Wednesday, November 01, 2006

novel, interrupted

Get in line punk. I am not giving up on this. But it's about 5th in queue right now.

The Setup

Just before it started raining Los Angeles was full of lifers and homebody types that didn’t think of a world outside California, smug pricks intent on turning L.A. into a ‘real city’, homeless people, cars, and out-of-town money who hated the city. Well, I loved the city.

When it started raining it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Sure, it was a little heavier than usual, but it wasn’t unprecedented. It was still the same purple sky at night, the same sort of misty rain that people from the tropics laugh about. It rained for a long time but that was the way some years went. If it went forty days and forty nights, it wasn’t because of the Bible or even GLOBAL WARMING. It was just an active El Nińo. Or La Nińa. Some weather pattern or another.

After the forty day mark had passed, the city started to be a little more on edge. Rich neighborhoods in Orange County started to empty out. A few houses here and there fell off a cliff or had their roof collapse. It is beyond my level of clear to explain what Scientologists believe, but this wasn’t acceptable to that belief system. Christians wanted to build giant boats, but there still wasn’t a good supply of water to make a boat move.

The Scientologists had always thought I’d make a good mark. They sent me mail. Asked me about my crimes. Asked me to watch movies with them. I was thrilled to find out we finally had the technology available to achieve spiritual freedom, but I still couldn’t afford that technology. And I like drugs. Even when I’m not using them. Still, those people were persistent. I guess it doesn’t matter if you can afford it, they’ll take your money anyway. Which is probably the argument they used to get recognition from the Feds as a proper religion. I understand that took a while.

I had spent the last several years in a hipster neighborhood going corporate. I was not a part of the original hipsterization and I fancied I wasn’t much with the corporate side, either. I was just glomming onto the haircuts to say I was one of them. I was (and am) pretty corporate. I wasn’t dirty enough, in a band enough, or around during the day enough to be one of them. I also didn’t have any money because I had made the mistake of not having rich parents who hated me by paying my rent. Assholes.

In my neighborhood there was not a lot of incentive for people to leave. They threw parties and went to shows and sold paintings that looked bad and similar. The houses were not crumbling any more than usual. There were fewer problems with skunks and coyotes. Less celebrity sightings, to be sure, but they were still out there. Starlets in white t-shirts with no bras. Men with tattoos. Men with white t-shirts and no bras. Eating expensive re-imaginings of proletariat dishes.

At the time I was seeing a girl. She had a rich father. He did not live in, nor did he approve of, Los Angeles. This was from just a little before the rain. She came from the New York area and he thought New Jersey was the right and proper place for her. But he gave her money even when she rebelled. I still don’t know what constitutes a good allowance, but I know that whatever scraps he was giving her far out-weighed any amount I had seen to that point. She decided to start a restaurant. I had met her online. I think me, meeting me online, and starting the restaurant and putting me in charge were all part of her rebellious stage. Maybe a little ridiculous of her to still act out as the rebellious daughter after graduating college and moving 4,000 some miles away. She pushed on with it, though, and it helped me immensely. It still helps me.

When I met her I had the idea it would be easy sex. She led me through everything. She talked and didn’t ask me to. She wanted to go places and do things without asking me what I thought. She even made the first few moves on me to make sex happen. When it finally did all over her shirt she was even cordial about that. Not excited, though. She must have been seeing other guys at that point. I couldn’t get her on the phone very often but I was always there for her call. Then and now my phones don’t see a lot of action. And I’ve always gotten too focused on things when I want them.

Los Angeles was for almost a century the center of the entertainment universe. People still plan on what will happen when “things get back to normal.” I liked it when someone went on television to espouse the theory that the rains were actually the rebirth and revenge of the L.A. River. Somehow Chinatown was the sacred text this knowledge drew from. Ha! That movie was stupid. I hate sheep and I hate Jack Nicholson. I don’t think the entertainers are coming back from Australia.

I was married to the girl[1] for a good long while. She had a mean streak long enough to live my life through it. I got a career, a house, a child, a car and in-laws who hated me. It was all great story fodder and made me feel important. I don’t feel important anymore but I did once. I suppose I owe a life that I lived to her. Great. If I were religious I would now start praying.

I am not a chef. I am not trained as a chef. I am not a numbers man. I never did any more mathematics than was required of me in order to graduate from college. It’s highly debatable that I have any facility to manage people or even remain friendly and/or professional with them. Well, maybe that stretches credulity to say it’s highly debatable. There is not a lot of debate on the side of the argument that says I am those things. Forgive my sportscasteristic use of language. I am a sot and at times a bully and I don’t do well to keep friends or business acquaintances. That wasn’t so hard.

I point out my traits in white shadow in order to set up what I am, or rather, what I was. I ran a rather successful restaurant where I was in charge of hiring and firing people, setting a menu, ordering stock, balancing schedules. It is nuts to think I pulled that off of my own volition. If it had been up to me when I was 29 I would have spent the last several decades doing the same thing I am doing[2] right this instant. It was all because of my wife. In spite of what you know about me to this point, fractious and self-loathing information I am putting forth, I feel it is important to note that I do not feel particularly thankful to my ex-wife for all the wonderful opportunities and travel destinations she afforded me. Affords me. I feel resentful towards her is all. Everything, every sham, every day she spent with me was motivated out of revenge. And I know, I knew, that she didn’t ever like me. Our sex life was awful and I took it because I like having bad sex more than I like only being able to masturbate. And that’s an important line of demarcation. I really prefer masturbation to intercourse, but I like to have my options open. I am a bad person. But that doesn’t make her a better person and it doesn’t mean I’m wrong to hate her. Me me me I me. There, I said it.

