Saturday, March 21, 2009

Morning Stroll, Gas, Babies, Eels, Rugs etc.

Dave and I met for breakfast at Jake's where I was startled to see him order pancakes. Dave is a man of habits and rituals, a one egg over easy and white toast guy. Occasionally an english muffin. His complex character, genius, and wit are not reflected by his taste in food. But he was in a rare mood this morning and I was glad to see him taking some risks. He smelled faintly of gasoline. It seems that at a gas station in South Amherst this morning, the tanker trunk was filling the underground tanks. Dave and the other customers were standing by their cars, nozzles in and pumping, when it occurred to him that he'd been standing there an awfully long time for a quarter tank top off. Everyone gradually became aware of the time aberration and started looking to each other for answers, making shruggy what's up? gestures and feeling that empowering consumer camaraderie that can occur when people realize they will not be alone in their complaint or be thought crazy by a testy clerk. Dave saw that the total cost for the gas was well above normal when suddenly it started flowing out all over his pants and shoes. The kaCHUNK feature that cuts off the gas when it reaches the top had failed. Dave tried to warn the others but it was too late. Seventeen or eighteen expletives later, everyone marched in to see the cashier who mumbled something about air pockets in the lines when the tanker is pumping. So that explained Dave's gas smell. He was unclear about the resolution, even when I pressed him. I've learned when to let something go, but I will eventually get an explanation.

After breakfast, we set out on a mission to poke around back alleys with our cameras but ended up at Faces instead. Can I go on the record as saying that Urban Outfitters has nothing on Faces? Faces has genuinely creative displays with actual humor while UO has a hipper than thou pseudo-mystique. A sort of clinical detached coolness. Some of the staffers at Faces have been there for years and their dedication to the store shows. They're currently adding a shoe department downstairs. Steve and Dan do the best window dressing in town, but the staff's creativity is on display inside. Here's a display (most likely by Matt Kristek) that's amusing, clever, and surreal (see man on far right) and makes an otherwise mundane glassware section more fun.
Here is a shot of Faces vet Kristen with her son Jack. Jack hiccups sometimes because he's learning how to swallow. This is Kristen's secret identity however, as she is othewise know as Piss'N Mona, part of the Pioneer Valley Roller Derby squad.

On the way back to Market Street, Dave was expressing his frustration with the tempest in a teapot and handy distraction from bigger issues that is the AIG bonus scandal and the shameless and ever more institutionalized abuses of power on the part of our leaders, paraphrasing a letter he had written to John Olver (pictured). He's written our Congressman several times over the years. He's gotten standard form letter responses. I got a quick and personal response from our State Senator Stan Rosenberg earlier this year when I had a complaint with Bank of America. It felt good to get the response. I suggested he write to Obama, who is apparently reading and personally answering a handful of letters every day. He grunted and I changed the subject to a video clip I'd received recently that prominently featured eels...the kind of video that shreds one's thin veil of propriety and decency and burns images into your memory that can never fully be erased. He hesitantly agreed to watch it and afterward agreed that it was definitely in a category of its own. I explained that in fact the category was quite wide and a decent number of people, primarily Europeans, seemed to rather fancy it. I assure my readers at this point that you needn't question my character (any more than usual anyway) or suspect that the boundaries of good taste that I skillfully maintain are slipping and threaten the family friendly nature of the blog. But when confronted with something heretofore unthinkable, if even imagined, never mind succesfully executed by humans, never mind filmed by other humans, you just have to ask, is that really necessary? Have you grown that bored of league certified play and its time tested activities which, personally, never get old for me. Is this the grand finale of a series of increasingly surreal and gratuitous acts, rolled out over many years, strategized and researched with the use of National Geographic, the Kama Sutra, and The Joy of....Cooking? Or is this just the beginning? Most importantly, has P.E.T.A. been alerted?

