acted like he was always on a caffeine kick and had never heard of something called peace and quiet. His blonde hair was spiked with gel and he was still at that stage of eating whatever he wanted and still appearing in shape. When you met Brendan, you could not leave without hearing about his truck. It was a mid-90s white Ford Ranger that was nothing remarkable except that it had been totaled in an accident and rebuilt. To this day I can’t figure out what is so special about a truck that “has no value” as he put it and “I could never sell it since it doesn’t exist.” How much of this story is true, I have no idea? There were the holes I found in the story back then, how do you buy tags for the plate? How do you get a plate? Insurance, it’s not like they won’t look up the vin number. None of these questions were answered and he usually turned the topic to sex. Women he banged. Prospects in the apartment complex. Women, women, and more women was the constant topic of discussion, but he never talked about his wife.
The marriage was rocky from the beginning. These two were always fighting and Karen would storm out taking their kid, I don’t remember if it was a boy or a girl, to her mom’s place leaving Brendan to roam the complex on his own.
During that time, I had regular visits from Gary, a former co-worker from Meijer that knew Nate and Rob who were also regular visitors. Rob eventually became my roommate for a period, and it was during that phase Brendan and Karen moved in a few doors down. Gary lived in the building behind ours and as the social butterfly that he was. He knew most of the people in his building, who smoked weed, who was throwing parties, who was looking for some action, etc. Gary was not picky and as he put it, “they all look that same when the lights are out.”
Karen had stormed out of the apartment again. There was the usual yelling and screaming that had all the neighbors looking out of their blinds. A few minutes after she left, Brendan was knocking on the door expecting me or Rob to entertain him. I didn’t answer the door and went about my business. An hour later Gary came knocking and around that time Rob came home from work. He had the misfortune of landing a Union job for a garbage company and his task was cleaning out the backs of those trucks. And I thought I had it bad with the rats.
“Ya’ll gotta come ta muh building. Dis gurl haffin a party up in der.” Gary was difficult to understand. If you didn’t know Gary you would think he was drunk, or high, or maybe a speech impediment, or just had dental work done. None of these were true although sometimes he was high but that made it easier to understand him.
I was bored so I said to heck with it and followed Gary and Rob out the door. On the way Rob went to Brendan’s and that man came rushing out like a dog let off the leash.
There was indeed a party that was happening. Some girl that nobody knew had just moved in and was having people over. Her real agenda was to have someone bring some weed so that she could get high and Gary was happy to fulfill that wish. With a dozen of us in this one-bedroom apartment we sat around looking at one another wondering how nobody had something to smoke it with. Rob went back to the apartment and grabbed an old corncob pipe that he had, and Brendan assigned himself to pack it.
“I’ve done this before,” Brendan said. “I’m good at this.” Not exactly the thing to brag about when you are pressing your thumb into the bowl with all your might. He never broke apart the bud and instead stuffed the entire thing into the pipe. Gary sat back watching completely entertained. Eventually the bowl was lit but nobody could draw from the damn thing, so we went about drinking cheap booze and making small talk. Brendan was hitting on the girl the whole time. He would say he liked rap and she would reply she liked country. “I was just kidding. I love country. Country is my jam.” Then he started talking about his truck. To my surprise the girl started asking all the same questions I had regarding the truck being legal. Brendan changed the subject to what he wanted to do with it. “I’m going to lower it down, put some small fat tires on it and run some lights underneath. It’s going to be sweet.” The girl on the other hand said. “I like big trucks.” Brendan changed his tune and said, “I was just kidding. Ya, I’m going to get one of those kits and put some big fat mud tires on there.”
This act went on all night and I was one of the last people to leave. My job that evening was the cock blocker. I didn’t like Karen, hell I didn’t like Brendan, but who was this girl that was being pulled into their bullshit. When Brendan went to take a leak, I told the girl he was married, and they had a kid.
“He said he was single,” she whispered back. “How do you know?”
“He lives a few doors down and I worked with his wife. Look do what you want but now you know.”
I went home that night feeling a little better. To this day nobody knows what happened. The next morning Brendan came nocking on the door. Half-awake I answered and he told me about his sexual escapades with the girl from the party. “She had a huge bush and she blew me. It was so good.” These were the details that would be repeated and never expanded upon and I was fine with that.
