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April 7th, 2009

01:50 pm - I've moved to BLOGGER
Why? Hell if i know. You can now find me here: http://sitdowncasper.blogspot.com/
Hope all is well.

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January 15th, 2009

03:57 pm - The DMV and the Oakland School District
It felt a lot like the DMV. The animosity and tension between customer and clerk was palatable and there wasn’t a smile in the house. 40 or so fake Eames school chairs littered the yellowing floor. Immigrants, North Berkeley liberals, 18-year-old moms and me waited - some patiently, others on the phone. I really shouldn’t have expected so much from the Oakland Unified School District.

I arrived with all my paperwork in order, hoping to drop it off at reception and leave. As I approached the building I practiced what I was going to say, I didn’t want to appear ignorant:

“Hi, I’m here with the kindergarten paperwork?” “Hello, I have the kindergarten lottery stuff.” I really wasn’t sure what to call it. Glancing at the application, I settled with: “Hi, I’m here to drop off the kindergarten options paperwork for the lottery.” I stopped of calling it the K.O.P.L..

A friendly, attentive woman behind a sliding glass window replied, “Sign in, 2nd door on the right.” Sign in?

There were 4 clerks helping people. I got the feeling that at one time they worked behind plate glass windows. It reeked of a government agency. 3rd in line, I straddled the entryway, peering into the main room. It was full with people waiting and filling out applications. I thought: “These must be people who didn’t have the right paperwork. They were busy filling out forms.

The first clerk was for the people waiting in the line. I got my folder ready: application, birth certificate, immunization records and proof of residency. I was ready, not like these other people.

I approached and gave her the application. She stopped me as I pushed the birth certificate her way.

“I only need the application, please.” she said. Wow, this was easier than I thought. She handed it back and pointed to the waiting room. Great! I wasn’t special.

A woman smiled me at me as I turned to look for a seat.

“Hey, how are you doing? I just heard you guys played a show.” She looked a lot like a friend’s sister, but I had no idea who she was. I sat down and asked a series of questions, trying to ascertain how I knew her. Since we had a lot of time to kill and I forgot to bring a book, I was happy for the diversion.

In the 20 minutes we waited and talked, I learned that her son was diagnosed as autistic, but she didn’t’ believe it. She said that he was really smart and bored at school, but he almost got kicked out of pre-k. She said they were looking at schools that could accommodate special needs children.

Before they called her name, she revealed that she had recently quit her job because of personal issues. I didn’t ask what the issues were, but I was dying to know. Her husband was in fear of losing his job. If this happened, their house would foreclose and they’d have to move. It was the perfect conversation for the environment. I’m sure her sob story paled in comparison to the sad sacks surrounding us.

They called her name. “Karen.” I had n idea how she was. A Timeouts fan? More likely a park friend from Wolfie’s younger days.

4 people later, they called my name. I laid out the compendium (put together by Alex before she left. Nod!) on the counter and she cherry picked what she needed, except the immunization records.

I inquired, “You don’t need the immunization records?”

“No, give it to the woman over there, she’ll help you.” pointing to the corner of the room, where a makeshift office was set up. I had seen the office while talking to Linda. I assumed it was for applicants with special problems. Maybe I was a problem?

Her back was to me as I approached. I took a seat in the farthest chair to the right, while she intently looked for a file. When she turned around, I held up the immunization form, pointing it toward her - the yellow distinguishing it from other forms.

I blurted, “They told me to come over here.” just in case I was I the wrong place.

She took the paper and went over it, handing me a form to fill out and giving me 2 documents to be filled out by Wolfie’s Doctor and Dentist. She instructed me that she didn’t want them back - they were for his future school.

As she checked boxes, I asked her, “Is this the busiest day of the year for you? Or tomorrow? The dead air was making me nervous, so I made innocuous conversation.

“They’re all the same to me. I’m just happy to have a job.” I had seen and heard this before from city workers. This was code for my job sucks but they pay me a lot of money to do nothing. I nodded, stopping short of winking.

I rewarded myself with 2 crispy tacos and a side of rice and beans for this misery.


May 8th, 2008

10:20 am - Anarchy, Urine and Sour Cream
The East Bay Express published a story i wrote. Check it out.

(Note: The title of the story was changed from "Anarchy, Urine and Sour Cream" to "About Eileen." About Eileen sounds like a romantic comedy with John Cusack)


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February 11th, 2008

05:56 pm - Super Friends? I say No, No, No!

One of the most common questions of parenthood is, “What is he into?” This question usually comes in the form of an email or phone call before a birthday party. If it’s a boy, it’s usually trucks, dinosaurs and trains, depending on the age. And, for the little girls, it appears that pretty much all girls are into something to do with Princesses. I swear, it’s in their DNA.

These days, Wolfie is into Knights (Knights can easily replace trains, trucks or dinosaurs on the top 3 list), Dr. Seuss, Spiderman (he must’ve picked this up at school) and the Super Friends – respectfully, Superman, Aquaman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman and the Wonder Twins, who specialize in teenage matters. A character named the Black Vulcan (yes, he’s black) makes special appearances and seems to be a pal of Aquaman.

