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No holiday bird

The rains have begun again, the water's soaking through my shoes and socks, and even when it stops raining for a while it starts up again, and every footstep sounds like someone squeezing a sponge.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

On Mondays I work at Black Sheets, the sex magazine, but have I told you about the titillating, kinky, sexually stimulating' stuff we do there? It's a rush, I tell ya. Today, for example, I swept and mopped the kitchen, both bathrooms, and vacuumed the hall. Then I shredded the week's recycling, expertly separating the plain paper from the glossy. I took out the trash, which means dragging five barrels one-at-a-time through the basement, where the house has big parties almost nightly.

And by parties, I mean orgies — stockades, cages, chains, the rack, etc. Lots of spunky rubbers, because it's a safe dungeon, of course, but it's a classy joint so most of them are in trash cans, not on the floor. I wouldn't have the balls (nor the erection, probably) to attend such events, but as an introvert, it warms my cockles to see the sign that says, "Please do not engage in idle chatter in the play space."

And this week, when I arrived, editor-in-chief Bill told me, "We have a *special project for you." I was hoping it would be reading through the submissions, like one Monday a couple of months ago, but today's assignment wasn't quite that special. My skills were needed to scrub a year's worth of accumulated birdshit off the front and side sidewalks, and the part of the patio that's beyond the patio.

Not that I'm complaining. I very much like my Monday gig. Bill and his sidekick Steve are easy to talk to, and they don't expect me to talk on days I don't feel like talking. They're always enjoyably bickering with each other, and sometimes I'm included, and they keep me informed of zine and porn scuttlebutt I'd never know otherwise. And at the end of they day, there's usually a pile of porn for me to take home. There's a fringe benefit you don't get at most jobs.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The rain had at least temporarily let up by the time I left, and I took the F into my old neighborhood downtown, to do my Christmas shopping. Now, that definitely does not mean buying presents or spending money, as I have no money, and I resigned from Christmas about ten years ago.

I abhor the holiday, with all its forced affection and obligation and all the gift-wrapped pressure and disappointment. When I lived downtown, near the premium retail blocks of Macy's and Nordstrom, Emporium and FAO Schwarz and all the rest of the glittering monuments to cash, it became an Xmas tradition for me to wander the throngs and sneer at the capitalism in overdose, so I had to be there today.

And it was grand. I walked through Woolworth's, and turned off six VCRs scattered throughout the store that were bellowing infomercials demanding that shoppers — already there to spend money — spend more and more.

Mostly, though, I just walked wide — that is, I walked like a normal human would walk the aisles on a normal non-Christmas day, refusing to turn sideways to squeeze past all the extra merchandise stacked in the way.

Is it even legal for stores to block the aisles like that? If it is it oughta not be, so I walked into everything that was in my way, except people. Toppled a towering pyramid of Planter's nuts, a big stack of wind-up toys, and a box of faux crystal that made a delightful shattering sound as it hit the floor. Then, wanting to exit the premises before being escorted out, I took the connecting escalator down to the subway station. 

All the other stores — I'll catch ya next year.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Waiting for the homeward BART, a gaggle of yuppies came onto the platform in fluffy red and white Santa caps, and I quietly took the Lord's name in vain.

If there's one thing I hate about Christmas (there's many more than one) it's big-money people feigning the so-called spirit. From their very nice three-piece suits and long jackets, there's was no reasonable doubt that those fluffy-hatters were the enemy. For all their ho-ho-hoing, they're people who'd never reach into their pockets to give a bum a nickel. They're the same jerks who are three months behind on child-support payments despite thousands in the bank.

If I could've imagined a way to fuck over their afternoons I sure would've, and it would've made my Christmas merry. But my train came and I got aboard, sneering at them through the window. They didn't even look my way, or I would've at the very least flipped them a holiday bird.

From Pathetic Life #19
Monday, Dec. 18, 1995

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.

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Weird moment. When I saw the emoji I read it wrong, and it registered in my brain as a frowny face. It kinda made me happy, because nobody's much given me any shit or raspberries since Guano walked off in a huff.

      Guess I miss the raspberries.

      But thanks for the smiley face.

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    2. My recollection is that it was at least a minute and a huff, but it's not my beef. And as someone who lives fifteen minutes from the former raspberry capital of the world, I miss them too. I grew up picking them for fifty cents a flat.

      They paved paradise and put up a business mall.

      John

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    3. Guano, my batshit friend! My recollection is that you said something dumb about abortion, and I wasn't willing to talk about it, but it was huffless on my part. Always glad to see your droppings.

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    4. I also picked raspberries as a kid, usually eating a few pints along the way. Is that still an option for kids who want a few bucks, I wonder, and also, what's the former raspberry capital of the world?

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    5. In general, the Puyallup Valley, especially the part of it that runs from the intersection of the Port of Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribal Reservation north to roughly Highway 18.

