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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.

8/21/2005

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
I Have an Owie
owie
Won't you kiss it? Won't you kiss my owie, and make it feel better? My owie needs a gentle kiss.

I might have another owie somewhere else too; some stiffness that's giving me a little trouble. We can work up to it.

8/19/2005

RIP, BISCUIT
My stupid little Web site sure is looking a lot like a proper blog this week, huh? For that, I apologize.

Anyway, I just read on Metafilter that Randy "Biscuit" Turner, singer for the amazing Texas punk band the Big Boys, was found dead in his home yesterday, the same day a nice article about him was published in the Austin Chronicle.

For the most part, I'm not really affected by celebrity passings or the deaths of people I've never met. I don't revel in them or use them as an opportunity to paint myself as aloof and above pop culture or anything — that's lame. They just don't really hit me.

This does, though. Part of it is that the Big Boys are one of my all-time favorite bands. They mixed hardcore punk, as fierce and brutal as anyone's ever played it, with a serious dose of straight-up funk and plenty of uncategorizable weirdness. Like the best punk rock, they trafficked in the kind of deepset anger and alienation that's fueled a lot of what I do since I was a teenager, but they were also anthemic and uplifting and fun, a riot of color and energy onstage that constantly exhorted their audiences to embrace creative action.

Even more than music, though, the Big Boys have had a huge impact on my life. One of the best things about punk rock is it's refusal to play by the rules. The Big Boys had no use for the rules — admirably, they let neither society's constrictions nor the dogma of their hardcore-punk peers dictate their path.

...Fuck, in a bit of synchronicity that borders on the maudlin, my MP3 player just coughed up their track "We're Not In It to Lose." As I sit here listening to it, I can't help but think, and hope, that the best moments of my life have been touched by the same brand of gleeful anarchy that drove this music, and Biscuit's art, and the positive do-anything spirit that permeated it all.

Fucking Biscuit and the Big Boys smashed me in the face with rainbows, and I was never the same. RIP, motherfucker.

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
cthlulu
Best Cthlulu Award, 1984, goes to Patrick Hughes.

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8/16/2005

MAIDEN
You know how Iron Maiden always has Eddie doing something awesome on their records, like being a pharaoh or traveling through time or turning the devil into a puppet? Well, my friend Rob Ray made a list of things Eddie should never be, and game-show host was one of 'em.

I say that's a fat load of balls. Eddie would make a rad game-show host, one that would cast you into hell for getting a question wrong or something.

Shit, maybe he'd just do it because he's nefarious; like, you'd get the question right and think you solved his mysterious puzzle and will go free but instead Eddie goes, "Ah hah ha ha haaah, I lied!" and it's down into the fiery pit with your ass. You know?

Anyway, I threw a little something together to convince Rob he's wrong on this issue. It's a little unpolished, but it's really meant more to evoke than to be some kind of definitive representation.

eddie

I think Rob's still unconvinced, but, personally, I keep looking at my little pic and thinking, "Oh ho ho, that is so cool." Maybe Rob's just being a douche because I obviously schooled him, I dunno.

*UPDATE* Rob Ray concedes! Sweet metal victory, thy taste be redolent of Valhalla.

8/08/2005

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
Keep Partying
Some people found it disconcerting, Frog’s trick. He did it when I first met him — pulled out his top row of teeth and grinned this huge grin, squinting, tilting his head back a bit and letting a leash of thick, clear drool sag between his hand and his mouth.

I could understand why some found it off-putting. It was a strange kind of intimacy, being suddenly faced with all those shiny pink gums. I mean, it wasn’t like were you were suddenly looking up his butthole or anything, but, dentists aside, how often do you get confronted with a view like that? It was downright biological.

I thought it was kind of endearing. Maybe a little more on the gooey side than I usually prefer my tricks to be, but whatever. Turned out his original set of chompers had been knocked out in an unfortunate golfing accident, just in case you were curious.