The next day I saw Rob and he said he ran into Brendan after work. “He said she was shaved, and they fucked.” After comparing the few notes we had it was obvious somebody was lying.
A week later Rob came storming into the apartment with a large cardboard box. “You won’t believe what this guy a work gave me.” It was difficult to tell what it was at first, all the VHS tapes had the covers missing and the titles were in small print.
“What is it?” I asked.
“There is this old cranky Vietnam vet at work who doesn’t talk to anyone and is pissed off all the time. He comes in today and says ‘does anybody want this box of porn’ so I raise my hand up and he tells me its all lesbian porn because seeing another dude’s dick is gay. He didn’t have to explain that to me, but he did. Then he tells me that if I didn’t take it then it was going in the trash and I put it in my car right away.”
Rob starts going through the titles; Muff Divers volume 4, No Dicks Allowed 2, Carpet Burn, and the list went on and on. He was happy with his find and had the next day off.
“Just make sure you clean up afterwards,” I said rolling my eyes as he explained he wasn’t leaving the house all day.
That next day I went to work at Olga’s and Rob stayed home with his box of porn. What happened is as follows. Rob went through his tapes reading the titles. When he came across All Anal Action volume 12, he thought “this sounds nice.” None of the tapes were rewound so if you put it in the VCR you were starting at some random spot. This tape started with a close up, loins slapping and heavy breathing, Rob sat back on the couch and enjoyed, until the camera started to pull back. There was something odd he couldn’t put his finger on. The guy was odd enough, not exactly what the man at work had said these movies were. No, the problem was the girl in the movie who either had a serious case of hemorrhoids or…
Rob fast forwarded enough to learn he had been enjoying two guys going at it and for a few minutes he sat in a corner balled up crying. Then he had an idea.
Rob rewound the tape to the exact spot he had found it and took it out of the VCR. Then, he called Brendan. “Dude, you know that box of porn I got from work. I have something you need to see.” Brendan was at the door in seconds. “Now when you watch it don’t rewind it. It’s at the best scene.” Brendan grabbed the tape and ran back to his place eager to watch the film. Rob waited.
And waited…
And waited…
What he had expected was for Brendan to come back yelling and throwing the tape at him. Maybe a phone call where he said, “very funny asshole.” Some prank played on him later. But none of these things happened. We never saw Brendan again. We never saw Karen again.
When I came home that night Rob told me what had happened, and I too waited for a response. A week later the truck was gone. A few days later, Karen was moving out on her own with the kid. She never said anything to us. We had no idea what had happened to Brendan. The girl in Gary’s building disappeared that summer as well. It was like those few weeks had never happened.
Rob often wondered if he had ruined Brendan’s life, opening doors that weren’t meant to be opened.
“Rob, he tried too hard. You know this. He was living in denial.”
“What about Karen?”
“He picked the one girl at the bar that looked like a man. And she was always a bitch.”
“Ya, she was a bitch.” Rob smoked his cigarette and maybe felt better about the joke he had played. I could see why it would be difficult to move on. A marriage destroyed, a child’s life in limbo, and a woman with nowhere to go. I think Rob liked Brendan, for all of his faults, of which there were many, he was likable in small doses, really small doses, like not living a few doors down from you, or keeping a safe distance while passing on the street far enough away that you won’t end up talking, or not knowing that a person like him exist at all. That is the best way to enjoy Brendan’s personality.
To this day I have never run into Brendan. I don’t know if I would recognize him if I saw him. I never saw the white truck on the road. I never saw Karen again either. It was obvious from the beginning that Brendan had some issues the down side was that he had to take a few people down a road with him because he was too afraid to do it by himself. In the end I think the big old box of porn was a practical joke that turned into a two for one deal. When you work with garbagemen expect to feel a little dirty.

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Adventures in Cooking: Part 8

So, let’s step back for a moment and rewind to how I ended up working in a kitchen to begin with. My first two and a half years in college was helped with a job working security, also known as paid to do homework. It paid better than the $5.15 an hour I was making at the local Meijer to retrieve carts and I could do homework on the job while I sat in a guard shack on 2nd and 3rd shift. My last semester at KVCC left me with a question of whether to pay for tuition for the coming semester or pay my rent. Because living out of a car didn’t appeal to me, I chose to pay rent and didn’t go back to school for a while. Classes were becoming more expensive, and while I had been making extra money working for the school paper it was enough to pay tuition but not for the books, supplies, and lab cost that were hidden fees beyond the tuition itself.
