The Random Griffith

Happy new year, a day or so late

Posted in butthurt singer songwriter, embarrassing confessionals, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 03/01/2012

So what did you do to ring in the new year? I dragged myself out of my little hidey-hole, figuring that it would be much better to welcome the new year while being somewhat sociable than just chilling out in my apartment. Didn’t really have a plan; walked a few blocks to Tres Hermanas, a Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood, and right after I got seated, a threesome that I think might’ve been roasting a bowl on the sidewalk came in, carrying a really big bottle of cheap (Cook’s) champagne, acting like they owned the joint. That takes stones; the only thing cooler would have been if it was Andre cold duck. The guy was hispanic, with one of those goofus fauxhawks and a fake tan; he was wearing a black dress shirt with a really ugly crimson tie. One of the two women was a blonde, the other a brunette; both had painted-on dresses, and the blonde’s lingerie covered up her tats, but the brunette had a bunch of stuff in what looked like olde English script tatted all up and down her slightly plump legs.

There was a couple seated in between them and me, so I only could gander snippets of their conversation; something about “you look hawt,” directed toward the blonde, and a rather loud passage wherein Mr. Ladies Man was arguing over his cell phone with what sounded like a cab dispatcher about the price of getting from Tres Hermanas to the Mercantile Saloon, an easy five-and-a-half block jaunt by foot in athletic shoes, made slightly more difficult in counterfeit Louboutins. I kept trying to take pictures of them, because they were such a funny sight, but I am the world’s worst photographer. When I left, Fauxhawk and the blonde were decamped outside with their champagne and cigarrettes: “You look sooo hawtt,” he told her again, “but Gina just looks sooooo trashy tonight.”

Later, I made it over to the Fox & Goose in time for D.J. Larry Rodriguez’s big soiree, which must have been pretty fun. Except that Sir Nose D’Voidofunk hit me with some kind of anti-bop entropy gun, so I got rhythm about as well as Mitt Romney, which is to say, not at all. Everybody was dancing, and had not committed to Larry that I would pull the string at midnight that would release the balloons, I might have bailed. I mean, I could not dance, I could not feel it; what I was feeling instead was crummy, increasingly crummy.

Once I got home, I didn’t leave until this morning. On New Year’s Day, I felt like that Detroit Lions fan who ran in front of a bus, except that I lived through it. At least I think I did. Maybe not. I just proned out in bed, slept, woke up, read, and dreamed of buying a toaster. That’s what my life has been missing, I thought: The ability to make toast on demand. So today, finally, I scraped myself off the mattress and into the shower, and then made it across town to pay rent and go to Target to shop for, you guessed it, a toaster.

I hate stores. I hate shopping. I hate other people in stores who push massive shopping carts down aisles and expect me to stop concentrating on various makes of toasters so I can flatten myself against the shelves to make it easy for their obese juggernauts to pass me by. I hate getting in line behind some couple whose teenage daughter is still running around the store grabbing stuff to buy, only to sprint up to the checkout and dump it on the counter ahead of my solitary toaster, solitary because I didn’t feel good enough to buy more stuff. Meanwhile, everyone else who made smarter picks for lines to get into have bought their swag and moved out the doors. Especially I hate shopping when I don’t feel good. Still, I ain’t about to pepper spray anybody.

Right now, I feel like a catbox left to fester. I’m doing laundry. But I did make amends with the guy I’d maligned, described in my last post here, by apologizing, saying I was sorry, telling him I’m really working on not practicing any more of that dickish behavior, which is rooted in my own insecurities that the world has passed me by, and I asked him if there was anything I could do to make it right. There is one other person I offended a while back, a big shot in the local music scene, to whom I’ve sent three separate messages apologizing for my behavior, but he’s choosing to ignore me and my entreaties, or not acknowledge them. Which is something I have no control over. If he doesn’t want to accept my amends, that’s his choice.

