An evening with Loki and Martha

Woke up at 5:15 AM with a flea in my ear. I'm almost certain that's what it was — an interior itch that couldn't be reached with pinky or pen. Insert, twist, thrust, sideways, the other sideways; nothing could get it.

The flea was in my right ear, so I laid down on my left side, hoping it would hop out that way with an easy jump to freedom, but it didn't hop, the itching didn't stop, and it was making me crazy and furious. Ever been furious at your own head?

I pounded at my right ear with old zines (they're always scattered around the room), smashing my scalp with Sfest Ltd, until my ears were ringing and the zine was tattered (it's a good sci-fi zine, but I'd already read it). When I stopped hammering my head the itch was finally gone, so the flea must've either jumped out or got squished in the brainquake. 

Sprayed Raid on the bed, inserted earplugs in both ears and both nostrils, and went back to sleep. Dreamed of fleas.

♦ ♦ ♦

Back at the fish grind on the Avenue, my first customers of the morning were a couple of nice young women strolling Telegraph topless. It's legal in Berkeley, or tolerated.

"Thank you, ladies," I said sincerely. Please dangle by again.

Almost immediately, though, a middle-aged fart of a man complained to me that the fish are horrible, blasphemous, disrespectful of God, etc. Free-bouncing hooters don't trouble that man's immortal soul, but I guess our fish will be the downfall of Christianity and society. One can only hope.

Seems to be a law of human nature, that the dumber a person is, the more easily they're offended, and that man was very offended. What he said isn't worth mentioning, because blah blah, I've heard it all and written it in the zine before, but his t-shirt amused me. It said: "This is no ordinary person you're dealing with."

Wow. The set-up was too easy, too obvious. Waited until he'd mostly spoken his minimal mind, and then I said, "You seem awfully ordinary to me," and to be sure he got the connection I nodded at his shirt. That launched him into a new rant, but I ignored it and started scissoring fish from the mylar, and singing, "I Will Make You Fishers of Men," until he flipped me off and walked away.

Gotta love getting the bird from a Christian over a fish.

♦ ♦ ♦

She'd invited me via voice mail a few days ago, so after putting away the fish cart I BARTed into San Francisco to meet Ms Loki Quinnangelis.

She's the zinester behind Bummers & Gummers, about life on an anarchist collective farm, and do-it-yourself living in general. Also met Martha, Loki's friend from Calistoga, and the three of us swapped stories of our outrageous mothers, talked about life on the farm (it's kinda laid back), and sure, we had occasional bursts of silence, not knowing what to say next. 

That's how I am with almost anyone, especially anyone new to me. I'm better with zine people, because we have weirdness in common, but I wasn't at my best tonight, due to being kinda drowsy from yesterday's long road trip and this morning's flea-interrupted sleep. We had a good time, though, I think. At least I did.

For dinner, we had fancy bread and cheese, almonds, beer, and luscious homemade wine in one of the comfy cubbyholes at Loki's hostel. A little lounge off the stairwell, basically. I've never stayed in a hostel, so the aura of friendliness with tourists and hippies going up and down the stairs seemed strange to me. Everyone said hi as they passed, like they all knew Loki. 

And typing this twelve hours later, aha, now I understand it. Some or most of the people on the stairs probably weren't complete strangers to Loki; she'd come to California on the Green Tortoise, and they'd probably ridden south with her.

Between the cheeses and almonds, Loki had a heck of an idea. Would I like to visit Wise Acres, their communal farm somewhere up north and near the ocean? I could stay for up to a month, she said, but I'd have to tend livestock and/or do other chores.

I don't know goatshit about tending livestock, but a month in the country with a bunch of laid-back anarchists sounds like a month in paradise.

Only drawback, same as with anything else you might like to do in life, is the money. I've got none. Even if the stay is free, and Loki says it would be, publishing this zine costs, moving to New York City costs, and even if I put everything on hold I'd have to pay rent on my room in Berkeley while I'm gone. So just due to the economics, four weeks at a commune isn't in my future.

After chow, we walked up to Lower Haight, browsed through Naked Eye, the video and zine store, and sipped tea like fancy people at the Horseshoe Café. Then we took a taxi back to their hostel (Martha insisted on the cab, and paid, and it seemed safer than walking past the projects). At the hostel, we sat on a comfy couch and babbled about better worlds until I had to leave, to catch the last BART to Berkeley.

♦ ♦ ♦

On the ride back, I wondered if I'd said no too soon, to a month on the farm. That's a life I've never lived, might love it, might hate it, but it's an opportunity that won't knock twice.

Money, though. Damn it, everything is always about money, and due to a long series of don't-give-a-damn decisions money is something I'll never have much of. I hope the guy who invented capitalism died penniless and uninsured, like we who came after.

Anyway, thanks for a fine meal and a good time and a cup of tea, Loki. Thanks too for your generous plug for Pathetic Life in the new issue of Bummers & Gummers, which, except for the page about me, is a dang fine zine. Anyone interested should send $2.50 to Loki, ██████, Lorane OR 97451.

From Pathetic Life #17
Saturday, October 14, 1995

Addendum, 2022: Still tempted by the life that might've been, but I'm damned happy with the life I ended up with.

Loki worked with us on the Zine World project  a few years later, but I haven't heard from her since. I'm tickled purple, though, to see that Wise Acres is still up and running after 30+ years.

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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