When it had been raining for a few months people started selling their cars and moving. It took a lot longer for a mass migration than one would imagine. People dig in and hold on. After years of hearing about property values it would be foolish not to take advantage while those values were low. Even if it was a crapshoot the foundation could withstand any more rainy days. Surprising, really, how many places outlasted their owners. In a manner of thought.

There have been technological breakthroughs that amounted to nothing. The idea of a paradigm shift is a joke. People are apes that like to kill things. That doesn’t set us apart from other apes. Neither does talking about how we feel, or even the fact that we do feel. You can’t “used-to-be” what you are now and always have been. We are apes, evolution be damned. And we still can’t stop it from raining.

Transportation in Los Angeles finally straightened out once the people left. The river came back (not long after the jackass explained the “Ethereal River”) and swamped a bunch of poor people. It isn’t prettier now because it is full and the sides aren’t made out of concrete. We still don’t have any monkeys or lilies on the river, so it is useless. There are new-age gondolas we called Aqua Taxis until they were just taxis. There are very angry and muscular looking helicopters that don’t pollute much but kill people with the same frequency as a light civil war. Almost every day, but not in droves. I am not horrified anymore. Not at the decapitations on the helicopter platforms, not at the loneliness in the world, not at starvation or drowning. Surprise is dead and so is my city.

It’s good now to see the beliefs that were prevalent among the religious and the secular are so ridiculous in hindsight and it has only been a few years. From Socrates to Constantine to David Koresh, in between from the Scopes trial and backwards, there is one universal truth that all God-fearing savages should relate to: Never trust a religious man even when he is agreeing with you. The shape of the world, the consistency of matter, the effects of global warming, the creation of the universe (twice), entertainment at home and at orgies, the infallibility of Allan Greenspan: all of these things have washed out in Los Angeles in a mere forty years. Other places, too, but I don’t go to other places enough to care what they have.



[1] See above (ppg 2-3).

[2] Playing with myself with one hand while typing with the other.

badly written story

Yeah, the headline is right. I don't like this. And I can't get my picture into my profile because my brain is wearing prophylactics. I'm not very fat. I'm not sure this story elucidates it's plotline or it's details very clearly.

The Most Boring Girl In The World

I didn’t wake up to the phone ringing. I really only heard it ring one time. I knew it had been ringing when I got out of the shower, but I didn’t touch it. I assumed it was my brother calling. He must have made it back to Los Angeles with every intention of re-casting our loving crack home from a few years earlier. I couldn’t understand the message that was left on my machine, it just said “Collect call walla walla jail.”

I can’t remember the name of the girl I was going to see. She had told me something in her email. I knew it then, but it’s gone. She’d posted something on craigslist about meeting up for lunch. She had never tried some local favorite that she had always meant to try and that I had never tried even though I meant to. I sent her a picture. She sent me a picture. It was all very agreeable.

I had just broken up with a long term (2+ years) girlfriend and wanted something to do. Needed to make some announcement to myself that the end had indeed been met. We’d broken up at least a dozen times and gotten back together within a week every time. Well, it had been more than a week this time. And we hadn’t spoken. Not even e-mailed. It was over.

It never seems like a good idea to me to show up too early for anything. Especially if that anything involves a girl. I’m so obviously desperate there’s no reason to play it up. Unfortunately, after I’d parked my car I still had 15 minutes to kill. I went and sat down at a bus stop and watched people go by. I saw a brown-haired girl and avoided eye contact because she looked cute. I’m a winner like that. The thought flashed in my mind that it might be the girl I was meeting, but (even though her picture didn’t have these features) I had expected a moustache or, at least, a hair lip.

After a couple of minutes I decided it was better to be early and desperate than to be on time and sweating, so I got out of the sun and trudged the block over. There was a little bit of a line but the brown-haired girl from earlier was at the counter with an empty seat. She saw me, looked me over and I realized this was, after all, my date for lunch. I introduced myself, “Is you’re name…?”

She told me her name and the universe seemed loving and giving. She had the kind of name no one could forget once they hear it. She didn’t write it down in her email to me because everyone mispronounced it and besides, she had given me her nickname, at the very least. Oh, well, of course I understood. You wouldn’t want awkward introductions.

Have you seen the menu? Do you know what you’re ordering? We had both studied the menu intensely because, well, we didn’t have anything to say to each other just yet. Neither one of us was trying very hard but I wasn’t worried.

She ordered something and I ordered something. Neither one of us was thrilled with the other’s plate. Just as well, she announced. She had just gotten over mono. I wasn’t thrilled with that either but let it go. Good story? No, she didn’t want to tell.

We ate and dawdled. Talked easily. Conversation good enough to keep going but not opening too many doors. I told her I was a writer. A fallen film student and hope-to-be novelist. This brightened her up. She told me about how she had just gone to Europe to study… something. And she had stayed somewhere old. It might even be famous. I thought this would be a door to adventure. I pursued this line.