Sadly, the usual stumbling and boisterous citizens I heard coming home from the bars around 2am last night, also aparrently threw a rock at Retro Genie's window. I often wonder what a vandal makes of his work while sober in the light of the next day.These next images were taken in the Antique Center of Northampton. The first is somehow David Lynchian. The other two just make me feel calm and happy for some reason. It's hard to tell if they are drawings or tinted photos.

I also bought two sweet oriental rugs for my apartment at half price at the Antique Center. They were a steal and they really tie the rooms together.
The Dude: Walter, what is the point? Look, we all know who is at fault here, what the fuck are you talking about?
Walter Sobchak: Huh? No, what the fuck are you... I'm not... We're talking about unchecked aggression here, dude.
Donny: What the fuck is he talking about?
The Dude: My rug.
Walter Sobchak: Forget it, Donny, you're out of your element!
The Dude: Walter, the chinaman who peed on my rug, I can't go give him a bill, so what the fuck are you talking about?
Walter Sobchak: What the fuck are you talking about? The chinaman is not the issue here, Dude. I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line, you DO NOT... Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.
The Dude: Walter, this isn't a guy who built the railroads here. This is a guy...
Walter Sobchak: What the fuck are you...?
The Dude: Walter, he peed on my rug!
Donny: He peed on the Dude's rug.
Walter Sobchak: Donny you're out of your element! Dude, the Chinaman is not the issue here!
Brandt: Mr. Lebowski is prepared to make a generous offer to you to act as courier, once we get instructions for the money.
The Dude: Why me, man?
Brandt: He believes the culprits might be the very people who, uh, soiled your rug, and you are in a unique position to confirm or disconfirm that suspicion.
The Dude: He thinks the carpet pissers did this?
Brandt: Well Dude, we just don't know.


David Kutcher said...

Never fill up your car at a gas station when the tanker is there!

Not only do you get air bubbles, but when they put new gasoline into the storage tank a ton of sediment is kicked up and you end up paying for that crap getting into your car engine.

If you see a tanker at a gas station keep driving to the next station.

Jim Neill said...

Dave responds: I applaud your decision to reorient your blog to daily trivia and daily significa. To clarify, I have gotten answers from Rep. Olver (D-Mass.) in the past, but these were usually form letters. At least he responded---I've contacted Kennedy and Kerry a total of perhaps a dozen times over the years with never even a cursory reply. (Yes, I was courteous in my letters.)

E-mail, incidentally, is the way to go when petitioning one's government for redress of grievances these days. I read somewhere that all paper letters sent to Congress are opened at a warehouse in Virginia, to avoid anything along the lines of anthrax envelopes, etc. So it could take days or weeks for a paper letter to be opened, deemed safe, forwarded to Congress, and then ignored, whereas e-mails have the advantage of being instantly ignored. I don't know if the same interception method is used by the White House but I would imagine it is.

Your mention of the Rosenberg response illustrates why localization and decentralization of government is preferable to distant consolidation. Obama or John Kerry or Deval Patrick or whoever---they don't give a shit about anyone, except perhaps in the mass abstract. Whereas Stan Rosenberg or Ellen Story or Claire Higgins may very well stand in line at the supermarket with constituents on any given day and might wind up getting an earful on this or that issue. The longer a politican or bureaucrat has been in office, and the more isolated from the people, the worse government and administration become. It's another reason for term limits (I favor 3 terms for the House, 2 for Senate along with the repeal of the 17th amendment to bring the Senate back under proper control). But we may be already too far down the road to oppression and despotism.

Anonymous said...


Best Blog Post Ever

Anonymous said...

Best Casinos tyuueooru
Download Casino
000 free with your first 20 deposits!
The risks arriving with the gambling has decreased to a great extent after the arrival of free online casino.
[url=]Online Casinos Free[/url]
000 free with your first 20 deposits!
The risks arriving with the gambling has decreased to a great extent after the arrival of free online casino. - Best Online Casino
There are several things to be considered when selecting the best gambling website.