I just have to stop shooting myself in the foot. And I gotta start feeling better, too. —Jackson Griffith

Happy December 24, or Santa is just Satan spelled sideways

Posted in embarrassing confessionals, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 25/12/2011

Because I can’t locate any Mr. Magoo marathons anywhere on the cable, and even more because I don’t have cable so even if there was a Mr. Magoo marathon somewhere I wouldn’t know about it, I’m sitting here on Christmas eve, doing my laundry. Like you were surprised, right? I mean, me and this obsession with doing laundry, when I used to be that guy who would be schlepping plastic garbage bags of dirty clothes down to the laundromat every month or so, is kinda not in character. But really it is; I lead a tidy, reasonably organized, utterly boring and solitary life, with far less surprises than in the past.

I’m not going to post any Christmassy stuff, just because I’m not really a Christmassy guy. Didn’t get a whole lot of party invitations this holiday season, probably because I’ve been such a hermit. Hermitage is good, though. I can noodle around on the guitar and read books and go eat dinner by myself and walk around the neighborhood, and nobody gives me a hard time about it. Hell, most of the time I have such a difficult time making conversation with people that it’s kind of a relief being alone. I prefer to communicate with people via my fingers, as in typing or writing. My mouth, not so good, at least until I can work up the nerve to see a dentist.

I hope you aren’t getting the vibe that I’m wallowing in self-pity here, because I’m most decidedly not. My life is generally pretty good. Yeah, the holidays suck, especially when your family is fractured and you haven’t had anyone gaze at you lovingly and call you sweetie in a long time. But usually I can get through any rough patches or raw emotional moments, or days, by holding the realization that things change, and then they change again, and then they keep changing.

So here it is, almost Christmas. I’m kinda planning on working on this crazy song cycle I started, but I’m pretty open to whatever comes surging down the pike. Got some nice plans for tomorrow, and gonna fold my laundry today.

Like now, really. Till next time. —Jackson Griffith

Sorry, I only post from laundromats

Posted in laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 12/12/2011

Sorry. I’m such a skeez that I only post now on Sundays when I do my wawrshing. When the money gets to where I can invest in a new ‘puter and then get wi-fi at my apartment, then I’ll go back to posting every day.

This weekend I was going through stuff. I had to retrieve something out of my storage space for somebody, and I started pulling old items out, with the idea of systematically going through everything I have left from my past life and either cataloging and shelving it, or getting rid of it or, in a few cases, returning it to its rightful owner. I want to consolidate down to a smaller space, and then to no space at all. So, I’ve got some things to go through this week.

One thing I found on my counter at home, which I got last year as a Christmas party white elephant gift from a documentary filmmaker and judge who shall remain nameless, is a voodoo doll. Specifically an “ex-wife voodoo doll.” I received it right at the time that my love life went south, and 2011 has been a complete washout from me. Not even a kiss, or even mild flirtation.

Now, I don’t know if getting rid of this thing will change my life at all, but I’m feeling to do this in the least harmful way possible. I thought about leaving it on a certain doorstep at a house on a corner at Freeport Boulevard in Land Park, but decided that this guy’s wife and daughter don’t need to be dragged into it. I thought about looking up a certain lawyer in Placerville and sending it to his house, but decided to pass on that, too.

You see, I don’t harbor any ill will for my ex-wife, or her special friends. That was then, in another lifetime. So this filmmaker giving me that gift last year, telling me, “When I saw this in the el-cheapo store, I thought of you,” was less than appropriate. I’m the wrong guy for that sort of gift. I may be fascinated by hoodoo and other forms of magic from a cultural point of view, but as a person who embraces Buddhist thought, I can’t practice it, because it involves exerting power over others and, ultimately, harming them.

