Guess I should make note of the three-year anniversary of me beginning the daily practice of Vipassana, or Buddhist insight meditation, here tonight. Actually, I took the first class on Monday, July 30, 2007, so tomorrow’s the anniversary. Anyway, I’ve managed to sit in meditation every day for three years, which is kinda surprising for such a historically undisciplined lout as yours truly.
I’d like to go into detail about expectations and the almost incremental or even glacial benefits, but there’s something else I’d like to get on about this evening instead. Suffice it to say that I’m probably calmer and less rattled and slightly less inclined to get butthurt over marginal stuff. With special emphasis on the word slightly. I still can be quite the maroon in the Bugs Bunny sense.
Anyway, more on this subject later in the weekend, perhaps. —Jackson Griffith
So here it is a wild Wednesday night, and I’m not out there chasing all that wonderfulness, or looking at the stars, or feeling the wind on my semi-ancient face. Nah, I’m here. Workweeks are like that. Got back to Sac, sat in the back of a hot room for an hour, went out for pizza afterward — not that I need to eat pizza, having eaten it twice last weekend, once while being waited on by my lovely daughter at the Tahoe beachfront restaurant where she works, and again at Squaw Valley with my brother, his daughter and her husband, their two kids, and her cousin and her cousin’s husband and their two kids, got that — so I’m what my daughter’s mom used to call “slugbait.” And so, I type this.
I don’t talk a lot about my job, but I love it. Partially because it has nothing to do with the music business, or filling up the editorial well of a newspaper or magazine under the gun, and partially because it’s about bugs. I’m weirdly fascinated by bugs, especially the eusocial insects, like ants and bees and termites, the ones that live in huge hives that function like brains, or at least organisms with some kind of swarm intelligence. Plus, they’re trippy. Ants live in huge colonies, and some of the species, like the invasive Argentine ants, are big old metrosexual lesbian cities where everyone gets along and they do all this amazingly cool stuff, kinda like a big six-legged Lilith Fair concert that stretches out for hundreds of miles and involves billions of fans of sapphic folk music, while other species, e.g. the pavement ants, are like backwoods hollers filled with long-Balkanized clans of meth-sizzled arthropod hicks who mix it up to the tunes of Ynsyct Skynyrd and have huge stupid wars, shady lanes be damned.
Then there are the termites, which are kinda like a massive underground South Park episode involving Eric Cartman and a million of his clones, gobbling the wooden version of Cheesy Poofs and farting up huge storm clouds of methane. If you could run an engine on methane, you could like drop a log in the tank and make a bunch of termites fart and generate stinky fart gasses, which you could burn and run your SUV. I’m thinking that Al Gore might want to get on board with this, no? Termites have these humongous fat queens, too, that do nothing but lay around and push out termite eggs, and they have these really nifty-looking soldiers whose heads look like earwig butts with big-ass pincers, which come in handy when those crankster hillbilly ants come a-calling, looking to stir up trouble.
Of course, nearly everybody loves bees, because of flowers and honey and stuff, unless you’re allergic to their stings, or you don’t dig the buzzing. But you can you not love bees? Wasps, of course, are another story, especially the ones without any sense of noblesse oblige, who’ll take their profit from insect Wall Street with nary a concern for their fellow bugs or anyone else, either.
But lately, the talk among bugsters has been all about Cimex lectularius, otherwise known as the bed bug. These little bug snoids, about the size of an apple seed, are serious trouble, and if you’re unlucky enough to get an infestation of them, well, you’re not going to be happy about it. They get into your mattress, and onto your furniture, and in and around your bed, and then they wait. For you. When it’s dark, they wait for you to zone out, and then they zero in on the carbon dioxide you exhale, and they find you and they suck your blood. I shit you not. And then they poop your blood out all over your bed, and shed their exoskeletons between instars, and generally leave a mess. Bed bugs are bad neighbors, and it is readily apparent that they are soooo unkind. Fred Rogers would not approve.
