Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Don't Know Karate, But I Do Know Ka-razy

Sitting here working on a new post while listening to Pentagram. What's that you say, dedicated metalist? They're playing at the DNA Lounge on March 24? With Ludicra? Yes fuckin' sir. Shit yeah fuck yeah. Tits on a goat! A very hairy, very scary satanic goat.

Speaking of which, riddle me this, Oedipus: what do you get when you cross Wino of Saint Vitus, Scott Kelly Neurosis, Al Cisneros of Sleep and Om, and the hardest hitting drummer in show business, Dale Crover of the Melvins? You get your motherfucking face melted, that's what!

The doom descends on the Independent on March 7.

Quite the opposite, Dolly had her 9th birthday party at Sky High Sports in Santa Clara, wherein she and a bunch of her friends, well, jumped sky high on a bunch of interconnected trampolines--they've even got them on the walls.

Remember when you were a kid, there was always that neighbor had a trampoline? (Until some kid broke an ankle or ruptured a spleen, then it got dismantled.) Seemed so easy back then--hop, hop, hop, FLIP! Tell you what, it's a lot harder nowadays. That shit is a motherfuckin' workout. I did do a few flips, though none were landed cleanly (and Kristina didn't get them on video--for your edification and my shame).

Speaking of Sky High, there's a Mat Hoffman doc set to drop this year called Mat Hoffman: The Birth of Big Air, produced by Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze, and Johnny Knoxville. Mat's a fuckin' superhero; he's like Wolverine on a bike:

Too bad he doesn't have an adamantium skeleton and super healing powers. (Though he does have dead guy parts.)

Here's another little vid of Dolly, Bo dog, and I at Land's End in SF. Places like this are why I love this city so much: you can still be within city limits, but it's like you're in a lost, primordial world. Sure, there are a lot of people on the trail, but take a few steps off it and you're totally alone at the edge of the world. In NYC, there'd be some dude trying to sell you a hot dog.

The song in this one is "Beach Party Tonight" by Yo La Tengo, in case you were wondering.

Here's a photo of a homeless guy who was sitting on the curb eating as I was having my afternoon coffee with Bo dog. He turned and smiled at me, his shaggy beard coated with bright orange Cheetos dust. He was like a character out of a Miyazaki movie. I think his lunch consisted of Cheetos, Coke, and a jar of that peanut butter and jelly mix--what is it, Goober? He sat down and had a little conversation with himself, or with spirits, or demons, what have you.
Seemed like a happy enough character, I guess. I was pretty much doing the same...sitting there, enjoying my coffee, talking to myself under the guise of talking to the dog. I wouldn't wish insanity on anyone, least of all myself, but there's something to be said about not having to pretend anymore, right?

When he stood up to leave, he dropped a tin box full of treasures on the handicap ramp. Out spilled the cigarette butts he'd scavenged, plus twigs, bits of paper and plastic, and other random detritus. This, of course, would be the perfect time to include some kind of mealy-mouthed reflections on having so much while he had so little, but I'll spare you. Mostly because that's not what I was thinking about. I was thinking about how materialism cuts through all social classes: if Golden Gate Park were on fire, this guy wouldn't leave his spot under a tree without his tin box of Very Important Things, which he stooped and carefully rearranged. He stood up, swept up the scraps of tobacco that had fallen from the half-smoked ends with his shoe, smiled his orange, hairy smile at me again, and walked off.

While we're on the subject of chatting with demons, I think this is a perfect time for a little Roky Erickson:

Three years in the nut bin for one joint. Can you imagine having to plead "not guilty by reason of insanity" to marijuana possession? Texas eats its own.

Roky is coming out with an album called True Love Cast Out All Evil backed by Okkervil River. I guess they've already done some shows together. The following was not one of them:

Speaking of bearded iconoclasts, here's some footage of Daniel Higgs freestylin' at a church in Texas, no less:

Daniel Higgs from Sandy Carson Photography on Vimeo.

"There are a lot of people who ought to be singing a whole lot more than they are these days." "Any sound that comes out of your mouth will not only be acceptable, but it will be perfect. It will be beautiful." I think Dan's getting at the same thing I learned on Sesame Street as a wee tot:

Then my sister, who was constantly singing tunes from Annie at the top of her fuckin' lungs, told me I couldn't carry a tune and shouldn't sing anymore. To think: I could've been the next Sinatra.

The Higgs clip reminds me of Woven Hand (and Sixteen Horsepower). American Gothic. It's the squeezebox--though there is none in the following clip:

Not really sure where this was filmed. Woven Hand can have a kaleidoscopic feeling to them, but in an austere, Victorian way that resembles the fruit-flavored hyper-colored tropes of '60s psychedelia about as much as a difference engine resembles a modern laptop. I think the Frankie Goes to Hollywood lasers might be a bit much.