So, I think I have just the place for it. —Jackson Griffith

Another Sunday, another trip to the laundry

Posted in gosh darn it, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 05/12/2011

Let’s see, here’s your weekend update: I played a gig last night, which was cool. I guess the only caveat is that I keep wishing that people I know will come see me, but fuggit. I’m just gonna keep playing and working and one of these days, maybe that will change. After the show, and the fabulous Mondo Bizarro cafe in Midtown Sac, I went down to the Safeway on 19th for some cleaning supplies, and then I walked across the street to check out the new Bows & Arrows store where Retrofit Studios used to be. Yes, I am woefully slow to go anywhere, and the place has been open for only like a year or something. The coolest part was walking up to Dane and Rodney at the wine bar, saying hi to Rodney, and watching him squint at me before asking, “Who are you?” “Uh, It’s Jackson, Rodney. He’s grown a beard.”

To backtrack to my sojourn to Safeway, I can’t believe how many of the tabloids in the racks at the checkout counter either featured a Kardashian family member as the cover subject, or else the Kardashians were listed on the cover as one of the stories inside. Yeah, I know. Tabloids. But has everyone lost their minds? I know I go round and round on this, but let’s review:

Thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage breaks out with a leaked sex tape that porno enthusiasts describe in terms of what a phenomenally lousy lay she must be, if what’s on the tape is anywhere near true. Nevertheless, thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage parlays that putatively crummy sex tape into a show, produced by Merv Griffin-wannabe Ryan Seacrest, an alien life-form who hosts a foisting mechanism called American Idol that has all but completely ruined anything artful left in popular music, which airs on another network controlled by encrusted dingleberries cast off by a decompensating fuehrer in a bunker far, far away.

The Kardashian show, or now, more accurately, infestation of shows, airs on the E! Network, a horrendous cable-TV septic tank that is owned by Comcast, a huge corporation that is cable television and internet service provider, and now owns the majority of NBC Universal, a film studio and television network. The show inexplicably catches on, and like a raccoon who’s just gotten fed, the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage crawls back to the house the next morning with her entire raccoon family, who all get either featured in Seacrest-produced shows or else they get their own breakout shows.

All of a sudden, this family of thoroughly unexceptional raccoons are stars, or what passes for them in our pre-apocalyptic society. They are everywhere. The thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage changes over time, via the marvels of plastic surgery, to an olive-skinned cross between a Barbie doll and the Venus of Willendorf, and there are accounts that her most noteworthy feature, her enlarged gluteus maximus, is surgically altered. Acolytes, who view the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage as the fulfillment of a prophecy by Sir Mix-A-Lot 20 years earlier, are not shaken by these developments.

Then the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage round-heels her way through a number of melanin-enhanced professional athletes, and she ultimately settles on an oaf of a boy-man who’s skill in the kitchen centers around his ability to braise raccoon meat in a Dutch oven, and the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage and the oafish boy-man Dutch oven chef marry in a ceremony that is touted by the very, very stupid as some sort of American royal wedding. It lasts all of 72 days.

I’m really not sure about you, but I know I’ve had enough. I don’t want to see any more of them when I go to the store, and any supermarket chain that can set up a 100-percent Kardashian-free checkout line, or two, will earn my business. I don’t watch their show, and I do no business with Comcast, because that company has done so much to push this infestation of raccoons on the public, and I don’t want to subsidize it by getting overcharged on my cable bill. Since Comcast has acquired General Electric’s old interest in NBC Universal, the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage and her family of fellow raccoons have been turning up on shows on NBC, particularly that lantern-jawed Doritos pitchman who hosts the once decent show once hosted much better by Jack Paar and Johnny Carson.

I think my clothes are dry. I will shut up now. —Jackson Griffith

You got to clean your clothes and wash your face

Posted in hipster gibberish, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 28/11/2011

Another Sunday, another trip to the laundromat. I’m a pretty mundane guy, really. I like to go to bed on Sunday night knowing all my clothes are folded and put away or, for certain shirts, hanging in the closet. You know, enough to get me through the work week, to spare. There’s nothing like hitting Thursday and not having clean underwear or socks, or a clean shirt.

There are other things I’d rather be doing during the week than laundry. Not that I hate doing laundry; I’ve developed a bit of an obsession, that’s become a routine, and I tend to be a person of routines. Call it my Asperger geekiness: I often will eat the same thing at the same restaurants, and drive the same routes, and cook the same stuff at home over and over, and I have to force myself to make other choices.