Eventually Frog had some permanent teeth put in. I didn’t blame him. It had hit the point where people weren’t shocked by it anymore. Hell, they expected it. They would run up to Frog and ask him to whip ‘em out. Leeched some of the fun out of it for him, I could tell. It was in danger of becoming routine. Plus, having teeth that were actually anchored to his mouth in some fashion probably made it a lot easier to eat.

This was back in the ‘80s. I’ve known Frog for going on about 20 years now. During that time, I’ve heard a lot of peculiar stuff about him. For example, an ex-girlfriend of mine once told me about how he had decorated a room with pictures of, of… Shit, what was it? I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was either dirty shots of lactating women, or dirty shots of ejaculating women. And — I might be getting this wrong, I admit — he was allegedly going around the room and whackin’ off on, like, every spot in it. Just methodically shellacking the joint in his DNA over the course of a few months. Or something.

Jesus, now that I’ve typed that out, I’m sitting here thinking, “There’s no way. That can’t be right.” But I seem to recall her saying something about the smell. Oh god, the smell. Can you imagine? I can’t be remembering this right. That’s about the damnedest thing I ever heard.

Well, whatever. I reckon this illustrates an important point regarding Frog: just like the night I got food poisoning with Dan Aykroyd, you can’t take shit for granted with that guy.

Uh, I mean Frog, not Dan Aykroyd. All I know about Dan Aykroyd is that he smokes a little weed now and then. Hmm, can I get in trouble for saying that? OK, he allegedly smokes a little weed now and then.

About 10 years ago I lived upstairs from Frog for a few months. He was a good neighbor, friendly and considerate. Every so often he’d rope you into some scheme, like when he recorded me hollering random holiday stuff for some kind of avant-garde Christmas tape he was making. I want to say I helped him put a bunch of dirt on his kitchen floor, too, but, to be honest, I could just be making that up. I swear at one point he had, like, six inches of dirt packed down in the kitchen, though. Anyway, even with those types of hijinx going on he was surprisingly quiet. Mostly.

During the time I lived above Frog, my buddy Woogie and I had a little record store, right around the corner from my apartment. Basically, Woogie (who, unlike me, had marketable skills, responsibility and a steady income) threw a chunk of dough my way to open the place, and for a few years my life turned into High Fidelity. Almost exactly.

Seriously. The first time I saw the book, I read the shit on the back, screamed in horror and flung it across the room. It summed up my life accurately enough to give me a grim, week-long case of the heebie jeebies. You know, if you watch the movie, the only difference between it and about six years of my life is that I was the obnoxious Jack Black guy, the mousey little weiner dude and the loserish John Cusack cad all rolled up into one. One big not-very-appealing High-Fidelity-ass package.

The store, which was called Shaft in tribute to the excellent film (there was already a pet-food shop in town named Citizen Kane, thanks for asking), shared a large, cluttered space with a used bookstore run by my pal Bob. He was a sweet, sort of nervous guy who preferred hiding behind stacks of unsorted books with bottles of whisky to actually selling anything. I, of course, was inclined toward bellowing, smashing things and challenging large skinheads to wrestling matches, and so often drove poor Bob into eye-crossing bouts of consternation. But we both liked PIL a lot and he didn’t mind a little free jazz, so we struck a balance.

One thing Bob and I shared was a dedicated clientele. This was nice, and unexpected, considering our combined business acumen wouldn’t have clogged a gnat’s ass. But we had the goods. There were plenty of shiny, organized places in town to go if you wanted a paperback bestseller or CD of whatever was on the radio, but Bob and I sold the serious shit, the shit you can’t get just anywhere. And while staff members at the shiny places were certainly better groomed than us, if not significantly more emotionally stable, they didn’t know or care a damn thing about what they sold. Me and Bob, we knew our shit. Hell, it was all we knew, but we knew it.

So when we’d have bands play in the store or have an art show or something, we’d always get a big turnout. The biggest crowd we ever had numbered in the hundreds. We had teamed up with a well known local artist named Celino, who builds awesome lamps and sculptures out of all kinds of crazy junk. Yeah, Celino knew how to pack ‘em in — gallons of booze.

