You haven’t lived until you’ve been listening to someone watch a film in which they’re prattling along in some non-English language, like a Chinese dialect, and then you can hear the tenor of the voices shift slowly — from conversational, to more intimate, to even more intimate — and then, suddenly, there’s grunting and moaning and orgasmic little yelps amid the Chinese coital chat. Heard while awake, it’s mildly unsettling to outright annoying; overheard while sleeping, it’s grist for some pretty weird dreams. Tonight, though, no foreign-film sexytime; just an English-language movie with lots of loud gunshots. Nice nighty-night sleep tight stuff there, eh?
I fell asleep after work today. Barely made the drive back to the place I’m currently calling home, then meditated, my head repeatedly jerking back from nodding off. When I finished my sit, I curled up on the floor in a fetal position and rested my aching head on my zafu and dreamed that someone walked into my office and I was rocking out to Lionel Richie. I tried to explain something to them, but they just laughed at me.
If you knew me, you’d understand how out of character it is for me to admit to listening to Lionel Richie. Not that he’s bad; he’s just not my preferred flavor of musical vanilla, and I take this omen as something deeply indicative of how out of balance my sleep patterns have become, and thus I have become. The Commodores had some pretty swell funk jams, though. I mean, “Brick House”? That’s the gosh darned bee’s knees.
Speaking of bugs, I was reading today, in the book The Insect Societies by E.O. Wilson, that termites have a rather startling social ritual: “The cellulose diet has left its stamp on the social biology of termites in other ways. Perhaps most importantly, it has bound these insects to symbiotic intestinal protozoans and bacteria. In order to transmit the symbionts, the termites engage in a unique form of anal liquid exchange. It is even possible that the symbiosis was the primary cause of social life in termites in the first place …” (pp. 104-5). I can’t even begin to imagine this one. Anal liquid exchange? It’s like a whole colony of Eric Cartmans, farting and sharing anal fluids via proctodeal trophallaxis and laughing about it: “Kyle, Stan, eat my butt bubble.” I was reading in another book, Ants at Work by Deborah Gordon, that some harvester ants will mix it up in inter-colonial fights, and they will clamp their mandibles, or jaws, around the other ant’s petiole, or waist, and that it isn’t uncommon for one ant to die and leave its head — sans thorax and abdomen, which have dropped off — still clamped hard around the victorious ant’s petiole. Perhaps that’s some kind of ant badge of courage, walking into the ant bar to say “Bitch lost her head, make mine a double” to the bartender. Wonder if the ant gets free aphid hooch all night for that? Yeah, bugs are weird.
Ah, maybe I need some sleep. Pray for me, or something? Think sweet thoughts? —Jackson Griffith
Gosh darn it. Sometimes I let myself get so rattled about matters mundane that I just fudging start swearing like a gollydurn sailor. And no offense to sailors, some of which do not let loose with the string of profanities and inanities that I’ve been guilty of unleashing lately. I’ve been trying to figure out just what it is that sets me off like this. Perhaps it’s lack of sleep, or maybe a dearth or complete absence of intimate horizontal or even vertical affections, or it could be the drunken conversations and wafting disco beats and tango music I hear when I do manage to drift off to sleep.
Go figure. Because I’m really a gosh darn heck whiz kinda guy at heart. A soda-pop drinker. A polite citizen.
But sometimes I just get so bent out of shape that I sound like an entire dock-full of stevedores who just got told by the boss that they’ll be working overtime and thus they won’t get to check out the new stripper at the wharfside watering hole tonight. Or sometimes my dark side crawls up out of the brainpool, sits on the diving board and launches into whatever twisted thing it’s been ruminating about deep inside my head, and the next thing everybody knows, I’m stammering while trying to explain to people, well, uh I’m not sure where that came from; it just showed up on the page.
Anyway, boy oh boy. Wish I had a slice of hot apple pie and a chocolate malt about now. —Jackson Griffith
First, let’s get one thing straight: I totally love sex. I think sexual union, and the bliss that emanates from it when it’s good, are, you know, the pinnacle of marvelousness. I think people should have lots of good healthy sex, and that when people have lots of good healthy sex, they tend not to be so crinkly and saditty and besotten with crossed-up conditions and flumjummery. In fact, I wish I was having good healthy sex right this minute, because then I would be mellow as a cello afterward and I’d probably take a pass on what I’m about to go all scribbular with, probably because I’ve been getting nothing but eithergasms these days. (You know what that is, right? It’s like, I must be getting lots of eithergasms, because I sho’ ain’t gettin’ no muthafuggin’ orgasms.)
But I digress. I’d be all like, thanks, sweetie, but why get worked up about anything? Would you be so kind as to dip that tree of grapes toward my mouth again so I can nibble, contemplate the fall of empire and then restore my magick wand and go all Caligula on your magnificent ass one more time?