Although it doesn’t really matter what I do, really. I mean, I’ve got no one really vying for my time, so I can get up and do what I want, and not have to plan it out, or argue better this than that, and I don’t have to answer to anybody. Not even a cat, or even a girlfriend. Wife? Forget it. I’ve pretty much figured out that this flying solo is my lot in life at this juncture, and I really can’t see things changing out of the blue, so what I can do is take good care of myself and enjoy life, one present moment at a time.

Lately, a lot of my present moments have been filled with this obsession I have to become a better guitarist. So I hunker down in my tiny apartment with books of tablature, translating the arcane symbols on the page into music via my fingers, the left-hand ones on the guitar fretboard, and the right-hand ones dangling over the sound hole, plucking the strings. Or trying to make music. It’s slow work, really, and the improvements seem glacial.

It’s taken me months to get even a few of Taylor’s songs down, because the arrangements are so deliciously intricate. I can do halting and tentative versions of “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” and “You Can Close Your Eyes,” and I’ve got about 12 of the 15 pages of tablature memorized for the first guitar (there’s a second guitar part, too) on his cover version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” I’ll probably work to get those three as “mastered” as I can before I move on to other songs. I have some Beatles and Jobim and Joplin and Bach books I want to work out of, too.

Which is good that I’m such a loner. If I had a social life at all, I’d never learn these difficult tunes. It use to be that I wanted to play music because I thought that might be a keen way to meet women, but now I just do it because I’m in love with the process itself, and there aren’t any women to be found. I also write a lot of songs, some of which I think are pretty good, but the only way I will get people to listen is to be able to play them really well. And I am hoping that some of what I’m learning from sweet baby James will start turning up in my own repertoire as well.

So there’s your update. Hope you’re having a swell week. I am. —Jackson Griffith

I love my friends

Posted in apology for not posting for a while, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 21/11/2011

Figure no one is bothering to read this thing anymore. It isn’t that I’ve lost the passion for writing. More like, until I can get enough money together for a new computer, I won’t be posting much. This wonderful old ‘puter has been quite good to me (well, except for a couple of buttmunched hard drives), but it’s a tad touchy these days, and the battery life is not nearly as robust as it once was.

I’m just not sure what to say these days. I’m surprised that it’s taken this long for people to get really pissed off in this country, but therein lies the power of shiny objects. We got so lulled into distraction by foist after foist after foist that we didn’t see the foundation and structure of the house we lived in getting taken apart underneath us while we were hypnotized by whatever distractions were being sent our way to keep from noticing how bad things were getting.

So why am I not out there standing with the 99 percent? I dunno. Maybe it’s because when my life fell apart a few years ago, I was relatively alone, while so many people I knew were fat and happy. I lost a wife, a family, a house, a car, a lot of other stuff, a job, and enough of what I once thought was my life that I was pretty sure what was left was going to end soon. And then things started getting better, around the time a lot of other people I know started going through hardships. And now, there’s a job I have to get to five mornings a week, and a lot of things to learn, so I honestly don’t have time, or maybe it’s the inclination, to sit with others in the park.

It isn’t that I’m not in accord. Hell, most politicians, by my observation, seem to spend the lion’s share of their time jerking off contributors to help fund the next election cycle, and most of those contributors seem to be corporations, banks or other vested interests. It doesn’t take a person of brilliance to figure how that’s all going to play out. But didn’t it once seem that banks and other instruments of greed would try to maintain a modicum of sustainability, and would make sure to keep their customers alive enough to pay their notes? These days, it’s like we’re all roaches being fed to assassin bugs, who stab their razor-sharp proboscises into our bodies and suck our insides out like we’re just tasty milkshakes, then leave our dried-out husks by the side of the road as they speed toward the next victims.

