The answer, of course, is everything.

Somewhat surprisingly, I still have a job. Nobody even mentioned that I left early yesterday, though Darla pulled me aside to tell me not to call 9-1-1 again without prior management approval. 

What does a fellah have to do to get fired around here? I slack off a lot of the time, gossip with co-workers by e-mail whenever I’m bored, most of the managers have heard me bad-mouthing the store (I’m not terribly discreet about it), and I’ve trained my bowels to move mostly on company time. Today, as usual for a Friday, I slipped out twenty minutes early to cash my paycheck, then came back just to punch out.

Also, I didn't say this to Darla and Babs, but my only regret from yesterday is not calling 9-1-1 sooner. If it's needed again, I'll call 9-1-1 again.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

There was some “girl talk” between Kallie and Carlotta, about romances remembered and others best forgotten, and I guess I’m an honorary girl because I was part of the conversation.

Kallie said she'd met some guy last weekend, and she’s got the hots for him, and yeah, I’m slightly jealous. Lottie said Kallie should give the guy a call, but Kallie’s not an old-fashioned girl so she’s called him already, twice. He hasn’t called back, which makes him a fool in my book, and I said so.

“I’m no prize,” Kallie said.

“You’re a grand prize,” I said, “and don’t you forget it.” Not an original line, but it came from the heart, and it's a rare moment that I don't stumble over the words in a situation like that.

Kallie likes to downgrade herself, like I sometimes do. She's “a little tubby, not exactly a model, and pushing 40” (those were her words), but I see an attractive, intelligent woman who deserves better than a lonely life like mine. Did I say that? No. I knew I'd say it wrong, so I just shook my head ‘no’.

As for the friendship between between Kallie and I, it’s been stalled for a while, but today's conversation was maybe the next step I’d been hoping for, where we can talk about personal stuff instead of just ‘music’ and ‘things’. 

Kallie came across my essay in this week’s Anderson Valley Advertiser (it’s at the back of the zine you’re reading), which led to an odd conversation later on.

“Your article was kind of depressing,” was Kallie’s comment. Good, I thought. I’d intended it to be uplifting, but any emotional response to something I’ve written has to be a compliment, right? 

“I used to be depressed like that,” she went on, “until I found my spiritual side in the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu. You really ought to read it.”

“I am not very spiritual," I said, "and the article wasn’t meant as a plea for salvation or religion or meaning in life.”

“Just read it, Doug — as a favor to me. It might change your life, like it changed mine.” So she got kinda the opposite message from the article than I'd intended, and I'd been assigned to read a book as punishment. I told her I’d look for it at the library, and she didn’t notice that I never said I’d read it.

Then she offered me a free session of regression to my past lives. She's told me that she has a home business dispensing such therapy, but I’ve told her before and told her again today, “I don’t believe in such things.”

“I know,” she said, “but believing isn’t required.” Past life therapy, she says, can be beneficial whether t he client believes or doesn’t.

My next defensive move was something else she’d mentioned a while back, that the therapy doesn’t work as well when she knows the client personally, but she replied that even if it doesn’t work as well, I’d still find it an enriching experience.

I don't want to be that kind of enriched, but I was out of excuses, so we half agreed to go back several centuries some time soon. Maybe next month I’ll be writing about my past pathetic lives as a Viking explorer’s handservant or a horse or something.

♦ ♦ ♦

Today — January 20 — I received a Christmas card from noted zinester Arthur Hlavaty. It had been sent bulk mail, which made me laugh like Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride.

I could count all my friends, now and probably forever, on the fingers of one hand, and count the people I’d send a Christmas card to on my middle finger, but dear Arthur has so many friends that his season’s greetings are pre-sorted by zip code for a discount on postage. 

Thanks for thinking of me, Arthur, and a belated Merry Xmas to you as well.

♦ ♦ ♦

BARTed to the Victoria Theater for a rare screening there. Usually that old place is dark and empty, but once or twice a year they unlock the door and show a few odd or old movies, which are never advertised in the paper. To even know there’s a screening, you have to find a flier someplace, or hear about it by word of mouth.

The promised theme for the evening was drugs drugs and more drugs, and it was a benefit to raise funds for a locally-produced indie feature. That's close enough to charity that it warmed my heart, and that's the only heat the theater provided. Having been there before, though, I’d planned ahead and wore an extra layer of pants.