Once that choice had been made I started asking myself what kind of job I could do and make a decent living? The options were few and one of the places I guarded had gotten to know me over the past two years. When a job was posted, I applied for it and had an interview a week or two later. I put in my noticed with guardian guard service and started in the closed in smelly hell hole that was Charles River.
The company raised and bred lab rats for various companies and zoos around the country. When you have a snake or bird that is depending on clean food you buy a sterile rat to feed them and make sure they don’t die in front of a group of kids from a local school on a field trip. Local pharmaceutical companies also bought these animals for testing. I didn’t lean either way on the subject. What where people supposed to do? Test on humans and end up killing people? I had been guarding the building from animal rights activist and rabid raccoons for two years. If I had a problem with what they were doing I would have left already.
Charles River was a long building surrounded by barb wire fencing and contained ten rooms where the rats were bred and raised. In each of those ten rooms were 40,000 rats in various states of development. That is the rat shit of 40,000 rats in one room. The majority of the shift was cleaning up shit and feeding the little biters. There was this myth that they had bred the biting instinct out of the rats but that turned out to be pure bullshit. I must have been bitten 10-12 times during my 90 days and I can remember every single one. It was always the new mom rats, pissed off that you were checking to make sure they weren’t eating their babies. The ones who did I was happy to toss their ass into the loading room where they were gassed before disposal. It’s a bit harsh I know but what did you want for Casey Anthony or that bitch that drowned her kids in the bathtub?
From the first day to the last I was miserable. The room smelled like shit. You smelled like shit. When you woke up in the morning your breath still smelled like shit. You think the world is bad because Obama or Trump is president, spend the majority of your waking hours with a room filled with rats and then come to me for complaints. I never went anywhere worried that, you guessed it, I smelled like shit. The paychecks kept coming and I deposited those things at the drive through where the teller could see me sitting in the car far far away. I shopped for my groceries on the weekend in the middle of the night. I didn’t hang out with friends and let the money continue to roll in. I had a feeling that after my 90 days were up, I was going to be gone.
And I was right. I was called to the head manager’s office on day 90 and sat down from her across the desk. The HR lady came in with her and I waited. I had talked to these ladies for more than two years as they arrived in the morning and when they left at night. They appeared confused and hesitant then they dropped the news. “we are laying you off.” The manager said. “we’re not firing you, we just don’t need you right now.”
“So, when do I come back.” I crossed my fingers and waited for those fateful words.
“We’ll let you know.”
A grin grew on my face and I stood up, shook their hands which left them with a confused look on their faces and went to my car happy that I would never have to come back ever again. It was literally the shittiest job I ever had.
I went home and slept, man did it feel good. I cleaned my clothes, bed sheets, and showered a few times a day. This went on for a week. After that I had no plans. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My dream was to go into the comic book industry but the market had taken a dump and 70% of the comic shops across the country had closed. The comic book companies had stopped hiring new talent keep the old guys who had been doing it for 20-30 years. I had not talents that I could think of, no special skills, and the lack of self esteem didn’t help one bit. I was one sad SOB with no clue what to do.
I paid my rent for the next month early and gave myself time to figure things out. That turned into selling my comics and action figures on Ebay.com. Don’t give me any shit they are a collector item. I didn’t go out much and only checked my mail once a week. I was in a state the Japanese refer to as Hikikomori. It is most common with young men that have lost their way and no longer want to be a part of society. My bank account dwindled over time and eventually I would have to find a job.
I ran into Rob at the local comic shop and he stopped by with his friend Nate to hang out. We drank beer shared stories about when we worked at Meijer together.
“What are you doing now?” rob asked.
“You’re looking at it,” I said sitting in my living room hanging out with them.
“You need a job?” Nate asked.
“Ya.”
“Olga’s is hiring. You’ll be a dishwasher but it pays and it’s easy as hell.”
“Where do I apply?” I asked thinking I needed to go online.