So it’s a Sunday night, and my schmattes are in the dryer, and I figured it was time for an update, so hey. Off to work tomorrow with clean clothes. Gonna record some music tomorrow night, if it all works out. I’ll do the next week as well as I can, one day at a time and all that. Life is good, or at the very least okay. Yeah, I’m just your basic loner weirdo, who’s left his dreams by the side of the road with the dead bugs the bankers sucked dry. I’m not bummed to be in this involuntary monk mode anymore; I’ve just let go of all those movie scripts that were clogging up my waking and sleeping consciousness, so now I can just do life without expectation of dreams come true.

And that’s all right. Really, it is. —Jackson Griffith

Been a while, right? Sorry.

Posted in apology for not posting for a while, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 16/10/2011

This has been the blog version of a dead letter office for way too long. I’d had another writing project, a personal one that has nothing to do with publication, hanging over my head for a good amount of time, and I got away from posting here. Which is a mistake, really, because getting back that writer’s discipline is going to take some work. I probably won’t be here every day, but two or three times a week ought to be a reasonable goal.

Anyway, good to be back doing this, at least right now in this moment. What’s been going on is work (this is a good thing, for someone who spent two and a half years out of work), recovery work, and then just the leisure of coming home and trying to improve my guitar technique from working out of tablature books. Mostly I’ve been doing a slow boat to China through a couple of books of songs by James Taylor, which is kinda funny because that was so not my taste in music for a really long time. But one cannot deny the absolute mastery and depth of his guitar style and technique, and learning even a few of his songs has helped me deepen my own finger-style guitar technique.

So, well, my life is pretty boring these days, really. I live alone, got no cat or dog or even anything remotely resembling a sweetie, and I’ve just been trying to be a better person. Some days, that works out pretty well. Other days, not so much; I make a bad decision or revisit an old resentment I should have let go of long ago and give it renewed life, and that really doesn’t do anyone much good.

So here it is a Sunday morning, and I’m sitting in a laundromat typing this as my stuff spins in the dryers. I got up pretty early, a little later than when I normally get up to go to work, but still pretty early for a Sunday morning, and early enough to beat the rush here. Pretty soon, people will be shlepping their baskets and hampers in here, and it becomes harder to find an open machine, not to mention a place to sit and relax. I’m kind of surprised that I got here before 49ers Guy, who occupies the only bench that’s close to a power outlet, and sits, sans computer, reading Star Wars “novels” while decked out in Niners swag. Maybe it’s because his teal plays this morning at 10 a.m., and he didn’t want to miss the game. That, of course, is fine by me.

I’m going to clear out of here in a bit, maybe swing by the open air Farmer’s Market but probably not, and then hit this meeting I go to on Sunday mornings, because an old friend who was here when I got sober 19 years ago is chairing, and it’s his last meeting here before he moves to Oregon where the more humid air and weather suits his medical condition better than this hot, dry valley. I keep telling myself that I’m going to stop going to that meeting, because it’s a “tag” format — one person talks, and tags the next person, who tags the next after he or she is done, and it usually turns into a daisy chain of the same people every week, many of whom ran out of cogent things to say a long time ago. There’s this one clown-like guy who shows up halfway through the meeting, sits right up front, and invariably gets called on. I’m pretty tired of hearing his shtick at this point, so oftentimes I vote with my feet and leave. But today is goodbye to my old pal Dave, so I’ll have to stick it out.

How’s that for boring? Time to fold my schmattes already. See ya. —Jackson Griffith

Making it up as I go along

Posted in laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 10/08/2011

Don’t think I have any idea what I’m going to write about half the time when I open up one of these “new blog post” pages. It’s usually some combination of environment, mood, whatever has crossed my mental transom this past day, and, oh, I dunno, whatever the little six-legged people are whispering into my ears, or beaming into my third eye via telepathy through those busy antennae. Crafty little buggers, they are. Entire worlds we either don’t see, don’t care to see or don’t even think about.