Where the whole ball of confusion gets slightly problematic, at least for me, is when a person becomes famous for, well, fucking, or sucking, or getting an endless parade of professional-sports sausage to blow loads in their face, and then they parlay that to tabloid top-tennery. Like, well, take the daughter of one of O.J. Simpson’s now-deceased close personal friends, a woman who not only got famous for making a sex tape, wherein her putatively bubblicious gluteus maximus got tapped, thus instantaneously realigning her status from tight end to wide receiver, by a second-rate rapper whose only real claim to fame is that his sister was child star turned contemporary hit radio format star Brandy, and then the very same second-rate rapper took what we in the Central Valley call a good country-style piss on her face. Or so I have heard, as Kwim Lardassian’s turn as a porn queen was up there with Elizabeth Berkley’s film debut in Paul Verhoeven’s unintentional classic, Showgirls, and at least Showgirls was marginally interesting because it had Gina Gershon in it. To paraphrase Samuel Goldwyn, I watched part of the Kwim tape all the way through. A small part, really; what I saw moved me from squickage to sleepytime.
Okay, now answer me this question: Why in fuckety fuck’s sake are we making these people famous? Why are these people being elevated to international renown, to magazine covers, to cable television shows? What fucking talent do idiots like Kwim Lardassian have that merits any kind of attention at all? Are they saving the planet? Are they helping to solve the British Petroleum Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? Are they doing anything that benefits humankind?
No. They’re fucking shopping somewhere, or getting loads blown in their faces by dumb jocks.
I really think the genius of Mizz (rhymes with “jizz”) Lardassian is that she’s parlayed a sex tape of a lousy lay and a golden shower into not only her own fame, but she’s managed to foist her sisters — um, Kuntknee’s one, and the other one’s named, I think, Khloechop, and there’s her little sisters Khrunteee and Kooteee — into the limelight, too, plus her Jocelyn Wildensteinesque mom and Olympic-athlete-turned-plastic-surgery-casualty stepdad, and a bunch of other Tapout mooks and maloofuses, some of them allegedly sporting professionals.
But gosh darned no-lubrication intercourse them colonically with a big stiff grizzly bear chubby, really, along with the whole Comcast machine that foisted them into prominence, and pushed idiot nobodies like that Chelsea Handler bint into the public consciousness. If I was anyone with juice in our nation’s capital, I’d be down there showing our senators and representatives episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians just to make the point that Comcast is the corporate entity responsible for foisting that swill, and is it really any kind of good idea to let those morons get their hands on NBC? Yeah, NBC and its broadcast properties can be pretty dumb, but nowhere near as full-on paint-sniffing stupid as Comcast. Hey, you want to hand what’s left of broadcast media over to Short Bus Incorporated? Comcast is right up there with Rupert Murdoch.
Actually, Murdoch’s properties have done some good things (Donnie Darko, Office Space, Idiocracy), and one gets the idea that ol’ Rupe gets a good laugh that Americans are such cough syrup-guzzling dopes that they’ll take the saucer-kook ravings of Glenn Beck and the chihuahua biscuit-wheedling of Sean Hannity seriously; at Comcast, you know they’re not in on the joke, because they started as cable TV clowns in Philadelphia, the city that booed Santa Claus, even if Santa was drunk off his fat ass.
I’m not sure about you, but I think there should be a moratorium on skanky hoes and idiot tools being catapulted to instant fame by corporate media properties whose principal interest seems to be dumbing down the populace as far as they can so that people will buy whatever tripe the broadcasters are foisting. We need more science instead. We need to start making scientists and smart people our heroes, and stop elevating people whose only virtue, or lack of virtue, is that they like to go shopping, and they tweet their daily inanities, and then they have sex with other stupid people and there’s a camera, and then somehow they get famous and they start getting paid five-figure sums just to show up at parties and nightclubs.
Because if we keep listening to idiots, the only thing we’ll know how to do is, well, fuck, to put it in coarse French terms. Yep. Fuck and go shopping. Meanwhile, hell, meet handbasket, with us in it. So we need to start boning up on stuff again (pun entirely unintended), and while we’re at it, we might stop watching spoiled people run rampant with their entitlement issues, and start watching things that have a teensy bit more uplift value.
I’ll get off my little soapbox now. Sorry for the rant. Well, not really. —Jackson Griffith
I posted this a while back, then took it down. In light of certain recent events, I figured it might be something a few of you might find worth reading. Or, maybe not.
Glenn Beck is an asshole. There. I’ve said it, and I’m not going to mince any words. Because any hot-button talk radio opportunist of the Caucasian variety who stages a “Restoring Honor,” i.e. a “Taking Back America,” rally on the very steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, and on the anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, and who compounds this middle-finger salute to a large swath of America, not just people of color but white people too, by inviting the quitter and fellow opportunist loudmouth Sarah Palin to also deliver a speech, is a hemorrhoidal, pus-infested butthole of the lowest order.