I like the Victoria, and wish it was open more often. Can’t beat the ease of getting there, almost literally on top of a BART station, and I like the lady who sells the tickets lady. It’s always the same lady, and she gives every customer a smile and a thank you that seems to say you’re welcome here. Also, the concessions are affordable, the projectionist has 20/20 vision, the seats are plush, the bookings are always intriguing and usually include short subjects, and the building itself is an interesting if not quite ornate old semi-palace. 

For five bucks admission, we started with Peter Fonda riding a motorcycle, but it wasn’t Easy Rider. It was Not So Easy, a 1973 educational film about cycle safety, co-starring Evil Knievel. Stale but campy fun, with a true/false quiz at the end that got plenty of audience participation.

The Trip (1967) stars Peter Fonda again, as a yuppie taking his first dose of LSD, with Bruce Dern as his wise friend and guide. The movie mostly doesn’t preach against drugs, it just takes you on Fonda’s trip and lets you decide for yourself. Quite an unusual concept, and it's an unusual movie.

The problem, though, is that dropping acid on screen, visualized on a Roger Corman budget for special effects, is not exactly a mind-blowing scene, baby. The script, by Jack Nicholson, is fair to the drug and honest to its time, but it also includes every 1960s slang cliché, so there are some accidental laughs. Hell, there’s even a lava lamp.

Corman chickened out at the end, though, with a photographic effect that seems designed to undermine the otherwise happy ending. And also, there's a tacked-on anti-drug warning at the start. Everything in between, though, makes you want to do drugs. I’d pay to see it again, and in fact I just did, since I’d seen The Trip a couple of years ago, down the street at the Roxie.

To assist with the low-budget effects, the sweet scent of marijuana was noticeable in the theater, and I’d be surprised and saddened if there wasn’t some Lucy in the Seats with Diamonds as well. There was, however, tragically no sharing with the fat guy. Ah, well, I’d brought my drug of choice — licorice, laced with chocolate.

Jigsaw (1968) was billed in the theater’s flier as “the only psychedelic noir ever attempted.” That’s a fair assessment, but so’s the fact that it fails flamboyantly. Bradford Dillman plays a man who’s lost his memory and apparently his sense of humor after a bad LSD trip, and Harry Guardino is the half-witty private eye he hires to figure out who he is. The music by Quincy Jones and some imaginative cinematography are high points, but the story is a cardboard cutout of psychological and drug clichés.

After Jigsaw, as people started leaving, a voice from the balcony invited us to stay for a special surprise, and they dimmed the lights again. It was The Losers, a 1964 CBS documentary about drug abuse in New York City, with glue-sniffing, pill-popping, reefer-smoking, adolescent addicts on the street, getting their kicks taking goofballs and cough medicine, and breathing anything but air — cleaning fluid, gasoline, model cement, nail polish, and underarm deodorant. Oh, the humanities! There were so many junkie soundbites, I half expected to see William S Burroughs, but he must’ve had been on a different astral plane. 

I’m making fun of it now, but The Losers was not funny, just infuriating. The documentary never asked the real question — What’s so fucked up about our society, that so many people want to escape it any way they can? The answer, of course, is everything.

And every messed-up boy on screen (they were all boys) talked about awful things, but almost nothing they said was really about the drugs. It was all about fear — of police, of strip searches and jail, of involuntary commitment to mental hospitals, and so on.

CBS was apoplectic about all this, of course, but my impression was that these people's lives weren’t ruined by drugs, they were ruined by laws against drugs. Without exception, all the kids we met seemed to have their wits about them. They were soft- and intelligently-spoken, like anyone else just looking for some happiness, if only the damned authorities would leave them alone.

Why do so few people respect it when someone simply wants to be left alone?

From Pathetic Life #8
Friday, January 20, 1995
(first entry)

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.

Addendum, 2021: You know, I was kind of an idiot to never have made a pass at Kallie. One of many idiocies in a life that's been full of them.

And the article I mentioned from the Anderson Valley Advertiser, "at the back of the zine you're reading," is indeed at the back of the zine I'm holding. Haven't re-read it yet — it's long, and I'm in the wrong frame of mind — but I'll re-type and post it next.

Pathetic Life 

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  1. I have been reading this site and have a question, Who are you and what do you want?