While she was in Europe, the first two weeks it rained so she didn’t get to do much. Then, one night she went to a club with her friend! They didn’t meet anyone, nobody bought them drinks, and they left. The next day she had a cold. She felt bad but kept about her studies. That was the reason she was there. But she was tired the whole time. She slept most of four weeks. Before she came back to America she went to a doctor. The doctor told her she had mono.

This is a general outline of the story. It went on much longer than this, filled in with colorful details of not doing anything. Which was a really great conversation. By the end I had my face in my hand and wasn’t saying anything. Poor girl. She could taste the disappointment. When we got up to pay, I got the whole check and reached out warmly to shake her hand. Yeah, we should totally do something again and stuff. Great.

I walked away, got in my car, and promptly forgot her name. She’s pretty, she’ll be okay, I guess. I will never call her again but someone will. About an hour after I got home my phone rang. My ex-girlfriend calling. No apologies, no re-ups accepted! I resolved to myself to stand strong before answering.

“You are the worst person in the world!” It turned out it was her calling from jail. She’d gotten a DUI the night before and thought I’d be the one to bail her out. I guess from her side of the phone they kept telling her I was rejecting the charges. So that’s what happens when the collect call meets the voicemail. Fascinating. Ah, well, certainly no reconciliations now. She had finally broken down and called her mother. If I remember correctly she threatened to send someone over to beat my ass. The final nail in the coffin was placed by the cops and hammered home by the most boring girl in the world. I took a nap and then went to a friend’s house to watch football.

Monday, October 23, 2006

altar boy post

I don't have any intention of keeping this title. But it is what it is for now. The names are not their real names. Any and all comments would be welcome.

The Story of My Religion

I was born under the most Catholic of circumstances. I am the youngest child in a family of ten. The seventh son dimension plays more to gypsy magic than anything I’ve ever heard in the lore of the world’s largest religion but I was born in a Catholic hospital. My mother is descended from conquistadors (though maybe not the most ambitious of that ilk) and my father from Irish folks. I went to Catholic schools from the time I started to the day I graduated high school. I am confirmed.

When I was in grade school I was an altar boy. I tell the joke now that I felt a lot of peer pressure to have sex because my friends all started so young but I don’t have any memories of anything bad happening to me in that time. I remember being sort of creeped out by the priests (and the nuns) at my school but I’m not sure that isn’t an ordinary function of growing up. Being creeped out by adults/authority figures, I mean. I also distrusted any peer of mine who put too much effort into school or church.

My brothers put it into my head early that anything wrong you could get away with would probably be fun. We had a hidden bottle of whiskey somewhere. We shoplifted candy. I stole a tape for my brother’s birthday once so I could take the money to spend on some other long since forgotten treasure. Probably football cards. I got into a fight once so that I could show off to my brothers as we walked home from school. Well, I punched a kid anyway. He was older than me and sort of a bully so I felt good about it.

I dreaded being an altar boy. I knew I was stuck with it as soon as third grade started. I hated school and I hated church and altar service somehow seemed to combine the two. I had to get up even earlier on weekdays and go to church up to 5 times a week.

There was a meeting to indoctrinate the newbies. I found out who among my classmates had crazy, religious parents. It was a fraternity of shame to my way of thinking. Kids grew my esteem by appearing none to eager to be in the church that night. It occurred to me, also, that the same kids who I saw at abortion protests were here with me. It amazes me now how zealous you can appear as a child without really believing anything. We got smocks and learned to tie ropes around them. We learned how to light candles and turn pages in the Bible. They told us how to walk solemnly and wash the priest’s hands after Blessed Sacrament. We were shown around the sacristy, where the wine was, where the priests hung out before going onstage, etc. It felt like doom walking out of the building. A new school year was starting next week and this was coming right along with it.

I wasn’t mistaken in the notion that being an altar boy was going to be a horror show. I really did hate it. I hated opening the book. I hated waking up early. I hated having any responsibility at all. And I still hated church. My brothers showed me early on that it was easy to steal wine before bringing it out. It didn’t taste bad to me. I didn’t get loaded on it but there were stories of kids that did. Looking back it’s probable that the priests were complicit in this scheme. Culpable, even.

There are two priests, Father Andrew and Father Richards, that tower over the rest of my recollections from altar service. Father Andrew was the young, hipster priest. He brought candy to church and gave it to kids. He took the altar boys to King’s Dominion in the summer. He had once set a Guinness World Record for riding a roller coaster the most consecutive times without going crazy and jumping off. Father Richards was the pastor. He was stern and angry. As far as anyone could tell he didn’t like kids at all. His red hair and orange eyebrows must have been a physical representation of the fire and brimstone that churned in his imagination. He scared people. He scared me. He still does.

When I first started being an altar boy, I wasn’t too sure about the idea of stealing wine or communion wafers. Not that it seemed like a bad idea to have those commodities, god knows why, but because it seemed like the priests were eternally hovering around the room with the refrigerator. It would be suicidal. It’s impossible (isn’t it?) that the priests would be allowed to spank children, pull down their pants and spank their bare asses, when some of these kids belonged to lawyers and politicians. But I’m pretty sure that was one of the things I feared. I don’t know what else it could have been. Cops? Grounding?