Restoring honor? Taking back America? From what? From the people who elected Barack Obama, a mixed-race man, to the presidency, after a dubiously installed nitwit from Connecticut, by way of Texas, and his gang of “awl-bidness” thieves and buffoons spent eight long years driving America into a ditch, bankrupting the national treasury, giving away the storehouse to what he once called the “have-mores” at some GOP black-tie jackoff fundraiser, then started not one but two wars, installed a host of idiots and incompetents at various levels of bureaucratic power, pissed all over the environment, shredded the Constitution and ignored the dire economic and environmental warnings that anyone, even a grade-school student, could see looming on the horizon?
And what are you “restoring,” Glenn? What are you taking back? Are you restoring that time when certain citizens had to use separate washrooms and drinking fountains, and ride in the backs of buses? Is that your idea of “honor”? And what are you taking back? The power to call the shots, because you and your bunch of rabid beatweeny neo-Stalinist fellow travelers are still so butthurt that John McCain fucked up by putting the incompetent Sarah Palin, the Paris Hilton of politics, on the ticket, and then they lost to a black man? McCain probably would have lost anyway, because your boy George W. Bush fucked everything up so badly that he made something possible that was previously unimaginable in this country of tired old wealthy white men running everything: He got a black man elected.
But you idiots are so ridiculously bent out of shape that you have to give us all a big “fuck you” by throwing a bunch of tantrums culminating in this stupid little prank. You can’t accept that there are people in this country who are hunkering down and trying to fix all the messes that Monkeyboy and his corrupt family and all their kleptocratic Republican pals did to this country. We’re picking up the garbage, trying to turn the ship around, attempting to figure out how to repair what has been damaged so horribly, and you have the motherfucking audacity to throw a big rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the very day that Dr. King delivered his speech. And then, when you get called on it, you roll your eyes and come up with the worst dog ate my homework, the check’s in the mail and I won’t ejaculate in your mouth bunch of excuses I’ve ever heard. “Oh, we wanted to do it on September 12, but we couldn’t, and this was the only other date we had available, and, gosh, we had no idea that August 28 was the day that Dr. Martin Luther King gave that ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the very place, the Lincoln Memorial, where we were planning to do our little Tea Party rally. Honest!”
Dude, fuck you. Fuck you with every dog, hog and bull dick in this great country of ours. Fuck you in the face with rooster jackoff, you weaselly piece of slime Glenn Beck. Seriously. You insult our intelligence with your mere presence. First, because your entire act is based on a dungheap of fact-free blatherings that anyone with an even remote idea of how Occam’s razor functions can see are the ravings of someone who took a big long drink from the poisonous fountain of conspiracy theories and kept right on drinking, even well after the brown acid kicked in. Why? Because there’s money in them thar snake-oil wells, podna. Phineas T. Barnum was right, and your cranked-up act proves that old carny more right, every goddamn day. People are stupid. Or at least the poor, desperate people who bite into your lodestone of buncombe are, who buy into your brand of dogwhistle racist claptrap.
Second, because you’re just another willing tool of Australian media terrorist Rupert Murdoch, a man who’s done more damage to this country than 100 teams of September 11 Saudi-Egyptian terrorists hijacking jet airliners and flying them into skyscrapers ever could. You signed on as another mouthpiece of the Fox propaganda machine, but you’d whored yourself out well before that. I used to have long conversations with my former father-in-law, who was a talking head on the same network that employed you before you went over to the dark side, and he would shake his head because he just didn’t have enough greed and he had too much personal integrity to sell out and shill for the Republican Party and the anti-democratic tools who bankroll it. The offers were certainly on the table. You, however, have tons of greed and zero integrity, so you’re a very good fit. Congratulations, pendejo.
And third, well, I’ve known a lot of Mormons over the years, good and intelligent people who were born into the LDS church. If they’re honest, they come correct on some of the thorny problems left behind by the church’s earliest prophets, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, which have been proved wrong by subsequent investigation and scientific knowledge, e.g. the so-called “Book of Abraham,” which purportedly sourced good-ol’ redneck white supremacy to so-called divine origin, and they’re embarrassed by some of the foibles in their church’s early history. You, however, converted to Mormonism on your own free will. And not only that; then you embraced the ravings of the virulently right-wing racist Mormon writer W. Cleon Skousen, and you’ve used Skousen’s discredited “teachings” as a basis for some of your own discourses to the damned. You’ve foisted Skousen’s ideas back into the mainstream, not-so-cleverly repackaged as the latest wrinkle of patriotic fertilizer. Way to go.
So, Glenn, how many different ways can I say “fuck you” to you? And don’t get me started on Sarah Palin, someone who couldn’t handle her job as governor of a state with half the population of Sacramento County, California, so she quit that elected office midway through her first term in order to rake in the bucks while the getting’s good. By now, it should be quite apparent that Palin and her entire family, or at least the ones who have gone public, are a gaggle of low-born grifters. So what was she doing up there on the dais with you today?