"There is a sorrow to be desired..." There's a double meaning to that. On the one hand, there is a sorrow to be desirous of. This sorrow could also be called "the artistic temperment," which, in small doses, is the wellspring for creativity, though when out of control leads to ruination, as in Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher."
As Ozzy puts it in "Paranoid":

All day long I think of things, but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify

The urge to create rises from the need to calm a overactive, negatively fixated mind.

The second meaning of "There is a sorrow to be desired" arises when you read it with a harder pause between "sorrow" and "to be desired." The state of being desired--by another--is in itself sorrowful. We all want to be loved and we all want to be happy. However, one doesn't necessarily lead to the other. When someone desires you, they want something from you; they expect something from you. What they want, to a large extent, boils down to consistency: they want you to be the person they fell in love with. Love is all the things the Romantics wrote about; all the things that devolved into Hallmark cards with silhouettes holding hands on deserted beaches; it's Sinatra songs and hour long back rubs. Nonetheless, it's also an attempt to fix someone in time. Love is the burden of existing for the other, of locating a part of the definition of oneself in another person's mind.

Granted, this reading is hyperbole at worst, and already implied at best. To exist at all is to exist in the minds of others. Every relationship in one's life leaves a definition of self in the mind of other. We play roles depending on who is viewing the performance: father, son, lover, enemy, joker, philosopher, and a thousand indeterminate shades in between. Lover seems to be the most rigid--or maybe that's just my hang up. Of course, "to be desired" also means to be lusted for, which, to me, is much less burdensome than to be loved. Lust has a very small, determinate set of expectations, all of which are easy to ignore once the fever is sated. Love demands us to exist as the embodiment of the other's expectations; we can change, sure, but only somewhat: we need to be who we were. Hence, "you're not the same person I fell in love with." Love is security; security is stasis. Again, I might just be bad at it.

The need to "find something to pacify" leads to a fork in the road. Frost's "road less traveled" is the path of creativity. The road more traveled is romantic love. Clearly, it's not an either/or proposition, but to me it sheds light on why great artistic visionaries are often such difficult people. You can create great works about love, great works of love, when you're not busy being in love, being a lover. It's a pressure release valve--the energy is expended through one path or the other.

The writer imagines an audience and the painter imagines a viewer. Still, in no other facet of life are we less beholden to the other, to living up to a fixed image of ourself as defined by someone else, than when we create. The act of creation is an expression of self, it's self love (which is often entangled in self-aggrandizement, when the appreciation for the artifact leads to accolades from "the madding crowd," ex post facto). If love is stasis and living up to expectations, it stands to reason art is narcissism and masturbation. Certainly loose-lipped philosophizing along this vein fits into that category.

I suppose if I had to pick a theme for this entry this late in the game, it'd be "Crazy." On the 16th, a man jumped to his death off the Forever 21 store near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.
Jesus. Talk about panem et circenses. A modern day blood sacrifice for the amusement of the masses, screaming "jump" while they nosh on hot pretzels, free hand clutching shopping bags filled "that really cute dress" from H&M. Clearly, this guy had ceased to allow himself to be defined in the eyes of the other, or he wouldn't have let his epitaph read "wearing only a pair of turquoise boxers." Or maybe that was his final, most spiteful joke of all: wash this out of your eyehole, you bastards. And a momentary buzz flits through Twitter before we head across the street to Old Navy for the jean sale. Two for one? No shit--these will go great with my turquoise boxers.

The same day on the other side of town, a guy was shot in front of a Vietnamese noodle house in the Inner Sunset. Like most murders in the area, this one has been described as "some Asian gangster shit," but it does have some interesting wrinkles--the gunman was ducking in and out of businesses on the street with his gun drawn, looking for the victim, who ultimately walked out from his late lunch to his early funeral.
He shot the victim in full view of two beat cops. Here's the part that didn't make the papers: After they drew down on him and told him to drop his weapon, he shot the guy another two times, then they tackled him. I'm really surprised they didn't shoot the guy after the first shot. This tidbit may or may not be true, but it's clear the guy meant fucking business. There's a piece in the Chron that corroborates the "Asian gangster shit" motive.

I was having coffee a few blocks away when this happened. Clearly death was in the air in San Francisco last Tuesday. Death was literally in the air the day after in Austin, Texas when Joe Stack flew his plane into the local IRS office.
Like many complete fucking lunatics with an ideological ax to grind, he left a wordy manifesto telling the IRS to, among other things, "take my pound of flesh and sleep well." Really, man? I don't even think the IRS is worthy of a pissed off letter referencing Shakespeare, let alone a fiery suicide. Couldn't you have gotten a payment plan or something? If you've still got a private plane, they're obviously not fucking you as bad as they could be.