Like most parents, I can pretty much recite all of Finding Nemo and both Toy Story 1 and 2. They’re awesome movies that can be enjoyed over and over again. The Super Friends? Well, that’s a different story.

Like most people my age, I glamorize the super heroes, referencing them liberally and using them as pop reference points in polite society. However, after a good month of Super Friends episodes, I’ve changed my opinion on how I feel about them.

First, every Super Hero is useless except Superman. If I were in trouble and had access to call a super hero (this access appears to be as arbitrary or as easy as dialing 911 from a pay phone), I would definitely ask for Superman:

“Yeah, hi. Is Superman there? No? Do you know when he’ll be back?”

If Batman and Robin were to arrive instead of Superman, the conversation would probably go like this:

“Yeah, your utility belt and fancy ropes are not gonna cut it. Get Superman!”

The Super Friends specialize in certain aspects of Super Heroisms: Aquaman is the leader of the fish and is stronger than most. But he can only stay under water for an hour. So, he’s kinda like a small whale; Wonder Woman has some tricks and a fancy plane – that’s it; Batman and Robin have a cool car and are mortal - pretty much useless; and Superman has it all except for that kryptonite problem.

Not mentioned are the Wonder Twins, who fascinate me to no ends. First, they have alien attributes and just may be the inspiration for Amy Winehouse’s beehive and makeup.

Their sole Super Hero powers are the ability to turn into some kind of animal (sister) and, as far I can tell, water (brother), which includes ice and lakes; although, ice seems to be his preferred power.

What they actually turn into defies explanation. She usually chooses an innocuous animal like a gazelle and he just plain makes up things to go with ice: “Form of an ice strip; form on an ice cage.” In this scenario the Gazelle rams the bad guy, who slides on the ice strip into an ice cage. You get the picture. Also, they have to touch to ignite their powers.

Not into the Wonder Twins. No, No, No!

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12:06 pm - Work the Deuce

It’s not always that you get to meet an internet star. Like a radio personality, they’re usually faceless people, who we know through their words or voice. On the internet you have the sweater lady and that Peter Pan guy – 2 of my favorite. On the radio - well, I don’t have a favorite.

A few years ago, I used to read dooce.com. A blog maintained by a woman who describes herself as a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) and a Shit-Ass Ho Muthafucka - my type of gal. She’s also a recovering Mormon, a wickedly funny writer and a recipient of unemployment, due to talking shit about her job on her blog.

Well, she was at our show last Saturday and sang 2 songs with us. I recognized her right away and asked her on stage if she was a blogger. She shyly confirmed my suspicion and I replied, “Dude, your Dooce.com.” I’m eloquent like that.

She wanted to sing Like a Virgin, which was not on the list (asking to sing a song that’s not on the song list is breaking the number one rule of live Karaoke: we have 500 goddman songs, sing one that’s on the list!), so we told her to pick another song and come back after the next singer. She came back and sang “Country Roads” and then came back again and sang “Take It on the Run” by REO.

I was so hoping that she would sing Deuce by Kiss!

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February 8th, 2008

12:03 pm - Time in New England
This morning on the way to work, my memory was jarred back to a bar at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. It was the late 80s and I was there with friends, drunk and looking for authentic, unaware kitschy entertainment. At this time there were still leftover entertainers from the late 60s and 70s, peddling hipster Vegas schlock for the old people who appreciated “quality entertainment.” I was looking for someone who closed their eyes while singing Manilow.

In the corner of the casino, a half-sphere bar formed a moat around a stage. ON the stage, an attractive woman in her 30s, with an ankle length evening gown and shoulder length feathered hair was singing a Phil Collins song. A few feet behind her and to the right, an on older guy with mustache played bass. Behind him was a stack of rack mount effects that covered all the other instrumentation. IT was obvious their roles in the band. If I were really drunk and squinted, only letting in limited light, they could’ve been The Captain and Tennille.

We sat down at the bar and ordered beers. We were already drunk and acting a little braver and louder than normal. Since it was a casino, nobody seemed to notice or we weren’t at the point where guys in solid colored blazers and ear pieces looked our way.

The stage was constructed where drunken revelers couldn’t jump on stage and dance with the singer, which eventually happens. To get to the singer you’d have to jump over the bar into the well and over bottles of liquor and beers taps. IF you managed to get this far without the bartender chucking you back over the bar, the bottles would obviously tumble to the matted floor, breaking as they collide. This would signal the alarm for the men in blazers and before you knew it, you would be wrestled to the ground and thrown out. I wasn’t at this point - not yet - but if the bar wasn’t between us, I would’ve entertained the thought of jumping on stage. Like running on a baseball field during the 7th inning stretch, it seems like a good idea until you find yourself between 2nd and 3rd base and the contempt of the ballplayers around you is palpable. This didn’t’ stop me from yelling, though.