Whenever it was that I figured out it was okay to sip from the cheap wine (was the blood of Christ made from the urine of a wine-o whose preferences ran towards rubbing alcohol?), I took to it quickly. I got used to drinking from the bottle that wasn’t going to be used. I even added water once in a while to keep the level the same. The network of altar boys had stories of friends who had been drunk and gotten away, boys that had been drunk and been caught, goodie-goodie no-account jerks that were secretly sauced half the time they served. There was discussion among the lot of us as to whether or not any of the priests were the wiser for our shenanigans. Whether or not the priests could do anything if they knew. If getting caught might not be a bad way to have your parents stop sending you to altar service or even, please god let us all hope, have you transferred to another school. There were discussions about Saturday morning cartoons. I have no recollection of any conversation ever condemning the use of alcohol in the changing rooms. Maybe a joke here and there about sinning and burning in hell, but no piety.

I didn’t have any friends from other schools as a child. I barely had any friends in school. I don’t think I developed any particular self-esteem issues until later in life, I just didn’t socialize that much. Still, it was a secret goal my whole life, even well into high school, to transfer schools. Something seemed so exotic and fresh and open about another school. Likely I could not have had a worse situation for myself than to transfer schools. But I dreamed it all the same. Different kids to hang out with. Different, prettier girls. Maybe it would even be a public school with no nuns.

Sometimes in your life you do something that sticks with you. You encounter some presence that doesn’t imprint itself immediately with a “why” but which somehow, nonetheless, becomes important. Either as an image or as a feeling.

We were sent into the church two by two. Every mass during the week required two altar boys and on Sunday there would be three of us. We had a schedule posted each month that told us what days we would be serving. Some of the boys were notorious for not showing up. Some of the boys were obnoxious jerks that really believed in religion. Some of them were just regular dorks that you could get along with. Some were a combination of traits.

I had gauged the current schedule properly. It was a Saturday morning and my partner had not shown. I was going to be serving alone. It was fine by me. I would stumble through it with Father Richards. He would sneer at me. He would look disdainful. I wouldn’t care and then I would walk home.

Everything went according to plan. He sneered. I turned my head down to look serious. I went into the sacristy and took off my robe, laughed to myself (I’ve always secretly and not-so-secretly enjoyed it when I mess something up), and noticed the wine left out. I looked into the priest room and saw robes flying about and could hear the movement of Father Richards. I had some time to get in a swig or two of briny, dry, spit-lubricated wine. I pulled the stopper out and drank of it. Mmmm, blessed wine. I was taking a full slug when I heard feet moving over the marble flooring. I put the bottle down as fast as I could and closed it, but he was in the room by the time I was done. Here I would confront face to face what seemed like some sort of certain death. I looked back saucer-eyed. I didn’t say a word, tried to act normal. He surprised me by smiling.

“Why don’t you finish it off? There isn’t that much left?”

I smiled. I declined the offer and he walked back into his quarters. I had gotten off with no repercussions. I walked out of the church and walked home. I was made of Teflon.

Later that day I related my peril and salvation to my brothers. They were a little stunned the same way I was. It was good news. A few weeks later, the story must have gotten around; two boys were punished in some unknown way that made them cry when they openly swilled from the crystal containing Christ’s essence. The boys came out crying. Father Richards was not, contrary to my first-hand knowledge, a very nice guy. He really let them have it. My faculty for language might not have had the question posed as such but I wondered about the duplicity of the man. How had it been alright for me and not those two older boys? Did he just think they were pricks and I was an okay guy?

This story was never something I considered pivotal in my life. It did not send me into a spiral of questioning. I was at that point, if anything, well on my way to a life of smugly assured atheism. If God and Jesus and all those angels existed they were going to have to convince me on my day of reckoning that there was any reason for We-The-People-On-Earth to understand or even wonder over their plans for us. Still, I had this scene in the back of my head for a long time of Father Richards just kind of smiling at me. I hadn’t attached a particular significance to it, just held onto it.

One day a few years ago, when the stories about Catholic priests fondling and molesting boys en masse (no pun intended) were all over the front pages, I wondered aloud to my brother Tom whether or not any of our friends and brothers had been molested. He told me that it was more likely than not. He told me about the ex-model priest who committed suicide. There were lots of arrests of priests we had known.

I asked about Father Andrew. It always seemed to me that the “cool” priest was more likely to molest kids than any of the others. He hadn’t been arrested but he had been on the news for having visions of Mary. Father Richards got arrested, though. He had been a major pedophile. After he left our church he went somewhere not to far away and molested a bunch of altar boys.

I don’t trust grand pronouncements. I have trouble planning one day to the next, let alone budgeting for bills, and don’t even consider longer term ramifications. Still, it would take a catastrophic change in the chemistry of my mind to ever consider supporting the church. I have left God, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Church and all the clergy far behind me in my systems of thought. I will likely not die under the same circumstances of Catholicism under which I came into the world.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

SEX AND MOTORCYCLES

She likes motorcycles. Thinks they’re sexy. Thinks it’s sexy for a guy to be on a motorcycle. It’s a cock with wheels to her. I understand she isn’t alone.

