Non-Fiction

“Get Up And Kill!” February 12, 2015

potruck

 

I’m a bit of a moron on most occasions, especially occasions that call for me to step up and be a man. Wait! No! Not a man but a MAN (all caps in case you were wondering). Being a MAN in my book means using your head (the one on your neck). Wow, none of this sounds wonderful, but I’ll get to my point eventually.

Shipping and Handling are big MAN words. Men ship. They also handle. They charge for these services – shipping & handling. They go together. Like cream & coffee or sex & violence. I ordered a pair of microphones from Radio Shack. I like (or rather, liked) Radio Shack for a very long time. They had everything. Nowadays (what with the kids today and their hula-hoops, and rap music, and the ice cream), the stores are bare. They’re still (oddly) good for shortwave radio supplies, but you’d be damned if you could find video coaxial cable ( a popular item with me many years ago), RF transmitters, blank video-tape or discs or flash drives. They don’t sell stereos anymore, just those stupid 7.1 surround systems.

So, you have to go online. You go to the web-site, and they tell you everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is available. In stock! Great. Except they’re not being entirely truthful here, and God forbid you get confirmation that an item is available in a store near you, ’cause it just ain’t true. This happened on a recent trip to Best Buy. After I had confirmed that an item was in stock at that particular store, I go to the store and blammo! Not in stock on their precious computers!

Of course, nobody has these microphones I want so I order them from Radio Shack because – according to the site, they’re in stock. In stock where, exactly? Is it a warehouse down by the docks, guarded by Big Men With Batons & Tasers and foamy-mouthed German Shepherds as far as the eye can see? This is what I picture in my head.

Now some time between the initial entering of information (names, credit cards, security codes), the choice of shipping preference (butt-slow or super-fast), and then … finally … placing my order, I find that the item has mysteriously gone out-of-stock. NO! What the … ? As of this writing, Radio Shack had filed for bankruptcy, so it makes sense something would be out-of-stock, and that would eventually cancel the order, but a “heads-up” would’ve been nice. Just sayin’.

I will miss Radio Shack. As I said in a podcast, it was the one store where I knew I could buy 50 feet of coaxial so I could steal cable back in the old days. I wonder where all the video pirates and shortwave radio enthusiasts are going to shop for their respective needs. Probably Amazon. Oh well, not my problem.

nat172

 

I chose “super-ultra-ridiculously-fast” shipping ’cause I really wanted that damned microphone, but then I went back after seeing the thing was out-of-stock, and chose “box-strapped-to-an-autistic-tortoise’s back shipping”. I figured I might as well wait anyway, so why should I pay for the atomic speed?

Maybe I don’t understand “premium” services, “premium” options. I assume that you take two boxes, filled with the same merchandise, mind you, place them in two sets of arms. One set belongs to a flabby, skinny old man, the other to a young, muscular man. The flabby, skinny man is UPS Ground (1 to 5 business days or whenever the hell we feel like it), and the young, muscular turd is UPS “Express Critical” (whatever that is – this is how you transport plutonium or urine samples). I give the old man a lot less money. I give the young man a blank check and off we go.

Strangely enough, you’ll get a predestination paradox kind-of a situation where the slower shipping method is somehow faster than the express shipping method. It’s times like this that the circuitry in the back of my android brain begins to corrode, melt, and then smoke. I turn to the window and see … wait a minute! That looks like my tortoise, yep, oh wait … no never mind, it’s just a flabby old man crawling on his asphalt-scarred belly.

UPDATE: The order from Radio Shack was cancelled (at their request), so I ordered equivalent microphones and accessories from Amazon at “Tortoise Delivery Speed”, received the items in about four days. No fuss, no muss.

“NEWS ALERT!  Snow? In January? We’re All Gonna Die!” January 26, 2015

IMAG0133

This just in! Cold, white flakes of death falling from on high. Our Redeemer laugheth in-eth our-eth faces-eth. Why do you forsake us, oh Lord, and let Jack Frost (that masochistic bastard-eth) spray icy wrath from his chilly scepter?

Oh wait, I forget. It’s what we like to call “Winter”. It’s a season. Oh yes, there is mirth, but there is also snow, and wind, and rain, and slush, and shovels and brooms, and back pain, and exhaustion.

I have to chuckle a little bit when the Mayor says things like, “You cannot underestimate this storm. This is not a typical storm. It’s going to pack a real punch,”. This is a storm that will find you hiding, shivering under your bed. It will pull you out from under comparative shelter, and smack you in the face. The blizzard is probably racist, too. It will hurl racial epithets. It will sink so low as to use the “N” word. No!

City schools also will be closed Tuesday, as Gotham braces for what “will most likely be one of the worst blizzards in the history of New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in an emergency press conference at the Brooklyn headquarters of the Office of Emergency Management.

New York Post

Four years of brutal winters in Putnam County have hardened me. They’re prepared me. This is nothing. This is a coupla fairies throwing snow balls. Bring it on! Do your worst! Have I mentioned I happen to love New York?

I happen to love New York!