“You just walk in, they ask you for a few things and then you start working.”
The next day I drove to the mall. It was the first time I had driven in a few days and after five minutes I was in the dish room cleaning plates off and figuring out how to fill the trays to load into the high-pressure washer. Literally, anybody could get this job. After being bit, smelling like shit, and closing myself off form society this was a dream come true. I felt like Bill Murray in What About Bob? Making baby steps out of the hole I had found myself in.
When I hear people complain about their jobs and whine about how tough or boring it is, I think of those rats and try not to slap the shit out of them. People love to bitch and when its about stupid shit stay back because stupid is contagious.
Charles River no longer exist, or at least the building I was in doesn’t exist. Most of the jobs from my youth no longer exist. Baggers are a thing of the past. The rat factory is closed down. I haven’t seen a truck or security guard from Guardian guard service in a decade, they likely are not around anymore. Comics are no longer drawn by hand, instead done on a computer. Layouts are done on a computer instead of gluing stories onto master sheets. My daughter will not know what I am talking about when I tell her about these things. These jobs are gone, a footnote in history to be forgotten like the cobbler and blacksmith. I have seen stories where robots are cooking meals and matching the quality of a chef. I call BS but who am I to argue. When you take the human element away from certain jobs than what is the point? You can say that you are saving cost but have you accounted for the cost of interaction? How do people meet, fall in love, argue, share ideas, or flirt if you take away the means for those things to take place? At what point are we so isolated that the majority of people end up like me 2 years ago going through their own Hikikomori with no job to draw them out. At what point do we start investing in ourselves instead of the bottom line? When the line hits bottom where do we go from there?
To be continued…

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Why the World Needs Jordan Peterson

I first came across Jordan Peterson on the Joe Rogan Experience. The college professor who made waves talking about free speech and fought against a bill that was going to be signed into law mandating language on a public who didn’t want it. Since then he has helped millions of people around the world through a commonsense program of personal responsibility and no non-sense lectures pointing out what man kind knew to be true only decades before. Somewhere along the way mankind lost its way and found itself in a desert without a compass or any hope of finding a way out.
As soon as I heard the first interview, I started to find Peterson’s lectures on YouTube and went down a rabbit hole that had my brain working again, asking questions like what was my purpose in life and could I really accomplish the goals that I had set out for myself. This came with the realization that other parts of my life needed to change and that up to this point I was responsible for my current position in life. Many people like to play the victim in the story of their life but when you learn that you can make a difference you are responsible for how your future turns out.
Peterson’s book was released last year and I went out and bought it for the cover price, something I never do, and ate the contents for a few weeks. Some of the things in it reminded me of choices I had made earlier in my life, stop hanging out with people who don’t have your best interest at heart. Clean your room, take care of yourself like you are somebody you are responsible for, and pet a cat when you see one are things I did back in my twenties but lost due to peer pressure by people who I thought knew better than me. This was a mistake I would come to regret and wonder why I didn’t listen to myself instead of people who were a complete mess in their own lives.
I followed the stories online regarding what was happening at universities with students demanding safe spaces and having people fired for not teaching what they thought was politically correct behavior. As a former college student, I remember seeing some of this coming down the pipeline with some of my professors talking about white privilege and trying to make a white trash child of the ghetto feel like I was at the top of the world while cleaning toilets to pay for tuition. Needless to say, the sociology class didn’t connect with me and the teacher had no idea what she was talking about, but she was a person in a position of power who could influence those that sat in her class.
People are not taught how to think for themselves anymore. Asking questions was taboo in class and debate was not an option when it came to discussing these ideas. It took a guy from Canada who said this is enough to make a dent in what had become the new normal on college campuses. The idea of arguing against what was the new standard had finally been brought to light and the world one all sides started to listen. Growing up I was taught to always listen to people in a position of authority while keeping in mind that if you were being told something morally or ethically wrong you should speak up. In my own life when I did this it never turned out good, for me. In the end the people with power are the ultimate judges of what is wrong and right and in the end these people are rarely found guilty of any wrongdoing, sometimes they are even rewarded. People tried to punish Peterson for speaking up and in the end, with his band of loyal followers and a press that continually failed to bring him down, it was Peterson that was rewarded for the work he was doing and not the establishment who was trying to design the world in their own dystopian way.
