If I hadn’t made a commitment to writing something here every day, I’d probably be doing something else right now — accompanying the sounds of the neighbors fucking with a serenade of ninth chord-based riffs, funky-butt bass pops and other musical cliches sourced from my half-remembered arsenal of vintage porno-soundtrack grooves, perhaps. Or maybe I’d be dressing up like a scantily clad goat god/satyr fueled by shitty goth records and clove cigarettes and warm Red Bull, and I’d head out to the places where my imaginary entourage of nymphets congregates. It is a motherfucking big-ass full moon tonight, after all.
But, sadly, no. I am alone, in the corner of a coffeehouse, typing, sipping some non-alcoholic lemonade concoction, watching people walk by who I most likely will never carry any kind of a conversation with. It is a cool night for July. Apparently, most of the imbeciles in town are elsewhere, strange for a full moon. They’re probably all huddled together somewhere else, jizzing over each other as they read banal couplets and turgid prose, too artsy to engage in the drunken limericks of my sodden youth. Most of the people here? Studying for something. Quietly studying for some kind of stability while a full moon hangs in the sky.
Innocuous techno burbles in the background. To my ears, that’s the perfect coffeehouse music, with its cold, clinical precision, hyperactive percussion and washes of choral-like sounds. Better that that Sirius Buttrock Favorites As Selected by Some Tattooed Douche Who Ran a Stripper Bar Just Off Sunset Boulevard Circa 1987 channel. In fact, this being Bastille Day, the only thing I’d like more is something shlocky and French to go with this full moon.
I’ve been such an anxiety-permeated dog lately. Dunno why, really; it’s just this baseline of anxious background noise that surges and wanes in intensity. I’ve been feeling slightly more alone and out of sync with the rest of humanity, too — not uncomfortably so, but just like I’m being pulled back into the weird-loner status I thought I had escaped.
And then, I look at all these beautiful women floating around me, not like some kind of perv does, but with that muscle memory of hugging them but with a sighing regret that that sweet and fruitful part of my life may be over with, and I can accept that. Time for chess with the other old men in the park, perhaps, or arguments with trees.
Jeebus. What the hell am I on about? I think it’s time to bid adieu for the night, go home, crank up the white noise sound app on the phone to drown out the grunts and groans from across the way, and maybe play some bluesy shit on my guitar until the eyelids get heavy.
And if not, there’s always Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. —Jackson Griffith
What is up with Old Soul Weatherstone? Either it’s taken a swerve toward somewhere between Castro, Polk and Folsom, or else I’m getting increasingly more redneck by osmosis from hanging out in Lodi so much. Don’t think I’m headed toward any kind of Tea Party epiphanies, though, probably because of early exposure to Truman Capote all drunk and talking scribble on Dick Cavett and the other teevee gabfests, but some of that Lodi vibe is rubbing off on me: Got a butch haircut, grew some semblance of a beard, and now I notice stuff that didn’t used to register. Or … Well, fuggit. I don’t know.
I do know that playing hooky to watch drunken and pilled-up celebrities of the day ramble through a chemical fog to Merv, Mike, Dick and whoever else might have messed me up considerably. That Capote appearance I remember really shocked me into a different perceptual baseline, what with him high as a friggin’ kite and going on and on in that nasal whine with the N’Awlins accent about some woman who’d Aqua-Netted her beehive into something hard as concrete, which was all right until a female Latrodectus hesperus, better known as a black widow spider, deposited an egg sac into said beehive, which hatched into a bunch of little spiders that got big enough to bite and prematurely direct her hair-hopper existence into an open-casket sendoff.
Actually, Truman Capote is partially responsible for turning me away from the gay-bashing trajectory of my childhood environment, in the way James Brown and His Famous Flames cured me of any racist tendencies. I’d picked up In Cold Blood as a 12 year old, because it was on everybody’s coffee tables, and the writing was so kickass that it inspired me to consider typing up stuff as a legitimate alternative to, oh, beating the shit out of strangers, not that I was inclined to do that sort of things but as an early adolescent I was filled with a lot of free-floating rage so sometimes that might be how things played out. Then, when I saw Capote talking on the teevee, I got really discombobbed.
One of these days, with a little hope before I get grimly planted in some suburban Forest Lawn, I hope to write something that lights people’s brains up the way Capote’s book ignited my late childhood but somewhat precocious brain. But I also hope that if I do get a guest spot on The Tonight Show With Kim Kardashian or Maybe Chelsea Handler, I’m mild-mannered and sober.
Did this post not make sense? Sorry. Here’s to the joy of life. —Jackson Griffith
After not having a working computer for a really long time, I’m back at it. Not too sure how frequently I will update this, but I’m going to aim for daily with something. So here goes.