“Sometimes An Appropriate Response” January 22, 2015

This is worthy of a headline: CON EDISON ADMITS TO MISTAKE, APOLOGIZES! Since moving back to the city, with my tail firmly book-ended between my legs, I was aware of the high cost of living here. I had been given an opportunity to re-trench and collect my thoughts, wonder where it all went wrong. It seemed the first mistake was to trust a real estate broker. I’m sure if you’ve listened to some of my podcasts (namely “Year In Hell”), you know the story so jumping forward, we close accounts upstate and open accounts down here in the Big Apple.

We knew Con Edison would be pricey. We didn’t delude ourselves, but it was worth it, in our minds, to be closer to work, to remove a couple of costly inconveniences, and seek out brighter opportunities than previously offered in Putnam County. I start to pay the bills, but they get bigger and bigger as the days grow darker and colder. This doesn’t make sense. Bills are supposed to go down in the colder months. We don’t use space heaters. We rely on the oil, which while suspiciously cheaper here than upstate this Winter, is still a costly impracticality.

The electric bills keep getting bigger, finally topping out at a whopping $642.01 (basically about a month-and-a-half’s service). Bear in mind, this is essentially a 3-room railroad job, maybe 500 square feet. It’s probably the nicest apartment I’ve ever had in New York; hardwood floors, nice fixtures, a dream kitchen, but it is mad-small. All we run on a regular basis is a noisy refrigerator and a television/stereo thing, and a computer.

The-Bill-In-Question

I’m thinking, “this bill is a little high, huh?”

This is not what we needed at this juncture. Coming back to the city meant taking stock, saving money again (perhaps to blow it in yet another fruitless endeavor), and refreshing my bizarre instinct to bitch and moan in short-story form. My landlord tells me Con Edison doesn’t read the meter. They estimate the usage because they can’t get in. The meters are located in the basement under lock and key. Our building is over 90 years old. Newer buildings keep the meters outside of the house to make it easier for the readers to pick up the numbers.

I went to the basement to write down the numbers on the meter. I brought up the numbers, compared them to the numbers on the bill. Admittedly I don’t know how to compare these numbers based on the kilowatt usage billing, they do look vastly different. So I call Con Edison. It was a 20-minute wait time before I could speak to a customer service representative. I was getting angry but also nervous because, what if I was wrong and just wasting time because I didn’t want to pay such a high bill?

After 20 minutes, I spoke to a nice young man, told him the numbers, the difference between my reading and the number on the bill. He lets out a big sigh, tells me, “Okay, that’s uh … that’s a huge difference, if it’s correct.” He asks me if I can take a picture of the meter and send it to a special email address and he’ll call me back. I say okay and hang up. I go downstairs with this terrible digital camera, take a series of pictures. I’m trying to sexualize or objectify the meter.

“Okay, wet your lips, perfect! [click] Give me that sly grin again. [click] You sexy bitch!”

Hard to take pictures with this camera. The flash is useless because it bounces off the glass shield, and what we need to see are the little clock-like gauges, and the identification number on the meter, so I have to use an external light pointing away from the subject. This is a small dark room, where you would store the bodies of your enemies. I must’ve taken 30 pictures of this sexy bitch. I run upstairs and check the pictures on the computer. The last one is pay-dirt!

You-Sexy-Bitch

I send the picture off to the mysterious email address. Five minutes later, I get a call.
“Uh … yeah, so I got the picture, and yes, it appears we over-billed you, substantially …”
Substantially?
“You moved in and started your new account August of this year?”
“Correct.”
“Well we’re gonna wipe those previous bills and you’ll be getting a sizable credit in your next statement.”

The low-down is that estimated readings are based on the previous occupant’s usage, not your usage. What little I know of the “previous occupant” is that he apparently had some very high bills. The wiring in the front of the apartment had been blown out. An inspection of a receptacle revealed melting and scorching as though the thing had caught fire at some point. Now my wife and I are speculating as to what electrical contraption could cause such a violent electrical fire. We speculate in our spare time. Well, she speculates. I invent insane stories and theories.

This story has a happy ending, but it should also be considered cautionary. Don’t just assume you’re paying the appropriate rate for your electrical usage. In fact, I suspect no attempt had ever been made to get to the meter. I suspect people are lazy. I suspect if a monopoly can figure out how to extract money from your wallet, it will. In the future I will be armed with my digital camera and I will continue to take sexy pictures of my electric usage meter. You should too. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Sean Flaherty (1966-2015) January 5, 2015

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A couple weeks ago, I reached out to a guy named Sean Flaherty to see if he could join me for a podcast. I figured he might want to read some of his poetry. He wrote me back, saying, “Hi, David. I’m sorry but I’m really too busy. Thank you for thinking of me.”

Sean worked with Bronwyn and our friend, Eve Kerrigan a long time ago. He was a poet and I went to one of his readings. I remember we had him over for dinner. He brought his vegetarian girlfriend so I had to figure out how to make a meat-free pasta. We went up to the roof of our building and smoked some weed. The pot was so weak, I was convinced it was oregano, but Bronwyn told me to shut up, so I did.