So today was decent. Took care of a couple of items that were generating mild anxiety, had a pretty productive morning and afternoon, and managed to cogitate on a few things. While according to the planetary-movement prognosticators, the world is going to hell in a handbasket this week — Mercury retrograde for the next three weeks, something about Mars opposing Neptune, then the Moon squaring Uranus and Mars, along with some other stuff, which may or may not have something to do with riots in London, rampant “Tea Party” neo-confederates all over America, et cetera, ad infinitum, post hoc ergo propter hoc, veni vidi vici, in hoc signo vinces, vincebus eruptum, cogito cogito ergo cogito ngognog ngogn — I’m feeling all right. Well, yeah. All right.

Thangs are pretty jinky, though. While President Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have the stones to tell Standard & Poor — a division of schoolbook publishing house McGraw-Hill, which is controlled by various members of the McGraw family, big contributors to George W. Bush’s campaigns — to engage in a sustained act of coprophagy, followed by an immediate assumption of room temperature and subsequent organic necrosis, word has it that the Prez is fixing to deliver the message to Bashar Assad, authoritarian government administrator of Syria, on Thursday that Assad and his regime have to pack up and go to whatever Red Sea resort where Hosni Mubarak and his chums are holding court, or maybe permanent exile in Dubai, or Las Vegas. Apparently, some people are much better opthamologists than they are brutal dictators. Yes, Bashar Assad is a bad actor, the Kim Jong Il to his Kim Il Sung dad, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria with an iron fist for nearly 30 years. But those jizzstains who run Standard & Poor ought to get called to account, too. Michael Moore has gone as far as call Barack Obama a pussy for not arresting the chief executive of the ratings “agency.” I’m kind of inclined to agree.

But screw it. One can walk around in a permanent state of disarray and angsty angst over politics. I used to live there. I’m really not very happy about the condition of the world, particularly the class war waged on the rest of us by the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch and their army of sock puppets and dupes. I’m more interested in bugs these days. That, and playing music (I’ll be playing at Luna’s Cafe this coming Saturday night) and, occasionally, entertaining but generally useless fantasies involving me and sundry women in various stages of undress. Yes, I am an old ‘tang enthusiast, or at least a middle-aged alterkocker.

I’m told this is a good place to stop, a little north of 500 words. Till next time. —Jackson Griffith

My one-way ticket outta Palookaville

Posted in laundromat posts, the 209 as in stockton by Jackson Griffith on 01/08/2011

This memories of idyllic Stockton thread on Facebook has me all head-scratchy. On one hand, it’s really great to scroll through page after page of posts on places I’d half-forgotten. But on the other hand, it’s infuriating to see new post after new post about “Remember that guy who’d stand on the corner of of Pershing and Swain banging on a guitar with no strings and singing Elvis songs?” The way the page is organized, with zero indexing or search function, it’s nearly impossible to get all the comments on one subject together, so you’ll make a nice and thoughtful addition, and then it will disappear, replaced by another five or 10 “remember that guy …” posts.

Still, and although I’m not one for huge doses of nostalgia, I’m kinda getting off on reading some of the posters, like Terry O’Reilly, an old pal from the punk rock days, and Floyd Perry, Jr., whom I’ve never met. But sorting through the 8,400+ posts, way too many of them redundant as hell — which isn’t really the fault of the people posting as much as it is the inherently chaotic nature of the page — to read the interesting posts takes way too much time. It’s easier on a laptop, but downright impossible on a so-called smart phone.

I have a million stories, but damn if I’m going to waste them in a thread that disappears, to be replaced by 12 hammerheads who’ve typed out the same topic in all caps, or infinite variations on “remember when me and Betty Sue and Linda Lou cruised the avenue and ate burgers at the A&W?” or whatever. A little better way to index or organize the page, if that’s possible, and I don’t think it is, and it would be a lot more magnetic to people like me as a supreme time waster. Because I have a bizarre love-hate relationship with Stockton, and even though I’ll most likely never live there again, that town is a big part of who I am, moreso than I’d care to admit.