I’ve written a bunch of stellar blog posts in my head, but that really doesn’t do any good unless I can translate them to here. I’ve got a review of the three albums by one of my favorite songwriters to write, and I think I’m going to do a long drunkalogue, with all the stories of how I turned from a sweet albeit neurotic and somewhat autistic suburban kid into a raging drunken asshole, and some of my escapades until I put the stuff down and became a respectable, upright citizen. Well, not really, but I’m trying to be less of an asshole these days.
I figure that I do a pretty crummy job representing myself in person, or I’m just too quiet and reserved, but people tend to respond better to me when I’m rambling in print. So that’s what I’ve got to do. I want you to love me. Or something like that.
See you soon. —Jackson Griffith
Enough of apologies. I ain’t sorry. I just haven’t felt like writing much. Which might have something to do with the change in the weather, or my reluctance to embrace the oncoming holiday season, or something. Suffice it to say that I’ve fallen hard away from the discipline of daily oversharing. Maybe I’ll get back up to speed. Maybe not.
So here it is a Sunday morning, and I’m sitting in a laundromat typing away. ‘Tis a good feeling, having hit the Safeway for more detergent and other sundries, and Peet’s for some coffee, and then the outdoor farmer’s market for some fresh fruit, vegetables and honey, and now here I am at a little after 9 a.m. with my laundry almost done washing and ready to go into the dryer.
For a while I hadn’t written anything; I went through one of those seasonal dark nights of the soul that seems to be par for the course around this time every year, and the resulting darkengloomenwhatthefuckdoidonowensnurfen, or whatever the right German word for that is, and just general angsty angst kinda kept me from writing anything. I mean, the Giants won the frickin’ World Series, and a bunch of other good things happened, and I couldn’t get it together to write anything. Such is life, no?
So now, at least this morning, writing feels good. Lately, I’ve been more inclined to get home, fix dinner and pick up the guitar than I’ve felt like writing. I have this huge backlog of songs that I’ve written over the years, and it’s become really important to work out arrangements to them and practice them to the point that, should I ever get lucky enough to play another gig, or be stupid enough to stumble through the gauntlet of ego-crushing inanities that make up the average open-mic night, at least I’ll be ready. I’ve really been wanting to sit down with Kevin Seconds or somebody else who might have sage advice on how to construct a really killer set, but so far I’ve just chickened out.
In fact, chicken is my middle name, even if I no longer eat yardbird. I’m working on making some really positive changes, especially so that I can make amends to people who helped me out during the couple of years I wandered in the wilderness of not having a job or a fixed address. If any of you should read this, I just want you to know how grateful I am. And so now comes the hard work of making good and righting balances and doing what we in certain circles call the serious footwork. I don’t know why I’m so willing all of a sudden; maybe that I’m so very tired of living with pain, whether it comes in a dull chronic thrum or an acute and overwhelming blitzkrieg, and I’m tired of watching opportunities go whizzing by because I’m too damned incapacitated to deal.
So here I sit on a warm, nearly winter Sunday morning, typing on a bench in a laundromat. The sun is out, which makes for a healthy antidote to seasonal affective disorder, and my clothes are in the dryer, which means that all I gotta do is fold ’em and go home and put them away, and that part of the deal is done. Then, a little housecleaning. Yeah, boring, mundane, shoot me and all that, but life just seems to function better for me when things are reasonably squared away.
Tomorrow, back to it. One of the stupid little things I regret now is that I never stopped in for breakfast at Rockin’ Robin’s off the Jahant Road exit on Highway 99; sometime around Thanksgiving, I drove by there and the giant bass guitar and all the crude hand-lettered signage were gone, and the building was empty. I’d fantasized about going in there and, although the risk of ptomaine and other gnarly gastrointestinal afflictions seemed high from the looks of the place, ordering breakfast from some proprietor who, in my head, was my age, but had kept it up with all the cocktails and recreationals over the years, and now was cooking dog’s breakfasts for anyone clueless enough to stumble through his doors, while peppering them with questions about now-obscure late ’60s and early ’70s English boogie bands: “Who do you think was better, Blodwyn Pig or Budgie?” Or maybe want to argue the finer points of Jethro Tull lyrics.
These are the stupid things I think about sometimes. I’m still like this weird little kid who would seize upon one thing like a dog with a chew toy, and wring everything out of it; such is the occasionally rampant Asperger’s geek in me. Like Jahant Road: Did you know that “the Jahant” — pronounced “jay-hant” (two even syllables, second one’s vowel sounds like the “a” in “hand”) — is now an American viticulture region? This would necessitate the changing of the pronunciation of Jahant to “zha-HAWN,” to rescue the word from Okified English and put it in a context where pretentious Saab-driving oenophiles won’t stumble over it. There’s a lot more, like the San Joaquin County obituaries I found when looking up stuff about Charles and Peter Jahant, and, well ….