But the worst part? Bed bug sex. No, they’re not all noisy like your horny neighbor, whose orgasmic cries and yelps infiltrate your dreams as the sound of animals being tortured. It’s just that their courtship defies rules of common etiquette and civilized behavior to the degree that even Huns and demented Visigoths might stop and take notice. You see, these bed bugs practice a form of sado-masochistic sexual behaviors called “traumatic insemination.” What that means is that, well, imagine a bunch of guys running around a nightclub with no pants on, and they all have boners, and those boners have been sharpened like swords. So these guys with dangerous pointed dicks are chasing all the women in the club, and when they see one that gets them all hot and bothered, they run up to her and jab their dicks right into her belly and start humping like some crazed gutter-pooch horndog on your leg. No decorum, no witty lines, no drinks bought — just stab, stab, stab, then blow a load.
All this helter-skelter horndoggery, sans secret messages from the “white” album, and the womenfolk of bed bugdom naturally try to do some kind of an immediate Houdini, as in get me the fuck out of this place like right now. Totally. Which is why entomologists who study bed bugs were initially perplexed at the random and bomb blast-like way that Cimex lectularius will spread throughout a living space, until someone surmised that all the members of these bed bug diasporas were females who wanted to get away from the obnoxious and dangerously annoying and uncooth to boot needledick males.
So, well, sleep tight, and don’t let these asshole bugs bite.–Jackson Griffith
Tonight, when I was walking around the park, I saw a falling star. I was walking up Alhambra, and it was just over the truncated spires of the Greek Orthodox Church across the street. I’d been eating soup at a Chinese restaurant, all alone — yes, ladies, the lone diner strikes again — except for the help there, who were conversing in Chinese, and there was a large television set with an English-language version of a Chinese cable-news channel bringing tidings of flooding on the Yangtze and disaster everywhere in the Middle Kingdom. So I needed to walk the jinky off, and what better place than McKinley Park on a cool Tuesday evening?
Seeing that falling star immediately took me back to the mid-1990s, when I was living in Midtown Sacramento on I Street and driving a stripped-down Dodge Dakota pickup. Sometime during midsummer through the dog days, I’d hit Interstate 5 going north — again, all by my lonesome — on a restless night when the Leonids or Perseids would be raining, crank a little Pavement on the deck, something along the lines of the sweet stoner jams of Wowee Zowee, and a few hours later I’d be winding along the Everett Highway from the town of Mount Shasta up the south face of the mountain to the treeline at around 8,000 feet, where I’d park in the lot above Panther Meadows. I’d make sure my windshield was facing the mountain, and then I’d climb in the back and wrap myself with a sleeping bag on an old futon mattress and watch the stars shooting around the sky like breaking billiard balls all night and drink Mountain Dew and smoke cigarettes. It was like seeing a Vincent Van Gogh painting come to life.
Years later, like about four years ago, I was in New York City on business, right around when my marriage was coming off its rails for the final time. I’d managed to find enough work to merit stretching a couple day’s worth of perusing old rhythm and blues contracts in the eighth-floor loft offices of a hip-hop label on 49th Street right near the Brill Building through the weekend and into the next week. On Saturday I walked all the way up Central Park West to Harlem, then back down around the park on the Fifth Avenue side. I was going to spend all day at Central Park on Sunday, but the weather turned ugly, and so other plans needed to be made.
I figured out that the Museum of Modern Art was right around the corner, or a couple blocks over and four blocks up, on 53rd Street, so that’s where I went. I managed to hit every floor. Entire rooms filled with Picassos. Lots or Warhols and Lichtensteins and Rothkos and tons of other great stuff. Round a corner, and there was Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” in all its glory. In one room, away from a brilliant Toulouse-Lautrec that depicted the exquisitely bored sneers of the entitled, there was a crowd gathered along a wall, where a small painting was hanging: Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Yes, it was beautiful, but like Bruce Springsteen, in my mind it loomed gigantic; in real life, not so much. In fact, not much at all. The only thing as shocking to me was a tiny Salvador Dali painting, “The Persistence of Memory.”