Changes to my own life happened as a result of Peterson’s work. I have a better job, less self-doubt than what I was raised with, I no longer hang out with people that don’t have my best interest at heart, and I try to take care of myself when I had given up and decided to just enjoy the food and drink because who knows what tomorrow will bring. This was a pessimistic view of the world that I still struggle with and I have to admit it is difficult to argue against with the type of people we have in charge. The world can feel like a truly gloomy place most of the time.
Looking back, I think Peterson hit his peak with the release of his book 12 rules for life. I hope this isn’t so. I know he is working on his next book with more rules and has been on tour for over a year now, and while I am glad he is out there still making a difference in people’s lives, I wonder how it will end. There have been a few great minds during my lifetime, Joseph Campbell, Christopher Hitchens, and now Jordan Peterson and while this may not apply to Campbell who died at old age, there is a tendency for these men to burn out and die earlier than anyone would like. I was watching a lecture that was recorded three days ago with Peterson where a man rushed the stage screaming that he was mentally ill and wanted to know Peterson better. This had me worried knowing that a person with Peterson’s stature will attract nutjobs and people who are mentally insane. Let’s not forget that John Lennon was shot by a fan.
The world needs Jordan Peterson and while that is easy to say the question I have is how much the world with get out of him. Has he already made his impact? Is there more for him to do? Clearly he thinks there is more to accomplish. The hours of YouTube material will be studied for years to come. I impact that one made has made so far in the world can never be measured. While he touched millions of people those fans will go out and do the same I their own communities and the message goes on from there. It would appear that I’m putting a lot of faith into Peterson and I am. This isn’t difficult to do considering what I can’t remember feeling better about myself because of changing my use of pronouns or the times I “checked my white privilege at the door.” These social justice policies have not made the world a better place and turned itself into a breeding ground for bullies and the socially inept. Someone finally spoke up and while people try to discredit Peterson because of his sex or race the easiest question to ask them is how racist can you be? Life isn’t a one-way street and thankfully those who oppose thinkers like Peterson only have control of a small part of the population. We need conversation. We need debate. There was a time when Gore Vidal and Buckley sat across from one another and had a conversation. There was a finical in our society that has declined to almost dueling status for the privilege of being right. The further we go into the future the more ideas regress into the primitive tribal behaviors of long ago. Bubbles need to be popped. Society can not function on victim porn. Men need to crawl out of the basements of their father’s house and make a road for themselves. The world is not a meme, it is a place to discover oneself and that journey is never over.

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Reading the Classics

A few months ago, I purchased a set of the Harvard Classics, also known at as the five-foot reading list. When the books are stacked, they are five feet tall. So far I have read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and the Dialogues of Plato. There are 50 books all together but well over a hundred titles that fill the volumes.
There are two books that cause me to cringe when I think about reading them. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Origin of Species by Darwin are some of the longest titles in the series and could be some of the dullest reading I will ever experience. Did Adam Smith consider how to make economics fun when he wrote his book, I doubt it. Stuck on a boat in the Pacific Ocean would be the best place for someone like Darwin to write about some birds out of boredom and accidently write a classic.
I always hated required reading when I was in school but I will point out that having high school students reading old English isn’t the best way to introduce the classics or good literature for that matter. I could not stand The Scarlett Letter and As I Lay Dying was only readable to those who were familiar with southern white trash. I met some of these characters later in life and had moments where I thought “oh I get it now.” I remember thinking to myself that no one could be that dumb and then life proved me wrong. As for the Scarlett Letter I saw more than my fair share of affairs over the years and the only thing missing was the culture of shame that didn’t exist. This kind of behavior had become a new normal in certain work environments.
In order for a great book to have staying power it has to be written in a way that it will hold up a hundred years after it was written. I often think about Gatsby for an example of this, having known men to fake their lifestyles in order to attract women who were not really into them. Since the Harvard Classics were printed in 1909 Gatsby is not on the list along with all the other classics written during the 20th century. I’m sure I can find a list for those later on.