Beck, you owe America an apology. I don’t expect you to give it. So, again, fuck you. —Jackson Griffith
p.s. Watch this, and you might figure out why some of us are so pissed off at you. And you might learn something.
Gosh darn it. How did I miss National Ice Cream Sandwich Day? I’m not sure what I was doing that Monday, which was August 2, but I really don’t think I bit into a delicious cold ice-cream sandwich at any time in that 24-hour period. Had I known, had I only known. However, I do know that World Sauntering Day is tomorrow, Saturday, August 28. Which is to say that this is not a day where you want people to say, “he or she strode purposefully along the boulevard” — headed toward fulfilling that target objective with one-pointed precision, like an ant carrying a pupa back to the nest. No, you want the world to see you ambling along the stroll, or strolling along the amble — something that comes utterly natural to me. Heck whiz, I’ve lived most of my life at a cool saunter, barely breaking into a heated clip over anything. Which, in certain quarters, like the French, is thoroughly fine, while in others, is utterly unacceptable.
The idea that we might choose our daily behaviors according to whatever promotion some publicist or trade group is putting forth seems kind of ludicrous, but it might be fun to live one’s life for an entire year by that awareness. It’s National Creamsicle Day? Jeez, where do you buy those? National Smoked Link Day? Sorry, but I’m a vegetarian. As for tomorrow, as in Saturday, I can handle a good saunter. However, I understand it’s also going to be National Peckerwood Take Back August 28 From Those Uppity Black People Day, and I don’t think I can participate in that one. More about that later. Dogwhistle neoconfederate bigotry is one thing; snacks and refreshments are another.
Oh, by the way: Monday is National Toasted Marshmallow Day. I know what I’ll be doing. Do you? —Jackson Griffith
My friend Jeff probably gets tired of all my million-dollar ideas, because every time I’ve gotten one over the past 30 years, I’ve called him up to ramble on about them. They were all so brilliant that I can’t remember any of them right now, except that a few of them did go on to make millions upon millions of dollars for somebody, but not me. But I do remember the million-dollar idea I just got recently, and it’s such a natural and a no-brainer that, what the hey, why don’t I just tell you about it?
The Celebrity Funeral Channel. It’s got celebrities, it’s got death, it’s got dead celebrities, plus it’s got tons of other possibilities. Like the various styles of mourning, the history of undertaking, the tension of aerodynamic styling versus classic design in hearses, caskets and other accoutrements of death. It’s got Elvis, Eva Peron, Princesses Grace and Diana, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith and a host of others, and by the time the channel is up and running, it’ll most likely have Lindsay Lohan, too. And, if we’re lucky, a few other overly entitled celebrities.
Think of the sponsorship possibilities: Not only would you get Service Corporation International, aka Dignity Memorial, and Forest Lawn and the Batesville Casket Company, but you’d get various cosmetics manufacturers that specialize in post-viable makeup, you’d probably get a few ads from the Mormons, plus life insurance plans and more. That’s just for starters. And too bad Buick has refocused its trajectory post-General Motors bankruptcy, because back when that marque’s median customer age was 78 and its cars looked like Batesville products, you’d get some of those ads, too. Plus lots of others. I mean, wouldn’t you advertise on a channel like this? I know I would.
And think of the program possibilities. Start with long “Behind the End of the Music”-style VH1 segments, little documentaries about funerals woven together from footage with narration, and then add in interviews with embalmers to the stars, the person who did the facial restoration work on the disfigured accident victim or the star whose mug was rendered unrecognizable from the ravages of drugs or disease. The, you’d have a new class of critics and opinionists — let’s just call them armchair thanatologists — who would be champing at the bit to spout their opinions on death, style, celebrity and overarching cultural decay. Not to mention some choice celebrity commentators: Imagine John Waters discussing celebrity funerals in terms of bad taste publicly flaunted, or various Kardashian family members interviewed for no real reason at all?
And let us not forget that the first three letters of funeral happen to be f-u-n, which are also the first three letters of the word funny, and there are potentials for unintentional comedy all over the place here, like various celebrity mourners deadpanning on how the dear departed was like Mozart, da Vinci, Shakespeare, Einstein and Jean d’Arc, all rolled into one person, even if their claim to fame was that they parlayed childhood sitcom success into a lifetime of horribly embarrassing drug- and alcohol-fueled car and party crashes.
I think that all of us have a bit of the armchair thanatologist in us, don’t we? We all die, eventually, so I’m guessing that particular character facet is hardwired into us. Plus, most everybody loves the trainwreck voyeurism of a good public funeral display, especially if there are famous people involved. And look at the popular narrative arcs of those interminable VH1 Behind the Music specials, where the redemption angle is tossed in at the end, but what really rivets viewers’ attentions is the downfall, the hitting bottom.