Or so I remember. Everything that day was eclipsed by one art piece. I’d walked into this room, and the wall was completely covered with a Jackson Pollock painting, or more accurately a radioactive jizz explosion of copper and other hues. I stood in front of the piece and got baked from the inside, and had one of those “suddenly I understand” moments that I still can’t explain, except that the starry starry starry starry starry night wasn’t on the wall or in some static and small painting in another room, but inside me waiting to burst like shredded notes from a saxophone whose embouchure was being aeolusly and righteously fired up and worked like a master.
Anyway, so much for starry nights. It’s bedtime. Hope sleep will come. Pleasant dreams, too. —Jackson Griffith
I don’t know what I’m doing. Here it is a wild Tuesday night in the medium-sized metropolis, and I’m sitting here with a fresh load going, actually two loads, and what the fuh. I can’t write anything funny anymore, because Mel Gibson has cornered the market on glum cunning stuntage, and I can’t even think of anything to write about. I have turned into such a crashing bore of a human being.
Woke up. Went to work. That was cool. Transcribed, worked on more text about our six-legged arthropod pals, and then looked up some things about varmints as vectors. Listened to several of my co-workers’ observations on how time on this Tuesday seemed to be crawling like a 1972 Michoacan buzz mated to a Kenny Rogers & the First Edition album. You know, the elaborate Nashville rock opera about Yggdrasil and the space squirrels that followed “I Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Was In.” Rolled out after five, drove up the 99, listened to some Elliott Smith, laughed at drivers who were jostling to get by some disgruntled hack in a beater cabover Isuzu van, got to the space I call home, meditated — it’ll be three years of sitting in meditation every day on, if I remember correctly, Friday — and then gathered up my dirty laundry and made it over to the laundromat.
Aren’t I perfectly boring?
Actually, I’m pretty religious, or maybe the word I’m searching for is ritualistic, about doing laundry on Saturday mornings. Get up, meditate, go to one of them Double-A meetings where I can hear my fellow crazies remind me that I’m not alone in this world with my sideways-wired brain, then down here for laundry, and then maybe other stuff. That’s either the tragedy or comedy of growing older; in my younger years, why, my gosh darned erect penis would take over my brain and drag me into all sorts of crazy places, and I would not get my laundry done.
Now, the nice, or at least lucky, thing is that I’m still not Rush Limbaugh; I don’t need little blue diamond-shaped pills and a crane to get ready for business should that spark of mutual attraction strike — which it doesn’t much anymore, or at least my half of said mutual doesn’t seem to get reciprocated, boo 2 tha hoo. Anyway, the secret is — at the risk of being one of those too much information oversharers — this, in two words for you fellows whose noodle is habitually overcooked: vegetarian diet. There, I’ve said it, and I’ll STFU now.
I almost told my niece Leann from Florida that last weekend, when she was telling me that she and her sister Amy were vegetarians, but she didn’t know too many men who were, as the men were all groaning with ecstasy about the big-ass steak dinner that John the cool cop from Washington State had q’d up the night before. Can’t be telling my brother Jimmy and his grown daughters/my nieces and their hubbies Frank and Clay and Amy and Leann’s cousin Sam and her hubby John that the wood is easier to attain if you’re one of them salad-eating bitches like yours truly.
Ah, but I know Jim’s gonna read this. So dude: Salads. It’s what’s for dinner. —Jackson Griffith
I haven’t been here much lately. I hope to change that shortly, and get back to my usual discipline of writing stuff fof this blog. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been used to working full time, so consider this a bit of an adjustment period. Anyway, right now I’m sitting in a Safeway in Kings Beach at Lake Tahoe, where there’s free wi-fi in a Starbucks, and life is good. Just spent time with my daughter, who unfortunately is leaving town, so she won’t be able to join me and my brother Jim and his daughters Amy and her husband Frank and their two kids, and my other niece Luann, who I’ve never met. But that’s the scope of this weekend, then it’s back at it on Monday.