At this point, I realize this entry has gotten a bit unwieldy. It's an all day sucker of a blog. There was a certain amount of stuff I wanted to write about when I started, but life got in the way over the weekend, and there was a whole lot of work, boozing, and crazy that happened in the interim. The saga of Thomas Bruso and the bus beatdown he doled out on AC Transit has been lighting up the interwebs, for one:

The unrepentant troglodyte kooks on 4chan immediately dubbed Bruso "Epic Beard Man." Which, I must admit, is a fitting appellation. Clearly, the doors to whatever horrific violence Bruso experienced in Vietnam are at least slightly unhinged:

While not entirely content to be another titillated internet rubbernecker to an episode of Sudden Unstoppable Violence, I'll spare you too much commentary on weighty social issues, mostly because it's been done in a more funny way than I can muster on The Smoking Section. Is Epic Beard Man racist? Sure, probably, but in the words of my friend Les, probably more in an "old timer" way than in a malicious way. One can argue that all racism is malicious, but I don't think I'd go that far. Malignant? Certainly--it lies in the breast of America like a tumor.

I think the true moral of the story here is clear: you've got to know when to let shit go. When you have your falling out and your adversary walks to the front of the bus in an effort to avoid confrontation, take this as a perfect moment to shut your pie hole. The gentleman at the receiving end of the face massage, now known on the internet as Coolio and in the streets of Oakland by his Indian name He Who Got Whooped By Old White Guy, does not avail himself of this golden opportunity. I've certainly been guilty of exacerbating situations when I should've shut up and walked away. The real shame here is that Coolio can't shut up even after having his face tenderized: "Next time," he says. "I'll fuck you up." Really? Honestly, for real? I know it helps to soothe the burn of a sore ego--perhaps even stanch a little blood flow--if you can save face, but there comes a time to hang your head and feel like a loser. You just got worked by a guy who orders off the senior menu at Denny's. A samurai would've committed seppuku in this situation.
There comes a time when you've got to ask yourself: "What Would Yukio Mishima Do?"
I'm reminded of the Rapeman lyric: "I suppose I'm not too threatening presently, but wait 'til I start Nautilus." As Bruso, also known as "Tommy Slick" and "Vietnam Tom," says in what is sure to be one of many post title fight interviews, "Don't fuck with senior citizens--they'll surprise you once in awhile."

This interview is noteworthy in that it sheds light on Vietnam Tom as an affable, if not downright grandfatherly individual who recently lost his mother and who has clear problems with reality. I'm not sure where the pre-fight conversation went on that bus ride, but I doubt Coolio is even old enough to have served 18 years in the pen, nor did I see any knife, nor did I see him hit Bruso three times in the face (he didn't have a chance), nor did I see him get knocked out for "22 and a half minutes." As though being forever dubbed "Epic Beard Man" weren't enough, Epic Beard Man has created an even taller, Paul Bunyon-like tall tale for himself.

Basically every aspect of this situation has been blogified half to death, including the dubbing of the insouciant hipster girl "Amber Lamps." I'll leave you with Africano Boi's most amusing breakdown of the situation:

"Just because someone looks weak, defenseless, and old, doesn't mean that they ass is weak, defenseless, and old. You don't need to be fuckin' with everyone." True dat. The ever-so-honorable, completely non-exploitative cats at Wild 94.9 considered arranging an rematch to settle things once and for all:

Though, after interviewing Michael (formerly Coolio) about the situation, they've changed their mind:

His demeanor is incredibly different in this interview. He's soft-spoken and claims to have known "he was going to beat my ass," and that he walked up to the front of the bus to try to calm the situation down. Given the evidence on tape, this does not seem to have been the case. (The girl who filmed the incident, Iyanna Washington, despite egging Michael on to "beat his white ass," plays herself off as a saint as well, denying the video evidence that she stole Ruso's bag--"Go through that shit!"--stating she was merely babysitting his belongings until the authorities arrived.)

And while Michael's claim that he's a "law-abiding citizen" and not a "wannabe gangsta" seems legit enough, he sure seems to "black it up" on the bus when he's had a few drinks. And thus, we're back to the idea of existing in the mind of the other: at that moment on the bus, stung by what he saw as a racist comment, he felt compelled to play act a penny ante version of the 50 Cent thug "I'm a put a foot in your ass" stereotype. (Racism is hurtful, so you've got to "beat his white ass!" "Say it again! Say it again, Pinkie!" White racism is clearly less tasty and street savvy than black racism.) I'm not saying the two would've become fast friends if he'd have stayed closer to reality and been his soft-spoken, law-abiding solid citizen self, but he certainly would've "leaked" a lot less blood.