Schadenfreude is a marketable commodity. So is grieving. And everybody dies, even famous people. Don’t you think we should make some money here? So call me already, and let’s talk. —Jackson Griffith
Now that America’s most famous celebrity jailbird is out of the hoosegow ‘n’ rehab combo she got sentenced to earlier in the summer, or so the tabs are reporting, and she’s whoring herself out to the highest bidder for product placement, the first one being Rockstar energy drinks, a company founded by the son of right-wing hate-radio star Michael Savage, whose wife is the company’s chief financial officer, perhaps it’s time for me to tell my little jail story. Actually, I have a whole bunch of them, because I was kind of a bad boy back in the day, but most of those were hammer-headed rousts that resulted in overnight stays in the tank followed by a kickout at dawn, which really don’t count. But I did do three weeks’ straight time some 30 years ago, when I was still somewhat of a lad, a wee bit of days that meant I was “shorter than a skeeter’s dick” in the parlance of some of my juzgado-confined contemporaries. Although being locked up made enough of an impression on me that I managed to get sober 12 and a half years later, and I’m still sober nearly 18 years after that. But as usual I digress.
Not that I give much of a fuck about the spoiled-rotten case of celebrity entitlement syndrome named Lindsay Lohan, who’s less than a year older than my daughter Ellie, or her celebrity entitlement syndrome-afflicted family, either. But Lohan is, I’m guessing, an addict, contrary to celebrity doctor opinion, and I had figured that a little jail time might be good for her. It was for me in 1980, when Judge William Giffen of the San Joaquin County Superior Court took a long, rambling letter I’d written him about how I was not an alcoholic, even though I’d racked up three DUIs, one in 1976 in which I took a swing at the arresting cop, and two in 1979, and the judge laughed openly at my words and mocked me in court in front of all the other ne’er-do-wells there that day, and then he ripped up my long-winded letter before sentencing me to 30 days in the French Camp Motel, which was a barracks-like farm next to the main county jail on Mathews Road. And as I had zero celebrity status to fall back on, I did the time.
Jail actually did me some good. I went to AA meetings, idiotic smoke-filled jackoff fests run by this 400-pound hog of a man who’d rolled up in a blue beater Plymouth Duster with an “Easy Does It” bumper sticker on the back, who yelled at all us incarcerated losers to sit down and shut the fuck up and we might learn something. We jeered his fat sweaty light-cigarette-smoking ass, and we jeered the trustys who tried to find his porcine little dick to suck it so they might get out a little earlier, too. Going to AA meetings got you out of work detail.
Not that work detail was all that bad. I got assigned to the laundry, and this cop named Officer Stambaugh took a shine to me and this black cat named Cleotis who had 10 years on me in age, and he’d drive us downtown in a Sheriff’s pickup truck to the courthouse where we could move file cabinets around in our jailhouse blues and check out the rumpage on the courthouse secretarial pool. Aside from that, we separated clothes in on the jailhouse laundry floor and washed ’em and folded ’em. Not rocket science.
Some people got hoeing-weeds detail, which sucked if it was during the interminable San Joaquin Valley summer heat, but it was only April so it wasn’t so goddamn dessicating. I think I had to how weeds during one of my other stints at the Motel, the previous October, but not this time. Kitchen detail was all right, too, but the cops seemed to favor putting all the Mexicans in the kitchen. So what those Mexicans did was corner the captive market for “pruno,” which was some kind of illicit jailhouse toilet hooch fermented in a loo with a bunch of rotting vegetables and some sugar and yeast. One of my first nights there, two dumb Okies got all drunked up on pruno and then went down to flip off the Sheriff’s deputies, and the Sheriffs just laughed at them for a while before rolling them up and shlepping them off to the main jail. Then some pint-sized old Mexican gangsta-style dude got all flipped out and ranted an impromptu apocalyptic speech in our barracks. “What the fuck is he on about?” I asked one guy. “Them dumbfuck Okies,” he said. “They’re gonna fuck up this whole sweet deal here.”
Oh. Yeah. The whole sweet deal.
Well, fuck sweet deals. It was jail, even if it wasn’t in the main monkey cage. It sucked bad enough on a daily basis to make me think that it might not be my style on a forward-looking basis. Up in the morning: “Count time on the compound! All inmates on the compound!” Which meant go stand in line and wait for the Sheriffs to finish their walkaround, which could take minutes or the better part of an hour, and you’d have to stand there until they were done. If I remember correctly (it’s been over 30 years now), we had count time several times a day, and one asshole in the bunch could fuck everything up if one of the cops got pissed off. Which happened about every other time. So, you just stood there, toes on the line, waiting for the cops to let everyone chill.