There’s no wi-fi where I’m staying, which is good. I’ve been much less a presence on the interwebs lately, which is, well, no judgment from me. At any rate, things seem to be settling into the kind of groove where I’ll be making some longer and more frequent contributions here. So that’s the skinny. More sooner rather than later. —Jackson Griffith
Blame it on the heat, or something. I’m baked. But just a little sun-dried, mind you, rather than bong-loaded full-on bakery baked, where every guitar solo or flash of sunlight on the leaves and flowers is completely maniac and way too intense and, um, whoa. It gets like this every year in the valley, when there are no double rainbows because rain is scarce, only the crawling out of the heat into a source of shade like an old tired dog waiting for the evening and maybe a little delta breeze.
I used to bitch about the heat every year, but now I’ve made my peace with it. There’s always nearby water, and if you can stay sufficiently hydrated and get out in the heat every day long enough to become somewhat acclimated, it isn’t as godawful as one might imagine. But the heat does sap the energy and incline a person favorably toward naptime, and sometimes a good nap is just what the old doctor ordered.
Unless you’ve got something to do. Me, I’m gonna go play some tunes now at Dad’s Kitchen, which is located at 2968 Freeport Boulevard, between Vallejo Way and Fifth Avenue, just south of the Freeport Bakery and Marie’s Donuts. I’m fixing to start around 6 p.m. out on the back patio, so if you’re in that particular neighborhood, please feel free to join us. I am sorry to report that the Cuban hotel orchestra that usually accompanies me is stuck in Havana, back in the year 1926, and on such short notice I was not able to marshal the services of an appropriate mariachi or jarocho banda, so it’ll be me and my guitar and whatever horny tomcats are yowling on the back fence.
Dunno how intense my double rainbow will be tonight, but feel free to check it out. —Jackson Griffith
Sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite. Remember that one? I always figured it was some bogus bug meme foisted by mom and dad to keep me slightly off guard, not something real or anything, just another tool to control the young lad who’d rather stay up watching bad television than slide off to sleep.
But it turns out that either bedbugs are real, or else the pest management industry is concocting some effective anti-bedbug propaganda. I’m inclined to believe the former, as in, yes, not only do the bedbugs bite, but they’ll take over an Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister store in New York City if you let them.
But the capper is their sex lives, in which something called traumatic insemination is practiced. Humans could never get away with this kind of stuff, not that anyone outside of a real sicko would get off on just poking a hole in the abdomen of his intended partner with, well, you’d have to sharpen it and stuff for it to work, because your average Little Elvis, even rigidly tumescent, lacks the blade-like sharpness required to do the job. But that’s what bedbugs do, and apparently they have a real problem with randy bugs poking holes in males, too.
Dunno about you, but the whole idea of traumatic insemination just squicked me out. Probably because my idea of a good horizontal time comes more from the Barry White or Marvin Gaye playbooks than this entomological nightmare, of which I’ve never heard described in the soul-music canon. —Jackson Griffith
Some of you know I’ve joined the world of the employed lately, and for that I am very, very grateful. For a person who spent years getting paid to listen to music and make judgment calls, or to work tangentially with music and art, the new world I’m immersed in on a daily basis is much different. And, as it turns out, it’s a subject I’ve been interested in since childhood, when I used to fry pillbugs — which are small crustaceans, and not insects — on the sidewalk with my glasses, and would spend hours watching aphids making honeydew, or ants building colonies. Work just woke up the dormant nine-year-old boy in me, which isn’t a bad thing.
I was at a music event a couple of weeks ago — Sea of Bees, John Vanderslice and DoomBird at the TownHouse, to be specific — and they were projecting this French documentary called Microcosmos on the wall. It’s got bugs galore, even snails having sexytime, and I dug it enough to pay attention when the credits were rolling, and then found the whole thing online. Enjoy.