My demise started when the singer politely asked, “What do you want to hear?” My eyes widened like saucers and I screamed, “Manilow! Play some Manilow!” It didn’t stop there. Nearly jumping out of my seat, I listed every Manilow song I knew: “Mandy, Weekend in New England, I Write the Songs.” That was all I knew and I kept on repeating them until she acknowledged me. Everybody sitting around the bar, about 10 of us were aware that I wanted to hear some Manilow…in a bad way!!

Without looking at me, she politely addressed my suggestions:

“Wow, I thought the kids were into Guns and Roses these days.” Her hand gently caressed the mic. She glanced over my way and smiled. I was sassed.

I exploded, throwing my hands up, indignant that she thought I/we liked Guns and Roses. By our dress, I figured it was obvious that we into indie rock, or college rock as it used to be called. They launched into Sailing by Christopher Cross. I closed my eyes and mouthed the words to a song I really didn’t know. My indignation calmed with the first chorus. Order was restored. I looked around and there were no blazers near.

We settled in and the music became secondary to our drunken conversations. As with most drunks, we made plans that wouldn’t happen and enjoyed the moment, aware of only ourselves.

During an instrumental interlude, the singer sashayed toward the center of the bar. I caught what was happening and abruptly ended our conversation, concentrating on what was taking place. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw a man hand the bartender a folded note. The bartender gave it to the singer; she looked at it and nodded to the guy. This was all too much for me to handle. I exploded again screaming, “What does it say? What does it say?” I turned to my friends, who didn’t witness the transaction and said, “Man, that dude gave her his hotel keys,” knowing quite well that he handed her a slip of paper. I continued screaming, “What does it say? What does it say?,” interspersed with looks of astonishment to who would look my way – as if to say, “Can you believe what is happening?” Of course, this innocuous transaction - he probably was friend – was all fabricated in my drunken state.

Eventually, she had to recognize me and my concerns. She turned to me, and in her ever-so polite manner said, “It says that the young man at the bar with long hair and black clothing (she was describing me) is an ex-convict.” The 10 people or so at the bar, and the bartender broke into laughter, along with my friends. Once again, she sassed me. Touché’. Being mostly a friendly drunk and one who enjoys a fair amount of ribbing, I climbed on the bar and waved to the crowd, bowing in respect - my dirty, size 11 leopard print converse leaving prints where they balanced on the wet bar top.

After everyone had some sort of verbal shot at me, I climbed back down, expecting to resume my night. From behind, 2 men in blazers approached and said, “That’s it, Buddy.” I’d been looking at them all night and now they were right behind me grabbing my shoulders.

As they led me away, my friends laughed along with the handful of drinkers. I waved and smirked at the singer. She nodded and said, “Back to prison.” Touché.

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February 7th, 2008

01:41 pm - In the Neighborhood, Part 2

Man, this neigborhood has some tall-ass trannies!

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February 6th, 2008

12:53 pm - In the Neighborhood

This picture was taken a few weeks after Christmas in the alley outside of work. It’s a beautiful street composition with many meanings.

In my mind, I picture 2 disabled people – one on crutches and the other a little older with a walker - walking south on the alley to buy crack. They come upon a small Christmas tree that is partially blocking the sidewalk, so in their fervor for drugs, they abandon their crutches and walker, instead of simply shimmying a few feet to the left. This is drug logic.

Any other ideas?

This picture makes me happy.

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February 5th, 2008

02:43 pm - Ebay of the Day
Crotch. He said Crotch! Huh!

Ok, you caught me. I just happened to be searching for Polaroid Photo Tough Crotch Young Larry Clark-ish Gay and look what showed up. Who knew there was such a category? Either way, I found these 4 nuggets and they make me happy. 1 alone is stupid; 4 together is art!

I love that the sellers calls them Larry Clark-ish. I have to disagree. If it were Larry Clark, the models would be 13, shirtless and all sitting on a small love seat. Larry loves’em young. Yuck!

By the way, they're mine. Don't even think about bidding. (apologies for the LARGE photos)

Young Hot
Young Tough
Young Bulge
Young Man


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February 4th, 2008

02:10 pm - EBay of the Day
February 4th

Obama Obey Giant Print

OK, it’s hard to deny that Obama is exciting. A lot of people are comparing him to JFK and the optimism that surrounded him when he ran. I hope he wins and at least gives us 1 good year before we start hating him.

This Obama poster (from Obey Giant) is currently on Ebay and going up in price by the day. It was released on the Obey Giant website in an edition of 350 less than a week ago, and sold out immediately. I have no idea what the original price was; however, the print released a week before (voting print) is an edition of 350 too and sold for 50 bucks. Of course, it wasn’t as glamorous as Obama.

I was late in the game, so I missed out. I checked EBay the next day for the print and they were going for $450 Buy It Now. Since then, a whole one week later, they’re going upwards of $850 or more. Damn!

Supposedly, the Obama camp is gonna release the same print, substituting Hope for Progress, in the near future. Check Obama's site and sign up for his newsletter.

Obama Obey Giant Poster
Currently at $810.

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