Incident at Walgreens

When I walked into Walgreens (no apostrophe, that’s their choice) the crooner was out front, as he often is. He’s a fifty-ish man who sings pre-rock standards in Frank Sinatra’s style, slightly hokey but not annoying. He carries a tune nicely, and he’s been singing in front of the drug store for as long as I’ve lived here. I like the old standards, so I’ve probably given him ten bucks in spare change over the years.

When I came out of the store, Cooper, the shoe-shine man from down the street, was yelling at the crooner. I’ve never seen Cooper angry before, but he was furious, insulting the crooner and his ancestors, and telling him to get off the street. They’ve always shared this block, and I don’t know what started the argument between them.

The crooner was packing his amplifier and mike, being screamed at by Cooper and looking embarrassed and fighting back tears. I tossed two quarters into his can before he picked it up, and he sorta smiled at me. Felt like I’d saved a life, for only 50¢.

Cooper and I have spoken several times — that’s how I know his name — but I never though he was nuts. He’s never shined my shoes, cuz I don’t wear fancy shoes, and you can’t shine away holes in fake leather. And after today, he never will.

I don't think I've ever said anything to the crooner, except maybe hello. You can't much talk to a guy who's singing "Summer Wind." I should’ve said something today, maybe, but what am I, the Paris Peace Talks?

♦ ♦ ♦

A letter came today from Neil Schmidt, the man behind Full Cup, the zine of caffeine addiction that I mentioned last month. He says he wants to create a comic strip based on my pathetic life, which is maybe the kookiest offer I’ve ever heard that wasn’t illegal. 

I’m flattered, but skeptical. My life is pretty good on good days, but how would you translate my idea of a good day — talking to no-one and maybe going to a movie — into a comic strip?

If anyone can do it, though, it’s Neil. What I’ve seen of his work is always amusing and often funny. So all comic book rights to Pathetic Life are hereby assigned to Neil Schmidt. All I ask, Neil, is that you draw me as I am — massively fat, gigantic, corpulent beyond belief. And of course, 50% of any big-time publishing, movie, or TV deal.

♦ ♦ ♦

Also in the mailbag, Phillip from Kansas City writes again, asking how to subscribe to the zine. Well, you can’t. Single issues only, $3 each or the usual.

‘The usual’ might seem like an odd concept, since we’re all programmed to either pay or steal everything we get, but it means trading instead of paying money. Send a genuine letter, or a copy of the zine you’ve created — that's 'the usual'.

No subscriptions, though. I’m an irresponsible jerk, and I’ll say screw it and kill this zine the instant it’s more work than fun, so I don’t want to feel that future issues are owed to anyone (and I absolutely don’t want to send refunds). Thus, no subscriptions. If you like this issue, send $3 or the usual for the next issue.

♦ ♦ ♦

And we’ll close out the month of August with wise words of wisdom from a blue-haired bag lady, welcoming visitors to Union Square: 

“Ah, go fuck yourself. You just go fuck yourself. You come to the square and walk around with your fucking video camera, taking pictures like you own the fucking place — well, you don’t, so go fuck yourself!”

From Pathetic Life #3
Wednesday, August 31, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.



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  1. There's a breakfast vibe from the story of cooper and the crooner. Did you ever ask either of them what the argument was about?

  2. Nope. None of my business. Pretty sure I never spoke to either of them again. That's life in the big city, mate.


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