    1. Its so pessimistic do you ever smile?

    2. Nothing makes me smile bigger and truer than pessimism.

    3. There is definitely pessimism in Doug's writing, but it's hidden under a thick topping of optimism.

    4. Correct, but that thick topping of optimism is itself wrapped in a baggie of despair.

    5. Is the baggie of despair wrapped in an enigma of doom? Who are you, the Soviet Union?


    6. I'm goofy enough to read Churchill, but I think the reference was a stretch. Nice catch. Hell, maybe everybody's heard that Churchillism. I don't get around much anymore myself.



    7. I'm entirely willing to admit that I don't know how to make that link hot.

      And summarizing my 30 minute lost email, give us back our fucking mountain.

      Thank you for your attention to these matters.


    8. I've had quite a struggle myself, posting this brief reply.

      Liked the tune, sorry about the mountain.

      Hotlinks aren't necessary, but it's just old-school HTML:

      <a href="URL">YOUR DESCRIPTION HERE</a>

    9. It might be worth pointing out that I'm from the school they tore down to build the old school. As the man said, "Spanish? I don't even speak fluent English."

      So don't lose that number . . .



    10. Not really one of my favorite songs, but it gave me goose bumps anyway. Am I allowed to say that the singer — Kip Lennon — sounds better than Donald Fagen?

    11. Kipp has been a singer and a band guy since he was a teenager, and he was in his mid 50s when the video was made (he's 61 now). Either he was trying hard to sound like Fagen, or that's just his voice. Since I've not heard him sing elsewhere I don't know which. So sure, although I like Fagen's voice just fine, and I also like two of the Dan's albums, you get to have a free opinion about comparative singers. I'm not entirely sure I could tell them apart in a dark room, but I'm not going to ruin my stellar reputation by trying. OK, quasi-stellar (astronomy joke).


    12. All I know about Kipp Lennon is that he sang as Michael Jackson on one of the best (now yanked) episodes of The Simpsons.

  2. I was literally born too soon to learn HTML. The web came along when I was in my mid-forties, and was managing a team of nearly 20 platform and network engineers, who wouldn't let me get within a mile of any kind of coding. You need some assembler language for a multiply re-entrant CICS module in 8K on an IBM mainframe, I'm your guy; or for that matter, assembler language on any of a half dozen minicomputers (where re-entrancy/re-use was taken care of by the operating system). I helped design a web site for a global company in 1994, launching in 1995, but only the aesthetics. They wouldn't let me code.

    So I fucked this up the first time. I'll try again.



    1. I got there from the first attempt. :)

      I've heard of assembly language forever, but don't even know what it is.

      We put together a website from scratch in the mid-1990s, before services like Blogger made it so much easier. God I hated HTML, but taught myself what was needed to get us online. Now sites are all CSS or something, which is Greek in Pig Latin to me.

  3. OK, fukkit, now I'm just taking up valuable real estate. The link is a worthy one, featuring Skunk Baxter, with Nathan East on bass, and the youngest brother of the Lennon Sisters, Kipp on vocals. There must be a way to get there. Try the fucking telephone book. Oh, wait . . .


  4. The previous four comments are a piece of performance art titled "Man Wrestling

    OK, another comment lost to the vastness of ignorance . . .

  5. I have no idea why, but I'm gonna try this corny fuckin' line one more time. The comment software is dreadful; a calmer man would have opened fire.

    The previous five comments are a piece of performance art titled "Man Wrestling With Himself and Losing".

    God help me.

    1. I am finding your frustrations very funny. Cruel of me to say it, but ya got me laughing.

      For the past day or so, for me, it *sometimes* won't let me click to start typing a comment. Always works when I refresh the page, though. Google is supposed to be better than that, sigh.

    2. I was gratified to discover late in life, maybe after my second or third surgery, that frustration and anger live together in a small cottage next door to humor and laughter. As I've gotten older, I've tried hard to experience the anger and frustration because it's real, but to express it as humor. That way, I'm not lying to myself and I'm acknowledging that I'm pissed off, so I'm not lying to anybody else. But expressing it to others as humor underscores to me the uselessness of sustained anger and the therapeutic value of laughter.

      I've never read a self-help book in my life, and I'm not going to start now. Fuck 'em. But that doesn't mean that I can't try to do more to value every minute I have left on Earth because there aren't any minutes available anywhere else. This is it and the cosmic clock is ticking.

      So it's *not* cruel. You're laughing WITH me at my ignorance.


      It would be a shame to waste two billion years of evolution on a continuous snit. Life is way shorter than it looks.


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