Weird shit happened, too. I know I’ve written about this before, but some of the things people used to say were pretty funny. Like this weathered old hillbilly I used to smoke cigarettes with on the picnic tables on the gravel outside the barracks. “Son, if you want to be a convict, you got to look at things the way a convect looks at things,” he’d hector me in his Johnny Cash-like stentorian drawl. “You got to learn to roll a cigarette the way a convict rolls a cigarette. You got to … ” I’d cut him off: “Fuck that shit, man. I’m gettin’ outta here soon, and I’m done with doing jail time.” He’d fix me with the evil eye and correct me: “That’s bullshit, son,” he’d wail. “You ain’t foolin’ me. I know your type. You’re county-born, state-raised and penitentiary-bound.”
The other big laugh I had was at Easter dinner, when they stepped up the usual hogsfeed the kitchen trustys scooped on our big stamped stainless-steel trays by giving us a Suothern-style chicken dinner complete with dessert. “Damn!” one poor kid blubbered as he burst into tears. “That peach cobbler’s as good as mama used to make.” Me and Cleo fell out laughing over that shit.
Just like Lohan got her mama, White Oprah, to visit her, we got visitors too. My parents didn’t visit, out of embarrassment, perhaps, but mostly because my dad was dying of cancer, and he’d be gone five months later, and my mom had her hands full taking care of him. I did get a visit from a platonic friend named Nicole, who was rather well built, with an hourglass figure enhanced by the kind of inappropriately slutty outfit that caused spontaneous tents to be pitched among inmates and Sheriff’s deputies alike. After her visit ended, this Mexican guy came up to me in the yard: “Who was that bitch you was talkin’ to in there?” he asked. A friend, I told him. “Man, I’d like to fuck her in the ass,” he volunteered, adding some very graphic and violent details. “You might consider shutting the fuck up now,” I told him. He glared at me like he was going to kill me, nostrils flaring. I stood there. I was 25, stupid and jinked out on testosterone and ready to mix it up over my friend’s honor.
Bad idea, two other Mexican guys expressed to me rather urgently. “Don’t be messing with Mikey, man,” one of them conveyed with utter sincerity. “He’s like all fucked up on the K-J,” K-J being street slang for PCP, or elephant tranquilizer. I got the message. I backed off. The rest of my time there Mikey, or Michael Morales, as I later learned he was named, eyed me like he was going to come kill me in my sleep. One week into the next year, Morales hunched in the back seat of a car while his cousin, a gay teen from Lodi who was in a relationship with a high-school football player, drove with the girlfriend of the football player, a girl named Terri Winchell, to go shopping.
Then Morales strangled her, before dragging her across the road into a vineyard where he raped her and then stabbed her to death. Charming fellow. He was scheduled to die in 2006 at San Quentin, but the court stayed his execution until they could figure out if execution is cruel and unusual punishment. If they start executing prisoners again, he’s next. And I have to say that even though I’m vehemently against the death penalty, in his case, my feelings are rather ambivalent.
Again, I digress. The only other thing I have to report about jail was that on the night I was getting a “midnight kickout,” I went to take a shower. There was this one nelly weekender, a black guy made up like a girl, who earlier had been mincing about the yard, and now he was in the big open bathroom, blowing one guy while getting butt-rammed by another, while a few other guys waited their turn. None of the other guys seemed gay, and I’d hung out with a few of them while doing time, but I figured they were just situational homosexuals behind bars. At any rate, I decided on the spot to forego the shower before getting released.
Aside from a few drunk-in-publics from Mabuhay Gardens days in San Francisco, I stayed out of jail after that. Just was done with it. And although it took me another dozen years to get sober and stay that way, I think that getting stripped of all my imagined entitlements and shoved into general population with a bunch of common criminals just like me was a really good thing in the long run.
But who knows with Lohan? My parents and friends didn’t make excuses for me. It was like, you fucked up, now chill out and think about it. Not so with the movie star. She’s out, she’ll be back to her old haunts and her old running partners, and my guess is that we’ll be getting exclusive dispatches from TMZ from outside the mortuary at Forest Lawn or Pierce Brothers Westwood by the end of the year, along with plenty of White Oprah and that equally skanky Mesh-Shirted Wifebeater blathering and boohoo-hooing on Larry King’s show about how the big bad cruel world killed Lindsay Lohan, and we all played a part in it so we should atone for our sins by supporting the rest of Clan Lohan until the end of time or till spaceships land with giant carnivorous bugs that make short shrift of the world’s vertebrate population, whichever comes first.
Too bad the dumb bint will never learn. So what day did you pick in her dead pool? —Jackson Griffith
Sometimes when it gets all hot and sweaty like this on summer nights, I think of huge glistening cities of dark blood-red brick and oil-stained asphalt, crawling with bugs under an infested moon. It’s an exo world down here, and I’m just another goddamn vert trying to make my way through this mess, but the bugs have it over us in so many ways. I mean, why breathe through your mouth if you can wheeze through spiracles? Why amble about on two legs when you can totter around on six, or eight? Why bother talking when you can rub your antennae up against another bug’s, or else just thrust it in the air and pick up the weirdo bug vibrations?