Some of the classics I am having a difficult time with include poetry and plays, something I always considered separate from literature. I can think of a handful of writers who were successful play writes during their lives, A.A. Milne, Tennessee Williams, and Oscar Wilde all paid their bills by writing plays and having them be a success in the local theaters. For most of these men their fame was later remembered from other literary works like The Picture of Dorian Gray and the Winnie the Pooh series.
When I recently read The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter, I learned how Tolkien and Lewis used poetry as a mental exercise for writing. Publishing such works was still common and people could make a living at it if they had talent. These days the readers don’t exist and writing such things is viewed at the intellectual version of writing rap lyrics in the ghetto, except less successful. While I say all of these horrible things about poetry I will admit there is an advantage to those who do it. It will expand vocabulary as you search for the right word for a line. There is a sense of rhythm that is missing from todays books and the only writers who still have this skill are slowly dying off. The symbolism and descriptions used in poetry is something that is missing from todays books. When a person writes a line such as “that morning he was dehydrated and his pee was the same color it would be an hour after taking a multivitamin” they could use a course or two of poetry.
I will eventually read The Wealth of Nations but I will always have in the back of my mind knowing that Smith lived with his mother, without a job, and was catered daily by her as he wrote. He was living the life of royalty with a serf caring for his needs while writing about capitalism. It would be like Ron Jeremy writing a book about celibacy and having it become a huge hit. The most interesting thing about Adam Smith’s book is that it is regarded as the standard for economics, and it would appear he was very bad at it and this was the only beacon of success he had in his life. I’m sure at some point an adult man still living with their parents, playing World of Warcraft or Minecraft, could write the next big book on relationships or personal responsibility. It could happen, I suppose.

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This is the only time we get

While listing to the latest podcast by Joe Rogan I felt like I was listening to myself and friends discussing the life of Hunter S Thompson. Like many things in my life I was late to discovering Thompson and other members of his generation. Growing up in a blue-collar house I wasn’t exposed to the hippie movement and was far from understanding the peace and love movement. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the Beatles when I was growing up because they were ‘Satanic.” To this day I still don’t enjoy the Beatles but I will admit they made a huge contribution to music, boybands.
A new book about Thompson is coming out called Freak Kingdom and covers Thompson’s career as a journalist before he was known as a drunken Wildman. For full disclosure, I have read most of Hunter’s works and this includes his collected letters, huge volumes of letters compiled in a way to jump from a letter to the president to complaining about NRA membership fees and seeing nothing for it. most amusing was his book club fees and how he begged them to come after him because he was poor.
There was a time for people like Hunter and luckily for Hunter he knew his place during those years. Most of us drift through our lives looking at the small things that drive us, paying bills, getting laid, or where to eat next. The great generation stepped up to something greater than themselves. The Hippies and counter culture, well they… I don’t know what the hell they were doing but at least they did it. for the last thirty years I haven’t seen anyone doing much of anything. People protest like they did in the 60s but in far fewer numbers. Less than 1% of the US population fought in the Iraq or Afghan wars. Women’s lib movement has turned into destroying a man’s life because she really didn’t want to give that blowjob and he should have known by reading her mind. There are no heroes these days. We don’t have a Mohammed Ali to say “no” to the big problems in our society. Journalist no longer ask the hard questions going after Cheeto von Fuckstick, Nixon’s non-aborted result of anal sex. The public doesn’t help in this regard preferring to read 3rd grade level click bate or look at the latest pictures of Kim Kardashian’s ass.
It’s not just this generation that will be judged as a waste of space to humankind. The previous few, generation X to the present hasn’t produced a human being worth talking about in the years to come. The life of a writer used to be as big as the tales they told. Actors and directors once had talent and the ability to make due with what they had. Music was more than just a beat and shitty lyrics.
Times are different compared to when Hunter was alive. Newspapers were still around. The internet did not exist yet. People cared about what was going on in the world. People read books. Things were happening and people were participating. People were divided back then but they also talked to one another. The types of conversations Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley had on national television are regarded as hate speech now on YouTube. This system is breaking down and there is no one to stop it.
I enjoy learning about these men of their times because I think there is still something to learn from them. If you planted any of them into our current situation odds are they would have died unknown and broke. They were the men of their times and to try and place the anywhere else is pointless. That isn’t to say that we don’t need a Hunter s Thompson or a Gore Vidal for our own time. I hope that these people will emerge and that the world will embrace them for what they are. An example of how we can better ourselves and in doing so make the world a better place, even if its only a little bit.