Before I started at my new gig, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a drywood and a subterranean termite, or what an alate was and why they call it a “swarmer,” or why Formosan termites are seriously problematic, or the interesting thing about Argentine ants is that they take over and dominate other species not through bellicosity, but via superior social organizing skills, or a bunch of other things. Did you know that there’s a wasp in the Far East that will sting a cockroach in the thorax in a spot that will paralyze the roach long enough for the wasp to deliver another sting, in the roach’s ganglia, or brain, that will disable its escape impulse, and then the wasp will snip the now-docile roach’s antennae off at the halfway point, then will suck out some body fluids through an antenna like a bug mai tai through a straw, and then the wasp will lead the roach like a dog on a leash back to its lair, where it will lay an egg on the zombie-fied bug, which will provide a living host for the wasp larva to burrow into and then burst from like an alien facehugger when it’s done feeding? I mean, how’s that for a cool horror movie plot?
Yeah, you could say I’m digging this new line of work. —Jackson Griffith
I’m guessing I owe some kind of explanation. The other night I posted something that, well, was pretty much a rant. It’s really easy to get worked up about celebrity entitlement, and when things aren’t going right, to get resentful when it looks like empty-headed, vain and entitled people seem to get everything handed to them on a platter. When I was going through my rough time, which lasted a couple of years, I would sometimes seek diversion by looking at tabloidy websites that serve up the latest doings of the young, beautiful and fabulous. I could get downright bent out of shape when I would read about somebody who was getting offered a five-figure sum to come to our fair city for a couple hours of face time at a nightclub, plus hotel rooms and expenses for her entourage, when I didn’t have the scratch in my pocket to buy a cheap dinner.
Things have taken an upward turn now, and I’m kind of dumbstruck by my improving fortunes. And in part because I don’t want to jinx anything, and in part because I agree with the Dalai Lama when he says, “My religion is kindness,” I felt very strong pangs of contrition when I woke up the next morning to go to work. So I took the post down.
Yes, I am a big pussy. But really, I sign my name to this stuff, and it’s up there where people can read it. And as I really would like to be successful in my latest endeavors, I feel quite conflicted when I’m so optimistic and friendly in one breath, and then spewing such mean-spirited stuff in the next. Does that make any sense?
Plus, I really would like to do good work. I have some pretty good ideas and ambitions, and I don’t want to jeopardize them because I put some butthurt rant up where I was going for lots of cheap laughs at somebody else’s expense. I really don’t need to do that, and it works against the grain of this whole spiritual experience I’ve been having, call it a coming of age, over the past months and years.
By spiritual, I mean that something happened in my crashing and burning, and the person who is here now isn’t the same one who was there a few short years ago. The metaphor of the phoenix may apply with this, as a lot of me got burned up after everything collapsed, and what has emerged is different and, I’m guessing, far stronger and more resilient. What I think got burned away are a lot of the more selfish, self-centered and miserly parts of me, and what is left, if I can honor it, is a core person who will be there for other people in a way that I never was before.
I apologize for the new-age babble. The point is that I’ve got what looks like a shot at a fairly decent life, and I’d rather not do as I have in the past when I’ve been given good chances, which is muck it up by being an idiot. I’m not promising that I’ll never be an idiot again, and chances are that I may be one tomorrow, or even later today, or for some of you reading this, right now, but if I can be reasonably certain that I’ll be mindful and choose not to be a dope more often than not, things will most likely continue on an uphill grade.
So here it is Sunday, and it’s the Fourth of July, and I’m posting from a laundromat. One must have clean clothes. Sometime soon, I’ll have some new threads, too. Anyway, after this, I’ll probably stop by at least one barbeque, and then go practice my tunes some more. For those of you who may be interested, I think I’m playing tomorrow night at Dad’s Kitchen on Freeport, between Vallejo and Fifth, on the patio around six until eight. Not sure, but I’m gonna show up anyway. Then, Thursday, I’m on at Naked Lounge at 1111 H Street (at 11th) with David Watts Barton; that show starts at 8:30 and cover’s $5 but it will be $5 well spent. And then on Saturday, I’ll be at the Toyroom Gallery at Surreal Estates for a day party; there’s lots of stuff going on, starting at noon.
So, well, that’s today’s update. —Jackson Griffith