Sean’s a funny guy, darkly humorous, and I remember he was somewhat bitter at being let go from his job. He was fired not once, but freaking twice. He would then go off and read his poetry. He dressed like a model of liberal politics, tweed jackets, the John Lennon glasses, the Irish son who would make his mother proud. I remember thinking about his poetry if he cleaned it up, combined some paragraphs, they’d make for some decent stand-up material.

Sean passed away today after a long battle with cancer, and I feel like shit. I’m putting one of his poems, from “The Doctor” series he was working on, up here so everybody can see what a great writer he was.

9 May 2014
The Doctor, Part 1

I have always sought
my own
extreme
emotions,
threatening people,
often
with love,
asking if it means
enough
to you,
do you
trust me
enough,
if you’ll spread your legs long,
wide enough
for me to see
your liver,
I am breathing
heavily now –
not hard –
listening to the sound of my own breath,
following the
idiosyncrasies
of the air
passing
in and out,
the fear and fasting
turning the air
colder
on the way
in
waiting for the doctor
to reach up inside me.

You can read the rest at: https://medium.com/@seanflaherty/the-doctor-series-94db34a12d3d

God-fucking-damnit.

“Not For Publication” January 2, 2015

This letter comes from a friend:

“Just for the record, I want to say that I can totally identify with being unhappy. It isn’t that I can’t understand unhappiness, because I have lived it myself. It’s just that so many environmental factors go into happiness. For me, a major one of those factors that made me unhappy was New York. I sort of knew it then, but once I got out, I REALLY understood. Being in a place run by braindead liberals who rule with an iron fist bothered me. The thug police bothered me. The non-police thugs bothered me. The racial crap bothered me. Money bothered me. It bothered me that no matter what the fuck I did, everything got more goddamn expensive. I fucking lived on Staten Island and paid $200 a month for tolls. That fucking bothered me. Property taxes bothered me. Idiots who didn’t know well enough to question WHY things were so fucked up bothered me. You know what else bothered me? Pumping gas and having to hold the fucking pump handle the whole time, because some nanny state asshat decided that there MIGHT be some sort of ‘accident’ if I didn’t. Seriously. Whoever that guy is, fuck him.”

He knows whereof he speaks.  Yes, New York is incredibly expensive.  It begins to weed out the middle-class with ever-increasing property taxes and overpriced real estate.  Public transportation and tolls are terrible, yet the roads and bridges are in disrepair.

“Anyway, if you’re happy with your family and your relationship, that’s what really matters. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but sometimes, we have to find the little islands of happiness that exist within the sea of our unhappiness. I’ve had to do it many times. There’s always something to be thankful for.”

Understood.

“Smaller Than Shown” December 21, 2014

McDonalds Tattoo

 

Can we talk about tattoos? Now neither Bronwyn nor I have tattoos, and this is a rarity in this day and age, people of our generation. We also know Colin, who has no ink, so the three of us – the Three Amigos have no tattoos.

It seems just about everybody we know…has a tattoo, some form of ink, sometimes body piercings. I’ve been with friends as they received tattoos in parlors. I winced. I nearly gagged. I’m a great friend. I had to hold hands with a lady-friend, this goes back years before I was a married man. She was shivering and the artist told me to distract her so I gave her a big fat kiss, tongues and everything, it went on for a while and he was able to complete the tattoo.

[Before I forget the tattoo was of a Betty Grable-style pinup riding a saucer-shaped UFO and it was positioned just above the crack of the girl’s ass. It was very small. It was four colors, very nice work, and she had to lay on her stomach for two weeks.]

I must’ve missed the boat on the popularity. I remember our friend Scott got a tattoo. This was in his dramatic, rebellion phase I suppose – I think it was a knife and smoke, goes up his arm and says “forever” or “eternal”, something like that, very like … presumably heavy or dark like we’re supposed to look deep into somebody’s soul based on the tattoo. Scott also enjoyed listening to Creed. I looked at it, and thought the work was fair but then over time it seemed to fade, and I didn’t know they could fade. That’s how ignorant I am to the process. But it seems silly to me, like sitting in a dentist’s chair willingly and having somebody inflict pain of you, rather than the reverse. Why would you do that?

It’s like (looking at my watch), “yeah, lemme see, it’s 5PM, and I’m due for my extraordinary PAIN session at 7PM, so we’ll get some dinner first…” and they don’t let you drink before-hand – that’s the only time I would ever consider getting a tattoo – when I’m shit-faced beyond all cognitive and restorative faculty.

They would say (these tattoo people), “You don’t understand, Man! This is WHO I WAS!” Key there being “who” I “was”, not what I am now. We were rebels, Man! All that…

They’ve got these tattoos now, I don’t think they’re permanent, but they are full-on sentences, sometimes in a calligraphy or cursive. That’s just, I don’t get that. Why do we need statements or declaratives grafted into somebody’s skin? Do you get that? It’s like the only time I can see that working is in the movie, “Memento”, right?

Questions? Comments? blissville1870@gmail.com

 

This site is for educational purposes only, also known as “Fair Use”.  Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

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