We can’t go back to the previous times that we though were more wonderful than they really were. I once heard a person say they wished they could have gone back to Studio 54 and experience what it was like. Of course, they skipped the part were most of the bartenders and the owner died later on from AIDs because of the party lifestyle that was Studio 54. As a culture we like to romanticize the highlights of certain times while ignoring the repercussions of those events. I don’t mind talking about the past, learning from what people have to offer, but it is foolish to wish that you could have been there. It is even more foolish to think that somehow, in some way, you are going to recreate that feeling, the mood of the time and transport yourself into a place you had never been and weren’t meant to experience.
All we have is what is before us. The world is forever changing and it is for us to exist in it, engage it, and participate in a way that you are seen and remembered. Make your mark in your own way and perhaps if you are lucky you can leave the world a better place than how you found it. those are the people who are remembered later, the ones they build the mausoleum dicks for. The others, the people who eat, sleep, and fuck their way through life not giving a shit about anyone but themselves, those are the future worm food that time will forget. The coal chugging mouth breathers that history will remember for one thing, destroying the world. The world is filled with knuckle draggers and when there are many few will stand apart. That isn’t to say we don’t have the mouth breathing elite, also known as white trash with money, they are money and it proves something that I have always said, having money doesn’t prove you are smart.
There is a line I am waiting to hear, one that will project someone out of the crowd with this social justice bullshit and the slew of simple-minded motherfuckers that the world is infested with. I don’t want to hear an apology, I don’t want a list of excuses, I want someone to look these losers in the face and tell them to “fuck off.” We have life really good these days. I have more information on my phone than all the libraries in the world from a hundred years ago combined. We have less wars, less poverty, less crime, and for some reason people are now making up things to be pissed about like pronouns.
The times of Hunter, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolf, Ginsburg, Kerouac, etc. are gone. We have to accept that and when we do we may finally acknowledge that it is up to us to be the heroes of our time. The most common phrase a man says after accomplishing something great is “who else was going to do it?”

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Losing my voice and finding it again

Last week I came down with a cold, that turned into a sinus infection, that turned into a throat infection, and as of Sunday I lost my voice. My daughter who is turning two I May has run of the house now with a dad chasing behind her trying to say “no” but only managing a funny squeak that she ignores. When I returned to work yesterday most of my conversations were managed with shoulder shrugs and head nods. Communication with the world has become difficult but at the same time the burden of trying to express myself is gone leaving me to walk around and observe without interfering.
Last week I was almost half way through recording an audiobook version of Hobbit Baby until I became sick. I diverted my time towards things I could still work on, this blog and the rewrite of After the Day. Schedules have shifted and with my voice still gone I have no idea when I will be able to start recording again. I haven’t posted a YouTube video in about a week and I am starting to wonder if someone is trying to tell me something or if I just want to view this as a mandatory break from the usual chaos that is my life.
With being sick family time over the weekend was limited to a few things and had me napping along with the kiddo while my wife tried to do things around the house. One thing that I miss and look forward to trying again for the first time is smoking my pipe. At an antique outside of town, I came across a 14 oz tin of George Washington pipe tobacco that hasn’t been in production since 1974. The tine was sealed, it was heavy, and when I snuck into a booth and pried open the top, I discovered it was still filled with the original contents never before touched. It was the one thing I bought at the shop and I have since stashed it away to try one day when I’m not feeling like a walking pile of crap.
To make matters worse I found out on Friday that my father had a heart attack and went to visit him in the hospital. It wasn’t until I went to see him, I found out he had been there since Tuesday and I hadn’t learned about it until one of my aunts called me. I don’t know why these life lessons always hit me hard in the face like a huge flashing billboard but it could tone things down a bit. Talk less, listen more, okay I think I got it. Take better care of yourself before YOU have a heart attack, that one I can check off the list. Work will still function if you are not there, I’m still learning this one. I think most people use work to feel important in their lives. Find better ways to talk to your kid, when you can’t say “no” what can you do? If you weren’t doing your usual time-wasting shit what would you be concentrating on?