Epic Beard Man and Coolio are already last week's meme. Let's move on to something else. In design, there's a fine line between "crazy" and "revolutionary," and this concept bike designed by Nikolay Boltachev has crossed it going the wrong direction:
This is the type of shit that looks awesome at the Exploratorium and will win design awards if he ever make a working drive train, but, like most design-based projects, it has completely jettisoned function in the name of form. I don't want to be the crotchety, regressive asshole who thinks bicycle design reached its apex with the penny farthing, but this design will not work on a BMX bike that is ridden like a BMX bike. City cruiser? Maybe. First of all, did we learn nothing from the Kastan Uniblade?
They broke. That look might work for a Cannondale Lefty, but it's not going to hack a 180 off a five stair, let alone anything bigger. Combine this with the fact that the rear of the frame is a uniblade as well, and the force from landings won't be dispersed throught the wheel but focused on one point on the rims, and you've got to be a brave motherfucker to ride that bike--because you're going to end up toothless. Call the ambalamps! Also, you'd better be good at crank slides, because there's nowhere to put pegs (though I suppose you could mount them where the hubs would be on the frame and fork, a la the old S&M Ditch forks and Morales BTS frames).

Speaking of concepts that should have been too fucking ridiculous to ever see the light of day, the flavor geniuses at Coca Cola have come up with this abomination in the eyes of the Lord:
I wish I could say this was an elaborate hoax, but apparently this was test marketed in New Zealand and Los Angeles a couple years ago. Was this momentous occasion presaged by Primus fifteen years prior to its advent? And if you're going for the meaty decadence of bacon, why bother making it diet? Finally, when can we expect Diet Coke with Garlic?

I guess it's better than pati ikan haruan, or "essence of fish" drink, made with real carp!
I love me some fish sauce on my imperial rolls, but this is ridiculous. Sounds like something that would be made by Yu Wan Mei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corp:

"Fish Time Is Success Time!" (Yu Wan Mei is the name of a bogus corp that "bought" the Onion in a self-perpetrated hoax last year. Both the YWM website and the YWM Onion edition are hilarious: "I love the new exciting taste of the Yu Wan Mei line of products," said typical American consumer Robert Smith. "Who knew the discarded parts of the fish were such an undiscovered treasure trove of taste sensation, waiting to be enjoyed by exuberant American consumers such as me?")

Reminds me of Mr. Sparkle:


Ah, fish (and fish by-products). This is a perfect spot for a quiz. What looks more like a human? This fish:
This fish:

Or this Fish:
As the Beastie Boys once so trenchantly intoned: "I got a girl in the castle and one in the pagoda/ You know I got rhymes like Abe Vigoda."

Searching for a way to wrap this behemoth up. Gotta move on from crazy fish to crazy BMXers:

Thanks to the magic of 21st century interweb, transitions are not needed. I'm not sure what's crazier: the forward sliders or the 180 roof gap while firing a handgun. Well, probably the latter. Not sure why I've never tried to incorporate guns into my riding...

Let's shut this fucker down with a forgotten hero of the old school, a guy who did nothings even before Ron Wilkerson nearly killed himself hanging up on one back in 1988. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Trash Can Morgan:

True, his right hand isn't all that extended, but the photo was shot in 1980. Can I get a "what what" for the old school Kuwahara uni and the Z-rims with coaster brake? What about the Oakley 3's and red Comp IIs? Morgan was clearly way ahead of his time. Here he takes the Hucker Clark/Mikey Aitken/Chase Hawk nosedive and gets twisted with it:

Sure, it's not a 360, but it's undeniably rad. Check the lumberjack boots.

[EDIT: Just found out that Bob Osborn, the publisher/creator of the mighty BMX Action magazine, and shooter of the above image, was recently awarded $285,000 when Huggies stole it for their GoodNites diapers]:
Here's the Trashmaster laying it flat:
And, finally, a Kuwahara ad which makes fully apparent the implied connection between getting rad on a BMX bike and receiving free hand jobs from hookers in dark alleyways:
As we like to toast at the Buckshot: "To handjobs!"

S&M did a video where they searched for Anthony Sewell, found him, and sponsored him for the Bakersfield Nationals. Anthony, may he rest in peace, was not only featured on the BMX episode of CHiPs, but was probably the first guy to do what is now called an "old school" or "tuck no hander" (as opposed to a "suicide no hander"), though Ron W. usually gets the credit. (Sorry, Ron--don't mean to shit in your oatmeal.)
Clearly, someone needs to search for Trash Can Morgan and, I don't know, give him a wheelchair he can get rad in. You know he's probably wrecked after years of hard living by now. Legendary bad boy and 1981 ABA Number One Pro Kevin McNeal was discovered living under a tree, ironically next to some dirt jumps, a few years back. Who knows--maybe Trash Can is living in a Dumpster, beating people up on the bus in his spare time.

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