Not that the thugs and jocks and lowbrow fucksticks who made the lives of me and all my artsy pals so miserable want to read my take on the burg, which is a lot darker than some George Lucas beatoff fantasy — more along the lines of David Lynch, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese and more. Hey, remember the time we were on our bikes on Yokut(s) Avenue between Sears and Macy’s and we flipped off those National Socialist White Peoples Party assholes from Tracy who were riding in back of a Mercedes-Benz troop carrier wearing Nazi uniforms with swastika armbands, and the driver of the truck tried to run us off the road in front of Lyon’s? Remember the psycho couple in the Lincoln Village flattops who held us at gunpoint for several hours for stealing pomegranates from the tree in their backyard? Remember that guy who burned down the Church of the Presentation because, years earlier, one of the priests there had molested him as an altar boy?

Anyway, I got a million stories. But, hey: Anybody remember Peter Piper Pizza? —Jackson Griffith

Stocktone, represent!

Posted in laundromat posts, the 209 as in stockton, wingnuts suck by Jackson Griffith on 25/07/2011

It would appear that thangs are janky all over the place. I see that a combination of persistent hot weather — and the news of Norway’s version of a Tea Party conservative, watering the Yggdrasil of Liberty with random people’s blood, hitting the 24/7 wall of newstainment across the corporate cable channel infogasm — has caused people to go a bit touchy around the ol’ Heimat over the weekend. As in: trigger finger, itchy. Blam. Blam blam.

Nutters with firearms went off in the usual places, namely Texas, and it was somewhat queasily familiar to see the city where I was raised — Stockton, California — make the weekend roster with a horrible birthday party shooting that left one dead, a 15 year old, and eight others wounded. I’m not going to comment about what went through the shooter’s head and what he — I’ll presume it was a he — was thinking, because whatever it was, it probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense to most of us. I will say that I can understand that kind of simmering resentment, but I’ll also add that I’m extremely grateful that I found some psychological tools to air my head out before I showed up at somebody’s birthday fete with the idea of turning it into a wake.

Stockton is a weird place. I get a little bothered when people in other places, like in the smugly satisfied State Worker Republic of Sacramento where I’ve lived since 1984, spout off about how the county seat of San Joaquin is a violent shit-hole full of crazy people and other mutants. But if you grew up in that part of the 209, or you’ve lived there or worked there for any amount of time, then to me you’re welcome to opine.

I’ll say this: I was surprised once I got out of Stockton that, in most places, people didn’t arbitrarily jump out of cars at stoplights and run over and beat the shit out of you, because that kind of thing seemed to happen in the Stockton of my youth with, well, I won’t say disturbing regularity, but I was the recipient of a sudden and unprovoked ass-kicking several times, and it left me in a state of raw fear for years. Hell, I’m in my 50s, and I still look nervously over my shoulder, and I glance up and down streets rapidly, reading every stranger and group of strangers for the threat of impending violence.

The shooting this weekend took place on Lincoln Road, east of Eldorado Street and south of Hammer Lane, about a mile from where I lived during junior high and high school. It was an okay neighborhood when they built it in the 1960s and ’70s, but like a lot of North Stockton, it’s decayed into a neighborhood over time where you might not feel comfortable living.

But that’s happened all over America. And you can point the finger of blame at that black president you don’t like, or those “socialist” Democrats, or whoever the ruling class clowns like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the rest of the Murdoch circus are telling you to hate this week. But the grim reality is that what’s happening now is the result of the greedy portion of the top one percent of people in this country, according to wealth, who don’t want to help pay for maintaining the infrastructure of this country — including a vibrant private sector that provides living-wage jobs here that aren’t in Indian casinos — or the health and welfare of its citizens. Instead, they are using their considerable wealth and influence to wage war on the rest of us. As for the rest of us? Well, look on the bright side: We can buy guns and ammunition, at least until the unemployment checks stop coming. Then we’ll just steal them.

I do believe we are in for a weird ride the next few years. —Jackson Griffith