The storefront looked out on University Avenue, which is what passes for a main drag here in Gainesville. We had big windows, and even with all the people crammed in, we couldn’t help but notice when traffic started to back up the night of Celino's show. Gainesville’s pretty goddamn sleepy, so this was unusual.

A quick investigation showed police had blocked off the road at the corner, maybe 20 feet down from our door, and traffic was slowly being diverted down a side street. “Huh, what’s that all about,” we wondered. “Perhaps another glass of wine will help us sort it out.”

We had cut off the main lights to better display Celino’s lamps, which mixed with the flashing lights from the police cars and fire trucks, lending the affair a nice ambience. Kind of a gritty authenticity, really. Anyway, it wasn’t too long before a handful of cops and a fireman or two popped in, standing in the doorway looking confused in the dim light as they scanned the crowd. I pushed my way over.

“Can I help you guys?” I asked, shouting over the noise.

“Yeah. Do you have a bathroom we can use?” one said.

“Sure. Hey, uhhh... If you don’t mind me asking, what’s going on out there?”

“Ah, we got a bomb or something in this lady’s car. Which way is the bathroom?”

“A bomb? Shit, do we need to clear out?”

“Nah, y’all are good. Keep partying.” The cop grinned.

I was a little taken aback. Bombs always seemed kind of serious to me, even when I was the one manufacturing and detonating them. And, frankly, I never know what to do on those rare occasions when police are nice to me. I always feel like I’m getting set up, like any minute they’re going to yell “Gotcha!” and shoot me. But there he was with his cop buddies, grinning and waiting to pee just as friendly as you please.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” I announced, leading the officials through the crowd to our tiny bathroom. “There is a bomb, but the officials are just here to pee! We are instructed to keep partying!” A small cheer went up.

And so people kept drinking and yapping, music was played. Every so often a friendly officer or fireman would come in to use the bathroom and maybe sneak a drink. It was all very exciting.

At one point I grabbed a passing cop. “Hey, what’s up with that bomb?”

“They just brought out a machine that’s gonna shake the car to try and set it off,” he said.

Man, that seemed like a really bad idea to me. But who was I? No expert. Bombs were never more than a hobby for me, so I said fuck it and had another drink. Leave that shit to the professionals — if they want to go around shaking bombs, let ‘em. They know what they’re doing.

Word started spreading through the crowd about the whole bomb-shaking thing happening down the street. Ripples of concern made their way around the room, but a fireman had suggested it’d be best if we stayed put while they did this, so nobody left. A lot of people couldn’t really get to their cars anyway, and traffic looked like it was backed up for miles while they continued to send people down the side street. There wasn’t much else to do except keep drinking, and looking at art or whatever.

Now, the scene was a bit chaotic, so I’m not really sure exactly when the firemen threw open the door and started screaming. “Out! Out! Everybody out! Evacuate! Evacuate the building! Now! NOW!”

Sensibly, everyone started to panic. There was a drunken crush near the front as people made for the door. Toward the back, where I was stuck, rumor was the firemen had found a bomb in the building. I got a little antsy. Somehow in the melee I found Bob, who had a trickle of blood running down from his forehead. He was good and well drunk.

“Bob! Are you OK?”

“I hit my head,” he slurred

“What the fuck! Are we fixin’ to get blown up?”

“No, no. They found a gas leak in the restaurant next door. The building is filling with gas.”

Fuck, bombs and gas. Everything was going apeshit.

This was the best art show ever.

Somehow we managed to get everybody outside. Hundreds of people spilled out around the building, trying to get to their cars, while dozens of cops and firemen stood around with megaphones, issuing directives and urging everyone to get out of the area as fast as they could. We secured the shop, and I walked to my apartment, which wasn’t even a block away.