      The guy who lived directly across the street from my parents was a junior high school teacher when teachers got paid shit, and in the summertime he drove the Raspberry Bus, an old white school bus with a huge red raspberry painted on each side. He parked the behemoth in his front yard every June, and all the kids from the neighborhood would gather every morning by 8:00, and he'd come out and start the ancient motor and take us on the 15-20 minute ride to the Puyallup Valley. We had choices of four or five farms to pick, and also a choice of berries, partly depending on the season (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, etc, starting in late May and extending into late July. The bus kept running for cucumbers, but quit before pumpkin season. The driver had to get back to school.

      It was tough, low-paying work, but about the best a 12-year-old could do beside mowing lawns, and I did that too. I didn't get my paper route until I was 13, and for a year or so, I'd get off the Raspberry Bus at 3:00 or so and get to the newspaper delivery box by 3:30. I have no idea why I look back at those times fondly.

      John

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    6. You refused to even talk about abortion the greatest holocaust of our time.

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    7. "greatest holocaust of our time"

      Worse than the '62 Cubbies?

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    8. In my south Seattle suburb, kids waited in from of Ernst Hardware for a rented school bus that came at 7AM on the weekends, driving 50 kids to all-day picking and eating. No penalty for eating the berries, it just meant your bucket would be a little lighter come the weigh and pay and ride away.

      Raspberries and strawberries is al I remember, but I only did it perhaps a dozen days over several summers. It was a little like work so I didn't love it, but the boss was never on your back, so it was better work than most work, I later learned.

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    9. The farmers were adults and we were children. They all said, sample all you want. After about the third or fourth day we never wanted to see a raspberry or strawberry again, although I've since recovered. They had more berries than help, so all we were doing, as you indicated, was eating into our profits, as opposed to this week in which we are eating into our prophets.

      jtb

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    10. It took the Seattle Mariners 15 years after expansion to barely eek out a season with more wins than losses in 1991. I was in Seattle at the time, though, and I don't remember it being referred to as a holocaust.

      I won't discuss dingbattery with you, Guano. Talk about abortion with someone else.

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    11. No profits or prophets for me. No berries either; they're expensive. Ernst Hardware is gone, but maybe I'll be picking berries in spring.

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    12. Sorry, I came before the party there.

      I have no idea how my mom kept us fed on the family income at the time, but berries were abundant. We could go pick a bucket for free or buy them cheaply at the store. Holy shit, I can't afford them anymore.

      jtb

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    13. At one or two of the half dozen berry farms left at the south end of the valley (near Fife) you can "pick your own" strawberries and raspberries (and maybe blackberries and loganberries). Then you just weigh out and pay by the pound. It's good exercise but hard on the back (especially strawberries). But it's more satisfying than overpaying at the grocery. Strawberries generally get ripe the first week in June; raspberries aren't ready until about the third week in June. Seasons are short. Global climate change will fuck us all including our delicious berries, so get 'em while they're there.

      John

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    14. Doubtful I could pick berries any more. As I recall it's a lot of bending over down to the ground, and that's something I don't do so well these days. Even at the grocery store, if it's on the bottom shelf I'll just come home and buy it on Amazon.

      I treated myself to some wildly overpriced blueberries a month or so ago — $3.99 for enough to fill a tiny tin of sardines.

      Potatoes and onions are still cheap, why are all the berries priced in orbit?

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    15. Potatoes and onions keep for months after harvesting; berries will keep a while, but its' really expensive to preserve them. And if you're eating blueberries with sardines you might be doing it wrong.

      Actually, most berries are special exactly because they're expensive to preserve. So one month a year (for strawberries and raspberries and MOST berries) you get to gorge yourself. The rest of the time, they require a corporate job to afford.

      And if you're over 30 you can't bend down to pick strawberries. You have to learn the three-legged crab-walk: start low, walk sideways on two legs and an arm, and pick with the free hand. You can practice on the dance floor if you don't mind getting into a fight or two.

      John

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    16. Life will continue to be generally berry-free, except as an artificial ingredient in my sugar-free popsicles. Which cost about twice what they cost a year ago, because US-style corporate capitalism is unchecked robber-baronism.

      Pretty sure my three-legged crab-walking days are behind me and my behind. I live in fear of the day I slip and fall and can't get up. I seriously cannot get up unless there's something very stable to hoist myself on.

      I have three grabbers of various length depending on the chore, but I doubt any of them would be much good for the delicate work of picking berries.

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  2. I was buying groceries today and the loudspeakers in the store were unusually loud, so I was bombarded with music and ads the whole time there. I don't know if thats because of christmas or just a coincidence but it annoyed the fuck out of me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you were shopping retail today, 12/19, the music and ads had to be all-Xmas.

      I can tolerate the music even if it's bad, and the ads less so, but I have heard enough crappy Christmas music over the overhead speakers in enough stores to last me through this life and into the next.

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    2. I didn't much paid attention to all of it, so I can't say for sure wether it was christmas themed; I think it was just regular stuff like always though. Next time im there I'll put headphones on, all that loud noise made me really nervous.

      Delete

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