I’ve ridden a motorcycle before. I didn’t crash. My brother crashed that bike. It might have been the same day. It was my cousin’s bike. I’ve never owned a bicycle but I didn’t crash the motorcycle. I guess that’s good luck.

She wants me to ride a Harley. I’m not sure I can stomach it, though. No matter how much sex it brings. I barely keep upright on four wheels and I drift when I drive.

Sometimes we drive out to the water. I like the ocean but I think she’s waiting for the inevitable rally. There’s always a rally at the ocean. Afterwards, when she shows me affection, I always ignore everything and assume her affection is genuinely stored up for me. I guess I doubt it now, though.

When we shoot guns I’d like to believe that she is aiming at the stuffed animals and paper targets without thinking of me. It bothers me to think of her shooting at me. I’ve seen her shoot. I’m pretty sure if it were me, and not the imaginary me personified by the stuffed animals, that she would hit me in the head. And that would make my brain explode. I would not like that very much. To have my brain explode. It would hurt. I’m sure of it.

When she talks about motorcycles I’m pretty sure that she hates me. I am not a cock with wheels. I am not; I’m sure, associated with cock in her mind. I don’t think she’s even fucking anyone else. It’s just that I am in a separate brain region from cocks and fucking even while she fucks me.

It could be that I am not her ideal. Some tattooed redneck or some cholo on a classic Indian is who she wishes she could be with every night. I have never even attempted rape. So I more or less am a castrati to her.

When she wakes up I am fine. Mornings, at least when you are awake and out of bed, are more safe. No one wants to be lonely making breakfast. It’s nighttime, the mating hours that are a problem. We end up in the same positions, saying the same things, doing the same cleanups, and making the same apologies. If she doesn’t wish I rode a bike she wishes I was a bike. She rides me that way. It’s not a question. It’s not a problem. It just is.

SEX AND GUNS

This used to be on sexgunsandmotorcycles.com and I'm not kidding. What makes me feel uneasy is that I can't find it anymore. Well, the one called SEX AND MOTORCYCLES used to be on that site, too. I'm not looking very hard, though. Maybe there is an archive on there and I don't know where. Bill? I'm not linking to your site if I'm not even on it anymore.


SEX AND GUNS

“Shove your gun in me and pull the trigger.”

-She wants to write porn but writes songs. She hates sex really. It is something to tolerate. At least the way I do it.

“There are necessary evils,” she says. She says it with a laugh that is meant to be teasing. She wants me to know that she is in on the joke. Only – I can see the boredom and feel the quiet need to get me out of her. She says she has never come in her life. I can’t imagine I would like sex much if that were me.

-We go to the shooting range to get her turned on. She likes guns, adores the violence of report. Probably she dreams I am a sedentary target. As slothful as I am I still think I might duck if someone were shooting at me. I like shooting the guns, too, so maybe I am reading too much into her.

-To be honest, the sex is not all that great. Her tongue shoots into my mouth. It feels like a rectangular piece of metal. Her kisses are horrible. And her pussy is dry like an un-lubricated condom or some dried house paint. It tastes like vinegar that has been used for pickling. It is not a clean taste. I do not enjoy her as much as I should.

- One day when we are older, maybe not too much older, we will admit that we do not like having sex with each other. It is to be hoped that we will be married and will then start having sex with other people. It is my sincere desire that we continue to be married and continue going to the shooting range until we both die.

gibberish

I'm reading this book The End of Faith by Sam Harris. I wrote this down as a note to myself a couple months ago and when I "discovered" it in my documents it seemed to ring something of a bell. God, I should win awards and have book deals, too. Jesus.

I know this to be the case but I just want to clarify and organize it. You believe in an invisible giant who created the universe and everything in it, set all of life in motion, is able to see and is actively watching every atom from one side of space to the other and is keeping a check sheet of every single deed, action, word or thought put forth (or held within) for every single organism that exists, and who is going to burn for eternity any and every one of those creatures or things that dares to defy the laws said giant has given even though there seems to be a massive miscommunication which leads to a different set of instructions being handed out to different sets of people at least in this world, and who has it as his (for lack of a better word) sole intention to have every single one of his creations sitting around praising him and ‘glorifying’ him until such time as he decides to wipe them all out and just have heaven left. This all makes sense to you and yet you somehow can not fathom a system of logic wherein the sun and the moon deserve devotion. This seems laughable to me. And this is without even touching on the soul, birth, death, afterlife cycle. Which somehow precludes reincarnation.

Monday, January 16, 2006

TECMO (not sure I own the copyright to this, but I never got paid for it)

Tecmo Super Bowl: The Birth of Competitive Sports Games
(a.k.a. "Why Ninja Gai-Den Sucks")

OK, I have to admit that I have never actually picked up a controller to try out the new Ninja Gai-Den on any platform, but the new game is following in some very large Tecmo footsteps. And I don’t mean the footsteps of the original series for arcade or Nintendo. I mean the footsteps for a game that towers above all others, particularly those developed by Tecmo, the game that brought competitive gaming to the greatest heights which have yet been scaled by man: Tecmo Super Bowl. Every platform game that’s come since is trying to attain that perfection. It’s the Siddhartha Gautama of video games.


What made the second Tecmo NFL game so perfect and, ultimately, unbeatable? Certainly fortuitous timing plays a major part. It was a huge hit for the first generation of kids that really came up as gamers.