Exos versus the verts, and the exos are winning. There’s way more of them, and they don’t give a fuck. They just keep breeding like goddamn bugs, and they’re not sentimental about anything. I know this; I’ve had more than a few late-night telepathic conversations with various members of the genus Blattella germanica, otherwise known as Keith Richards with six legs and no guitar, while under the captive perceptual straits of various stable alkaloids and a few rather unstable ones, and what was up with that is that B. germanica don’t give a rat’s ass about much of anything as long as there’s food and crap and other junk laying about. Not that cockroaches are great conversationalists; even in fluent bug, they just grunt and mumble like old drunks. You want conversationalists? Beetles are where it’s at.
What am I on about here? I dunno. Damn hot weather messes me up if I get used to cooler climes, and like I said, hot weather puts me in a buggy mood. So I’m sitting here and some Tom Waits comes on, and that even makes me buggier. I’m sheer trouble when I get in this frame of mind, so I figure I’d better write something about it and hope it passes soon, and then I can move on to something else.
Hope it goddamn cools down soon. I’m a pussy about this shit. Seriously. —Jackson Griffith
Oh, yes. Indeedy. I oughta write a book. I mean, people tell me that shit all the time. And while any autobiography by yours truly may not make it into Oprah’s book club, or get spun into a Hollywood movie involving Julia Roberts, or her teeth, I’m sure some people might find it interesting. So you can’t blame me for toying with the idea, even if it doesn’t involve me traipsing around the world to India or wherever. Instead, maybe I’ll report on finding enlightenment next to a dumpster in Kettleman City or Coalinga or something. But who knows? Maybe Eric Roberts will be available to play me. Or Danny DeVito.
I’m kinda serious about this autobiography thing. But I also think it would work better as a graphic novel-type construct, or maybe a comic book. Or maybe a mixture of forms, with long narrative passages segueing into a collaborative series of pages with a comics artist, and then back again. Hell, I don’t know. That’s just the way I see it in my head, at least. And like everyone thinks of who would play them in a movie of their life, I’m thinking who oughta draw this stuff. Maybe Adrian Tomine, or Dan Clowes, or someone else. Or maybe I can get a bunch of different artists to do sections, like chapters, which I can tie together with text.
I think the comics section might be better to tell the story of my failed marriage, just … because. Because, well, I dunno, it’s a really fucked-up story. My side of it is that I was this Jimmy Stewart character, like that guy George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, who jumped off the bridge in Frank Capra’s Bedford Falls and crawled out of the river into the Lumberton of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, or maybe the imaginary Los Angeles of Lynch’s Lost Highway. I’m sure my ex remembers a different facet of Rashomon, but this is my story, so maybe she and that award-winning author with the huge gun collection can tell her side of it someday.
And then I’ll get some different artists to tell other parts of The Life and Many Bittersweet Loves of Ol’ Jackie Boy. Like you really wanna know, but fuck it. And there’s some other stuff, too, like me knocking it off with the hooch and other intoxicants and idiocies, and a few other things that might make for some story-board romance.
But all I have to do now is just find an artist or some artists and get started. I’ll put that one on my list, up there with “finish the novel,” “write that other book” and maybe “record an album of original songs that doesn’t sound like homemade demo poop.” One of these days. I’m sure.
Right now, I gotta sleep, so I can wake up in a few hours. Every day is a brand new deal, right? —Jackson Griffith
It’s Sunday morning. Back to reasonably restored. I’m sitting here in Cafe Mekka in Nevada City, California, having awakened and meditated, with a decent breakfast under my belt and caffeine in my system. Last night around 1 a.m., I was swerving into the delirious zone from lack of sleep. But now I can reflect a little bit on, what, 19 short films at the Nevada City Film Festival, plus a live presentation by Tim and Eric from Adult Swim that included some filmed bits.
I couldn’t find much on YouTube. Did find the trailer to a slightly overdone hipster film-noir number that featured David Yow from the Jesus Lizard, but that film (Sunday Punch) wasn’t one of my favorites. I did wonder if the director, Dennis Hauck, is any relation to the esoteric magician Dennis William Hauck, who once wrote a book on haunted places in America and who, when I barney googled around to figure out how to contact him around 10 years ago, turned out to live in my adopted hometown, Sacramento, and was giving a talk on local haunted houses at the Sacramento Public Library downtown that very week, which I attended and conversed with him and asked him about one of my former residences, 2307 H Street, an old Victorian whose active ghost population kept me entertained for the couple years I lived there in the early 1990s. He’d heard, but never had first-hand documentation. But I digress, and more about those ghosts some other time.