As I continue on and try to navigate the world without a voice, I start to think more about the things I am write and working on. What is the best way to say this or that? Is this really three sentences or one? Is this character truly that much of an asshole?
My choice of entertainment has changed a bit, listening to audiobooks instead of the usual podcast that I have since unsubscribed to. I’m almost finished with Marcus Aurelius The Meditations and last week I finished Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. I’m slowly working my way through the Harvard Classics, a set of books I picked up for $40 at the used bookstore. Mark Twain once said that classics are something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read. As I go through these books, many of which are no longer discussed or printed to the point where audiobooks are not available, I wonder where society is going. I have met people who will only read the latest of a certain field, arguing that it is the best up to date information about a topic. When I throw away books that had been donated to the library, I find the old up to date books that have gone the way of the dodo. Nobody reads Dr. Spock anymore. Authors that were once at the peak for literature are now tossed into the recycling bin. Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer are names never discussed these days. The Great generation is now becoming the forgotten generation. I have heard people say that Socrates and Plato are hokey Greek fags that need to be forgotten, while the democracy these people enjoy was modeled on the civilization those fags lived in. People are converting to Flat Earth theory because of YouTube videos while a guy where silk robes in ancient Greece was able to predict the size of the earth by measuring shadows at the same time of day and he was not far off from the actual number.
As the world goes on, science takes us further expanding our lives it is also making things so easy we’re are becoming dumber by the minute. The classics were talked about in school but it was never required reading. I read the Great Gatsby a few years ago for the first time, and found myself thinking about it weeks later, pissed off at Daisy, wanting to smack Gatsby for being a fool, and in the end realizing that is why it is such a great book. And yet, even when it was first released, it was never read. Copies sat in warehouses and never saw the light of day. People have replaced bed time books with toilet tweets and we wonder why things have gone to shit.
Daylight is burning, for the first time in weeks the sun is out and it is warm enough to take the little one out for a walk. I don’t want to have a heart attack and I don’t want to look back thinking I should have spent more time with her. She knows about ten words now and the last thing she needs is me repeating one of them all the time. The best thing I can do today is take her for a walk and listen while she explores the world.

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After the Day for the last time

This book saved my life. Poorly written, and breaking barriers no one wanted to see broken, what started out as a way to kill long lonely nights turned into a gateway to freedom that I needed. Five years ago, I put a book on Amazon before knowing what it was. It was raw, filled with misspelled words, bad grammar, and horrible dialogue and somehow it sold.
At that time in my life I was divorce, living alone, dating life had a bunch of downs and no ups, and debt was pulling me down. I had branched out into various hobbies, things that I had wanted to do early on in life but held back by different things which no longer influenced my life. Included in these hobbies was writing.
One of the first things I did after my wife and I split was going to best buy and picking up a laptop to write on. It sat in a closet for a year before I took it out and started pecking the keys. I had many adventures after my thirtieth birthday. Fishing, hunting, and gardening took up a good portion of my free time. Once hunting season was over and winter was in full throttle I was stuck inside, without a television and the radio my only outside friend. Sitting in my dining room with a bottle of red wine and a pipe filled with captain black gold I started to write a short story. I had lost track of where it was going and so I wrote another. I continued this process until I had three or our stories in front of me and realized I was writing them all in the same world.
The last couple of days have taken me back to that time. Sitting at a dining room table like I do now and listening to classical music from NPR, I go over my first novel and rewrite the work for the last time. I found the original version, the one I uploaded with all of its horrible flaws, before the suggestions, edits, and critics took over. Starting from scratch I’m turning it into what it could have been all along and something that is truly mine again. I have learned some lessons along the way. Don’t look at sales figures. Don’t read the reviews. Don’t let people distract you with other projects that are not your own. Drink less beer. Write drunk. Edit sober… sometimes. So maybe I haven’t learned my lessons on a lot of things or maybe some of those things are myths to begin with. You don’t have to always enjoy what it is that you are doing but it helps.
As I go through these pages and play with the words, slowly transforming this thing into something else entirely, I know that I will still come back to it a few times. Reading an audiobook will point out a few more changes along the way and that is okay. After this year I will no longer come back to this book. My life has changed since that time and I have written several things since then that nobody wants to read or talk about. After the Day has turned into my white whale and it is time to put it down for good.

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