It came along just as games really began to accelerate in graphics capabilities; go back and compare NFL from 1989, Tecmo Super Bowl from 1990, and John Madden Football from 1992. And it caught the cultural crest of the first wave of athletes to double as media-savvy superstars. Why does this matter? Let’s go back to 1990.
George Bush was president. We were gearing up as a country for a War! (with a capital ‘W’) Our economy was tanking, and our video games still promoted active imaginations. You had to really try to believe those giant square pixels were people or animals or cars or whatever and, most notably, sports games stunk. Nobody ever missed a real game or stayed home from football practice to play Tecmo Bowl. It was a fun game, and was the first NFLPA licensed game to hit the NES, but it wasn’t a life-altering experience. That game didn’t even have all 28 teams, much less keep stats on passing, rushing, receiving, and, um, special teams. But the second you stuck in that cartridge and laid eyes on the blue-lipped, bug-eyed, crack addicted cartoon versions of NFL players that came out of Super Tecmo Bowl, there was never a reason to watch the NFL again. Except to scout out players for the next crop of video games of course. It was the opening salvo of a revolution in sports gaming.

Pretty much anyone who was playing video games at the time remembers Tecmo Super Bowl as the pinnacle of childhood bonding. For the first time, anyone’s favorite team could play, and almost anyone’s favorite players could represent, unless your favorite player rode bench. There were no substitutions and there were no trades.(Remember when Sportstalk Football for Sega had those commercials with Joe Montana playing for any team on the planet?) What there were, in abundance, were stats. Statistics were kept in every category except blocking. It took years for any company to pick up the slack and start tracking stats for special teams again. Stats lead to trash talking, which then lead to arguments, which then lead to more games, and finally lead to a huge body of shared experience among friends and family. See how we grew up with this game? Entire weekends were swallowed by it.


There were only four plays on offense: two passing plays and two rushing plays. This strategy never works in the NFL (except for the ’95 Dallas Cowboys, who might’ve only had three plays), but were more than enough to gain as much as 1200 passing yards in a Tecmo game using the 49ers. If you want offensive production, that’s way better than the NFL. The NFL record is 554 passing yards in a game.

How could that work out? Some players were just ridiculous. Jerry Rice and Bo Jackson are the most memorable. No figure in the history of sports, or video games, can hold a candle to the memories of Tecmo Bo. He could score at any time. I used to purposefully make my kick-off return player go out of bounds at the 1-yard line just to gain more yards with Bo. Everyone I know did the same thing.


The only thing Bo couldn’t do from the 1-yard line was get a cool animation scene. That’s why Jerry Rice gets mentioned with Bo. You could do the 1-yard line trick with the 49ers, chuck it to Rice and sit back and wait for the scene of him jumping 300 feet into the air to catch it and then run the rest of the way for a score. It was exhilarating.

Ever since Tecmo’s shining moment (the original Ninja Gai-Den hit arcades around the same time as the original Tecmo Bowl), the line between video games and sports has steadily blurred. The greatest accomplishment (curse) an athlete can achieve now is, arguably, the cover of a video game. This is a far cry from the generic players that graced the covers of Tecmo’s original line.

It’s hard to explain the enigma that is Super Tecmo Bowl, but ask anyone that lived through those days: zubasz was always for rednecks and trailer trash but a lot of otherwise normal people did have mullety hair. Also, nobody can ever make a game to change your life the way Super Tecmo Bowl did. Madden may have replaced it on shelves, but never took it out of our hearts.

By
Steven Starkweather

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How Bad Can One Filmmaker Suck?

Nick Broomfield makes terrible, unwatchable documentaries. Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac, and Aileen Wuornos: Selling of a Serial Killer are some of the worst things I have ever seen. Shoddy reportage, weak framing, boring set-ups (if there are any set-ups) and overplayed subjects (read the list of titles). Having said all this, he is my ultimate hero. How do you keep finding funds for your nonsense, Nick Broomfield? Do the people you solicit for money require they be shown your finished product? Do any of them want to pony up to get AWOL off the ground?

I realize this is far removed from the other stuff I've posted, but I don't know if I want a discussion here. Post comments if you must, but I want it posted on record that I hate everything I've ever seen from this guy. Also, I can make some pretty good chili. So there.

Friday, January 06, 2006

INTRO & CHAPTER 1 OF BOOK I STOPPED THINKING ABOUT(This is most of what's been written)

ARTISTE

INTRODUCTION

This is pornography. You are only reading it because you can not look at it. It is only interesting because it involves bloody carnage, money, and nudity. There is no vital information to be gleaned from reading this. No higher purpose, no life calling, no cautionary wisdom, and no caustic rebuke of general mores is to be found on this page or any that follow. It is just a story told in straightforward, factual reportage. It concerns a man raised in money who grew to become even more successful in his father’s business than said father had been. This one is for prurient interests. Please don’t find anything else here. There will be pictures.