Anyway, Sunday Punch, in the context of everything I saw, wasn’t one of my favorites, but that’s because so many other entries were that wonderful. The films I saw were grouped into three sittings; of the first bunch titled “Love Is Strange,” my favorite of those was probably Thomas Leisten Schneider’s One Day, an 11-minute bit about a kid who was taking his French girlfriend out to dinner to propose to her, but he didn’t have the nerve, and then lots of things went awry. A pedestrian theme, yes, but it was done so well and the performances felt authentic, and it just hit me in that emotional sweet spot. Or maybe it was one of the first films I saw, before getting overwhelmed with images and sounds as the day rolled on. Or maybe I’m just the worst kind of stupid middle-aged romantic?
That seven-film grouping also included a poignant five-minute short called Empty House, where director Sean Christensen evoked the divorce of his parents in childhood with a montage of imagery and old films, a 15-minute film by Tom Geens titled Please, in which an English working-class couple invited a workmate of the husband’s over for supper, with the hidden agenda of satisfying wifey horizontally because hubby could not achieve or maintain tumescence, and Robert Arnold and Cynthia Mitchell’s All Animals, another 15-minute film, this one filmed in bright outdoor Tracy, San Joaquin County (thought I recognized that particular quality of alfresco light and low, grassy mountains), about a guitar-playing California hillbilly fighting with and proposing to run away with a much younger deaf woman, who turned out to be his daughter. Her performance had magic; his was something I’d seen in too many other indie films of the Texas variety, not to mention a John Sayles ensemble piece or three. (On edit, after watching All Animals again on Sunday afternoon: Dunno what I was thinking, as it’s a straight-up tale of a father telling his deaf daughter that he’s leaving her mom. That, of course, isn’t established at the beginning, but my own corrupted mind filled in the blanks — wrong.)
After a short break, and an interview segment with Arnold and Mitchell, came “Short Stories,” five more films, these in the narrative drama category. The festival winner was Grzegorz Jonkajtys’ 15-minute The 3rd Letter, a dystopian steampunk (if steampunk can be used to describe analog 1950s gear) evocation of a future when your health-care provider’s denial of care, in the form of a cancelled battery license for the cardio pacemaker everyone must wear, brings about an healthy case of angst. It was a fine little film, as was The Bridge, Philipp Wolter’s 16-minute piece about a middle-aged Asian dry-cleaning employee who gets trapped in a limbo world between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn on, I think, the Manhattan Bridge, until a homeless man breaks the spell by handing him an origami boat. But my favorite of this set was Florian Krautkrämer’s Beine Breichen (Breaking Legs), an ingenious 15-minute silent black-and-white short about a German man (in the old Deutsche Demokratische Republik?) who is ripped away from his family, interrogated and set free because he knows nothing of value, and then has to make up stories about how tough he was under pressure. The story was told using artfully placed Helvetica subtitles.
After another break, and an interview segment with Jonkajtys and Wolter, came a segment titled “Survival of the Crittest,” a grouping of seven films that came from a less narrative and more imaginary place. Sunday Punch was one of these. More amazing was Gray Espectations, an sweet little 13-minute short by musician Spencer Seim (Hella) featuring his sister Jennifer and her 10-year-old daughter Taylor, a fluffy chicken named Graybeard, some other barnyard animals, and preparations for the upcoming Nevada County Fair, where Graybeard would be entered in some kind of bantam yardbird category. The ending was disappointing, compared to the utter charm that came before it, but that didn’t matter. It was followed by Ataque de los Robotos Nebulosa (Attack of the Nebulous Robots), a six-minute black-and-white Spanish-language film about a mentally ill man who foretells an invasion by malevolent robots (note: no director was noted in the program or on the festival’s website).
My favorite of this grouping was Sven Alexander Heinrich’s El Amante del Padrino (The Lover of the Godfather), a 28-minute relative epic, in Spanish, about a hapless man who toiled in a yellow chicken suit inside an urban Mexican grocery until he was plucked for greater — and, um, gayer — things by the Godfather, a nebulous practitioner of palo mayombe, a Mexican voodoo/Yoruba or Santeria hybrid practice involving sticks and a cauldron, or nganga, into which human body parts, spiders, blood and other things are poured and stirred, with the desired result being that the criminals, for whom the palo mayombe magick is being practiced, will remain protected by dark forces, and invisible and bulletproof (sorry; my erstwhile obsession with some really dark true crime literature may be showing here). El Padrino and his entourage are working in sub-rosa behalf of a shadowy candy bar and energy drink magnate, who has the Godfather murdered, with the sensational killing pinned on poor hapless chicken-suit dude, who is imprisoned, then killed, as the candy bar magnate, the chief of police and the El Padrino Muerte’s former right-hand man and now new Godfather laugh with derision. Sorry, but I really get off on movies like that. It was the perfect mix of Hammer Films cheesiness and telenovela dark psychedelia.
Then came the awards, and then Tim and Eric. I laughed. I was tired. The bald-headed comic from Carmichael who introduced them really rubbed me the wrong way after a while. But it was fun.
Oops. I’d better post this, check out and move the car. More later. —Jackson Griffith