Once home, I cracked open a beer with my friend Jill, yet another stunningly beautiful girl I hung around who never let me see her without any clothes on, and we watched all the action from my upstairs porch. It was nuts — lights, sirens, cops yelling, people running through bushes and down streets, horns honking. Just total mayhem.

I thought it couldn’t get any better until the voice started booming forth, drowning out everything else.

“PEOPLE OF EARTH-RTH-RTH! YOUR DEMISE IS UPON YOU-OU-OU! THE APOCALYPSE HAS ARRIVED-IVED-IVED!”

Holy shit, it was loud. And it was coming from downstairs.

“THIS IS YOUR FINAL JUDGMENT! THE END OF DAYS-AYS-AYS! THE END OF EVERYTHING-ING-ING! YOU ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! DIE! DIEEEEEEERRRRRAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!”

A good couple hundred people were still straggling out from the art show, and they started scrambling, frantic. People stuck in traffic were just leaning on their horns. Jill and I looked at each other. “It’s Frog,” she said.

“PEOPLE OF EARTH-RTH-RTH! SMELL YOUR FINAL DOOM-OOM-OOM! EMBRACE THE VOID-OID-OID! THIS IS THE APOCALYPSE HEEEEEYAAAARRRRRGGHH!”

Goddamn, he wasn’t just broadcasting that crazy shit. He had put some feedback and delay effects on it too.

“I AM YOUR GOD BLLLEEEEEEEEYAAAAAARRRRGHH! SCREEEEE! SCREEEE! SHEEEEEHAAAAAHHHH! GRRRRRRAAAAAAWWWWLLLL!!!

Fuck, now he was just screeching and growling wordlessly. It was echoing off all the buildings in the neighborhood, as loud as anything you ever heard. I could see police running up and down the streets, waving flashlights and barking into walkie-talkies. “You better go stop him,” Jill said.

I ran downstairs, right into a squad of five or six wild-eyed, confused cops. “What the fuck are you doing?!” one yelled.

“It’s not me! It’s not me!” I yelled, “It’s Frog!”

I jumped the backyard fence before they could grab me, and ran around back there for a minute or two in the dark, completely discombobulated, screaming for Frog and bumping into all manner of sculptures and obstacles. Frog continued his amplified gibbering: “GROO HOO HAH HA! SKWEEEEYAAAAAAARRRRGH! KKKKKKSSSSSHHH!!!” There was no way he could hear me.

Eventually I found the giant amplifier Frog had set up, towering over me like the obelisk in 2001. Shit was burly. All that malignant electro-powered glossolalia was forming a physical barrier, but I leaned into it like you would a strong wind, eventually forcing my way forward and getting my hands around a power cord. Breathless, I yanked it from its socket. the noise stopped.

My ears were ringing, but I could hear Frog, who was standing in a nearby window, and barely make out his silhouette.

“Hey Pat,” he said, “Why’d you do that?”

“Dude, the cops are here,” I whispered. “You better hide.”

“Oh,” was all he said. He stepped back from the window, disappearing inside.

I came back around to the side of the house, where Jill was standing on the stairs, talking to the one police officer who was still there. He was pounding on Frog’s door and shouting. Walking up, I waved to get his attention.

“Sir! Sir! I couldn’t find him,” I lied, “But I did manage to shut it off. I don’t even know if he’s in there.”

He banged on the door a few more times.

“What do you mean, ‘not in there?’” he said.

“Maybe he had a tape or something set up? To be honest, I just don’t know.”

He gave the door a few more half-hearted knocks, then looked at Jill, who shrugged. He looked over at me, staring me right in the eye. He didn’t seem as angry as he did genuinely confused. I shrugged too.

“Why? Why would anybody do that?” he asked.

I thought about it for a second or two before answering. Meeting his gaze, I decided to go with the truth.

“He’s an artist,” I said.

He looked at me for a few moments, then nodded his head. He glanced at the door a last time and took a deep breath. Then, slowly exhaling, he walked off into the night.

Later, we were disappointed to find out there was no bomb. Some lady’s dying car battery was making a clicking noise, and she called the cops.

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