When William Bush was a young man, he made a name for himself as the socialite brat son of a well known installation artist, Georgie Bush. While Georgie was bringing in a fortune by placing mimes next to a desk, his son W. was out enjoying the nightlife that New York had to offer. By the time Georgie had pieced together a living room in a gallery of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, thus achieving billionaire’s status, W. was busying himself in a gay bar along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, during the early 90s rush among the glitterati to “go gay”. It was this implicit condoning of gay marriage that nearly toppled Georgie’s reign. But few things are as inevitable as an installation artist becoming staunchly wealthy. In the end W. recanted and publicly agreed that gay marriage would bring about the downfall of U.S.ian civilization. His little rich friends agreed, and thus Osama Bin Laden was defeated in the greatest battle in the War On Terror I, The Gay Marriage Amendment.

Nobody could accuse Georgie of not raising his boy with the proper respect for humanity. W. finally achieved respectable status in his own right several years later, with his now classic painting/mixed-media-piece “Hobo Who Got Stabbed In The Chest, Drowned In Sulfuric Acid & Melted”.

The questions that now surround the life of W. Bush are a sad turn of events for the man once hailed as “The Prince oF Pop Art” (Time Magazine, 1994). At what point did killing homeless people go from concept-kitsch to over-bearing bore? Is it really fair for a celebrity to fake his own death in a Pay-Per-View spectacle? Doesn’t the glamour-loving public deserve more? Or is First Amendment Constitutional double-speak about “free speech” (Los Angeles Times, May, 31 2003) more than just a string of syllables?

One thing is certain. W. Bush killed a lot of people. He was an innovator at a time when less corporal artists stood around doing nothing. And he was an American original. Nowhere else in the world could he have bought the modified Hummer H2 that he used to kill David Justice and seal him in a mylar pouch with lifetime statistics sewn onto the back (“Baseball Card”, currently exhibited in the Hague).

What is not so certain is what part W. played in cleaning up the rampant drug use in the professional athletic community. As well, what part did he play in stopping global warming? Ergo, did he actually do any of the things he took credit for? Aside from killing a bunch of homeless people? How much does any of this have to do with the actual story? Very much less than one might imagine.
Enjoy


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Chapter One – In The Beginning…

The night began at a party in the Hollywood Hills home of actor David Gourmet, grand-nephew of Edith Gourmet. He had decided to bring together the world of Young art and the world of young Hollywood. He succeeded in a way he had never dreamed possible.

It was a cool autumn night in a sleepy City of Angels. Winds rushed through the Canyon as though God himself were having a huge asthma attack brought on by the stress of bringing his most prized creations, celebrities, together for a night of revelry. He had to top his last outing, and now things were very cold as W. Bush drove his brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee along Mulholland Drive to the Valley-side home of his boyhood friend David.That date, October 16, held a special significance for the boys already. It was the day they had met, lo so many year a-prior (5 years), at the Santa Monica Crossroads school. David was on his way to an art class when he tripped over a sleeping W., who was in deep concentration preparing for an acting class. The irony of this chance meeting was not lost on the two, who had made it a year-marker. This particular year, they had invited many A-List guests to ring in their “New Year” together. Even though each man had his share of homosexual moments, it is not clear whether or not they have ever shared anything more than a passing sexual bond.

“W. wasn’t really a gay man, so much as he was an opportunist”

David Gourmet now resides in a California penal colony in the dusty backroads just south and east of Santa Barbara. Even though he has been in prison for “14 years, 6 months, and 13 days”, as he states repeatedly in our 3 days together, he still maintains a modicum of the youthful boyishness that made him so attractive to the teenage girls (and boys) of this country. He will be free on or around May 27th, 2007. It is a hard road to plow for this child of priviledge. Where he used to beg the pretty boys at The Prison (a high concept bar that ruled the club scene of Los Angeles for three weeks in 1987) for oral sex, he is now forced to perform fellatio on 400-lb men with syphilis. His neck is green with advanced syphilis of the throat. If he survives the next several years inside, noone can say how long he will survive once he is out. His once booming finances have certainly dwindled. Whoa is he.

“I remember when W. was happy just to get his picture in the WeHo Art Sheet. He’d scamper around the prison looking for boys to dance with just so he could get his picture taken. He wasn’t gay, just thought-provoking.”

David lights a cigarette, stares into the distance for a moment, takes a long drag, stares for a moment, then takes another drag. What is amazing is that he never exhales. The smoke escapes through several holes in his throat on the way down. He never really gets much of a nicotine fix.

“It was thought, at the time, that to be an important new artis you had to be die-hard gay. W. wanted to be important more than anything else in the world. His commitment to that idea sustained him through many an ass-plugging. All of us knew he wasn’t gay, so we would plow his ass unnecessarily hard every chance we got. Even though most of us didn’t like anal sex. I still don’t much care for it.”

He motions to his throat. I don’t know what the syphilis in his throat has to do with anal sex, but I nod and laugh. A moment passes between us.

“He never hit me.”

This small fact may have ultimately been the spring board for W. to escape the fun-boy ghetto of glamorous art and become an MTV icon. It definitely kept him out of jail.

As that fateful night began in earnest, there were about 3000 people crammed into David’s 2436 square foot home. Some of them were crushed and killed within seconds of entering the party. Paramedics waited outside, helplessly, while more hangers-on and pseudo-celebrity stragglers attempted to enter “The Main Event”. There were other parties around town to celebrate the meeting of these two momentous characters, but most of them were in dark church cellars, with prayers being sent up to the lord like kites every 13 minutes. The Hollywood Hills home of one of the two greaties was absolutely the hot spot.