Well, my laundry’s done dried, and I gotta fold the schmattes and blow this popsicle stand.
More later. I promise. —Jackson Griffith
Dunno why I’ve been seeing these “Keep Midtown Janky” stickers around for a while. Buncha hooey, I suspect, from a certain group of locals of whom I choose not to place an any kind of pejorative context, except to say that this word “janky” leaves me going “no thankee.” First, because it’s reportedly some kind of San Francisco snootnosed hipster insult that’s been appropriated by a few fat-tire bike types here as a badge of honor, to which I say that if it came from San Francisco, fuck it. The only two things worth a shit in that burg are the Giants and that John Coltrane church, and, uh, maybe a lot of other things, but not those saditty fucks who turn their noses up at you when you cop to residing in the nine one six.
Second, because I think it’s bass-ackwards. Now, if you’re going to coin a portmanteau of jinky and skanky, then janky doesn’t cut it. Especially when there’s one with the imprimatur of Robert Crumb, who, on the bright orange cover of his Zap Comix No. 1, put it succinctly thus: “Zap Comics are Squinky Comics!!”
I’m not sure why I’m feeling this intense need to keep Midtown squinky; perhaps it’s in response to a recent Midtown Monthly article about “janky” eating in Midtown Sacramento. I mean, I was sitting there reading it in a supposedly janky dining establishment; I was thinking about some ideas I had the week before when I was eating in one of my favorite janky places, the one I told everyone about and can take credit for making it all popular among the right peo- … uh, fuck it, I’ll shut up about that line of jibberjabber before I make any more enemies.
Actually, I was eating at Chita’s Mexican Grill, which is so goddamn janky it’s squinky. I was thinking about squinky, about the places in Midtown that bring the squink. Chita’s is such a place: first, because it’s two doors down from Benny’s, which used to be called “Two Doors Down” when Dolly Parton had a hit by that name and some Bee columnist who used to write his column from the bar there wrote one about what a swell establishment it was before he dropped dead from a heart attack and then newspapers stopped letting their columnists write columns from bars, a big mistake I think, because unedited drunken ramblings are arguably a lot more interesting than what’s getting published in newspapers these days, witness The Bee, but I digress except to say that I would start reading The Bee again if they let a bunch of drunken chimpanzees run rampant with opinion columns and again I digress to mention that the Sacramento Press occasionally serves that function and the UFO and ghostbuster reports can be highly entertaining, but anyway, not only is Benny’s a bit of a “shanky” place these days, if shanky means stabby or a place to get some unwanted impromptu ventilation that will stain your clothes and maybe kill you, but also that between Benny’s and Chita’s is a green-cross joint called “420 Evaluations.” I mean, how frickin’ squinky is that?
Erm, a few definitions by examples. Jim-Denny’s is squinky, perhaps the epitome of squink. Cafe Bernardo is not squinky. Zelda’s is squinky, and Chicago Fire is not squinky. Taki used to be squinky, but whatever it was that replaced it is decidedly not squinky. In fact, no sushi bar can be squinky. Chita’s and La Garnacha are squinky, Centro is not squinky — actually, no Paragary restaurant can be even remotely squinky — and Tres Hermanas is kinda halfway in between. The 524 Club used to be squinky until the redo a few years back, but the satellite joint on Northgate near West El Camino is still squinky as all getout, as are all taco trucks that aren’t run by foodies. As for bars, Round Corner is squinky, and the 20th and K corner with Faces and The Depot and Headhunters and whatever that non-gay (but very ghey) joint is called, like 20-something, on the northwest corner are the quintessence of not squinky. Pine Cove is squinky, and Old Ironsides is mostly squinky, because they’ve been rocking the Pabst flag since before Frank Booth made it the pisswater of choice for hepcats (fuck that “hipster” shit).
See, I’d prefer to live in a squinky world, one with rounded corners that looks like it was drawn by Robert Crumb. I wouldn’t mind meeting a few ladies who look like ol’ Bob drew them, too. And I’d love to have a Robert Crumb-designed automobile. So that’s squinky to me — old Sacramento, back when Crumb lived in Dixon, then Winters, and Justin Green used to go pick him up and drive him around so Crumb could sketch elevations for his comics — Del Paso Boulevard seemed to be a favorite, and that strip between Globe and El Camino should be a regional monument to squink. And we need more squink. There is way too much antisquink in Sacramento, and dunno about you, but I respond to this new antisquink the way Turkish nationals respond to old episodes of The Chipmunks with David Seville: “I do not know what this is, but I feel strongly that it is not good.”
I babble, I babble: We need to keep Midtown squinky, not janky. —Jackson Griffith