As David and W. sat above the fray, lounging in near isolation on David 16’x 22’ mattress, W. turned to his old friend and let out a secret. It till haunts Mr. Gourmet to this day and, to this day, he will still not reveal what was said.

“He turned to me and told me that he believed in Jesus and that, under the One True Cross, he, William Bush, would become more famous than anyone – certainly any other painter – had ever been. And he would do it by destroying the devil.Now, you have to understand, up to this point in human history the devil is still seen rather benignly. Sure he plays gags on people, like telling little kids to go eat poop, but he’s a harmless prankster really. He’s this huge religious figure with this huge following of fans, but nobody believed he was really evil.But Georgie, W.’s father, had really had a profound impact on his boy. It’s too bad, I always thought he took more after his mom until that point.”

Georgie Bush was part of a radical Christian sect that had sought out the devil in all his many guises with the big idea being that the devil could be killed while he was wearing a white robe. What has never been made public is whether it was Georgie or The Devil who would need to be wearing the white robe. If you read the first sentence in this paragraph it isn’t really ever made clear. That’s the secret that David Gourmet holds, and he will probably take it to the grave.

It was at that point in the party that W.’s plan for cultural domination became clear to David and the several onlookers who were in the room not saying anything.Todd Grace was one of those onlookers. She remembers it like it was yesterday.“Just like it was yesterday.

”With a little prodding I explain to her that I wasn’t intending my question as a simple yes or know. “Do you remember what happened?”

“David was kind of tuggin’ at W.’s pants bottom, right around the ass, y’know? And he starts to shiver. David, I mean. I guess W. had let one go and didn’t tell anyone. He thought he was top of the cats pajamas, that one did. So David recoils, and we all gasped, you know, ‘cause we knew David was thinking he could just assault W.’s asshole. And W. had a different idea.”

Todd Grace is a woman with an ironically masculine name. Even though she is barely 40 years old, she has picked up all the annoying speech traits of an 85-year old. She also has the teeth and hearing of an 85-year old, and I assume those things are all related. On her driver’s license, her age is listed as 85, but she is only 40.

Even though they basically told the same story about this moment, I feel it is necessary to cut between the interviews of both Todd and David. It uses all my sources and makes this book seem much more thoroughly researched.

David stretches out his long thin frame. He still looks like a movie idol at times like this. He is reclining on a bench in the common area of the prison. One suspects that there is no reason for David to stay in prison. The guards barely notice him, and the door to his cell is never even locked. Still, he tried to walk out once and got shot in the foot. Never again.

“So W.’s sitting on my bed, and I tug at his pants bottom…”

Lost in David’s still ever-so-dreamy eyes, I had forgotten what he was talking about. With razor-sharp precision I am able to finally remember just in the nick of time. He is telling me about Georgie’s announcement of his plan to become a big huge celebrity. A plan that apparently worked all too well.

“He turns to me and says, ‘David, there’s a lot of dead people down on your front lawn.’ I just smiled and put on a goofy Southern accent, because what gay boy can resist a Southern cowboy? I said to him, ‘I reckon there maught bee.’ He didn’t laugh, but…”

“We all cracked up! Heaven’s to Betsy!”

Thanks, Todd.

“He just looks at me for a moment. Maybe 5 seconds, this moment was. And he says, he says, ‘I should go down and paint them.’ I thought he was gonna take a picture or draw a sketch and go home and paint that as a picture.

”No, thank you, David!"

According to witnesses and news reports, including the New York Times group interview with the security guards at the party (December 21, 1993), what W. did was walk downstairs from the bedroom to the common area, parting the crowds as he went, pick up seven of the dead trampled bodies, and pile them up neatly in the front lawn. He then returned to the house, made his way to the linen closet, and pulled out seven white flat-sheets. He went back to the front lawn and, in full view of guests paparazzos (not one of whom snapped a single photograph), and security personnel he laid the seven sheets flat in the yard and immediately placed one dead body face up on each sheet. Next, he made his way to the garage before materializing in the front yard with seven cans of house paint, each a different color. W. Bush then proceeded to denude each corpse. Their naked, bloody, glistening bodies now covered only by moonlight, and leaves and twigs, W. began painting them. He opened the cans of paint, and poured the full contents of each one on a separate body and sheet combination.Immediately, the crowd responded. They were obviously in the presence of greatness.

The reason that they were at the party had now been confirmed. W. Bush (and David Gourmet) was a truly great man, deserving of the Presidency of the United States of America. He had just created art.

Within minutes, there were bidders for each piece. “Yellow (No. 5)” pre-sold (since it was neither dried nor framed) for $16,000,000 to an “investor”. That night, W. pocketed well over $74,536,392 in total sales. It was shear pandemonium.

“I never actually left my room. I just went to sleep. He was still my best friend at that point."

Here in a California State Prison sits a tired broken man. His name is David Gourmet, and he did not paint any of the victims of his party. Beside W. Bush, 3 others followed suit. While none of them proved to be as successful, they all became billionaires in the late 90s. David Gourmet, however, became a prisonaire.

On the subject of Mr. David, sir, Todd Grace had this to say of his actions that fateful night:“He went to sleep.”